To The End Of 2008

This morning’s devotional was spot-on for the final day of 2008.  Who knows what next year will bring?  

I can’t even imagine.
But here’s where I hope to focus, from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts In Solitude (and what a concept that is, for a girl like me…..):

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. – Thomas Merton


“Trust you always.”  I hope this for you; I hope this for me.  For my family, for my individual children.  My friends.  My PCC community.  And I choose to cling to this notion that “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” will really show us that it is God who works in us “to will and act according to his good purpose” (Philipians 2.12-13)
If I didn’t believe I had that kind of almighty, power-filled help, I don’t know that I could make it.
Whatever your fears, whatever your circumstances, I hope you catch a glimpse of the great leading mercy of God – today, as we end one year, and tomorrow, as we begin another.
And every day beyond.
Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.  Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Philipians 2.12-13, The Message

Lord, You Are Good And Your Mercy Endureth Forever

Today was my big day.

I spoke in church this morning.  I “gave a talk”.  I “shared”.  I “preached”.  
I finished playing during the music part of the service and then walked to the center of the stage with a stand and my Bible.  I started to talk, and I could see the people in the seats thinking, “What is she doing???  Where’s Brian????  What’s going on here???”

Because we like things to stay the same (myself included) and this was different.
I had this strange sense that everybody was just watching me, just waiting, wondering, checking things out, not sure if I was going to do or say something ridiculous…and then, at one point, everybody just relaxed and breathed.  And we were all there together, and we stuck together throughout the rest of the message.
It was a very interesting phenomenon.  New to me.
I shared the platform with my brother, which is why I played music AND spoke.  I couldn’t pass up the chance.
It was a cool day.  A new milestone for me.  And it felt really great.  
I am grateful for the opportunity and the privilege to stand in that place.
God is good.  And His mercies are new EVERY morning.  Who would have ever thought?

God, Let Me Fear Only You

Doing a bit of blog surfing; I keep up with a few folks that are friends, some others who do church work, some bird people, some family members.  I usually find a nugget or two of truth and inspiration every day.

I read one called History in the Making; it’s a churchy/leadership/young dad sort of place.  I like it.
I read this today and had to stop and think for a while.

You?

Every morning, I pray the same prayer: “God, let me fear only you today.” It’s not that I actually fear other people. It’s that I wage secret campaigns against them, rather than speak openly and honestly.

What are the signs of fearing man?

*The fake laugh
*Being a “yes man”
*Blending in with the crowd
*Not being true to my passions
*Not speaking truth at my own risk
*Putting on a fake persona

From Ben Arment’s blog; check it out.

Happy Birthday Sarah

Today is my eldest daughter’s 18th birthday.  It would be most appropriate to share cute baby pictures, but, alas, I have none digitized.  So her latest family escapade will have to suffice.

Sarah is one of the most dynamic, passionate, loyal and charismatic people I know.  I see in her a fiery blend of her God-given kindness and patience mixed with the result of her circumstances – the authoritative leadership of a first born, the ability to express herself through a variety of musical venues, incredible communication skills.  Sarah is a beautiful young woman, with delicate features and a gentleness to her appearance that sometimes masks her fierce tenacity and passion.
She is a joy, often a surprise.  Life with Sarah means you are on your toes and never subjected to boredom.  She seizes life with intensity.  To witness the processing of her relationships, her challenges, the things she loves, the things that make her crazy, is to witness a creativity and humanity that is really unique.
It’s hard to talk about one’s child objectively.  Once, Sarah told me that I too often erred on the side of encouraging her and being proud of her for the things she does – particularly when they occur in our world of church and music – rather than who she is.  It’s tough to separate sometimes the idea of her being a fellow musician, co-laborer, and woman with the fact that she is my child and I am her mother.
What a treat it has been.  My first-born, she made me a mother.  She has been a joy.
I feel great excitement and anticipation as she takes this next step towards embracing adulthood.
With her birthday being only one week before Christmas, celebrations get a bit muddy.  This year, we decided that the 18th birthday was reason enough to give Sarah the honor of placing the star upon the tree.  Another family tradition.

She proudly embraced the idea and grabbed the star.


Sarah’s not the tallest of people, so – keeping with tradition – I said I’d pick her up so she could reach the top of the tree.


It was harder than I thought.


With visions of the entire family ending up sprawled atop a collapsed tree, we tried to move forward…



Reaching….reaching…


…and reaching…




Uh……

Eventually we righted the top branches and all was well.
Happy birthday Sarah.  You, like that star, are well-placed, shining brightly and nothing short of perfect.
I love you and I am honored to be your mom.

Penguins And Memories


I’m nursing some Caturra coffee in my favorite cup – one that once belonged to my grandmother – and actually enjoying the opportunity to be still.  To my right is our Christmas tree, lit with white, covered in ornaments that tell an interesting and often comical history of our family.  There’s the card stock gingerbread man with Sydni’s named misspelled by a kind but misinformed Sunday school teacher years ago; the wooden angels with individual names across the bottom, a joint labor of love between my mom and I; tiny pictures of the kids as babies; gifts from former students and friends…

It occurs to me that we have few ornaments that reflect a more recent history.  A set of five penguins with each of the kids’ names, a memory of our first Christmas here in Virginia, without Lonnie, without a tree of our own – that one means a lot to me.  It took no small measure of courage to pick it out at the kiosk in the mall, bring it home and write those names.  I remember being so desperate to claim some sense of family.  A six dollar ornament was a tentative but important first step.
Perhaps it’s time to gather a few more ornaments.  Much of our lives have moved forward, in a very positive way.  Sitting here in a cluttered but quiet house, I feel home.  It is a very good place to be.  So perhaps I shall, indeed, go shopping. 
For ornaments.

It’s The Most WONDERFUL TIME DANG IT!!!!

I’m just too busy right now.

We got the tree up.  The house is kinda/sorta decorated.  Lights on the tree.  No ornaments yet, but we’ve got a day or two.  No presents under the tree, but that’s okay, too.
I made a list today of all that I needed to do.  Nineteen items.  Then I went back and highlighted the ones that I HAD to do today.
Driving to the office, I kept remembering more things.  I was trying to add to my list while I was driving.  Which could have led to “pick up the car from the body shop”, item #36.  Because I could easily wreck the car, while thinking and writing and driving simultaneously.
I made it.  I accomplished most of the highlighted stuff.
On to the rest tomorrow.