Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sailing off into the Sunset

It was all supposed to be romantic –Chris and me living on a sailboat and sailing off into the sunset.  After about 2 days reality set in.  I discovered living on and sailing a 40’ boat in the ocean was not all that much fun!  I stuck it out for 2 years and then decided I’d rather be on the shore looking out at the sailboats.  On a visit to a restaurant where artists prints were displayed I bought a print of a porch with chairs overlooking water.  I began collecting prints with that theme but soon ran out of room on my walls.  I now collect cards with restful scenes involving chair, porches, and water.  Attached are an examples of the pictures I like:

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Slow to Anger or Just Slow

When my dad was a little boy he was given a wagon for one birthday.  He took it outside and immediately the neighbor kids took the wagon away from him and he watched them play with it.  The next morning he told his mom what had happened and he said, “I relents that!”  He resented the kids had taken the wagon away from him but didn’t realize it until the next day.  Was he slow to anger or just slow?

I also have that problem with slowness.  Recently I found a letter written to my mom by my aunt when I thirteen years old and spending the summer with her and my cousins at my grandparents farm.  As a very young looking 13 year old, (see the picture below), I had traveled from Alexandria, Virginia to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, by bus, so that I could ride the rest of the way to Spokane, WA with my aunt and uncle and cousins.  In the letter my aunt said that I was very self-controlled and that it was —“Not normal for a teenager!”  What?!  Teens can’t be self-controlled?  I think we all have different personalities and for some of us we just aren’t built to get angry.  Take Rachel—the gal from the You Tube who stayed very calm and didn’t get angry with the patron who was trying to goad her at Chick Fil A.  In an interview she said that it was her training and her personality. 

Do some of us have it easier than others as far as anger control?  I think it is.  Each of us has something that God wants to help us work on.  As for me I have to force myself to analyze the situation and decide if it was something that I would be angry about later and then decide what to do.  Is this something that I should let go?  Is it something that would anger Jesus? Am I enabling someone to have bad behavior?  What are my interests as well as the interests of others?  It all amounts to the question of what would be the most loving thing to do?

I'm first on the left holding hands with my cousin who is a month younger than me.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Delicate Balance

Decisions, decisions, decisions!  Every day I need to make decisions—everything from what to eat to what to wear.  My husband, Chris, and I have moved over 20 times in 47 years.  We had to make decisions about houses, jobs, finding a new church, a new car, and even new boats.  The trick is balancing home, work, church, and relationships in light of eternity.  I envision a weight measurement scale and placing our lives delicately into each side of the scale to make it balance.

When I read the “Parable of the Rich Fool,” Luke 12:13-21, each time I think, “Why didn’t he just sell or give away his excess stuff?  Why would he want to store all that stuff for himself?”  I believe my attitude is genetic, as my father didn’t want to have a bunch of stuff that he had to take care of.   I enjoy throwing away and finding good homes for stuff and not having much left. ( I unknowingly deleted a bunch of e-mail that was already in the trash the other day.) 

As a teen I remember that I wanted a few more clothes but didn’t have any money to buy them.  After marriage I was on a strict budget until Chris got stock options and then I could have gone shopping and bought a bunch of clothes.  But  even now when I walk into a department store at the mall, with money, I suddenly get very tired.  There are too many choices and what I picture that I want to wear doesn’t exist.  I usually go home having bought nothing.  So the reason I didn’t have very many clothes in the past wasn’t money.  I would be happy to live like the people in the "olden" days who had one suit of clothes for Sunday and then only a couple of sets of clothes for work.

Now as I look at the problem of making decisions as to what should be done in our church  --- one wants to build a complex of buildings on our land and put up stores to provide money for ministry, and another wants to plant a pea patch garden so we will have food to give away, if or when the economic recession deepens.  We have some decisions to make to be good stewards of what God has provided.   The church is celebrating 65 years of ministry this year.  The aging building needs many repairs.  We don’t have the money or manpower to do the repairs.  I thought we should just wait until it falls down and then move.  Chris warned we do need to do some repair work!

For the past few years our church has almost been a church plant.  In a real church plant all the members would leave and then a new group would come in and start the church over. But God led us to be different.  I have never heard of a church doing the things the way we do. We have only about 9 members left from the original church and are slowly adding to our number. We hired a part time pastor and a part time administrative assistant.  We rent to other churches and rent the parking lot for a Park and Ride.  I think we fit the description of the people in I Corinthians 1:27-28.  Not many of us are anything special.  

Because we are a small congregation we try to keep expenses down.    For our 65th anniversary celebration this month we want to honor God but we want to do it on a shoestring.  When discussing the cost of nametags and if we should even have any, one member gave us the information that we could get free nametags from Alcoholics Anonymous.  Of course they would say “Hi!  My name is ___ and I’m an alcoholic.”  We roared in laughter at the vision of so many alcoholics at the celebration.  Someone suggested we could say Christian alcoholic!

I’m off to the prayer group at church this morning and I will pray that God will help us to achieve a delicate balance and to be rich toward Him.  Below find pictures of the church several years ago and now.



Wednesday, August 8, 2012

What, Me Worry?

I have never been accused of being a worrier.  In the past I have been blamed for not caring because I refused to worry.  My dad wasn’t a worrier either so I must have inherited this gene from him.  My mom called him “The Eternal Optimist.” 

 Now to my story. My husband, Chris, decided to change careers when our daughter was 7 and our son was 6 months old.  We’d always done OK financially, so I wasn’t worried about this change or not having an income.  But his new career choice didn’t pay off and we were soon out of money.  Our church helped us pay our bills, a car was donated to the church and given to us, and we borrowed money from my mother-in-law.  Jobs were scarce and we both took anything we could find.  Chris even worked by day for our landlord to pay the rent and then worked at various jobs at night. I worked at day care, substitute teaching, and part time jobs through a temp agency. Times were tough.

Our church family prayed that Chris would find a good job.  I made jokes about what we would have to eat—“Today we’ll have egg McMuffins.  Of course we have no muffins, no eggs, but we do have bread and cheese.” 

After about 4 years we decided we needed to try something else.  I finally admitted that we needed clothing, food, and shelter—although we did have the car that was given to us so we could have lived in it if we were forced to move out of our rental house!  Since Chris had been in the military reserve  he was able to reenlist and had the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He was offered a school in Biloxi, Mississippi, at Keesler Air Force Base, and we took the offer. 

At this same time, apparently, my aerobics exercises had caused me to develop bone spurs on my c-5 vertebrae and the chronic pain in my neck was spread throughout my body by the treatment of a recommended chiropractor.  I had come down with fibromyalgia.  Chris developed boils.  We studied Job together. They say worrying can make you sick but I had disproved that theory.  The finite bodies we have on this earth can become sick through no fault of our own. Maybe Satan was attacking us but God used these things to draw us to Himself.

Now, after graduating from his electronics school (with honors) Chris was able to get a good job in San Jose, CA.  Then several months later he was offered an even better job at Hewlett-Packard.  A few years later he landed a fantastic job with Microsoft.  Most people would say it was just a series of “coincidences” or good fortune; but I know it was the hand of God guiding our steps.  With one mighty leap we were able to pay off our debts and put our children through college paying cash the entire way.  I was able to stop work and concentrate on prayer and Bible study to which I felt led. 

When my sister died at age 49 leaving an eight-year-old daughter, I was asked what do you think about this?  Borrowing a line from Scarlett O'Hare in "Gone with the Wind," I said, “I’m not going to think about it today.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.” For me sometimes it is better not to think but to trust.   I knew that God would comfort us in our grief and that my niece would be in the palm of His hand.  My niece grew up, graduated from college, and is walking with the Lord.  I know now that Proverbs 3:5-6 is true if we—“Trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways acknowledge Him,  He will make our paths straight."

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Soon, just a little while longer

My favorite season of the year is summer.  Maybe that is because my birthday is in July, or that school is out, or even because of fond childhood memories of visiting Grandma and Grandpa on the farm in Eastern Washington.  Each year I would impatiently be focused on getting through with school and trekking out west the 3000 miles from Virginia to Washington.   My mom taught me that Spokane, Washington was God’s country and that is where I wanted to be.

At other times in my life I remember being impatient and complaining that time was going too slowly.  My mom would comfort with the words—“Soon, just a little while longer.”  Somehow she helped me wait, and sure enough the treasured event would happen. 

As a young mother I thought I’d never get through diapers, potty training, discipline, all the dishes and laundry. Keeping one-step ahead of the next disaster—spilled milk, gashes in heads, shopping for groceries with rambunctious toddlers, and on and on, was exhausting.   To keep going I would imagine my children as adults and daydream about each one as a productive member of society.  At eighteen, with God’s help, each one was ready to move away from home.

Our daughter’s college experience revealed she had inherited my impatient gene.  She would call home and let me know that she would be quitting college.  Usually she had a paper due, or it was mid term, or have some other major thing she needed to work on.  I would ask her if she could just stick it out for two more weeks and then we would reassess.  After two weeks the hurdle had been leapt over and she thought she would finish the term.  Not surprisingly then after she had a test coming up, a paper due, or some other obstacle she would call home and say again that she would be dropping out of college.  I’d suggest that she try it for two more weeks and then after two weeks she was fine again.  So while staying in college two weeks at a time she was able to graduate and is now a very successful group manager, wife, and mother.

God is patient not wanting any to perish so I am learning to wait.  Now, as I await the next thing, Jesus comforts me with His words in Revelation—“Yes, I am coming soon.”  Come quickly Lord Jesus.  Not my will but Your perfect will be done. 

My heart leaps with joy
At the thought of His coming.
Jesus, the long awaited One.