Sunday, December 31, 2006

All in the Family

I’m roller skating down the streets of Victoria, B.C. My cousin and I are sampling gourmet jellybeans. Flash forward 20-plus years and I’m eating under a blue umbrella in the Tumwater Costco with my husband and four children and introducing them to my Canadian uncle and aunt. I’m all grown up but I still feel loved and safe when I spend time with relatives. I’m glad my oldest son is attending college with several aunts, uncles and cousins nearby.

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4 ESV

Saturday, December 30, 2006

True Love

My just-married friend met her husband through an online Christian dating service but the first date didn’t go anywhere. A couple years later they reconnected and their friendship blossomed into love. She appreciated how he remembered things they talked about and asked questions about her and her family. When did Jesus woo and win my heart? I have known about God all my life. At age six, I asked Jesus into my heart after a discussion about creation. I fell in love with the Good Shepherd of the Psalms when I left home at age sixteen to attend college. I am still learning what it means to “live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20) and live a life holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1).

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 ESV

Friday, December 29, 2006

Wake Up!

Today my six year-old said it’s important to be conscious when you drive in a school zone. I try to be a conscious driver all the time, and also be conscientious. I don’t want to autopilot through my life. I see the grey-green foggy mountains visible from the hill near my parents’ home that look like a Chinese painting. I hear the laughter of family members interacting and getting along—even when six of us are crammed into an extend cab pickup. I welcome the sound of pounding and drilling and know that my floor is being shored up in preparation for tiles in the entry way. I smell the brownie baking in the oven that gets people out of their rooms. And Children, I’m listening when you talk to me. I’m awake!

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8 ESV

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sacred Music

You can read the Bible cover to cover in one year if you read three chapters a day. I’ve also heard it suggested you read until God stops you by striking a chord. I’ve played it both ways. This year I plunked and prayed through Colossians 1:3-14 almost every day. I want to do more glissando (rapid ascending or descending of the scale) next year. I am highlighting passages that reveal how God works with an emphasis on peacemaking.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; Psalm 19:7-8 ESV

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Serve with Love

Our time with Oregon relatives came to an end today. We reluctantly piled in the truck and drove home. We stopped at a Burgerville restaurant to stretch our legs and have milkshakes. Gabby learned that a juke box dispenses tunes, not juice boxes. I will take one of the restaurant chain's slogans home with me: "Serve with Love." As I sort laundry tomorrow I will ask God to show me how to serve my family with love--from the heart.

...For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Un-Smart Park

Today Scot's family gathered in downtown Portland like we do every December 26th. We tried something different--we met for dinner instead of lunch and skipped the photo op with the umbrella man in Pioneer Square. Scot and I never shop enough to get our parking garage ticket validated. We just go for the food, fellowship, and discussion about things like validation. Some validation would have come in handy when we discovered we parked in the $4 an hour lot instead of the $1.25 one. Thankfully our identity comes from who we are in Christ, not the labels on our clothes.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of salvation... Isaiah 61:10a ESV

Monday, December 25, 2006

Need I Say More?

Christmas 2006 has included:
hanging out with Mary's sister Janet, Clark, and darling girls
a meal with Mary's relatives (Congrats newlyweds Mike and Rachel!)
cinnamon rolls from Mary's mom
filling a pew at the Christmas eve candlelight service
gifts from friends
We will congregate with Scot's family later today.

Scot asked 6 year-old Gabby, "How would you rate this Christmas?" Her response: "How could it be any better? I have all that I need, all that I want, and all that I love."

For in him [Jesus] all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:19-20 ESV

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

At our gift opening tonight Scot reminisced about Christmas memories of our three older children. Who can forget our son's face when he opened the pizza-shaped box and found a new toilet seat? He had bathroom detail and I thought he would appreciate a fresh start. One year our second son went on record as saying, "Just what I almost wanted!" after every gift. And then there was the year our baby daughter was sick. The video tape shows one of us running out of the room with her at regular intervals.
I wonder how Mary and Joseph remember the first Christmas. Does the honor of being part of God's plan outweigh the stress of that day? What did they tell young Jesus about that day? And what did he tell them about that day when he was older? When Gabby is older I will remind her of how much she liked her new Cabbage Patch Doll, but quickly added, "But Jesus is the best gift of all!"

And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger...But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. Luke 2:16, 19 ESV

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Welcome to Our World

by Guest Blogger: Scot Lofthus

I love Christmas carols and would sing them all year long if they let me. I enjoy the new carol, Welcome to our World by Michael W. Smith. The first verse reads:

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking, How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting, Welcome holy child! Welcome holy child!

An old favorite of mine is, Joy to the World by Isaac Watts. The first verse reads:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare him room and Heaven and nature sing...
and Heaven, and Heaven and nature sing.

Christmas is about Jesus, our Emmanuel, being found in appearance as a man and humbling himself to the point of death on a cross for us! (Philippians 2:8-9). Of Jesus, Revelation 1:8 reads, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." This old story has fresh meaning for us as we invite King Jesus to rule and reign in our hearts and wait for His glorious return!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Come Clean

Usually I refrain from comparisons and encourage others to do likewise. You either set yourself up as better than others or worse. I have done a little comparing lately without regrets. One friend's home is the kind of home I want to have. She has splashes of color arranged tastefully without overdoing it. It is comfy but not cluttered. There is hope for me! Another friend and I discussed the states of our homes while in line at the store. We are prepared to walk through each other's homes room by room, and gasp, closet by closet, to get the full "before" effect. Then we can celebrate the "after." It feels good to know I am not alone and it is possible to make home improvements.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 ESV

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thanks, Mom!

Bless her heart, my mom tried to teach me how to cook before I graduated from high school. I didn’t have much interest until I got married. As part of her overseas ministry career, Mom taught western cooking classes all over Asia. Today I followed in her footsteps and taught my Chinese neighbors how to bake banana bread. I showed them how to measure flour with a measuring cup and a knife to make it level. I explained how the dry ingredients are mixed together and added to the wet mixture, except that the sugar goes with the oil and eggs. Unlike many of my mom’s classes, this setting included an oven. We didn’t have to make a cake in a frying pan or rice cooker. The banana bread was a hit and they can make their own next time.

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Proverbs 31:26-28 ESV

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Time of Day

I saw a car bearing this license plate: NOTNOW. I have said that before. I have thought, “I don’t have time for this.” And I have communicated, “I don’t have time for you.” I want to tune out distractions and tune in to the people around me.

Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you. Proverbs 3:28 ESV

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Play On

There are days I am jostled, pushed, and knocked down. I get up, shake it off, and get back in the game. Then I get tired and take my eye off the ball. When a teammate runs into me and doesn’t say sorry, I want to walk off the field and retreat to my room. Sometimes I don’t care if I get a red card. I will listen to the Coach’s encouragement. “You can do all things with My strength.” “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, Colossians 1:11 ESV

Monday, December 18, 2006

Rally

My forecast for tomorrow calls for freezing temps with 95% chance of ping pong. Appointments and errands will keep me bouncing around town all day. So much for getting projects done at home. My game plan is to dress warmly, grab a latte, and use snatches of time to take deep breaths and be ready for the next day.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 ESV

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Getting Left Right

I am directionally challenged. I feel sorry for my driver’s ed teacher: “I said, ‘Turn LEFT!’” Since I’m right-handed, it’s been suggested I think about what hand I write with. I have to imagine a pen, pick it up, and by then I’ve missed the turn. A wise friend showed me how to make an L with my left thumb and pointer finger. It works! (Good thing I’m not dyslexic!) Now I drive with L showing on my left hand. Tonight I met my cousin’s wife and found out we share the same struggle—and the same remedy. I’m going to try her method of parallel parking and see if it works for me. (Something about looking in the side mirror and turning the wheel when you see the curb…)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow?

Our job was hands-on when our children were little. Their dad and I changed diapers, gave baths, strapped them in car seats, and more. Now we have three teenagers plus one bookend and our role is different. It is our joy to watch them interact with each other. We see how they are blossoming into distinct individuals with strong connections. It’s great to have our first-born home from college for Christmas break.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Psalm 128:3 ESV

Friday, December 15, 2006

Stirred but Not Shaken

Last night’s strong winds blew down trees and power lines. We had one Little House on the Prairie day without modern conveniences. We are thankful for the electricity we use every day without thinking about it. We are thankful for a house to protect us from the elements as we remember the Kim family that was lost in the Oregon wilderness. Our hearts go out to the courageous mom and two daughters who survived and share their loss of a dad who gave his all for his family. We pray for the safe return of three climbers lost on Mt. Hood.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2 ESV

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Balloon Art

I have a rhyming dictionary and I’m not afraid to use it. But I’m not a poet and I know it. I can’t get words to sing and dance. I huff and puff and blow up word balloons. If it’s not the right shape, I let the air out and begin again. My friend had a beautiful Christmas poem float by while listening to a concert. She snatched the trailing ribbon and wrote it down before it disappeared. I will keep doing what I do for God’s glory and enjoy the talents of others.

If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 1 Corinthians 12:17-18 ESV

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Big Brother

Only two days until Big Brother comes home from college!
My to-do list includes:

Clear his bed
Make his bed
Organize collected items (a new shirt, pants, scratch that, they fit his dad, a new comic strip in the paper and article about the creator, a Wall Street Journal article about “unboxing”, etc.)
Gather food supplies like Snickers bars, chips and salsa, Spanish peanuts for chicken and peanuts, and pepperoni for homemade calzone
Clear the dining room table of filing interspersed with Christmas d├ęcor
Brace for adjustments of family life versus dorm life
Broach the subject of resuming kitchen detail like he used to do so well and without complaint
Be thankful he is bringing his own laptop and won’t need to take a number for computer time
Thank God for family!

A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Psalm 133:1 ESV

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Saying Grace

Small talk is the equivalent of a grocery store food sample handed to anyone walking by. It doesn’t fill you up. I’m thankful for friends who offer full meal deals of questions, listening, and sharing from the heart. I had a progressive dinner at the office, grocery store, a friend’s home, and over the phone. My friends shared prayer requests, new goals, disappointments, memories, and more. I ate well today.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 ESV

Monday, December 11, 2006

Wait for Joseph

The Nativity Story movie is more than icing on the cake of Christmas festivities. The filmmakers took a familiar story and added color, texture, and humanity. I gained fresh appreciation for the Chosen People’s longing for a Messiah. I was moved by the simple faith of young Mary. And I have renewed passion for teaching my daughters to “Wait for Joseph.” Hold out for a man of faith, character, and a gentle spirit. Don’t settle for crumbs.

Love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dem Bones

It sounds like a line from a movie. “Bring the tape and I’ll call with directions.” Today's surveillance tape of the Olympia Denny’s parking lot will show a red SUV pulling up next to a blue sedan. A woman got out of the blue car and handed a package to the other driver and then they both drove away.

It all started with a post on craigslist about last week’s episode of Bones: “I was supposed to record it for my Mom but I fell asleep. BAD, BAD DAUGHTER!!” I just happened to tape it, so I emailed, and we arranged the hand-off. Mission accomplished. I’m glad I could help out. Now you know why my husband is calling me Bones.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 1 Timothy 6:18 ESV

Saturday, December 09, 2006

God Bless Us, Everyone

Love ‘em or hate ‘em; ‘tis the season. Former neighbors are first with a how-the-kids-have-grown photo. Camp Tadmor’s card takes Scot back to summer camp counselor days. Scot’s parents’ letter shared a tender story from Christmas past. In the spirit of the Prophet Samuel’s Ebenezer stone, we write a family newsletter because our lives are an open book. Every year is another chapter of God’s faithfulness. So bring on the Christmas letters. We want to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, "Till now the LORD has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12 ESV

Friday, December 08, 2006

On the Road Again

I saw a license plate saying: 4MYKIDZ. I drive all over for my kids: to school and back, to practice and back, to the store and back, and then start over. I count it a privilege to participate in their lives. When my children were younger I had times in bed full-time with M.S. and couldn’t drive. I hope I never tire of making my daily rounds.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, Psalm 103:2 ESV

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Real Men

Today I read in the Bible where Ruth meets Boaz. Boaz’s words were an encouragement to the young widow gleaning the fields. I am thankful for the napkin notes from “Daddio” in my school lunches. My grandfather writes birthday poems for the family. I have a 21-year and counting collection of love notes from my husband. When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis eleven years ago, my father-in-law blessed me by writing his own note to include with my mother-in-law’s. Write on!

Then she said, “I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants. Ruth 2:13 ESV

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In Deed

I am easily distracted. I make memos to self in the middle of conversations. I repeat questions without registering replies. “No, I don’t have any homework, Mom!” I want to remember what martyred missionary, Jim Elliot said: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I will stop reading the paper when people are talking to me. I make the choice to focus and tune in. I’m here. I’m with you.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18 ESV

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Baby Blue

I am not afraid of cold weather because I have a cozy down jacket. My heart stays warm because God gave me a soul mate 21 years ago. And like this jacket, Scot is the perfect fit for me. Baby blue brings out the best in me. I am protected from cold and wind and storms that come. I never know what I will find in the pocket—a tissue to wipe my tears or something funny to make me laugh. There could be a verse of scripture, a poem, or a spot of cash for whatever little splurge makes me happy. I am free to grab a cup of coffee with a friend or buy a book at the thrift store. You warm me up, Scotty! Happy 21st anniversary on December 7th!

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV

Monday, December 04, 2006

Goal!

Our 15 year-old played in a soccer tournament this weekend in Aberdeen, WA (an hour away). They won one and lost one and advanced to the finals. On Sunday our team was tied zip-zip and went to a shoot out. After 8 rounds, our Star used her left foot and booted it in. The other team missed the next shot and we were on to the finals! In the championship game Sarah had a goal but the ref called it off saying someone pushed the goalkeeper. We lost 3 to 2 but our girls fought hard, played clean, and were our winners of the day. Way to go, Sarah! Way to go, Dad and Danny for braving the freezing temps to cheer her on!

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! Psalm 125:4 ESV

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pad the Ropes

I am inspired by the Old Testament story of a guy who not only pleaded for the life of a prophet, but planned ahead to take old clothes to pad the ropes used to pull the dehydrated, starving man out of a pit. I appreciate it when others add that extra thoughtful touch. Twenty-one years ago, friends sent us on our honeymoon with a basket filled with fruit, snacks, and cash. Scot painted a house for a friend this summer. She tucked in a gift certificate for Taco Del Mar, a family favorite, along with the check. Yesterday friends took the initiative to track down a Christmas tree for us, available after a women’s dinner at church. Lord, open my eyes to see ways to pad the ropes for others.

So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, "Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes." Jeremiah did so. Jeremiah 38:11,12 ESV

Saturday, December 02, 2006

“Altogether it was a good day.” p. 79

Today I bought a first edition Caddie Woodlawn (1935) at the library book sale for 25 cents. I love the inscription written to Becca from Grandma in September, 1979:

Even a used book is new to the one who reads it for the first time.

This grandma is a kindred spirit. I love finding good books and passing them on. In the spirit of wide margins, it’s time to inventory my library and make room for future finds.

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Proverbs 11:24 ESV

Friday, December 01, 2006

Because I can

I saw a vanity license plate that read: BCZICAN. I take that to mean, “Because I can.” I don’t operate by that motto. My goal is to live a life pleasing to God (2 Corinthians 5:9). Last night I turned on the tv to watch a show after the kids went to bed. It wasn’t appropriate so I turned it off. I can do that.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16 ESV