My hubby was nominated by a couple of his coworkers for Sysadmin of the Year! He got a cool and funny T-shirt, and winners will be notified on November 10th...his birthday. Though he doesn't expect to win, it was nice to be thought of and appreciated enough to be nominated. He works hard to keep all systems operational and up to date, and, like most IT personnel, he rarely gets appreciation for it. I just wanted to say Congratulations, Eddie!
Tuesday, September 26
I have been mulling this scene over in my heart and mind for the last several days. We walked into the pediatric hematologist/oncologist's office last week with renewed optimism because Abigail awoke with a normal temperature after 12 days of having unexplained high fevers. It's not an office I ever wanted to be visiting, but in short order we were blessed to be given assurances that she has no signs of a malignancy or leukemia or anything like that. Grateful, relieved, overjoyed...all the emotions I experienced as we were given that wonderful news.
However, underneath my elation there was such a heaviness for the families I saw there. Precious little ones undergoing chemo and other unspeakable things. Abby was the only child in the office with hair, except for the darling one-month old boy who was clearly the love of his Mommy's life. What in the world was he doing there?! I was keenly aware of those in adjacent rooms who didn't have the luxury of leaving that office with a smile of relief.
Do they know the Lord? If not, how do they cope? Where is their rock and shelter from the storm? I have been praying for these families whose faces are now burned on my mind. Mostly I pray that they will come to know the Lord and have strength. From my vantage point it's easy to say this and pray this, but I have been praying they would also come to know that He is good all the time.
"He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge." Psalm 91:4a
Thursday, September 21
This morning's devotion from Elisabeth Elliot:
Have you ever put heart and soul into something, prayed over it, worked at it with a good heart because you believed it to be what God wanted, and finally seen it "run aground"?
The story of Paul's voyage as a prisoner across the Adriatic Sea tells how an angel stood beside him and told him not to be afraid (in spite of winds of hurricane force), for God would spare his life and the lives of all with him on board ship. Paul cheered his guards and fellow passengers with that word, but added, "Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island" (Acts 27:26, NIV).
It would seem that the God who promises to spare all hands might have "done the job right," saved the ship as well, and spared them the ignominy of having to make it to land on the flotsam and jetsam that was left. The fact is He did not, nor does He always spare us.
Heaven is not here, it's There. If we were given all we wanted here, our hearts would settle for this world rather than the next. God is forever luring us up and away from this one, wooing us to Himself and His still invisible Kingdom, where we will certainly find what we so keenly long for.
"Running aground," then, is not the end of the world. But it helps to make the world a bit less appealing. It may even be God's answer to "Lead us not into temptation"--the temptation complacently to settle for visible things.
Wednesday, September 20
I am saddened that most churches today have abandoned hymns. We are missing some great theology and exhortation by forgetting these great works of the past. This hymn is one of my favorites (From Rippon's Selection of Hymns-1787; though it will forever be linked to J. Vernon McGee in my mind!):
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you he hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Fear not, I am with the: O be not dismayed,
For I am they God, and will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes:
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no, never, no, never forsake!
Tuesday, September 19
A pastor at a church we used to attend had a custom of stating, "God is good!" to which we were encouraged to answer, "All the time." He would then say, "And all the time," we would answer, "God is good." It was done often enough that it often felt like we were not really thinking about what we were saying but going through the motions (I guess to be fair I shouldn't say "we," but "I" felt this way).
As I was reading In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado about ten years ago, one paragraph in his book had an enormous impact on me, my faith, and the way I think about God. His oldest daughter had fallen into a swimming pool when she was two, and a friend saw her and pulled her to safety. What impacted me was what happened the next morning in his prayer time.
"I made a special effort to record my gratitude in my journal. I told God how wonderful he was for saving her. As clearly as if God himself were speaking, this question came to mind: Would I be less wonderful had I let her drown? Would I be any less a good God for calling her home? Would I still be receiving your praise this morning had I not saved her? Is God still a good God when he says no?" (p. 132)
Though the answer to this question should be axiomatic, we often make it empirical, and the way we see God and how we live is impacted by how we answer that question.
I have dug some deep pits for myself and I have fallen into some of others' making and I have also been led into some by the Lord's own will. I've not always spent my time in the darkness praising God. At times I've questioned, I've whined, I've begged, I've hardened my heart, I've even wanted to walk away and leave God. Somewhere in the last decade and a half though I realize I have grown imperceptibly. I still whine and beg sometimes, but I can't remember the last time I've doubted the goodness of God or asked why He allows this or that. Thankfully, blessedly, there is a rock solid knowledge in my heart, mind, and soul that He is good all the time, and all the time He is good.
I will extol Thee, my God, O King, and I will bless Thy name forever and ever. Every day I will bless Thee, and I will praise Thy name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable." Psalm 145:1-3
Monday, September 18
I am finally reading George Orwell's book 1984. I wanted to read it the year I graduated (which was 1984), but somehow never got around to it. This morning as I was surfing the internet I ran across this article from the Daily Mail describing new talking cameras on the streets in England. People behind the cameras monitor the streets and discourage "anti-social" behavior by talking directly to the offender! I admit I am a little amused by this development, though I am surprised by the citizens' response...they apparently think it's great.
By way of keeping this post light, I can't help quoting the great thinker and politician from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away:
"So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause." Padme Skywalker.
Friday, September 15
Why do I seem to have to relearn that same lessons over and over? I am saddened by my own selfishness, my own self-centered view of life. This week has been a long one due to my daughter's illness. I have given in to fear once or twice (always in the night...why is that?), and this morning I contemplated what I was afraid of. Yes, I do not want my baby girl to suffer. It wrenches my heart to see her listless and miserable. I am frustrated by my inability to do more than hold and kiss her, give her small doses of ibuprofen or acetametaphin. I am afraid that perhaps there's a diagnosis around the corner that may be something too frightening to think about (why am I borrowing trouble?). I am afraid of this beautiful creature being ripped from my life.
As I was reading Can the Real Jesus Still be Found by Sigmund Brouwer this morning, this paragraph made me see my fears perhaps for what they really are:
If you accept you have a soul created by the God of love, then you understand that during your life on earth, your intent self-interest and self-absorption will obscure your awareness of the One who created you. Futilely searching for your own satisfaction and your own gods is a chasm between you and God that you will never cross without his help. (p. 98)
Is that what I am doing? Seeking my own satisfaction? Certainly I have tremendous concern for my sweet girl and what she's suffering, but too my fear is so self-centered. I don't want to hurt, I don't want to be inconvenienced by lancets and test strips and the like, I do not want to have to constantly patrol my emotions. I want my life to be predictable, I want it to be "safe," I want it to be comfortable, for my children certainly, but for me too.
But where is the glory in that? Hebrews tells us that "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." (5:8) If Christ had to suffer to learn obedience, how much more do I (or my daughter)? Not only that but the Lord loves Abigail infinetly more than I do and not only wants what's best for her, actually knows what's best for her. So this morning I have once again found peace and joy and I am asking the Lord (again) to help me walk in faith and to live out these verses:
Consider it all joy, my brethern, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces enurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4.
Thank you, Patty, for reminding me of our reading from Job 23:10b: "When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Sunday, September 10
We are taking a two-week break from school, so I decided to get some bigger household projects done this week.
Monday - Even though it was Labor Day, hubby worked and took Ryan with him. So I decided to clean our shower. We have harder water here than in our last home, and I have been frustrated by keeping the shower looking nice. I think I finally discovered a product that will clean the hard water off of the chrome without damaging it and without me scrubbing for hours! I also did some organizing and decluttering.
Tuesday - Pulled out stove and cleaned underneath, also leveled it so my liquids don't all run to one side (my back is still hurting...should have waited and had help). Finished unpacking books since we stilleight boxes left unpacked. Ed brought home some battered old bookcases from work a while ago, so I cleaned them up as best I could, brought them into the office and started organizing books. It took all day, but at last our office has no unpacked boxes in it! We still have two boxes of books left that didn't fit, but I put them in the garage until we are able to get more bookcases.
Wednesday - I washed windows, sliding glass doors and all their screens. I have only done this once since we moved in. The last time I did it, I spent an entire day cleaning off concrete and some paint from the construction, and then within minutes of me standing back to admire them, Abby turned on the hose and squirted all the back windows. Sigh. After that the wind blew and since we don't have grass, they were covered in dirt. I haven't got back to it since. But now they are sparkling...at least until the next rain or wind storm. I also vacuumed all carpet in the house (two bedrooms and master closet) and the living room rug, then organized kids' closets, getting rid of some things they don't play with anymore and clothes that no longer fit.
Thursday - Pulled out the refrigerator and cleaned behind it as well as cleaned it inside and out. Mopped our entire "hardwood floor" (it's really laminate, but it looks like hardwood) on my hands and knees because there were still tiny flecks of paint that the mop just hadn't been picking up. I mop the kitchen and dining room fairly regularly, but our living room, halls, entry, office and master bedroom have hardwoods too, and I don't do those very often (in fact, I've never mopped the office or bedroom before because sweeping seems to be enough and they just never look dirty...it's great). I also vacuumed all living room furniture and dusted, including ceiling fan, chandelier, and recessed lighting in the house.
Friday - I had planned to clean both bathrooms, including the tub in the kids' room, pull out the washer and dryer and clean under them, mop the laundry room and both bathrooms. However, I was so sore from the previous four days' work that I just couldn't work up the energy to do it. I am planning on doing it tomorrow instead. Today all I managed to do was wash bedding and other regular laundry.
Saturday - Abby woke up this morning and told me she was tired! I didn't think a whole lot about it, but then she started to get a fever which eventually got up to 104 degrees. So instead of cleaning, I spent the day on the couch holding my baby and watching endless children's DVDs. This is a great example of "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today!" I wish I had pushed myself to get this last part of my list done.
Sunday - Daddy took Ryan to church while Mommy and Abby had a repeat of yesterday. She doesn't appear to have any other symptoms, so I am suspecting an ear infection. She says her ears don't hurt, but tomorrow we're off to the doctor if the fever's not gone.
I had hoped to have all my fall cleaning done before hubby's vacation and our new homeschool year begins on the 18th, but I'll just finish the last few things whenever I am able to. C'est la Vie!
Tuesday, September 5
My Bible reading the last two days has been in Job. I've read this book several times, but I am still always filled with amazement at these words from Job after all ten of his children have been killed, not to mention the loss of his great fortune:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:20-21
I saw this in action once at a funeral of a young man whose wife who had just been widowed and left to raise their infant daughter alone. During one of the hymns, she stood, raised her hands to heaven and worshipped God. Afterwards she said she was overcome with love and praise for her God. I'll never forget that moment.
I confess I don't always respond to events in my life with praise to God, but I am inspired by Job and my dear friend to unquestioningly give praise for all that He sees fit to bring my way. I know He brings the crucible only to refine and not to destroy, and today I pray I will respond in submission and love instead of questions and fear.
Sunday, September 3
My hubby has entered into this strange world of blogging, and I thought I'd make his blog, Fish & Chips, this month's feature. He just began it today, so I don't have comments to make. I just want to support him and give you the chance to click on over and welcome him to the blogosphere!
While I'm at it, Honey, I'll take this opportunity to say, "I love you!"
Forgive me for this post, but I just can't resist! It is an understatement to say I'm not a sports fan. However, I do enjoy watching the occasional sporting event live, and maybe an annual televised football game too. However, since the early 1990s the one sport you can find me loosely following is tennis. I'd like to say it's because I appreciate the skill and strategy it takes to be a top player, but the reality is it came about because I liked watching Andre Agassi play.
I've watched him play great matches with the likes of Courier, Chang, Federer and Ivanisevic, but none more exciting than those with rival Pete Sampras. Somewhere along the line, I actually became a tennis fan (not as some would define the word, but it's as enthusiastic as I get over sports), and I enjoy watching a championship game from time to time throughout the year. I watched Agassi win his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 1992, and today I watched him play his last game, set and match.
Pete Sampras' retirement left a hole in the sport, and now as Andre follows suit, I know I will miss watching him play. If I continue to watch tennis it will only be because I learned to respect some of the other players' talents by watching them volley with Agassi. Friday's U.S. Open 2nd Round match with Marco Baghdatis was spectacular, going into the wee hours of Saturday morning, with Andre pulling out a win at last.
Today's 3rd Round match against the unknown Benjamin Becker (unrelated to Boris) didn't rise to that level of excitement, though you'd hardly know it by the cheering crowd that was unabashedly routing for Agassi to pull off a win. In the end he wasn't able to push aside his back pain and lost the match. I disagree with his politics and his personal life doesn't make him a role model I'd like for my children, but as far as watching him on the court, I will miss him and I have to say thanks...it's been fun!