Thursday, November 26, 2009

To List Lovers Everywhere

I've heard that there is a certain type of personality that loves lists. Things to do lists, things not to do lists, what to pack lists, what to eat lists, what not to eat lists, etc. I recently even came across a huge, thick, could-be-used-as-a-weapon sized book full of...lists...just lists.

I think I understand the fascination a little. When I was a young teenager, my friends and I looked forward to summer youth camp all year long. As the weeks drew nearer I remember us writing lists as we sat together in our church pew (gasp!). Our lists were exhaustive points of every item we must pack - from toothpaste to the new cute shirt bought just for the occasion.

Lists can make us feel closer to an exciting event, that we've made an important first step toward a long goal, that we've accomplished something! It could also help us sort out things like details, thoughts, and even closets. They help husbands remember what to pick up at the grocery store and college students remember the date that Martin Luther nailed his theses to a door in Wittenberg. Lists really are lovely. :)

All this being said...I have come across a few lists in my Bible reading. Apparently, God may like lists too - or at least likes to throw some in for His list-loving kids. I have found lists that have helped me make goals in areas of character, perseverance, treatment of others, love and more. I'm going to try a series of blogs that involve these lists and hope they will be helpful or at least a little enlightening.

To start the 'series' - my very first list that I posted on my fridge. True Love. God's Word is full of the importance of love. Not just "oh-he's-so-cute...must-get-new-shoes-to-impress" kind of love but self-denying, sacrificial, not-so-easy, love."A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (NIV)." John 13:33-35

Love...(1 Corinthians 13)

Is patient
is kind
does not envy
does not boast
is not proud
is not rude
is not self-seeking
is not easily angered
keeps no record of wrongs
does not delight in evil
rejoices with the truth
always protects
always trusts
always hopes
always perseveres
never fails.

Let's see if we can check off that list!


P.S. I keep this list on my fridge and try to work on one each day...I don't look forward to the "not easily angered" usually means something will come up to test that trait...:)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Long before my neighbors put up their colored lights and before the Dollar Store packed their isles with Christmas trinkets and before the inflatable snowmen were inflated...I had a Christmas thought.

I was driving down a country road on the outside of our town. There were no streetlights, just a scattering of houses and farms. I was struck by the beauty of the night and the awesome span of starry sky. It was the stars that brought the thought.

I thought of the shepherds outside of Bethlehem and how they must have enjoyed the view of an open sky at night as they slept under the stars. I pictured them, faces weathered by sun and wind and the elements, clothes dust covered and wrinkled, fingernails caked with dirt. I thought of how they were probably not revered or held in high esteem for such a common job.

Yet, it was these same dirty, humble shepherds that God chose to dazzle with a light show beyond compare. Thousands of angels singing, "Glory to God in the highest" and then He topped it all by letting them in on the good news that the long-awaited Messiah was born and where He was! He chose one of the most common people - one of the lowest on the social scale-to tell His greatest news.

It was that thought that gave me a much needed glimpse of God's tenderness. He loved those shepherds and chose to heap His mercy and grace in abundance on them. God's Son went on to show the same characteristics - loving the outcasts, the despised and the scandalous. I was reaffirmed that night that His love for me is as strong and abundant as well, despite my many imperfections. He is not just some powerful Being that is far away from where we are - ready to strike when we slip up. His heart is drawn to our helplessness and to the helpless. I got a glimpse of His heart for the outsider and loved Him even more.

Monday, November 9, 2009

He'll Never Leave

My youngest son, Samuel, is at a stage where he doesn't like me to be out of his sight all that much (funny how you can take the littlest things for going to the bathroom by yourself...). A lot of times I will come into the living room after a quick 30 second trip up and down the stairs to find him hanging on to the toy box and crying as if I had left him for good. I quickly pick him up and hold him close, kissing away his tears and murmur in his ear..."Mama loves you...mama would never leave you...mama would never leave..." until he calms down and gives me a big watery, open-mouthed, three-toothed smile.

As I set him back down with his toys my own words echo in my mind - "never leave you..." I think that every time I go through this with Samuel, I'm reminded of God's words to me, His child.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (NIV)." Deuteronomy 31:8

Somehow, God loves me even more than I could love my children (though I can't fathom it) because He is perfect and His love is perfect. The depth of love that could never let me abandon my sons is even deeper in Christ. The Bible tells me that He loves me so deeply that He would never leave me or forsake me. I suppose there are times when I cry out to Him in despair - feeling as if He had left me alone. Yet, He has not left me. I might not see Him clearly but He is there. He couldn't leave me alone - I'm His child.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

H1N1 and Horses and Chariots

Well, today my whole family got vaccinated for H1N1 (that's a whole "can-o-worms" these days). As I walked from the hospital I felt a little relief that we had taken some measures to keep healthy but at the same time I consciously tried to remind myself that my whole trust cannot be in a mere man-made precaution.

Many moons ago, before there were tanks and airplanes and guns - there were horses and chariots. Kingdoms built up their store of pure bred horses and magnificent chariots as a way to arm themselves in the event of war. I can just imagine a king sitting back in his throne with a sense of relief as his army general reports that they have surpassed other kingdoms in equine and equipment.

David was a king in those times. It was his words that have been ringing in my mind these past few days. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God (NIV)." The journey to David's kingship and his rule was full of ups and downs. There were times when his kingdom and army were well prepared with horses and with chariots and there were other times that David spent days on the run from his enemy, hiding in caves and cliffs with his few rebel followers. He knew what it was like to be as prepared as possible and also what it was like to be defenseless. But, he also knew where his true trust should lie. Physically prepared or physically defenseless, his true trust lay in only what is completely trustworthy - the name of his Lord.

I pray that I hold to Jesus in times of turbulence. That I would not put my true trust in needles or machines, in how much money is in my bank account or how many friends I have on facebook, in how well I can cook or how muscular I look...(ppphhh!) My utmost trust must rest with the One who has already seen the future, who calls me His child and who promises to do only what is for my good.

I pray that in times of uncertainty, you will find His peace as you put your trust, first, in Him.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Post It Notes

On a trip to Kenya, Africa a few years ago I had the privilege of visiting my friend Faye while she was interning at a mission for children and teens. It was great getting to see the place where she had lived for the last 8 months (complete with huge spiders and "interesting" toilets/hole in the ground...) and to visit an African zoo (where I almost got attacked by a lion! I'll save that for another post). She also accompanied me to the market where, in true tourist form, I was going to buy some souvenirs. I found a particular interesting painting on cloth that I thought my brother would like and asked the seller of the wares how much it would cost me. He told me a price and then both to mine and his surprise, my fair-haired, ROOTS Canada sweater-wearing old roomie started speaking to him in fluent Swahili...apparently telling him that the same painting cost a lot less in the market she had been to a few days earlier. The look on his face was priceless..."how and where did this obvious westerner learn such great Swahili?"

Well, I think it may have started in her room. :) I was a frequent visitor to Faye's family as I was her college roommate who was a long way from home...too long to go home for Thanksgiving and Reading Break. They so graciously 'adopted' me and I enjoyed many holidays with her family. On one of those trips, before Faye was to go on her first excursion to Kenya, I walked into her room and noticed that it was covered in Post-It Notes! They were everywhere...on the lampshade, the door frame, the window, the carpet, the door knob! I looked a little closer and saw that on each note was one word in what I assumed would be the language she was trying to learn - Swahili. So, a few years later, in a little market on a store roof, here was my friend - gone from Post-It Notes to prolific! I'm sure she would tell you that the process wasn't easy. The journey from mere words to flowing language would mean lots of memorizing, listening, observation, experimenting and sharing until it became almost second nature.

Faye's Post-It Notes reminded me of a passage of scripture from Deuteronomy 6.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates (NIV)."

Our journey to making God's Word a part of our lives is not always easy. It takes commitment and perseverance. Sometimes we will literally need to stick verses on our mirror or on the window above our sink. Sometimes we will need to make up a song to help us remember truth. Sometimes we will need to stop daydreaming about Swiss Chalet and listen to the pastor ;) Other times we will need to share it with others to make it more real to ourselves. Whatever it takes - it's worth it. Becoming "fluent" in God's truth and His promises is a blessing that will continue to strengthen, sustain and even surprise us.

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (NIV)." 2 Timothy 3:16-17