Tuesday, April 30, 2013

On mourning and hope

In preparing for a weekly bible study I do with a young friend of mine, I read this verse today:
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.
~ Ecclesiastes 7:2
It certainly has seemed that my dh and I are in some senses in a season of mourning.  We seem to have constant and evolving health issues plaguing us, bothers at work, tragedies abroad, friends with cancer, miscarriages, heartbreaks, and struggles.  Our theme for this year is "Preparation".  On good days, I see this as the promise of a future and a hope.  On hard days, I see it as preparation for the journey to that country from which no man returns. Not to be all classically melodramatic in my paraphrase of Catullus, but he echoes the Preacher here, and the Preacher is right: death is the destiny of every man. And some days, that seems more obvious and imminent than others.

The preacher is also right that we, the living, should take this to heart.  Self-distraction only gets you so far. The Preacher doesn't mean we should have some morbid fascination with death.  Instead, he means we are broken people living in a broken world, and life here is full of sorrow and the need for redemption. Two responses alone can adequately reply to this reality-- mourning and hope.  We mourn for the reality of the brokenness, and hope for its redemption.  Unless we mourn the reality, the vivid colors of the redemption fade into lackluster greys. 

So, I mourn-- but not as one who has no hope. Instead I work to set my eyes on Him who bore all this brokenness to bring redemption, and I work to finish this race set before me. I look to:
Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
~Hebrews 12:2-3

And with such a hope, how can I despair?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ben!

29 years ago today, our eldest son, my golden-haired boy, entered the world with his amazing mind, sense of humor, and chivalrous spirit.  Despite what I think he sometimes believes, he has been a tremendous blessing to us.  Happy birthday, Ben!  You have enriched our lives, and we love you for always.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cousins together

A week or so ago, Tim and family traveled to Phoenix.  Tim spoke at the career day at Ben's school (inspiring young engineers) and the families spent a couple of days together.  They visited a wildlife park and had a wonderful time.  Here are a few of my favorite photos.  Look for more next Wednesday.  (And a special thanks to Nikki for sharing them!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A lovely surprise

I had just completed teaching my morning online classes today when my doorbell rang.  And who was standing on my doorstep?  Em and Sweet Baby James!  What a wonderful surprise- and a special hour of kissing and cuddling those amazing little cheeks James has, and visiting with Emily.  It was a beautiful little gift to me.  Thanks for dropping by, all the way from Kentucky, Em and James-- and I wish you could have brought Ryan along.  What a lovely surprise!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Promises of substance

I am often asked by folks how Dave and I have made it through our years of physical trials: three cancers, 3 cancer recurrences, and two auto-immune diseases between us. I usually answer the same way: by depending on God and His promises.  We have found that, wonder of wonder, after years of saying we believed these promises and trusted the one who gave them, they are actually true things, and full of substance: the type of substance that is firm enough to stand on.  Let me give you a recent, real-life example.

I found myself in the exhausted place of a late Sunday evening, after all of the day's activities, and all the week's work, and I was weepy.  I lay next to my sweet husband, just crying. We had read both Spurgeon and Calvin together, and prayed together, and I was just done and done-in for the day.  That's always when Satan attacks, and the fear begins to creep in.  So I wept, and Dave began to sing some scripture songs to me.  These are songs that simply put scripture to music, and Dave and I have worked off-and-on over the past four or five years learning a variety of them to meditate on.  He sang verse after verse about depending on the Lord in times of fear, trusting in Him, His power to save, His love for us, His work of redemption.

Soon, I wasn't crying.  I was peaceful, and ready for sleep.  My sweet husband had reminded me of what I really needed to know, of what was true.  No matter what happens to me, Jesus died for me, and has a plan that He is fulfilling in and through me. It doesn't matter that I can't always see it, it is happening all the same. I am never alone. I am never powerless.  I am safe in the palm of my Lord's hand.

Those are the kind of substantive promises that make a firm place to stand amid the shifting sand of this life under the sun.

Isa 41:10 'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you...' 

Je 1:12 "...for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled." 

Ro 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 

Phl 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. 

Ps 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? 

Mt 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Girl time

On my recent trip to Arizona, after a fun night in Tucson, Nikki, Emma, and I met Elsa and Ada in a little park in Casa Grande, about half-way between their two homes.

Ada has really grown up since Christmas!  We had a lovely picnic.

Ada loved chasing the birds, and Emma discovered she could do the "climbing wall", and then tried to teach Ada how to do "Cheers!" with her sippy cup, just like Grandpa Jack had taught her.  See the evidence below.

It was a lovely day with my girls!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sabbath Songs

Lord , With Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee by Francis Scott Key, 1819

Lord, with glowing heart I’d praise Thee,
For the bliss Thy love bestows,
For the pardoning grace that saves me,
And the peace that from it flows:
Help, O God, my weak endeavor;
This dull soul to rapture raise:
Thou must light the flame, or never
Can my love be warmed to praise.

Praise, my soul, the God that sought thee,
Wretched wanderer, far astray;
Found thee lost, and kindly brought thee
From the paths of death away;
Praise, with love’s devoutest feeling,
Him Who saw thy guilt-born fear,
And the light of hope revealing,
Bade the blood-stained cross appear.

Praise thy Savior God that drew thee
To that cross, new life to give,
Held a blood sealed pardon to thee,
Bade thee look to Him and live.
Praise the grace whose threats alarmed thee,
Roused thee from thy fatal ease;
Praise the grace whose promise warmed thee,
Praise the grace that whispered peace.

Lord, this bosom’s ardent feeling
Vainly would my lips express.
Low before Thy footstool kneeling,
Deign Thy suppliant’s prayer to bless:
Let Thy grace, my soul’s chief treasure,
Love’s pure flame within me raise;
And, since words can never measure,
Let my life show forth Thy praise.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Another recently completed project, and a cute model

I recently had fun making a knotted tutu for my granddaughter, Emma.  And see the results below.  It's cute, but Emma is adorable! This is for Great-Grandma Shirley, who specifically asked for photos of the tutu.  Here you are, Mom.  More photos from our Easter celebration in Arizona are forthcoming.