Thursday, December 30, 2010

Prayer, Over-stirred.

One of my favorite parts of the holiday meal is making the gravy and white sauce. A white sauce is a fantastic combination of butter, flour and heavy cream. What's not to love about that? Simple and yet powerful in it's goodness. Most cooks would agree, however, that many sauces over-stirred become ruined. Somehow I think that's what we have done with prayer. . .we have over-stirred it.


Prayer is the single-most complex and yet simple thing in the Christian life. It is simple on our part. But on the part of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, there is a mystery -- a complexity -- that I doubt we will understand even in Heaven. We seem to make prayer so cumbersome and difficult, we have stirred it until it has clabbered. We have prayer lists and prayer chains, prayer hours and prayer partners, prayer books and prayer conferences. Yet if you would ask Christians what is the one thing most lacking in their walk with the Lord, I would warrant most would say, "Prayer." Perhaps it is precisely because we have made the very simple, very complex.

The Father has set forth a pattern of simple things for us so that the simplest of us could easily accept Christ and follow Him. Prayer is no different. Prayer must be simple as well so that even a child, or one child-like, can pray.

The Lord began our world by simply speaking the whole of creation into being. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Hebrews 11:3) 

Then He made salvation simple for us. The Lord could have made it so that man had to strive and work all his life to obtain salvation. But the Lord did not do so. He made salvation a simple matter of faith in the work accomplished by His Son on the cross of Calvary. No works, no striving, "nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling". The very essence of simplicity.

It is unlikely that a God who would create the universe by a word and would have the matter of salvation be as simple as faith in His Son would also have conversation with Himself be complex and convulted. Prayer is just as simple so that even a child can pray, and is there anything sweeter than hearing a young child pray?


There are those who seem to believe that there is something almost magical about prayer in and of itself. This is not true. Prayer is simply our conversing with the Lord. Anyone can pray at anytime anywhere about anything. When we tend to believe prayer is magical, and we don't see the magic, we become discouraged and stop praying. When we tend to make prayer too complicated, then we get discouraged and we stop praying.


There are many websites and television programs which exist for the purpose of giving people things to pray for and in turn being able to list our needs for prayer as well. Some of these even have the audacity to ask for "donations". Putting a price tag on prayer --even in the disguise of a "donation" should send red flags to any Christian.  

The Lord has placed in our lives those for whom He would have us to pray, we need only open our eyes and look around. As for those to pray for us, we must simply trust Him to lay us on someone else's heart. Our focus in prayer has to be the one we are praying for, not who will pray for us. We can trust the Lord to take care of us!

The Lord has put us in our sphere of the world exactly where He knows we should be, surrounded by the people He knows we should be surrounded by. He has put those people in our lives for us to pray for. Not only the people we know, but those we do not know. . .maybe the person we pass in traffic, the person standing in line in front of us or someone we see walking down the street. It is no accident they have been placed in our line of vision, God has a purpose for introducing them into our lives.


We may think that we need to have a list of the person's needs to take to the Lord before we can effectively pray for them, but this is not the case. The Lord knows that person infinitely and intimately. He knows their needs. We only need to bring that person up to the Lord and ask that He work in their lives where He sees need, we do not have to know the needs ourselves. 

There are three great needs of all people: that the Lord Jesus be glorified in them; that the God's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus be fulfilled in them and that will of God be accomplished in them. These three things can be prayed for all people.How easy it is to simply lift a person's name up to the Lord and rest in the fact that He is willing and able to do the rest.


  ". . .but the prayer of the upright is His delight." (Proverbs 15:8)

 Our prayers are a delight to the Lord. He loves to hear our voices lifted up to Him. It gives Him joy and it creates joy in our hearts as well. Not only that, but it creates a bond of community toward the persons for whom we are praying. It is difficult to have a hardness of heart against a person if you are truly praying for them.

Prayer is as simple as seeing, as simple as remembering. When we see someone, we pray for them. When we remember someone, we pray for them, as Paul did.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." (Philippians 1:3)

We can depend upon our Lord to put those people in our path and in our memory whom He would like us to lift up in prayer. So it's up to us to stop stirring and start serving.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Language of Love -- December 10, 2010

The Friday entries of The Powder Room, called  

The Language of Love
will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives.  Our marriages, viewed through the context of the Scriptures, primarily exist to express the heavenly marriage of Christ and His church.

Friday, December 10, 2010

We my husband and I were dating, every Friday he would bring me a single rose.  My favorite were the deep orange Tropicana ones.  I loved this simple, but romantic, expression of his love.  When we became engaged, however, I noticed that the roses didn't appear anymore.  After several weeks, I asked Glen where my roses were.

He replied, "Your roses are on your finger now."  The smaller expressions of love had been replaced with a bigger, and more expensive one.

Tropicana RoseImage by jessica.diamond via FlickrExpressions of love are an important part of the communication of marriage, but it is important that we make sure what we think communicates love, actually does so.

I have taught my children for years that the greatest way to say "I love you"  is not by those three little words, but instead by asking, "How can I help?"

I had heard story after story from wives or husbands who would be busy working in the house or the yard, and the spouse would be watching television or talking on the phone.  Then as the busy one passed by the other would throw out the obligatory "I love you!"

I doubt the person doing all the work felt very loved at that moment.  How much better it would be if instead they had offered to help and shared a heavy load.  That would have been a much greater expression of love.

Sometimes love can be expressed in small matters of thoughtfulness.  I am not a morning person but my job requires that I get up at 4:30 in the morning.  My husband shows his love for me each morning when he brings me a cup of coffee as I am getting dressed.  While he is very good at telling me often how much he loves me, the cup of coffee is a tangible expression of that love.  It shows he was thinking about me enough to do something, to go out of his way to care for me.  I heard of one spouse who, while his wife was in the shower, put her towels in the dryer so they would be warm for her when she stepped out. 

Finding thoughtful expressions of love is an individual matter. The important thing is to find out what is an expression of love to your spouse.  It may be changing a dirty diaper, or keeping up with an item they have trouble locating. We should each ask the Lord to reveal to us those things which would be an expression of love and thoughtfulness to our spouse. Finding these things and fulfilling them can be great acts of joy not only to our spouse, but to ourselves as well.  In loving our spouses in this way, we are honoring, loving and worshiping our Lord, bringing joy to His heart and to our own.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Shooting Star . . .

This week, in the last two days in fact, we traveled to Arkansas and back. 
Reflected Christmas TreeImage by tworm via Flickr
Both trips were during the dark of night.  The first was uneventful except for seeing decorated Christmas Trees out on the lakes along the way.  This beautiful spectacle was not a surprise as a friend of mine at work who comes from Little Rock had told me to be expecting them and they far exceeded my expectations.  Impressed by the colorful lights of the human-made trees, little was I to know the God-made light show that was to be provided for us the next night.  But the admission ticket was high.

In Maumelle, we had a delightful visit with our friend and said our tearful and regretful good-byes a little before midnight.  We started out on our journey much as we had begun the night before, expecting an uneventful ride.

Early into our travel we encountered the fog.  There really needs to be another word for this because it wasn't any ordinary fog, it was thick, swirling and frozen.  Most of the time we could not see more than ten feet -- if that much-- in front of our car.  Our pace slowed to a crawl and we both sat perched on the edge of our seat as if our position could somehow enhance the visibility.  The strangest part of it though, was the sound.  I kept hearing a soft, crunching sound. I didn't realize what it was until we stopped at one point for gas.  The car grill and both outside mirrors were caked in hunks of ice. 

The road was virtually empty, as Glen said, "Everyone got the bad fog memo except us."  I am quite sure, however, that the Lord sent us some angels in what a friend describes as "bubbles of warmth we call automobiles" to help us along our way. 

At one point when the visibility was particularly nonexistent, a small car pulled out from an intersection in front of us.  We were to make a left turn in 500 yards (God bless our GPS we have named "Daphne" because without her we would still be driving blindly through the streets of Arkansas) but there was no way we would be able to see where to actually turn.  Then we saw the blink of the car's turn signal, the car ahead was going exactly where we needed to go.  Watching their path --and they overshot the turn by a little--we were able to see our turn clearly and avoid the ditch on either side.  I am convinced the Lord sent that car precisely at that moment to guide us on our way.

Had we  been on any other stretch of road, we would have pulled over to stop, or even rented a hotel room.  The shoulders of the road at this point, however, were incredibly narrow and there was not a hotel to be found for miles and miles.  To be honest, there could have been a Ritz Carlton right there on the side of the road, and we would not have been able to see it, the visibility was that bad.  We needed Rudolph!

Then, almost miraculously, the fog disappeared.  We drove out of it into a very cold, crisp, exceptionally clear night.  The contrast was incredible.  Our journey turned us down a road with wide, flat shoulders.  I looked out the window to enjoy the clearness of the sky and was amazed at the sight which greeted me.  The sky was literally over-populated with stars.  I mentioned it to Glen and he tried to see it while driving, almost as dangerous as driving in the fog, but couldn't he get a clear view.

Finally we decided to take advantage of the wide shoulder.  We pulled over and got out of the car.  Never in my life have I seen a sight like this.  Usually when we view a sky full of stars the sky still looks smooth with the points of light punctuating the dark.  This sky was so full of stars of differing brightness, the sky had a textural appearance.  It reminded me of a woolen cap knitted with that knobby yarn I've seen in craft stores.  It was as if you could not find a single spot of completely black sky. 

We stood in wonder and amazement.  Awe is the only word to use.  How much sweeter too, that we shared the moment together and we shared this absolutely incredible view after sharing that absolutely. . .(I need a word. . .I think the British have a perfect adjective for this. . .) after sharing that absolutely bloody drive through the fog.  As tense and nerve racking as the fog had been for me (Glen maintains he was never tense), the stars were just as awe-filled and praise-inspiring.

As we stood there craning our necks upward, I didn't ask the Lord for it, I just told Him rather, that I had never in my life seen a shooting star.  Why was I even surprised that in less than a minute, I saw a star with it's shiny trail make a trek across the sky?  It was the perfect top on the perfect cake.

We had just experienced the most wonderful visit with one of our dearest friends and met some of his friends who quickly became our friends as well.  We shared the moments of difficulty in the fog followed by the moments of untold joy looking at the sky. 

Those few moments standing under an unbelievable canopy of God's grace made every difficulty, every missed hour of sleep and rest, every trace of tiredness and discomfort absolutely and completely worth it.

"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ;
if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." 
(Romans 8:16-18)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Soapy Snow

I love winter, or what we have for winter this deep in the South.

I love the cold air.  I love the blankets and quilts on the bed and feeling them wrapped around me.  I love jackets and scarves and gloves.  I love the few trees with bare binestems we have in this land of evergreens.

I love winter.  But for us, there is one thing missing.


It rarely snows here and if it does it doesn't usually accumulate.

Last night our city had a Christmas festival downtown.  Glen, our daughter, her boyfriend and I went.  It was very festive and two businesses had snow machines on their balconies.  I use the word snow here in the loosest sense.

When you looked up at the sky, it looked pretty good.  Even some fluttering around your face seemed real enough.  But when it landed on your jacket or hair, you could tell it wasn't really snow.  It was foam.  Not cold, but soap.

It was a disappointment to expect a snowflake and see a blob of soap.  It started out looking like the real thing, but upon close examination, it just wasn't.  It didn't live up to the test and in the end it was more of a disappointment than a satisfaction.

Unfortunately, there are people like that.  They claim the title "Christian" and they may even do some good things, but upon closer examination it is obvious they really don't know the Lord and care to follow Him.  A relationship with them brings disappointment instead of satisfaction.  Let us seek to bind ourselves to those true believers who will daily exhort, encourage, comfort and uplift us in our walk with the Lord.  Let us also walk as bright example to others "abounding in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit".

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. "  Matthew 7:20,21

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Place Set For You

Holiday Table SettingImage by kpishdadi via FlickrAs I set the table for Thanksgiving this year, I set a place that I knew might go empty.  Our son Noah, a police officer, was working but hoped to be able to drop by for dinner.  It would not be the first time we have had an empty place setting at a holiday table.

When our oldest daughter was in out of town at law school, her exam schedule did not afford her the luxury of a trip home for Thanksgiving.  When our son was deployed to Iraq, his setting sat unused.

There is something important to me to put those dishes on the table, even though I know they will not be used.  They are the promise of another holiday to come when that person will rest their feet under my table and share the special day with us.

There is someone else preparing a place that has yet to be used.  The Lord Jesus told us, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," (John 14:1-3).

He is waiting for us to take our seat at His table and eat bread at the table of the king forever. What a glorious thought that we are on His mind and He is preparing a place for us in this very moment.

 "Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually." (2 Samuel 9:6,7)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Language of Love -- November 26, 2010

 The Friday entries of The Powder Room, called  

The Language of Love, will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives, viewed through the context of the Scriptures.

Friday, November 26, 2010

While communication may be the hallmark of any marriage, communication --or lack thereof-- is evidence of the attitudes held by the participants.  The Scriptures tell us this is true, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart" (Matthew 15:18). Attitudes are one of the most susceptible areas where our enemy can sneak in and plant thoughts and suggestions which, if allowed to take root, will grow huge trees of bitterness, apathy and discord.

For the husband, he can be tempted to have an attitude of apathy -- of not caring about the particulars of what interests his wife, or even sometimes the home.  Perhaps other interests, hobbies or friends are tempting him away from the time and consideration involved in caring for, leading and guiding his family. 

One of the greatest temptations for the husband is to not lead.  And if the husband won't lead, the wife usually will.  Using the excuse that "she's so much better at that", he will often let her make all the decisions.  Or perhaps he gives in to the wife because he doesn't want to encounter disappointment and coldness which may greet him if he does exercise his God-given authority.  A weak husband, one who lets his wife and his children do what they want regardless of his misgivings, almost always spells trouble for the family and the marriage.  The husband speaks to the world of Christ's relationship to the church, and by being detached or apathetic, he portrays a false picture of the loving, gentle Servant-Leader our Lord was and is to His church.

One of the greatest moments in our marriage was when I realized I had been usurping my husband's authority in our home.  I had been quick to make decisions even without consulting him for his opinion, but I felt the conviction of the Lord that I was wrong in doing so.  Immediately I began to let my husband make the decisions and it was if a huge weight rolled off my shoulders.  I have joked to others that I let him make the decisions and that way if they are wrong, I don't have any of the responsibility for them!

Letting my husband be the true authority in our home doesn't mean that I don't have a voice in the decisions that are made.  My husband often asks my opinion or seeks my advice in matters.  But the final decision is up to him, not me.  He knows he can't say, "Well, you just decide what you want," because I'm not going to do that.  I'm going to leave the decision to him.  I believe the Lord has blessed us for following this path and I know it has been a great blessing to me personally.

Wives have their own temptations as well.  Not only can wives be tempted to pick up the reins of authority if their husbands lay them down, wives can often be tempted to the root of bitterness growing in their hearts.  Once allowed to start, this evil root is hard to pull out.

We have a small growing vine on the side of our house.  It grows up the bricks and across the front of our house.  The little vines cling and stick to the bricks tenaciously.  Once we have managed to pull them off, we think the job is done, not realizing that there is a huge root underground ready to sprout out more vines at anytime.  Keeping the vines pulled down is almost impossible unless the root is completely destroyed.

As wives, we must watch very carefully lest that root of bitterness begin in our own heart.  We may find ourselves talking under our breath about a certain fault of our husband's -- something that tempts us to irritation.  Or worse yet, we decide to tell it to another person,   usually a woman.  If this describes you, or you think it might describe you, you need to ask the Lord to remove the root of bitterness in your heart and replace it with thanksgiving and reverence. 

Since the wife is a picture to the world of the relationship of the Church to the Lord Jesus, one would never expect the Church to be complaining or gossiping to others about "faults" she has found.  It is no less true that we should not be doing so about our husbands.  If we have issues with our husbands, they should first be taken to the Lord in meekness and humility, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted"(Galatians 6:1).  If after that, we still feel we have an issue, we can bring it very respectfully to our husband.  If the issue still remains after that, we can go to our Pastor.  Those are the authorities outlined for us in the Scriptures.  It does no good for us to share issues with other women, but stands as an example of bitterness and gossiping to sisters who may be weaker than we are spiritually.  Others may be guided by our words and actions and we must make sure that we guide them in the path of the Spirit.

Bitterness, allowed to foment and grow, will eventually poison every aspect of our lives.  There was a time in my life I had allowed that root to grow in my heart.  I had become bitter at work, bitter at home and bitter with my friends.  I couldn't be happy about much of anything.  Then the Lord allowed the words of the Apostle Paul to sink deep into my heart:

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Eph 4:31,32 

I came to see my bitterness as a great sin against the Lord and against His children.  Thankfully, the Lord was gracious to restore to me a heart of joyfulness and gratitude.  My relationship with both my husband and my friends improved and the Lord even provided a wonderful working environment for me.

I know a woman who is the perfect example of a joyful wife who is always reverencing her husband.  Her husband is very particular and exacting, and I know it cannot always be easy to fight the temptation to bitterness and disrespect.  However, she does so and is such a blessing to everyone who comes in contact with her.  Her actions and words speak so highly of the love of the church to the Lord Jesus and she is a wonderful example to every Christian wife who meets her.

While we may not always be completely happy with our relationship, if we will make the choice to honor the Lord by reverencing our husband, by voicing our issues to the Lord's ears and by choosing to respond to our husband as the church responds to the Lord Jesus, the Lord will keep our heart.  He will cause us to know His peace and His joy and His love in ways we could have never imagined.  Our attitudes and actions to our husbands are simply an act of worship and obedience to our Lord.

 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
neither have entered into the heart of man, 
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." 
(1 Corinthians 2:9)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Tiny Refrigerator

Every Thanksgiving, we brine our turkey before cooking it. Soaking the bird for hours in a bath of salt water, brown sugar and spices not only infuses flavor to the turkey, it tenderizes the meat. Last night I had prepared the brine and was ready to put the large pot containing the bird and brine into the refrigerator. My youngest daughter, who loves cooking for Thanksgiving, and her British boyfriend were both helping.
Brining potImage by John Ong via Flickr

This year we purchased a new refrigerator, a slightly smaller one. As I stood with the door open contemplating where this large stewpot was going to fit, my daughter's boyfriend  (and our friend, too) commented on how big the refrigerators in America are compared to those in England. When I asked him what they did with all "their stuff", he replied succinctly, "We eat less."

I immediately thought of all the things that Americans --and people of all nations, actually-- take for granted. We have been blessed with so much and we are thankful for so very little.

Today as we are surrounded by those we love and the bounty of our tables, let us take a few minutes to think on all the "good and perfect gifts" that we have received, beginning with our very breath. Then let us thank the "Father of lights" from which all things come.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It Happens Every Year. . .

It happens every year, usually at Thanksgiving.  By the time Christmas rolls around, I have prepared myself and it doesn't slip up on me.

2009_0628CheetosAndChxEnchila0057Image by suzukiQ via FlickrToday I was in the kitchen with my youngest daughter,  preparing dishes for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.  The olive oil in the cast iron skillet was just the right temperature and over it I held a large bowl full of chopped bell peppers, onion and celery.  As the first vegetables hit the hot oil, the fragrance wafted up to me and unexpectedly, it hit me.  This smell is the quintessential smell of my childhood, of my parents.

Gone thirteen years now, I can never cook a dish beginning with these ingredients without missing them deeply.  It seemed that smell was the start of every  special dish in our house and it was the smell of our holidays, as it is now the smell of the holidays for my own children.  I was glad I had tucked a handkerchief in my apron, something my  grandmother would have done, because I needed it to wipe my tears and blow my nose.

The memories of our holidays past shape our present and future ones.  We treasure holidays because we treasure the memories of those who are no longer with us and we treasure the times in our lives which seemed so much simpler.  We treasure the rituals we have built around our holidays.  These rituals are part of our past, part of our spouses' past and even a blend of new rituals we have developed with our own families.  We cannot forsake the celebrating the holidays because they exist as an honoring of what has gone before and the hope of what will yet come.

For me, the knowledge that my parents will never be forgotten in my holidays, especially as long as celery, onions and bell peppers are thrown into a hot pan of olive oil, is comforting.  Even once I am no longer able to cook those things which produce the heart-rending smells, I have confidence my children will, and they will remember me as I remember my parents.

I wish you each a very Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas season.

Monday, November 22, 2010

This is the Day. . .

 "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24) 
It is so tempting to think of tomorrow, or the next day, or any day in the future as when we will know peace, contentment, joy or happiness.  The truth of the matter is that we have only this day to know the "life more abundantly" the Lord has promised us.
None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, next week, next year, or even our next breath.  Even if we were, what makes us imagine that if we can't experience the peace of the Lord in this moment, we will know it any more clearly in the future?  We imagine that we will be absent of this worry, or this difficulty, and then we will know peace.
Our problem is not time, the future will bring it's own worries and difficulties.  Our problem is perspective.  We fall into falsely believing that circumstances can make us joyful and at peace.  In fact, only a Person -- only THE Person -- can cause us to know "joy unspeakable" and if we have trusted in Him as Lord and Savior, He is ours in this and every minute.  We have no need to wait for tomorrow.
happy girl!Image by Marcos Vasconcelos Photography via FlickrIt is our choice to thank the Lord for this day, this very moment -- troubles included, knowing that He can and will be all our trusting hearts need, even in the very troubles we seek to avoid.  Often He desires to meet our need not by taking us out of the trouble but by meeting us in the trouble.
So let us choose to "rejoice and be glad" in this day.  Let us choose to worship Him with our sacrifice of praise and obedience to walk in the Spirit the path He has placed before us, storms, troubles and all.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

He Shall Hear My Voice

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: 
and He shall hear my voice." Psalms 55:17  

When we first read this beautiful declaration from David we think of prayer and of David's determination that he would pray "evening, and morning, and at noon", and this is a wonderful inspiration to receive from this verse.  There is also something else wonderful in this passage, the truth that the we have immediate access to the Divine Ear.
I work at a very unusual hospital.  It was founded by a husband and wife who wanted to establish a hospital that was very family-oriented, not just from the viewpoint of the patient, but from the staff as well.  They wanted the staff to feel like one big family.

I was amazed as a new employee to hear others call the Director of Nursing (as they were called back then) and even the Vice President of the hospital by their first names.  Never had I been employed by a hospital like that before!  I came to find out over the years, that every employee had access to the offices of the Chief Nursing Officer (as they are now called), the Vice Presidents and even the President of the hospital. 
There have been times I have walked down to Administration, stopped at the secretary's desk to see if the President was in and then immediately walked into his office to talk with him about one issue or another.  He would not be surprised for me to call him by his first name -- in fact I think he might be put off to be called "Mr." after all these years.  

This open door policy has been quite surprising to most new employees and also gives a feeling that those in Administration really care about the staff, and I know they do.  The want to "hear our voice" as it were.

Greater than that, as Christians, we have immediate access to the throne of the Living God.  At any moment, without announcement, preparation or ritualistic performance, we can "come boldly unto the throne of grace" and present our prayers of supplication, thanksgiving and praise.   What a comfort, what a peace to know that our God hears our voice.  Not only does He hear our voice, however, He delights in our prayers:

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: 
but the prayer of the upright is His delight. "Pro 15:8  

Let us keep these thoughts foremost on our minds.  Our Lord, the very God of the universe, delights in our prayers.  He gave His most beloved Son that we could have immediate access to His throne anytime, anywhere for anything.  
"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, 
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb 4:16 

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Language of Love -- November 19, 2010

 The Friday entries of The Powder Room, called  The Language of Love, will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives, viewed through the context of the Scriptures. 

Friday, November 19, 2010
Communication is perhaps hallmark of any relationship, and in marriage it is essential.  Not only is communication with our spouses important, communication about our spouses is vitally important as well.

I have a friend who insists on telling me something negative about her husband every time I am around her.  Now, I know her husband and he is a wonderful person.  Her telling me negative things about her husband does not make me think badly of her husband, in fact, it reflects negatively on her.

Conversely, I know a few gentlemen whom I have never heard utter one negative comment about their wives.  I find it a great picture of Christ and the church whenever a Christian couple make the choice to publicly speak well of their spouse.  The Apostle Paul tells us that the true purpose of marriage is to reflect to the world the relationship between Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31,32)

We would never find the Lord Jesus criticizing the church to anyone, nor would we find the true church finding fault with the Lord Jesus.  However, we have enemies who greatly tempt us to do so with our spouses.  How easy it is to make a negative comment, to slip a "witty" jab in conversation, or to throw out a barbed "joke"!  But these things not only reflect negatively upon the person speaking, they reflect negatively upon Christ and the church.

In a Christian marriage, men have a great need for affirmation.  They need to believe and hear that their wives are on their side, believe in them and support them.  Isn't that the role of the wife?  To be the help-meet for their needs? (Genesis 2:18)

The Christian wife who truly wants to honor the Lord, must first choose to honor and reverence her husband.  (Ephesians 5:33) One of the first ways to do this is to find ways to affirm him.  Now, believe me, as soon as we decided to do this, our enemy will begin to point out every flaw and dent in our husbands' armor.  But we must make the choice not to fixate on those things, as Paul said, to know no man "after the flesh" (2 Corinthians 5:16).  We must choose to believe what the Lord has said is true about our husbands in the spirit and affirm those things.

Let's look at that idea more closely.  Perhaps he leaves his dirty socks in the middle of the floor.  But did he work today to help pay the bills for the household?  That is something that surely can be affirmed.  "Thank you honey for working so hard for us."  These affirmations need not only be in private.  Just as women tend to want the fictional "romantic hero" to sweep us off our feet, men want the fictional "adoring woman" to stand up for him and support and affirm him in public.  They want to feel certain that we are the biggest cheerleader on his team.  And we should be.  Tearing our husbands down -- to him or to others -- is never pleasing to the Lord, but is clearly something influenced by our enemies.

As Christian women, let's ask the Lord to show us places where we have failed to reverence and affirm our husbands.  Let's ask first the Lord's forgiveness.  Perhaps the Lord will lead us to ask our husband's forgiveness, too.  Then let us ask the Lord to open our eyes to all the ways we can affirm and support our husbands.  One way this happens in our house is we have a rule, "No Men Bashing Allowed."  Women who enter our home and start to bash on men are usually told by me, "My husband, my son, my father and my Lord are all men.  I don't allow men bashing here." If we make our homes a safe haven for our husbands, we will be the one to benefit the most and we will glorify the Lord in doing so.

So what is it that women need in a Christian marriage?  Women need to know they are truly loved.  Not just a quick, "I love you", but a true sacrificial love.  This means that the Christian husband who wants to honor the Lord in his marriage must first choose to love his wife as himself. (Ephesians 5:33) He must decide to give the time and attention and caring to those things his wife cares about, whether he personally is interested in the thing or not.  The Lord Jesus intimately cares about every detail of the church's life to the point He has numbered every hair on every head.  The husband must have the willingness to be intimately involved in the cares of his wife.

Let's look at that thought a little closer.  Perhaps a husband comes home and the wife has completed a bothersome project that day.  She proudly wants to show it to her husband.  He may be tempted to briefly look and turn his attention elsewhere.  The heart of sacrificial love though, will stop to look at the details and listen --truly hear -- the things the wife has to say about the project.  In doing so, he will say "I love you" in a greater way than any Hallmark card can ever express. 

Men are often good at this during courtship, but after the wedding ceremony sometimes lose the incentive to be as interested in the things in which their wives are interested.  I remember a Christian wife one time telling me her husband would never notice anything she had worn, that he had no comment or even apparent recognition of her apparel.  How sad this is, considering the evident care she had taken in getting dressed.

Love and reverence. . .two of the things the Christian couple is called to fulfill in marriage, can be such a pleasure to each other, and surely a pleasure to the Lord.  When we obey the Lord in that which He has called us to do, we worship Him in the greatest way possible.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

In the beginning God created . . .

The very fact that of our existence is not a chance, not a random occurrence by the blending of gases and molecules, but a choice. . .a choice by God.  The Lord God made a choice to create each of us.

"Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee..." (Isaiah 44:2)

All of us at some time are tempted to believe we have no worth or value, that our life may pass without any significnce to the world whatsoever.  In those moments, we must remember that before we were even born, our name was on the mind of God:

"The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath He made mention of my name."  (Isaiah 49:1)

He has not made us in vain.  He continues to work in each of our lives that which is "well pleasing in His sight" and to do and to will of "His good pleasure."  Although created "a little lower than the angels", He has crowned us with "glory and honor" and given His most beloved Son that we might dwell with Him in glory eternally.

"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour."  (Psalms 8:4,5)

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Fragrance of Life. . .

Every morning when I get ready for the day I take a second to spray on my favorite perfume.  It took me a long time to pick this perfume, for several reasons.  First, it had to be one that didn't give me a headache, which ruled out the majority of perfumes.

After that, I wanted something that smelled fresh. . .like oranges and flowers.  I sampled several fragrances before narrowing down to this one perfume.  The final test was if my husband like it.  He didn't, he loved it! When I walk past him in the morning, he will inevitably comment on my fragrance.  It is a smell he now indelibly associates with me.

The temptation with perfume, especially one you love, is to wear much more of it than necessary.  I read once that you should wear just enough to let others get "a whiff" of it and desire to come closer to smell more.

Once we come to know the Lord, and His Spirit lives in us, we each carry His "fragrance" about us. As one preacher described it, we have "the fragrance of life."  Each person we meet will somehow, deep in their spirit, be touched by this fragrance.  Whether we speak openly of our faith or not, the fragrances of the life of Christ within us will waft out to others.  How we live will then either confirm or contradict this fragrance.   Like the sweet smell of "baby" on a newborn, it is inescapable.

May the way we live always confirm to others the fragrance of Christ living in us and leave them with the desire to draw closer to the Lord for more.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Language of Love -- November 12, 2010

 The Friday entries of The Powder Room, called  The Language of Love, will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives, viewed through the context of the Scriptures. 
Friday, November 12, 2010
Have you ever wondered why Satan sought out Eve to tempt rather than Adam?  Or why the Lord made a point of telling us "the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field. "

 Satan is a creature of nuances and subtleties.  He tempts best by using an indirect method, dancing around the truth, distorting it, discoloring it.  Or as one very wise young man once told us, "Satan makes wrong things seem right and right things seem wrong."
This is an important concept to understand because women are also creatures of nuances and subtleties.  Women can tell more from a conversation by what is not said than by what is.  We can judge body language and the nuances of inflection, the tilt of a head, the slight pause before a phrase.  Especially when communicating with other women, we can almost seem to read each others minds.   It is no wonder Satan sought out the woman, whom he could read "like a book" and play like a hand of cards.
Satan is no less at work in our marriages today than he was in Adam and Eve's.  He uses the same subtle tactics, and like it or not, he still tends to favor tempting the woman first.  If he can put the root of bitterness and dissatisfaction in the woman, he has just about won the battle, not just for the woman, but for the whole family.
By destroying the woman's ability to or desire to communicate with her husband, he has crippled that Christian marriage.  You see, men are do not speak the language of nuance.  They are direct. They tend to speak what they think and think what they speak.  This is men-speak.
As wives, we don't know how to speak "direct", so we give our husbands hints, sure that they will see the trail of hints and be led to figure out what is really upsetting us.  We skirt around issues and send out subtle signals.  This is women-speak. We think the signals are as clear as emergency flares, but our husbands don't understand vague hints and signals.  In fact, they often don't even realize we have given any signals or hints at all.  As our frustration grows, and our anger mounts, finally we decide there is no other option but to just tell our husband what is wrong.  Only now we are mad, and we communicate that very clearly.  Our husband, blind to all the hints that went before, is wondering just what it is that has "suddenly" made us so mad.  Why are we "so sensitive" all the time? (And we all know how well we take that particular question, don't we?)
If our husband was French, and barely spoke English, we would be sure to explain things very clearly and directly to him in a way he would understand.  Yet, how often do we avoid speaking clearly and directly to our husband about the things that bother and upset us the most?
For years, it has bothered me immensely when my husband would leave the windshield wipers on after the rain had stopped.  I hated the sound the wipers made scraping across the windshield.  I might say something like, "The rain has stopped."
He would probably answer in the affirmative, but not touch the wipers.  Eventually, I got to the point I would reach over and turn the wipers off myself.  I thought that would surely that would show him how I felt about the wipers staying on.  No, it just meant that every time I had to turn the wipers off myself.  When I finally told him that the sound bothered my ears and I hated to hear the wipers on when there was no rain, he began to make a point to turn the wipers off.  He never had a clue before that (even though I had given him plenty!) that it was an issue with me.
Just as women don't speak "direct", men don't speak "subtlety".  This means that when they have something to tell us, they just tell us.  Often our sensibilities, used to the nuances of feminine conversation, are offended by the directness of man-speak.  We think they are being rude, or brusque, we can even get our feelings hurt.  This is one reason why some women would rather spend time with their girlfriends than their husbands.  If this is you, or you think this may be you, I can assure you that the Lord intended your husband to be your greatest friend and companion.  Our relationship to our husbands is a portrait to the world of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  If you find you would rather be with your girlfriends than your husband, first confess that to the Lord and ask His forgiveness.  Then, ask the forgiveness of your husband as well.  Ask the Lord to redeem and repair the relationship with your husband and give you back the friendship and closeness you once shared.
Men are not only direct, they have a habit of teasing each other as well.  It is one of the greatest compliments they pay to their man-friends.  But it doesn't work with women. . .we get our feelings hurt too easily.Even if we appear to join in the teasing, we tend to take the teasing seriously (remember, we tend to think there is more to what is said that the obvious.)
Because we are not fluent in men-speak, and because we are so used to reading more into a conversation, we automatically think there is more to what our husbands are saying than there actually is.  If he tells me he doesn't like my blouse, I assume he doesn't find me attractive anymore.  When in reality he was just saying he didn't like my blouse.  But remember we have that enemy who wants to convince us that our husband feels and thinks things which are not true.  I can almost hear his temptation now, "Hath your husband said he finds you attractive?  But he did say he didn't like that blouse!  You see, he doesn't like the way you look anymore."
The Apostle Paul warned us, "(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" (2 Corinthians 10: 4,5).  We must actively seek to bring all our thoughts and imaginations into captivity -- not let them roam around, but bring them under obedience to Christ.  The battlefield for our marriage and our family begins in our own minds.  Our very thoughts about ourselves, our marriage and our spouse must be thoughts that agree with what the Scriptures say and the will of the Lord Jesus.
Next week we will look at two important things we should be saying in our marriages.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Language of Love -- November 5, 2010

The Friday entries of The Powder Room will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives, viewed through the context of the Scriptures.  Called The Language of Love, we will discuss the Biblical description of marriage and why so many loving Christians find trouble in marriage.

Friday, November 5, 2010
It is a very painful thing for many Christian couples.  They truly know the Lord and are committed to sharing a life that is pleasing to Him, then shortly after their wedding, the unbelievable happens.

Disagreement and difficulty crop up with the very person to whom they have just vowed to "love, honor and cherish" for the rest of their lives.  Suddenly, "the rest of your life" begins to look very long indeed. Perhaps it is just the top of the tube of toothpaste, or where to put the frying pan in the kitchen, but little annoyances and irritations seem to occur almost daily. Left to ferment and grow, these little annoyances will soon become big issues. The problem, however, is not in the little issues, it is with the process of dealing with the issues.

Today we will look at the first reason why we as women have difficulties in our relationships with our husbands.  The Scriptures give us several clues, and we will turn often to the first few chapters of Genesis as we explore the relationship between husbands and wives.

In Genesis, we see Adam was created by God and placed in the garden of Eden, where the Lord gave him a decree he should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Then the Lord caused a great sleep to fall upon Adam and He created Eve from the rib out of Adam. Eve was created to be a perfect complement for Adam in every way, in fact, Adam said of her, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh," (Genesis 2:23). Down to her very DNA, she was his perfect match with a union so complete that the Scriptures describe them,"Male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created," (Genesis 5:2, emphasis mine).  Apparently, a perfect marriage.

We find in Genesis chapter three, however, that Adam and Eve were not alone in the garden. Satan was there:

"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1)

When Satan said to Eve, "Hath God said. . .", who was he really maligning?  We have no reference that Eve ever heard God give a decree about the tree in the garden.  Adam surely told Eve of the decree and in asking the question "Hath God said. . .", Satan was attacking God and attacking Eve's marriage, perhaps by maligning her husband.  The seeds of doubt, distrust and dissatisfaction are tiny, but grow a great and mighty tree in a marriage if allowed to continue.

Satan was waiting for Eve at the tree of temptation and dear sister, he is waiting for us, too. Satan is at work in our marriages today just as he was in Adam and Eve's.  He uses the same subtle tactics, and whether we like it or not, he still tends to favor tempting the woman first.  If he can put the root of bitterness and dissatisfaction in us, he has just about won the battle, not just for the woman, but for the whole family.

We must remember, that we live in a world where we battle, not against flesh and blood . . .not against our flesh and blood, "but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places," (Ephesians 6:12).

There is one who hates our families, hates our marriages and hates our God.  His every move is to destroy all three and he will lie and cheat to do so.  He will tempt us to believe the battle is against our very husbands, but the Scriptures clearly tell us this is not so.  We must first of all "speak the truth in love."  We must hide the truth of God's Word regarding our marriages in our hearts, so that when the enemy comes to tempt us, we can counter his lies with God's Truth.  "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)

Knowing that many of the difficulties and disagreements in marriage arise, not from our spouse, or even from ourselves, but from a deceitful enemy who desires to devour us, is the first step in rightly seeing our spouse as the Lord calls us to and then taking the action He has called us to as godly Christian wives.

Next week we will begin to look into the "language of love" and how men and women communicate differently with each other.

Read more about this topic at The Special of the Day. . .From the Orange Moon Cafe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Love Me More

My Son Works @ StarbucksImage by Randy Son Of Robert via FlickrSitting at a local coffee shop, I overheard one of the girls who worked there say to herself, "Mommy and Daddy are gonna love me even more now."  She had just finished grinding a pound of coffee and was closing up the bag, presumably to give to her parents.

It struck me as she said it, that I can remember thinking the very same thing about my parents at some time.  It seems we all seek for love and approval. . .from a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a boss.  What machinations we will go through to receive that recognition that we "are loved".

There is one thing we can know, however, and that is we don't have to do anything to be loved by God.   In fact,  "We love Him, because He first loved us." (1John 4:19).  He loves us no matter what our state. "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,"(Ephesians 2:4,5).

What a wonder that the God of the Universe would love us, would love me!  What a miracle, what a comfort, what a joy divine!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Language of Love

For many months I have been considering writing about the relationship between husbands
 and wives.  Having written and spoken on this topic in the past, it is something about which I have very strong views.

Through the suggestion of a friend, I recently had the opportunity to read some writings by Sabrina Beasley on the same topic. Her views were so similar to my own, I was inspired to post my thoughts.
Beginning November 5, 2010, the Friday entries of The Powder Room will be dedicated to communication between husbands and wives, viewed through the context of the Scriptures.  Called The Language of Love, we will discuss the Biblical description of marriage and why so many loving Christians find trouble in marriage.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ye Ask Amiss. . .

When I was a teenager, I was the youngest of four children and all of my siblings had flown the nest.  Left alone with my parents, I longed for the company of a younger brother or sister.

Vietnamese childImage by CONFUSER via FlickrI asked, in fact begged, my parents, for a sibling.  At that time, our country had been engaged in the Vietnam War for many years and the television screen was often filled with the images of young Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese children who could be adopted.  I suggested to my parents on more than one occasion that we adopt one of these beautiful children.

My parents were then forty-seven and fifty-four.  With all four children out of "childhood" and with an empty nest clearly in sight, I'm sure adopting a child was the last thing in their minds.  I couldn't understand it then, but now, with my youngest nineteen and myself the age as my parents were then, I certainly do now.

It reminds me of how often we may ask the Lord for things in our lives, thinking we are asking for the right things, perhaps even noble things.  But in His infinite wisdom, He knows it is not the best thing for us.  He doesn't affirm our request, not because we haven't asked with sincerity, or because we were wrong in the asking, but because we asked amiss.

It is important for us to remember there are things working in our lives, and the lives of others, we cannot understand, we cannot know.  Granting every desire, removing every hardship or answering every question, would remove every aspect of faith in our lives. 

The most important purpose of our requests and supplications must be that the Lord's eternal purpose in Christ Jesus be accomplished, that His will be performed and the Lord Jesus be glorified in and through us.  When those things prayers are answered, "all these things will be added".

"But we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 
And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 
And hope maketh not ashamed; 
because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts 
by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." 
Romans 5: 3-5

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trouble Station Ahead!

During our vacation to Boston and New York, one of the interesting, and challenging, aspects was navigating the subway system.  We found the Boston subway system to be very similar to the Washington, DC system we had encountered a few years earlier.  The NY subway, however, was a different cookie altogether.  Or as one of our daughters described it, "The NY subway system is a whole box of crayons!"

Morning commuters in transit at the MTA New Yo...Image via WikipediaWhen one is a tourist in the city and riding on the subway, the great tendency is to be totally focused on the names of the stations ahead.  Some stations are known to be well-lit and well-trafficked.  These even have excellent musicians singing or playing their instruments as you walk along your way.  Others, may not have enough traffic to offer the safety of numbers; these seem to just spell out "trouble".

Twice in New York, we were approached by New Yorkers asking if they could help us find our way somewhere.  One woman was so pleasant and friendly, I wanted her to go with us all day long!  The Lord sent these kind souls to us to help us and encourage us along our trip.

In life, we know there are many stations ahead. Some offer pleasant surprises and joyous moments. Others just spell trouble. There is always trouble ahead somewhere.
But there is something, or rather Someone, out there too.  At Trouble Station, God has been there before the first brick or train rail was lain in place.  He is there in Trouble Station before our train even arrives, waiting to be our Help.  We never have to walk through the subway station alone.

"God is our refuge and strength, 
a very present help in trouble." 
Psalms 46:1

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How Much Greater. . .

Last night we attended the performance of the Mobile Piano Ensemble.  The stage was set with six grand pianos and at one time twelve pianists played together intricate and complicated pieces of music.

As talented as the pianists were, however, their music was not that upon which I was mainly focusing.  My eyes kept returning to a pianist who sat tall, with a commanding sense of presence.  Although she wore a gold-sequined top, it wasn't her sparkling blouse which grabbed and maintained my attention.  It was her white hair.

The pianist had snow white hair cut in a short style similar to what my mother wore.  Almost involuntarily, my eyes kept returning to that white head.  My mother has been gone for thirteen years now, but the sight of someone who resembled her -- both in coiffure and stature -- captured my thoughts.

At some point in the program, I began to surmise what would be my reaction if I could see my mother again at this very moment.  My heart was immediately squeezed with both the grief and the delight those imaginations should evoke and tears welled up in my eyes.

Then another thought came to me.  If I had such a strong reaction to just imagining seeing my mother again, what will it be like when I see the Lord?  How much greater will be my delight, my joy, my tears?  How much more will my heart swell with the sheer knowledge of complete satisfaction and fulfillment?

"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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Unassuming Envelope. . .

It was such an unassuming envelope, I almost tossed it aside to open it later.  Then remembering I have friends soon to be married, I suspected it to be a shower invitation and opened the envelope.

 President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush w...Image via WikipediaAlthough the name on the top of the card was clearly recognizable, it didn't dawn on me that I held in my hand a card from the former First Lady until I had almost finished reading the card.  I suspected it to be a "form letter" type of card.  Then I read the sentence that said, "Thank Noah for his service to our country."  That could be no form letter.  It was a real letter, written by a real woman, who was married to our 43rd President.

I had written Mrs. Bush after reading her book, "Spoken From the Heart."  It was an incredible book which gave many insights not only into the Bushes themselves, but also into the events which transpired during President Bush's presidency.  In my letter I spoke of our son's deployment with the Marine Corps and how her expression of their feelings during that time and their visitations to wounded and returning troops were a comfort to me.  I never imagined receiving a response of any form, much less a personal letter.

Mrs. Bush is a busy woman.  She works toward promoting the freedom of Afghanistan women; she is active in the Alliance to Reform Education Initiative; she speaks at multiple venues supporting literacy programs and many more things which I couldn't begin to know.  Yet she took the time to pick up a pen and write me.  Me!

Needless to say, the card from Mrs. Bush will go in the same place where all my other treasured items are stored.  But my very thoughts about this situation make me think of another valuable document, written by an even more important dignitary.

I have often heard the phrase, "the Bible is God's love letter to us."  I have a book written to me by Someone who not only cares enough to pick up a pen and write a card, but cares and loves me enough to even number the very hairs of may head. (If you knew the rate at which my hairs fall out and then replace themselves, you would know this is a full-time job in and of itself!)

I have a book written to me (Me!) by the same One who holds our very universe in place by the "power of His Word."  I have a book more precious than all the volumes of all the books ever written throughout all the moments of history, because it was written for whom and by whom history revolves.

It is well and good that we should have those that we admire, especially if they prove themselves to be men and women worthy of our admiration.  Let us not ever forget, however, to look beyond those made of dust as are we, and look to the One True God.  Let us hold most dear the One who. . .

"being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
Philippians 2:6-8

UPDATE:  I have been asked to put a scanned picture of the card on this post, and I am pleased to comply.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Show Thyself Friendly

I was just putting my things into my locker in the gym when a young girl, perhaps eleven or twelve, came running through the door past me to the restroom area.  A few moments later, another girl of the same age came into the locker room crying.  She sat at the end of the first bench and held her ankle.  By that time her friend came around the corner with a folded pad of paper towels which she had soaked with cold water.

I wasn't initially sure what the second girl's injury was, but I watched them closely.  Her friend hovered over her, solicitous of anything she could do to relieve the other one's suffering.   At one point she left the locker room in search of an ice pack.

Still wearing my scrubs, I walked over to the injured girl, Lauren, and sat beside her.  I asked her if she was ok.  She sobbed out the story of her injury.  Apparently the two girls were enrolled in the youth athletic program and the trainer had been playing a game of Dodge ball with them.  The ball came in contact with her ankle, perhaps with a little more force than he had intended, and she fell down.

I looked at her ankle, rotated it to determine if anything was broken, removed her shoe and her sock and decided that it was more her feelings which were wounded than her leg.  A hug and some kind words went a long way to putting her on the road to recovery.

Meanwhile her friend returned.  I reminded Lauren that she had a very good friend to help her so much when she was hurting.  The friend, whose name I never caught, told me, "I was sick a while back and Lauren took good care of me.  My mother calls her 'The Nurse'."  Only now beginning to change from my nursing scrubs to my gym clothes, I assured her there were few things better that she could be called.

I was so impressed with the nameless girl who sought so diligently to be a friend when needed.  More so, I was impressed that when I tried to compliment her on her behavior, she pointed it right back at her friend.  Lauren, too, deserves my respect because it was her display of friendship and caring which had made such an impression upon her friend and even her friend's mother.

I have often said the Lord has lessons for us from anyone, and today proved that to be true.  Two young girls and their friendship and love were great teachers inside a locker room.

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly." 
Proverbs 18:24

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Alone In the Kitchen. . .

Yesterday I told you about Ms. Louise, how she served twenty-five years in her church's Nursery taking care of babies. Today I want to tell you something else about Ms. Louise.

Ms. Louise is the perfect example of a servant heart. We were sitting in the fellowship hall of this church; members were coming and going, greeting each other and fulfilling their duties for the day as Ms. Louise was quietly cleaning up from an earlier breakfast.

She cleared off the tables, she washed dishes, she put away supplies. I watched her, alone in the kitchen, working quietly. She didn't try to draw attention to herself, she didn't look for anyone to notice what she was doing.

In fact, when I tried to thank her for the breakfast, she made a point of telling me that she didn't provide the breakfast, she was merely "cleaning up until it is time to go to the Nursery." She said it as if the cleaning up wasn't really her job or service to do, but something to do until it was time for the real love of her heart--taking care of those little babies.

Ms. Louise could have chosen to sit in a chair, read a book -- read her Bible or chat with other members. Instead, she made the choice to work, to do something others probably wouldn't want to do.

Let's face it, how many of us want to clean up a kitchen when we don't have to? Well, Ms. Louise does. She does it and she does it without needing anyone to ask her to or to thank her for doing it. Because she is doing it unto the Lord.

"Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:24

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Job Well Done. . .

Yesterday my husband was the guest preacher at an area church. Between services, we sat in their beautiful fellowship hall meeting the sweet people of this church. One lady quietly worked in the background, clearing items from an men's breakfast.

I went to thank her for a doughnut I had eaten, and she told me she didn't provide the breakfast, she was just clearing up until it was time to go to the Nursery. Ms. Louise said she had worked in the Nursery for twenty-five years.

"Some of the babies I have taken care of are now bringing in their babies to me", she remarked.

I told her that meant that she had done a good job if her "babies" were still coming to church and bringing their own babies back to her. It was a job well done!

"Train up a child in the way he should go:
and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Somebody to Lean On

Tears and prayers.
Old friends hugImage by bartb_pt via Flickr
That's the text I sent to a dear friend who is currently going through an incredibly painful situation. I received the latest details of his circumstances during some drills for emergencies we were doing with our physicians where I work in Labor & Delivery, so my message needed to be quick and brief.

As Christians we live and move as one glorious body, the Body of Christ. We may often feel alone, we may feel as if we are supporting the whole weight of the world upon our shoulders, we may feel as if there is no one else who has any idea of what we are going through, but that is not the truth. All Christians are connected in the great Body of Christ, and what affects one member, affects all.

"And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it." I Corinthians 12:26

So when my friend, or your friend, goes through difficult painful times, we can be their support, their help, their comfort in a powerful way perhaps we can't even understand. The Scriptures tell us we can "bear ye one another's burdens," and through prayer and supplication we should do so.

Never does our friend have to be alone. He has the Lord living inside him and he is a part of this wondrous and mysterious body with a bond that can never be broken. He always has somebody to lean on.

UPDATE: Little did I know as I was writing this Powder Room, my husband, sitting beside me, was writing a "Special of the Day. . .from the Orange Moon Cafe" on the very same subject. Please read it, you will be blessed!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Light Under the Door

Several years ago we took a wonderful vacation to Washington, D.C. Touring our Jefferson MonumentImage by Al Ebnereza via Flickrnation's capital was a great experience and even though we spent a week looking at monuments, historical documents and beautiful scenery, I wished we could have been there longer.

Once we returned home, for some strange reason, for about two weeks I would awaken in the middle of the night with nightmares. When I would wake up, I would have the sensation that I was somewhere unfamiliar and I needed to find my way out. The only light in the dark bedroom was the sliver of light under the door. This small amount of light was all that was needed. It was enough for me to open the door, to be flooded with illumination from the light in the hall and to easily see the path before me. As my nightmares continued, I learned to find comfort in the small sliver of light.

Often in our lives, we don't want the Lord to provide us with tiny slivers of light. We want the door illuminated with multiple bright floodlights, spotlights and even those tiny, sparkling Christmas lights. Once we reach the brightly lit door, we want the Lord to open it for us and push us through.

But that isn't the way the Lord works. He shows us the small sliver of light under the door, and by faith we grasp the handle, turn the knob and walk through the threshold. The more we practice opening the door in the dark of night, the more comfort we find in the tiny slivers of light.

"But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
Proverbs 4:18