Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Putting in the effort

"I can't do it!" Our son stomped off to the side of the gym, face red with anger and shoulders slumping.

"Come back." The coach's voice was stern. "Come back this minute and let's try it again. We never say that in this class. We only say, 'I can't do it yet!'"

The firm voice that called our son not to quit, to try again with his best effort, has stuck with me for twenty years. It has nurtured a stubbornness to do better, to try more than once or twice, and to persevere to accomplish things I believe in.

One of my work supervisors did not always agree that my ideas were worthwhile. "What's the point?" she'd say. "I'm not convinced." Or more bluntly, "You're wasting your time."

"Let me go back and rethink this," I would say. "Obviously my argument wasn't good enough." 

If the supervisor's reason seemed sound, I happily abandoned the action. I also backed off if she marked it as someone else's turf or pulled rank on me.

However, I rarely tossed an idea just because she didn't like it. She had hired me to complement her skills, after all. I also had a lot of experience with our clients and their interests. Part of my job was to act on their behalf within the company. When I got back to my office, I would pull out my to-do list and write, "Review Idea X." 

"You can be really irritating," said my supervisor. "Dogged and determined. You don't quit if I say I don't like something."

If the proposal was core to my service goals, I reworked it and returned for another try. Often I passed the idea to a colleague, who would present it in a way the manager liked. I got a lot done by not giving up.

Our faith requires perseverance as well. Whether our church, our family, or our employer supports us or not, we are called to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian requires a close walk with God, intimacy with scripture, and faithfulness in morality and good deeds. Not everyone will like the emergence of godly character as we are molded into the image of the Son. We fail often on the way to success, and our flaws and weaknesses make the journey a messy process. But putting in the effort brings God pleasure.

I remember the smile on the coach's face as our son put his head down, gritted his teeth, and charged. "Well done, son!" as the coach patted the thin shoulders of our little boy, who proved that he could do it.

I'm hoping to hear those words, "Well done!" from my Coach some day, too. 

Read more:
*The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves. Proverbs 14:8 NLT
*With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone. Proverbs 25:15 NEV

*For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow, snow, and more snow

Snow is still coming down outside my window. Snow, snow, and more snow. Every time I get the forecast for snow, I hope the weather forecasters are wrong. I hate snow. 

I think snow might have been a fun thing when I was a little girl in Winnipeg. I remember bundling up to make snow forts in the backyard with my brother. Our elementary teachers had great patience, wrapping us in long scarves (over the forehead, then around the back, doubled over the face, and tie in the back.) We learned to pull on hats, parkas, snow pants, and mittens connected with a string through winter coat sleeves. We dressed and undressed for 20 minute recess morning and afternoon, and walked home for lunch on our 1 1/2 hour noon hour. The only kids who got to stay at school had working mothers. The teachers let them stay in to eat for a half hour before chasing them outdoors. Severe blizzards were the only exceptions for the go-home rule.

Besides good memories, I remember shivering, eyeballs cold, eyelashes sticking together, and icicles hanging off my scarf where breath met frigid air. Once, I fell through the ice of a drainage ditch into the freezing runoff below, clambering out in shock, upending my boots to pour out the water, and clomping the few blocks home with the fleece liners of my boots full of ice. My feet still hurt when I think about it.

I am grateful that my dad moved us from Winnipeg to the West Coast when I was 11. God must have known that I'd grow up loathing the cold. This morning I looked outside, bundled up in bed, and skipped my 6am fitness class. The road was too slick for safety on our hill.

When I took the dogs for a walk at 7.30, the slippery slope lay under a thick white blanket. Few cars or people were in sight. The dogs bounced and trotted, loving the ground cover. Good thing they were leashed; without tether, they were so frisky they would have bolted all the way to Montana. I fell (no harm done) coming down the street home, confirming the risk. When we came indoors, I treated myself by bathing the dogs in warm water, the bathroom heater on full blast. They smell better, their hair is puffy and soft, and we're all thawed out.

The gray skies overhead, branches drooping with heavy wet clumps, the tracks of people and cars etched through the snow... I wouldn't mind never seeing another snowfall in my life. But it's just November, a long way until May's pleasant weather.

What a pleasure to stay inside a warm house. I am SO thankful today for a home and a husband whose hard work provides this luxurious, safe space. The warmth and shelter is what I'm going to focus on this Monday of Thanksgiving Week as the Christmas lights twinkle on the tree in the living room. (Yes, my son Jonathan and Amanda Fox, put it up yesterday.)

What are you grateful for today? 

Read more:
*Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.  Psalm 86:3-10 NIV

*For He (Christ) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:13-18 NIV

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Take the leap

"Jump for it!" I held my breath, flung myself into space, and plummeted toward the water.

Harrison Lake is deep and frigid, nestled in the Lillooet Ranges that feed the lake with their glaciers. Our group of friends often hung out on its rocky shores in summer, tanning, swimming, and playing games. 

At the back of the lake, an island peak jutts up about 50 feet from shore, an easy 200 yard swim from the beach. Occasionally, we'd clamber up its sides to the top tip, marveling at the spectacular beauty of nature. Most of our group could barely stay afloat, so a few of the guys and I explored together. 

One day, summer sun warming us and breezes drying our bathing suits after our swim over to the island, we decided that since there were perfectly good ledges above a sheer drop-off on one face, it might be fun to jump off.

The first ledge was not too high: 15 feet? We splashed in one after another, the icy water surprising the skin. Down, down, and then bubbles racing us to the surface, up and up to explode into the warm air. Gasping, shivering, smiling.

"How about we jump from the top? I see another lip we could try," one of the guys said. "C'mon, Rosemee, let's all dive off from up there."

We hadn't climbed down that side from the peak before: it was a treacherous cliff-hugging walk to the little outcropping. The little jumping ledge leaned over the water with only a small bump sticking out below. We could easily jump over that going down, but the trail itself hung over sharp rocks. But sure, we were young ("and stupid," says my 50-something brain), and down we slid, grabbing branches for balance. One at a time.

As I hugged the bones of the hill, the panorama of stunning mountains, sky, and endless lake spread out all around. Certain coldness lay below. The drafts of sunshine playing off cool waves and hot granite tickled up past me.

"Take the leap," I said to myself. "One. Two. Three." But I wasn't ready. My back remained firmly glued to the boulders.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. 

Once more. "One." "Two." "Three." Then, "GO!!!" and I hurled myself forward. Out and out to clear the hump of rock below.

I fell and fell and fell. I remember screaming with pleasure, watching the colors stream by my eyes, the adrenaline rush of plunging through air, and the shock of water. I let myself go far far down, slowing, then beginning to rise with sure lightness. My arms pulled upward, slashed the water, eyes open to see the green clearness above, lungs bursting. Up and up.

The guys cheered when I hit the surface. "Good one!" "Way to go!" But that was a bonus for what had just happened inside. I had pushed so far beyond my own comfort that the jump became a life marker.

An Olympic high-diver would poo-poo our little adventure. So would professional cliff-divers. But for amateurs like we were, it was enough. I never did it again. I never wanted to.

When God puts a challenge in my way that seems too hard, too far beyond my ability or experience, he brings to mind that leap at Harrison. It could have killed me if there had been rocks below. But there were no rocks, and the jump didn't end my life. It started a new chapter, making me stronger and confident in what can be done.

Bravery is not being fearless or reckless, but overcoming fear, considering risks, and doing what must be done. 

Where is God calling us to courage and brave service today? 

Read more:
*They did not conquer the land with their swords; it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory. It was your right hand and strong arm and the blinding light from your face that helped them, for you loved them. 

You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. Only by your power can we push back our enemies: only in your name can we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. 

O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name. Psalm 44:3–8 NLT

*Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing ithe will be blessed in what he does. James 1:23-25 NIV

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hand to the drowning

Sometimes the floodwaters have passed us by, but we see them sweeping over someone else. The rivers are sucking under a friend who is almost drowning. The flames lick a coworker and she is deathly afraid of being burned.

It's difficult to see someone else's pain and not be able to fix the situation. Sometimes God's provision is a shoulder to cry on, quiet empathy at the other end of a desperate phone call, and a prayer on behalf of another. Let's extend God's love and grace today around us.

God, we each know people who are suffering pain, financial reversal, family breakup, or other circumstances that threaten them with annihilation. We pray on their behalf. Because you can, please heal the hurting, give a willing spirit along with financial respite, and forgiveness where relationships are broken.

Whom do we have in heaven but you? And on earth, there is nothing we desire beside you. Our heart and flesh may fail, but we will trust in the living God. May you be praised and glorified as you extend your strong hand to save those who are drowning. Amen 

Read more:
*But now, this is what the Lord says--He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will sweep over you, when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3a NIV

*"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12 NEV

*Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hinds feet on steep slopes

When I see the video, my heart races and my breathing becomes shallow.

What makes these deer think they can walk across an almost sheer surface? Experience? Need? Hunger? Seeing others succeed? Just because the slope is there?

Sometimes falling means a slight bump and getting up again. However, sometime a fall ends a life, a career, or a ministry. The greater the challenge and exposure, the greater the need to tread carefully and cautiously. On high alert, with great skill and wisdom.

I'm staggered when leaders think that leadership means exclusion from morality and special permission to transgress. "Let me tell others what to do, but it doesn't apply to me." Sex, food, drink, money... what could make us think that more privilege and greater heights mean less accountability and less transparency? Isn't the danger greater the higher we go? Let's pray for ourselves as member of the Church, and for those who serve us in leadership.

"Today, O God, we pray for those in exposed places of leadership and ministry. Once again, please turn our own hearts toward you. Let us accept the responsibility as well as the privilege of the gifts you give. Open our hearts to serve you with more fervency and more care, set apart in holiness because of what you entrust to us. Help us to follow Christ more closely because of the opportunities you give and because those who follow us depend on our undivided hearts.

"Let the secret things of our hearts be pleasing to you, O God our Rock and our Redeemer, so that when they become known they will bless rather than cause others to stumble. Accept our humble thanksgiving and the recognition that all good things--including the freedom that results from living in spiritual integrity--come from your hand. Amen."

Read more:
*He maketh my feet like hinds feet: And setteth me upon my high places. Psalm 18:33 KJV

*Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 NEV

*For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 NEV

*For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. James 3:7-9 NEV

Monday, November 15, 2010


I follow Chris Guillebeau's blog "The Art of Non-Conformity Dispatch," Sometimes his blog makes me smile, sometimes it makes me feel at home, sometimes it just makes me shake my head. What do you think my reaction was to this one? (see below.) Highlighting and font are his:
November 15, 2010

Who You Are and What They Say

If you are confident, they will say you are arrogant.

If you are deliberate, they will say you are too sure of yourself.

If you have a sense of purpose, they will say you are self-absorbed.

If you know who you are, they will ask, "Who are you, anyway?"

If you believe in kindness and compassion, they will say you are naïve.

If you are a dreamer, they will say "join the real world."

If you are a rebel, they will try to shut you down.

The instructions include:
rein it in
slow it down
wait it out

pull it back
take your time
play it safe
But you will know:

They are envious because they want what you have.

They are afraid of change even as they crave it.

They are projecting their own regret into resentment of you.

It's not all bad news: some of them will sort themselves out and end up joining you. Because you are a good person and have had plenty of false starts of your own, you'll understand and welcome them warmly. We've missed you! you'll say. It's about time you made it.

As for the others, well, you will remember what Gandhi said:

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
 ********end of Chris' blog*****************

For those who know me well, you know my reaction was, "Been there, seen that." Chris nailed it for those who have trouble conforming to boxes.
Blessings on you. My advice? Keep your head low if necessary, but keep your heart and soul on God's course for YOU. He made us with personality and abilities. It's our responsibility to develop those as we grow in character, no matter how anyone tries to conform us to their will.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Patient One

The more theology I read, the more patient God seems to me. Fewer women than men have entered the speculative ring of writing about knowing God. Women tend toward the mystical and experiential when they write, while historically men go on and on about dry points of potential and random possibilities.

Deuteronomy 29:29 is one of my favorite verses: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever that we may follow all the words of this law." After Moses has reviewed the Hebrew journey through the desert, he tells them there are things they can't and won't figure out. They are to faithfully DO what they KNOW, not what someone may guess at in the future.

My husband reads that verse to introduce Christian Thought, a basic college course in Christian dogma and doctrine. "We are responsible to obey what we know, not to run rings around the mysteries of the faith."

I'm using the verse as I have so many times before--to ground and center me, especially as I read the facts and fictions of what people wrote about God in the early twentieth century. My oh my, there are some weird and wacky ideas out there, deeply valued and closely held as the basis for salvation and right living.

Scripture says it is good to explore the hidden things, but we don't base our life and salvation on them. Through the centuries, God patiently lets us work our way toward him, turning the Church again and again toward himself with revivals, renewals, and right thinking. The family of God has a family tree that includes the strangest, most diverse groups of believers one can imagine. And each one thinks, "I'm right. This is how God wants to be known, followed, and served."

We can only imagine our shock and surprise when we meet the Patient One face to face, when we know as we are known. 

Read more: 
*For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:13-18 NIV

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Laugh and carry on

"To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!" ~ Charlie Chaplin

Today was a day when I could have laughed for 12 hours straight. W wakes at 3am and sets off downstairs not to disturb my sleep. I am still awake when he comes back at 4, showers, and leaves for the airport. I fall asleep just before my alarm goes off at 5.30.

"Off switch! Quick" Swipe across the IPhone. Sweet silence. "No way am I going to exercise class. I'll walk the dogs later."

I fall asleep for a half hour just before 7, when our son Jono takes a shower in the bathroom next door. "Might as well get up!" Let the dogs out, except...

"What's the matter with your eye, pup?" Spike's eye is swollen shut, light sensitive, and leaking puss. He sticks right by my side as we walk to the office. He lies down and doesn't move when I leave the room. I call my husband, who okays a vet visit. Our vet can't take us until 4.30pm, and the eye is scabbing over. I call the vet at the bottom of the hill. She can see us at 10.30. Withe 3/4 hour to go, I quickly trace and sew two little dog fleece coats, patterned on one that's a good fit. It's 33oF here this morning.

Time to strap them into the car. My keys are gone. I call W, who tells me where the spare key is, but it takes 10 minutes to find it. We're a minute late to the vet. Spike's scratched his cornea. While we're there, they vaccinate Bella for rabies, distemper, and kennel cough. I haul out the checkbook. Ouch.

We do a couple of walking loops around a nearby park. A nice 88-year-old woman is taking her pug for a walk, so we stop and chat. "Honey, I'm trying to stay on my feet. That's why I am out here." Good for her!

When we get back to the car, I check email. A Craigslist post-er has gotten back to me: she has the dryer model (with enough poodle power!) that I sold last week. Hers is $20 less than I sold it. Since my "human" blow-dryer overheated and shut down several times while drying Bella last night, I might as well drive 20 miles to Marysville to get it. At the counter, ready to pay, it's apparent that I have used my last check at the vet's. 

"The bank is just down the street, love," says the German lady who runs the pet recycle store. Off we go, then it's back to the store with cash.

It's a 25-minute drive home, by which time the dogs and I are ready for a 2pm breakfast. I put them in their crates with food. I heat the 16-bean soup left from yesterday's supper for myself and head upstairs with a big pot of tea.

All we can do is laugh, shrug, and carry on during wacky days like this one. It's time to crawl under a warm blanket to read another theology book. (So much for my plans of studying the whole day.)

"Days like this happen because you're getting older," says my wise friend. 

"Thanks for that :-)," I think. "Maybe."

Read more: 
*I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; before the "gods" I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. Psalm 138:1-3 NIV

*Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content. Ecclesiastes 1:8 NEV

*Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Saved and sinning less

"You can be completely, totally sin-free! Accept God's second act of grace. You'll lose your sin nature and have all sins forgiven! You'll never want to sin again." 

Wow, if that were only true. Reading historical theology, I've run across holiness movements that believed in a post-conversion second act of grace or "sanctification." Many preachers of the day promised God would free the believer from wanting to sin, restore their unfallen (Adamic) nature, and make him or her completely holy. For the long term. For good. For the rest of life on earth.

Wow! Sadly, I can't say I've experienced that sanctification. My desire to do wrong is mostly tempered by experiencing God's love and marveling at Christ's death on my behalf. I don't want to hurt others because I remember how good God is to me. But I sin and am tempted, though I've been a Christ-follower since I was a child.

One of my friends indignantly turned to me one day after I'd made a rude remark. "You're not perfect, you know!" he exclaimed. 

It's true. "Not a surprise to me or you," I affirmed. "Of course I'm not perfect. Why would I need a Savior if I were perfect?" He's not a Christian, and once in a while he brings up how awful or difficult I can be. Yeah, I know. I'm being transformed into Christ's likeness, but whew - what a long way I have to go! Scripture says we're liars if we say we never sin, but warns against a habitual life of sinning, when we should be a work in progress under the tender hand of God.

One mystery of the Christian faith is that God wipes the slate clean when we confess our sins. Knowing that we'll fall down in the future, he completely forgives and sets us on the right path again and again. We, uniquely among all religions, never have to carry the burden of past failures and excesses. What a generous God!

Today, I'm going to try to be good. Not because I think I'll be completely successful, but because I want to please the One who is SOOO kind and loving to those he has made.

Read more:
*Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12 NLT

*He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. Happy is the man who is always reverent, but he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Proverbs 28:13-14 NKJV

*Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 12:3 NLT

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just the right time

"Don't leave things until the last minute." I know, I know. But I'm pretty happy about mailing off a grant proposal with 10 minutes to spare on the dated postal stamp. I've been waiting for one official, sealed transcript from a college, and it hadn't come. 

I called Mom and asked her to pray. She did. Right then and there. I printed an excuse note for not having the transcript and slipped an unofficial copy into the envelope. I didn't seal it. God's done miracles before, I figured.

I called the post office to make sure they could put the date stamp on the envelope. "Sorry, ma'am. We've just sent the 2 o'clock mail out, and though we're open until 3, the rest of the day will be stamped "Monday." Great. I tried to call another post office, but their phone was constantly busy. I got through to a fax machine and checked the time. Oh oh. No minutes left. Take my chances.

I wasn't tense or upset by the time I got in the car. Whatever will be, will be... I had tried my best. 

As I backed out of the driveway, I looked over my shoulder to see if the UPS delivery had left it on the back porch. There was "a white envelope! I wonder..." I exclaimed, jumping out of the car. Sure enough. They had left it in the wet at a door no one uses ($32 overnight delivery last week) but at least it had arrived.

I got into a long line at the post office, but they gave me a confirmation slip that it went out the correct day. I made it home about the time they were closing. Whew. Life can be funny but things often work out in the nick of time.

Read more:
*Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? Did you give it the ability to leap like a locust? Its majestic snorting is terrifying! It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength when it charges out to battle. It laughs at fear and is unafraid. It does not run from the sword. The arrows rattle against it, and the spear and javelin flash. It paws the ground fiercely and rushes forward into battle when the ram's horn blows. It snorts at the sound of the horn. It senses the battle in the distance. It quivers at the captain's commands and the noise of battle. Job 39:19–25 NLT

*For God says, "At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you." Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT

Friday, November 5, 2010

105, almost 106!

W's Aunt Erna lived to within a few days of her 106th birthday. Yesterday I drove up to Canada to attend her graveside service. Eleven of us, three children, already in their 60s and 70s, a nephew and niece, spouses, a great-granddaughter, my mother-in-law and I. Standing at a little patch of earth to commit the ashes of a retired saint to the ground.

When her children moved her to Ontario 30 years ago, she agreed to go on one condition - she would be buried beside her husband in Chilliwack, BC. Her children honored her wishes. "Mom wanted to go home for a long time. She was looking forward to seeing Dad and her friends in heaven. She wondered why God would leave her and take younger ones with more living and ministry to do."

"She never had a bad thing to say about anyone, in all her years of ministry," said someone. "She was always positive, and that's probably one of the reasons she lived so long."

"She was interested in people and loved to stay in touch," said another. She wrote me letters until she could no longer hold a pen, into her 100s. She rarely forgot a name or person, and her mind was clear and sharp even as her body failed. Auntie Erna kept reading and learning until the end.

"She kept your Christmas cards on the dresser all year," her daughter told me. "You missed one year, and she made us call your mother-in-law to make sure you were ok. She worried that something had happened to you!" (I'd lost her new address when she moved into assisted living.)

I'll miss this lady a lot. She partnered with her husband to plant over a dozen churches for German immigrants to Canada, and was an amazing pastor's wife and mentor to many women in ministry. She also was the last placeholder of her generation in my husband's family, a constant prayer warrior, and faithful Christian. 

From across the miles and through family legend, she set a standard of faith and obedience that calls me into a closer walk with Christ. "Thanks, Auntie Erna. We're happy you got your wish to go home, but we'll miss you!" 

Read more:
*"But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!" Job 19:25–27 NEV

*For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Psalm 94:14-15 NEV

*May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 NIV

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Tendonitis happens when an injured tendon does not receive enough blood and therefore, not enough oxygen, to heal. Repeated abuse of the tendon without complete healing creates a joint that is swollen, sore, and weak. Pianists and typists get it. So do tennis players who hurt their elbows. Time, ice, and rest help overcome the injury.

I seem to be in a "word warp" with synonyms, homonyms, and adjectives tumbling around my head. Take tendency-itis, which is not a real word but bears some of the symptoms of tendonitis, which is real. Tendency-itis: repeated patterns of behavior in small and large decisions determines the warp of a character and personality. "She tends to look on the bright side." "He tends to think only in accounting terms." Tendencies.

Some tendancy-itis is brought on by physical, mental, or soul defects. For instance, syndromes of attention deficit disorders include loss of focus, impulsive behavior, widespread interests (with ambitious projects rarely brought to completion), and misplacing things.

"You always lose things," grumps my husband when I'm looking for keys, books, or other items.

Well, that's true. I've always lost things and getting older hasn't helped. Over the years, I've put organizational systems in place. It still depends on scatter-brained me to make the organizing tweaks work. Too bad. Usually I drop my keys in the same place. But sometimes I don't. Usually I bring library books into the bedroom and put them down where they belong. But sometimes I don't. And that's where any perfect system breaks down into chaos.

"AAAAh, I've got to find my keys (or books, or...whatever)!" I wail as I dash around from kitchen counter to rummaging through purses and pockets of jackets I've worn in the last week.

Here's another tendency. Impulsiveness is promoted in society rather than corrected. For those with ADD or ADHD, we'll never wish it away or completely overcome our impulses so we learn to live with them and try not to act them out. "Oh, looks good. Let's try that!"

No, no, no. "Stop right now and think it through."

However, American capitalism advertises to seduce even the most careful consumers to buy things they don't need, want, or have storage for. Giving in creates a monster that "needs" to buy, acquire, and squirrel away. Undoing the flawed worldview of depending on stuff to bring happiness is a long process because it bucks every trend and promotion that our economy is built on.

Christ calls us to form tendencies that heal, not hurt. To bless, not curse. To be wise stewards of time, talent, and money. We are to ask him for things that benefit others, not just ourselves. Like with tendonitis, we need rest, to put things away or "on ice," and give ourselves time as we heal from unsound habits.

Our warped tendency-itis needs sound input into the value system and continual replacement of bad ideas with good. Only then can we leave behind sinful reflexes that war against the soul. Thinking on things that are good, pure, noble, or good report, and thanking God for his loving kindness? Now those are tendencies we could happily live with.

Read more:
*My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just and fairevery good path. Proverbs 2:1-9 NIV

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Be careful little tweet...

35% of employers keep tabs on their employees via social media. So says Pink Lady's blog today. It's not what we meant to say, but what our employer hears when he/she reads what we wrote that is important.

So "be careful little mouth" - via keyboard - "what we say," just like in the Sunday School song. 

10 things to keep in mind for tweets, blogs, and FB:
  1. If our mom would get upset at the morality or wording, it's probably not for public consumption.
  2. Compliment others and post those replies for everyone to see. Sharing kudos is easy and gives others a boost.
  3. Be nice in public. Complain or object in person, preferably in private. The exception is if it's a systemic problem and we're willing to go on a limb to point it out in public. There are always repercussions for courageous candor, so evaluate if it's a hill we are willing to die on.
  4. Share great ideas and links, not just fluff and stuff. What helps us may also be interesting to another person.
  5. That said, it doesn't matter what great idea we share if a coworker feels attacked or undermined. If the boss delineates turf rather than team or enforces a strict hierarchy, remember there are lots of other ideas out there. Don't swim in a coworker's wading pool.
  6. Don't slam the door on our own foot. Rather, put our "best foot forward" especially when we're smack in the middle of a "situation." If we can't say anything nice... best to be quiet until we can say it nicely.
  7. Remember the words anonymous and names and details have been changed to protect the innocent. The innocent include other persons who can't rebut with their POV. Keeping tabs on a process via words may be fine, but naming names and giving exact details hurts rather than helps. 
  8. Memory is fickle. Keep a print-out file of our highs and lows posted online or important replies we make to others' posts. This is a great way to pattern what we like or loathe, especially after a situation is over. Avoid future pain by learning from (not reinventing) the past.
  9. Track the progress of a relationship with a boss or coworker by keeping a print-out file of out-of-the-ordinary praise and criticism. Notice details in others' emails or tweets that suggest we might be in danger. Keep compliments that evaluate our strengths. Those provide excellent perspective, emotional distance, and future direction when leaving behind a friendship, church, job, or town.
  10. Even when the past is forgiven by God, it's never forgotten online. Someone else may be keeping track or checking on us, too. (See #8, #9.)
Nope, sadly I haven't kept the 10 rules perfectly in the past.  I hope to in the future.  I've offered apologies or explanations where appropriate, too. Maybe that should be #11.

Got any wisdom to add? We'd love to read it!