Monday, June 28, 2010

Answers to Prayer

In Sunday School yesterday we had a guest teacher, Gladys Graber, who had served in Congo during the country's fight for independence. She told moving stories of the danger they had been in, how they were captured and detained by the rebels. They had given up on getting out alive. They knew other missionaries who had been killed. The stories emphasized again to me that we don't truly understand the value of our faith if we are unwilling to take risks for it. Gladys understood that following Jesus was more valuable than life.

I can't retell her story, but I want to include another story that she emailed to me this morning. Dr. Helen Roseveare was also a missionary in Congo at about the same time. She has written books about her experience, including "He Gave Us A Valley" which I have on my shelf. This is a story she writes about her own experience. It speaks for itself.

When I had been in Africa for four years, I was called one night to work in the maternity part of our hospital to help a mother have her baby. Sadly enough, despite everything I did, the mother died. I was left with a tiny, premature baby. I knew that the problem to keep the baby alive was to keep it warm. We had no incubators and no electricity. We were in the jungle. A nurse went to get a box to put the baby in, cotton blankets, and a hot-water bottle. She came back into the room and said, “I'm very sorry, Doctor. I was filling our last hot-water bottle and it burst.” I told her to keep the baby as close to the fire as possible and to sleep between the baby and the door to protect it from drafts.

The next day I went over to the orphanage to have mid-day prayers with the children. I told them some things to pray for, and mentioned the baby and the fact that if it got cold it would die. I also told them about the burst hot-water bottle. And I told them about the little two-year-old sister who was crying because her mother had died. During the prayer time, a ten-year-old girl named Ruth prayed:

“Please, God, send us a hot-water bottle now, God. It will be no good tomorrow. The baby will be dead by then. Please send it this afternoon. And while You are about it, God, would You send a dolly for the little girl so that she will know that Jesus really loves her.”

I did not believe God could do it. The only way that a hot-water bottle could come was in a parcel from home. I'd been in Africa four years and never had received anything from home. And anyway, if anyone from back home sent a parcel, who would put a hot-water bottle in it? I lived on the equator!

That afternoon someone came for me. A large 22-pound parcel was setting on the veranda. I glanced at the postmark----London, England. I felt that I couldn't open it alone, so I called for the orphanage children. We opened it together. We pulled out brightly knit jerseys, knitted bandages for leprosy patients, and a big bar of soap. The children looked a bit bored. A box of dried fruit made the children's eyes sparkle because they knew I would make cookies.

Then, as I pushed my hand down into the parcel, I pulled out a hot-water bottle. I cried. Ruth rushed forward from the front line of the children. “If God sent the hot-water bottle,” she said, “He must have sent the dolly.” She dived into the parcel and from the bottom pulled out the dolly. She never doubted. She looked up with bright eyes and said, “Please, Mummie, can I go over with you and give the little girl the dolly so she will know that Jesus really loves her?”

That parcel had been on its way for five whole months, and previous to that a girls' Bible class had been knitting for a solid year. When the Bible class leader put the parcel together, God told her to put in a hot-water bottle. She had probably said, “God, a hot-wlater bottle for the equator?” It came that afternoon because a ten-year-old prayed believing. God had started that parcel to be made before ever the baby was conceived. Such is the enormous love of our eternal God for one tiny baby in an unknown hospital in the jungles of Africa.

Recounted by Dr Helen Roseveare who served with the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade at Nyan-kunde, Congo

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stuff I Saw This Morning

There is a story about animals getting out of the rain. One at a time, they crowd under a mushroom, which expands with the humidity until it is even big enough to shelter a rabbit. I think I found some of those mushrooms in my back yard.

Chuck often brings me wildflowers when he comes back from checking fields or from a run or a bike ride. Today he brought me a couple of these pink sensitivity flowers. Hot pink pom pom tipped in tiny golden specks, its a party on a stem.

I love the really dark colored daylilies, which are blooming right now. Some day I will find time to divide these and spread them around the rest of the yard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gratitude - 31

This is the 31st gratitude post and I have to decide whether to continue.

For now, I'm grateful for:
  • energy and motivation to bake four batches of bread and pizza today
  • a cool day so the house didn't get unbearable after baking
  • Graceland, by Paul Simon, in the car cd player during errands
  • a great dinner out at Hu Hot Mongolian Grill with Ivan and Darla
  • Chuck playing guitar and humming along while I write my gratitude list

Gratitude 29 and following...

It was a busy weekend, and I have been grateful for many things but have not had much time to write them down.

  • Lunch with Ben and Andrea
  • time to visit with another mom when registering Tim at music camp
  • very pleasant supper with Wes before dropping him off for the week at Upward Bound
  • hanging out with my parents in the evening and getting to also talk with Randy and Annette on the phone while I was there
  • a definite sense that God was involved in the timing of the events of the last week
  • phone call from James who ships out to Africa today with the National Guard
  • a day off, spent resting and reading and journaling
  • unexpected deal on Italian meatballs
  • time to get to know Christian when Tim isn't here
  • quiet evening with Chuck

I'm reading the book, "An Altar In the World" by Barbara Brown Taylor. The focus of the book is on seeing the holy in the things you do all the time. Each chapter is phrased as a practice, like a spiritual discipline. Yesterday I read the chapter, 'The Practice of Saying No', subtitled 'Sabbath'.

Taylor comments that of all the commandments, the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy and to use it for rest is the easiest to disregard. It used to be easier to keep the Sabbath because the stores and restaurants weren't open, and other than church, many things were not scheduled for Sundays. Now, with the busyness of our culture, Sunday is filled. Most families must work two jobs, leaving much of the regular work of home for the weekend. Added to this is the cultural norm of making every opportunity available to our children. Most of those opportunities (music, sports, clubs, jobs, etc.) come with high expectations for commitments. Our evenings and weekends become crowded with games, concerts, meetings, laundry, yard work, and trying to still find ways to connect as a family. It is more exhausting than restful.

It is such a dilemma. We have all heard stories of children who dreaded Sundays because it was such a day of longing to do things that were forbidden. We don't want to repeat that. So how do we keep Sabbath in a way that is healing and restful for the whole family?

According to Genesis, as God created the world he surveyed each thing that was created in turn, and declared each 'very good'. Then on the seventh day God rested. Because God was finished with the work of creation, and rested on the seventh day, God used different words about the seventh day. God declared that day holy. The work was very good. The resting was holy.

This isn't an instruction to reverse the ratio of 6/1. Working 6 days is still very good and resting 1 day is still holy.

In Deuteronomy, the commandment to keep the Sabbath is related to the fact that God brought the people out of slavery. They no longer have to work every day. They need the day of rest to remind them that they are no longer slaves. They need it to remind them of what God has done for them. It is a day of equality. Bosses rest. Workers rest. Animals rest. Strangers who live among us rest. No one is allowed to require work from anyone or anything else.

The question is tough though. How do we keep the Sabbath holy without ruining that holiness with legalism and arbitrary rules?

Taylor suggests choosing one day out of every seven to be your own Sabbath. For herself, she chooses not to drive, not to do anything that would cause someone else to have to work, not to use tools, such as computer or garden tools or washer/dryer, etc. She bases her choices on the instructions in Exodus 20, that we should stop working and that we should allow our servants and our animals also to stop working.

It was a bit serendipitous that later in the evening Chuck picked up an older issue of "The Mennonite" magazine and opened it to an article on keeping the Sabbath. The writer of that article has a Sabbath accountability partner to keep her motivated in her effort to keep a Sabbath. Her guidelines for herself are different. She can garden because it is restful and enjoyable for her. She can go places.

I don't know how to decide those things. There are people who love their work. Is it OK for them to work on their Sabbath if they love it? Gardening is something I do because I love it, but it is also part of my work. I would feel OK about wandering out there to get enough veggies to eat fresh for lunch, but I probably wouldn't feel so good about choosing to pull weeds for an hour, even if I was enjoying myself. Why is that?

I'd like to figure out a better way to recognize Sabbath myself. It would probably involve a different day than Sunday because most of the activity on Sundays comes from commitments to the kids and to the church. The last two Sundays have involved enough afternoon and evening commitments that a nap was not even possible. By Monday I was tired.

Yet it feels bad to be able to choose a day in the middle of the week to celebrate Sabbath. Most people don't have the freedom to do that. It's something I need to process with other people. An accountability seems like a good thing in order to be faithful to the spirit of the commandment without getting swept away by rules.


Here is another picture of the colors on the house. There is a tiny bit of the blue/green in the small triangles at the bottom of the roof line and along the top edge of the window molding. The aluminum rectangles of the storm windows will also be that color. It's hard to see on a cloudy day, but that is what we have been having---cloudy days.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bentley's dedication/Wes to K-State

We went to Bentley's dedication last weekend. I was so grateful to be there. The service was meaningful, and it was good to be included. Here are a few pics of Bentley with Courtney, Wes, and Chuck.

Wes moved in at K-State for five weeks of college prep. Here is a pic of him showing of his KU license plate and his neatly folded clothing placed inside his dresser.

And this is the one he allowed me to take of us together, because he couldn't say no in front of his roommate and his roommate's mom and grandma.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gratitude - 28

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. Saying 'yes' to Bible School, even though it didn't make sense with the amount of work and the schedule. Things worked out better than expected with the schedule. There will always be work. I had five great days with a class of boys and Stef and Jerry.
  2. Enjoying spending time with Tim and Christian at lunch and with them and Wes at supper today.
  3. An abundance of stuff in the garden.
  4. The way it feels to take a cool bath after a long sticky afternoon.
  5. Chuck put the first accent color on the east side of the house this evening!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gratitude - 27

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. My mom, whose birthday is today.
  2. Waking up early enough to get a few things cleaned up and the tea made before leaving for Bible School.
  3. Lunch with Dad, Mom and Andrea.
  4. Phone conversation with Becca.
  5. Fun making silly putty with the boys at Bible School.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Gratitude - 26

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Seven energetic boys closing their eyes to imagine what it would be like to be with Jesus on a mountain top, and their faces change to peaceful, their bodies relax and get still, and they sit in silence for nearly a full minute before I end the moment with a spoken prayer.
  2. The goodness of sleep.
  3. Burritos made by Casa Betania.
  4. Small tired boy resting in my arms.
  5. Small excited boy laughing and playing and saying new things.
  6. Tim's senior pic photo shoot.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Gratitude 25

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. Another very good day at Bible School---these boys are great! Such good questions/such insightful answers. I'm learning as much as I'm teaching. Today the story of the showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal with God showing amazing power.
  2. This one is shallow, but I bought a new phone I like.
  3. A nice meal at Olive Garden with Chuck. It was a sort of post/pre-crazy schedule season date.
  4. The more the guys paint, the more I like the color, even though they say it is the color of poop.
  5. Coffee with vanilla, coconut, hazelnut, plenty of milk and a little stevia...mmmmm.
One of these days I'll try to find time to put up a couple of pics of Bentley from his dedication. It might have to wait until Bible School is over.

Gratitude - 23 and 24

I'm a bit behind because of long full days, and because the blogging site was down one evening. Here are two days worth of gratitude.

On Sunday I was grateful for:
  1. Being invited to Bentley's dedication. It was good to be there for many reasons, but most importantly because of what God has done and is doing in Courtney's and Bentley's lives.
  2. The drive to and from Salina. On the way there I was able to enjoy some needed time with Wes talking about the things that are important to him. On the way back I cranked up Pierce Pettis and enjoyed singing along loudly, and thinking my own thoughts without interruption.
  3. MDS house dedication. Jamboree sounded good. I'm excited about the project. I didn't have to figure out what to have for supper.
  4. Time to work on my classroom for Monday Bible School.
  5. Deciding to gut it out and finish the dishes late at night even though I was tired. Now they are done.
On Monday I was grateful for:
  1. An exhilarating day of Bible School teaching 8 boys from grades 3-5.
  2. The joy of hearing children ask honest questions and having the whole class engaged fully in discussing together what the answers might be.
  3. Being well enough prepared that I felt ready to lead.
  4. Other gifted people to lead the things I'm not good at---active games, crafts, music, creative snacks.
  5. Feeling no guilt about taking a break from the intensity of work at home to catch up on some sleep and to do some advance prep for Bible school.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Gratitude - 22

Today I am grateful for:
  1. My family - we ate together at Andrea and Ben's house tonight and it was a pleasant evening.
  2. Enough time to do what is important.
  3. Terere' on the front porch with the guys this morning.
  4. Anticipation of Bentley's infant dedication service tomorrow.
  5. Sleep.

Gratitude - 21

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Two dogs who will walk next to me four miles happily without pulling on the leash or in any other way make me wish I had left them at home.
  2. Day lilies. Each blossom has only one day to be beautiful, and yet does it with such abandon. (see below)
  3. Hard physical labor that produces a sweat and good physical tiredness.
  4. People who ask hard questions of themselves and of me.
  5. People who do hard things because those things are right.
I've finally had a day where I realized I was feeling grateful quite a bit of the time. There were still times when I felt overwhelmed or lost sight of my gratitude. But there were more times when I would be enjoying how good something was, and then remember that this was something I could add tonight. I had way more than five things to be grateful for tonight, but it is nearly 1:00 a.m. and I had some picture to add.

The day lilies are just beginning now. They are so beautiful. The shortness of the bloom is made up for by the brilliance of the color. It is in your face amazing.

The variety of flowers also is such fun to think about. The tiny petals of the wildflowers in my flowerbed---is it fleabane? I can't remember. They are so delicate and seem so fragile. Yet, if they go to seed in the flower bed, next year they will take over. I have to pull most of them out just before they shed their seed so that I will have some, but not too many.

The larkspur has a flower that is a little bit more substantial, but its leaves are lacy and different from any other flower I know of. It reminds me of dill as it sprouts before the buds appear.

Hollyhocks have neither delicate flowers or fragile leaves. I planted them by the back door and they make me smile. I read once that people used to know where they outhouse was because in summer it was screened by hollyhocks. Every time I walk past the back door I think about that.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Painting the house, gratitude - 20

We have hired Tim and his friend, Christian, to paint the house this summer. The local paint store had a May special, which was a free consultation on color if we bought our paint from them. Since we had already decided to buy the paint from them, this was a no brainer. The picture below shows the main color with two options for the trim color. We have chosen the color on the left, although some of us are already having second thoughts---but not seriously enough to change after buying two gallons of that color paint.

As with any home improvement, it always is more than you anticipate. After seeking out advice from the paint store, we have treated the house for mildew and begun scrubbing every paintable surface. Also, we have rented the lift.

This lift gets parked beside the house and then it can go as high as 50 feet up and 30 feet on either side, enabling the painters to do a whole side of the house without moving a ladder. The controls are in the basket, which is also big enough to hold their supplies, and the rails keep them safe. Here they demonstrate how it works. The sound you hear is Tim's mp3 player connected to a boom box playing a recording of "The Hobbit".


And now they get to work

Today, Andrea came along with Ben to work, and she did a lot of priming on the front porch.

On hot days we often like to drink terere' and eat snacks (like watermelon) on the front porch during our breaks.

Somehow I managed to miss getting a picture of Ben at break. He was sitting right next to me. I remember thinking I needed to go over to the other side of the circle to get a better angle for Ben, but I must have been distracted at some point. Next time...

Luke wanted to paint too. He even managed to grab a paintbrush that had been used for primer and got a few brush strokes on the front porch floor before we could stop him. Laura had the idea of letting him paint with water, Chuck got him an old paint brush, and we just kept filling up his 'paint' container.

Laura left for a while to get a haircut and when she came back she looked like this.

Luke knew that she was Mommy, but he was quite worried about it. He would call her 'Mommy', but he wouldn't let her hold him, and he wouldn't walk past her without holding my hand. Mostly he wanted to sit on my lap to try to reassure himself.

After a while he decided he wanted to 'drive' Chuck's pick-up, and then he let Laura sit next to him and play with him.

Because of the lift, the guys are working long hours so that we can get as much as possible done in the week that we have it. Christian stayed for supper, sausage pizza baked on the stone. Then he and Chuck worked until nearly dark while Tim went to a rehearsal. I really appreciate their willingness to work so hard!

* * * * * * *
Today I'm grateful for:
  1. A mockingbird that sang through the night the last two nights.
  2. Many willing hands to help with the work.
  3. Someone who mysteriously weeded my corn. (Thanks Dad and Mom!)
  4. Blue salvia that grew on its own in my neglected flower bed.
  5. Strength and health.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Today I'm grateful for:
  1. Thinking to look at my calendar before I was too late to attend a workshop that was scheduled for 8:45 a.m.
  2. Waking up early enough that I could walk four miles and get home early enough to see the calendar in time.
  3. Tim being willing to work a lot extra today in order to fully utilize the lift while we scrape, clean, repair, and paint the outside of the house.
  4. Psalm 103, my psalm for the week, which is completely a psalm of gratitude.
  5. Even though it feels almost too busy, things are getting done, and most of the time I'm able to relax about the things that I'm not getting done.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Gratitude - 18

Today I am grateful for:
  1. Luke's sense of humor.
  2. God using people who are a mess.
  3. Broccoli from the garden.
  4. Our church working together to build a house for someone who needs one.
  5. Waking up this morning in time to walk during sunrise, even though I had only had 6 hours of sleep.