Friday, December 31, 2010

I just heard the song "Winter Wonderland" playing softly somewhere. As happens almost always, can't hear it without singing it, so I burst out of the room dancing and crooning at the top of my lungs,

"He'll say are ya married, we'll say Noooo, mannn...... a-but yoooo can do the job while you're in towwwnnnn....."

...Only to bounce into Grandpa as we simultaneously rounded a corner. Making the split-second decision to be delighted rather than embarrassed, I grabbed his hand, placed mine on his shoulder, and began to dance with him.

"Later onnnn.... we'll conspiiiierrrr....As we dreammmmm.....mmmmby the fiiiiierrrr......"

He laughed. He's learned by now that I am downright odd, so it didn't take him by surprise. But he did query, as he eventually tried to disengage himself from my impromptu foxtrot,
"What are you so happy about...Because it's New Years??"

Note to self: "be happy" more often. :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I've felt a little guilty this Christmas.
All the talk of "wonder" and "joy" and "miracles" and I didn't feel very awe-filled when I contemplated the Christmas story. It's not that I didn't want to feel the wonder of it all, it's just that I didn't... not to the extent I feel I should. And feelings like that can't just be conjured up out of thin air. I talked with my mom a little about it one morning as we were curled up on the couch talking (one of my favorite things to do... listen to my mom; to what she's gathering from her time with the Lord each morning. She expresses it so well and her excitement about the Teacher's lessons get ME excited about them!) She suggested I pray and ask Him to renew the wonder for me; to open up some kind of new insight.

Part of me was dubious because the Christmas story has seemed a little "strip mined." You know what I mean? We get spiritual applications out of everyone from the sheep that lent it's wool in the stable to the Little Drummer Boy. (Oh, well neither were actually IN the Biblical account but of course there was a drummer boy and definitely, a sheep.... right? Right?)

I realized that God's Story could NEVER be strip mined, though. The problem was with me, not Him! So I began praying--daily I think--for some kind of new revelation or insight or "wonder." Praying that God would give it to me by Christmas. Realizing that I was praying for God to give me a gift I could not give myself. Feeling a little ashamed that I didn't feel it automatically.

December 25th came and went. Lots of warm and happy times with the family! Lots of thanking God for His unspeakable gift. Lots of joy! What an amazing Christmas it was.

But no new revelation. No new wonder.

It hit me a day late. The 26th. Not a new Biblical character to be amazed at or something I'd never thought of perhaps, but a new wonder at the story itself... of the little threads that tie this story into my own story. I won't print it all out here right now, but I will say this: God made this story come alive for me again. He loves to give good gifts to us.

How ashamed I am that I don't feel an automatic sense of awe when I contemplate Christmastime. It's hard to write here and I'm only writing it in an attempt to be honest. I SHOULD feel awestruck every time I picture the God-baby in the manger. I know many people do. I guess I've just heard it so many times. But He graciously renewed some of my wonder on December 26th, and reminded me that all I have to do is ask.


Humble myself enough to say "Wow... this worshipful heart is something I should have and I don't! Oh please, Father.... would you give it to me?" I'm going to keep on asking for more and more wonder and delight in the God who I love, because I'm reminded this season that He gives freely.

Without reproach.

What grace!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I'm relieved to be able to tell you all that, contrary to what my blog may have implied the past week, I am NOT still wandering the airport like Jacob Marley wandering the earth. I am home.

Warm, glowing, noisy, cozy, bustling, comfy, wonderful HOME!

And it is caraaaaaazy here! Besides for the usual me, mom, dad, and gramps, we have Scott, Oksana and the 5 dearies as well as Steve and Heather Holsenback and their sweet new baby Elena. Steve and Heather are living in the basement for a while (it's a nice basement; don't worry) because they've sold their house and most of their possessions and are en route to Mali, Africa as medical missionaries. We've adopted them as our own honorary Sobies and we love them so much! But yowzers all these people make for a bustling house! So different from the Cove. I'm enjoying the noise (or at least trying to) because I know that all too soon my life will be terribly quiet again.
A few days ago the kids and I decorated gingerbread cookies. So fun! They turned out absolutely adorable and not one ran away. (Not even the one whose arm I accidentally broke off, and she really would have had a valid excuse for wanting to escape.)

This is Heather with my newest "niece" Elena! We prayed for her for so long! What a little doll!

One of the best parts of being home; getting to see RuthAnn! Here we are watching a Monk episode before bed. :) Can you feel the coziness oozing out the of the picture?

The day we went Christmas tree hunting was perfectly blustery! Our tree is beautiful and was picked by a unanimous show of hands. What a delight to get to do these holiday traditions with the kids; we weren't expecting to have them home for Christmas for a few years.
Bundled up in the barn after we picked out our tree, we had hot chocolate and popcorn and sat by a fire.

What a beautiful season this is. I wrote our family Christmas letter today, and put in a few thoughts about Immanuel... God with us. Perhaps my favorite name of Christ. This song has been running through my mind as I prepare to hopefully sing it in church this week with Scott, and I thought maybe you'd enjoy pausing a moment to reflect on it. (Thought this was a really cool video, too.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm in the airport.
I'm coming home!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Deckin' the halls!

* Thanks so much for all your comments on my last post. Wow, how encouraging that my struggles and things that God's teaching me could encourage you, who read this! That's special to me.

Well, I haven't posted in a while, and I suppose it's because I can't think of a thing to post about. There's not a lot going on here in the Cove other than the normal daily life activities. Miss Elisabeth has lost a bit of strength lately so a lot of my time is spent trying to help her get enough food and liquids. (Prayers appreciated for that.)

Yesterday I put on some Christmas music and pulled out the Christmas decorations that were in a closet. I found it rather strange that Mr. Gren said I could decorate as long as I "didn't go haywire."
Perish the thought.
Okay, in all seriousness, perhaps I have been known in the past to get a little garland-happy, but this is the most wonderful time of the year and I think when it comes to decorating, the more the merrier (as long as you don't cross the line into garishness; and here I could say a word or two about the massive blow-up snowmen and Santas with which people adorn their yards... but I realize that you, my reader, may have one and so I will refrain from divulging my true feelings about those monstrosities.)

I have been called fanatical in my annual quest to save unloved Christmas decorations from the trash can. Every year, my mom's dark side seems to emerge as we pull aged, sentimental (and usually hand-made) decorations from the Christmas bins. Several years ago it was Bowinkle the red-nosed-reindeer (oft mistaken for a moose), which was a macramé wall hanging that my mom had hand made ages ago. Bowinkle was a stalwart on our bathroom wall during the holidays for years, and then one Holiday season my mother up and decides to pitch him... simply because he was from the '70's and his antlers hung askew!
Christmas without Bowinkle on the bathroom wall...?
I saved him. He now bides his time in my own Christmas bin designated for such treasured eyesores. Some day I will hang him proudly in my house, and tell my children that their amazing Grandmother made him... and that no, he's not a moose. He's a reindeer.

The last item I saved was a tree skirt that my mom and siblings made when....well... when was it? Actually I don't think I was born yet. But it still holds sentimental value to me because it's gracefully held our family's Christmas gifts under the tree for over 20 years! Sure it might be a little ragged and outdated, but it's very special.
I saved that, too. Some day it will give me warm fuzzies when I pull it out of the bin in my own home.

But back to the Cove!
To honor Mr. Grinch--er--Gren's (I joke!) request that I not go "haywire", I quite refrained the little Martha Stewart within my soul and only scattered a few things around. Oh, how my fingers itched to put fresh pine bows on all the window sills and Christmas ornaments hanging from the fireplace mantle!
But I didn't.
I suspicioned that those touches might have qualified as "haywire."

I love the boquet of holly and pine on the dining-room table. I found a length of golden ribbon to tie around the vase and it's so simple and beautiful.
The pictures aren't very good quality because they were taken on my iPhone, but they give you an idea of some of the fun I had:
I wish Miss Elisabeth could tell me where the handmade angel and the beautiful dried arrangement that I put on the piano came from. I'm sure they each have a memory behind them.

So.... Happy 1st of December everyone! And God bless you all this Holiday season with a deepening wonder in the Christ of Christmas, who though He was rich, for our sakes became poor... that we through His poverty might become rich. Thanks, thanks be to God!

PS- I keep remembering with whom I was Christmas decorating last year... in Nome! My mind and heart are constantly reverting to last year this time when Carlee was so very sick and yet God gave us so many precious memories. How I praise the Father that Carlee is alive and healthy today! Can you look at this picture of my little man and NOT grin!? Oh what I would give to hold him and kiss those sweet cheeks right now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Nobody Knows de Trubble I Seen....

Aunt Dani had to slip this darling picture of Kate in here. It is just too appropriate for the title.

I had such a pity party recently. It's embarrassing and humbling to admit. There's something repulsive about a person who chooses to wallow in self pity.

I've felt so very isolated while I've been here in Massachusetts. Undoubtedly, it's the most "alone" I've ever been. I have desperately missed my family and friends, as well as other things I never really thought a lot about. I miss kind, meaningful interaction with people who care about me instead of just dutiful strangers trying to be polite.

I think that with Thanksgiving next week, and knowing that both Scott and his family and Nate are home, the feelings of longing are exacerbated. Oh, how I can easily picture the warm glow of our living room in the evening with my family and Gramps sitting around laughing their heads off while my nieces and nephews fill the house with noise and joy. I LONG to be a part of that!

There are other things, too, that have been heavy on my mind and heart and I have been mulling them over like a cow chewing her cud. (Appealing word picture, I know.) They've been making me miserable and I've been letting them. Granted, they are heavy things; heavier even than the homesickness and loneliness I mentioned above.
Very valid things to be miserable about....right?
Things that deserved to have a pity party thrown in honor of them...right?

Enter the very loving kick-in-the-pants my Father gave me a few nights ago. It abruptly ended the party. It came in three different forms: my sister, my mother, and Miss Elisabeth's journals.

First, my sister.
Long story and I won't go into that one. :)
But then my mom. I called home in tears, and could hardly get the words out to my dad because I was crying so piteously. He must have told my mom, because later that night I got an email from her. It was not a "Oh My Poor Babyyyy!" letter. (Mom rarely writes those- one of the things about her that I am grateful for!) It was a letter about choosing joy. And she reminded me of the many men and women of the faith to whom God has given very, very hard lives, and who have thrived under them: maintained their joy, maintained their usefulness, and glorified God in dungeons and on death row, even. My heart was stabbed. I had been given a good dose of perspective.

Dose #2 came in the form of Miss Elisabeth's journal from 1958, which I've been reading. What an honor to read her journals. It's been an unbelievable experience for me. The particular section I was reading in the other night was from December and January, exactly two years after Jim had been martyred. She and Valerie were alone, at this time, with Quichua Indians in the jungle. These parts of her journal overwhelmed me:

"Today I suddenly thought what [a] hag I must look...! I would not think of going this way were there a SINGLE SOUL who 'd notice it. But there's not. Days go by now without my hearing one word of English except Valerie's! and what has all this taught me? 'The things which are not seen are eternal.' I thought I knew this and practiced on it before. But I have been stripped of even more lately- things others could never recognize. God knows...and He says to me, 'Lovest thou Me more than these?' And I answer, 'Thou knowest all things- Though knowest that I love Thee. Though knowest no OTHER motive could suffice.'"

'Valerie has amoeba, hookworm, and another parasite I never heard of. Poor little girl- and lonely already. Wanting 'the kids' to play with. Things are dirty, mouldy, messy- and I long for neaness, cleanliness, nice clothes, nice things for Val, and , in short- I wonder if I CAN keep on living like this. Well, I need not wonder. MY FATHER knows whether I can, and He's in charge."

"It is a further trial not to be able to communicate with these [people]: to realize vaguely that they are put out with me for some reason I don't understand; to want to help them keep occupied and to be rebuffed; to feed them things I think they'll enjoy and have them explode with 'bah!' and spit on the floor. Lord, you'll have to LOVE them for me, through me."

"Lord, I 'm here because I believe Thou hast put me here. I didn't seek it. So let Thy whole purpose be fulfilled. I want to say again that I love, trust, praise. Forgive my self-pity, unbelief."

Oh, my. The shame I felt after reading those portions. I suddenly remembered: self pity is a sin and it is a CHOICE. It is the choice to arrogantly fix my eyes on my desires which are not being met, rather than rejoicing in the fact that GOD is working his will through each situation in my life. It is the deliberate choice not to trust. The mindset that my comfort is of a higher priority than my holiness. The decision that God is not enough for me. He alone can not bring me joy. My joy is dependent on outward circumstances. Elisabeth's journals reminded me of that. If you were to measure suffering by degrees, mine wouldn't even register on the thermometer compared to hers. God doesn't measure though; He just asks us to find PEACE in ACCEPTANCE in each of our differing circumstances.

I felt God gently, persistently leading me to a place where I was faced with only one choice, a HARD choice:
Choose JOY.

Jesus had unceremoniously crashed my pity party. I realized then that I had allowed self pity (or perhaps the better term is 'self obsession') to grip me to such an extent that before I could even desire to pry it's fingers off, I had to ask the Lord to help me. *Sigh!*


Yesterday I went out to lunch with my blessing, Melody. She is the friend God has given me in Massachusetts; my neighbor who I love so dearly! And would you believe it, she began to share with me that God was teaching her some lessons about-- you guessed it-- self pity. She has a loved one who is making some terribly destructive, devastating choices and she has been tempted to allow the pain of it to wear her down. God raised her up, though, with the truth that "In Acceptance Lieth Peace." He eyes sparkled with joy as she spoke of relinquishing her loved one to Christ and accepting His peace rather than obsessing about her pain. I smiled with her because my own heart mirrored her joy! I was feeling with her that relief that comes in accepting His will and letting mine disintegrate.

Whew! It feels good.

I encourage you that whatever the burdens on your heart might be, no matter how "valid" they may feel, they are not an excuse to allow your peace to be disturbed or your joy to be robbed. Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you. He never meant for you to carry these loads and it is foolish pride to think you can.

So, the party's over. Let Thanksgiving BEGIN!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CHRISTMAS GIFT SPOILER! Grandparents don't read this!!

...I'm serious. If you read this, Grand-parentage, you will know what you are getting for Christmas. This is like peeking in your stocking or tearing the paper off of the gift ahead of time. You'll feel so guilty that you won't be able to look me in the eye! I've even made the temptation less for you by changing the font smaller so you'll have to WORK to read it. That was low of me but I think it might do the trick.

...Okay... 'Tis the season (well almost), and I do want to write a little post about Christmas gifts. We all have those people in our lives who have EVERYTHING, or need NOTHING. Grandparents, for instance: good heavens...what on earth do you get them? It is always a bit of a puzzlement for me and though sometimes I come up with a brilliant idea at times, I'm afraid, I've delivered duds.

So this year I came up with the perfect plan; I actually discovered it while traveling with the Grens in Texas. We went to visit the headquarters of an organization called Gospel for Asia and Lars spoke at their weekly prayer meeting. Through them, I discovered this idea: I am going to go to India, and travel to one of the poorest States, poorest villages, and then make my way to the hut of a family who is destitute. Most likely this family will be a pastor's family, and they will have several children who are malnourished; perhaps a nursing mother who is struggling to provide enough milk for her baby or the father who struggles to make ends meet between his ministry and the job he has to have. I will give this family a pair of chickens, and soon these chickens will lay eggs. These eggs will hatch and my family will have a flock of chicks! They will keep a few, and sell a few. Within a few month's time this family will have the ability to sell eggs daily, to sell meat, and to have the protein they need to sustain themselves. Isn't this an amazing thought?

Obviously, I am not making a trip to India. But my money is. I am giving this gift through an organization which I trust, because I know that 100% of the funds donated to this gift will GO overseas. Animals aren't the only options that you can buy. among other things you can purchase blankets, sponsor a child, or buy a rickshaw bike so a man can support his family.

I am SO EXCITED about giving these gifts this year; feeling like I've made a difference and blessed people who truly need it! These animals will have a lasting impact on my impoverished brothers and sisters in India... much more than another glass vase on my Grandma's shelf or another mug in my Grandpa's cupboard would. I love it!

Maybe, like I did at first, you hesitate because you think the your family member or friend will be disappointed not to have a package to unwrap. Seriously? If they are, shame on them; they need the reality check of their own selfishness anyhow. (Humbug.)

I won't write a big blurb about this so I'll sign off by listing three organizations that you might want to check out. (I personally admire all of them, though I gave through Gospel for Asia. I love the thought that these gifts will be going to fellow believers in the name of Christ through GFA.) These organizations will also send you a card which you can give to the person in whose honor you've given the gift.

If you're interested in this, I've made it easy for you; just click on the name of the organization to be transported to the web page. And, happy shopping! (It IS happy to shop for these gifts... delightful in fact!)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Intruder (A true story)

How one young woman fended off an intruder with only the everyday tools of womanhood.

Yesterday evening as I opened the door to my hotel room (which was slightly ajar) and groped for the light switch, I noticed a dark shape lurking beneath the desk, across from my bed. I flipped on the light, and stood face-to face with The Intruder. Neither of us had expected to so abruptly meet the other, so there we were, motionless, assessing the situation and each other. I knew that it was a dangerous position for me to be in; a lone female in a room at the end of the hallway with this large, dark Intruder. My mind raced to try and think of a man I could call to help me but none was near. Woe is me, what I would have given to have a means of defending myself...!

But nay... there was no gun or tough brother to save me now. This was not Alaska. I was on my own. I breathed a prayer and grabbed the closest thing I could; my trusty curling iron. Again and again I tried to bludgeon him without seeming to make any difference. Each time I drew back he bounded to another side of the room, mocking me with his resilience to my petty efforts at driving him away. He toyed with me as I grew increasingly terrified.
A new plan of action was in order. Bolting into the bathroom, I groped for the only other thing I could think of for self-defense: my hairspray. Holding it like a pistol in front of me with more authority than I felt, I eased my way back into the room and faced the desk.
He was gone.
My eyes widened in horror as I glanced, frightened, around the room. Where would he had disappeared to so silently, so swiftly? Was he hiding under my bed now, or around some corner? Alas! I stood there helplessly, feeling infinitely vulnerable and beginning to shake with adrenaline and nerves. Again I prayed.
And then I saw him.
I rushed towards him and aimed for his dark, sinister eyes, spraying repeatedly until he groped blindly around the room, unable to see where he was or what I was doing anymore. Then, I threw the hairspray aside and grabbed another instrument of death: I grabbed a shoe. As he staggered and seemed to recover his bearings, I lifted the shoe like Eowyn, the White Lady of Rohan raising her glistening sword to destroy the evil witch king.
With a last primal cry of terror and desperation I brought my shoe down fully on his head. He staggered...fell...clutched and clawed at the air in a final attempt to grab me. But he and I both knew it: I had won.

I found an empty pantyhose box and scraped the twitching remains of my enemy into it, then brought him to the toilet and flushed his body down.

Exhausted from the battle, I stumbled back into the bedroom and sat on my bed, breathing a shaky sigh of relief. My hands were trembling and my heart was pounding. There before me was the evidence of the fight; the desk askew, an empty pantyhose box, a curling iron, a shoe and my hairspray.
I had battled. And I had won. I was a stronger woman because of it.

NOTE: The beast in the above picture is NOT the beast which I defeated. Mine was much larger and looked significantly more evil. Taking pictures during or after the battle was the farthest thing in my mind so I am stealing a picture from the internet to give you an idea of what his demise looked like.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Have you met a Hobbit lately?

I have been watching LOTR (again) and I just need to come out with it once and for all... I love Hobbits.

Love them--the darling, noble little things. I can not watch their scenes without smiling; particularly at Pippin and Merry.

I've often wished there were such a thing as a Hobbit and it makes me sad that they're mythical. Or...are they?

A few days ago we went to a family's house for lunch. And I tell you in all sincerity, their son was a Hobbit. He WAS one, I'm telling you. I knew it as soon as I saw him and I liked him immediately for it. He had the hair, the face, everything but the cloak and I'm sure if I had gotten up the nerve to ask him to show me his feet, they'd have been big and hairy Hobbit feet. Did not get up the nerve though, for which I am grateful. Could have caused an awkward moment.

Every once-in-a-while, while walking down the street, I see a fellow whom I know is a Hobbit. I can tell by the jocular manner, the bushy curly hair, and the cute, innocent face. Feeling privileged to know his secret, I smile conspiratorially and wink if I can catch his eye. If I'm close enough, I might slyly reach out my hand to pull the curls away from his ear-- to make sure it's a pointy Hobbit ear. He normally fakes ignorance at my intentions by slowly backing away from me with a bewildered and somewhat frightened expression on his face. (They're good actors, too.)

But he knows that I know.

Dani's on to you, shire folk.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"My Brothers" Pt. 3

When Jesus stopped Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul was on his way to persecute Christians. Jesus' words to Saul rang out clearly" "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" Again, I see that Jesus' heart is so bound with the hearts of His people, that those who persecute us persecute Him.

Jesus is still being persecuted today. And I wanted to post this as a reminder to us. We must not forget our brothers and sisters who are being hurt for the name of Jesus! We must pray for them!
In Egypt, a brother named Samir is being stalked and tortured. This is not something that happened a decade ago... not even 5 years ago... but RIGHT NOW. After he became a Christian, this highly successful college professor was declared insane and sent to an institution for the mentally disabled. There he has been given high dose hallucinogenic drug injections until saliva dripped from his limp mouth. He was "treated" with shock therapy until his mind and body have been irreparably damaged. Electrodes were also placed on his genitals and he was shocked there. The shock "treatment" lasts for 6 days, six times every morning. He has been released, followed, and re-admitted several times. Voice of the Martyrs magazine's August edition reports,
Samir was released from his sixth hospital visit just six weeks before we interviewed him. His mind appears to be irreversible damaged and he has continual tremors throughout his body, but his heart is still in God's hands. "They changed me from a normal, regular person to a mentally retarded person," Samir says. In addition, the public safety police still call him fact the police had called Samir only two days before we met with him.
On July 19th, two Christian brothers in Pakistan (Rashid, age 32 and Sajjid, age 30) were shot dead in public.

On April 8th in Gulberg, Lahor, a 15 year old girl named Uzma was abducted by four Muslim men (one of them her neighbor's son). Her family's neighbors had been trying to stop her family from their audible singing and praying each morning. The men who beat Uzma taunted her by saying "Call your God for help, to whom you worship loudly and regularly, if can save you...for whom you are disturbing others." The child was dragged away, and the next day her parents were told that she had converted to Islam. She has not been returned to her family and, as of last word, is still in captivity.

These are three separate stories of the persecution of Christians happening RIGHT NOW in three different countries. The reason I tell them to you is to remind you that Christ's brothers and sisters are being tortured even as you read this for His name.

Brothers, sisters, friends... I can not tell you what a burden this is on my heart!

For more information or to support Christ's sufferers around the world, to give financially, to learn how to pray, and to sign up for a FREE magazine, I urge you click here and visit the VOM web site. God is passionate about His people and inasmuch as you support the "least" of these, you are supporting Him. If we allow ourselves to forget them, we are forgetting Him.

"My Brothers" Pt. 2

This is part 2. Part 1 is below.

Last week I received a package in the mail from Elisabeth S., a dear woman who I've known for years. It was a tough day for me. I had cried earlier that morning. I was feeling discouraged, alone, and unhappy. And then Elisabeth's package came. A pair of funky socks, some chocolate, Twizzlers (my favorite!) and a few special tea bags with a little card, written in her sweet, random way. I sat with the box in my lap and smiled up to heaven with swimming eyes. I felt so loved all of the sudden... because JESUS, in the form of Elisabeth, had sent me a box. She didn't know I'd be getting it on a "down" day. She didn't probably even stop to think that by sending me a package, she was taking the time to send a special gift to Jesus. She was encouraging His heart. She was making Him smile and wiping away His tears when she wiped away mine. Do you see the beautiful interaction--Jesus serving and being served through His children? Do you see how amazingly, breathtakingly beautiful the body of Christ is!? Do you see what a privilege it is to love each other, and be kind to each other, and go out of our way to bless each other? Dear brother or sister, if Jesus loves you so much that His very heart is wrapped up in yours, it is my privilege to love you and serve you!

It boggles my mind that Jesus loves me so incredibly, is so deeply interested and engaged in my life, that a deed done to me is a deed done to Him. When I stop and think about that, I feel so loved that I just have to quizzically shake my head and say "Why, Lord? Why such an intensely deep and personal love for ME?" The thought challenges my thinking though. If indeed an act of service or disservice done to one of Christ's children is done to Christ Himself, how many times have I personally wronged Christ by treating one of His children the way I would NEVER treat Jesus in bodily form? Are my actions consistent with the understanding that Jesus takes personally every blessing and every ill deed done to one of His own?

When I care for Miss Elisabeth, I love to remember that I am caring for Jesus through her. In combing her hair, making her laugh, tying that hard-to-reach shoe or sneaking her a piece of chocolate, I am delighting the heart of God. It makes me want to go out of my way to serve; to love.

I know of a girl, Kimberly, who has spent the past 10 YEARS--yes TEN--of her life caring for her mother who had a stroke. I know of a woman, Michelle, who cooks gourmet meals (not just casserole dishes or pre-bought pizzas) for those who are going through rough times. She pours her heart into her cooking because she loves people and she wants to encourage them through her talent. I know a young man (my brother) who has given up a job he could have had as a successful pilot in Alaska because he wants to leave it all behind and serve poor, obscure, needy people overseas with his talent. I know a woman named Sheila who knows what it's like to lose a loved one to cancer, so when she found out about my sister last year she was willing to drop her life at ANY time to do ANY thing for my family. These are all people who are serving Jesus HIMSELF and many days hardly stop to even realize it I'm sure. The list could go on, and the acts of service range from huge deeds to small everyday servanthood. You all inspire me when I see that kind of love.

And now I have one more part to my sermon before I step out from behind the pulpit. But I'll probably post it tomorrow.

"My Brothers" Pt. 1*

*Dani is feeling preachy.

Been thinking about the following verse lately, and there are some points I've taken from it. I think they warrant two or three separate posts. So without further introduction, I am going to commence to preach.

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" -Matthew 25:40

I think you know the context of this verse, but if you're interested on a refresher I'd encourage you to look it up. I've thought it interesting that many people seem to disregard two words in Matthew 25:40: "My brothers." There seems to be a trend in our thinking that is not Biblically based, and I'm pretty sure I know the culprit of it: The Christmas song, "Here Comes Santa Claus." In this cute-but-creepy song, we're told this:

Santa knows we're all God's children; that makes everything right.

Well I'm glad it's a reassurance to the jolly old elf, and I hate to criticize his theology (because you know what they say about looking a gift horse in the mouth...or biting the hand that feeds you...or something like that...) But Santa's wrong. I can't seem to find any place in the Bible which says that we are all God's children by default. We are all His creation, yes, but not all His children. Scripture makes a very clear delineation between the children of God and the children of the devil. I could list a whole slew of verses to support that statement, but I'll stick with 1 John 3:10-
"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
Pretty clear. We are NOT "all God's children."

Having said that, I think it's important that in Matthew 25:40, Jesus is specifically talking about doing good to His "brothers." Just as we are not all God's children, we are not all Christ's brothers (or sisters as the case may be). Jesus clearly delineates this for us too, in Matthew 12:50.
"For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister..."

So what Jesus says in Matthew 25 refers specifically, (only, I believe) to believers. Christ followers. He's not saying that every time you give a beggar a quarter you're giving Jesus a quarter, or when start a prison ministry you are ministering to Jesus. Only, He says, if they are His "brothers" does it count as doing it unto Him. Now plenty of times in Scripture it talks about doing good works, feeding the poor, being kind to strangers, etc. etc. But the specific promise that we can know we are serving Christ Himself only comes when we are serving Christ's followers.

This is beautiful. It means that Jesus so identifies with each of His Children, and He is so completely wrapped up in our lives, that He considers a good work done to me to be a good work done to Him! He considers a slanderous word said about me to be said about Him. He appreciates it when people love and care for me to such an extent, that He feels as if they are loving and caring for Him.

With this in mind, I am going to start in on post #2.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Hmm... I've never been tagged online before (or if I have, I didn't see the great need to acknowledge it. Is that snobby?) But when Carrot Soufflé Lady tags ya, you can't just ignore it. It's a bit of a conundrum for me, because to not acknowledge the tag is a little rude. But to assume that you are interested in my answers to these questions seems a tad egotistical. So this one's for you, CSF...Particularly because your questions are... wow. Really lovely and thought provoking. So, without further ado, here goes.

1. I have a painting in my home that immediately gets my heart to singing Sheep May Safely Graze. Is there a photo or a painting or even an object that makes you think of a song to sing? If not a song, is there a Bible verse that comes to mind?
When I was in Orlando, Florida many years ago, I took a picture at the Holy Land Experience; a picture of the actor portraying Jesus. He was holding a lamb and speaking to the crowd, and at one moment, he hugged the lamb. I snapped the picture right then, and I still have it up on my mirror in my room at home; Jesus with his head bent tenderly down to the lamb, snatching it up in a wholehearted embrace. The picture brings to mind His words in Luke 12:32- "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." I remember I am His lamb and He loves me tenderly and guides me carefully. And I live for the day when I'm getting a wholehearted embrace from Him, like the lamb in my picture. :)

2. If you could sit across a table with someone living today, who would it be and what one question would you ask them? Please, I beg you, no politicians.
Yikes, I guess most of the people I want to meet are dead already! So if I could choose to sit across the table from anyone today, I think the funnest, least stressful, most delightful time would be with my nephew Wes. I miss him so much. And I would ask him silly questions to make us laugh. :) Sound like a unexciting choice? You don't know Wes!

3. We are studying the history of classical music at our home. If you could choose one piece of classical music, what selection would you choose, who is the composer, and why does this song have meaning to you?
My all time favorite classical piece (not including Handel's Messiah because that's more a choral piece I suppose) is the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. Not only is this song passionate and beautiful, but when I hear it, I'm immediately transported to Blossom Music Center, laying under the stars with my family on a blanket on the 4th of July, hearing the crickets in the background adding to the Cleveland Orchestra, waiting for the cannons to boom. Blossom with my family on the 4th is one of my happiest memories in the world.

4. What one thing in all of creation that you can see with your eyes, grips your heart and makes you stand in awe of His majesty? Why?
One thing!? The night sky, I suppose. Because it's vastness reminds me of the vastness of my God-- it's beauty reminds me of His beauty--To think that He calls all the stars by name reminds me of His unbelievable power--to look at the constellations reminds me of His imagination and order. And to think that the Creator of all that loves ME, completely boggles my mind.

5. Is there any thing you are
fanatical about? How do you know (has somebody told you!)?
In the past I've been fanatical about a few things, but I don' t think I'm a particularly "fanatical" type of person anymore. Suppose I can tend to be a little crazy about animals. I kiss them, which has shocked and greatly disturbed Mr. Gren. My passion, other than my Creator, is people. I love knowing them and meeting them and people watching to discover new and interesting "specimens," as my brothers and I call them. :)

6. If you could choose a season, which one is your favorite and why? Describe what it looks like outside your window today.
Summer, I think. I love the warmth and the flowers; the chance to be outside. Today out my window the sky is a very unpromising gray.The sea is very calm, and there are a few late-season lobster boats floating past. The gulls are flying so close to the surface that I'm amazed their wings don't skim it. The trees on the edge of the rocks are a little past their prime color, but they add a beautiful rusty color to the scene. It looks...cold out there. :(

7. What's your favorite
"just got out of bed in the morning" drink and do you have a special place you go to enjoy it?
Depends on my mood; I love chai, tea, hot chocolate, and sometimes coffee. At home I like to curl up on the couch near the fireplace. Here in Mass. I like to sit up in my room overlooking the sea.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Charmichael on God's will

One reason I'm posting is that I can't stand the list of complaints at the top of my page so I thought I'd post a "nicer" bit on top of that. It's just...not for the top of the blog. It seems so grumpy or something.

I've been reading "A Chance To Die", the biography Elisabeth Elliot wrote on Amy Carmichael, missionary to India (and China and Japan, incidentally. I hadn't known that.)
It's good reading. One of those books, not unlike the bio of Jim Elliot, which shames me. Comparing yourself with others usually isn't wise and is even warned about in Scripture, but when you're comparing yourself with a spiritual person, painfully aware of the difference between your lives, striving to follow their example, I believe "comparison" is healthy. (1 Corinthians 11:1-"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.")

Amy Carmichael wrote this poem, and it resonates deeply in my heart tonight. Thanks be to God for these words...For the rest we find in our Beloved's arms!

And shall I pray Thee change Thy will, my Father,
Until it be according unto mine?
But no, Lord, no that never shall be, rather
I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.

I pray Thee hush the hurrying, eager longing,
I pray Thee soothe the pangs of keen desire--
See in my quiet places, wishes thronging--
Forbid them, Lord, purge, though it be with fire.

And work in me to will and do Thy pleasure
Let all within me, peaceful, reconciled,
Tarry content my Well-Beloved's leisure,
At last, at last, even as a weaned child.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Prayerfully awaiting Nov. 2nd...


1. The government spending mine and my children's money

2. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

3. "Going Green"

4. People calling other people racist

5. The U.N.

6. Democrats and Republicans

7. People who call conservatives "ignorant"

8. Career politicians

9. Global Warming

10. Muslim extremists (Note I was politically correct enough to say Muslim extremists. Not just Muslims. I wouldn't dare.)

11. Political correctness

12. Americans who don't care enough about their country to stay informed of the facts instead of eating whatever the biased media (any biased media) feeds them.

13. Demagoguery

Please; feel free to object or add to the list! But be aware that I might call you ignorant or racist if you disagree with me on any point. And, if you continue to disagree with me after that, I just might take away your right to comment.

...I'm joking, I'm joking!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Valerie's Visit

Mr. G. left for his home town in Norway two weeks ago, and Miss Elisabeth's dear daughter came to stay and make our home a Female Only residence for 10 days.

On the wall of the hallway hang three pictures from Ecuador that I absolutely love. All three are taken with a camera which the renowned photographer Cornell Capa gave to Elisabeth to use during her stay with the Aucas. One is a close-up of Elisabeth, taken presumably by firelight or lamplight. In the background and foreground you can just make out the faces of several Quichua Indians, but between them, in focus is just Elisabeth; her intent, beautiful face (Jim once described it in his journals as a face "with all it's deep intensity of longing"), pensively gazing into space--and I imagine her to be lost in a moment of reverie while the quiet bustle of the service or gathering she is part of slips by unnoticed around her. The other two pictures have a naked little blond sprite in them. In the first she is seen from behind walking down a shallow riverbed hand-in-hand with an equally naked Auca man, his stocky dark body contrasting to her thin, white one. (Neither have even a hint of self consciousness about them; why should they? A savage and a child share an equal disregard for clothing.) He carries three 8 ft. spears in one hand. This is one of the men who killed Valerie's father when she was only 10 months old. This is the man, who when she first saw him, she asked of her mother, "Why can't he be my Daddy?" The other picture is of Valerie and the same fellow (Kimo? Dawa? I forget his name) sitting together on a tree trunk hunched in interest over a picture page of some sort. Val, with tousled white-blonde hair, and one finger pointing knowingly at the page is obviously instructing the man about whatever mysteries the picture page holds.

ALL that to say, (You probably thought that I had derailed my train of thought but I had a plan for it, mwaha!) ...When I met the little dimpled blonde girl two weeks ago she was my mother's age and rather less blonde than when she was 4. But still with the same dimples, still with her father Jim's eyes, and the beautiful face I love looking at in pictures from when she was a child. I couldn't help but just sorta stare at her face and try to morph the 4 yr. old into the grown woman she had become. She has 8 children of her own now, mostly grown, and it was a delightful two weeks that she and her mother had together. I felt blessed, and perhaps a little guilty, to be in the midst of it. Given the tenderness with which she treated her mother, the wisdom of her words, and the love for her family and her Lord... I think that my hero, Jim Elliot, would be proud of his little girl.

And now for a few photos of Nantucket, where we stayed with friends of Valerie's for two days. It was beautiful; absolutely quaint and picturesque but... does it really warrant being the most expensive vacation site in the country? I'm a bit doubtful on that one.

~The Giant Shell of Nantucket~
(Well at least that's one way to reduce sun glare.)

An evening with friends was spent watching YouTube videos and munching on popcorn. :)
Oh, the laughter! Valerie's friends are very sweet! And I love all the facial expressions.

Miss Elisabeth, Val and I. Not in that order.

I'm always entranced by sparkling water!!

A parting view of Nantucket from the ferry

Fun on the ferry- how's that for a good lookin' lady?