Monday, February 23, 2009

Fish Food

I taught Children’s Church yesterday. I generally don’t like the stress and worry of preparing a lesson, an activity and a snack, but once I am there with the kids, I realize what a sweet blessing it is to share with them. They bless me in a huge way.

So yesterday, we learned about Jonah. I read them the story, and then I asked them what they thought it would be like to be inside the belly of a big fish for THREE WHOLE DAYS and THREE WHOLE NIGHTS!!! As you can imagine, they thought it would be dark and scary, lonely, slimy, stinky, and slobbery, and then they started thinking about things like …what did Jonah eat while he was in there? and …where did he go to the bathroom (eeeewwwww)? and …did he have a blanket and pillow to sleep on? And …did he get seasick? and (my favorite) ….what did he do for fun “because he didn’t have a Wii game in there…!”

So we talked about the fact that while he was in the belly of the fish, Jonah prayed! And he didn’t just pray the obvious, that he would be delivered from his very real predicament as fish food. Instead, Jonah praised God and offered up a song of thanksgiving:

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.” Jonah 2:7-9a

And then as the story continues, after Jonah is “vomited” onto the shore, he decides that well, he will just obey God after all and make that trip to Nineveh, as God had told him to do, and he will preach to the sinful Ninevites. The kids loved the story, and I think they got the message – it’s best to obey God from the get go, rather than to run away from God’s voice.

And while I’ve never taken a trip in the belly of a fish, I too have learned this particular lesson the hard way. I’ve had seasons of running from God, and I learned the same thing that I think Jonah learned:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” Psalm 139:7-8

So when we were wrapping up the lesson, and I asked the kids what they learned, one of the boys said “You gotta obey God, or you’re going to be in stinky, slimy, scary place.” Amen buddy, Amen!



Sunday, February 22, 2009

... well this was strange

Jenni pointed us to a site where you can create a superhero version of yourself.
Well, what do you think???
This is me, as a superhero! Pretty cool, huh? I just love the PINK gun!!!!
You can make your own here.
Trivia fact - I used to compete in Cowboy Action Shooting, which involves shooting metal targets with single action revolvers, a shotgun, and a lever action rifle. That's where I got my nickname "Fuzzytop" as you had to have an alias name to compete. It was tons of fun, and I even won on occasion. I never had a pink gun though.....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Metaphor Monday

The River

My son, James, is on the cusp of big changes. He turned 10 last October, and since then has grown 4 or 5 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier; he’s at that gangly, thin stage – all arms and legs, with disproportionately large knees and elbows. I’m quickly losing my little boy, and it saddens me somewhat. He is increasingly fond of his independence, and where he used to sit with me for hugs and cuddles, nowadays he flits into my presence, gives me a brief hug, and then fueled with boundless energy, he dashes off again. I reach for him to hug him back, but he’s already gone, tossing his football in the air. I’m finding that it’s hard to get him to slow down, to shift his thoughts away from the spur of the moment, and to really get him to reveal his heart. To an outside observer his interests may seem shallow, as all he talks about is football, dogs, basketball, and his school buddies.

Recently James and I walked to the river that runs on the back edge of our property. Just a few weeks ago the river was up near the top of its banks, flowing very swiftly, swollen by days of heavy rain and runoff, but now, the river level is very low, and it flows languidly along its course. As we stood there looking at the river, James said to me “Isn’t it funny how the river changes, and yet it’s still the same river, going to the same place?”

This weekend I was cleaning up around the house and I found all his candy and valentines from his school party dumped out on the table. As I picked it up and put it all back in the paper bag, I noticed a small red bag, obviously handmade, with the words “from James” on the side. I was curious! Here was a valentine he had made for someone but had obviously not given it to them, so I peeked inside. There was a small piece of paper, and written on it was “Happy Valintines (yes - that’s how he spelled it) Day Mom! I love you, James”.

Lately I’ve found myself struggling to relate to James; his interests are so focused on things I don’t understand, and his pace is so frantic that he seems like the white water river flowing over the rapids, picking up speed and boiling over the rocks, whereas I’d like him to slow down and be a more gently flowing stream. But the simple valentine he made for me reminds me that like the river, he is not just the rapids, but he does still have periods of depth and gentleness. As he told me, it’s the same river, heading to the same place. And for now, I’m happy and blessed to watch it flow.



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Metaphor Monday, except it's Tuesday!

Note – I SOOOOOO wanted to find the photo described in this story for this post, but couldn’t. If and when I find it, I’ll scan it in and add it to this post.

I was looking at some old family photos last weekend – photos from when I was a little girl. I was looking for, but sadly couldn’t find, one photo in particular; it is legendary in my family…. It was taken by my father in the late 1960’s, when I was about five years old, and I can still remember the occasion so clearly. At that time we lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and my father had decided to assemble his brood together for a family portrait, perhaps to try out a new camera, or possibly in anticipation of having a photo to send to our relatives back in England and Scotland. Whatever his reasons, I remember that preparing for this photo was a big deal for Dad, which is a bit unusual as he was not the sentimental “family man” type.

There are five children in my family; I have two older sisters, a brother, then myself, followed by my younger sister. At the time, Lesley must have been about nine years old, Angela about eight, Ivan about seven, I was about five, and Ingrid would have been about two years old. Mom had made sure we were all bathed and dressed up in our best clothes, with our hair neatly brushed for this photo. Dad carried some chairs out onto the patio, his chosen location for this photo. The background was to be a rock garden next to the patio, which provided lots of lush and interesting plants, being that this was the tropical climate of Malaysia. He arranged and rearranged the chairs just so, and got us all, Mom and five kids, into position. He dialed and fiddled with the buttons on the camera and made his preparations to dash for his place in the photo once the timer button was pressed. For the life of me I can’t remember how we were arranged for this photo, but I do remember the posing and preparations seemed to go on forever. “Move a little to the left!” “Put your hands down!” “Squeeze closer together!” …and on and on. And it was hot, humid, we were uncomfortable, and we kids wanted desperately for this to be over….

There was only one photo taken that day, and it shows six of us (Mom, Dad and four of five kids) frozen in place, smiling, looking at the camera…. Perfect! The fifth child, my younger sister Ingrid, is a vertical blur. After all the set up, at the very instant the shutter clicked, she jumped up out of her chair, creating a blur in the photo, except for her feet, which remained on the ground and thus are perfectly in focus. Legend has it that Dad was so disgusted by her jumping up and ruining his picture that he just quit, and put the camera away without taking another shot. The thing that makes me laugh is that if he had bothered to take another shot, the ruined, blurry photo would have been forgotten, but since it was the only one, it is what we remember.

So, where is the metaphor in all this, you ask….! It occurred to me that my life may appear like that blurry image of my little sister. And despite the swirl and busy-ness of everyday events and changing conditions, and as I jump in reaction to the minor crises of daily life, seeing the days rush by in a blur, I want my spiritual feet to be in focus, firm on the ground and anchored on the rock that is Jesus. And that is how I want people to see me when they look at the portrait of my life.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Metaphor Monday

Jenni at One Thing is starting a “Metaphor Monday” series, to capture the metaphors we see around us, in the everyday things. I think this is seriously cool…. So here’s my attempt to participate:

It’s raining here today, which makes it a necessity to use an umbrella for the half mile walk from my parking spot to the office, unless I want to arrive at the office looking like a drowned rat. But, I have mixed feelings about carrying an umbrella. I dislike the awkward maneuvering required under the trees and on the crowded sidewalks, and holding an umbrella means I can’t have my hands free as I walk. But I do enjoy seeing the splashes of color from umbrellas against the grey, dreary weather.

So this morning, I grumbled to myself as I pulled out my yellow and red umbrella from the trunk of the car and set off towards the office, my trip made even more difficult because in addition to my purse and work bag, today I was carrying a box of cupcakes into the office. But I digress… Umbrellas a metaphor...!

As I walked and watched the drops falling off my umbrella, it occurred to me that my relationship with God is like an umbrella. How you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked!

First, the obvious. Just as an umbrella protects me from the rain, as a Christian, I know that because of Christ, I am protected from the consequences of my sin. Instead of receiving the eternal death I deserve, I’ve been given eternal life. Additionally God's Word tells me I am protected from evil - “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thes 3:3

Secondly (and this one is a bit painful), in the same way we tend to forget about umbrellas until the rain arrives, I have been guilty in the past of putting my relationship with God aside, forgetting about it and calling on it only during “rainy” times of my life, and then expecting complete protection, a sheltering from all effects of the rain.

The last thing I noticed was that even though I saw people in groups trying to share an umbrella, in general, that doesn’t work well and everyone ends up wet. While it may work for a group of people huddled together, standing still, it’s very difficult to walk together, sharing an umbrella. To really stay dry, each individual needs their own umbrella. And in the same way, no-one else can take shelter in my relationship with God; it’s a personal relationship, and each person must develop this relationship for themselves.

And there you have it…

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"The Secret"

I heard this poem yesterday. The man giving the half-time devotion and Rachel and James's Upward basketball games recited it (from memory), and I just loved it. It reminds me of the importance of beginning each day with God. This is something that has finally become a habit for me, after many years of sporadic attempts to have a daily quiet time, and it has been such a good thing for me. I hope this poem blesses you as it did me....

The Secret
Poem by Ralph S.Cushman

I met God in the morning
When my day was at its best,
And his presence came like sunrise
Like a glory in my breast.

All day long the Presence lingered,
All day long he stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness
O’er a very troubled sea.

Other ships were blown and battered,
Other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them
Brought to us a peace and rest.

Then I thought of other mornings,
With a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings,
With the Presence left behind.

So I think I know the secret,
Learned from many a troubled way:
You must seek him in the morning
If you want him through the day!