Unemployment…Help!

Got this prayer plea from a precious, single friend on the West Coast who is in the process of trying to preserve her job during a time of deep economic instability. If your heart it touched, please lift her up in prayer today. THANKS! Her meeting is at 5 pm EST. It seems like every week or two at our church another name is added to the “Unemployed and needing work list.” These are deeply distressful times.
Good morning,
I am scheduled to meet with “———-” Thurs., 1/14/2010 at 2 p.m. Pacific Time.  Would you please send petitions and prayers to God on my behalf before, after and during this event?
I am not sure what I should pray for.  I am not asking for any desired outcome, other than that I represent what is right, honest, and truthful during this meeting, and that I am a witness for God’s purpose for me in His employment.
I am not afraid of the future.  I yield all of my own personal wishes, desires, needs, wants, my soul and my life to a purpose which I do not fully understand, but which in my heart, I know exists.
For some of you this may sound like “crazy talk.”  I am so much in need of your earthly support, compassion, and understanding during this trying time in my life.
The reading for Jan. 7th, the day I was terminated, in Oswald Chambers’, My Utmost for His Highest says,
“Once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely and we never lack for understanding or compassion.  We can continually pour out our hearts to Him without being percieved as overly emotional or pitiful.  The Christian who is truly intimate with Jesus will never draw attention to himself but will only show evidence of a life where Jesus is COMPLETELY in control.  This is the outcome of allowing Jesus to satisfy every area of life to its depth.  The picture resulting from such a life is that of the strong, calm balance that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.”

I ask God for forgiveness for the many hurtful things I have done and said in my life.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers.

On-Line Pornography

I got an amazing email over the weekend from the son of one of my friends requesting prayer. His wife had separated from him after yet another breach of fidelity when he accessed on-line pornography. Apparently he’s had an addiction for 20 years, although it wasn’t until he may have lost his wife and two children that he woke up to the stark reality that he couldn’t kick this addiction on his own. I was touched by his brokenness, his openness, and his humility. I am really praying much for this young man, and I believe he has a good chance of overcoming his addiction because he has been humble enough to seek God’s help.

The statistics on pornography addiction are staggering, and it cuts across every strata of culture and religion. What can we do to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our nation, and our world from this incredible Satanic lure that is destroying relationships and threatening to erode away the very foundation of trust and stable family life? For one thing, we can pray…not just once or twice, but fervently and consistently. For another, we can try to communicate with those we love, both to give and receive support, just as my young friend has done. So much of our sin lies hidden deep in the recesses of our hearts, and we hide our ugly failures from view. No matter what our problem, we need to repent, turn to God for help, and “come clean,” confessing our sins openly and seeking support. We also need to be willing to be accountable ourselves as well as holding our loved ones accountable. When was the last time your family had a good talk about the lures of lust and how to resist them? Are you in an accountability partnership with someone, or a small group of someones? I hold myself accountable to two female prayer partners and my husband, and it’s really been an invaluable aid in keeping me on the “upward path” over the years.

If the internet is more of a temptation than your family can handle, there is a simple program called “Covenant Eyes” that creates an accountability system for  households’ computer use. It only costs about $7-8 per month and at least keeps the family members posted on what sites are being accessed every week.

This is not an area where the best approach is to just be passive or stick your head in the sand. Like other addictions, if left unchecked, it just gets worse until some relationship or some person is destroyed. Please join in the battle for personal purity for ourselves and all those we love.

“Every man is tempted when he drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings for death” (James 1:14-15).

Snow Pearls and Diving for Dimes

Don’t you love it when the snow stops falling and the sun begins to shine again? We’ve had quite a long cold spell, but it’s really made our woods look like a winter wonderland! We’ve all been out enjoying walks, even though sometimes I wonder if it’s wise in the icy weather. Actually, my sister Ann tells me that “Yaktrax” walker traction cleats for snow and ice (I think you strap them on your boots or shoes) really make walking safer. I might invest.

Alan gave me a beautiful string of freshwater pearls for Christmas with matching ear rings. When we returned from one of our walks, I realized that I’d lost the pearl from one of the ear rings. Searching for a pearl in a snowbank is even more futile than the proverbial needle in a haystack, but I couldn’t resist trying. It was dark out, so I waited until the next morning, and by then a light snow had fallen. Every time I saw something small and pearl-shaped, it turned out to be a pebble or just a tiny ball of snowy ice.

No success! It reminded me of one time when the kids and I were diving for dimes at our “home away from home” (Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground). After successfully retrieving the dime a number of times, I discovered that I’d lost the pearl out of my ring. However, we never found that pearl either. I had to reflect on the foolishness of diving for dimes at the cost of losing my one pearl!

What do we spend our time searching for? What’s really worth finding? What’s really worth losing? For me, I’d rather keep a tight grip on my Pearl of Great Price and lose my life in finding His.

Weight Watchers: First Impressions

I might have to change my ways a little…

I had my first visit to Weight Watchers, and I wanted to report what I learned. The “pep talk” if you will was on keeping track of every bite you eat and figuring out how just how much you’re eating in a day. According to their research, people underestimate what they eat by up to 1,000 calories a day. They had a couple of catchy phrases: “No free BLT’s” (that’s “bites, licks, or tastes”), and “If you bite it, write it!” You have to calculate how many “points” you can have each day according to weight, height, sex, age, and activity level. Keeping track of what you eat and keeping accountable is the start of learning how to eat right. If you can’t afford Weight Watcher’s, there’s a website called Sparkpeople.com that helps you with diet planning and calorie counting for free.

I can have “18” points per day. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but it is the lowest level anyone ever gets to, which means that Weight Watcher’s won’t be a passing fancy for me. If I want to lose the extra pounds and keep them off, this is going to be a forever diet. Rather sobering, but since they add into their equation 35 points per week for fun and make it possible to eat a small amount of almost anything you think you can’t live without, then I think it’s doable. In the past, I’ve always found the easiest way to lose weight was to stop eating desserts, which was effective, but since I LOVE desserts, as soon as I reached my goal and quite dieting, I started gaining. Weight Watchers basically tries to teach people a new lifestyle and a new skill: how to eat in a controlled, healthy, sustainable way. “Not perfection but progress” and eventually a lifelong good habit of eating right.  I’m on board!

Once begun, I wonder: why did it take me so long to sign on? Pride? “I can lose weight on my own; I have my own system.” “I’m not doing so bad compared to everybody else.” “I don’t need help.” “There’s such a stigma attached to admitting being in Weight Watchers…it’s like you have a disease or something…like you’re a weak person…like you can’t take care of yourself.” Money? “It costs $9.22 per week. Couldn’t that be better spent somewhere else?” Time? “I’m so busy right now, where will I ever find another 1-2 hours per week to invest in something else?” Lack of motivation? “Well, most of my friends are a little overweight…isn’t that just what happens as we get older?”

Makes me think of becoming a disciple of Christ. Aren’t the roadblocks often similar? If you’re not a believer, what’s keeping you from trusting Christ and becoming a new creation in Him? For those of us who are already Christians, what’s hindering us from turning our lives completely over to God and becoming even more earnest in living out the new lifestyle that we’ve been called to?

Well, here’s to healthy eating and healthy living! I’ll let you know how I’m doing in a week. 🙂

Accidents and Other Mysteries

On Monday I had great plans for my house organizing project, but while I was getting dressed, I did something I’ve never done in my life—I dropped my jewelry box on the floor, scattering tiny little ear rings everywhere and tangling necklace chains with bracelets, ETC. big time. It was before 6:00 am, and Alan was almost ready for us to begin our devotional time, so I scooped everything up in a heap and left it on the bed, and then ran out to make our tea. Later I spent a rather frustrating two hours—my entire allotment for “organizing life” that day—in untangling minute gold chains and trying to make sure all the pairs of earrings were accounted for. Sigh.

Yesterday while I was happily working on Bless Your Baby, it occurred to me that I’d save time if I used the “find and replace all” function to turn Isa into Isaiah rather than having to search through the entire text to make that single correction. To my chagrin, I discovered several minutes later that Isa is also found in numerous other words in the text—to name a few: advisability, disapprove, visa-versa, disagree, disarm, disappoint, disappear, disaster, Isaac, etc. Apparently, this function is not case sensitive, at least on my computer. At any rate…you get the point. I had to go back and individually check every incidence of isa in the entire text, another very tedious and frustrating job. “What am I doing wrong, Lord?” I asked myself. Here I’m trying to be more conscious of the presence of God, and I’m stumbling more than ever. Are you patiently reminding me that I’m NOT asking before doing, or are these just “accidents” that are part of the chance and circumstance that happens to all of us as limited humans?

Some accidents are much more devastating. A friend of ours who lives in Montreal was out ice skating and fell a couple of days ago, dislocating his shoulder and breaking his arm in two places. Surgery was not as successful as hoped because Glenn (almost 60 like Alan and me) has the beginnings of osteoporosis and not enough strong bone to support the plates they wanted to insert. The surgeon warned him that even with therapy, his arm would never be the same. Sandy lamented:  “So, in a second of fun skating, life has changed for us…”

Last night the report came back from my dear friend Cheryl that the results of the broncoscopy and biopsy are probably positive, although she doesn’t have her official consultation with the doctors until next week. We were just starting to relax and think her breast cancer was gone for good. GROAN. This is a really hard one for me personally, since Cheryl is one of my closest friends. She’s going to the Mall of America this weekend with some of her shopping buddies and meeting other friends there too. “Retail therapy, doubtless prescribed by your doctor?” one of our mutual friends teased. We do not normally think of cancer as an accident, but it is certain a mystery that causes us to ask, “Why, Lord?” Cheryl’s husband wrote for our chapel prayer chain: “Part of me wants to pray that this is all a big mistake, but above all else, we want God to be glorified.  So, in our lives Lord, be glorified today!”

Guess that’s the bottom line. Whether trouble comes to us or we go to it, as Job observed many millenniums ago, “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). All we can do is walk patiently by faith, praying that “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20). May God help us as we try to walk by faith.

Hair Clinic

Brianna and Daniel invested in a pair of hair clippers this Christmas. I’ve been cutting Alan and my kids’ hair since pretty close to forever, and we figure it’s saved us thousands of dollars over the years. It all started with my father, who used to cut our hair when I was little, and then my girl friend, Marcy, who talked me into cutting her hair in college. I told Marcy I had no talent and absolutely couldn’t, but she said she’d tell me exactly what to do and take all the blame if it didn’t turn out. Actually, she did know what I should do, and it turned out at least passable, which gave me the courage to try to learn later how to cut Alan’s hair when money became an issue during graduate/medical school.

Now, the torch is being passed to the next generation! We had a bit of a hair clinic, and both Brianna and Gerlinde did totally great jobs on cutting their husband’s hair. In this picture (which Brianna took), I’m cutting Joel’s hair and Gerlinde is trimming Curly Locks (Jon).

It’s really fun to see the “torch” being passed from generation to generation. There are some weaknesses of my character and body that I wish I could extinguish rather than pass on. Guess just like hair growing, we have to keep trimming back the excesses in our lives. A well trimmed spirit and body…that’s what I’d like!! 🙂

P.S.—If you don’t see your picture on our fridge, it’s because you forgot to send us one in your Christmas letter! I’d still love to have your picture up too  if you’ll send me one!

Holiday Memories

Well, all the non-GR residents have returned to their respective homes, and I’m left just enjoying the happy memories:

Lots of great food…

At home and abroad

Lots of great fellowship with relatives and friends…

Games:

Puzzles

“Go” on Stephen’s new Go board

Conversations

Making party hats

And bringing in the New Year with a toast (of non-alcoholic, sparkling grape juice) to the best-ever decade for all we love:

May this coming decade be full of love, joy, and peace for you!