Do Tell

 

80th party

It was a big weekend. In celebration of my mom’s upcoming 80th birthday, (yes, 80th!) four generations gathered for the weekend.

  • We told jokes. (What do you call Batman when he skips church? Christian Bale!)
  • We feasted. (If you live in Houston, check out Campioni on Cutten Road.)
  • We played games. (My nephews introduced us to Exploding Kittens and Nintendo Switch.)

And we marveled at the goodness of the Lord.

Four generations. How time flies! How family grows! Just a few days before our gathering, I came across this verse:

“We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord” (Psalm 78:4b).

I now have two “next generations” below me, and so I’m asking you, my readers, to help me finish this blog installment by answering a question:

How have you told the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord? (Or how did your parents, grandparents, friends, or mentors do so? Or how do you intend to tell of His goodness when you have the chance?) Remember, you don’t have to be a family member to give or receive the blessing of such a telling.

Please share your thoughts. Tell this new grandmother the creative ways in which she can pass the good news down to future generations. And as you do so, consider sharing your thanks with those who have done the telling before you.

Thank you, in advance, for the good advice I hope to receive!

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Hakuna Matata

hakuna pixabayYesterday I saw a bumper sticker that said “Hakuna matata.” That’s it. No warthogs, no lions, just the phrase. (But, Iris, if you’re reading this, I can hear your voice singing in my head!) Perhaps that Swahili phrase, roughly translated “no worries,” should be singing in my head all the time.

“Hakuna” means “there is not here,” and “matata” is Swahili for “problems.” I don’t think we live lives free of problems. Worry, though, is another matter—the matter of what we do in our minds with our problems. I love this quote from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (Zondervan 2002).

“When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that’s called worry. When you think about God’s Word over and over in your mind, that’s meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate! You just need to switch your attention from your problems to Bible verses. The more you meditate on God’s Word, the less you will have to worry about.”

I’d like to add that the more we think of our problems in light of God’s word, the more convinced we can become that we have no worries after all. Consider these four familiar passages:

  • “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22).
  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
  • So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

While not scripture, these wise words, attributed to Corrie ten Boom, call us all to peace and trust as well:

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

And so, instead of losing any of your strength to worry today, I hope you will remember the awesome love and power of our God. Then you can shout within your soul, “Hakuna matata!”

 

Live Like You Were Movin’

moving
As I write this, I have been an Austinite for precisely one week. Here’s what I’ve been learning:

  • It’s nearly all small stuff. The worldly goods we chose to shed in this process would fill a small bedroom wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. Astonishing how little I miss any of it! Soon I won’t even be able to recall what I left behind. In the future, as I ask myself that inevitable “buy or don’t buy” question, I’ll also be asking myself, “What would make it onto a moving truck?”
  • People are important. No brainer? Yes, but I’m not sure I’ve always acted on that fact. As I hugged friends and neighbors goodbye, I wished I had found small, frequent means by which to show my appreciation throughout my tenure in Houston. Moving to Austin means I get to hit the “reset” button on hospitality, neighborliness, and even friendship. As I write this, I’m praying that I will slow down and make people a greater priority in demonstrable ways.
  • A little discipline goes a long way. During the “house showing” phase of this adventure, we upgraded our home to nearly picture perfect condition. We enjoyed the improvements, but getting things fixed up right before we left seemed a bit of a shame. Perhaps the same goes for our spiritual life. Shouldn’t we be staying in shape all the time, enjoying the peace and joy that good spiritual habits afford us? There’s no good reason to wait!
  • Sometimes, accepting help is more important than giving it. We were too slow to say “yes” when offered help with the monumental task of packing. When we finally did accept an offer, it was a great relief. More surprising, though, was what I heard as my friend wrapped and boxed, “Now I feel better about you helping me!” Ah, two-way roads are nearly always better.

This place is already beginning to feel like home, so many thanks to those of you who prayed for our transition. I’m off to unpack a bit more now, so “see” you next week!

And So We Sing!

prairie-dog-1470659_1280 sing pixabayHave you seen the movie “Sing”?  I smiled throughout that whole film. Perhaps I was simply amused by the thought of Matthew McConaughey as an entrepreneurial koala bear, but I think it was the music that lifted my spirits. My brother has been a worship leader for years, yet I am just now beginning to grasp the power of music, and the importance of music in the Bible. Check out these verses:

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30).

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18b-19).

Those verses don’t treat music, and singing in particular, as something we are meant to do once in a while, under our breath, when no one is listening, or sometimes in the shower. The Israelites appointed music makers and singers to full time positions! Music must be important to God. Those verses make me think it is important to all of us.

Pandora’s Box

I was the last in my family to get a smartphone. A fan of pocket-sized flip phones, I made the trade when I knew my grandson was on his way. (I wanted a way to watch him grow via photo and video and chatting apps.) I never dreamed that Pandora would become such an important tool in my life. My two favorite stations are (‘probably dating myself here) “Instrumental Praise Radio” and “Michael W. Smith Radio” (unless I’m with 1-year-old Nick, in which case “VeggieTales Radio” wins.) If I’m a bit down or weary, the music encourages and energizes me. If I’m simply in need of a background reminder of who is in control of my day, Pandora does the job. And if Nick is cranky? Yep, Veggietales helps! Most of the time the music is simply a delightful way to spend time praising God.

Music. Singing. I’m adding more of it to my day as I work, rest, or play. I see now that this is yet another way to obey our Lord and glorify him. Won’t you join me? (And if you have a favorite station, let me know, and I’ll give it a try!)

Never Forgotten

mom cartoonWe all have times when we forget things. At my age, we call them “senior moments.” I like to say that I have a photographic memory. The thing is, most of the time I forget to take the lens cap off. And my husband Bert? Poor thing, sometimes he forgets my birthday, our anniversary, and who’s boss.

I wonder if we sometimes think God has forgotten us. Anytime we feel far away from God, we’re the ones who have moved, not God. Maybe we haven’t gone years without thinking of God, but have we gone months or weeks without acknowledging him or praying? Robert Robinson wrote these words to a hymn in 1758, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”[1] Why would we do that? I don’t know, yet some of us have. We’re especially prone to setting God aside in our lives when things are going well. Then we come back to him when hard times hit.

God has lovingly provided words we can use when we want to cry out to him for help. These verses are from Psalm 25:6-7(NLT). “Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. Do not remember the rebellious sins of my youth (I add “and my old age” here). Remember me in the light of your unfailing love, for you are merciful, O Lord.” After our cry for help comes confession of sin, asking for forgiveness, and hopefully a new commitment to stay close to God even in the good times.

We may forget God, but rest assured, he doesn’t forget us. Not ever. When the Israelites declared that the Lord had forgotten them, he answered, “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for a child she has borne? But, even if that were possible, I would not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT). One version of the Bible goes on to say, “Your name is “tattooed” on my hand.” That means that nothing is going to wash it away.

The Bible is full of affirmations of God’s love for us. The greatest, of course, is that Jesus died for our sins. He gave his life for us so that we may follow him while we’re on earth and have life in heaven with him hereafter. When my children were young, I’d ask them, “How much do you love me?” They would open their arms wide and say, “I love you this much.” Christ opened his arms wide on the cross saying, “I love you this much.” Can we imagine that picture? Do we see our names on his hands? If we’ve come to trust Christ and accepted him as Lord and Savior, our names are there, tattooed forever. He doesn’t forget us, even when we ignore him.

If I open my arms wide and say, “Come on!” to my grandson, he runs to me for love, security, and comfort. I intend to do some running into God’s arms today, for I am prone to wander from him and to forget so easily all he has done. Won’t you run there with me?

Let’s remember him. He never forgets us. He loves us this much! And he says, “Come on.”

[1] “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” by Robert Robinson, 1758.

Another Battle

Last November, a courageous young woman named Erica was told that a tumor occupied 25% of her brain. I’d like to share her story with you via condensed versions of her Facebook and Instagram posts.

November 27

Here’s where we began just 13 days ago:

“A brain tumor? You are kidding, right?” I asked this of my doctor and certainly of God. I just had a baby. I was supposed to enjoy my maternity leave. How is this fair? Why and how is this happening? We don’t know exactly what kind of brain tumor I have or how it will be treated. What we do know is:

  • My son was born before I was diagnosed, sparing me any decisions regarding treatment before giving birth.
  • An amazing circle of family, friends, and church family are blessing us with prayers and encouragement.
  • Overcoming any obstacles ahead will require my/our best effort, positive attitudes, and positive actions.

Going forward, I/we will NOT recount the negatives of my diagnosis, the way I feel each day, the lows of the path.  I/we WILL talk about our blessings, our adventures, our families and the joys of each day. I choose to not invest time and words on a condition that I seek to quickly and permanently leave my body.  Please join us in our positive outlook, the moment to moment appreciation and joy-based approach to what awaits.

December 1

I already know there will be times when I get frustrated and will ask God, “Why me?” or “When will this end?” or some other unanswerable questions. At those moments, I will do my best to climb back out of that hole, get back to a positive outlook and continue to rely of God, His plan, and my incredible support group around me.

I know that I CAN decide how to conduct myself and act: positive thoughts, a loving attitude, my eyes and heart focused on what God wants for me. I am eager to get going on my next steps.

While change itself can be difficult, accepting it can be even harder. It is an act of trust. Funny how things come about in our lives that change our entire path. I have always loved fashion, hair and being different from the crowd…… Now I am different from the crowd. I’ve gained 50 pounds because of steroids, I’m bald, and I have cancer. But I’m proud to be alive, and one day I will tell my children that I survived this.

On May 27, Aaron and Erica, who is still undergoing treatment, had a beautiful wedding in their backyard. Erica is a courageous example of one who has chosen to leave her battle in God’s hands, fighting, yes, but letting him be the One in charge and drawing peace from the assurance of his love. I encourage you to follow her example and to join me in praying for her progress.

 And do you have a story of faith and courage that you can share with me? If so, just message me here: