January 29, 2016

A Chronic Illness Revisited

It seems a lifetime ago… those years of struggle with a chronic illness, a “syndrome,” they called it.   

“Seven to ten years to fully recover,” they said.  And so it was.  Seven years of herbs, vitamins, minerals, homeopathic remedies, medicines, organic foods; doctor and chiropractor visits; faithful exercise… and lots of tears.  They didn’t mention the tears.   

Too many moves, too many months of sick children; too little sleep, too little income…and a couple underlying, un-diagnosed endocrine problems, left my body compromised.  Suddenly I wiped out.  It took months to find out what was wrong.  And years to “fix” what was wrong. 

No one dies from Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome – CFIDS – CFS for short.  “This is good,” I said.  “I can do this.  I can recover.”  But 7-10 years is a very long time.  It’s most of a childhood; and I didn’t want my sons to know me by my illness.  It’s also a lot of years for a marriage to survive, let alone thrive.  Those long years did NOT feel like “light affliction, which is but for a moment…” 

However, God did a work deep in my soul. In the midst of those years of tears, He drew me to Himself.  He guarded our sacred marriage.  He put a hedge about our family.  

I remember at one point, crying out to the Lord, “Ok, I get it.  You gave health and you can take it away.  But, you kinda at least owe me an explanation.”  Seriously, can you believe I said that to the Almighty God?!  

Over the years, my heart softened, and I was able to finally say,  “Ok, now I get it.  You are God, and I am not.  You do not owe me anything.  Everything is a gift… even what you withhold.  I surrender.” 

It’s hard to see the BIG picture, when what is right in front of us looms so large and so very hard.  There was no breakthrough moment for me… just a very long and slow letting go of what I thought I had to have to survive. 

One day, at the beginning of my journey back to health, I read Isaiah 51:3 and began praying these beautiful words for myself… asking the Lord to do for me what He will one day do for His holy city, Jerusalem.  I even put my name in the verse:  “For the Lord shall comfort Jeanne; he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” 

He did this work, often silently, during what my husband and I affectionately call our “dark years.”  Transformation was painful.  It was slow.  It was worth it.  He comforted me.  He gave me joy and gladness, thanksgiving and a song.  He took places in my soul that were like a wilderness and transformed them into something beautiful.  

In retrospect, this is what helped us get through those dark years:
1. Prayer: praising God and bringing my petitions often to the throne of grace.  I confess, it was easier to petition than to praise; that’s because I didn’t know Him very well.  
2. Persistence: doing what needed to be done, over and over and over again… just not giving up… not giving up on our fragile marriage; not giving up on getting better; not giving up on “seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
3. People: being loved by people who didn’t understand, but who stood with us… frankly, there were too few, and we felt pretty isolated.  Fortunately, there is a greater understanding of this illness today, and less criticism.  We also needed and found professional help, including counseling.  In my opinion, anyone facing a chronic illness should find a counselor who can listen and advise.
4. Perspective: thinking long-range helped me stay focused on the immediate.  I believed I would get better and wouldn’t always feel incapacitated.  I also gained a more eternal perspective on all of life and what matters most. 
5. Protection: guarding my thoughts from lies about my worth was a continual struggle.  I easily believed the lie that I had less worth when I was sick than when I was healthy and capable.  I needed to be protected from critics and from my own fears.  I also needed to be protected from placing false hope in “my plan” to get better; and I needed to learn to lean on the Great Physician.   

As I look back, I realize I needed to do some serious growing up, spiritually.  The Lord graciously and patiently drew me to Himself.  There was no magic formula.  There were no sudden “ah-ha” moments or breakthroughs.  But, over the course of several years, not only did I regain my health, but I drew nearer to the One who loves me more than I will ever comprehend this side of heaven. 

December 16, 2015

Waiting for Christmas

It's December, and we're waiting for Christmas.  The four weeks leading up to Christmas are called Advent, which is "a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus."  As we wait, we prepare: gifts, food, music, decorations, and our hearts.  I think of those who waited for the Messiah to come the first time.  Jesus' advent, or coming, was long-anticipated, but he didn't come as expected.  He didn't come as an earthly king, but rather a heavenly King, wrapped in the flesh of an infant...  He disappointed those who wanted their political problems solved.  But He satisfied the souls of those who longed for forgiveness and holiness... those who longed to know God.    

Charles Wesley wrote these words in the 18th century:  "Come, Thou long expected Jesus; born to set Thy people free.  From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee."  

I am waiting for Him to come into difficult situations and bring freedom and rest.  I am waiting for His Second Coming with as much longing as those who waited for His first advent.  I am waiting for Him to reveal Himself to family and friends who don't yet know Him... for a dear one to get the job he needs... for a preemie to grow big enough she can come home from the hospital... for a friend's marriage to be restored... and others to find their mates...  I'm waiting for friends to be relieved from lengthy sickness and pain... for a childless mother to be given children... and for grown children who are lost, to find their way.   

Waiting... that "not-quite-there-yet" season, seems to describe so much of life... we are all waiting for something or someone to come to us, to arrive.  There's a painful longing when our hope is deferred; waiting is just plain hard. But waiting on the Lord, well, that is good for the soul.  Waiting is referred to in the Bible over 100 times. Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations, chapter 3, "The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him."  Waiting and seeking help me prepare for the good He will give.   

Waiting reminds me it's not all about me: it's about a bigger picture of what God is doing.  I can wait well; I can wait poorly, or everything in between... but I will have to wait.  Waiting for Christmas reminds me to focus my expectation on the Lord and His purposes, which often look different from my own.  He will answer; He will provide; when the time is right.  Just as Jesus came in "the fullness of time,”  so He will come again and answer those long-prayed prayers for souls, jobs, healing, marriages and children.  

Waiting, expecting, preparing… and eventually, celebrating. 

July 18, 2015

Vertigo

We are “waiting it out,” as the doctor said.

With only a couple weeks to go as senior staff at our region’s summer training program, my husband had a severe attack of dizziness and nausea. 

It was Friday morning, and we were on our way home for a quick weekend to see the grandkiddos and make preparations for a houseful of guests coming Monday.  Our plan was to make the 3 hour return trip Sunday morning. 

But by Monday morning, my hubby still could not keep food down and was so dizzy he could hardly walk.  It was apparent our return would have to wait. 

And so, we waited for the doctor’s appointment.  We waited for a CT scan.  We waited for a diagnosis.  We waited for the medicine to take effect.  We waited for the chiropractor’s appointment.  We waited for the nausea to go away, strength to return, the dizziness to stop. 

The doctor saw him.  The CT scan showed a healthy brain (!)  The diagnosis is vertigo.  The medicine helped.  The chiropractor helped.  The nausea has gone away.  Strength has returned.  The dizziness has lessened significantly. 

“My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from Him.”  Psalm 62:5 has both encouraged me and frustrated me, as I’ve talked to my own soul about waiting only upon God.  I don’t like to wait.  I’ve had long seasons of waiting that do not bring back pleasant memories.  Mostly I wait impatiently, with irritation at God and those around me.  I like normal.  I like the known.  I like comfort.  I don’t like seeing my strong husband suffer.  I don’t like not being able to fix it.

However, I know from past experience and from God’s Word, that waiting is good for the soul.  Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations, chapter 3, “The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.”   

Waiting reminds me it’s not all about me… I don’t have to have what I want when I want it.  Waiting for health to return is hard.  In the midst of that waiting, I am struggling to seek the Lord more than health, more than normal, more than the known, more than comfort.  I want to know that particular kind of goodness of the Lord that apparently can only come through times of waiting. 


June 29, 2015

Prayer for our son and his precious family….

Heavenly Father, my heart is overflowing with joy and love for our precious grandchildren.  Thank you for giving life to our dear ones’ love ~ thank you for blessing their marriage with two beautiful, healthy children. 

Please continue to give them strength to face the challenges of meeting their needs.  Their hands are full, with just 18 months between them, and another on the way… feeding, changing, washing, rocking, playing… everything that needs to be done and then done again.  All the laundry… the meals, the cleanup… and the nights of sleep-training that don’t go so well.   I’m so grateful for their mama’s steady and sacrificial love for them, pushing through the fog of sleep deprivation, pacing herself, loving them more than her own comfort. 

Please give them continued wisdom in leading these little ones.  They are trusting You with them ~ living by Your principles ~ striving to honor You in their loving discipline.  Would you honor their work, and give their children hearts to obey.  And give our grands happy memories of being loved: laughter and hugs and books and parks and meals and games…. security, happiness, confidence….  all the things that make a childhood memorable and blessed. 

Lord, please love our grands through us.  May we be an extension of mama and daddy’s love… two more sets of arms that hug and protect; two more voices that echo their parent’s affection; two more hearts that overflow with joy in who they are.  Let our love reflect Yours for them. 

Help us to be the steady support our son and daughter-in-law need, not interfering, but always standing with them.  May they never doubt our appreciation for and admiration of them.  And may they continue to grow closer to You and to one another, in love and respect.  Enable  our son to lead well, and give grace to our lovely daughter-in-law  to follow well, as they both trust You to guide and provide. 

Amen.

May 22, 2015

A Conversation

This summer we again have the privilege of being spiritual mentors to young men and women at a YMCA in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.  However, we just had an unexpected and inconvenient situation arise the day before leaving.   We've had both vehicles in the garage for expensive repairs repeatedly these past couple months.  After just getting one out, the other would go in.

And now... the bad news that we can't safely drive one of the vehicles.  We have to leave it behind to be fixed.  

My heart quickly complained, and I had a freak-out-moment.

But then I asked the Lord to speak to me from His Word.  "Have no anxiety about anything..."

"I AM NOT anxious," I replied, slightly irritated.  "I'm just... well, overwhelmed with details and having to re-plan the packing, since we can't take everything I'd planned on taking.  And I'm tired of packing and thinking about packing!  I'm NOT worried, just overwhelmed... overwhelmed by details.  I'm rather disquieted, perturbed, antsy, concerned, bothered.   Hmm, I guess I am anxious.  I don't want to be.  I want to be calm and thankful, at peace.  But I've spent much of the week organizing, list-making and packing, in the midst of spending time with the people I shall miss most over the summer weeks.  I've prayed for others not to stress.  And now, I'm the one stressing.  Please speak to me."

David's words in Psalm 61 echoed in my mind:  "Hear my cry, O God: attend to my prayer.  From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.  I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.  Selah."

"So David turned to You when he was overwhelmed.  I'm turning to You now.  I need You to be my shelter.  I need to be close to You.  I need to trust in You.  But how shall I stop being overwhelmed and anxious?  How do I find shelter in You?  How do I trust You?  What do I replace my anxiety with?"

"Talk to me.  Ask for what you want and give thanks.  And since I'm the God of peace, I will give you peace, which you cannot comprehend, and I shall keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:6-7)

"Ok, Lord.  Here goes:  I want You to protect me from my enemies, which are mostly my own thoughts and clouded perspective.  Protect me from thinking everything has to be the way I want it to be.  Protect me from thinking I'm in charge of everything. Protect me from thinking that the unexpected is my enemy.

"I want You to cover me in peace; protect my attitude; help me get everything done; help me to focus on others.  And I want You to help me be thankful.

"I am thankful that we have two vehicles, and the money to repair them... Thank You that our vehicles can be repaired!  Thank You that we will only be three hours away and can come back in a couple weeks to reclaim this vehicle, this gift from Your hand.  Thank You for protecting us from driving in the mountains in an unsafe vehicle.  Thank You for my husband, who is taking this in stride, and NOT freaking out.  Thank You for your abundant provision for us.

"Thank You for understanding your slow-to-learn and often stubborn daughter.  And thank You for speaking to my overwhelmed and anxious heart.  Amen."






May 15, 2015

My heart stands in awe...

"My heart stands in awe of thy Word."  The psalmist wrote this phrase in Psalm 119, verse 161.  Psalm 119 is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible.  The psalmist referred to God's Word over 160 times.  His life was changed because of the power of God's Word.  God's words, just like ours, are a reflection of who He is.  But unlike our words, His are eternal, always pure, always true, always life-giving.

As I studied Psalm 119 this morning, I took note of what God's Word is and what it does...  And I was amazed by the writer's response.  His heart stood in awe of God's Word.  He also repeated a number of times how much he loved God's Word.  The writer even used the word "exceedingly" to describe his love. He found life and joy, hope and comfort, strength and protection, wisdom and guidance in the Word.  He found it "wondrous."  He declared it better than great wealth and sweeter than honey to his taste.

If God could speak the world into existence, it only makes sense that His powerful words can transform an individual person's life. This book, this Bible, has changed my life.  Through its words, I found life in Jesus. I continue to find life, joy, hope, comfort, strength, protection, wisdom and guidance.

On August 17, 2007, I wrote in my journal:  "I am thankful for the living Word and its uncanny, supernatural power to give life where there's death, peace where there was turmoil, hope where despair reigned, and clarity of thought where there was confusion."  No other book has ever done this for me.  

And that is why my heart stands in awe of God's Word.  




May 11, 2015

Mother's Day on My Refrigerator


Our thoughtful daughter-in-law created this lovely Mother's Day picture, turning her children's hand prints into flowers.  As our 2 year old granddaughter came up the walk, holding out this gift to me, my heart was filled with gratitude.... knowing she shall grow up to be thoughtful and creative, just like her mama!  I shall keep this forever.  For now, it is on my refrigerator.  I'll eventually frame it and hang it in our bedroom.... a continual reminder of God's gift of life and family.  


April 27, 2015

My Identity - I am His!

      Sometimes I forget whose child I am.  I forget the price God paid to adopt me.  I forget that who I am is actually defined by whose I am.  That's when I need to once again spend time pouring over this incredible list of what the Scriptures tell me is true about me.... how God sees me, because I am forgiven in Christ!

 1.    I am created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made.   Psalm 119:73 and 139:13-16
       2.   I am a child of God – His daughter.  John 1:12, Gal 3:26, Eph 1:5, 2 Cor 6:18
       3.   I am Christ’s – I belong to Him.  John 10:29, 1 Cor 3:23, 1 Cor 6:19-20
       4.   I am God’s gift to Christ.  John 17:20-26
       5.   I am chosen.  Eph 1:7
       6.   I am a new creation in Christ.  2 Cor 5:17 and Gal 6:15
       7.   I am a joint heir with Christ.  Rom 8:16-17, Gal 3:29 and 4:7, Titus 3:7, James 2:5
       8.   I am a saint.  1 Cor 1:2, Psalm 89:7 and 145:10
       9.   I am God’s temple.  1 Cor 3:16-17, 1 Cor 6:19-20
     10.   I am God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works.  Eph 2:10
     11.   I am a work in progress.  Phil 1:6 and 2:12-13
     12.   I am a citizen of heaven.  Phil 3:20
     13.   I am a fellow citizen with the saints in God’s household.  Eph 2:19
     14.   I am a servant of God and of righteousness.  Mtt 6:24, Mark 10:42-45, Luke 17:10,                              John 12:26, Rom 6:15, Phil2:1-11, Col 3:24
     15.   I am salt and light.  Matt 5:13-14 and Eph 5:8
     16.   I am more than a conqueror through Christ.  Rom 8:37
     17.   I am a disciple because I have love for others.  John 13:34-35
     18.   I am a sweet aroma, manifesting the presence of God wherever I go.  2 Cor 2:14
     19.   I am an ambassador for Christ.  2 Cor 5:20
     20.   I am a laborer together with God.  1 Cor 3:9 and Col 1:29
     21.   I am His sheep.  John 10 and Psalm 23
     22.   I am not my own; I am bought with a price.  1 Cor 6:19-20
     23.   I am forgiven of all my sins.  Eph 1:7
     24.   I am saved by grace through faith.  Eph 2:8
     25.   I am set free by the truth.  John 8:31-32
     26.   I am freed from the power of sin.  Rom 6:18
     27.   I am free from condemnation.  Rom 8:1
     28.   I am free from the vicious cycle of sin and death.  Rom 8:2
     29.   I am redeemed from the curse of the Law.  Gal 3:12
     30.   I was once far off, but now am made near by the blood of Christ.  Eph 2:13
     31.   I am accepted in the Beloved.  Eph 1:6
     32.   I am at peace with God.  Romans 5:1
     33.   I am reconciled to God through the death of Jesus.  Rom 5:10
     34.   I am eternally secure in Christ.  John 10:27-31
     35.   I am protected by the power of His name.  Prov 18:10 and John 17:11
     36.   I am kept from the evil one.  John 17:15
     37.   I am crucified with Christ, and the life I now live is in Him.  Rom 6:6 and Gal 2:20
     38.   I am made alive in Christ.  Rom 6:11 and Eph 2:1
     39.   I am in Christ Jesus.  2 Cor 5:17
     40.   I am triumphant in Christ.  2 Cor 2:14
     41.   I am united with Christ through His death and resurrection.  Rom 6:5
     42.   I am risen with Christ.   Eph 2:6 and Col 3:1-3
     43.   I am blessed with every spiritual blessing.  Eph 1:3
     44.   I am chosen by God to be holy and blameless  Eph 1:4
     45.   I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit  Rom 8:9
     46.   I am filled with the Holy Spirit of promise.  Eph 1:13
     47.   I am led by the Spirit of God.  Rom 8:14
     48.   I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Eph 6:10
     49.   I am strong, though weak.  2 Cor 12:10
     50.   I am being conformed to the image of Christ.  Rom 8:29 and 2 Cor 3:18
     51.   I am inseparable from the love of God.  Rom 8:35
     52.   I am thought about by God with innumerable, precious thoughts.  Psalm 40:5, 17                                 and Psalm 139:17-18  
      53.  I am God’s portion – His inheritance.  Deut 32:9

    Each statement is true, because of something that is true about God - something He did or said.  He designed me, and He defines me.  I am HIS.  Alleluia!  



April 24, 2015

Discipleship Resource

Heather, one of my wise and lovely friends,  made this statement: "Resources are great, but relationships change lives."

Another wise and lovely friend, Lauren, has a website that provides resources for building those relationships that changes lives!   She is writing this site with her friend, Jackie.  I want to highly recommend this to all my believing women friends who would like some practical input in walking with the Lord and helping others do the same.  Click on the link "She Proves Faithful" under "Blogs I Love" on the left-hand side.

Happy reading!




February 03, 2015

Prayers for My Grandchildren

We now have two precious grandchildren.  Praying for them is one of the most significant investments I can make in their little lives.  My desire is "that they might set their hope in God, and not forget His works..."  (Psalm 78:7)

I've discovered the joy of praying "head-to-toe."   It keeps me focused, and I love the simplicity of praying this way.  Because I don't use an exact list, I can pray anywhere and anytime for them.  I just start at the top and work my way down, covering their entire bodies with prayers.  I pray while rocking them to sleep.  I pray while driving. I pray while playing with them (sometimes). I pray while doing housework.  I pray while just praying.  Since they are on my mind so often throughout the day, whether I'm with them or not, turning these loving thoughts into petitions to the Lord on their behalf, seems a very sensible thing to do.  :-)   

Below is the gist of what I pray for them, but it changes virtually every time I pray.  As the Lord brings new thoughts to mind, those are what I pray, while sticking to my "head-to-toe" approach.  

Head ~ Lord, would you help their parents fill their minds with truth at this early age.  Please give them a hunger for truth and a strong desire to think about what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy.  Protect them from concussions or any other injury or disease of their brains. 

Eyes ~ Give them eyes to see beyond themselves, noticing the needs of others, and eventually seeing all of life from Your perspective.  Protect them from seeing scary or downright evil images.

Ears ~  Lord, please protect them from hearing words that mock Your name.  Protect them from music that destroys the spirit.  May they hear loving words between their parents and toward them. Enable them to hear Your voice early, know and obey it.  Give them listening, compassionate and discerning ears that hear the hurts of others. 

Mouth ~ May their mouths praise You.  Give them mouths that speak kindly and respectfully to others... mouths that speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.  

Shoulders ~ May their shoulders be broad and strong to carry the burdens of others.  

Arms ~ May their arms reach out to others - embracing and caring. 

Hands ~ Lord, please motivate them to do good work - to care for and serve others.  May theirs be creative hands, hardworking hands, gentle hands. 

Heart ~ Lord, give them hearts that hunger for You... hearts that respond early to Your love... hearts that want to obey You... hearts that hunger for Your Word. 

Internal Organs ~ Lord, please protect all their internal organs from disease or injury.  Please give them strong immune systems. 

Private Parts ~ Lord, protect these dear ones from anyone who would intend harm.  Keep them safe.  Give them a desire to maintain purity and protect the priceless gift that is intimacy with their future mates. 

Legs ~ May their legs be strong for the journey - and may they run the race for a lifetime.  

Feet ~ Lord, may they have feet to follow You, walk with You and go where You want them to go, in service to others. 

These are my humble petitions on behalf of my most precious grandchildren.

October 10, 2013

Fall in Colorado

Fall is by far my most favorite of all seasons. When we lived in Montana for almost a decade, we never really had fall... we'd get end-of-summer-oh-here-comes-winter. We used to joke that Bozeman had two seasons: winter and "poor sledding." Now we've lived in Fort Collins for almost two decades, and enjoy year after year of Indian Summers, that in-between summer and fall season that can stretch from September through October. I love the cool mornings, warm days and cool nights. I love wearing sweaters. I love the vibrant colors, the crunch of the leaves underfoot, the magic of it all. I love dehydrating apples and simmering apples on the stove, and the smell of pumpkin spices. I love making that first soup of the season and using the fireplace for the first time. I love decorating for fall in every room of the house. Fall is the most wonderful of transitions, a gentle preparing for the harsh realities of winter... a lovely reminder of the creativity of our Creator, who gives us the beauty of this season just for sheer pleasure. In the words of The Doxology, "Praise God, from whom all blessings flow."

December 14, 2012

Nana

Just over a month ago, I became a grandmother - a Nana!! New title. New experience. New joy.

Watching my son with his daughter has brought me a sense of wonder at the man he has become. I had no doubt he and his lovely wife would be good parents, but I am honestly blown away by their love for this little creature. And I am blown away by my own deep sense of connection to her.

I love everything about being a grandmother. One friend told me I "glowed" when talking about her. I have found myself telling complete strangers that I have a granddaughter! And I've actually shown a photo of her, when asked for my picture ID.

 Last night, her grand papa and I babysat, while her mommy and daddy had dinner out. As I fed her... sang, changed, comforted, kissed and rocked her, my heart overflowed with memories of our own sons at her age (without the fog of sleep deprivation). While mothering is such a mix of joy and sorrow, grandparenting is pure joy.

Having her grasp my little finger and hold on tight... staring into one another's eyes, as we rocked in the semi-darkness of her room... listening to her breathing and feeling her warmth... these precious, perfect moments are a great treasure to me.

No matter what the future holds, I will cherish the joy of these early weeks with our first grandchild... my first experience being Nana.

September 11, 2012

The Presence of Evil

It puzzles me that people question the presence of God when evil is so blatant, but ignore His presence when everything's going fine. The presence of evil does not indicate the absence of God - it indicates the presence of evil (!) and our desperate need for redemption... a redemption only God, Himself can provide.

As a society, we have scorned God and His ways:

Our society views the murder of unborn children as "a woman's right," but wants to protect the children who make it safely out of the womb.  This is insane. 

As a society, we accept violent video games such as "Kindergarten Killer 2," and yet react with horror when this is played out in real life. 

As a society, we advocate for stricter laws on gun ownership,  refusing to recognize that criminals do not obey these laws... that's why they're called criminals.

As a society, we no longer want God's presence acknowledged in our schools or other "public" venues,  but we ask for His comfort when evil strikes. 

As a society, we are headed down the road of "equal marriage rights," ignoring the fact that God designed and defined marriage for His purposes a few thousand years ago.  He defines morality; and a moral wrong does not make a "civil right."

I grow weary of the news of the day; the battle of right and wrong; the wrongness of the wrongs; the blatant rejection of what God says is right.  The presence of evil in individuals and in nations makes me sad at times; sometimes furious; other times, just weary. Sometimes it takes me by surprise; but it does not catch God off guard.  He has been dealing with evil for a very long time, and will, in His own time, deal with it permanently.  Psalm 37 admonishes me: "Fret not yourself because of evildoers... because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.  Cease from anger and forsake wrath: don't fret and plot evil."  In this verse, fret means to "heat oneself in vexation; to be hot, furious." 

Psalm 37 goes on to explain the why behind not fretting: The wicked will perish.  All those who set themselves against God and His judgments will perish.   But those who love Him have an inheritance that will last forever. This psalm also admonishes those who love the Lord to trust in Him, to delight in Him, to do good, to rest in Him and wait patiently for Him. This patient waiting for Him to act, will keep me from fretting my way into doing evil to those who are doing evil. 

Confronting my own innate evil nature humbles me, and I gratefully live in the grace and forgiveness of my Redeemer.  But as I live in a world that is unredeemed, and watch evil continue to bring pain and destruction to so many lives, I find myself overwhelmed with the evilness of evil.  And so, I return to Scripture and God's perspective:  "The Lord brings the plans of the nations to nothing and thwarts their schemes. But the Lord's plans stand firm forever. His intentions can never be shaken."   (Psalm 33:10-11)  This is what I'm counting on.  This is what brings me peace in the presence of evil.



July 28, 2012

Trusting the Lord

I’ve experienced a couple of seasons of life, in which I had difficulty trusting the Lord… and have concluded that my difficulty was not with His trustworthiness, but with my own lack of understanding.
Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God.” Our initial faith in Christ comes by hearing the Word of God. Our continued growth in faith comes the same way. Exposure to God’s Word is what transforms us; it is what grows our faith.
When we don’t know Him well, we don’t trust him well. Psalm 9:10 says that those who know His name will put their trust in Him; for He does not forsake those who seek Him. When I’m struggling to trust, I need to know Him better. To know Him is to trust Him.
If I’m not filling my mind with Scripture – daily meditating on His Word, thinking His thoughts…. Then, of course I’m going to have difficulty trusting Him. It will be a consequence of my lack of discipline, my lack of hunger for Him.
Trust in any relationship is built over time, as we get to know that person. I know my husband. I have experienced him. He has proven trustworthy, and so I believe his words to me. I believed his words to me 32 years ago, when he promised to love me for all of this life. But now I have experienced his love and faithfulness for over 3 decades.
And so it is with God. We enter into a covenant relationship with Him when we first believe. And unlike marriage, He is the perfect lover of our souls… our relationship with him is for all eternity, not just this life… and His faithfulness “reaches to the skies.” It “endures forever.” Experiencing His love and faithfulness, as we walk by faith, not sight, allows us to say with certainty, "There is none more trustworthy."

March 03, 2012

Thoughts on Humility

Last night, our youngest son spoke to a group of college students on the topic of humility. I was so proud of him - in a humble sort of way! This past week, I was privileged to be taught by both of our sons and found it to be a bit of “mother heaven,” watching who they had become and learning from them. They each taught with clarity, accuracy, conviction and approachability. And each of their messages had the common theme of trusting God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves – the message of redemption from self – the essence of the Gospel.

As I continue to grow in my understanding of who God is, and my appreciation for what He has done for me, I am painfully aware of my pride. That “excessively high view of myself” readily reveals my lack of humility. Or as another student stated, I am “living outside reality.” I want to live inside reality, according to what God says is true.

Most of society lives “outside of reality” and exalts the proud, the assertive, the strong-willed. It calls them leaders. However, according to the Scriptures, God opposes the proud. Conversely, He exalts the humble. He honors them. He dwells with them. He gives them grace. The Scriptures teach that pride defiles and brings men low; it brings contention and eventual destruction.

I desire to live in opposition to the world’s ways, rather than in opposition to God. I want to align my thoughts, words and actions with God’s ways and grow in humility. This is what I think a humble woman looks like:

A humble woman believes that God exists; and she seeks Him out, because she is acutely aware of her need.
A humble woman can learn from anyone, anywhere, anytime. She asks questions and listens because she knows she doesn’t have all the answers.
A humble woman asks for counsel in making decisions, because she knows older, wiser friends can protect her. She seeks wisdom, because she knows her heart is naturally foolish.
A humble woman is very careful when giving counsel, because she knows that being ready to receive the message is almost as important as the message itself.
A humble woman is polite, because she knows the feelings of others are, at times, very fragile.
A humble woman seeks to serve rather than be served, because her identity is that of a servant. She cares for others, even at her own expense, because she knows they matter at least as much as she does.
A humble woman is confident, because she knows who she is and who she isn’t. She is content in that knowledge.
A humble woman rejoices in the successes of others, because she is not in competition with them.
A humble woman defers to others, because she knows that getting her own way comes at a price.
A humble woman is patient with herself and others, because she knows that significant growth is a very slow process.

**Thank you to both my sons for timely words of wisdom and challenge. You have truly ministered to your mother.

February 13, 2012

Lessons from Waiting...

I am waiting… waiting to get better, after nearly 2 weeks of bronchitis. There was another time, two decades ago, when I also waited to get better – that was a 7 year wait, imposed by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This present battle is measured thankfully, in days, not years.

Much of my life has been spent waiting: waiting to grow up… waiting for college to begin… waiting to be asked on a date… waiting for his phone call… waiting for his proposal… waiting for that blessed wedding night… waiting for him to come home… waiting for infertility to somehow be transformed into a fertile home for a child… waiting for labor to begin…waiting for it to be over!

Waiting for sick children to get well… waiting for them to sleep through the night… waiting for their first word, and the next… waiting for their first steps… waiting in wonder, watching them grow, feed themselves, tie their shoes, learn to read, do their chores, make their beds, go to bed… waiting for that first performance in the choir or on the piano, that first date… waiting for them to graduate, find a job, marry, have their own children… waiting and watching, through all the choices that make up their lives.

Today I’ve waited for the doctor to finally get around to me, in what is aptly called the “waiting room.” It is part of life – this waiting.

I have waited, like everyone else for the light to turn green, for the first person in line at the turn signal to go already, so the rest of us can get through. I have waited for concerts to begin and for them to end! I have waited for dinner guests to arrive, for Christmas to come, for winter to be over, for school to start, for summer vacation.

When I can’t have what I want, I wait, hoping to get it. When I lose what I had, I wait for the pain of the loss to go away.

I have waited for peace, for the anger, the rage, the hatred to go away. I have waited for the sobbing to turn to just tears.

I have waited, bearing the burdens of those I count dear… waiting for them to become who they so desperately want to be. And I have waited on myself: to stop disappointing me.

I have waited on God: waited for Him to answer long-prayed prayers. I await Jesus’ promised return. I wait impatiently at times for heaven, with anticipation and great longing, but also with a bit of fear, since I’ve never been there.

I have waited patiently in almost total selflessness, with quiet worship and wonder, in stillness, confidence and peace. I have also waited with impatient, self-focused irritation and foot-tapping. And I have waited in great angst, with heart-racing, finger-twisting desperation. However, the weariness of my waiting turns, albeit slowly, to hope and anticipation, when I allow God to speak to my soul. “Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said.

The Psalmist knew about waiting. He spoke often about waiting on the Lord, because his hope was in God… because God’s name is good… because God would deliver. He spoke of waiting quietly and patiently, only on God… waiting all the day... waiting for His salvation. Lamentations even says the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him.

There are a number of Hebrew words for waiting, and their meanings vary from hoping, looking for, expecting, lingering for, longing for… to being in anguish, writhing, bringing forth, as in childbirth. This is the work of waiting – a deliberate choice to turn to God, instead of self, instead of others. Choosing Him above and instead of….

When I wait for the Lord, something happens inside. There’s a transformation… from impatience to patience, from discouragement to hope. Something happens to my perspective – it’s no longer so self absorbed, so temporal. I experience His goodness, His hope. My waiting turns to trust, even if it does not start there.

I have concluded that waiting is good. Waiting reminds me it’s not all about me… I don’t have to have what I want when I want it. The daily rituals of waiting remind me to wait on the Lord… to wait for Him… to worship Him… to treasure what He gives when He gives it… and most of all, to treasure Him.

January 02, 2012

If Only You Knew

"Give me a drink," the Man said.
"If only you knew...
If only you knew why I came here today -
I came just for you."

She did not know,
and her eyes could not see
beyond what she thought
was her immediate need.

But as they spoke, her heart was stirred,
and her thirst grew
for the One who knew
where she'd been...what she'd done.

She was tired. She was weary...
drinking from wells that were dry;
broken wells that made promises
but only lied.

"I am the fountain of living water."
He said this a long time ago.
"You're thirsty for me.
This is what I want you to know."

And then...she knew!
She believed, and she drank;
and a fountain of living water sprang within her.
His promise was true!

Others would drink,
but her well would not run dry;
for the Man who was thirsty,
was Himself the Water of Life.

November 08, 2011

A Reminder


Our two recent snowstorms resulted in a lot of damage – broken branches all over campus and throughout town; trees left with gaping holes and brown, shriveled up leaves. And yet, as I drove and walked, camera in hand, I was amazed by the beauty that could be found.
The stark contrast of snow against still brilliant red, yellow, orange and even green leaves… ice melting and glistening in the sun… evergreens draped in Christmas card perfection…. I felt like a child again, in love with the wonder of winter… and in love with my Creator, my Redeemer. The words from Isaiah’s ancient text whispered in my ear, “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
As our city cleans up from these storms, I am reminded of the storm of sin that raged in my life: the brokenness… the mess… and the wonder of what the Lord cleaned up in my soul. Indeed, though my sins were like scarlet, He made them as white as snow.

November 02, 2010

The Sufficiency of God

Recently, one of our small groups studied God's sufficiency. Starting with Psalm 90:2, I learned that God has been "from everlasting to everlasting." God existed from before time and space, when there was nothing else in existence. He needs nothing to sustain Himself; He is truly self-sufficient, having within His own being all that He needs. Everything He created is dependent upon Him for its very existence. God graciously extends His sufficiency to His creation, sustaining and redeeming it.

We exist only because He allows us to. I cannot sustain my own life, cause my heart to beat, my brain to function, my eyes to see, or my ears to hear. My lungs do not breathe at my command, nor do I walk or talk simply because I choose to do so. I am dependent upon my Creator for all of these basic functions. All that I think is in my power, is really just on loan from the Only One who truly has power over life and death. Not only can I not sustain my life, I cannot redeem my soul; I cannot know God apart from His revelation; nor can I raise myself from the dead.

But, GOD CAN! He is sufficient. He is enough. Here's my short list:

His life is sufficient to give me life.

His love is sufficient to claim me.

His blood is sufficient to wash my sins.

His power is sufficient to keep my soul.

His spirit is sufficient to comfort and teach me.

His strength is sufficient to empower me.

His grace is sufficient to transform my weaknesses.

His comfort is sufficient to redeem my losses.

His resurrection is sufficient to raise me from the dead.

And so, this little summary is not sufficient to describe God's sufficiency! It is merely a glimpse into what I am learning... and I stand in awe of who He is.... my God, the all-sufficient One.

October 27, 2010

Trusting God....

I came across these two quotes and a poem today, on the blog of a friend-of-a-friend: they are from Nicki Kozlowski, whose blog is: http://mrskozlowskisblog.blogspot.com/

"Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh and trotted across to the lion. "Please," she said, "You're so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I'd sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else."
~C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy


"Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him." Job 13:15


What Will Consume You?

Though the good fight might leave me battered and bruised,
I want it all spent and utterly used.

I think that's the lesson in the steward's talent buried deep,
He thought, "Better to save, to hide, and to keep."

But the master, sore, vexed, cried, "Spend it, you fool!
"It's not yours to start with. It's only a tool!"

No works doctrine here, just a plea for more grace,
To turn from self-preserving and finish the race.

When He calls, may my pockets be empty and my arrows be in flight,
"Here I am! Throw me in! Let me swim toward the light!"

For I want to wash up on that beautiful shore,
Just a few rags and bones and a smile evermore.”
~Author Unknown~

I am so grateful for these quotes and poem, from this friend-of-a-friend, and am prompted to fall to my knees and whisper, "Yes, Lord, I will trust You. I will trust You with my life, my loved ones, our health, our finances, our decisions, our relationships, and our work. Consume all that is not from Your hand."

October 14, 2010

Thoughts on Conflicts

No one likes conflict ~ least of all, me! I don't like my heart racing, my eyes welling with tears, my hands going clammy, my emotions running helter-skelter. I don't like being mis-understood and not liked. I don't like being understood and not liked. In the midst of a conflict, I rarely think: oh, joy! an opportunity to learn and grow! I like closure. I like resolution. I like peace, and security, and sameness, and warm, cozy feelings.

After 30 years of marriage to one man, however, I am beginning to sense the richness of opportunity that conflicts provide. I've married a really good man... a really good, but flawed human being, with whom I rarely see eye-to-eye. "Wow, we're so different!" can be heard often around our house. Our differences create minor conflicts; it's our inherent selfishness that creates the major ones. Because we're committed to loving one another for all of this life, time and time again, we have the opportunity to learn and grow because of conflicts. Love requires it.

What does he need? How is he feeling? What is he thinking? How can I see from his perspective? These are questions I'm learning to ask when nothing about him makes sense... when I'm tempted to ask, "Who IS this man?! And tell me again, WHY did I marry him?!" Oh, I know why I married him; and even when I can't figure out who he is at the moment, I do know this man. I know I can trust him. And, so it is in that context of loving commitment, that we resolve our conflicts.

Sometimes we reconcile our relationship without the conflict itself being resolved. We agree to disagree, respectfully. We never name-call. We never say "never" or "always." Never. And we give one another emotional space. Our conflicts no longer threaten the very fabric of our relationship. Being at odds, is just part of the ebb and flow of our life together. I have learned that being us, is more important than being right; and that forgiveness is a continual offering between us.

August 19, 2010

Thoughts (rather long) on Fear

I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately…. my own fears, and those of ones I love. Why is fear so paralyzing? so deadly, sucking the life out of hopes and dreams, and making the everyday stuff of life seem rather pointless?

Fear brings sorrow. It enslaves, It takes but does not give. It is, in fact, a thief. It destroys relationships or at least destroys their joy. It is controlling, and it is greedy for more control.

I think fear is rooted in a self-centered focus…. a perspective that can not or will not see beyond self: what I think; what I can control; what I understand; what I want; what I think I have to have to survive. It is grasping, clinging, manipulating.

Fear is, at its core, a perspective on life that excludes what God says. It excludes what He says about who I am, the value His love has given me, and His promises for the future.

Faith, on the other hand, is God-focused…. it is a perspective that believes what it can not see, trusting the One who created, sustains, redeems, transforms, and promises eternal life. What He thinks, all that He controls, understands and wants becomes paramount. He becomes what I have to have to survive.

Fear spawns anxiety and crippling worry. It creates an environment of self-protection rather than disclosure. And it can turn into hatred…. hatred of self, hatred of others… Faith, on the other hand, always fosters love. It fosters hope, courage, confidence, a willingness to be open and vulnerable. Fear says, “protect yourself; no one else has your back.” Faith says, “It’s safe here; you are loved.”

We live in fear of pain, sorrow, ultimately – death. We live in fear of rejection, blatant and subtle. Fears come in all shapes and sizes. Some are overwhelmingly big. Others are manageably small. And yet, even the “little” fears bring with them a thousand little deaths. Fears often revolve around the question: “What if…..” You fill in the blank.

“What if there is a BoogieMan under my bed?”
“What if my best friend moves away?”
“What if my parents divorce?”
“What if I’m not dressed appropriately for this occasion?”
“What if they don’t like me? What if they really don’t like me?”
“What if I fail this test, therefore this class, and therefore don’t graduate?”
“What if I graduate and don’t have a clue what I want to do?”
“What if I can not find a job?”
“What if I lose my job?”
“What if the right man doesn’t come along…. and soon?”
“What if the right man somehow becomes the wrong man after we’re married?”
“What if we can’t have children? What if we have so many I can’t cope?”
“What if it’s cancer?”
“What if I gain lots of weight in middle age and lose his admiration?”
“What if we out-live our income?”
“What if our children are a disappointment?”
“What if my life doesn’t really matter?”
“What if…. What if….. What if…. ???

Some people go through life coping with their “what if’s?” reasonably well, without a confidence in Someone outside themselves. But apart from a secure relationship with our Maker, the greatest “What if….” becomes stark reality in death: “What if there is heaven and hell? And what if I miss heaven?” Hebrews 2:15 acknowledges this ultimate fear: “…. who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Only the Giver of life itself, can take away fear of death, replacing it with the hope of eternal life in His presence.

Those who live this life separated from eternal confidence, must replace it with temporal and fleeting confidences, hopes and false faith. They live a life pretending all will be well; that they are the master of their own fate. Their apparent lack of fear is an illusion. They should be afraid, but aren’t.

Those of us who have reason to hope and live in great confidence, are often the ones who are afraid, when our fears are not actually based in Reality. We truly have nothing to fear. The One who promises an eternity in His Presence, because He has forgiven us, also promises His Presence for all of this life.

“Have I not commanded you: be strong and of a good courage. Be not afraid; neither be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go.” (the Lord’s words to Joshua in chapter 1:8)

“…and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matt. 28:20)

Jesus spoke with similar strength to his disciples, as He walked toward them on the water: “It is I – be not afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)

It is the very Presence of God that dispels our fears.

David found deliverance from His fears by deliberately seeking the Lord: “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:8) He took the time to spend time with the Lord, whose Presence dispelled his fears.

John captured the essence of freedom from fear: “Perfect love casts out fear.” (I John 4:18) It is the power of God’s Presence and His perfect love for us that casts out fear.

According to 2 Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Sometimes my mind doesn't feel so sound; I feel weak, not powerful; I'd rather not love others; and my fears feel overwhelming. These thoughts and emotions and not God-given; but they can be transformed by His Holy Spirit, if I willingly choose to submit myself to Truth.

I am encouraged by these words, and motivated to seek Him, spending time in His Presence. My fears fade when exposed to the power of His words, His promises, His perfect love, His very life.

So, back to my “What if…?” list.... In the final analysis, the answer to each of those questions is a rather loud, “So what?! God is with me. That is what matters most.” His Presence dispels unfounded as well as very real fears. And in the midst of the emotion of fear, it is still His Presence, what He says, what He does, that matters most. The fact that I am and will always be in His Presence gives me a confidence that no one and no circumstance can steal.

May 12, 2010

Learning More About Love....

No one says it quite like C.S. Lewis! He wrote in The Four Loves:
"Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as 'Careful! This might lead you to suffering.'
To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell."

April 06, 2010

Lessons from Mentoring

I am privileged to know some lovely ladies ~ college-age women ~ who are allowing me to make an investment in their lives and futures. Sometimes we call it discipling, sometimes mentoring or coaching. Each of these women want to follow Jesus, and so together we learn from Him and grow. Since I'm the older, more experienced one, it is my role to guide, challenge, question, encourage, and support these younger friends.
Though not professionally trained to mentor or coach, my husband and I both have college degrees and have successfully raised two sons. We've also been involved with college students for a nearly three decades. This gives me confidence that I have something of value to offer these women. I'm a committed life-long-learner, and relish learning with them, as well as sharing my life with them.
And so, I have learned:
*The most important gift I bring "to the table" is a heart that is passionately confident in the potential of each of these women... and a heart that is passionately concerned with their personal growth and development.
*Each of these women has an unfolding story; a story that needs to be told and heard...and retold and heard again.
*As women tell and retell their stories, they hear truth echoing in their own lives, and I can help them hear what they might not hear by themselves.
*Asking questions communicates respect; listening carefully to the answers communicates even more respect.
*It's not where we're at in the journey that matters as much as the direction we're going.
*I prefer being a sounding board to being an advisory board.
*Giving advice very sparingly is good advice.
*I am not responsible for the choices of others.
*I do not need to be intimidated by someone half my age.
*I do need to apologize when I have (even unintentionally) offended others.
*I have what most women want, and can help them figure out how to get it.
*If I don't have what they want, I can help them decide what goals they do want to pursue.
*One of my priorities is helping them discover, understand, and embrace who they are in Christ.
*Relationships are my highest value. They matter far more to me than what we "cover."
*Mentoring is alot like raising children; it's just not as expensive or time-consuming, nor do I lose as much sleep.
*The sweetness of my marriage gives me a platform for mentoring.
*Women love to talk! Most women think by talking.
*Talking is always more enjoyable with something to drink, and usually more enjoyable with something to eat.
*Creating a safe place for young women to think out loud about life is worthwhile.
*Spending time together in my home meets intangible needs.
*Praying together is just about as sweet as it gets this side of heaven.
*We learn best what we are hungry, even desperate to know.
*I can create a hunger in others for Truth by sharing my own hunger.
*Helping these women be interdependent, rather than dependent or independent, gives them stability.
*By refreshing others, I am indeed refreshed!

January 02, 2010

The Gift of Marriage

Our Jason and dear Whitney married January 2, 2010. Brad performed the ceremony. Brett played beautiful piano music. Mom chatted, smiled and wept at appropriate moments. Thank God for His gift of marriage!

August 11, 2009

A New Season

[Photo by Michael Lyon]
We are entering a new season of life, as our youngest son recently proposed to the lovely lady in his life. We adore her, and are delighted that God is bringing them together. His proposal was one of the most precious I've ever heard, and makes me exceedingly proud of him. I know they will have difficult days ahead, whether self-inflicted or from without.... but this season is filled with joy, anticipation, and wonder. We are privileged to play a part in this unfolding story of their lives. In a few months, I will be "mother-of-the-groom," and will have a beautiful daughter-in-law. And I sincerely wonder, does it get any better than this?!

May 23, 2009

I fell in love with Cambridge....


This remarkable city with its centuries old churches, cathedrals, colleges, homes, and traditions, seems vibrant and cold at the same time... very, very old, yet modern.... crowded and noisey, and yet spacious and serene. It is a city of enticing contrasts.

It is also a city frustratingly difficult in which to find one's way, with it's winding, narrow streets, round-abouts, and cars parked either direction on both sides; motorcyclists who can pass anyone, anywhere at anytime, and double-decker busses that seem intent on hunting down pedestrians, rather than transporting them. Driving on the "wrong" side of the street is bewildering, if not dangerous. And bicyclists darting in and out of traffic add to the dangerous bewilderment.

It is a city of varied ethnicities. Our bed and breakfast host, Gregor, is from Krakow, Poland. Alex, who guided our punt down the River Cam, is originally from Ireland and graduated from Cambridge. The young man who prepared my sandwich at Subway is from Romania. We also met an exceedingly friendly lady from Australia, and children touring from France, who delighted in practicing, "Hello; how are you?" "How are you?" I responded to one particularly adorable middle school girl; she giggled as she replied, "I am French!"

It is also a city of British. The electrician, who fixed the broken heating system at our B&B, has lived in Cambridge all his life. To him, this gorgeous city is just home. He was a bit rough around the edges, but most of the British we met were polite and only slightly reserved in their friendliness. I would actually say they were "warm." They preferred to be addressed, rather than just spoken to, i.e., it was best to say "Excuse me," instead of just talking at them.

All around us, the British were speaking an English different from my own, in accent, and in specific words: what we call drug store is "the chemist," and our doctor's office is "surgery." (This one really threw me: when Brett developed a chest cold, our host suggested we take him to "surgery, just down the road," and brought his own supply of medicine for his "chesty cough." Surgery sounded a little radical to me, until we figured out it was simply the doctor's office.) Other British-isms include: "pop out," when someone steps out of the building for a moment or two; "mind the step" or "mind your head" mean to watch where you're going. A carry out box is a "take away box." They go on "holiday," not vacation, and drive on the "motorway," not the "highway." I would love to live in Cambridge for a year just to enjoy their version of English.

This is a city steeped in religiosity, with colleges named Jesus, Trinity, Christ, St. John's, and Magdalene. Jesus also has his own lane and a lock; Trinity has its own lane and street; and Magdalene has a bridge and street! There are numerous churches: Church of St. Mary the Less, Great St. Mary's Church, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and All Saints Church (these saints also have their own gardens and passage). Oh, yes, and St. Peter has his own terrace. It seems sac-religious rather than truly spiritual. We attended church Sunday morning at St. John's Chapel, a beautiful cathedral complete with angels disguised as a boys' choir. We knelt, sat, stood, read, sang, and listened, trying to follow the liturgy and traditions. All the while, God seemed very far away, and I was tempted to ask out loud, "Are You here?" I reminded myself that my feelings do not define reality; God was, indeed present.

I love this city, with its unique street names: King, Castle, Bridge and Market,as well as Trumpington, Bath, Lambourn Close, Mill and Shelford Road (where we stayed). I loved shopping with pounds and pence and fivers. I absolutely loved snuggling under my own duvet at night, and having hot hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, along with toast, and of course, tea! I loved watching old men and old women riding bicycles with their baskets filled with treasures, as well as university students hurrying to formal dinner in their robes. Most of all, I loved punting down the River Cam.

And so, I fell in love with this city of contrasts, this ancient, modern, peculiar, stunningly beautiful, eclectic, religious, secular city.

Visiting Brett's Cambridge

Seeing Cambridge through Brett's eyes was truly a gift. He plans to defend his dissertation in September, receiving his doctorate in linguistics. It seems surreal. He lived there two years; our trip lasted only 5 days. He showed us everything special to him, and I took pictures of all that and more. A few times, he gently said, "Mom, put your camera away; you can't take pictures here." The university has rules about photographs and who can be in certain places, and even about who can walk on which grassy areas.
I sensed the whole time that I could easily live there, and live just to take pictures! I felt overwhelmed by the creative possibilities. So little time; so many photographs! I actually felt greedy; I wanted to capture it all and hold the beauty tightly. I learned something about grasping and about letting go; about coveting and conversely, being content. The beauty of this very old city has already been well documented, but I wanted to capture it, just for the sheer joy of doing so. Our camera served me well, and I did, indeed capture some of the beauty of Cambridge. Mission accomplished. Some photos turned out well; a few had to be discarded; and some are quite remarkable in capturing what really was visible.... these I consider my "accidental photography." I wonder if heaven will feel overwhelming in its beauty and scope; I wonder if we will patiently explore or greedily try to soak it all in at once. And I wonder what will take the place of my camera in heaven?

Cambridge and Heaven

Our brief time in Cambridge gave me a glimpse into Heaven. Cambridge has a beauty that is overwhelming, and I couldn't help but wonder if Heaven will be even more overwhelming in its beauty. But then, perhaps we won't overwhelmed at all, because that carries with it a sense of frustration.... and I really can't imagine being frustrated by anything in Heaven.

There are gates everywhere in Cambridge; visitors and tourists are not allowed beyond these gates without being with the right person. When we first arrived at King's College, Brett told the porter (guard) at the gate, that he wanted to see his advisor, a professor in that college. He showed him his Cambridge identification, and the porter allowed us in. I was struck by the fact that we didn't get in on our own merit, but on Brett's. It also intrigued me that Brett was only allowed in because he knew the name of his advisor and asked to see him. If we had gone without Brett, we would have been turned away. And if Brett had simply asked to get in as a student of Trinity, not King's College, he also would have been turned away. When we get to heaven, I wonder if we will stand at the gate and ask to see Jesus. Actually, I wonder if it will be Jesus, Himself, who will meet us and welcome us in.

The pleasure visiting Cambridge brought me is almost indescribable, although I have tried. I carry in my mind images and experiences that were worth every penny (pound) we spent. And I suspect I shall happily think about this trip for the rest of my life. Yet, as lasting as these memories will be, they are just part of my very temporal life on this earth. There is, I believe, a greater purpose, and I am reminded of John Piper's words, "This, then, is the point of all pleasure.... Pleasure says, 'God is like this, only better; do not make an idol of me; I simply point.'" And so, my experience of Cambridge was not an end in itself, but a means to an end; it points me to God, the Giver of all that is good on this earth, and the One who invites me to experience Him forever.... now THAT will be Heaven.