Friday, February 26, 2010

Family Pride

Family members are the first ones to question your sanity and the last ones to let the issue rest.

Even Jesus' family thought He was crazy.
Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that He and His disciples were not even able to eat.  When His family heard about this, they went to take charge of Him, for they said, "He is out of His mind."  -Mark 3:20-21
His family was not impressed with this new hobby He'd started of preaching and healing.

Oh no.  First He's out picking fights with the church leaders, and now mobs of people are following Him around to see what trick He's going to do next.  Now they've got Him trapped in some stranger's house.  C'mon, Mary, we'd better go get your son and bring Him home before they lock Him up in the looney bin.  Maybe He's got a chemical imbalance and the doc has some pills He can take.

So off goes the family of Jesus, tracking down this random home with people spilling out the front door so they can rush Him to safety before He destroys the family name.

They can't get inside, so they sent someone to push his way through the people to get to Jesus and let Him know they're waiting outside.

"Hey, Jesus!  Your mom and brothers are looking for you.  They want to see you outside."

As if to confirm His family's suspicions, Jesus promptly says,

"Who are my mom and brothers?"

Thankfully, by the grace of God, Jesus' family did not remain skeptics.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


You know what makes a sunrise beautiful?


With no clouds in the sky, the sun can rise each morning in all of its unshielded glory.

But add a few clouds above the horizon, and all kinds of brilliant and beautiful colors splash across the earth, bathing us in the glory of a new day.

(I cheated...this one is actually a sunset.)

Each of these pictures are orginals and were taken on my way to or from work in the past few weeks.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Morbid Reality

He returned to the nursing home with orders for therapy, but I almost didn't pick him up.  I was actually surprised he hadn't returned under hospice cares (in which case he would not legally qualify for therapy services).

On this particular day, he was laying down with the head of his bed raised up quite a ways.  Makes it easier for him to breathe past all the fluid in his lungs.

He didn't respond to me, except to either work with me as I exercise his legs, or push against my efforts to bend his knees.  Otherwise, he sleept through the session, occasionally reaching his arms out to grab something that only he could see through his closed eyes.

His breathing was labored:  four or five loud, rattly breaths...then nothing...then noises that sounded like silent gasping...then four or five more breaths.

I can't help but think he has to be nearing the end.  And I wonder what it must feel like, to have death waiting right beside you.

Is he fighting, trying to push through his illness to gain a few more days?

Has he given up to wait silently until his moment comes?

Is he afraid?  What does he think about?

Is his mind even aware of what's happening to his body?

Morbid, perhaps.  But it's reality.  And I can't help but wonder.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Apparently It's Time for a Change

Here we go again.

Totally did not see it coming this time.

Usually, I can at least tell when major life changes are coming my way.

But not this time.

I got a call from my landlord over the weekend.  He wanted to let me know that they had put the house up for sale.  He talked through the process and his expectations for selling it (sometime between the end of March and October).  Oh, and the realtor is coming tomorrow to take pictures, is that ok?

I wasn't really sure what to think after we hung up.  Mostly I just chuckled to myself and wondered what God is up to now.

Maybe this would be a good time to worry, wonder where I'm going to live next, start looking for houses to rent or even buy...

But I just shrug my shoulders and say, "Eh, whatever."  God has taken me around the block often enough that I know He's going to come through for me.


And again.

I have no idea what's in store.  Maybe just a simple move across town.

Maybe this is His way of telling me it's time to move on altogether...across the country...or maybe even farther.

Right now, I don't know what the answer is.  But I'm not concerned.  He'll show me.

At just the right time, He'll tell me what to do.

I'm ok moving, packing, unpacking, resettling.  This has been my house...but never really my home.  Not completely.  And I pray I will never be able to say that about any place I ever live.  I never want to feel so content that I feel completely at home here on earth.

I am an alien and a stranger.  I want to keep it that way.  If I ever become too comfortable here on earth, then I have misplaced my heart's Desire, the One I was created for.

My home is heaven.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Servant Farmer

He picks up the trash can full of soaked bandages and carries it out of the room to be emptied while the nurse finishes bandaging her swollen legs.  After the nurse leaves, he nearly tears apart the living room looking for a book she can't find but knows is there somewhere.

I like this man, this rotund farmer, always wearing a plaid shirt under denim overalls.  He's old enough to be retired, but a farmer's work is never done.  (For the work of a farmer runs too deep in his veins to ever be done.)  He's a kind man with gentle eyes, toothless, attentive, and always ready with a wise-crack.

I watch him during my visit to their home, but don't put the full picture together until later, when paperwork and assessments aren't distracting me.

We know her well.  She has been our patient for several months.  I first met her in the hospital, too tired or weak to even roll over in bed.  Then she came as an outpatient, and we helped get her back on her feet and walking again.  But no sooner had we discharged her than she was back in the hospital after a heart attack.  Now too weak to get out of the house, we have been seeing her at home.  After yet another hospital stay recently, I was back at her house to evaluate her again.

Her health is failing.  Her kidneys are shutting down.  Her heart barely pumps.  The fluid backs up in her legs, and when they are stretched to the max, the fluid seeps out through her skin.  The Parkinson's has taken away her facial expressions and makes walking even a few steps labored and hard.

As she and I chat while I fill out paperwork, her husband the farmer silently walks into the room and hands her the pills she is supposed to take now.

She didn't ask him to.  He just did.  He knew it was time for her to take her medicine.

My presence encroaches on her afternoon nap time, and while she would love to sit and visit, her eyes are barely staying open.  The Parkinson's is to blame for this mandatory daily sleep.

He patiently helps her to her feet.  It takes several attempts, and she is frustrated that she can't even stand.  But he is patient, encouraging, and on the third try he hoists her up.

She is tall, even taller than he.  But he must support her so she doesn't fall backward into her chair.

She wants to walk to the bedroom, but we have waited too long.  Her body is too tired.  So he pushes her in a wheeled desk chair to the bed.  He again helps her to stand.  He holds her close and tight as together they turn so she can sit on the bed.

And this is the image I remember:  Aged farmer, with strong, healthy, and sturdy body holding close his broken wife, weak and tired and frail.  He holds her up with silent love, the hands of a servant doing for her what she cannot do for herself.

I think of the marraige vows they spoke many years ago, in sickness and health 'til death do us part.  And I wonder at the mystery of this.  They did not plan on these trials and illnesses ravaging her body.  Yet he takes care of her, as a mother would her child, without once complaining about the hand that was delt them.

I want to serve like this.  Strong and silent.  Never complaining, always encouraging.  Always patient.  Always aware.  Silent, but present.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Extreme Makeover, Blog Edition

I got one of the most original birthday gifts ever from my friend Lyla, and I love it.

Know what it is?

You're looking at it (unless you're an email subscriber).

That's right.  She gave me a blog makeover.

We were finally able to sit down and tweak it over the weekend.  Still have some kinks and adjustments to fiddle with, but this is largely the finished project.  Pretty sweet, huh?

You can visit Lyla's blog and leave a comment to tell her how cool she is.  : )

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blessings via Technology

I had an amazing privilige this past Sunday.

My friend Lyla has a friend Kelly, who is now my friend as well.  Kelly lives halfway across the country from us.  She loves Jesus and is very active with various ministries.  She loves people and cherishes her time with God's people.

Unfortunately, Kelly has been sick for a couple months and hasn't been able to go to church on Sundays.

So we brought church to Kelly.

Since I'm teaching Sunday School right now, and I bring my computer and use the internet for video clips, I figured I could also turn on my webcam and let Kelly sit in on our class.  It took a couple practice sessions before we figured out how to make things work, but figure it out we did.

Sunday morning, dressed in her pajammas, coffee mug in hand, reclined on the sofa with computer on her lap, Kelly finally got to be a part of His fellowship she do desperately missed.  She even participated once in a while by contributing comments in the conversation box on the screen.

I loved it, she loved it, and I loved that she loved it.

After Sunday School, Lyla carried Kelly (via my laptop) into the sanctuary, where she was promptly greeted by our friendly greeters.  Kelly joined in our worship service while we sang, studied, and prayed.  Afterward, some of our friends were brave enough to stick their faces in the webcam to say hi.

She says I have no idea what "being there" did for her, and I'm sure she's right.  I've never missed out on fellowship and community worship for months at a time.  I can only imagine it felt like a bucket of cool water drenching a parched soul.

I've never me Kelly in person, but she has become a very special friend to me.  There was something about having her present and being able to worship with her that did something good for my soul, too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Piles of Blankets

A sad sight sits in my living room.

Thirteen blankets lay neatly folded (mostly), piled high and waiting for a ride to Sioux Falls.

I had a trip planned this past Friday to visit a shelter, help serve lunch or mingle with the crowd, and hand out blankets to thirteen cold people.

But as is the trend, a winter storm was creeping in for the weekend.  I went to bed unsure of what Friday morning would bring.  Maybe nothing substantial would happen.  Or maybe I would be snowed in.

Even as I prayed about it before I crawled into bed that night before Friday, I sensed God telling me to stay behind.  As I pushed the snooze button early the next morning, I still felt the prompt to stay home.

When I got up for the day, I quickly saw that travel would not have been overly difficult.  And I wondered why I thought I heard Him tell me to stay home.  Because now thirteen people would not have blankets that day.

Maybe I wasn't prepared well enough for the trip.  I hadn't done anything to pack up my car, get myself ready mentally, or anything else travel-related.

Maybe there was another reason I needed to be home that day.  Was it the chance to work on other blankets?  Be at the high school game that night?

Maybe my trip had too much "me" in it.  After the shelter, I planned to make a few personal stops of my own.  Seemed kinda backwards to volunteer to help the homeless and then go indulge myself in unnecessary things.

I don't know what the reason was.  Maybe I misheard.  All I know now is these blankets remain, warming no one except my cat.  (When she can't lay on them, she settles in next to them.)

But I really want them to not be in my living room any longer, not doing what they're intended for.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Standing on the Rock

As I sit here on what's left of this Monday morning, snowed in by selfish cares and thoughts of feeling sorry for myself, my woes threaten to steal and stifle the mounds of blessings God heaped upon me this weekend.

Mounds as high as the snow banks lining my driveway.  Mounds that grow taller than my neighbor as he shovels a path for his car.

The blessings won't melt away like the snow will.  But my introverted self-trap threatens to turn my grasp on them to water.

And I will splash to the ground, a puddle fallen away from the Substance that holds me together.

I was so filled with joy yesterday that I thought I might burst.  God likes to bless me.  I believe He loves to give good gifts to His children.  He leads me to stand on the high mountain of His glory and presence.

But something about receiving these good things causes me to return to myself rather than Him.

I love the view from the mountain.  It's beautiful there and I never want to come down.  But maybe I get so busy looking around that I forget the Rock on which I stand.  And then I lose my footing and fall.

Back down to the dirt from where I came.  I look around at all the muck I'm laying in.  And there I sit.  I can't see the beautiful view from down here.  I don't even try to remember what it looked like.  I just sit and pout that I no longer have it.

Why don't I look back to the Rock on which I stood?

He hasn't moved.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's Not About Me

I'm behind on my writing.  I failed to write any posts over the weekend.  Since then, this entire week has been crazy busy.  I think tonight is the first time I've had a chance to actually just sit and relax.

Normally this pace of life leaves me exhausted.

Which I am.

But this time only physically.  I'm quite ready to go sleep for several hours and not wake up to my alarm clock in the morning (SO thankful for days off!).

Tonight I don't have the feelings of despair and precious moments wasted in the rush of my schedule.  I'm content with the craziness of the week and not having my usual down time to myself.

This week, I think I experienced living life with a mission.

Instead of anticipating turning in my time sheet at the end of the day so I could go home, I focused on the present, because that's where God had put me.  Instead of wishing I could fast-forward through my mornings at the nursing home, I tried to do my job to the best of my abilities, because I knew that's what He was asking.  Instead of trying to rush through my evening activities at church to get home and catch up on email, I tried to be present, because these activities are meant to bring Him glory.

Instead of focusing so much on myself, I tried to recognize my purpose in doing the job and activities He has called me to do today.

What a difference it made.  Dying to self is proving to be a bigger challenge than I initially thought.  But wow, does it change the way I see the world.


Related Posts with Thumbnails