Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Good List 8-28-13

10. The combination of lemon and ginger. So delicious in so many recipes--cookies, drinks, soups, stir-fries. Sweet. Savory. Doesn't matter. Refreshing any which way.
9. Such a fun day last weekend strolling down memory lane in thrift stores and antique shops. Little reminders of my childhood everywhere I turned. I thought about my sisters all day long. (OH, and I found a Totally 80's trivia game for $2. SCORE!)

8. Gracie's latest art project. She even used glitter to make him have "sparkly eyes." :-D

7. Our Aldi is finally open! I'm so excited! I want all of the groceries! ALL OF THEM!
6. The Brothers K. I'm only about 1/3 of the way through it, but it gripped me immediately and continues to captivate. I'm not sure I've ever read anything quite so endearing. (Thank you for the recommendation, Lore!)
5. Cooking all day when it's raining outside. One of my favorite kinds of days.
4. Having Macy serenade me on her keyboard while I cook. Perfect.
3. Friends who eagerly share their garden bounty. I took one look at our summer calendar a few months ago and realized there was no way I had time for a garden. :-/ But I'm so grateful for the fresh cherries, blueberries, corn, cucumbers, squash, zucchini and salsa we've enjoyed over the last few weeks. And I'm not too proud to say, "Please keep it coming, friends!" :-D
2. Macy and her BFF cousin Anna got to text and chat about their first days in middle school today. Anna is actually a year younger, but since middle school begins with 6th grade in Texas and 7th grade in Vermont, they get to go through this experience "together". Pretty cool.
1. A visit today with one of my favorite friends, Anne. She learned early yesterday morning that she has a rather large brain tumor behind her left eye. (Please note this is not the good part.) The *good news* is that it is operable, but because of where it is and how it is positioned, that is really about all they know about it at this point. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. Won't you please pray with me that it is COMPLETELY AND UNQUESTIONABLY BENIGN and that the doctors are able to remove every single cell that is any threat whatsoever to healthy brain function. (Side note: Rather than perform a biopsy, which, as you can imagine, is extremely invasive when the brain is involved, they are going straight to surgery to remove as much of the mass as possible. This is due to the fact that even if it is benign, it is large enough to be causing pressure and damage to healthy surrounding brain tissue.) 

Anne, my friend, I am praying and praying and PRAYING for you! And I'm bringing hugs again soon!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Richard Has Cancer, but Christ Has Richard

This is our friend, Richard. More than anyone I can currently bring to mind, he lives like Psalm 31:15a ("My times are in your hand") is absolute truth. Richard has stage 4 inoperable brain cancer. A couple weeks ago, he got really bad news. His most recent MRI indicated growth in his tumor, apparently enough to cause his doctors to determine that none of his treatments are working and therefore to discontinue any further treatment. From a medical/scientific standpoint, he is out of options. His doctors have given him "a few months."

This is heartbreaking news. 

Richard has a beautiful family. A wife and 2 young children. From my earthly perspective, all I can think about is that his family needs him. His wife needs her husband. His kids need their Dad. For these reasons and so many others, I don't want him to die. No one who knows him wants that. We want to fellowship with him for years to come. We want to help him raise his children and delight in knowing he and his wife will celebrate many more anniversaries. Our church (and many others who know him) are begging God daily for a miracle. We have anointed him with oil. We have laid hands on him. We have prayed from our very guts (and continue to). We want to keep him.

More than that, though, we want God's will. Certainly we can hope that will include miraculous healing and pray for it ceaselessly, but in the midst of our pleadings, we must trust that God is sovereign and know that whatever he chooses to do with Richard's life is part of his perfect plan. Easier said than done, for sure.

But here's the thing: Of all the people involved in the life of this man and the difficult journey he's facing, he and his wife--the very ones who are suffering most acutely--are also the greatest reminders of the joy that can be found in Christ no matter the circumstances. They are one of the most radiant pictures of hope I've ever known personally, because their hope doesn't lie in what MRIs or doctors say. Their hope is fully bound up in Christ. Both of them would certainly admit they aren't looking forward to what they've been told to expect in the next few months, but they would just as quickly (and much more passionately) insist that they definitely ARE looking forward to the fact that regardless of what amount of time Richard remains here on earth, God has given him eternity with Christ. This is cause for celebration! 

Not only do Richard and Erin consistently testify to the fact that God is sovereign over their situation, even in their suffering, they know that He is also GOOD. When we are well, God is good. When we are sick, God is good. When we are happy, God is good. When we are sad, God is still good. 

As Erin says concerning Richard's final day on earth, "That will be the best day of his life!" Surely she is right, and yet, what miraculous strength it takes to truly *feel* this truth in the midst of her suffering.

Won't you join me in continuing to pray for this family? Pray for healing. Pray for strength. Pray that they will feel the presence of Christ in every moment of this journey, no matter what happens when.

What a gift to know and love this family. For as long as Richard lives on this earth, I will not stop praying for him, but I am so incredibly grateful for his and Erin's eternal security (and eternal life) in Christ!

Monday, August 19, 2013

This Temporary Mediocre Sunset

I am a glutton for sunsets. Particularly sunsets over the water. And if you can throw a mountain or two in there somewhere, yes indeed! Imagine my surprise when I realized about 2 years ago that the little lobster town in Maine we have adopted as our favorite vacation spot allows just such a vision. I didn't even know this was geographically possible, considering Maine's "east coast" position, but the coastline is just crazy and curvy and bay-ridden enough to offer this:

Just wow. Am I right? And certainly the picture does it no justice at all, so yeah. . . in person. . . seriously, WOW!

This happened last week on the very first evening of our time in Stonington. And there I stood. Taking it in. And wondering.  How *do* you effectively collect and embrace and ingest an experience like this? So brilliant and perfect and enormous and glorious and yet so fleeting.

My thoughts couldn't help but tumble into pondering the new heavens and new earth. How do we even begin to wrap our minds around this promise of all things new? NOT all new things, mind you, but all things new. All things glorious and completely devoid of anything born of sin. Will sunsets like these last forever and never become boring? Honestly, I'm sure this looks like a dull pencil drawing compared to what we'll see then. But what will it look like when Christ comes to restore this very view? 

Come to think of it, we won't even have a sun anymore. Christ will be our radiant light. !!!! Will colors we've never even imagined before glow forth from his very presence? Will they transcend our current senses? Will green be warm, blue be fragrant, pink be soft, white sound like harmony? Will all of our senses be perfectly engaged in the most enjoyable experiences at every moment? How will that work? We know it won't be boring, so will those experiences change, or will our less distracted minds be eternally thrilled with the same smell and same sights and same sounds all the time? Or will we somehow experience ALL of our favorite things simultaneously but still individually? Just what will our glorified bodies be capable of?

Try as I might, I can't begin to wrap my mind around such things. 

But this I know. These heavens--the ones displaying the temporarily dazzling hues in this picture--spoke straight to my heart of the glory of my Creator. This vision was brief, but it *was* glorious to my still merely human senses. And as Pastor Ray Ortlund commented, this was easy for God. So easy. If that's true, what will we have to look forward to? What is he "saving" for us to experience eternally in his presence?

Are y'all tracking with me here? Are you giddy with anticipation as to what lies ahead? Does your "best day ever" cause you to wonder what that day might look like when this earth is fully restored and filled with his glory?

I've been daydreaming about this quite a bit lately.

And even on my best day, I can't even imagine. But also: I CAN'T WAIT! Come, Lord Jesus! Come!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Good List 8-7-13

10. Macy's on a cleaning kick. Let's just say it's not bothering me. ;-)
9. The chorizo cooking in my kitchen right now, causing deliciousness to waft throughout my house. YUM.
8. A thunderstorm at the end of a fun and busy day.
7. Sarah's Key, a book that was recommended to me by lots of friends for my upcoming vacation. I decided it sounded a little too sad to bring on vacation, so I read it on the plane last weekend instead. A heart-breaking, beautiful, haunting story indeed.
6. Totally diggin' these fallish temperatures and breezes lately. Not mad about it at all.
5. Fresh corn from our friends, The Carpenters. I roasted it earlier this week, and it was scrumptious with just the tiniest sprinkle of sea salt. So sweet, it didn't even need butter.
4. The inflatable water park at Camp Windemere. I have been giggling about this memory all week long:

3. The following line from Pastor Jason's introduction of Jared at Family Camp last weekend:

I love that.
2. The opportunity for Macy and Grace to travel with us last weekend. I'm so grateful to Pastor Jason for inviting us to join Jared for this event. Macy and Grace know why Dad travels so much, but I think it was really helpful for them to actually see him "at work" on this trip, loving on people and speaking about the Gospel all weekend long. He doesn't leave us to do unimportant things. I'm glad they got to see that.
1. God keeps giving us new friends across the globe. Every time we travel, I'm blown away by the people we get to meet and partner with and learn from. (And yes, I know that isn't exactly a grammatically perfect sentence, but it would sound super pretentious and weird to say "with whom we get to partner" and "from whom we get to learn", don't you think? ;-)) 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Some Anniversaries are Better than Others

Last night I reminded Macy and Grace that today is the 4-year anniversary of when they moved to Vermont. Without a split second's hesitation, Grace matter-of-factly replied, "Yeah, I don't really like that one. I like the one when you moved and we were all together again." 

Simple as that. I had no argument, and she didn't feel the need to expound any further, so that was that. ;-)

And so, along with Grace, I celebrate a bit more robustly the April anniversary that brought me to Vermont to be permanently reunited with my family. But perhaps with slightly more clarity than she cares to pursue, I see God's hand in every step of the journey that brought us here. Fragmented at first, but not without purpose. And while I hope never to repeat some aspects of that experience, I'm grateful for what God did and continues to do in and through our family, even during the difficult times.

Thanking God today for milestones and the way they speak to me. Even the ones that aren't necessarily my favorite.