Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Twenty Years

It was August 31, 1990, the Friday night of Labor Day weekend. My Junior year of high school. The guys on the field were battling one of our rivals, and we were all in good spirits. A quarter or so into the game, I heard sirens on the road that ran behind our school, where the dragway was located. I turned to my friend Sarah and said I heard an ambulance.

"Probably an accident at the race." We could hear engines rev occasionally, but they were usually overpowered by the sounds of the game.

"Gosh, I hope nobody was hurt," I said as the siren wailed down Highway 401 and faded into the distance. I could tell it was moving quickly. I said a quick prayer in my head, then turned my focus back to the game.

I had no way of knowing how completely wrong our assumptions might be. No hint at the precious cargo that ambulance carried past me. No inkling what that siren would come to represent.

A few moments passed, and I spotted my neighbor and her husband at the end of the bleachers, beckoning me. Catherine was a Brit. A petite, sophisticated PhD with a pixie cut, she looked out of place at a late-summer high school football game. She was a great neighbor. I visited her regularly. Granddaddy and I had both shared the love of Jesus Christ with her several times. She was shocked at the concept of intelligent design. She'd never considered anything but evolution.

When my gaze fell on her that night, my heart skipped a beat.

Something was wrong. Badly wrong.

I moved to the end of the bleachers. "Catherine, what are you doing here?"

"Renee, something's happened. You need to come with us."

My heart thudded. Had one of my parents been in an accident? My uncle? Had the house burned down? Granny? My mind raced with possibilities. I asked what was wrong, but they wouldn't tell me. Not there, in a crowd of my peers. I followed them numbly away from the stands and down the hill from the football field to the lower fields that were filled with cars.

My stomach knotted. With the chatter of the crowd and shouts of the game now in the distance, I stopped. "Please tell me what's wrong. I've got to know."

Catherine and her husband glanced at each other. "It's your grandfather. He's had a heart attack."

Oh, God. No. He was my rock. My anchor and foundation. My shelter. The man who made everything okay when it all went wrong. He held the frayed fabric of our family together.

No. She was wrong. She had to be. But the look in her eyes told me the truth.

He was gone.

Just like that. With the siren. My world slid off its axis and into God's hands. My knees buckled with the blow.

I have no idea how they got me to their car and into the back seat. Heartbroken, in a state of shock, I don't remember what I said. It was my youth pastor who told me of my words the next day, and the impact they'd had on Catherine.

"Lord, I know You have a reason. Jesus, You must have a reason."

I do remember thinking it, telling myself more than Him. Trying to assure myself that though every shred of security had just been ripped from me, I would be okay. I had no idea I was saying it out loud.

Somehow, I walked from the driveway to the open front door of my grandparents' home. People were already there. I looked up the steps at our bedrooms. Last time I saw him was when he went to his room that afternoon for a nap. Had I told him I loved him? I couldn't remember. I still can't.

My youth pastor and his mom were there. Other friends showed up too. I was numb, half aware of their presence. Catherine saw me safely to the front door, then stayed outside with her husband.

A few days after the funeral, my pastor told me what I'd said in the car and what Catherine told him: "I don't know what kind of faith this family has, but I want it."

A week or so later, Catherine had to have a pacemaker installed. I went to see her when she got home. She was studying in a Bible in her sunroom when I arrived. She told me she'd accepted Christ a few days before.

And then I knew the reason. If only Granddaddy could have known that his death was part of God's master plan for the neighbor we'd prayed for daily.

Sometimes God lets us glimpse His plan in the midst of our suffering. I think He gives us those moments to strengthen our faith for the times when He knows we can't see it.

It's been twenty years, and I still cry when I remember that night. His death impacted every facet of my life. I know it was God's will for him to go home, but I will never stop missing him.

I love you, Granddaddy. Jesus, thank You for the time I had with him. Thank You for the plan You have for me and the path You have chosen for my life.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kid Quote

Tonight while talking to Doug, our six year old daughter said, "You and Mommy are the best Mommy and Daddy in the world! But don't tell any other adults that, or it will hurt their feelings."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Little Reminders

My favorite devotional book of all time is the Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. My husband reads a chapter each night to our children, and it blows me away every time I hear it. I think we all desperately need to be reminded on a daily basis of His "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbeaking, Always and Forever Love."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Funny for the Day

Saw this one posted on facebook, and I have no idea who originated it, but it's now making its way around. It was so hilarious I had to re-post it here. Enjoy!
Truths For Mature Humans
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11.You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13.I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.
15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? ****it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.
20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.
21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.
22. I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.
24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?
26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!
27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?
29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bicyclists.
31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time,every time !

Kid Quote

While eating a cheeseburger tonight, our little guy pipes up and says, "they use sesame seeds to grow cheeseburgers, right?"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Two Down

I don't remember her getting into bed with us, but I woke early this morning to my daughter's voice, "Mommy, my tooth came out."
She lost her bottom front right tooth first, a few weeks ago, and the permanent tooth below is now poking clearly out of the gum. Now she's lost the bottom left. I believe that's the same order they came in when she was a baby.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Champagne Grapes

Last August I stumbled across a little gem—technically a cluster of little gems—at the grocery store. Organic champagne grapes.
Any mother will tell you that the quest for healthy snacks never ends. So I snatched up a box and took them home. My then-three-year-old son fell in love with them. Big sister, not so much. But she did declare them better than regular grapes.
I had to agree. These tiny grapes are delicious, sweet, and easy to eat. Plus, they’re so small, I don’t have to worry about little throats getting choked on them.
The drawback: they’re only in season August and the first part of September. So you can imagine my elation when I found them in the produce department at Whole Foods this week. I bought the last two boxes.
Children are finicky, and this year my son isn’t enamored with them anymore, although he says they're okay when the skins don't stick to the roof of his mouth.
I say they're delicious, and I don't even like grapes.

Eager to Learn

I'm so proud of my little guy. He turned four last month, and he begged today to homeschool with his sister. I pulled out Get Ready for the Code, a pre-Explode the Code phonics and handwriting book that I bought for him to begin this fall. He completed the first nine pages, begging for more the entire time. He's holding his little pencil and crayons correctly, trying to color in the lines, x-ing and circling, following directions like a little pro. It is such a blessing when they're eager to learn.
Lord give me the wisdom I need to fan those eager little flames.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Keep Talking

My daughter, who is quite the talker, turned to me just now, ice cream cone in hand, and said, "Mommy, sometimes you have to catch your breath to keep talking."
Sometimes I get tired of the chatter. Sometimes I even ask her and her brother to be quiet for a little while.
But keep talking, honey. Don't ever stop. As much as I want quiet, I want communication with you more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Colored Pencils

I pulled out some Crayola erasable colored pencils (yes, these really do erase) for my daughter to do her phonics/handwriting today. She had a blast choosing different colors for each answer. The green one to write "frog," the brown one to write "twig," and so on. Suddenly it wasn't a chore anymore. It was fun.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How Extreme is Your Green?

I'm big on feeding my kids organic food, buying local produce and fair trade products when possible, baking my own bread, etc. I do this for the health benefits to my family, but I do also enjoy the fact that such products are better for the environment.
We also tried using compact fluorescent light bulbs exclusively (in every lamp and fixture that was suitable for them), but as you may recall from one of my previous blog posts, that didn't work out so well for us. Not every green option is a perfect fit for every family. After three years, we removed most of them for a number of reasons, but I will note that since going back to incandescents, my daily migraines have become much less of a problem. We still use some CFLs, but not exclusively.
My husband's office is an hour from our home, so he and 15 other employees who live in our town ride a carpool van every day to work. This saves us more than $300 a month in gas and auto wear and tear (our primary reason). It also reduces pollution. There is a fee for the carpool, but the monetary benefits far outweigh it.
I'm also big on recycling. My city has made it easy for me with weekly curbside pickup of recycled goods, so how can I not take full advantage of that convenience? Yet as I sorted through the mail yesterday and found myself standing over the trash can, ripping the bits of cellophane from windowed envelopes (the city says they can't recycle the cellophane), I had to wonder if I'm being a little bit obsessive with this recycling effort.
Do you obsess over green? If so, in what ways? Share your green extremes with me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


What exactly is faith? Faith is, for the most part, a convoluted idea. I mean, we know from the book of James that faith isn’t just believing there’s a God (James 2:19-20), but what exactly is it? 
Emunah. That’s the Hebrew word for faith, and its literal translation is “trust-grounded obedience.”
James has a lot to say about faith and works, and how the two go hand-in-hand. I wrote a lengthy entry about that, but I decided it would be best if you just go to James 1 and 2 and read it for yourself. Please do. You'll be blessed.
Bottom line, James says that you must be doers of the word, and not just hearers (James 1:22-25), and that faith without works is as dead as a body without a spirit (James 2:14-26). Keep in mind that James isn’t talking about just any works. In the first half of James 2 (verses 1-13), you see that these "works" are acts of obedience to the Lord’s commandments…the “law” as it is translated here.
This word “law” is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The Greeks had an advanced legal system, but they didn’t have anything comparable to the Torah. When translating the Septuagint, they selected the Greek word nomia, meaning “an unalterable law,” to represent this complicated Hebrew concept in a way that the Greeks might better understand.
But herein lies the problem. Torah is not law. The Hebrew word torah literally means “God’s teaching and instruction.” Further, its root word is orah, which means “light.”
The Torah is God’s teaching and instruction, given by Him to illuminate the path man should walk.
Jesus is God’s Word made flesh, the Torah incarnate—sent to dwell among us, to bring spiritual light in the darkness (John 1:1-14).
Trust-grounded obedience. Not obeying out of fear of punishment if we don't. Not even out of the desperation that comes with trying to earn His unmerited favor—those things can never be faith. No, there is no striving here. Only resting. This is obedience motivated by trust—in the One who died for us, redeemed us and restored us to Himself. Trust because of His lovingkindness, which births a desire to obey, not to earn anything, but simply because we love Him and want to please Him.
The hardest part of faith isn't the obedience. It's the trust.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

America, the Good Wannabe

This is a response to Spiritual Tramp's blog post, Are We Good:
I enjoyed that post, Scott. I confess, I did not watch the entire speech. I didn't even make it to the 6-minute point you quoted from.
I agree with your statements, for the most part. But I do take issue with a couple things. First, I wasn't there Sunday, but I disagree with that definition of goodness offered by our associate pastor.
The Bible says that praises to God are “good.” The Lord calls each day of the creation “good.” If you do a simple word search for "good" in scripture, you'll get more than 700 returns, and few of them deal with situations of generosity in particular. If you do a search for "goodness," you'll get 48 returns. All but two are about God's goodness. The other two are about the fruit of the Spirit, which is derived not by any of man's endeavors (generosity included), but by the Spirit alone.
They quoted Micah 6:8 Sunday before last, you'll remember:
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but
to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
According to that passage, justice, kindness and humility are good. Sacrificial generosity is surely a part of that, but it's not the end-all summation of goodness.
Further, there is no such thing as goodness outside of God. Nothing is good apart from Him, and people cannot be good without Him (James 1:17; Psalm 14:1, 53:1). So if you use Scripture as your basis for judging whether or not our nation is good, you'll have to deal with another problem in your post:
You wrote, "God isn’t (and I’d argue shouldn’t be) the center of America’s life."
You are right, God is not the center of America’s life, nor is He at the center of the vast majority of her citizens' lives (whether they claim to be Christ followers or not). And America is not a good nation, accordingly.
Generosity is a beautiful thing. It’s a mitzvah (good deed) commanded by God. His heart is particularly soft toward the orphan, the fatherless, and the widow, and generosity toward them affords us particular blessings, just as exploiting one of them affords us curses. That’s a scriptural fact. But being generous will never make us good. America could feed every starving child, clothe and medicate every destitute and sick individual in our nation and the world. America could spend, spend, spend and give, give, give, and never be good. Goodness belongs to God alone, and it is only manifested through the presence of His Holy Spirit. Everything else is just empty works.
On a related note, that's the problem I have with the liberal or progressive movement in our nation—it's all works with no place for the only One who can make any of our endeavors good or lasting—the very definition of humanism.
My opinion is rooted completely in Scripture. I realize that is seen as a weakness and an offense to many. And I, conversely, see anyone’s efforts at goodness outside of Him as fruitless. C'est la vie.