My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Archive for May, 2009

What a Man, Part II…

Today is my Dad’s 74th Birthday! I wish I was in California right now so I could give him a hug but for now Happy Birthday and I Love You will have to do! So Daddy…thanks for being such a wonderful father. You have taught me so much and I’m your biggest fan! Love you so much and I’m glad you choose me for your daughter! Happy Birthday!

My Dad, me, Mark (my brother), and my Mom around 1968

My Dad, me, Mark (my brother), and my Mom around 1968

Advertisements

Kenya Bound…

Bella in Kenyan church 2008

Bella in Kenyan church 2008

As most people are aware, Bella is going back to Kenya again this year on another four week long mission trip. She is excited to be leaving in a little over three weeks. Even though most people assume this is “old hat” for Bella, since she went on this same mission trip last year, it actually is just as scary the second time around. Also, Bella is the type of person that likes to have all her “ducks in a row”. She likes a plan and everything in order way in advance. This trip is not turning out that way.

First off, Bella lost her passport somewhere in our house last year after returning from Africa. In the past 11 months, we have yet to locate it. A while back she finally broke down and realized she would have to get another passport. That was $100 she really didn’t want to have to spend, but she did. At the time, she was told that passports were taking around 3 weeks to come back. Five to six weeks later, she still hasn’t received her passport. As you can imagine, it is driving her crazy.

Also, she had relatively easy time raising money last year. With the economy down this year, it has been a much harder task. We keep counseling her that the Lord will provide but she is having a hard time wanting all the money needed to be sitting in a bank account ready to go. We are continuing to pray that God will bring the money for this trip. However, Bella has made the decision to take out a personal loan if the money doesn’t come in the next week or so.

Bella in Kenya - 2008

Bella in Kenya - 2008

Several people have asked so here are some ways you can help:

1. Prayer – first and foremost Bella needs lots of prayer. Pray that the people in Kenya’s hearts will be prepared by God. Pray for the safe travel of the team and that they will open themselves up to be used by God for these people. Pray that Bella will be bold to preach the Gospel to the lost and an encouragement to the Kenyan Christians they are training.
2. Money – if you feel led to give, any amount will be used for God’s glory. Any money Bella gets above and beyond her room and travel expenses will be used to buy much-needed supplies for the training center and the village.
3. New Kitchen Gadgets – the team is making up gift baskets for the women that they are training in Meru. There are many items that are hard to come by there that we take for granted. Items needed are good quality sharp kitchen knives, ladles, spoons for cooking, graters, potato peelers, and things of that nature. They should be new and preferably metal so they will last (they can’t go to the nearest Wal-Mart and pick up something if it breaks).

This trip wouldn’t have been possible without all the prayer and support Bella has already received from many of our church family. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Bella has been asked to be on the Morris and Montiel show on FM 107.9 on Friday morning 7:30-8:00 a.m. to talk about her upcoming trip. Please pray for her to have the words to say that will only bring glory to God. Also, please listen!!!

Last of all, please pray for our family while Bella is gone. We are so proud of Bella and excited that God is once again using Bella to spread His name to the nations, but it is still hard for Momma and Daddy to let their little girl go. Pray that God will strengthen our walk with Him during this time.

Bella in Kenya 2008

Bella in Kenya 2008

The Death of Death…

Last night when I got home from choir I went to check on Bella’s recently acquired gerbils. There are two of them – Rick James and Lucy. Rick James was Bella’s gerbil for a semester long experiment last semester. After the class was over the students were given a choice to either keep the gerbil or to donate it to the zoo to feed the snakes. What kind of choice is that? Get attached for 3 months and then send it to its death? So Bella chose to keep Rick James. She also “adopted” Lucy, one of her other classmate’s gerbil.

Lucy (left) and Rick James

Lucy (left) and Rick James

So…after the issues we had with rats a few months back (plagues), I was trying to see these little rodents as something different…even working up the courage to hold one of them. Every day I check on them but last night something was different. Something was wrong with Lucy. At first I thought maybe she was trying to have some babies since she had gotten a little plump over the last week. But I quickly realized something was seriously wrong.

Lucy was in a little ball with her eyes barely open and her breathing was labored. The only time she would move was when Rick James would get too close and then she would almost fling her body across the cage to other side. When Bella got home we took Lucy out of the cage and put her in a cool-whip bowl lined with paper towels. Eventually Lucy died. I was so incredibly sad. I really don’t know why I reacted so strongly as I thought I hated rodents. But this was so sad to me.

I hate death. I hate it because it takes those we care about away from us. Whether it is a beloved dog, a new gerbil, or the person we love most in the world. I think I got so upset because I have seen a person die and I had such an incredible sadness about the end of life. Death is such an offense to God’s creation.

Should death be an offense to us? Yes. But death can also serve as a reminder to us of how our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death. It should bring us back to the cross. So when someone we love dies should we grieve? Of course we should. However, the Bible tells us in 1 Thess. 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

Now, I know what some of you are thinking…how can I equate the death of an animal to that of a person? I can’t – not really. I know that animals and humans are totally different. And I really don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not our beloved animals go to heaven or not. The Bible just isn’t clear on that one. I will leave that debate to those more scholarly than I. I would love to think that I would get to see my sweet dogs that have died when I get to Heaven…but I don’t know. I do know that I sure don’t want those rats we killed awhile back running around on the streets of gold. So…it’s a mixed bag.

But I do want to use this sad occurrence to bring me once more to the cross and remember that death has ultimately died. That God is in control of everything…even this little gerbil’s life and death. (“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29) And that He is a loving, merciful God.

What a Man…

I am so proud of my husband and very blessed to have him. You see, he is a “handy” kind of guy to have around. Recently, he has fixed several chairs that had broken, installed two ceiling fans, rewired an old phone jack to make a new wall socket, fixed my hammock stand (so I could lay in my new hammock for Mother’s Day), shaved a door so it would close properly, fixed multiple, torn screens around our house, and made a brand new screen for a window that has never had a screen. And this is just in the last month or so. I’m sure I’m forgetting something…

Bud and I in 2007

Bud and I in 2007

I feel so blessed to have a man who jumps right in and tries to fix whatever needs fixing. He always does it with such a servant’s heart too. I can’t imagine the amount of money we have saved over the years because of his talents.

I thank God all the time for the gift that He gave to me when He gave me Bud.

So…here’s to my “handy-man”! Thank you and I love you honey!

Where the Heart Is…

I think that God has been seeing where my heart really lies for the past few months…

Bella has been preparing for a second mission trip to Africa in June. Last year the money came in fairly quickly and consistently and literally Bella’s “cup runneth over.” This year that has not been the case.

Of course, we understand that economic times are tough. And Bella pretty much made the decision about a month ago that she was going on mission to Africa no matter what and is planning to take out a loan to secure whatever funds she needs to go. But Bud and I have been struggling about this issue as well.

You see, Bud and I received around $3000 back from income taxes this year. When the time came to purchase the airline tickets, we decided to go ahead and pay the $1900+ for Bella and then get the money back as she got donations. We knew that if she waited to purchase her tickets, she ran the risk of not being on the same flight with everyone else in the group. None of us wanted her on airplanes in three countries for 24+ hours all by herself.

That left us roughly $1000 of our income tax. We had decided before we ever got the refund that we were going to use the money to visit my Dad and stepmother in California. I haven’t been able to see them since May of 2005 when Bella graduated. They were going to try and come for a visit for Joey’s graduation in May of 2008, but my Dad has Rheumatoid Arthritis and is taking chemotherapy and is unable to travel.

Bud and I had made the decision to visit them as a last, great family vacation before the kids moved out. However, with only $1000 left, and not many donations coming in to pay all of the airplane money we spent back, we now wouldn’t be able to buy plane tickets to California, much less do any of the other things we wanted to do while we were there.

Today, in my prayer time, I felt like God was bringing me to the point of needing to forgive Bella the debt that she owed us for the tickets. Bud texted me while I was at work and was basically being led the same way. We both prayed and decided that while visiting my parents was a good thing…God’s will is the best thing.

So…where is my heart? It is with doing the Great Commission. It is with trusting God and His will and watching where it leads. Somehow, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed.

Lavished With Love…

Last night I was watching my husband with one of our basset hounds (his “baby”) Blossom. They have a bedtime ritual that they perform every night. When Bud goes to bed Blossom follows him. She gets on the bed beside him and he rubs her. As he pets and rubs her she starts to hum. He can even make a tone and she will basically imitate him. As long as Bud is willing to pet her, she will stay there and enjoy the love He is lavishing on her.

Blossom

Blossom

It is fun to watch her as she has a look of complete adoration on her face the whole time he is petting her. There is no one else in the world but Bud at that time. And pretty much nothing I do will take her attention away from him. In her world, there is only Blossom and Bud.

I’m sure you have heard the tale about the dog and the cat. A dog sees his owner feeding him, caring for him, and petting him and thinks, “He must be God.” A cat sees his owner feeding him, caring for him, and petting him and thinks, “I must be God.” A speaker in my Perspectives class called this basic premise Dog and Cat Theology.

There is some truth in that old adage. Because when Blossom looks at Bud while he is petting her, there is no doubt that she sees him as God. In her life, he is the one providing for her and the one who cares for her. When the mean cat at my father-in-law’s house slaps Blossom, she runs as fast as her short legs will take her straight to Bud.

While I was watching the two of them in their “love fest” last night, I couldn’t help but think about my relationship with God. Am I willing to just enjoy the love God lavishes upon me? Do I look upon Jesus’ face and nail scarred hands in adoration? When I am praying is there only God and me? When life smacks me in the face, do I run as fast as my short legs will take me straight to God?

There is so much I can learn from Blossom’s single-minded adoration. God lavishes me in so many ways every day. He protects me and cares for me. He provides for me and my family. Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” And Psalm 94:17-19 says, “If the Lord had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. If I should say, ‘My foot has slipped,’ Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” And all He wants from me is my adoration…single-minded, uninhibited adoration.

It seems like so little to ask…after all He has done for me and continues to do for me. He chose me from before the foundations of the earth. The adoration should be no problem.

So I will again push aside my selfish, sin-filled self and love my Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I will adore Him! And I too, like Blossom, will enjoy being lavished with love.

The Letter (or What’s Really Important)….

When my mother was dying, I went to visit her in California. We both knew at that point that it was the last time we would ever see each other alive. As such, it was extremely hard for us to communicate what we wanted/needed to say to each other without breaking down and crying. My parent’s pastor at the time suggested that we write letters to each other; so that’s what we did.

After my mother died, my dad returned the letter I had written to my mother to me. I also had the letter she had written to me. That letter has been one of my most precious possessions. It is just one page, front and back. The handwriting is hard to read because my mom was so weak when she wrote it. It doesn’t even look much like her handwriting. There are also big water spots that blur the writing scattered over the page. I’m not sure now which of these tear marks are hers and which are mine.

I always kept the letter in a little wooden box along with my letter to my mother and other really special precious things that probably have no value to anyone else in the world but me. So imagine my surprise and dismay when I looked in the box and the letter wasn’t there. I looked everywhere. I tore my whole bedroom up. I looked through every Bible cover I owned just in case I put it in there. I was devastated and finally just had a big, fat cry. Joey and Bud were home at the time and both were upset by my reaction.

For the past six to eight months, I have just tried to forget about the letter. I had prayed and prayed for God to show me where it was. But He didn’t. It was gone. Some evil person had come into my bedroom and stolen it for some unknown reason. I would never get to read it again. Every time I thought about the letter I would get upset. It was almost like losing my mother all over again. So…I would just try to forget about it.

Two weekends ago I decided to clean out my bedroom closet. My poor closet is pretty tiny and crammed full to the hilt. I have to change out clothes between my bedroom closet and the closet in the living room by season. My closet doesn’t just house clothes but also purses, shoes, luggage, journals, and bible studies. I had neglected to clean out my closet the last year, so it was about to burst at the seams.

I dedicated a whole Saturday to cleaning the closet. I didn’t even get dressed in the morning so I couldn’t trick myself into doing something else. I had to be done and today was the day. The first thing I decided to do was organize the two shelves on either side over the clothes. The journals and bible studies had started out on one of the lower shelves, but I decided to move them up to the top shelf since I didn’t need to grab them easily as I was dressing each day.

After the top shelf had been cleaned up of all the junk residing there, I started moving bible study books and journals. Of course, as usual, I picked up way more than I could realistically move. And dropped a whole stack. So I had to climb down off of the chair I was using for a ladder and bend down and start picking up books. As I picked up one of the bible study books, two letters fell out. And guess what they were? One was THE LETTER. The second one was the letter Ruth, my biological mother, had written me about the day I was born.

I was ecstatic. I stopped then and there and told God thank you! I also probably did a much better job cleaning out my closet because I realized what was really important and it wasn’t all that junk in my closet.

It’s funny when you finally realize what is important. A line in the song Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the one I love.” That is so me! Probably so you, too. I am so easily distracted by the things of this world. And this just brought me right back to God. Right back to His goodness and mercy. Right back to His holiness and justice. Right back to what is important. Our love for each other.  A dying mother’s love for her daughter and that daughter’s love for her mother. God’s love for us and our love for God.

And all I can think is God is so good….all of the time!