Monday, June 29, 2009

He Knows My Name. . .

At work we are currently implementing a new computerized fetal monitoring surveillance and documentation system. We have had to work with an implementation team from the company from which we purchased the system and I've had to send multiple emails to several of the company's representatives for various reasons.

Fetal MonitorImage by ahhyeah via Flickr

One day this week I was finishing one of these emails and as I came to the end, out of habit I signed it with my nickname, "Frannie", which is what all the nurses in my unit call me. For a moment I wondered if I needed to write out a new signature with my official name and title, so this representative would recognize who had sent the email. Then I realized how silly this was.

"No, Chas knows who I am. He knows my name. He even knows my nickname," I thought.

He knows my name. What a comforting thought. Don't we all love to be recognized by someone, especially someone whose opinion we value, or someone we feel kindly toward, or someone we love? To know they recognize our face and know our name is so nice. To know they know our nickname, call us by special names, nicknames or endearments is even better.

My husband has only called me "Frannie" once that I can remember in the thirty years we have been married. But, as a character in one of my favorite movies says, he calls me "something infinitely more dear". He calls me "Sweetie pie". In turn, I call him "Honey bun". It just seems like the perfect reply, doesn't it? Anyone else calling me such a name (or definitely calling HIM by such a name) would not meet with the same smiling response. We have earned the right to use such endearments by our long and loving relationship with each other.

There is One, however, who has earned the right to call us by a name that only He knows and that is of His choosing. He purchased that right with His own blood, with His own life. The Lord Jesus gave His life to call us His brethren, and His friends. One day, He will give us a name that only He knows, a special endearment just between the two of us. . . a token of His love and devotion and sacrifice for us. And we will give Him a name as well. We will bow our knee, along with every person ever born, and call Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to the glory of God the Father.

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written,
which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. "
Revelation 2:17

"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. "
Philippians 2:10,11

"And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written,
Revelation 19:16

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Roll-away in the Dining Room...

A friend of ours was telling the story of how he and his brothers lived with his parents in a very small house growing up. His parents had one bedroom and the children were divided out around the rest of the house. One of his brothers slept on a couch in the living room and he slept with another brother on a roll-away mattress in the dining room.

That story has stayed in my mind all week. By today's standards, many of us would consider ourselves quite put-out if we had to sleep in the dining room, without any space at all in the house to call "our own". But the main part of our friend's story was how happy they had been growing up. He finished his story by saying, "I guess we were poor, but we didn't know we were poor!"

My sister and I were talking today about our remembrances of growing up. I couldn't remember any birthday parties as a child, and I asked her if we had celebrated our birthdays with parties. No, she couldn't remember having them either. There were no family vacations until all of the children except me, were grown. We rarely went out to eat. Life was very simple. During the summer, you weren't really allowed to stay in the house (if you did, Momma put you to work!) And yet I grew up feeling quite blessed and fortunate. Visiting today the house in which I grew up, would make me wonder how two adults and four children lived in such a small space.

One thing is that we didn't have commercials then to tell us what we should have. We didn't have someone on television constantly showing us every ten minutes or so what the latest and greatest gadget or car or house or job was available. We didn't have someone telling us how to be thinner, firmer, tanner,with whiter teeth and fresher breath, and that we needed to be those things. Contentment was easier and envy was not so much of a temptation then.

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned,
in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. " (Philippians 4:11

"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content." (1Timothy 6:8 )

"Let your conversation be without covetousness;
and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said,
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Hebrews 13:5 )

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Change in the Menu...

At the Orange Moon Cafe*, one of the staples of the menu for holidays and special occasions (Father's Day, birthdays, graduations -- the only holiday not included is Mother's Day) is crepes. These crepes are filled with either chocolate ganache and whipped cream, or strawberries in a fruit sauce and whipped cream, then topped with more whipped cream. The "chef" has used the same crepe recipe for as long as could be remembered. I found the recipe in my mother's old Betty Crocker Cookbook when I first started making the crepes. I have used that recipe for so long it is one of the few I have committed to memory. The reason crepes are not on the menu for Mother's Day is primarily because the "chef" is the Mom and she shouldn't have to stand and make, what usually amounts to 12-15 crepes on Mother's Day. Another reason is because the chef "Je n'aime pas les crêpes, " she doesn't like crepes. But my family loves them. It is a ritual of our house.

A sweet crêpe.Image via Wikipedia

With Father's Day approaching, we all knew it would be another opportunity for us to have crepes together. My husband (who cooks far better than I ever hoped to - in fact my girls cook far better than I do as well), was looking in the "America's Test Kitchen Cookbook**". Curious, I looked up the recipe for crepes and it was quite different from the one I had been using for centuries. Melted butter instead of oil. Water instead of the greater amount of milk. Salt -- curious addition. I decided, since my husband is always taking a perfect recipe and trying to raise it to another level of perfection (my attitude is usually to leave perfection alone -- why mess up something that is wonderful?), I decided I would try this new recipe on Father's Day. After all, since Father's Day was his special day, he wouldn't be too upset if the crepes weren't as good if I was trying to perfect the recipe as he always does.

I made the batter exactly as the recipe stated. Well, not exactly. Since I knew my crepes would be filled with sweet ingredients, I went ahead and added the little bit of vanilla and sugar I thought they needed. The batter was thicker than I usually come up with. I was skeptical that this would create that thin crepe I wanted.

I poured the first crepe into the pan and at first it didn't seem to do well. I know you often hear that you have to throw out the first crepe, but I have learned that if you know your pan (and my crepe pan is only used for crepes, nothing else) and you know your heat source, you can produce a good crepe the first time. But as it cooked, I noticed the edges had a crispiness my old crepes had not attained consistently. Crepe after crepe came out thin and crispy. I was very pleased. My husband was very pleased. My oldest daughter was very pleased. My youngest daughter was not.

"I like the other ones better, " she lamented. Like her mother, she does not like change unless she implements it. She is a person who loves ritual, tradition and history. These were not the crepes of her history, not the crepes of her past traditions. I could have guessed this would have been her response.

Personally, I have to take their word about the taste and texture of the crepes, having not eaten one (I ate oatmeal), I don't know what they were like apart from the cooking of them. I do know they looked beautiful, they were a pleasure to cook and they had a perfect consistency.

So by now you may be wondering just how I am going to tie this story about crepes into some spiritual train of thought. Often times we have perceptions or thoughts, primarily about the Scriptures, but sometimes about the Lord Himself, that are more tradition than truth. For example, many people believe that "The Lord helps those who help themselves" is actually in the Bible, but search the Scriptures and you won't find it there. Sometimes, we even believe things about specific verses that upon closer examination, we realize just wasn't true. Were the wise men really at the manger? The Scripture says the wise men came to "the house" were they were and saw "the young child".

I thought my crepe recipe was how it was to be forever. My understanding of crepes was perfect. Until I saw what I knew to be a higher authority than myself (the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook) and knew that I could be taught more, if I would only lose my pre-conceived notions and look with fresh eyes at my crepes.

By the same token, before we open the pages of the Scriptures, we should ask the Lord to enlighten any areas of darkness in our understanding, any preconceived notions or traditions that are wrong or contrary to the truth of His Word. We should ask Him to create in us an open heart to be corrected and taught by His Spirit and by the leadership of other believers to the truth contained in Scriptures.

"Teach me thy way, O LORD,
and lead me in a plain path,
because of mine enemies."
Psalm 27:11


*If you are not familiar with the Orange Moon Cafe, the website through which our Powder Room operates, please visit us there:

**America's Test Kitchen has wonderful recipes. If you are a fan of apple pie, and you have a day to kill, look up their recipe online. (If you want apple pie in an hour, you should just buy a Mrs. Smith's pie, but if you want the absolutely perfect pie, look this one up) This pie is incredible. The crust is perfect and the apples inside are the most wonderful flavor and consistency. We enjoy baking it together and then sitting down and eating it together with some vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

One Thing Is Needful. . .

There have been many sermons over time about the two sisters, Mary and Martha. Martha was busy about the necessities of a houseful of guests and visitors, while Mary sat at Jesus feet as He taught.

Jesus said of Martha that she was "careful and troubled about many things, But one thing is needful". He went on to say, "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. " (Luke 10:41,42) It is easy to read this passage and agree that Mary had chosen well -- of course, sitting at Jesus' feet is the best, the only thing-- it's easy to see that. Unless you are Martha.

I am at a time in my life right now where it is very tempting to be Martha. The temptation is to be "careful and troubled about many things." There are multiple deadlines at work, multiple things at home that need timely and careful attention, things that just live on the perpetual "to-do" list, routine maintenance things of both home, health and work that all call out for my time, my thought, my attention. I scarcely feel like I have time for a deep breath.

Isn't it in times when we go from "everybody knows your name", to everybody is calling your name, that we tend to forget the one thing that is needful? That one thing that is the anchor, the bedrock, the basis and it is so easily the thing, at least in my life that I seem to not find time for. "I'll do that in a minute. . . this afternoon. . . tonight. . .tomorrow." Time with the Lord: time in the Scriptures, time in prayer, fellowship with other believers, seems to take the back burner.

But maybe Mary knew something that Martha and I haven't grasped yet. Maybe she knew that to sit at Jesus' feet for a few minutes would make her heart less "careful and troubled" and she would be more efficient and able to do those other "less needful" things.

How many minutes do I waste thinking about how busy I am? Or making another list about how much I have to do? Perhaps beginning with the One who is the Beginning and Ending of all things would keep me from concentrating on the busy-ness and help me to concentrate on business. In doing so, I would procure the promise, that I have "chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. (1 Peter 5:7)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Father Worketh and I Work. . .

I heard a minister tell a story in a sermon a few weeks ago how someone felt totally inadequate to do what they were called to do by the Lord. They felt as if they didn't have the strength or the resources to complete the task.

When the Lord Jesus was speaking on the mountainside to thousands of people, and realized they were famished, He didn't ask to see those who might have been great cooks. He didn't ask the disciples to find those in the crowd who might have been wealthy and could have procured a great amount of food. He didn't ask them to find the strongest individuals who could carry large amounts of victuals back to the mountain. He simply told His disciples to feed the multitude. When they replied that they only had a few loaves and fishes, He blessed the food, broke it and abundantly fed all with baskets left over. He didn't ask for any help from the multitude because His confidence was completely in His Father to multiply whatever was provided in the moment. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. (John 5:17)" This was the dynamic by which the Lord Jesus did all that He had to do. His Father worked and He worked. This is the dynamic for our lives as well.

When the Lord calls us to a work, He does not want us to be the great strength or power in the work, if so the glory would then rightly go to us. He wants us to be the vessel through which His mighty power can shine. "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)" The more pitted and marked the vessel, the more the Light inside will shine through. If we are approaching a work or a ministry with the prideful heart that we have great strength and ability to complete it, then perhaps we need to quiet ourselves away and seek in whose power we are trying to do the work. . .the Lord's power, or our own.

". . .Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time." I Peter 5: 5,6

Leaving a glorious place…

My husband and I recently traveled nearly a thousand miles from home for business to a little village outside of a major US city. It was, by my most succinct description, idyllic.

Spotlessly clean and neatly landscaped, the town seemed as if it were posing for a photo shoot. Majestic fir trees, just waiting for Christmas lights and bright shiny balls, held court on every street and thoroughfare. The crisp cool air peeled away the weight and heaviness the heat and humidity of the Deep South produces. Residents greeted us with cheerfulness, all eager to please and to help. We tasted the best pizza I have ever even thought of putting in my mouth (which should tell you where we were). I had only thought I had eaten pizza before. Then we found the most delightful German bakery whose ambiance was as delicious as the pastry.

We walked along miles of forest preserve and watched deer eat, found bubbling brooks and blooming wildflowers. . .a haven of nature in the midst of a city.

When our week was up, I sincerely hated to leave. I even joked with my husband about “picking out a house”, and indeed, he had shown me a beautiful and peaceful little neighborhood just a little way from our hotel.

The one thing we kept coming back to, however, were the people we love, the people we minister to and with. “How could we leave them?” Names and faces came to our minds and tumbled off our lips. “How would we do without ____?”, “How could we get by without ever seeing so-and-so?”. It didn’t take long to realize that as much we had come to love the little village we were visiting, we loved the people waiting for us much, much more. It was for the people we loaded up the car and traveled back the thousand miles. It was for the people we rode from the beginning to the end of one interstate. It was for the people we said good-bye to the German bakery, the incredible pizza and the lovely fir trees.

There was a time in eternity past when the Lord Jesus existed in the most perfect of existences with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. They had need of nothing. They were perfectly sufficient between themselves. Yet, there was a group of small insignificant, puny humans who had chosen disobedience and would face eternal damnation without a Savior. For the people, the Lord Jesus left His idyllic existence. For the people, He willingly chose to be found in the fashion of a man. For the people, He humbled Himself and and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

My husband and I will one day, I am quite sure, return to the little village we have grown to love so much. The Lord Jesus, too, has returned to Glory with His Father and the Holy Spirit, but He is forever in Heaven as a man –a glorified man. As I heard someone say recently, “The only man-made things in Heaven will be the nail prints in the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus and the spear wound in His side.” Forever He will bear in His body the wounds He received as He became man for us.

“And one shall say unto him,
What are these wounds in thine hands?
Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded
in the house of my friends.”
Zechariah 13:6