Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fine China Indeed

I heard it at my Peacemaker seminar. We are dealing with the "fine china of people's lives." When someone shares his or her feelings, tread softly. Don't pop off quick answers. And if he or she doesn't share feelings, listen for the heart buried beneath the words. Do I sound "preachy teachy"? (To quote a Peacemaker friend). Sure. To myself.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; James 1:19 ESV

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Newsworthy

It didn't go as planned. The young man featured in today's newspaper article was all set to contend for state titles in the shot put and discus. Until he broke three metacarpals in his throwing hand. Ouch. Bummer. Did he give up? No, he got a doctor's okay to continue with track--with a hard cast on one hand. He tried the long jump again, after not doing it since his freshman year of high school. And he's not bad. Fourth in the 3A Western Cascade Conference, in fact. He is still doing the shot put and discus, with his other hand. It's not every day you find inspiration in the newspaper.

http://www.theolympian.com/sports/story/433286.html

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cloud of Witnesses

I don't understand God's economy. He didn't go, "one for you, one for you, and one for you." and so on. No equal dispersement of believers in each family. My husband and I were born into families loaded with long lines of saints. We have quite the welcoming committee waiting in heaven, with plenty still on this side. We have friends that are trailblazers. They are first generation Christians, God bless them. No, I didn't inherit my faith. I had to respond to Christ's tug on my heart. I didn't ask to born into this earthly family. But I'm so thankful for the godly men and women that surround me. My veritable Hebrews 12:1 cloud of witnesses, as it were.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Psalm 71:5 ESV

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Road Trip

The next best thing to meeting my brand new niece is sending a delegation. With a camera. My husband and two teens traveled to Oregon and back to fetch our oldest from college, now that his school is out for the summer. They made a detour to the Farm. They got to hold the new baby and play with the two "big" sisters. And admire the sheep and chickens on the farm. See for yourself on my daughter's photo blog:

http://saurolophus.blogspot.com/2008/04/at-farm.html

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3 ESV

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Love, Sis

I was almost two when I became a big sister. I could say I taught Kathleen everything she knows, but that isn't true. When I was young I didn't appreciate having a sister that was smarter than me. Or is that I? See what I mean? But now it comes in handy, let me tell you. I was so impressed when she showed me how to cut and paste. On the computer. Eleven years ago. Control C, control V. Wow! Now she does Chinese on the computer. Yes, she is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. Famous even. My sister was a game show winner back in the day. On national TV in Taiwan. You can ask her to demonstrate Chinese tongue twisters if you meet her. Tell her Big Mary sent you. And wish her a very happy birthday!

Note: She's the middle sister. Special thanks to our mom for making the lovely matching pink dresses with wings. Dad was a good sport with his matching pink tie.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. Philemon 4-6 ESV

Friday, April 25, 2008

Pass it On

I don't see it. People think my 16-year-old daughter and I look alike. I wish. I mean, I take that as a compliment. What isn't obvious, is that my younger daughter's blonde hair is like her dad's when he was young. Or so I've heard. I used to think that my younger daughter was not a morning person. Afternoon kindergarten worked well for us. Guess who isn't a morning person? That would me. Maybe she just adapted to my schedule. Now she's a second grader and pops up in the morning without fail. Cheerful and chatty. And singing just like her dad does. I've also noticed that my younger daughter is good with numbers. She can do calculations in her head faster than I can. Hey, they all can. That's from her dad, again. Hopefully she inherited some of my algebraic sense though. I love algebra, even if the basic facts dance in my head. Some things are genetic and some things are learned. I hope we can do a better job of passing on our faith than the Israelites did. I just started the book of Judges and things aren't looking too good. Of course I can't control what my children believe. But I can share the good news of what God has done in my life.

And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel. And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals. And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger. Judges 2:10-12 ESV

Thursday, April 24, 2008

High Calling

Preach it, Paul! Not the one in the Bible, I mean Paul David Tripp who wrote Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens. He says:

Don't settle for nonanswers. Ask good questions that cannot be answered without the teenager disclosing his heart (thoughts, motive, purposes, goals, desires, beliefs, values, etc.). Finally, always bring the Gospel to each of those conversations. There is a Redeemer. He has conquered sin and death. He is present as the Helper in all of my trouble. There is hope! Goliaths do die! Change--radical heart and life change--is possible!

Paul David Tripp goes on to say:

A parent who has his hope in the Gospel will pursue his teenagers and will not stop until they leave the home. We won't wait for them to come to us for help. We won't argue with them as to whether help is needed or not. The call of the Word is clear. With hearts filled with Gospel hope, we will question and probe, listen and consider, plead and encourage, admonish and warn, and instruct and pray. We will awake every day with a sense of mission, knowing that God has given us a high calling.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:14-17 ESV

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rich in Mercy

How many sermons have I heard about Romans 12:1? About being a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Followed by 12:2 and the "Do not be conformed" section. Somehow I missed the important phrase "by the mercies of God." Where would I be without the mercy of God? My life has meaning and purpose because of God's great mercy. And I can extend mercy and love to others because of what God has done for me. That's my living sacrifice, isn't it?

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:5-8 ESV

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For the Record

I'm not trying to get off the hook. I truly don't recall making any bargains with God when I was sick. You know, things like if I get better I will give my life to God and become a missionary. Besides I've already done that. Given my life to Him. And I can be a missionary overseas (done that too) or here in my own neighborhood. I do ask God to show me how to redeem the time and energy I do have. But have I made vows that I haven't kept? I said I was going to be careful what I watch on TV. So why was I flipping through the channels late last night? And what happened to the good intentions about eating healthy? The grapefruit didn't cancel out the leftover powdered sugar donuts I sampled. Do I love God more than temporary pleasures or distractions? Then live like it.

I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. Psalm 66:13-14 ESV

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jump In

Everyone is back to school and the housework waits. I don't feel like doing anything. My solution? Do one thing. Sort the laundry. Hey, that's where all the towels are. Okay, put one load in. Fold and put away. My teens will be home for lunch. I have chicken in the freezer and celery and carrots. Soup sounds good. With a potato for good measure. What about the dishes? Sigh. Jump in. Unload the dishwasher. Now reload it. Wipe the counters. What do you know? I got something done, one thing at a time.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 ESV

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pray On

I didn't ask for prayer. I could have. Our Sunday School class takes requests seriously and they pray faithfully. I could have asked for safe travel for my mom who is on her way back from China tomorrow. I could ask for wisdom for my children as they make decisions about future plans. I could share my thankfulness to God for taking me through the week of Peacemaker training--and missing naps three days straight. I praise God I am cane-free with a bounce in my step. But someone prayed for me anyway. By name. Thanks, I needed that.

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ESV

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wait For It

It's hard to be patient. When can we afford a new digital camera? It's not the super how-many-do-you-need? megapixels that I want. Can we speed things up a bit? What do they call that? Next-shot-delay? Meanwhile, back at the photo-op, any day now would be fine. And how about a macro feature to get up close and personal? But wait, we DO have a macro setting. Who knew? My 16-year-old daughter tried it out. You can see her work on her new photo blog: http://saurolophus.blogspot.com/ (Do you see the spider in my favorite flower picture?) Welcome to Blog Land!

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11 ESV

Friday, April 18, 2008

Big and Small

If you think about it, there is something big and little to thank God for every day. Like today my daughter needed to make some photocopies in the community college library. She didn't have any cash and her brother was in class. She called me and I prayed that she would either find someone to loan her some change or find some lying around. It could happen! She found a penny by the vending machine. It's a start. And then she found a dime by the pay phone. Enough for one copy. She handwrote some info she needed and made one precious copy. What big thing am I thankful for today? Twenty-three years ago I had strawberry shortcake at a restaurant in Tigard, Oregon. That small beginning led to more dates and marriage in December. It is good to give thanks.

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 ESV

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Rock

They drove around our neighborhood throwing rocks. It's a new marketing approach. New to me, anyway. At the end of our driveway was a baggie with a rock and a business card for a local landscaper. Creative. Inexpensive. Wouldn't work for me. I have terrible aim. Today I read in Psalms about another kind of Rock. Not the kind you throw: "...Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy" (Psalm 61:2-3 ESV). Think big, as in "inaccessible rocky summit," as the NET Bible puts it. I am thankful that I serve a God that is bigger than any of my problems. And He loves me.

Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11 ESV

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Make My Day

Mom, do you like to be pampered? This came after a discussion about how women like to be pampered. And might pay money along those lines at the upcoming school auction. I'm not in to spas and massages. I don't soak in the tub with candles. I feel pampered when people show consideration and do acts of kindness. I love it when my older daughter whips up an omelet to order. Or my younger daughter writes notes and draws pictures for me. "Where do you want to go, Mom?" was music to my ears from my 18-year-old son when my MS was bothering me. My husband excels at acts of kindness. Glass of water in the middle of the night? No problem, Dear. I am loved. And pampered.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 ESV

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get Through

"We are not going to lose you in a maze of confusion." That's good to know, as I pressed 1 for English, or whatever the phone menu choice was today. Eventually I found someone to talk to. That's what a skilled mediator does. Guide the parties through the confusion and pain of conflict. Help them sort out what's really going on. Why are they upset? Find the shared interests. Brainstorm creative solutions. But as I learned last week at the Peacemaker seminar, the most important job of a mediator is to point people to the Source of real peace. That's what I want to do.

For in him all the fullness 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

Monday, April 14, 2008

Key to Peace

They said I was calm. That was the feedback during my three days of training and role-plays in Christian mediation. I'll tell you my secret. It's about letting God work through me. When the emotions flared during the role-plays, I said to myself, "Bring it on." Because then we were getting somewhere. Getting to the heart of the issue. If it was easy, I wouldn't need God. And God can handle it. The instructors constantly reminded us that the Gospel is the key to peace.

"A true peacemaker is guided, motivated, and empowered by the gospel, the good news that God has forgiven all our sins and made peace with us through the death and resurrection of his Son (Colossians 1:19-20). Through Christ he has also enabled us to break the habit of escaping from conflict or attacking others, and he has empowered us to become peacemakers who can promote genuine justice and reconciliation (Colossians 3:12-14)." from the Peacemaker Principles Pamphlet based on Ken Sande's book, The Peacemaker

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14 ESV

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Mom's Back

I'm back in business. What shall we have for dinner? We have some sausage links in the freezer, eggs, and white and wheat flour. Oops we're out of milk and oil. But wait, I have some packets of powdered milk for times like these. My olive oil has a mild flavor, that will work. The results? "These are the best pancakes ever!" Cleaning, tidying, cooking. I love having the strength to serve my family. And as a bonus, they appreciate what I do.

Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11 NET

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lost and Found

I lost my dinner somewhere between Salem, Oregon and home. No, not like that. The hosts of the Peacemaker conference graciously packed the leftovers for people hitting the road. Only my travel buddy and I mislaid it somewhere. If someone finds the two sub sandwiches, baggies of grapes, muffin quarters, and pretzels, help yourself. I hitched a ride with someone (from the conference of course) traveling north. It turns out we have met before and have mutual friends. And now we are friends. My husband and daughter met me at the rendezvous half an hour from my home. And when I got home a leftover calzone had my name on it. It's good to be home.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15 ESV

Friday, April 11, 2008

On a Role

What a day. I was mad. I was the voice of reason. Then I helped clean up the tables and prepare for another day of role-plays for my Peacemaker seminar. I'm not sure what my favorite part was. Learning practical ways to help others and myself deal with conflict in a way that is honoring to God or meeting people and hearing their stories. I am thankful for the energy and stamina to be part of a three-day seminar. But I can't wait to go home to my family. Hopefully I'll have a chance to rest up before I have to practice what I've been learning.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:6-7 ESV

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Make the Connection

Sometimes I play the "do you know who I know?" game. There had to be one shared connection at the conference of 40 people. The first connection was loose, at best. One woman was there from The Dalles and knew of my husband's Alma mater, Judson Baptist College. That was one of the schools my husband attended that disbanded after he left. Don't worry, Western Seminary is still going strong in Portland. The woman, Linda, (just like my mother-in-law and now you know how I remember names) is a substitute teacher in The Dalles. My husband can relate to that. Moving on. A man at my table is from the town where my sister lives. He knows my sister's husband's brother. When he saw my hometown on my name tag, he asked if I knew a homeschool mail order company based in my town. Yes. That's my uncle and aunt. I asked a woman about the logo on her shirt. Medical Teams International. It caught my interest because my mom is on a trip to China with an emergency medical training team. Not the same thing. But this woman knows someone from my hometown. Do I know a certain doctor? Yes. I've seen him as a doctor and he is a family friend. His wife was my daughter's first grade teacher. And we go way back. It's a small town. My doctor friend may participate on a medical team some day. And the doctor's daughter and this woman's daughter went to Calvin College together. I'm supposed to tell him hi from Eve. I can do that. Meanwhile, back to the peacemaker training and role-playing.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18 ESV

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Down the Road

I am on my way to a Peacemakers conference in Oregon. I will be learning how to help others (and myself!) deal with conflict. Good thing. There is conflict everywhere. I just got off the phone with a telemarketer that made me so mad. Him: I'm calling from the blah blah blah organization. How is your day going today? Me: I'm expecting a phone call, can you tell me what this is about? Him: I AM trying to tell you what this is about. Is there anything wrong with asking how your day went? Me: I really am expecting a phone call and I don't appreciate your tone. Him: I will call back another time. Me: Please don't, and can you take me off your calling list?

Meanwhile, I miss my family already. Bless my husband for holding down the fort and sending me away with his blessing. He's on his own with the telemarkers.

Thanks to my Aunt Jean for the photo from their recent trip to the Skagit Valley.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 ESV

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Best

I don't know what she does best. She was a legal stenographer with lightning fast fingers long before she and the rest of the world was emailing. She can write, edit, teach, and network. She speaks fluent Mandarin. Did I mention that she is a whiz at improvising and creating delectable wonders in the kitchen? Too bad my mom is out of the country and missed my amazing (if I may say so) use of leftover chicken and vegetables tonight. I made an oil crust for my debut chicken pot pie. I'll have to make it again when she returns from China. She is using her networking skills combined with her Chinese language ability as the liaison for an emergency medical training team to China. We can't wait to see her pictures and hear the stories later this month! I can make her a belated birthday cake too. Happy 66th birthday, Mom!

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 ESV

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Time to Weep

I don't know them personally. But I still pray for the Abraham and Molly Piper family when I think of the loss of their unborn daughter. And today I read Molly's story and suggestions for how to help a grieving friend.

http://thepipers.wordpress.com/2008/03/25/how-to-help-your-grieving-friend/

She says:

So if you think this would be helpful to you now or in the future, I hope you’ll read along, think, comment, pray, and act on behalf of your friends or family members who are grieving. You can be a profound blessing to people you may not feel like you understand.

HT: Tim Challies

who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 ESV

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Try to Keep Up

No wonder I get confused what day it is. It's time for everyone to get on the same schedule. No more spring break for some one week, and others the next. That's what happens when you have five family members involved with four school systems. And now my son is considering which college to add to the mix. Meanwhile, it's back to school for everyone tomorrow. Except me. Maybe I can catch a nap. After I help throw some lunches together.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Yum

We're loving the weekly menu plan. Especially Friday nights. Three cheers for the homemade calzone continuum. We make up codes like C for the youngest's Cheese or KS for Dad's Kitchen Sink. M for Mom might include mushrooms, spinach, olives, pineapple if we have it, and easy on the mozzarella cheese. I gather ingredients during the week and start the dough on Friday afternoon. My assistants help chop, dice, and assemble. Tomato sauce and paste with Italian seasoning and garlic with optional ground turkey makes a good sauce. We broke the pattern this week. My cousin came to dinner and we baked a frozen pizza on Thursday night. But my homemade apple pie for dessert made up for it.

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, Acts 2:46 ESV

Friday, April 04, 2008

And Then There Were Three

Welcome to the world! A little girl, all seven pounds and one ounce of her. Praise the Lord for the safe delivery of my niece. She joins two proud sisters, five and three. Sounds like my family of origin. I'm the big sister and my baby sister is the one with the new baby. I can't wait to meet her.

Pictured: Grandpa (my dad) and three precious girls

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs Three:Three ESV

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Good Old James

How do you do? Nice to meet you. You said your name is Joy? Is that how I respond to trials? The old James, "count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds." I wish. No. I can do better than that. I can stop wishing and start counting on what I know to be true. Trials are tests. Of faith. Start by seeing trials for what they are. And ask God to help my unbelief, like the father of the demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:24). I am weak but He is strong.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Care to Share

Talk about a hotbed of female emotion! It's always interesting to spend some time at a beauty school. I go for the inexpensive haircuts. I'm not picky, and it usually works out okay. A couple months ago, I had a good discussion with the young woman cutting my hair as conversations swirled around us. She said she just wants to be happy. Isn't that what everybody wants? I told her about my faith in God and how He gives meaning and purpose to my life, no matter what happens.
Recently I took my seven-year-old to the beauty school for her first professional haircut. Her request. My last trim job turned out shorter than I intended. ("Mom, do you need a ruler?") The young woman who cut her hair is a senior in high school. She had lots of questions about what it means to be a Christian after hearing that my daughter attends a private Christian school. And why are there different English versions of the Bible? I tried to explain how there are word-for-word translations and thought-for-thought translations. Would she like a copy of a Bible for herself? Oh yes. So I stopped by the beauty school and gave her my New Living Translation Bible and a book explaining, "What the Bible is all About." I am praying for her and hope to see her again next time I need a haircut.

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 ESV

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Above Board

Did you ever cheat in school, Mom? My second grader was just wondering. Yes. I copied a word for a spelling test in third grade. Obstinate. That was the word. Did I get caught? No. But all these years later I still remember my dishonesty and I'm not proud of it. Am I ever tempted to lie, fudge, or bend the rules? Sure. I want to be above board in all my dealings, big and small. For example, I can speak up at the store if I have been undercharged. God cares and my kids notice.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25 ESV