Monthly Archives: April 2012

Stella got her Groove On

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We have a big blue van that we named Stella.  The only problem with Stella is that she came with a whiny horn.  The original horn says, “mooooove.  you’re in my waaay.” And no one takes it seriously.

Recently Josh stopped into our favorite neighborhood “trick out your ride” shop to talk with the owner Rick.  He’s an American guy whose lived here in Costa Rica for like 20 years.  Sometimes they talk about cars, sometimes they talk about God.  (Today it was cars.)  Josh complained that our van has a weenie horn.  He said, “I want a horn that will make people pee their pants!!”   Rick said, “I have just the thing for you.”

Now Stella has a horn that gets some notice!  Her horn says, “I’m comin’ through!  Get out of my way!”  It forces you to take her seriously.  It lets you know who’s the boss.  Now she can demand some respect on the road!  And I know it’s evil of me, but I can’t wait to see Lazy-Pedestrian-Guy pee his pants.

My Guilty 80’s Pleasure

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It’s Saturday and I’m contemplating watching a chick flick tonight.  So I’m going to gush briefly about a guilty pleasure I have.  When Josh is not at home and the kids are all in bed, I love to grab a handful of chocolate chips and watch a chick flick.  My all time, hands down favorite… Pretty in Pink.  I was a kid in the 80’s.  Molly Ringwald was my teen idol!  There is not a scene in that movie where I do not drool over her outfit.

The opening bars of the soundtrack of Pretty in Pink give me butterflies in my stomach!  I get all giggly and girly with excitement.  I have every song memorized… even the song playing on the radio in the back ground when Andy and Ducky are studying in her bedroom.  I never went to prom, but if I did I would break the mold like she did and do something really funky and cool.  Once I wore a Renaissance dress to a Valentines banquet so I know I’d have the guts to do something wild and out-of-the-box.

I think it’s cool and funny that she worked in a record store… technology has changed so much.  Speaking of the record store, the scene where Ducky dances for her to that Otis Redding song is the highlight of the whole movie!  Melts me every time.  I can not for the life of me figure out why she didn’t choose Ducky.

How about you, would you choose Blaine, the handsome rich guy or Ducky, the cool best friend?

Leaving an Indelible Mark… and I don’t mean getting a tattoo

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When I was in high school, the kid with the locker next to mine started a gum collection in the door of his locker.  Every day we would both stick a piece of chewed up gum on the inside of the door.  We were trying to fill the whole door in a year, but we got caught and he had to scrape the door clean.  Along the same lines as those kids who carve their names in the desk tops or graffiti walls, I think we were trying to leave our mark on the school (without using knives or spray paint).

Leaving your mark on life is a vague goal that most of us want to achieve but really have no idea how to accomplish.  How exactly do you go about leaving a legacy?  Think of these historical people and think about if they were deliberate in leaving a legacy.

Anne Frank (her diary was published after her death in a Nazi concentration camp)

Laura Ingalls Wilder (the stories of her pioneer life made American history come alive for school children)

Louis Pasteur (think pasteurized milk)

William Wilberforce (British politician who worked to abolish slavery)

Joan of Arc (French peasant girl who inspired and lead the French army into battle during the Hundred Years’ War.  She was accused of heresy and burned at the stake.)

Jim Elliot  (Missionary)

Jim was one of 5 missionaries who were speared to death while trying to bring the Gospel to savage natives in the Amazon of Ecuador in 1956.  Their deaths have inspired 60 years of missions in all organizations around the world.  Here is the Radio Memorial from 1956 honoring the deaths of the 5 missionaries in Ecuador.  And a brief clip from the movie The End of the Spear, where Steve Saint learns of how his father Nate (one of the 5 missionary men) was speared by his adopted, Auca father… and learns how forgiveness can bless for generations.  Before his death at the end of a spear, Jim Elliot penned this famous line:

“He is no fool, who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.”

Based on the scripture that says, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake, gains it.”

Not everyone leaves a legacy.  Even some of the people who try to do so sometimes fail.  And some of those who never try to leave their mark end up doing so by chance.  Some make their mark in the things they do.  Some in the way they lived.  Some in their deaths.  This uncertainty really bothers me.  I just want my life to MEAN something.  I want to leave my mark on the world, but I don’t know if I’m succeeding at that.  Maybe I just need to chew more gum.

She Left Her Mark on Me

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Today (April 16th- this is posting later) is the anniversary of the death of a dear friend of mine.  She was one of the first victims of Swine Flu in Mexico back in 2009.

Nely and her family.

That was a really rough year for me.  We had just come home from our first term in Mexico with a sick baby and I myself was going through cancer treatment.  At the same time, we were traveling around raising our funds for our next 4 year term overseas.  One day between my surgery and my radiation treatment, I was at home with Lucy when I received a call from my husband who was out of town.  He said he had received a call from Mexico from our friends telling us that Nely had died unexpectedly that morning.  I felt like someone punched me in the stomach.

I remember falling back against the wall and trembling all over.  How?  What happened?  All the details were sketchy.  We called several friends to try to piece together the details.  We called the airlines and booked tickets for that afternoon.

Our two oldest children were in school and would not be able to accompany us on the trip since their passports had just expired.  That was terribly hard to leave them behind, but we made the arrangements for them to stay with family and called the school to break the news to them over the phone since we would be leaving for the airport within the hour.  It was so hard not to be with them when they cried.

The service in front of her parents' house.

There is no embalming in Mexico.  Bodies are buried within 24 hours of death.  Often times, memorial services are held in the home with the rented casket and the body right there in the home.  Nely was a well loved pastor’s wife.  People came from all over the city to attend one of the 4 or 5 services that were held in her parents’ house.

The thing that I remember the most is looking into the faces of her three children and wondering Why.  Her youngest son Abel, stands out in my memory.  His face brightened to a wide smile when he saw us then immediately crumbled into tears.  I scooped him up in my arms and just hugged him without saying anything.  What could I say?  I had too many questions unanswered in my heart.

Friends comforting Nely's husband

Nely was the kind of friend that every missionary needs.  I feel like God gave her an instinct to understand foreigners.  She left school when she was pre-adolescent and was married by age 15.  Nothing in her education could have prepared her to understand me.  She had never lived outside of Mexico City, even visiting relatives in the country side stressed her out.  She had never even visited many of the famous tourist sites in Mexico City!  So what could have prepared her to understand someone coming from another culture and country, speaking a strange language?  Only God could have given her the understanding and compassion to befriend a foreigner.  Only God could have given me a friend like Nely.

I lack the words in English OR in Spanish to describe the indelible mark that Nely left on my heart… on my life.  And I’m not the only one.  Everyone who knew her loved her and misses her tremendously.  A mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend.  She was so very ordinary by the world’s standards, but so very EXTRAORDINARY in all the ordinary things she did day in and day out.  She left her mark and in some small way the world is a better place for having known Nely.  And Heaven is all the more extraordinary because someday I’ll see her again up there.

St. Theresa’s Prayer

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St. Theresa’s Prayer, Song Lyrics By John Michael Talbot

Christ has no body now but yours

No hands, no feet on Earth but yours

Yours are the eyes through which He looks

With compassion on this world.

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good

Yours are the hands,

With which He blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands,

Yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes,

You are His Body.

Christ has no body now on Earth but yours.

PAY ATTENTION!

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So today I was sitting on a city bus kind of staring out the window, lost in my own little world.  And the thought occurred to me, “Am I paying enough attention to life?”  I am a day dreamer and I live a very full and lovely life… inside my head.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept interruptions and to focus on what is right in front of me.

So I wonder, am I paying enough attention to life or is it passing me by?  For example, my daughter Lucy is very easy to read.  I know for certain when she feels like she needs more attention because she gets right in my face.  If I keep busying myself with whatever I was doing and dodge her attempts to snag my gaze, she gets naughty.  So she’s easy to read.  But what about the other two?  I wonder if I’m giving them what they need.

But then I think about my childhood in comparison with theirs.  I grew up right on the edge of the time when kids could still go outside to play unsupervised.  I remember playing with my sister for hours and hours without my parents hovering over us.  When we complained that we were bored, never once did my parents stop what they were doing and play a game with us.  They told us to play together… or they assigned us chores to keep us out of their hair.  And guess what, we survived… and thrived.  I have a wonderful imagination even as an adult.  But I didn’t get that from having my parents entertain me as a child.

So as a parent I straddle this odd line between giving my kids attention when they want it and pushing them off me.  I’m not a kid, I don’t want to play board games or watch another episode of Dora the Explorer.  Does that make me a lousy parent?  No, but it does make me wonder if someday I’ll wake up and think “Man, I could really go for a rousing game of Candy Land.”

Do we really need all these Body Parts?

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“God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all.  Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.  All kind of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!  The variety is wonderful… All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the on Spirit of God.  He decides who gets what and when.

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body.  Your body has many parts- limbs, organs, cells- but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body.  It’s exactly the same with Christ.  By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives.  We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything,… The old labels we once used to identify ourselves- labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free- are no longer useful.  We needed something larger and more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less.  A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together .  If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” he would still be a part of the body nonetheless.  If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body?  If the body was all eye, how could it hear?  If all ear, how could it smell?  As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right were he wanted it.

But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance.  For no mater how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of.  An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but  a monster.  What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place.  No part is important on its own.  Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost, I don’t need you”?  Or Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”?  As a matter of fact, the more basic parts are more necessary…  If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to luxurious hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t.   If one part hurt, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing.  If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

You are Christ’s body- that’s who you are!  You must never forget this.  Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.  You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his body:  Apostles (missionaries), Prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, helpers, organizers, those who pray in tongues.  But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, uni-dimensional part?  It’s not all Apostle/Missionary, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer etc.”   (I Corinthians 12, The Message Version)