Friday, July 11, 2008

In need of another's view

We had gone inside after a morning swimming in the clear water of Lake Burton, GA...grabbed some lunch, helped to clean up...when we heard the first rumblings of thunder. So, Aisley, Brennan and I did what came to be an almost daily ritual: quickly gathered books, Nintendo DS, snacks, drinks and a couple of towels and headed outside!

Aisley and her DS waiting for the rain to come...

No, we're not nuts. We just really wanted to get to the top of the boathouse before the rain hit. There's a covered pavilion at the top with a couple of net swings for the girls and a hammock for me. The rain rolled in, the cool wind blew and we fell into what we decided later was our favorite time on the lake.

The hours were slow and wonderful. The talk was easy and fun. It was good to be with my girls in one of the most beautiful places we've ever seen. Life was good...and for all we knew, it was that way for everyone, everywhere. After all, cell phone service was sporadic. Email connections, almost non-existent. We talked of the Lord...His provision and splendor...His care for us and for Wayne and Cassie, thousands of miles away...His amazing gift of time and rest. Wasn't everyone feeling the same?

It only took a few phone calls to find out differently. What we realized is that the top of the boathouse was the only place my cell phone worked with any reliability. I took it out with us the second day just to have a clock with us since the day before we lost track of time! As soon as I settled in, the phone buzzed that a few messages were waiting. I settled back to listen to messages and return calls, wondering what was happening in the rest of the world.

By the time the evening came we discovered that two friends of mine had died, two others were having conflict within their families and a family had lost a two year old little boy after simple swimming lessons put too much strain on a little heart. Grief, pain, stunned voices, straining to see clearly the way to walk next, pressing to find their way back to the place we rested in so easily.

While talking to one dear sister that day, she paused to ask if I had time to listen...was she interrupting us? No, I softly laughed, if you've got time...I've got time. All the time in the world, in fact. What was I doing? she wanted to know. Sitting in the rain, swinging on a hammock at the top of a boathouse on a beautiful lake nestled in the Appalachian Mountains...and would be for the next 3-4 hours. There was a bit of a pause in her voice as she chuckled ironically. What a difference between her day and mine.

So great was the gap, I started to apologize for it...for being in such a good, restful place when she was not. I wanted her to know that I weep where she weeps. But she quickly stopped me. No, she said. I'm so glad that you are doing so well. I need you to be. I need to know that someone is seeing clearly...that God is still as He always was.

I was struck by her words of wisdom. How right she is. When I'm going through hardship...whether money, children, pain, suffering, loss,'s easy to look at others who are experiencing blessing from God and either feel more sorry for myself or bitter at their good fortune. But the Word of God has a different perspective for me...Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says...
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
God had given me a time of strength and clear sight, not for my sake, but for Him and His people. It was now my turn to do what I could to be a light in her proclaim that the God she has known for so long is still the same as He ever make known again to her the promises which are ours in Jesus declare the cross and the power of the gospel in her life. It was my delightful duty to lift her up...with the sure knowledge that it won't be long before I need her to return the favor. In this world I will have trouble...another of Jesus' promises to us.

How amazing to realize the provision that God has already made for my future problems in dear sisters in Christ who are chasing hard to know Him and obey Him in all things. I will fall. He will lift me up...and sometimes He will use others to cry in the darkness to me...I see Him! Follow me...I know the way to go. We'll get there together.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A month of fun

It's hard to believe that the last time I posted something was a month ago. It's actually a rare time in my year when I have no time at all to be online, but this was one of them! Impact took us away for 2 weeks...then a week of painting, sewing, cleaning took up the next...then Wayne and Cassie took off for the Ukraine to help build up our sister church in Bela Tserkov. The other two girls and I headed for Georgia!

It was so great to be with John and Katharine Williams again. They were our backyard neighbors for the three years John was in residency here in Temple. Emma Kate who will soon be 5 and Henry who turned 3 just a few days ago were both born during that time. Lauren turns 1 tomorrow, but we were so blessed last summer to be in GA during the time she was born.

Brennan and Henry during movie time...

It was a time of firsts for us...the first plane ride for Brennan and Aisley who LOVED flying and wandering through airports...the first time for us to see Lake Burton (much, much more on that later!)...first trip to Add Drug Store in Athens, GA...first time for us to meet dear brothers and sisters in the Lord including Gregg and Becky Soles whom we will now pray for with faces in mind...

Aisley, Lauren and Emma Kate waiting on lunch at the lake...

But it was also a time of reconnecting with those we've met before. We so love them and their parents who make you feel like you are a special part of their families. It's not so much about southern hospitality (though they really do that well!) as it is a sense from them that they are thrilled to see you and so grateful that you've come. We feel enjoyed. The kids love Aisley and Brennan and it took all of about a minute for them to jump back into playing and talking. It was such a gift.

And it made me want to be that more here, in my world. I want people closest to me to know that I am thrilled that God put them there. I want them to feel enjoyed for who they are and how God uses them to bless His body. To let them have the freedom to just be who they are, with a great sense inside of me that I can leave them to God and just rest in who they are today. After all, God Himself is sanctifying them completely. (1 Thess. 5:23)

This isn't a new idea for me...but I feel more intensely today how poor I am at obeying His Word...just as an example, Colossians 3...
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
Not too hard when there's an end date in mind, when they're leaving in a few days, but a little more of a challenge in the day to day relationships. But God does not command what He does not supply. I can by His grace obey His Word...I am His chosen one, holy and beloved. His Spirit is alive here. I will not say, "I can't".

I think today the words from above for me to dwell on are humility and meekness. The more I see myself in light of the perfections of God, the more I will dwell with His people with humility and grace...the more I can delight in the Lord, the more I can delight in His church.

So, I'm thankful today for John and Katharine, Russ and Cookie & Grady and Emma Jean for showing me in the flesh what to think of as I walk toward others and love, affection and laughter, generosity and gratitude, humility and grace, ease and summer time resting. What a gift.