Friday, September 30, 2016

Final Days of Summer Fun

Summer made the most of its final days last week as we visited Missouri and Iowa, temperatures hovering at almost 90, high above average.

Let me share some of my most fun memories.

Murray sat at the kitchen table at my mom’s and called, “Ping-Hwei, come look out the window. There’s some cows out there, playing with chickens.”

We visited my Uncle Eugene and Aunt Joan. Eugene talked a little about his time in the army during the Korean war.

He said he had his basic training in Arkansas, then took the troop train from Kansas City to Seattle, a slow train. He said, “I went with two buddies. Each of our Moms gave us a box of fried chicken. The other guys on the train sure smacked their lips, but we didn’t give them a piece.”

I asked if Rodney could sit by me at the restaurant, because that was the only time we were going to see him, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hear to talk to him otherwise. He and Ping-Hwei called each other “You big dummy,” a twenty-year-old joke.

I slipped a ten dollar bill into one of my pockets. Later, when I threw all the trash in my pocket away, the ten dollar bill went, too.

Rebecca had a big story to work on while we were there. She said, “I didn’t plan for this to come up while you were visiting.” Her boss said it’s the story with the most impact he’s seen in the twenty years he’s been working there.

We had dinner with two of Rebecca’s coworkers, and they picked on her pretty fiercely. She told me, “Oh, it’s very mutual.”

One of them said Rebecca gets to do pretty much anything she wants to at the paper. He asked if she’s always been so stubborn, then said, “If she weren’t so darn talented, we wouldn’t put up with her.”

Rebecca wanted to take us to the new building they have for the animal shelter where she volunteers, but we didn’t have time. Murray and Ping-Hwei helped her vacuum the church, then we visited the piece of land where her friends are getting ready to build a new house.

This is the family Rebecca lived with when she first moved to Iowa, and while we were there, their six-year-old daughter clung to Rebecca the whole time. Rebecca said in the plans for their house, they have a room they call, “Rebecca’s room.”

We had lunch at a Mexican restaurant and Rebecca said, “Several of the guys who work here are my boyfriends.”

On the way home, we found a couple fun sculptures at a visitors’ center in Indiana—a bicycle and a guy standing with his tongue stuck to a post.

I missed our animals, so I tried to make friends with too much excitement with the ones we visited.

My brother Jim’s sheep dog, reaching high above my waist and super long, jerked back from me and tried to run away with fright. One of my mom’s cats zoomed out of my arms before I had her for a second. And every time I even tried to touch Rebecca’s cat Millie, she’d cry with so much unhappiness, I finally relented and left her alone.

Our Esthers made up for it when we got home Sunday night. The dog ran through the house and shivered with happiness when she saw us. The kitty crawled into bed and snuggled in my arms.

It was a fun trip, but it is good to be home.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

I am a Child of God

On Sunday mornings we’ve been studying what separates us from God—fear.

Fear of not being perfect. Fear of being unsettled. Fear of being ordinary. Today we talked about the fear of being useless.

Besides the fear of being alone, being useless is probably my biggest fear.

I’ve struggled with this in many ways. I don’t want to appear incapable because of my disability. I enjoy when people praise something I’ve done, or when someone comes to me to ask for help. I want to be useful somehow as a Christian.

I’ve struggled because I know all of this is pride.

So much conflict.

We studied a story about David this morning from 1 Chronicles 17.

Things were going well for David. He was king. He had rest from many enemies. He had a great house.

So he decided he wanted to do something for God. He wanted to build God a house.

That seems more than useful. It seems noble, doesn’t it?

But God said no.

God reminded David that he, God, was the one who took David out of the pasture and made him king. God was the one who cut off David’s enemies. God was with David, wherever he went.

God didn’t need David to build him a house. He was going to build a house for David.

1 Chronicles 17:14: I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.

David was a sinner, like me. But through him, God established a plan for everyone, through all time. Because of David’s descendant Jesus, we can all be children of God.

Often, I think about how God must laugh at me. I want to be useful; respected; needed. I want to do something significant for God.

He doesn’t need me.

He wants me. He loves me. He wants me to enjoy what he’s given me, all he’s created.

He wants me to be his child.

And we sang a lovely song this morning, “No longer slaves.” It is beautiful; check it out.

I will be away from the internet this Friday, so I wanted to go ahead and share this gift with you early. I’ll try to bring back something fun from the Midwest.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Peace Beyond Our Understanding

Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This verse has brought me comfort through many dark times, and I thank God, because I know it will again.

My favorite hymn, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL,” touches me in much the same way.

My understanding is that the writer of this song had just gone through a horrible time. And yet he was able to find comfort and express an overwhelming hope through the promise of God’s peace.

I’ve always wanted to find answers to problems, reasons for trials. God has taught me that my mind can find peace without knowing why.

We may not be able to find out why something terrible happens. The difficulty might even remain. But God has promised, and I can witness, that God can give us the certainty of our wellbeing with him.

While the struggles and pain may continue; while we may have no explanation as to why it’s happening or how it can be fixed—we can be wrapped in an amazing assurance that we are loved and cared for, that we are not alone.