I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free! Psalm 119:32, NIV1984

Friday, September 28, 2012

Taste and See

My firstborn...she wears it like a badge of honor, really.  The day we sat in that little restaurant by the sea and she couldn't eat a single thing on the menu...that was the day I knew she "got it."  As the one beside her mourned the fact that she couldn't taste the yummy goodness, my firstborn said it without a single pause or hesitation:  "My mommy and I don't wish I could taste it.  God has let us help so many people because of my food allergies!  And He has given us friends we never would have had if I didn't have these allergies."

Oh, child, to have your faith!  Your mommy is beyond grateful for the friends God has given us, for the way He's allowed us to minister to others with the same struggle.

But there are days . . .

Truth be told, as she stands at the brink of her teenage years, there are days she also wishes for a different reality . . . or that, somehow, her reality didn't make her "different."

When she went to camp this summer, and we packed all of her food for all 15 meals . . .

When she left the next week to fly overseas on mission, and we stuffed her suitcase full of food for 30 meals...and sighed with relief when her bag weighed in at only 44 pounds . . .

When she was diagnosed last week with pneumonia, and the medicine that was meant to make her well contained just a trace of that allergen, and things didn't go so well . . .

When she watches her friends eat the things she'd love to taste, and she chooses not to eat at all because she doesn't want to draw attention...to be different because the only safe thing is different . . .

But isn't that what God has called us to? And somehow, isn't she learning it in a tangible way every day?

Somehow, the very "separateness" to which He has called us, she is living out with every meal, aware with every bite that she has to choose life that she might live Every morsel becomes a physical representation of that spiritual truth, a reminder of the call God has placed on her life to be in this world but not of it.

It doesn't make it easy.  But where has God said this life would be easy?  His yoke?  Yes, easy.  Life in this world?  Not so much.

It isn't always fun.  But where has God promised it would be?  Abundant?  Yes, to the full.  Always fun?  Not this world.  It's not our home.

And when I see it that way, I'm grateful.

Because she doesn't let it stop her.  She doesn't let it hold her back.  She embraces the days and every opportunity with a tenacious will to take hold of abundant life!

Because she went to camp, and she made it safely through, and that in itself was a miracle!  And the bonus?  She loved every minute!

Because she went overseas on mission, and she made it safely home, and that still leaves me in awe.  And the best part?  Lord willing, she's going back next year...and she has plans in place to take her friends!

Because she isn't always able to taste the yummy treats on the tables around her . . .

but she has tasted of the LORD, and she will tell you...

He is good!

Continuing to count His gifts and grace . . .

#1484  her calm in the storm
#1485  that she takes these things in stride
#1486  her resilience
#1487  an on-the-ball pharmacist
#1488  a doctor who takes time
#1489  husband cooking dinner
#1490  and washing dishes
#1491  boy-child and his friend sitting on the driveway talking
#1492  dodge-ball with middle-schoolers - on trampolines!
#1493  adults who'll sleep on the concrete floor to invest in kids
#1494  student ministers who speak truth
#1495  my two kids on the floor playing games
#1496  listening to him practice guitar
#1497  hearing her practice the trumpet
#1498  finding a canvas in the cabinet for her to paint
#1499  rest

Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him!
Psalm 34:8, NLT


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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Soon and Not Yet

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, I drive home through the pouring down rain, windshield wipers swishing, headlights glinting off wet streets.  Paul Wilbur's Watchman cd is blaring from the speakers in my truck, and it seems fitting somehow that my firstborn has just had her first trumpet lesson. This is to be a day of blowing trumpets!

Music fills the car, and I sing along, "Blow a trumpet in Zion!" as I pray for the peace of Jerusalem,  city that God loves and on which He has set His heart and His Name.

Driving down that same road the next day in bright sunlight, my boy-child asks, "So what is Rosh Hashanah?" and I tell him it's the day his dad looks forward to every year, hoping this will be the year of His return.

"But why?"  my boy-child asks.

Oh, child.  I'm so glad you asked.

So we drive and we talk about the Feasts of the Lord, the festivals that God gave to Israel, each one a picture of Messiah.  We talk about Jesus - Yeshua - fulfilling each of the spring feasts exactly on each of the feast days.  And we talk about the fall feasts, their fulfillment yet to come.

"So Jesus will return on Rosh Hashanah?" he asks.

"Oh, we don't know that.  Jesus says that no man knows the day or the hour.  Only the Father knows.  But He also says that we can know the season, that the wise man pays attention to the signs of the times. And this - Rosh Hashanah, Feast of Trumpets, the Bible calls it - this is the Feast that looks forward to Jesus' return."

At home, we eat apples with honey that our friends brought home from Israel, and we talk about the Land and the people that God has called the apple of His eye.

And I tell the story again of the time I heard the shofar blow . . .


My boy-child was still being knit together in my womb.  My firstborn was a toddler. We had come in from a walk in the park across the street, and after eating lunch, I had put her down for a nap while I jumped in a quick shower.  As my firstborn slept, I blew my hair dry.  And then over the noise of the blow dryer in my ear, I heard the distinct sound of a shofar.

I turned off the blow dryer and put my hands by my side, waiting with sure expectation.

Again, I heard the shofar blow - this time much more clearly.

"I'm ready!" I said quietly, smile wide, eyebrows lifted in expectation.



Baby still there in the womb.

Toddler still sleeping in her crib.

But I know I heard a shofar blow!

Who in the world is blowing a shofar in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday in my distinctly Gentile neighborhood?  Who else in this neighborhood would even own a shofar?


I wonder . . .

So I called my pastor, my mentor, who lived with his family in the house behind mine.

"Were you just in your backyard blowing a shofar?"

"Yes! Did you hear it?" he asked excitedly.

And for the life of me, I couldn't keep the disappointment from my voice. "Yes," I said.  "I heard it.  I thought it was Jesus coming back to get us and take us with Him!"


As Rosh Hashanah passes once again, we remember and look forward to the day we'll hear the shofar blow from heaven.  And until then, we give thanks that His coming, though not yet, is soon . . .

Are you wondering what this all means?  What are the Feasts of the Lord?  And what does it mean that they are pictures of Jesus?  The Feasts of the Lord (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, etc.) are given in Leviticus 23. In the New Testament, the book of John is a good place to begin reading and understanding the Feasts. And a wonderful resource for understanding how Jesus fulfills each feast is Kevin Howard and Marv Rosenthal's book, The Feasts of the Lord.  You can find it here or here.

Continuing to count His endless gifts and grace, because every gift points back to the One who gave. . .

1451  blue sky peeking through clouds
1452  rays of sunlight stretching across the western sky
1453  listening to sermon podcasts late at night when the house is quiet
1454  hearing students tell of family mission trips overseas
1455  other students saying they want to go, too!
1456  couscous with chick-peas, cilantro, and pine nuts...so yummy!
1457  freshly sharpened, brand-new pencils
1458  new spirals & folders
1459  brightly colored markers
1460  crayons with pointy tips
1461  back-to-school teacher gifts for my friends
1462  fun treats for my students and their delight over the simple gift
1463  cool breeze whispering of fall coming soon
1464  high school football games and hanging out with friends
1465  sweet toddler voice calling out, "Touchdown, boys!"
1466  a morning with friends at the outdoor theater
1467  lunch on the grass
1468  freshly trimmed hedges
1469  clouds rolling in
1470  fun, surprise packages in the mail
1471  being the safe place for kids to come after school
1472  boys in the living room playing with yo-yos
1473  watching American Bible Challenge together
1474  laughing over funny tweets so hard we cried
1475  the four of us watching a movie together
1476  linzer cookies, safe for my firstborn
1477  beautiful sterling bracelet, gift from a student
1478  first trumpet lesson
1479  new guitar strings
1480  meeting with friends to pray and plan the next trip to Israel
1481  my children asking questions about the feasts
1482  teaching them God's Word
1483  that His return, though not yet, is soon!

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says,
"Yes, I am coming soon!"
Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
Revelation 22:20, NLT

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Song of Summer

I used to daydream of landscaping my backyard.  I even drew my dreams on paper and told the dear man who has mown my lawn these dozen years that I had a plan.  He said he would help make it happen...whenever I was ready.

I dreamt of river rock and knock-out roses, of crape myrtles and agapanthus, of shepherd's hooks with hanging baskets full of flowers, of stepping stones and a bench among the flowers.

But when that dear man came to mow my lawn last week, we talked about the big brown patches in the middle of the grass out back.

"Fungus?" he wondered.

"Children," I said.

"You sure?" he asked.

"I'm certain," I said.

And I smiled because I couldn't have been more pleased.

For countless days this summer, the happy chaos of children's voices rang out from the backyard as they shot water guns, kicked soccer balls, and dove down the Slip 'n Slide.  The wooden gate swung wide as kids came from down the street to join ongoing games of badminton, volleyball, or dodgeball. And the dog went skidding across the wood floor a dozen times a day in his rush to alert us that another friend had arrived to play.


Out front, the basketball pounded the pavement in the carefree rhythm of summer, and little ones drew pictures on concrete and plucked pink flowers with pink painted nails.
There were afternoons at the pool and a party with cupcakes and brightly wrapped packages. 


And in the midst of it all, a cluster of star-gazer lilies on the kitchen table reminded me of a 16-year-old vow . . . the first notes of this summer song. 

But the yard has been quiet this week as kids have gone back to school.  Green blades of grass are already peeking through the patches worn brown and thin by so many happy feet scrubbing the ground bare with their play.  And as much as I looked forward to the return of routine, the lessons at the kitchen table, children scratching out products and quotients and sums . . . I'm grateful for the unscripted noise that was summer . . . the scrubbed bare yard, the barking dog, the cacophony of children that became summer's song.

Continuing to count His gifts and grace  . . .

1416  kids in the backyard playing badminton
1417  ...and volleyball
1418  ...and soccer
1419  ...and dodgeball
1420  ...and lacrosse
1421  a house full of kids laughing, playing games, slurping lemonade, munching popcorn
1422  husband, kids, and dog all snuggled up together on the sofa
1423  stargazer lily on the table...beauty in the midst
1424  fresh-squeezed limeade
1425  afternoons at the pool
1426  boys in the backyard playing in the pouring down rain
1427  lacrosse friends gathered for a party at the lake
1428  kids playing on the zip-line and the water trampoline
1429  drenching, soaking rain
1430  rainbow reaching clear across the sky
1431  the sweet surprise of time with a friend...a hospital waiting room & a drive to the airport
1432  coffee with a student and talking through God's Word
1433  the grace of that phone call
1434  stacks of clean laundry
1435  brand-new books on sale
1436  mornings in the Word
1437  hand-written notes of encouragement
1438  husband's patience
1439  seeing friends at the grocery store...a moment to chat
1440  girls in the kitchen making cupcakes
1441  a day-trip with friends
1442  floating in the lazy river
1443  four moms, nine kids, playing in the water all day
1444  cloud cover keeping it cool
1445  end-of-summer birthday party at the pool
1446  more cupcakes in ice cream cones
1447  festive wrapped packages
1448  so many friends gathered to celebrate
1449  his delight at having them all there
1450  returning to routine

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
Ecclesiates 3:1, NLT


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