Category Archive: Hope

Mothering … By Birth or Otherwise

My beautiful mother with about half of her great grandchildren!

As we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday, Don and I were surrounded by my darling 96-year old mother, Helen; one beautiful sister-in-law, Sheila; and two lovely younger mothers, my nieces Amanda and Heather.

Earlier in the day I had listened to “Hey Mama,” a beautiful song by the Ball Brothers that talks about a mother who made home a safe place, who gave wise insights and advice, and who loved well. Sobs welled up inside me and tears rolled down my face, recognizing my mother in the words of the song, and also realizing that in a few years I may be singing this song, wishing I could hear her voice when she’s on the other side of the great divide. What a gift to have had, and to be surrounded by, loving mothers who show by their words and actions what it means to honor their husbands and raise their children in love and faith. The song is worth listening to, at the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAM9O76Fjls

But not all of us are, or can be, biological mothers. Yet in His grace, God has provided other ways of loving, teaching, guiding, encouraging that are open to all of us, whether or not we have birthed children from our own bodies.

I mentor two capable, lovely daughters-in-faith. I received loving notes from both yesterday, along with fragrant flowers. I also received a meaningful card from one of my stepsons, who is just a few years younger than I am. How thoughtful! And I realize what a gift God has given, that there are ways of loving, teaching, guiding, encouraging that any of us can pursue, whether or not we are biological mothers.

So, to each of my readers who has raised, or is raising children, God bless and guide you and give you joy and strength for the challenges of each day, each year. And to those who, like me, have not birthed children of our flesh, God love you and show you opportunities to invest in younger women, to encourage family members, to serve God in the lives of others, and to feel His love and grace through those precious God-given relationships. He is faithful. Let us be also, whether it’s to nieces and nephews, stepchildren, mentees, the weak and helpless, or children of friends who need loving adults in their lives.

And Mom, I love you and thank God for your influence and impact In my life over the years: from the time as a tiny girl that I spilled a cup of milk and, instead of scolding me, you said, “Oh well, that can be cleaned up.” Or the time you stayed up late, crying with me as I shared about a broken engagement. To the example you were when your beloved, my father, went Home to be with Jesus and you refused to pull away from others but continued to engage even as you grieved. Or the overnight trips we took together as widows; and the joy you expressed when God brought another wonderful man into my life. Thank you for loving me and teaching me through your example.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 NIV)

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What is Success?

 5:00 am Saturday. Most of our missions team met at Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City. One of the three team vans picked Don and me up in San Jose, from where we headed to meet the rest of the team at Starbucks in Gilroy.

Tools – check

Passports – check

Toilet paper – check

Clothing, sundries, hats – check

We were as ready as we were going to be.

11:30 pm Saturday, we drove through the gates at Rancho Santa Marta in the Baja. My leg was screaming.

Our usual 15-hour drive to the Ranch, 65 miles south of Ensenada, had taken 18.5 looong hours. As we left the Bay Area we enjoyed reconnecting with former team members and getting to know new ones. After stopping for a fast-food lunch near Magic Mountain, one of our vans refused to start. AAA towed it to one service center which wouldn’t take it because they were going to close at 5:00. We went to another, determined the repairs would not be a quick fix, and made the decision to leave the one van behind to be repaired, and reload three vans into two.

We emptied most of the three vans, took out non-essentials (a coffee table, several boxes of t-shirts, some equipment), and repacked people and materials tight into the two other vans, then finally took off again. At Chula Vista we stopped to fill up with gas and enjoy a quick fried chicken tailgate dinner before climbing back into the vehicles to cross the border.

After unloading our weary bodies and supplies at the Ranch, we crawled into bed. I took two Advil PMs to knock me out, wanting very much to be in church Sunday morning.

As the team historian/photographer, I took some photos during the worship service. My heart was renewed as I greeted old friends. I turned to where three of our team stood to sing, and watched one of our new team members who is also a relatively new Jesus-follower. Eyes closed, his face lifted to the heavens, tears streamed down Miguel’s face. And I began to weep as I saw the adoration, praise and worship on his face.

The worship leader introduced separate prayer times for pastors/missionaries; for the Ranch, staff and children; for those who are ill. Children stood voluntarily to give thanks to God for everything from a barbecue this afternoon to their teachers and house parents.

Ranch Director Rod’s sermon, in English and Spanish, addressed what it means to be a success. Miguel is a picture of success. Coming from a difficult background, he said “God, you said if we would seek you with all our hearts we would be found by you. Where are you?” As he kept praying that prayer, God showed up and changed his heart and life. At the end of the sermon, Rod’s father-in-law, Bill, who founded the Ranch with his wife Kaye, stood. “Son-in-law,” he began, “your success will be reflected in the lives of these children who will grow up and change the world.” What a touching and meaningful encouragement.

Drawn into Miguel’s worship, I actually had my first message long before the singing ended and the sermon began.

I am so thankful to be here once again, with staff and children we love dearly.

Some of us have been at RSM for years already; others are brand new this year. God seems to meld us together as we drive and share and snooze along the way, and then throughout the week as we work together.

This week our primary focus is putting up trusses for the new high school building. The Ranch is home to 40-45 children, many learning disabled, some abused, some orphaned. Some will grow up and become teachers or come back to the Ranch as house parents; others will never have the skills or maturity to leave the Ranch and will be given work to do here into adulthood – gardening, cleaning, animal husbandry. Don and I have come to love this ministry to Mexican children in need; and to the 220 students bussed into school from up to 60 miles away during the week.

Pray with us as we serve this week: our attitudes (especially when we get weary), our unity, our effective work on the projects and love for the kids as we see them throughout the week, as well as the day we’re divided into groups to have lunch or dinner in one of the four residences; the piñata and s’mores party (no chocolate, too much caffeine) one afternoon. I look forward to seeing many young friends we’ve watched develop over the past eight years, to reconnecting, loving on them, and praying for them and for their teachers and house parents. Pray that our service will be an outgrowth of our worship of our good God, and will honor Him.

I think of what success means for our team this week. Scripture says “In everything you do, do it as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks …” Success will be our working in unity, encouraging each other, not only doing the work effectively but with grace and joy. The HOW will be as, or more important, than the WHAT.

Thanks for praying with and for us. Buen dia!

 

 

“Just Rewards”

FILE- APRIL 17: Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92

Another saint has received her “just rewards”. First Lady Barbara Bush has joined Billy Graham and others in transitioning from life to eternal life. I’ve always admired Mrs. Bush. Her strength and determination, shown as she supported her husband and sons in their political goals, walked through trials including the loss of a baby daughter, her faith and humor made her one of the more admired First Ladies. And her authenticity–her ability to laugh at herself, to tease about her wrinkles, to wear her three-strand fake pearl necklace (were it another First Lady I’d probably need to say her “faux” pearls!), her care for literacy, her blunt straightforwardness and disdain for frippery … all stood out as very real.

According to the Detroit Free Press, when Jeb Bush asked his mom recently how she felt about dying, she didn’t miss a beat. “She said, ‘Jeb, I believe in Jesus and he is my savior. I don’t want to leave your dad, but I know I will be in a beautiful place.’”

Amazingly, what we speak of as “just rewards” in fact has nothing to do with our good deeds, our efforts to help others, our personal integrity, our character. It has everything to do with our trust in Jesus Christ’s payment for our sin. The thief on the cross next to him recognized Jesus had done nothing deserving of the horrible, agonizing death they were experiencing. The thief put his trust in Jesus right there, as he was dying, and Jesus promised that, that day the thief would be with HIm in Paradise.

Some of the “worst” people, according to our definitions, will be in heaven. The Apostle Paul, who killed and imprisoned Christians until he himself met Jesus on the road to Damascus and began to serve those he had persecuted. Charles “Chuck” Colson, who others said would have run over his grandmother to achieve his political goals, until he came face to face with the real Jesus, who changed Colson from the inside out, making him a champion for prisoners who needed to hear the good news that they could be forgiven, free of the eternal weight of sin and its consequences.

Paul and Colson would both be the first to say they are forgiven only because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. God’s great and abiding love for the world, Jesus’ obedience in going to the Cross to pay the penalty for my sins and yours, freed us. So when I face Jesus at my death, I won’t be there because I’ve been a “good person”, or helped others along the way. It also won’t be prevented because I’ve dealt with jealousy, pride, anger, sinful thoughts and unkind actions. If God asks me, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” my answer is simple: “Only because Jesus took the penalty for me, and I trust Him.”

Don and I saw the movie “I Can Only Imagine” last week. My nephew Drew sang that at my father’s memorial sixteen years ago. I’d not heard the song before, but the words struck me powerfully.

“I Can Only Imagine”

“I can only imagine
What my eyes would see
When your face is before me
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence
To my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all

I can only imagine …”

To hear the song, go to:  https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=yfp-t&p=only+imagine%22#id=3&vid=1da6a7aa7b8d9a8031196eb92625e573&action=view

So, while my heart goes out to President George H.W. Bush and to the Bush family in the loss of this dynamic and authentic woman and I pray for their comfort, I also rejoice knowing that, because of Jesus, Barbara Bush is more alive than she has ever been and is in the presence of her Savior.

Welcome Home, Barbara!

If you’d like to know more about how you can know Jesus personally, I’d love to hear from you.

 

In Quietness and Confidence

Don and I dressed nicely, business casual, anticipating getting together with our new tenants for the first time, as well as meeting soon-to-be neighbors at a community gathering. After greeting our tenants and taking the measure-ments we needed for our plans to upgrade the house before moving in later this year, we wound down the hill to the clubhouse, where we enjoyed a delicious meal overlooking the golf course, flowers, and the sway of the wind in the willows.

We wanted to be a bit early for the meeting to discuss external paint colors for the homes in our Village, so drove up to the Forest Community Center and parked the car. We wandered into the room, about two minutes early, to see 25-30 people there. “Good turnout,” I thought.

It seemed everyone was looking at us. I lip-read as one woman mouthed “Does anyone know them?” As we walked into the second row to take our seats, confident we were in the right place, a woman approached. “May I help you?”

“We own the home on Caledonia and are here for the paint color meeting.”

“I think you’re in the wrong place. This is the Village Voices.”

I pulled out the announcement and reread it … the meeting we wanted was the following night, Thursday. Oh boy! But the people were welcoming. A large man smiled, reaching out his hand: “I’m Ed. Stay and sing with us.” Another said “Stay and make a joyful noise.”

We left, chuckling at our mistake but also warmed by the welcomes expressed to us by those in the community chorus.

Do you sometimes feel there’s just too much on your plate? Too many appointments to remember? Between doctors’ appointments, physical therapy, and other commitments, I obviously wasn’t keeping it all straight.

Our cousins, Edith and Brian Peters, are visiting from near Winnipeg, Canada. Two nights ago Edie sat at our piano and began to play. We’d had a full day. Don, Brian and I sat in the living room, quiet, listening to the sweet music emanating from the piano under the skill of Edie’s fingers. And I remembered the scripture that says “In quietness and confidence is your strength.”

Quietness …

  • allows me to regroup,
  • to recharge,
  • to sort out the important from the mundane,
  • to let some things go.

It increases my coping resources for the challenges that face me daily.

And confidence in my God …

  • who never sleeps,
  • who is always present,
  • who has promised never to leave nor forsake me,

gives me strength that is not dependent on my own limited resources.

“Keep me still, Lord, before you; help me rest in Your presence, to hear your still, small voice, to follow your lead, to trust you one step at a time and let the chaos slip away as I move, cocooned in Your Holy Spirit.”

I wish for you–and for me–a week of quiet, confident strength.

Three Days that Changed the World

 

He is Risen, just as He said!

Friday: Jesus hung on the cross in agony, carrying my sin and the sin of the world.

His words?
“It (redemption for sin) is finished.”

Sunday: The tomb was empty. “HE is RISEN!”

And the hope of the world has never been the same.

Glorious Easter, reader!