Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Thankfulness--Memorial Day edition

This week I'm going to focus my thankfulness on that great cloud of witnesses that have gone before me. (The numbers are a running tally, that's why they don't start at one :))

11 &12. My great grandparents (H) who were missionaries in China. They remind me that my life is not about me, but about serving others.

13&14. My great grandparents (S) that I actually met. I remember shelling peas at their kitchen table with lots of cousins, my great grandpa's strong hands, and my great grandma's cookies and aprons.

15&16. My great grandparents (S). I knew them the best because I knew them the longest. I remember sitting in the big rocking chairs with them, and the jelly-filled butter mints they kept in the candy dish.

17. Grandma S took me on many fun adventures, including road trips to visit my aunt and bingo games. She made great fried egg sandwiches and grilled cheese.

18. Grandpa S liked to tease, and had a very dry sense of humor. He served in the military, I believe during World War II.

19. Grandpa H took my brother and I on hikes, shared his stamp collection, and shared his faith. Being with him during his hospice time was a great testimony to his deep faith.

20. Rich Mullins. His music is inspiring and very real to me. Heaven gained a great musician and great Christian when he died.

And living thanks:

21: Grandma H. Her faith and servanthood is just amazing to me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Psalm 62:5-6 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My freezing office

On Friday, I noticed that my office was cooler than I like it in the summer--I think it was 72 degrees. Being an energy-conscious person, I called the person who has control over my thermostat, and requested that it be set at 76 or 78 degrees. During the summer, I want to be able to wear summer clothes without needing a sweatshirt in my office!

So I stopped in to check on my plants and do a couple of little things this office was 62, yes 62 degrees! So I'm not working in my office until it warms up!

I think the problem is the HVAC system thinks it's still winter--that when the temperature in the room is below the set point, it should blow more air. But it's summer! I need more air when the temp is above the set point, not below.

I guess it's a lesson in Ecclesiastes 3:1...There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Right now it's the season for cooling, for blowing air when the temperature is above the set point. But it translates into our spiritual lives, too. What season is it in my life? Should I be talking or listening? Doing or waiting? Sowing or reaping?

Lord, thanks that we do have ways of regulating our temperature in buildings. Give us wisdom in figuring out what season it is, and how we should act during that season.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bride of Christ, not wife of Christ

The end of the sermon today talked about the church as Christ's bride, and how grooms view brides. I'm really glad Jesus sees us as his bride instead of as his wife. This morning, what Patrick observed about me was: I left a stinky washcloth from washing the kid's feet on the sink instead of a towel rack; I didn't get the tupperware container with the not-very-good cookies I made specifically for him with the lid not completely closed; and that I need a bib, since I dripped spaghetti sauce on the brand new shirt he brought home for me on Friday.

Thanks for seeing us as a groom sees a bride, perfect and beautiful, instead of how a husband views a wife, very imperfect and very human.

Just in time

Do you ever have one of those days where God shows you the same thing more than one way? Yup, I'm having one of those "Pay attention!" days!

Yesterday I started the "I Am--so you don't have to be" Bible study (there is also a button on my side bar to it). The first lesson focused on God putting people in specific places at specific times--such as the birth of Moses, Ester, and Stephen--for a specific occasion. Then today, the old testament reading in my Bible in a Year e-mail was 1 Samuel 9 and 10, which talks about how God brought Saul to Samuel to be annointed king...through some lost donkeys. This post is partially in response to the questions in the Bible study, but I'm not strictly following the format.

Over the last couple of weeks, I can see how God is grooming me for something...but I don't know what. I've been involved in several all-day meetings at work that show me how he could potentially use me in a more administrative position...and then I have conversations like the "Role Model" one below, where what I really desire is a more balanced (i.e., less work) life. Just in the last month I can see how God has already used me has his "go-to girl" in several work situations. And personally, I'm in a good place of recovering from a miscarriage this spring, and I know that me being open about it has allowed several conversations that might not have otherwise happened. But I know I'm very human--there have been days I didn't want to talk about it, and shut down the conversation before it began, but I know God will somehow use this experience to minister to others.

Thanks, Lord, that you bring all things together for your good, and that you do have a plan and a purpose for us.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Role models?

I recently recieved a weekly professional news magazine. It included the following letter to the editor about someone mentioned in a recent article:

"XXX recieved her PhD from YYY in 1963. As a grad student at the time, I was tremendously impressed not only by her intelligence but also by the fact that she was married. As I recall, she had twins within a week of defending her thesis. She's been a wonderful role model for women in science." --by another woman scientist

Here's what I'm wondering: what makes her a "wonderful role model"? That she worked right up until delivery? That she probably returned to work right afterwards? That she set up this standard that having a baby shouldn't impact the amount of time you devote to your career? I know it's impacted me--I took two weeks off after each of my children was born. Even though they were able to come with me for 4-6 months part time, it did impact my health and well-being, especially after Harmony. But I didn't feel that I had a choice if I wanted to keep my job (which is something God has definitely called me to).

Personally, I wish the people with more balanced lives were percieved as role models--the women who figured out ways to be a scientist part time, stayed at home while their children were little, or worked from home. So those of you who are doing it, thank you, and tell me how you do it :)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Top 10 reasons I know it's summer

10. Sandal suntan lines on my feet.
9. Fresh strawberries picked from our yard.
8. School's out!
7. The kids DEFINITELY need a bath every night.
6. Sand in unimaginable places.
5. Allergies kick in.
4. The farmer's market re-opens.
3. Price of gas goes up with no good reason (other than summer formulation).
2. Eau de sunscreen.
1. My first mosquito bite!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dirty feet

I think I have a better appreciation for Jesus washing the disciple's feet. Now that it's been warm out, Harmony wants to wear sandals every day. Her feet get amazingly black, so before she even takes a bath, we wash her feet in the sink. She loves it, and giggles when you wash between her toes.

I can only imagine how much better it would have felt in Jesus' time, when the only form of shoes was sandals, and they walked a lot more than we do, and on dirt paths instead of sidewalks.

Thanks, Lord, for washing my dirty feet when I most need it.

Thankful Thursday

One of my Thanksgiving traditions is that I add to a list I started several years ago of things I'm thankful for--my goal is a thousand thanks. I'm afraid I misplaced it. But as I've been surfing the blogosphere, I discovered Thankful Thursday ( and thought, what a good idea! Why wait until Thanksgiving? Aren't we supposed to give thanks in all things and at all times? So if I do just ten things a week, I'll be half way to a thousand in just one year! So what am I thankful for?

1) Henry and Harmony's faith. Their prayers are just so sincere and honest.
2) Our church. I love how spirit-filled it is, yet there is room for everyone.
3) Our friends who are our partners in parenting. Henry and Harmony are always excited to go to their house on Fridays. It's great to have friends with the same values that we can share experiences, trade childcare with, and be friends! We don't have many of those, so we really treasure the few we do have.
4) How God grooms and guides us. I've been in meetings the last two weeks, and I know he's using these to shape what he has for me in the future...but I'm not sure what it is!
5) My very compassionate and smart doctor.
6) The hosts of our life group. They are always so accomodating and giving.
7) Lap top computers
8) Blogs--it's a great way to keep track of friends that I don't get to talk to every day.
9) How God weaves our lives together. I was thinking about a grad school friend today, and she called about two minutes later :)
10) Asics gel running shoes :)

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Taking off the the bandaid

Henry had surgery two weeks ago Friday--he's had a hole in front of his ear since birth a "pre-aural articulation". It got infected with a fairly resistant bacteria, and the doctor recommended having it removed, so we did.

It was covered with a large 3x3, almost pure adhesive bandage over a smaller, 1x1 inch bandage/surgical strip. We took the large bandage off the Sunday night after the surgery (like the dr recommended), and it HURT! So Henry understandably didn't want us to take off the underneath one. I finally took it off tonight, and again, it HURT!

I wonder how often we have those experiences in our own lives, especially when we "put on" our own band-aids in an attempt to heal something in our lives. For example, I had a friend in graduate school that really helped me heal from some earlier experiences and warped images of myself, but man, it hurt when that band-aid was removed. Sometimes it seems like the cure is worse than the original problem, at least at the beginning.

Thanks for surgeons and thanks for bandaids...and thanks that You're the ultimate healer, not the bandaids we try to use to fix ourselves.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Longing for what you don't yet miss...last time at the Farmer's Market in Ithaca...

Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm tired!

I didn't sleep well last night, and it's been a busy day. I have meetings all day tomorrow, for the fifth day in a row, in addition to the students working with me this summer. So I'm trying to get stuff ready for them to do. But I didn't want to break my streak of a post a day for the month of May, so here it is :)

We have strawberries growing in our yard! We planted them 2 years ago, and they didn't really do anything that year. Last year we were in NY, and missed berry season. So I'm enjoying the handful or so I pick each evening!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Henry's first rejection :(

Henry is severely outnumbered in Sunday School--there are five or six little girls and Henry. He's usually fine with it, but after church we had a picnic. He had a great time playing soccer with Darlene, and baseball with one of the little girls. He met another almost-five year old boy, and played "5 year old hide and seek" (with hotter/colders, making the hardest part figuring out how to not find them instantly.) We played on the playground, and he had a great time swinging (with lots of underdogs).

Until...the girl gang formed. The girls, Harmony included, were playing at the top at the slide...and wouldn't let Henry join in. He was heartbroken, and sat on top of a pretend rock, crying, and didn't want me to console him. They didn't want to play with him, and he knew it.

How heartbreaking for a parent! I hope he turns to the real Rock when he meets these heart breaks throughout his life.

This one's for you, Harmony...

The blog for moms that I sometimes visit is having a contest for a year's supply of cool new bandaids from 3M. Considering that Harmony wants one for every hang nail, bump, or percieved boo boo, she'd love it! If you'd like to enter, check it out...

Gotta go to bed! Good night all!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

One ways all going the wrong direction

Henry's last soccer game was today. We were running a little late, so I tried to make up some time. Instead of waiting in line behind several cars to turn left across traffic, I decided to turn a couple of blocks early--I figured I'd turn right and then left again. I even noticed what the car was I would have been behind, so I'd be able to gauge if I actually saved any time.

But as I went down the street, all the cross streets were one ways--going the wrong direction, followed by a dead end. I decided that *couldn't* be right, so I went around (to the left, not the right like I wanted) the block, and yup, no way to go to the right. So I ended up going back to the street I had just turned left off of, turning left across traffic, driving two blocks, and turning left across traffic AGAIN. So much for saving time.

So God, what are you trying to teach me from this experience? As always, I'm open to suggestion. Perhaps it's one of my favorite movie quotes applies here--"Rush a miracle, get a rotten miracle" from The Princess Bride. Maybe I should just slow down and wait in line--that's what I did when I got behind someone going 50 mph in a 60 mph zone on the way to a baby shower today (and yes, I was already late). Even though I managed to slow down, it just made me even more stressed about being late.

A second possibility is something about going in circles. Or maybe it's something about God shutting doors....or perhaps directing my path. To be honest, I'm too tired, both physically and spiritually, to sort this one out tonight. But I know there is a lesson in there somewhere...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Harmony's prayers

Harmony is a pray-er. At dinner time, we say the prayer I said growing up, and then each person "adds" at the end. Patrick and I usually add one or two things we're thankful for, and Henry sometimes does the same. Harmony always starts with, "Thanks for my castle cake" and progress through everything she's done that day, including asking for every imagined boo boo to be healed.

Two things Harmony's teaching me: first, I can bring everything, including her hangnails, to Jesus. The second was less obvious, but Patrick pointed it out tonight: that she really appreciated the castle cake I made for her birthday. He told me that tonight, when I was showing him some pictures of bithday cakes that other moms had made, and feeling a bit inferior about what I've made the kids. Many of them are much more elaborate than what I made, and some look very professional.

But when I look at the pictures of the cakes made for Harmony, I see the imperfections in the frosting, the slight lean to the right of the cake, and the absence of a good moat. Definitely homemade, and not very professional. But what Harmony sees is a Mom who loves her and was willing to take a best shot at fulfilling her birthday party wish.

Thanks, Harmony. I needed that tonight.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A splinter

I have a splinter on the side of my hand. I noticed it when I got it last night, and thought I pulled it all out, but apparently not--today it's sore, swollen and a little puss-y (ew)--but not so much that I can squeeze out the culprit splinter.

When I went to Korea several years ago, I brushed the back of my hand on a freshly cut bush, and got a splinter. It was small and really deep, and I didn't even realize that's what it was until it finally came out...several years later. What I did notice was a white cyst, but I had no clue where it came from.

I guess that's how sin is...sometimes you know you've got it, try to extract it, but don't get it out all at once. But it bugs you enough that you poke and prod, and are willing to stick needles in your hands to try to extract it. Sometimes you can't tell which end to get it out from, and sometimes you need someone to help you get it out. There are other times, you don't even realize you have it until it errupts years later.

I guess I'll go sterilize a needle and see if Patrick can help me dig out the splinter.

God, thanks for using a splinter to remind me of my sin, and that I should be vigilant about trying to get it out. Help me identify the sin "splinters" in my life and give me the desire to remove them. Thanks that you're the great surgeon, and that you're always willing to do it for me, as painful as it might be.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A long lost friend

Patrick was surfing last night, and he found a long-lost grad school friend and mentor of mine! I'm excited and nervous--she kind of fell off the planet when she graduated a year before me, and now she's resurfaced as a new professor at a prominent university!

At the same time, I'm nervous--why didn't she reply to my e-mails, or tell us where she was going? Did I do something to offend her? How do I say, "so how have the last 10 years of your life been?"

I'm sure the prodigal son's dad had those feelings for a moment--then quickly got over himself and rejoiced in what he had found. I think I'll do the same and go write an e-mail to her!

Thanks Lord that my friend is doing well and for bringing an opportunity to reconnect with her. Thanks for finding the lost, especially me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Healthy eating

Yesterday morning we had some friends over for breakfast. As I do with my children, I put out the cereal choices on the counter: Rice Crispies, Mini-Wheats, Corn Chex and Rice Chex. One of the girls eyed the mini-wheats and said:

"We only eat HEALTHY cereal for breakfast."

I quickly pointed out to her that they were all healthy choices, and she could have whatever she wished. She chose the rice crispies, as did her sister. I'm glad she's figured out how to make healthy eating choices at a young age, even when confronted with a frosted (yet high fiber) cereal :)

It's interesting how "healthy choices" has different definitions to different people. By Indiana standards, we eat pretty healthy--I'm the parent at pre-school and soccer complaining about too much sugar in the snacks. But move us back to the region of NY we lived in last year, and we were in the bottom quarter. For example, Saturday's soccer treat was Gatorade and Nutter Butters; I'm the mom who brings 100% juice and Nutrigrain bars. The NY moms would have been gasping that I gave my children non-organic juice, or any kind of juice for that matter, and Nutrigrain bars? Too many preservatives. The snacks there would have been fresh fruit and water. (No, I'm not exaggerating--I saw one of the other preschool moms take a snack away from her child at a nursing home where the kids went caroling because her child had never had juice nor a cookie before).

The same thing happens in the church--is it "healthy"for me to wear pants? jogging shorts when I exercise? A tank top? Should I go to that movie, or watch that TV show? What about whether I work outside the home or not?

Romans 14 talks about these exact issues, and Paul even starts with food: "One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. "

Lord, help me to teach my children to make good choices, and stick to those convictions when they're outside of my influence, but that their choices in these areas don't make them a better or worse Christian than any other person.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Yesterday was graduation. It's always a mixed emotion day--you're excited that they're moving on to bigger and better things, but you'll miss them too.

The student I was most excited for yesterday wasn't one of the stars in my classes. He wasn't even in the top half. He was definitely disenfranchised, not a part of the mainstream, and probably not even on the fringe. His major accomplishment was that he actually graduated! That was definitely in question the entire semester. Unfortunately he didn't walk, so I didn't get to congratulate him. I don't usually send cards to students, but I'll be sending one to him--he deserves it.

It made me think about, what things (like graduating) are the things I just "assume" will happen, but are really tough for other people? Like finding shelter, food, clean water or a safe place to sleep in one of many countries in the world? Or even my own back yard?

Lord, give me compassion for those less fortunate, and gratitude for all the wonderful things you've given me that I just assume I've "earned".

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

You know you're a mom when...

You count the sprinkles on each kid's cupcake to make sure they're equal.
You have time to shave only one leg at a time....if you have time to shave at all.
You child throws up, and you catch it...sometimes down your shirt.
You consider markers and finger paints to be controlled substances.
You ban toy weapons, while your child turns every stick in the yard into a gun, sword, light saber, or bow and arrow.
You get choked up at ads for charities for sick children.
You fast-forward through all the scary scenes in Disney movies.
You know what "spit and a promise" means when cleaning a child's face.
You have signed a check with a crayon.
You can recite a child's book from memory.
You arrange your travel itinerary based on McDonald's Playland locations.
You have your pediatrician's phone number memorized.
You know more lyrics to kid songs than to current music.
You've had a couple days of breakfast for every meal.
You long for time by yourself, but when you get it you wish the kids were with you.
You say at least once a day, "I'm not qualified for this job", but you know you wouldn't trade it for anything in the world...

Thanks, Mom! I love you!

It would be enough, take 2

Here's that part of the Seder service I was talking about in "if you never gave me one more thing, I'd be happy" post...

Dayeinu (It would have been enough)
If He had rescued us from Egypt, but not punished the Egyptians, it would have been enough.
If He had punished the Egyptians, but not destroyed their gods, it would have been enough.
If He had destroyed their gods, but not killed their first born, it would have been enough.
If He had killed their first born, but not given us their property, it would have been enough.
If He had given us their property, but not divided the Red Sea, it would have been enough.
If He had divided the Red Sea, but not drowned our oppressors, it would have been enough.
If He had drowned our oppressors, but not supplied us in the desert 40 years, it would have been enough.
If He had supplied us in the desert 40 years, but not fed us with manna, it would have been enough.
If He had fed us with manna, but not given us the Sabbath, it would have been enough.
If He had given us the Sabbath, but not brought us to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough.
If He had brought us to Mount Sinai, but not given us the Torah, it would have been enough.
If He had given us the Torah, but not brought us to the Land of Promise, it would have been enough.
If He had brought us to the Land of Promise, but not built us the temple, it would have been enough.
Then how much more should we be grateful to the Omnipresent One for the doubled and redoubled goodness that he bestowed upon us as He provided permanent salvation through the sacrifice of our Messiah.
Da, dayeinu! (3X)
Dayeinu! Dayeinu!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


We have a huge ash tree in our yard that spews tons of seeds. Every year we rake up what we can, but we still have tons of volunteer ash trees. It's not so bad where the grass is growing, but they're prolific in the freshly dug up flower beds. We don't have mulch, so the weeds hit fertile soil and grow well. So every evening for the last several weeks, I pull baby trees, and I know Patrick has too.

I'm glad the tree is fruitful. But I wish it wasn't producing weeds! So it makes me wonder...
--Is the fruit I'm producing weed or fruit? (BTW, ask Henry to sing you the fruit of the spirit song next time you see him)
--Is there a weed in my life that I keep pulling over and over again?
--Is there something I can do that is the spiritual equivalent of barrier fabric and mulch to keep the weeds from growing?
--What should I be removing from my life, the baby weed trees or the parent ash tree?

Lord, help me identify things that are unpleasing to you in my life, and take steps to remove them and prevent their regrowth.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Pictures from the mini-marathon

If you want proof that I really did run the mini-marathon, here ya go... They'll only be up until July...

Henry's conversations with God

The other night we went to the track with some friends. We gave the kids a job--count how many steps to the top of the stadium. The answer (at least if you trust 4 and 5 year olds) is 43.

While they were at the top, they discovered there was an echo when they yelled. So beyond the typical preschool echo sounds, Henry yelled, "Are you there, God?" and "Come down here, God! I wanna talk to you!"

It's amazing how preschoolers say what is on our hearts--I have the same thoughts some days, but don't articulate them.

Thanks, God, that you are there and hear my prayers even when I can't see or audibly hear from you.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

If you never gave me one more thing, I'd be happy

Eating ice cream with our friend, Gracie!

So today I went swimming at lunchtime instead of running--my knees are still complaining about the mini-marathon, though they're getting better. Anyway, swimming is great thinking/praying time. I thinking about Luke 18:17 (nope, I didn't know that off the top of my head --I had to look it up)--"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Sometimes I wonder if that's what Jesus really meant--kids are just, if not more, selfish, than adults, and some days it seems the only thing I hear from my kids is whining, complaining, tattling, and arguing. I love them very much, but it gets hard to listen to.

I'm sorry to say my prayers probably sound a lot like my kids--"I want this, I want that, I don't want THAT, I want it now, did you see what she did? when are you coming home, I don't wanna go to the park, I want LarryBob/I want God songs..." I'm sorry, God. I know you know what is best for me (and the rest of the planet), but I don't act that way. And the thought that filled my head as I showered was based on the Seder service our small group had at Passover--If I only had God's presence, that would be enough. If he never gave me another blessing, but gave me his presence, that would be enough.

Lord, help me focus on all the wonderful gifts you've given me--even my children's complaining. Your presence is sufficient for me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The finish line

The last mile of the mini-marathon, I wanted to kick it in, but my body didn't agree. But when the finish line was in view and I saw that if I hoofed it, I could finish at a round 2:31, that motivated me to do it. (2:30 would have been nicer, but it was already 2:30 by the time I saw the timer!)

The finish line spanned the entire road. After crossing the line, there was a long line on the side where volunteers cut off the chip that had been recording your time and handed you a medal. A few steps farther, there more volunteers, passing out water bottles, bananas, apples, cookies, chips, sports bars, and other goodies. Can you imagine a pile of 13,000 bananas? It was a pretty incredible pile. Finally, there were photographers, taking pictures of individuals and groups who had completed the race.

It was an interesting glimpse into heaven--trading in the record of my life for a medal. But in heaven, it won't be a medal I've earned, but rather, one Jesus earned for me. And I'm hoping the banquet is better than some fruit and carbs to go!

Lord, help me keep my eyes on the prize, and be ready to trade in my measly record for your glory.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


I woke up at 4 am to two big BANGs. I looked out the front door to make sure there wasn't an accident in our intersection (it wouldn't be the first time), but I saw nothing...and went back to bed.

At 6 am, Henry started yelling for me--he could see "sirens" out his window. I again looked out, and all I saw was a police car blocking our street. I told him to go back to bed, and I did the same.

Around 7, Henry crawled in with us. I couldn't get comfortable, so I got up and went to investigate. What I found was an entire section of the next block engulfed in fire. The roof and second floor were completely gone; the only things left standing were the bricks around the outside. There were several businesses in the downstairs, and ten apartments upstairs, including the grandparent's of one of Henry's friends. Did everyone get out? Was everyone safe? All but one person escaped safely, but some had to climb out ladders--I can only imagine how scary that was.

I'm not sure why, but it hit me hard: am I investing in things that will last, or in things that won't, like, well, things? 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 talks about the only foundation that will last is Christ--everything else will be burned up.

Lord, I want to build my life on you. Help me hold lightly to the things of the world, and cling to you.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Livin' on a prayer

Whooah, were half way there
Livin' on a prayer
Take my hand and well make it - I swear
Livin' on a prayer

Yup, Bon Jovi was playing on the loudspeakers, right in front of the grandstands on the Indy 500 track--exactly the halfway point of the race! I don't know if that was planned or not, but I definitely took it as a sign and an encouragement.

Now I need to work on the "living on a prayer" part. We pray before meals, we pray when we see an emergency vehicle going on a call, we pray at bedtime...but am I living on a prayer? I'm afraid our Western luxury makes it too easy to rely on our own resources.

Lord, help me not just pray, but live on those prayers.

Save the Cheerleaders

Patrick is a fan of Heroes, I'm not. But I do know their goal: Save the cheerleader.

Cheerleaders played an interesting role in the mini-marathon. The mini-marathon course was covered with people cheering on individuals, as well as actual cheerleading teams from the local high schools and bands, ranging from good to "I think I'll run faster so I don't have to hear THAT anymore." Not to mention the hundreds of people manning the water stations every mile or so.

While they weren't running the race, the cheerleaders played an important role in encouraging us to stick to the task at hand, and to endure. It was a good reminder that while I'm not dealing with some of the same "races" as my friends, I can encourage them, whether by a phone call, e-mail, note, or visit. When I was a middle school youth counselor, our youth pastor encouraged us to write notes to five people a week--about one a day. I need to get back in that habit.

I did notice some of the cheerleaders tiring--who wouldn't after two hours of yelling, with another two or so to go? And who wouldn't? You've been standing there in the hot sun, watching a lot of hot, sweaty runners go by, most of whom don't even acknowledge that you're there. You don't get a medal--you're not anywhere close to the finish line. But Galatians 6:9 encourages us to continue doing good, especially to other Christians.

Lord, help me save the cheerleader--help me recognize those who could benefit from encouragement, especially tired cheerleaders.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

How great a cloud of witnesses

"Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1

So running with 35,000 other people, you're definitely in a crowd. At the beginning of the race, it was wall to wall people--we walked a good four blocks to get to the starting line--I crossed the start 16 minutes, 30 seconds after the front of the pack. Luckily there is a chip attached to your shoe that registers when you cross the special pads ther were at the start line, 5 km, 5 mile and 10 mile marks, as well as the finish line. And other than the chip on your shoe (not on your shoulder :)), most people didn't catry anything--there were Fedex trucks where you could check your stuff until the end of the race. This verse from Hebrews encourages us to do the same thing in our Christian race--you can check your baggage with Jesus, he'll take care of it.

Running with that many other people is motivating--I ran at a faster pace than I did while I was training. The thing that always strikes me about large groups like this, though, is how lonely it is. Although you're surrounded by 34,999 other people, if you don't know someone nearby you, there is no one to talk to. And even though I did know about five other people running the race, they were slotted in D, not T, and they were running much faster than I was. Consequently, I said good bye to them at the starting line, and didn't see them at all, even after the race. So if I have a fear about heaven, it's exactly that--while I'll know many people there, will it be the same lonely experience I've had at meetings and this race?

Thanks, Jesus, that I'm not just a number in your race.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

I did it!

Today I ran the mini-marathon--and finished! I walked a few short sections, and finished in 2 hrs 31 minutes--11 1/2 minute miles. Not bad, considering all my training runs were shorter and slower than that!

It'll be fuel for several posts, I'm sure. I can't sort them all out right now, but here's the Cliff's notes on upcoming topics:
--So great a cloud of witnesses
--The finish line
--Livin' on a prayer

Friday, May 4, 2007

Drawing the line

Finals are over, the papers are graded, and my desk is mostly found. Now comes the not-fun part...drawing the lines. Is that score an A or an A-? Is that grade that's three standard deviations away from the next closest score a C- or a D? It's hard when the number of students in a class is small, but luckily I've taught enough years to develop some fairly straight forward lines--An A is 92 and up, an A- is 88-91, a B+ is 85-87, etc. It's nice to have clear black and white lines.

Can you imagine a class graded either A or F? Luckily, your grade isn't dependent on what you do; rather it's on who you know. Scary, isn't it? Especially for people like me, who aren't the best networkers. Well, there is a class like that; it's called life. God has a nice, clear black and white line--Jesus. Do you know him, trust him, and try to follow him? If yes, you've got an A--congratulations!

Thanks Lord, for being a straight-forward grader who is generous with the A's.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect Harmonese...

Last night after dinner, Harmony stated quite plainly, "Look at the grape on my foot!" Since we did have grapes as part of dinner, I imagined that either she stepped on one or somehow got one stuck to her foot--food has a way of finding her. But when I looked at her foot, there wasn't any grape on it. But when I said that, she was very insistent that there was, indeed a grape on her foot...and it merited a bandaid.

At that moment, I realized that what she was talking about was a SCrape on her foot. She fell off the retaining wall this weekend while I was gone, and scraped her hand, foot and elbow.

What Harmony doesn't have is initial S sound dipthongs--scrape is grape, smoke is moke, snake is nake, and spoon is boon. Though she has a lot to say, you have to use context to figure out what she is saying sometimes.

I'm not quite sure what the spiritual lesson is in this it that I need to make sure I'm saying what I mean? Is it that sometimes I mis-hear God, and need to check the context so I'm not looking for a grape on my foot? Hmm...I'm sure there is a lesson in there, let me know which one resonates with you!

Thanks, Lord that you say what you mean and mean what you say. Help me to have open ears to hear you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Henry's pink toes

How do you hide an elephant in a strawberry patch?
You paint his toenails red!

Last Sunday Henry tried this joke, and found out that the elephant is still visible :) Harmony received some bright pink nail polish for her birthday party, and wanted to wear it on her toes to church. Henry wanted some too, but since he already had his socks and shoes on, I just painted his fingernails instead.

That night at bedtime snack, Henry remembered the painted toenails, and decided he really wanted some. I promised to do it after snack time, but not right now--I didn't want to burn the popcorn. While I was in the kitchen, he climbed onto the vanity, got the polish off the top shelf, and tried to do his own toenails...while he did get pink toenails, he also got pink countertop, floor, rug, leg and tub...needless to say, Henry got no bedtime snack. (The picture was taken today, after mommy did his toenails after bathtime.)

But I've been wondering, how many times do I pull a Henry, and try to do something on my own schedule and by my own power, and end up making a horrible mess?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Home, sweet home!

I'm home! I was in DC for a meeting from Friday until today. It was fun and busy.

While I was there, I participated in the Walk America for March of Dimes. It was a beautiful day, and was inspiring to see the families walking in honor of their preemies (who were obviously doing well now)...and the families walking in memory of their child. What upset me, though, was that a branch of PETA was passing out brochures, asking the March of Dimes to use more "humane" methods. Sorry, but I'd much rather they test the next (most likely successful, given the MoD's track record) treatment on mice than on preemie babies.

Anyway, my family's reaction to my return was interesting. I met Patrick for lunch before heading home, and he was definitely happy to see me. Similarly, Harmony yelled "Mommy!!!" and sat in my lap for a good 10 minutes when I picked them up from the playground at school. In contrast, Henry was so busy playing he didn't even say hi. One of the teachers caught his attention, and said "Your mommy's back!" He finally came to see me, but was more interested in pulling up my shirt and looking at my back, to see what the teacher was talking about!

It makes me wonder, what will my response be when Jesus comes back? Will I be excited to see him, and cuddle in his lap? or will I be so busy with my own life that I don't even notice, despite people pointing him out to me?

Lord, come home soon!