faith, life

Help?

help

I am praying for a two year old who was airlifted from the Ivory Coast to a Paris hospital today. Her kidneys are not working and she is in trouble.

I am also praying for a little girl closer to home. Today an MRI showed that the headaches she’s been having may be the result of a cyst on her brain.

I found myself pleading with God to keep that two year old alive, to please help her. I found myself asking Him to relieve the other little girl’s head pain. To help her, too.

As if He needs to be begged to help. As if I care more about those little girls (whom I’ve never met) and their parents than He does. As if I have to beseech Him to get aboard the caring train.

So I’m changing my prayers from, “Please help them,” to “Thank you for helping them.”

I mean, isn’t the provision of an airlift to one of the best NICU’s in the world and the provision of an MRI proof that He already is helping?

I don’t have to ask Him to comfort the girls and their parents as they wait 12 long days for an appointment with a specialist and while they hold vigil beside a bed in a Paris NICU , He’s already comforting them. He’s already taken hold of their right hands. I’m just thanking Him for that and asking Him to give their hands a reassuring squeeze.

He’s not just the calm before the storm, He’s the calm during and after the storm, too.

 

 

 

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life, Light

Passion, Light, a Prayer and a Tear

“That’s the thing about someone burning with passion – the whole world can see their light.  They have something that shines so bright inside them, others can’t help but notice it in their eyes and on their faces and in their actions.  They use their lives to provide some light in a dark world that can be overwhelming and scary at times.” – Rory Feek

I want that kind of passion, that kind of light.

If you want something truly beautiful and inspiring to read, read this:

http://thislifeilive.com/seeing-the-light/

 

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life

Serotonin

Did you know that grasshoppers are usually loners?

But every now and then – when there is drought followed by rapid vegetation growth – serotonin in their brains triggers a dramatic set of changes. They start to breed abundantly, they become social. They form bands of wingless nymphs which turn into swarms of winged adults. Both the belly-crawling bands of nymphs and the swarms of winged adults rapidly wipe out crops.

When they are solitary and innocuous, they are called grasshoppers. When they are banded together and destructive, they are called locusts.

I didn’t know that until I started prepping to teach Joel tomorrow night.

The book begins with destruction, an army of locusts. What the nymphs didn’t eat, the winged adults did…

Wake up you drunkards, there are no grapes for wine, no grain for alcohol, no crops at all.

But then in chapter 2 God promises His people “abundant showers,
both autumn and spring rains.”

He promises “their threshing floors will be filled with grain;
their vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”

And then He gives the promise to which many a stripped-bare and devastated soul has clung; to which I have clung:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”

And I think of my friend, who is asleep at my house again tonight.

And I pray.

 

*Locust info taken from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locust

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life

Legacy

“I am so much like my mother in so many ways” she said, “that I expect I’ll suffer dementia as she did. And I expect I will say very horrible and angry things.”

We were talking about gratitude journals and prayer journals and how they can serve as a sort of family history.  And the thoroughly lovely, soft-spoken, most-considerate-woman-I-have-ever-met sitting next to me thought she ought to start one. To balance the inevitable ugly.

I couldn’t imagine a single angry, ugly word ever coming from her mouth, but, if she is a lot like her mother was, then I’m sure no one had been able to imagine horrible things coming from her mother, either.

“When the filters go,” she said.

And that got me thinking about filters.

And about what a brilliant woman I was privileged to sit beside. A woman who is taking steps to make sure future generations of her family know how much she loved them. How she prayed for them. How grateful she was for them.

No matter what dementia says to the contrary.

What remarkable foresight to see that love has the last word.

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life

Protecting Hate

The dilemma was this: Wear the long, festive dress that comes to my ankles, the one with the delicate muted gold crochet over a black liner, or the matronly solid black dress that hits just below the knee?

For a wedding reception, the festive gold, right?

It’s almost a no-brainer: The neckline is high and sophisticated – perfectly modest  for a Muslim wedding reception.  It also has a matching shawl to cover my bare arms.

But the shawl is light, crocheted-lacy. My arms show through a little. Is that okay?

And the dress is form-fitting, shows my curves. Is that okay?

I put on the black dress. Boring. Looks like I’m going to a funeral, not a wedding.

Plus, the dress is supposed to be long. And this one has a slit, which gives an occasional peek at my kneecap.

Back to the gold dress. I search out the hub. “Hey hub, does this look okay?”

“It looks great.”

“Do I look immodest?”

“No.”

Do you think this dress is suitable for a Muslim wedding?”

“I have no idea,” he said, and turned his attention back to football.

valentine

The gold dress on another occasion.

I went back upstairs, put the black dress back on and grabbed a black and silver shawl to cover my arms.

Frumpy but safe. Well, except for the black-tights-covered knee cap.

As my daughter and I entered the reception hall, we were greeted by the bride’s mom and sisters.  Her older sister was wearing a gorgeous form-fitting, blush-colored dress. Shoot.

I had never been to a Muslim wedding reception before. There was no ceremony. A Muslim wedding ceremony is more an engagement ceremony and it rarely takes place on the same day as the wedding reception. In this case, the engagement ceremony occurred a full year ago.

My daughter and I were among the first to arrive. The bride – one of my daughter’s best friends –  had previously told her that we would be sitting at one of the tables reserved for family near the stage. But there were no place cards or seating chart, so we just took a seat among the sea of unreserved tables.

The guests trickled in and then the bride and groom made their processional entrance and took their seats at a special table.

A brother, a father, a sister, an uncle and a best friend each made a speech and said a prayer in a language I don’t understand and then translated them into English.

Mid-way through the speeches, the bride’s mother moved my daughter and me to one if the reserved tables.  I’m not sure why, but as I viewed the vast unreserved tables from my new vantage point, I realized that ours had been the only non-covered heads in a sea of hijab wearing women.

The groom is a recent convert to Islam. His non-Islam mother and sisters-in-law were also there with bare heads. We were re-seated with them.

As dinner wound down and the wall that would separate the men and women went up, the bride’s sister-in-law joined our table and the conversation turned to the hateful things people say on Facebook.  She shared an incident that occurred when she was a girl in a Muslim elementary school. A substitute teacher told her class that all Muslims were going to heaven, and all Christians and Jews were going to hell.  She said she raised her hand and said, “My mother and my aunt are Christians and they are very nice people. They aren’t going to hell.”  And although this young woman was misguided about how salvation works, I was struck by her statement.  If her mom and aunt had not been Christians, if she had not personally known any Christians, her little girl mind would have soaked up the teacher’s blanket statement and she would have gone through life thinking that all Muslims are good and all Jews and Christians are bad.  But, since she knew two Christians who were not bad, her little mind rejected the teaching.

She went on to lament that people tell her she’s really nice and that she is their friend to her face and then write hateful things about people of her religion on Facebook.

I offered that when people speak to her one on one, they are looking at her, thinking of her as an individual.  When they are typing on Facebook, they are forgetting her and thinking of a nameless, faceless group.

This morning, as I was brushing my teeth, I thought of an article I read shortly after the 9/11 attacks.  It reported that one of the terrorist pilots trained under the radar at a flight school in Florida. When his former classmates were interviewed, many commented that the terrorist kept to himself and refused their many invitations to go out for a drink or a meal after class. He refused all of their efforts to get to know him.

His refusal to socialize, I’m guessing, was not so much an attempt to protect his identity as it was an attempt to protect his hate.

He didn’t want to get to know his classmates.  He didn’t want to discover that they were decent human beings. He wanted to hate them. He needed his hate to propel him to carry out his part in the evil scheme.

My friend Alma wrote a really good post.  She said there are people hating on France. Saying they don’t deserve our prayers.

Individuals who were shot, killed, injured, traumatized as they enjoyed a Friday night out don’t deserve our prayers?  Wives, mothers, husbands, brothers, children who tragically lost a loved one don’t deserve our prayers? Wives just like yours, mothers just like yours, children just like yours don’t deserve our prayers?  A city, a country numbed and shaken by an attack of evil don’t deserve our prayers? I shake my head. Has Jesus taught us nothing? I read Alma’s post to my daughter and she shakes her head. Really shakes her head.

Lord have mercy.

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life

A Simple Please & Thank You

Last Saturday morning I re-entered the pain and privilege of BSF leadership.  Or, as the hub and I used to call it back when we were BOTH leaders, “Brutality.”

Brutality?

Yep, because you have to drag yourself out of bed at 5:15 every Saturday morning in order to be in your seat at the leaders’ meeting by 6:40, ready and raring to go.  It’s not so hard now, while global warming is making its brief visit to Michigan and the temperatures are unseasonably warm, but it will be full on brutal in January and February and March.  Especially this time around because we won’t both have to get up.  Seeing the hub all slumbering and warm under our down comforter Saturday after Saturday – though I will be truly be happy for him – is gonna’ make me wanna’ smack him every time I feel that first assault of not-under-the-comforter winter air.

Brutality aside, it really is a privilege to be in the leaders’ circle discussing what we studied with those who take studying seriously; serving alongside those who are committed to excellence.

One of the first things we do in leaders’ meeting each week is get on our knees and pray.  We cover every aspect of the upcoming Monday night class, which means we are on our knees for a long while.  Provisions are made for those who have back and knee problems – they can stay in their chairs. I thought about staying in my chair, because of my still-healing foot, but, since it was my first meeting back after an eight year absence, I didn’t want to appear high-maintenance. So down on the floor I went.

That was a mistake.

Get off your chair or sofa for a second and get on your knees, all the way down so your butt is on your heels.  See how the top of your feet flatten out? If you have a frayed peroneal tendon, putting your foot in that position, as I discovered that fateful morning, is a big, BIG mistake.

About three quarters of the way through prayer time I couldn’t take the pain any longer and I rolled unto my hip into a semi-sitting position, knocking into the woman on my left.  (It’s a tight circle.)

It’s been six days and my foot still hurts.  A lot.  And I’m limping again.

So as I pulled into Costco this morning, rounded the parking lot to the top of an aisle and surveyed the long line of parked cars before me, I thought, Crap, I’m going to have to walk.  And it was going to hurt.

Which brings me to my final quote of this Three Day Quote Challenge:

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  – Jesus (There’s no one better to quote than Jesus.)

In the same split second that I surveyed the sea of cars and thought, Crap!, I also asked, Father, will you please open up a spot for me?

And just like that the back-up lights lit on the car parked in the space right in front of me. The space right next to the handicapped space, The CLOSEST space I could possibly get without a handicapped sticker.

Hey! Thank you!

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And thanks for leftovers for lunch.

Now I’m passing the Three Day Quote Challenge to the following bloggers because I’d like to read what they have to say:

  1. Marie Griffith of Full-Time
  2. BJ of Between Two Seas
  3. James Radcliffe of jamesradcliffe.com
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