January 29, 2010

I clearly don't suffer from S.A.D.

Today I was driving along, and noticed a round silhouette in the general overcastness. "Oh yeah!" I thought. There's a sun up there! Not that it was bothering me that we haven't seen it in weeks. I just forgot all about its existence. I am happy with the snow, the birds chirping while it falls quietly, my family, and the stuff I am learning as I read my Bible and study with other ladies and pray and go to German class and read people's Facebook stati (would that be the plural of status? :-) Oh, nope, it seems to be statuses) and look at my son's incomprehensible AP Calculus worksheets. Aha, you say - you didn't learn anything from the latter! Oh, yes, I learn that he is just like his admirable father, who also took Calculus AP classes in high school - one each in 11th and 12th grades, just like Jason is planning on doing. I'm glad there are people in the world like them. I did enjoy math, and I still very much like algebra. Just not too keen on the differentiation and integration, although I remember dabbling in them way back when.

In any case, it's snowing again, and I happily shoveled the driveway for about the ninth time this season. As someone on Facebook pointed out, I have a small driveway. He challenged me to clear his 150ft driveway happily without a snowblower. I had to concede. That would be a full-time job. Mine is just big enough to give me a little exercise and fresh air and sense of immediate accomplishment.

I was doing some errands this morning, and as I exited the third shop, I gloried in the copious snow coming down. This led to general thankfulness and wonder at how we get to live here in a place with mountains, lots of snow, cleanliness, abundance, snow plows, etc. I was so happy and excited at the way God has blessed our family, until, all of a sudden, Fear struck. Surely this means something bad is coming. You can't expect this to continue so well. There's a limit to this. You're going to have an accident, or someone is going to get very ill or die, or... Wow. I had to quickly switch from thankfulness to earnest battle prayer against the joy-stealing attacks from the enemy, pounding me with deceit. Time to counter it with Truth: I'm in God's hands. Whatever He sends, He will equip me with grace and strength to face it. He is not out to get me. He delights to bless. He is trustworthy. He doesn't do stuff randomly; He always has reasons, whether I know/understand them or not.

Now that I'm home, I'm looking up some verses to back up my recollections/reconstructions of these truths:

I'm in God's hands as I fight the lies: Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth. (Psalm 31:4-5)

Whatever He sends, He will equip me with grace and strength to face it: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

He is not out to get me. He delights to bless: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. (Jeremiah 32:40)

You have been pleased to bless the house of your servant. (1 Chronicles 17:27)

He is trustworthy: O Sovereign LORD, you are God! Your words are trustworthy (2 Samuel 7:28)

He doesn't do stuff randomly; He always has reasons, whether I know/understand them or not: God is mighty, but does not despise men; he is mighty, and firm in his purpose. (Job 36:5)

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11)

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever. (Psalm 138:8)

So even though I don't suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I do suffer from year-round attacks of fear, doubt, pride, or whatever the devil chooses to mess with me today about. Fortunately, God is on duty year-round, never takes a snow day, always has His plows in tip top working order, to plow away those pernicious lies that slip into my head and threaten to steal my joy and peace in Him. All the better for me if I catch them quickly and hand them over to Him for help: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

January 29, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (4)

March 14, 2009

Grocery Store's Version of Easter

On April March 12th (got ahead of myself there - thanks for edit, David S) it was one month until Easter - and here is what the grocery stores were thinking about:
ChocolateBunnies ChocolateBunniesCloseUp Funny how commerce turns important days into animal celebrations. Easter is Bunny Day. Thanksgiving is Turkey Day. What's Christmas, Donkey/Sheep/Ox Day? No, I guess that's more Santa Claus Day.

Well, I'm thankful for so many things every day, and I'm especially thankful for Jesus' arrival in human form on earth whatever time of year it was, and for His conquering of death at Easter-time - You Rock, Jesus!

I love my ladies' group's memory verse for this week (not surprising, since I picked it):

Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.
Psalm 25:5

I feel like this verse deals with past, present and future:
He has already taken care of my salvation,
He guides me and teaches me today,
and my hope will be in Him now and forever, all day long...

Let it be so, Lord, in Your mercy.

March 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 05, 2009

Cake, Freedom, Flowers, and Sunrises

ChocolateCakeNutellaPBFrosting I baked a (you might need to sit down) whole wheat chocolate cake with sliced almonds and chopped hazelnuts & walnuts inside, with a Nutella-peanut butter frosting, and Hershey's kisses and red M&Ms on top. Delicious or disgusting, take your pick of opinion. Emily and I are going with the former.

* * *

My nephew will be 19 this month. Wow, the next generation of our family is coming of age! He's the oldest grandchild. It's a huge milestone, the first one turning adult...not that it happens at an exact moment. Next year he won't even be a teenager anymore...Happy Birthday, Mark!

* * *

Been thinking about the line from Braveheart, where Mel Gibson (as the savior figure William Wallace) is stretched out on a cross, being tortured for treason he didn't commit (because he never swore allegiance to the bad king), and when it is suggested he beg for mercy and a quick death, instead of uttering the required and expected "Mercy" to save himself, he shouts, "FREEDOM!!!" Of course it reminded me of Jesus buying our freedom on the cross, unjustly accused. Quite the picture of it.

* * *

PinkFlowersinFeb09Langnau Saw a lovely pink flower in the garden today, on an otherwise bare tree. Such a glimmer of hope for spring. And so unexpected - there is still some snow in the driveway.

* * *

I liked this uncommonly used name for Jesus, from Matthew 10:25 - "Head of the House." (as opposed to what his opponents were calling him in the same verse...they were a little confused which side he was on)

* * *

One more night with my beloved gone. We'll see what time I go to bed tonight. It's been highly varied, as David, when he is here, is my wonderful conscience who helps me stay healthy by getting to bed at a reasonable hour. So far, My lights have gone off at 2:50am, 11:50pm, 1:50am, 9:03pm (inspired by my smart friend Allison), 11:30pm (challenged by my good brother David), and 11:55pm (last night). That's an average of 12:10am. Oh dear. Normally we try to go to bed closer to 10pm, to be happy and healthy in the morning when we get up around 7am. I'm looking forward to getting back to that.

* * *

GreenBeanTortellini AnotherBeautifulSunriseLangnau Last night's green bean tortellini (be glad you weren't here, D) with freshly grated parmesan, and this morning's next beautiful sunrise. Today was our THIRD sunny day in a row! Thank You, Creator of sunrises and the sun itself, and generous Sharer of all good things with us.

* * *
I liked this quote I found in a booklet sent as a gift for our anniversary last month - thanks again, Julie:
It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work.

Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, painting a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty.

To go to Communion worthily gives God great glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop-pail, give him glory, too.

He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should."
Gerard Manley Hopkins (English poet, 1844-1889)

February 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 15, 2008

Anyone feeling a need for accountability in dedicated daily prayer time in '09?

I'm looking for someone (or several someones) who are not already happy with their current routine regarding regular personal prayer time, and feel like doing something about it.

I don't spend regular time "just praying" daily, and I'd like to change that. I pray every day, but usually while I'm doing other things, like driving, doing laundry, showering, cooking, meeting with friends... I also read the Bible most days, but I don't tend to pray over the passages as much as I'd like. I want to be changed by what I read, and that takes prayer.

I want to start with a very modest goal of spending ten minutes each day doing nothing but conversing with God by myself, whether about scripture I've read (not including the reading time), or just in worship, confession, intercession (for myself and others) and listening for guidance. I hope it will turn into longer, but I only want to commit to ten minutes at first and see if I can even do that, long-term, since I haven't been lately. I realize it sounds puny, but one has to start somewhere. I want to become consistent.

What I really need (I think, based on experience in Bible reading) is someone else who would like to take on the same mission for themselves, and would like to check in with me once a week by email to report our accomplishment of the goal each week for a certain amount of time (maybe 6 months and then regroup?).

I'd like to jot down daily in a journal a brief something (maybe just a word or a phrase/thought) that comes out of each time of prayer, so I have a record, and something specific to share each week (as appropriate). Or I might even pray by writing in my journal, as that has helped to keep me focused in the past. But that takes longer. We'll see.

- Committing to at least 10 minutes every day of dedicated, focused solo prayer time while not doing much of anything else (I imagine walking alone would be okay!)
- Email each other once a week to update each other honestly on how it went that week
- Starting January 4th, say for 6 months until July 4th

Anyone interested in joining me?

December 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 10, 2008

Psalm 119: What God Will Do

(see previous two posts for introduction to this theme from Psalm 119, What God's Word is Like, and What To Do With God's Word)

What God Will Do/Does as I learn and obey His Word and ask Him to (according to Psalm 119):
Answer me
Be faithful
Be gracious to me
Be my refuge and shield
Bless me
Defend my cause
Deliver me
Direct me
Direct my footsteps
Do good to me
Fulfill His word
Give me discernment
Give me great peace
Give me hope
Give me understanding
Have mercy on me
Hear my voice
Open my eyes
Preserve my life
Redeem me
Seek me
Set my heart free
Strengthen me
Sustain me
Teach me
Turn my heart towards His word
Unfailingly love me
Uphold me

* * *
Hallelujah! What a deal!

October 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Psalm 119: What To Do With God's Words

(see previous post for introduction to this theme, and What God's Words are Like)

What To Do With God's Word (according to Psalm 119):
Be taught
Believe in
Cry over disobedience to
Delight in
Find comfort in
Fully obey
Have regard for
Hide in my heart
Hold fast to
Live according to
Long for
Meditate on
Not delay to obey
Not forget
Not forsake
Not neglect
Not stray from
Not turn from
Pant for
Put hope in
Rejoice in following
Run in the path of
Seek out
Set my heart on keeping
Sing about
Speak of
Stand in awe of
Thank Him for
Tremble at
Turn my steps to
Walk according to
Walk in

Next time, What God says He will do as we put this into practice...

October 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Psalm 119 - What are God's Words Like?

A few years ago I compiled a list of a ton of great nouns and adjectives and verbs describing God in the Book of Psalms in the Bible. What He is, what He's like, and what He does. Fascinating and wonderful.

Last night I got up to Psalm 119 in my regular daily Bible reading for this year. What a chapter chock-full of great self-referential words relating to the Bible itself! It uses eight different words to refer to God's Word:

1. LAW(S) - 44x
2. WORD(S) - 28x
3. STATUTES - 23x
4. DECREES - 22x
5. COMMANDS - 22x
6. PRECEPTS - 21x
7. PROMISE(S) - 13x
8. WAY(S) - 3x

Psalm 119 is far and away the longest chapter in the Bible, capping off at 176 verses! Of those, only 5 do not mention one of the above words (v. 84, 90, 121, 122, 132).

I noticed three other sections of words:

1. DESCRIPTIONS of God's Words
2. VERBS stating what WE should DO with God's Words
3. VERBS affirming what GOD will DO as a result, or what we can ask Him to do

I'll put them into three posts. First, here:

What God's Word is Like
Forever right
From God’s mouth
Joy to my heart
Of the Lord
Thoroughly tested
To last forever

Next time, what to do with it.

October 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 05, 2008

Four Generals After Alexander the Great

Did you know that after Alexander the Great conquered the known world for his Greek Empire and died in his prime, his empire was split amongst four generals?

...in 323 B.C., however, [...] Alexander was struck with fever and died in Babylon, leaving no heir. His empire was divided among four of his generals. [ancienthistory.about.com]

This was predicted 200 years earlier in the book of Daniel, in the Bible:

The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven. [...] The shaggy goat is the [throne] of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king. The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power. (Daniel 8:8, 21-22)
I thought that was cool. Enjoying the ladies' evening Bible study on Tuesday nights. I love learning about history, and especially combined with explanations of what on earth those obscure passages in the Bible are talking about!

October 5, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2008

Love in the Clouds

God can show his Love in more ways than one. David was on a retreat with the men of our new church this weekend, in the Italian part of Switzerland, at a lake. One afternoon, one of the guys (all rights belong to Clement, kudos to him) took this photo. What a Sculptor we serve!


September 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 27, 2008

Blessed at "Lift Zug"

This morning we visited a third church here in northern Switzerland, this time in the canton of Zug. We live halfway between the cities of Zurich and Zug, so we can go either direction. David's office is in Zurich, the kids' schools are in Zug, so our centre is not clear. I guess that would be our house.

LIFT = Living in Forever Today, which is a catchy idea...

It is a small church (there were maybe 40-50 people there this morning, including kids), but this is also summertime, with people gone. However, it meets in a very small room on one of the main streets in Zug, right on the lake, and it didn't seem that there were any spare seats, so I'm not sure how it works during the school year... Beautiful flowers adorned a little park on the lakefront across the street.

We really enjoyed the worship in song (mostly songs we knew, with guitars, keyboard, drums, words on the screen), just our style, and the message was full of Jesus and His Love and Life given for us. Emily, of her own accord went upstairs to the kids' class, without us even going with her (she did not go at either of the other two churches, so it was nice to see her feel so comfortable). The view over Lake Zug from upstairs was breathtaking.

Afterwards, we spent a long time chatting and getting to know several families:

- the pastor is from Colorado, and his wife is of Swiss and German descent. The whole family of four have both U.S. and Swiss passports and have lived in Colorado. Talk about a connection for us! We love Colorado. The daughter in this family is 11 and she welcomed Emily like an old friend. Emily is really hoping to go back again next week. "Would anyone mind?" as she put it surreptitiously.

- the worship leader (this week anyway) and his wife are from London (so that was another connection for us)

- another guitar player and his wife are from South Africa (a good friend and prayer partner of mine in the UK was South African - it was nice to hear the accent again)

- the couple who were sitting in front of us are from Canada, and BOTH teach at Emily's new school!!! That was fantastic to hear. Not only that - the gentleman teaches Emily's Grade!!!!!! She has a quarter chance of having him, since there are 4 5th grades next year.

- another couple we met are from the U.S. but lived in two other countries before landing here, the most recent being England, just like us. They have two boys and a girl - the eldest boy is about Jason's height and plays guitar and piano (I can imagine Jason playing drums with him...), and the next is Emily's age and will be in her grade at her new school as well (but not with the teacher we met) - so now she has 50/50 chance of being in a class with someone she's already met! Wow. The grace of God is so deep and lavish.

We found out that the pastor's wife knows the science teacher at Jason's school, and that she is a Christian! Very exciting to hear as well. What wonderful connections this morning. Thank You! Thank You!

After the chatting tapered, we went out for a local pizza lunch with the South Africans, the Canadians, and the American family with the two older boys (most of the kids at this church are on the younger side - a huge number of strollers parked in the hallway...). More good chat time - all the adults at one long table, all the kids at another, outside in the perfect temperature on a lovely day.

So is this where You want us, Lord? Thank You in any case for a very blessed morning. Please provide friends for Jason and bring some more God-seeking teenagers to this church if You are planting us here!

July 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack