Monday, November 30, 2009

Still Thankful

Thanksgiving Day is past, and most of the good food is consumed (turkey pot pie remains), but I am still thankful
for my precious husband, who drives more than 300 miles round trip each week to work
for his wonderful job, even though it is far away
for Muffin's faithful and fervent prayers for our family, friends, and many others
for our family--two mostly healthy octogenarian mothers, who are very entertaining and loving
for four beautiful grown up daughters who honor us and who positively affect the culture where they live, and for the jobs where they work
for three handsome, intelligent, God fearing sons-in-love who love our daughters and protect them fiercely, and for their good jobs
for the four most beautiful, intelligent, and entertaining grandchildren who have ever lived on Earth
for our extended family, our church family, our dear friends, our missionary friends and family, our pastors, those who provide services for us and care for us
for our pets, who bring so much joy
for safety, security, and blessings of our nation
and, most of all, for God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In additional to the aforementioned, I'm very thankful for hot water, good plumbing, and coffee--delicious, fresh ground coffee--good books, my lovely 102 year old violin and more modern bow, lots and lots and lots of great music, a pleasant car that gets reasonably good mileage, my iphone and computer, and lots of other "stuff" that makes life easier.

Feeling blessed. Hope you are too!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On the Mend

Speaking of broken... This morning was interesting. C. has this class of 3 women, M., E., and T. She asked Becki an I to come this morning and minister to them, as they come from broken backgrounds--lots of disfunction. They are leaning how to pick up their lives and do something toward getting jobs and restoring their families. Becki took charge and showed a DVD of the Francis McNutt School of Healing. I was a little uncomfortable with it, because it was so low key that it bordered on too gentle for women coming from these circumstances. Also, the DVD’s are targeted to people who want to teach about healing, not who are there to receive healing. Anyway, God always uses these things no matter what. We prayed, paired off one on one and were supposed to lead our “person” through prayers of forgiveness. T. told me right away that she had already gone there, forgiven, and all parties involved in hurting her were deceased. So, I just used the Presenting Jesus tool from Sozo and asked her if she would be willing to revisit one hurtful place in her life and ask Jesus to show up in that. She chose her birth. She was born to a 14 year old mother, product of rape, and her mother tried to get rid of the pregnancy in every way possible, then walked away after the birth. T.’s biological father’s parents found out about the baby and came after her, because they were Methodist ministers and felt obligated, but the son was also a child abuser, so they brought her into that situation as well, and never really loved her. She has survived all that and many accidents that should have resulted in death, and knows that God has kept her alive, but has admittedly taught herself not to feel anything at all. So, with much trust in Jesus to do this thing for her, to set her free in one area of her life, I asked her to close her eyes and just try to return to the place of her birth, to see if God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit were there with her. I asked what she saw and she said “nothing”. I asked her to look again and see if she saw Jesus, the Father, or the Holy Spirit. All she saw was light. Light is good! I told her that Jesus is the Light of the World that shines in Darkness and asked where the light was in the room. Right over the bed. Who is on the bed? She is the baby on the bed! Is the light moving, shimmering, doing anything? No. Just staying right there. So, I took that as a very positive sign that Jesus has always been there as a Light for her, shut down the ministry session, spoke into her life by telling her she is an overcomer and that God wants to do great and mighty things, based on the seriousness of the attacks against her life, and that she can always look at that light and know that He is with her and has always been. She kept talking for about 15 minutes, and took the brochure from the church with the healing ministry number. I pray she will seek more prayer and more ministry in the future. There were tears falling before she left, so I know that the Holy Spirit touched her in some deep place and began healing a part of her.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not a Coincidence

Muffin and I had a busy day. First thing this morning I had Pilates training, followed by Body Flow class. Afterward we made a quick trip home to load the car with gingerbread, boxes of slides, and boxes and sacks of clothing and supplies. The boxes of slides were neatly packaged for mailing, and Fedex is sending them on their way to be scanned and returned to us digitally mastered. In those boxes are thousands of slides of CB as a baby, our first dog, King Solomon V, our years living in California, and the births of Boo and Joybear. Family holidays and vacations during those years are also captured on film. We're trusting the Lord to monitor Fedex and this company closely!

The gingerbread was wrapped in shiny foil and labeled for the bake sale portion of the Palm House Garage Sale. And the boxes and sacks of clothing and supplies were delivered to Mission Thanksgiving. After completing our tasks we went to eat Chinese at a lovely place, then shopped for Thanksgiving Day groceries at one store.

On my way to the health club this morning I noticed a huge black Labrador in a yard about half a mile from our house. On our way back, almost 3hours later, he was not too far from the same yard, trying to dodge cars on a moderately trafficked street. I stopped. He came right to me. Muffin pulled up behind us and we check the tags. Merlin belonged to a family we knew, who didn't live far, so we took him home and made the call to the number on his tag. No one home. Late this afternoon, early evening actually, when we returned from all the errands and late lunch, Merlin and Scooter were cohabiting happily in the back yard. I called the house once again and one of the adult children answered, saying he would be right over to claim Merlin. Mark graduated from high school with our Becky and wasn't exactly headed in the right direction with his life for a few years. I was so shocked to see him. He is tall, handsome, Marine clean, and in between French language school and a job with a Bible translation company. His heart is to bring the Word to all people in their "heart language". And he knows my former students who are on mission in Burkina Faso! We talked for about 30 minutes while Merlin rested on a leash and Mark promised to bring by a newsletter so we could keep up with him. As we parted we promised to pray for him and thanked Merlin for connecting us.

Isn't God the coolest?????

Thursday, November 19, 2009

They are out!!

They are out!!

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My favorite day of the week

Today is Thursday. That means Muffin drives home this evening. Yea! Not just because he's arriving, but because of neediness, I made gingerbread, washed towels and pillows, cleaned the bathroom thoroughly, and sorted through tons of "junk".

Gingerbread is an old favorite reminding me of college days with my bestest roommate, Margaret. We would haul to the bakery when were emotionally needy and buy a "man"--a gingerbread man. Then we would sit in our dorm room and sing and play "The Bear Went Over the Mountain". Just because. She is a soprano and I would play my violin or whatever instrument I happened to be studying at the moment as a music education major. Very cathartic. I recommend it.

Towels and pillows just get dirty, you know. Dead skin cells and dust and all that stuff. Besides, my pillow just isn't as fluffy as I like it lately.

In the bathroom I even turtle waxed the faux marble and shined it. Then I washed my hair in the laundry room sink so I wouldn't mess up my shiny bathroom. I know you wanted that information.

Junk. One man's junk is another man's treasure. Or woman's. That's what I'm counting on, anyway. I found items and clothing that I'm packing for our local Mission Thanksgiving and for our church's Palm House garage sale. Both worthy causes. Both dependent on giving and generous people. Tomorrow is the big day for both groups. Come. Give. You'll be blessed!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Took a little Trip

We took a little extended weekend trip two weekends ago. I drove to meet Muffin as he finished work for the day and we hopped a plane going East. Our main purpose was to visit Joy and Mike. They always plan entertainment. Here are a few of the sights on the tour with them.
Helen Keller in bronze a the moment she first associated "water," the substance with "water," the word.
Isn't this a beautiful stairway?
John Calhoun was a great speaker. This statue presents him as an arrogant guy, don't you think?
The view from the basement through the skylight toward the Capitol dome is one of the lovely attributes of the new Visitor's Center. The centerpiece for visitors is the museum, but no photography is allowed. More from the nation's capitol in future posts.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Peaceful Heaviness following Whiplash

This morning about twenty of my students played their violins for the cheeriest and largest shopping event of the season in our hometown. The Christmas Carousel is an enormous fundraiser funding ongoing projects in the community and sponsored by the Junior League. I am always honored and thrilled when I receive a call from their event planner, inviting my studio to perform, usually right after the Breakfast with Santa on the first Saturday in November. The aisles are crowded with shoppers, and the merchants show us their best selling products. We play Christmas music which we begin learning in early October and wear our brightest and most colorful christmas clothes, a visual and auditory delight to our audience, hopefully.

The pace of the performance is moderately quick with other groups standing in the 'wings' of the snack area waiting to take their place onstage. Our signature piece is Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Theme and Variations, and we play that first and last on our program so that all twenty students can participate. During the performing of the other songs the students who do not know them either stand in rest position with their violin under their right arm, or they sit on the stage. Only one person is allowed a music stand and that is the honored advanced student who plays all the harmonies. We arrive early for tuning instruments and answering the inevitable last minute questions, then go onstage row by row and perform for twenty minutes. After the performance many people crowd us to offer sincere thanks for the good music and also for the sheer joy of watching children, ages 5-40something perform together. I love it!

Most years I'm so excited and pumped and generally in the Christmas mood for this event that I just eat up all the attention, the hugs from the kids after the performance, and then Muffin and I stay and shop til we drop. Today I was continually aware that I needed to leave the hall quickly after the performance so that we could take my violin home and arrive at Kathy's service in a timely manner. One of our reunion group sisters came to the church early and placed "Reserved for Acts 29:1 Reunion Group" papers in the seats near the front. I texted them on my way to the church and Muffin parked as close to the door as he could. We had three minutes to spare when we were seated with all the other ladies wearing green.

Last week Kathy asked her pastor, David M., their friend (and ours), Larry B., to officiate her service. She only told us that she and her husband "made arrangements". David spoke to the congregation at large. Larry spoke to the family in particular. You see, Larry has been there. It was thirteen years ago that we stood with him and his first wife, Lana, as she died with cancer. We believed for her healing too. He spoke to that in the service and I needed to hear what he said.

I loved Lana. She taught my children so many things. She was their choir director at church. Their VBS instructor. Their camp counselor. And at school she was Kak's kindergarten teacher. I still remember songs she taught in that class and books they read. The best way I can describe Lana is that she reminded me of Ivory Soap. If you looked inside, at any layer of her, she was 99.9% pure all the way through. What you saw on the outside was what she was on the inside. Today Larry talked about one event of which I was unaware. The day she received the diagnosis that the cancer had returned she said "Damn it! I am so angry about this!" It's the only time in 29 years of marriage to her that he heard her use that word, and he thought she was angry at God, and just couldn't handle that. When he asked her if she was angry with God she looked at him as if he had lost his mind and told him that of course she wasn't angry with God, but at the cancer.

Larry also told of a night when he went to the grocery pharmacy to look for laxatives that would allow Lana some measure of comfort for the damage that cancer had done to her entire digestive system. He totally lost his composure when he realized that he was standing in the non-prescription aisle of a grocery store looking for a cure to cancer. Going to his truck in the parking lot, he cried out to God in anger and frustration and desperation and hopelessness. Afterward he heard the Lord say, "I love you, son". I needed to hear that.

Over the past years it has been hard to lose friends--Lana, Chris, Marlene, now Kathy, and many others. But it is devastating to also lose their families. After a beloved wife or husband dies, so many spouses are uncomfortable continuing in the same church because it is difficult to "move on" past the hurt. So they leave us. And we have to move on without everyone in their family that we loved deeply and stood with in very difficult times. And most of all, we never see them renewed and happy when the grieving is past. When I saw Kathy's family today, with Larry on the podium, I was acutely aware of that.

After Kathy's service we jetted across town to a little Lutheran church where respects were paid to one of my Mom's dear friends, Shirley. She bravely fought against acute leukemia for slightly more than one year, was in the hospital for two days, and went to be with Jesus twenty four hours before Kathy. Her family was dear to us. She was dear. Shirley and her husband supported me in my music performances and our family in all our celebrations and griefs.

Immediately after the second service I experienced a sensation of whiplash--from Christmas levity to two funerals--and a peaceful heaviness that remains.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Just another Friday

Today was supposed to be just another Friday. Most Fridays Muffin and I go to the health club to work out, then have lunch and run errands like shopping at the Sam's Club, picking up bread at the bakery, or stopping by Best Buy or the grocery store. Then we have a cozy day at home with our computers or watching recorded TV shows.

Mostly we did those things. But "just another Friday" had an item on the agenda that I never expected to attend---Kathy's funeral visitation. Even though I saw her body lying there in the casket and knew her spirit is eternally with the Lord Jesus, whom we worshipped together, I still felt like she should be standing there with her family. This is too weird for words! She was sick for less than 4 months. Extremely ill for less than one week. I'm attending a conference next week and Kathy registered about twenty of us for this event. It's a healing conference.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Two O'Clock

It is 2pm and my calendar tells me I should be at Kathy's house, praying with her. Instead, I just took a chocolate cake from my oven. It is for Kathy's family, all gathered at her house today. That doesn't make sense. Neither baking nor typing it. I cannot comprehend what has happened because the transition time was so brief. My spirit feels light and free and contented that she is "coming over the hill and the springtime has come", as the lyrics to Dance with Me describe. My head tells me she is less than a mile from my house, resting on her sofa, listening to praise music and drinking in this beautiful fall day where just weeks ago the Monarch butterflies swirled in her backyard. Where her carpet is waiting for us to fall on our knees and pray, her hardwood floor is ready for dancing, and her kitchen is an always cheerful source of cold, refreshing water. I want to sit at the table with her and laugh and talk and cry and...groan. Her "word from God" for 2009 was "groaning".

I want to dodge all the parked cars that are always in her driveway and the crazy traffic in front of her house and bounce up the walk to see her ferns, green as always, and know that she is inside with a new question or new recipe, like "Will you groan with me?", or "Tell me how to cook fish so I will like it." I'm wearing green today, and our reunion group will be wearing green--teal, which made Kathy happy--to the service on Saturday. And like this sister I'm feeling green for Kathy's celebration today.


Dear Sister,
You are now safely and peacefully in Jesus' arms. Your body is fully restored and you are finally able to see His face, as has been your deepest desire. I know that you are joyfully welcomed by a host of angels and witnesses, among them you dear sister Anita, and your Mother, both of whom went before you just this year. But time means nothing now, and you are in eternal life. I am so thankful that you are no longer uncomfortable and in pain. I am so very thankful that you are free of the ugly and hideous work of the devil that we have named 'cancer'.

Go run into the marvelous light! Go meet your Healer face to face! Go feel your Father's loving arms, and play with the Holy Spirit who has been our companion and guide through many hours of prayer with you! Go feel the water of the River of Life wash over you and cleanse the stains left by this world and by disease! Go meet your precious babies who crossed into heaven's nursery long ago! Hold them and care for them as you have longed to do. Go dance with the lover of your soul to the Song of all Songs. He loves you so much, and so did we. And so we love you still, even though your spirit is gone with Him.

Kathy, March 6, 1956-November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Facts vs. Truth

Fact: K's skin is an unhealthy shade of gold
Fact: K is breathing very shallowly
Fact: K is now in a Hospice hall, which is essentially a place to wait on death to come
Fact: K is unresponsive most of the time due to morphine and muscle relaxers

Truth: K could rise up at any time
Truth: No weapon formed against her will prosper--even cancer
Truth: She is hidden in His feathers and takes refuge in His shadow and under His wings where nothing can harm her
Truth: She is loved by the God whose power raised Jesus from the dead
Truth: K has a hope and a future
Truth: K has the same Spirit dwelling in her that can give life to mortal bodies

Please continue to pray.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Please Pray

My Sisters. My glue. My Monday Marvels. My rock solid prayer warriors. My spoonful of joy when I'm a little low. My accountability when my eyes don't see past myself. My ears when the noise of the world is too loud to hear the Spirit.

Each of these women is a part of the Body of Christ for me. And one of our members is hurting and in trouble. KK is in hospice care. The diagnosis is colon cancer that is metastasized to the liver. The photos are only four weeks old, and we were a healthy part of the Body four weeks ago. If you are reading this, please pray for a miracle of grace, favor, and healing for her.