Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Every good and perfect thing

The saga continues.

Like a bad joke that keeps coming up.

Paul and I were going to leave on a much anticipated weekend getaway with dear friends that we hadn't seen in more than a decade.

We were T-minus 30 minutes from departure when I heard that gut-wrenching sound:

Rushing water.

Above my head.

And then I saw it.

Running down the wall, a waterfall in the doorway.

Yep.  We have had yet another busted pipe.  You cannot make this stuff up.

Thankfully, oh, my praise the Lord, thankfully, I was in the exact same place as the leak when the pipe busted.  I had a moment of complete shock as I stared at the water falling from the ceiling, but then made a rush to the water pump and turned the sucker off.

Thankfully, I was there to turn it off and the water damage is minimal.

Thankfully, I was there, because originally I wasn't supposed to be.

Originally I was supposed to be on a field trip with Maddie, with none of us coming home until 45 minutes after the time of the pipe busting.

Thankfully, Paul found the problem and was able to get it fixed himself.

He and I worked feverishly to clean up the mess as much as possible.

And we still made it out the door, albeit 2.5 hours late, for our getaway.

I'm sure you can picture the scene of me sobbing as I am looking at yet another water-damaged scene, and the thoughts that the entire weekend is cancelled as we are left at home to clean up the mess.

I'm not sure why the events played out like they did.  But there was one thing that kept coming to my mind the entire weekend:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
 who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

The first time it came in my head, I thought how crazy it was that I was thinking of that verse.

Good and perfect?  Gift? I have another water-logged home, more repairs and costs coming our way.  How does this connect?

But God kept bringing me back to that verse.  And if there is one thing I know, God's word is true.

And every good and perfect thing comes from Him.  Perhaps the definition I would give "good and perfect" are not the same as what God would use to describe it?

In the times that difficulty, or inconveniences, come our way, let us not so quickly ask God, "Why me?"

Why not you?  Why not me?

He can take this moment and work it for your good.  It may not be pretty when you are in the middle of the mess, but if your focus is kept on Him, no doubt He will bring you through it.

As the verse reminds us, He created the stars, is He not able to bring your through your mess that you are in?  He does not change.  The God of yesterday is still the God of today....and tomorrow.

Your mess may not be how you want it to be and it may last longer than you want it to.

But your mess today is nothing compared to the mess Jesus already took care of for you.  He's already covered the biggest messes at the cross. 

I don't want to lightly pass over the difficulty you may be in.  I don't want to stick a band-aid on it and say pat answers like, "it's all going to be OK." 

Because some of you may be in the middle of something hard.  And it is really tough to find anything remotely good, let alone perfect.

So let's turn to hope.  To the One who promises to never leave us.  Who promises something better beyond this life.

And if we can hope in the Faithful Promise, we can truly find something that is good, and most certainly perfect. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

And for those who love Winter for what it stands for

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are Winter

And everything that's new has breavely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season's change
And so it will be 
As you are recreating me
Summer, Autumn,
Winter, Spring

from Nichole Nordeman's "Every Season"
Listen to the whole song here.

For those who are done with Winter

Earlier this week in family devotions we asked the kids to pick a number between 1 and 150.

Hannah was the first to call out with "147!"

So we read Psalm 147.  And it worked quite well with our present time (of course it did, isn't that how His Word works!?)

 He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.  
He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes.  
He hurls down hail like pebbles.  
Who can withstand his icy blast?  
He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up the breezes and the waters flow.

It's cold out there today - one of the coldest this year.  But take heart!  He will soon 'send his word' and it will all melt - Spring is coming soon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lifesong Mission Moment: When Nester Caught the Vision

15-2 MM email

"When I graduated, I decided to donate a year to Plan Escalon in order to continue helping. And this experience [of giving back] has impacted my life a lot. " -- Nester, Honduras Graduate & Volunteer

Nester is just one of hundreds of students who have been given the opportunity to obtain an education at the Plan Escalon School in Honduras. An education that serves as a springboard, launching them into a hopeful future where cycles of poverty can be overcome and generations can be changed and empowered.

As Nester mentioned, for many there is little chance to obtain an education and direction for the future. Through their schooling and exposure to the Gospel of Christ at Plan Escalon, students like Nester have "caught the vision." The vision of finding needs, meeting needs and changing a nation.

Over 30% of each graduating class have caught this vision and desired to donate a year after they graduate to the Life in Action program, paying it forward to vulnerable children with few educational opportunities.

Would you join us in prayer for our students? Not only at Plan Escalon, but the young children who are being ministered to by our Plan Escalon students and graduates. Pray for God's love to be sown into the hearts of hurting souls and futures could be empowered and changed for good.

Honduras Life in Action-01 college x

Saturday, February 7, 2015

January Lookback

Snow.  Although not quite like last winter..thankfully.

Cold.  But not quite the Polar Vortex of 2014....thankfully.

We were able to fill January with a few snow days spent crafting and snowman building.

Evening dance parties help keep the cabin fever at bay.

And birthdays.  Celebrating at home for Paul's 33rd year.

And joining with family for a round of January/February birthdays.

I must admit, January, I was holding my breath.  Partly expecting to have another end to the month, like the one you handed us last year.  But mercifully, you passed on by and led us uneventfully into February.

Thank you, January, for your snow and cold and winteriness.  I'm enjoying you a bit more now that I have a husband who gets to stay home on snow days.

But not enough to make you more than 31 days long.  You are splendid for just that amount of time.  See you next year.

Glad to see old friends over the last few days of winter break

Hannah's car.  Took a good hour.  A nice quiet hour.

Dance parties.  Sometimes Disney themed.  Sometimes a little Rend Collective...

...but always in a fancy dress.

33 and rockin' the beard

Lots of snow forts and snowmen

And rounding out the month with a birthday celebration

Sunday, February 1, 2015

For Maddie, now you are 5

You've been anticipating this day for the last 8 months or so.

Asking, hoping, that this time when you asked me my answer would be "tomorrow" instead of weeks, months away.

But it finally came.  And as you noted this evening at supper, "being 5 doesn't feel very different than 4."

Sorry to break it to you, Madeline, but the change doesn't happen overnight. 

It's gradual.

Just like you are not the same person you were when you turned 4 last year, you will not be the same a year from now.

The time seems to go so slowly for you right now.  It feels like days last forever, years for an eternity.

But those days won't always creep by.  Soon enough those days, years will fly by so quick it will leave you gaping.  Wondering where it went.

That is where I am now.  Looking at you.  5 years have already gone by.

Our youngest.  Our baby.

You know what it is like to try to keep up with older siblings, putting up with the bossiness, dealing with getting second or third picks.

But you also know that you often get the spotlight.  Your beyond-your-years humor and goofy antics often leave us laughing out loud.

You still love to cuddle.  I cannot describe how happy that makes my mama-heart.  I thought the cuddles would have disappeared by now, but thankfully you keep coming back for more.

You attack life with energy, joy, and song.  And also a dance or two.

Your imagination makes my heart swell.  You find castles, dragons, pirates, and princesses in the simplest of objects.

Your sensitive heart is quick to bring tears.  But your forgiveness is quick to come as well.

We see glimpses of a heart for Jesus.  We pray that it continues to grow.  We are so glad you are a part of our family, Madeline.  So glad that God let us borrow you, to raise you up to love God and serve Him.

Happy 5th Birthday, Madeline!  We love you!