Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'VE MOVED...over to Wordpress. I have the same address except it is wordpress instead of blogger. I got tired of having so much trouble putting in photos. I still have to add my Christmas pictures, but when you read my entry, you will at least understand why I've been behind. I hope to be writing more soon but things may be erratic for awhile.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS ISN'T EASY...it is a miracle! At least in the area this "old dog" is learning them. God has been working on me in the area of reconciliation and peacemaking in a concentrated way since last September when I attended the PCA Women's International Conference in Atlanta, GA. I had heard about Peacemakers through seminars at General Assembly (our annual denominational time for worship, business...for the ruling and teaching elders...and renewal...seminars for those in ministry...teaching and ruling elders and wives and any type of ministry that would flow out of their responsibilities. As time goes on there is a renewal of friendships with people we have known over the years in different locations. We love it and are always inspired.) ANYWAY, now that you are totally confused by my ramble:) back to my point.

At the Women's Conference, I attended one of Tara Barthel's seminars on reconciliation. I had read her blog some before that and may have even had her book on Peacemaking Women (that she wrote with Judy Dabler) but meeting and hearing her in person was a whole new ballgame...to say the least! It was like the difference between a gloomy day and a sunshiny day:) She was saying all the same things in person that she had said on her blog, but with this cute face, naturally curly hair, puckish smile and funny, lovable, open way about her that completely changed how it came across. (Now when I read her book or blog, I can see her smile and hear her laugh and the intensity level changes.) I was starting to "get" what she was talking about but in the way a person learning a new language is starting to understand parts of the conversation as they learn that language. It was slow going...very slow.

For once, I decided to give myself some time to "learn the language" instead of trying to learn it all at once, "fix" all my relationships that were uncomfortable and move on from there. The first step has been the hardest to learn..."Get the log out of your own eye". When I need to work through a problem with someone, I need to deal with that first! I now realize why. The first time I had to do that, I realized how much it forced me to put myself in the other person's shoes and see the problem from their viewpoint...and feel their hurt. When I sat and thought through things from that point of view rather than my usual "prosecuting attorney's" point of view, I was able to truly empathize with them and even hurt with them over the pain I had caused them.

In some situations, that is more difficult. Then I have to go even deeper to the very foundation of my salvation and remember the great price Christ paid for my sin...and how great that sin is. It is so easy to minimize my sin...as it is my "fault" in messed up relationships...but that usually happens when I compare myself with other people, not Christ. When I see my sin (which I have been seeing more clearly in our recent study of the ten commandments!) for what it is, it is a lot easier to put the failures of others toward me in proper perspective...and forgive them.

So to recap the year+, I have seen God changing this "old dog" for His glory. I have so far to go, but I have started some of the baby steps I have known I needed to take and have appointments for some other baby steps. In this year+, we have seen a Women's Ministry Council developed at our church that is working to develop a broader women's ministry here. We have been studying Peacemaking Women at our monthly meetings and trying to apply it to our lives. Right now, there is a peacemaking issue that we don't know the answer to, that we are praying about...for wisdom and direction...that affects all of us.

During this past year, we were privileged to have Tara speak to our ladies through a delightful providential blessing that brought her to our area despite a full speaking schedule. God used her to bless our ladies and many in the community. Last month, Ron and I had the chance to go to a Peacemaking Pastor's conference in St. Louis that was very helpful as well. The thing that hit me during that weekend was hearing Alfred Poirier and Ken Sande talk and seeing how they do not give up on people. They and their session keep after people who are sinning, with love and hope because they know that the gospel works! That was such an encouragement to me. I think that may be at the heart of why so many of our churches are hesitant to use church discipline. Of course, there is fear of how a person will react or that it will turn them away, but I'm not sure we REALLY believe the gospel "works". We don't really believe that it is the "power of God to salvation" (both now AND later!)

One challenge that Ken Sande threw out a few years ago at a Peacemaking Seminar at General Assembly is a scripture that I have not been able to get away from: "A new command I give you: Love one another....By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." It has nothing to do with keeping certain rules (or not doing certain things); whether we have an icthus fish on our car; what denomination/non-denominational church we attend; how we are baptized. The way Jesus said people will be able to tell that we are His disciples is whether we love each other. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of churches, that is not a word that describes us. Then we wonder why people aren't drawn to attend or be part of our group. There IS a reason. Non-christians are VERY observant in this area of life. This is why the church grew so rapidly in Peter and Paul's day and sadly, it has a lot to do with why it isn't growing so well in the US. Whether we are "old" or not, we need to change our ways. The most important advice I can give is, be sure this change happens from the inside first. It is a change that has been perculating on my mind for a long time. Attitudinal change comes slowly and often imperceptibly. I'm encouraged that it IS coming. When the external change comes in ways people see, the internal change has happened. There is nothing fake or contrived about it. Then when you are in the "talks" of reconciliation and the inside change has happened already, the apology will be real. You can't fake or rehearse those talks because they have to do with the relationship and you don't know what the other person will say or how they truly feel. Obviously, it is all a process and mistakes will be made all along the way. The important thing to do is make sure the changes being made are on the inside first and not just external decorating on a rotten, termite infested house.

To review, (because I need it) the foundation of all reconciliation is based on MY sinfulness compared to a holy God and the great mercy, grace and forgiveness He has shown me when I was in a hopeless position and totally unable to pay Him back. (NOT my goodness compared to this other person who is less good.) In light of my position with God, I can now forgive this person who will never be as indebted to me as I am to God because their debt to me is insignificant by comparison. Of course, I can forgive them even though it may cost me, I can forgive by God's grace. So that is what I am learning over this year+. The act of forgiving/reconciliation is WAY more internal than it is external and it has a lot more to do with my relationship with God than it does the other person...but it does involve them often too.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HALLOWEEN--EVIL OR HOLY?...I bumped into this very thought-provoking Halloween article from a favorite blog Second Drafts. I learned a lot about its origins that I hadn't heard before. It turns out it was written by someone we even know! Ha! I guess if you live long enough, you get to know a lot of people:)
I'll have to include some cute trick or treaters as well. In case you can't tell, one is a flamingo, the other a robot. Their photos came quickly. I don't have my grandson's yet.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A STEVE WEEKEND ...is now over. We had a delightful weekend that started Friday night when our future son-in-law arrived from Austin, TX. He had not met Ron yet and originally this was to be the weekend he would meet Ron and ask for Dawn's "hand" (and of course, the rest of her as well:). For those who know the story, he called in September when she was visiting the U.S. to ask then because he wanted to give her the ring rather than wait until Thanksgiving when he will go to Ukraine to visit her. Ron gave them his blessing, but still wanted to meet Steve in person. This was the weekend. We were able to have our calendar fairly free of events to attend and enjoyed getting to know him better. He was able to help me with my resume that I am writing (and thinking through some of the issues I need to think through for that). The weather was beautiful both in temperature (70's) and sunshine. The only missing ingredient was Dawn!

Unfortunately, a number of our friends that we would have liked him to meet were out of town. Oh well, that was the downside, the upside was that we had a fun weekend with an almost family member.

MY FIRST MEME...I've been tagged by Tara for a meme. Here are the rules: turn to page 161 of the current book you are reading and read the fifth sentence. I am one of a group of people who read more than one book at a time, so I will tell you what I'm reading and why (if there is a reason), then I'll give you the sentence.

The two books I'm reading as I prepare for our Thursday Bible Study are:

1. The Formation of God's People, Israel (from the Adult Biblical Education Series) by Jack B. Scott. (A study of Exodus-Deuteronomy) There are only 142 pages, so I'll quote from that page.

" Moses' warnings to them that they could not ever expect to earn their own righteousness by their works but would surely fail to obey God perfectly, prepared them for broken hearts that would learn to turn to God and to look to Him in faith to provide that need which they had for a new heart that would obey the Lord." (I can hear Tara in the background cheering:)

2. THE UNFOLDING MYSTERY: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament by Edmund P. Clowney. This is a short book following the Old Testament Patriarchs, Moses, David and others and showing how Christ is there (not just in the New Testament). The author pulls so much of Scripture together, it is a joy to read...like seeing a puzzle fall into place.
By taking liberties so this will make sense in its context, this is my quote:

"Will the cry of the Lord's abandoned servant be heard? Yes! After the cry for salvation, David bursts into a vow of praise: I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you."

3.This is the book we are reading for our Sunday School class: THE TRUE WOMAN by Susan Hunt. Page 161 doesn't have five sentences. Here is the last one:

"The true woman will unleash her God-given femininity in expressing her love for Jesus with a holy abandon."

4. The last is a book I'm almost finished, but whose author is always very thought-provoking. I took some liberties with this sentence so it would make some sense (sentence 6 makes more sense alone than does sentence five). LEADING WITH A LIMP by Dan Allender.

"We hold on either to what we wish to remember or to what serves us well to recall, and we flee from the parts of our story that most deeply expose and unnerve us."

Here are some of the ones I would like to tag (unlikely that they can fit it in, but it would be fun to hear). Dawn, Holly, Halfpint House/ Megan, Dodo/ Caron, Dawn Treader (if he responds, I'll faint!).

And that's the end of my first meme.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

REALITY CHECK...in many areas lately. I'll mention them in the order they come to mind, not necessarily priority. Maybe as I write, I can make some sense of all of the reality that is clobbering me!

1. I may not be as marketable as I had hoped. (And I wasn't wildly impressed with my marketable skills as a nurse with an eight year hole in my resume`.) I had my first conversation with a nurse recruiter yesterday. Realizing that I present much better in person, I need to learn how to manage this new way of doing job interviews by email/phone. I hate it! If I can call the person when I'm ready to talk, with all my information in front of me, mentally ready, that is fine...but impossible! I put my call in yesterday and 6 hours later, while I was on call waiting for someone in a billing department to take my call, the recruiter's call beeped in. It was late in the day and I knew if I didn't take it then, I was done for until the next day, so I took the call and of course, stuttered around as I looked for my materials and infomation so I could make sense. I had pushed a wrong button and couldn't find a number for the job, so that complicated things more, so I just launched into the other questions I needed to ask her. Basically, I came out of that conversation felling pretty dumb. She sounded very together and knew her "spiel"...and didn't seem to know much about the area of my questions. Somehow, I think that 60+ age on the registration blank, pigeonholes me before she has even seen me. I'm hoping for a better showing this Saturday at another hospital's Open House. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out how to write up a resume` for the first time in my life! (I have never had to do that before for ANY job.)

2. I'm functioning in the area of my non-spiritual gift for the second year in a row and it is getting to me! There is a lot of improvement. Last year I was working in two areas of non-gift. One area is totally delegated to others who do it sooo much better than I. This year, I'm co-working in an area of non-gift as I co-teach with a woman who is gifted in teaching. The more I work with her, the more sure I am that this is her gift...and it isn't mine. The saving grace for me...and the reason that I'm not more of a failure...is that my gift is exhortation/encouragement. I don't pick out the points as easily as she does...in fact, it is often tortuously difficult for me to see them. They just jump out at her. I've noticed that about my husband too--he is a teacher. My motivation in doing what I'm doing is to encourage people to do what they do well or aren't sure they can do.
The problem with working in my area of non-gift is that it takes so much of my time to that, that I don't have the time to do the "people"/one-on-one work that I need to do to develop a lot of things that have gotten started. I know that others are doing that, but I really miss the contact with people. I am not a cave-dweller and that is what I have to become in order to be prepared to teach on the Thursday nights that I teach.

3. Overall time management, although improving from what it was before I went out of town, is not up to par. I feel like I have a lot of balls in the air and if I'm not careful, I'm going to get hit in the head when they all start to come down. There is no way I'll be able to catch all of them!

4. I'm getting pretty overwhelmed with homesickness as in, I just want to go home! I want to see old friends and be where it is easy to get outside and get the exercise I need. I want to be in my one story house and work in my garden and get my house in order (as tenents keep tearing it up). It is not against people here. I have some good friends here. I just long for long time friends who know my kids and remember things about them and ask how they are...because they know them. I don't know if these feelings are ties to the upcoming wedding or what, but the fun of a wedding is when your friends around you are excited for you and your child (that they know). I guess that is what is missing from this happy time. I'm far from the people who are so happy about this whole event and love to discuss the details.
Well, I think that is about all the "reality" I can handle for now.
I will have to refer to something from my Bible study to encourage my soul so I don't fall into a hole. Actually, I do have something pretty great. We are studying Exodus 19-20 along with Psalm 19. Psalm 19 was talking about general revelation and the Exodus passage talks more about special revelation. One of the writers that I was reading (I think it was Jack Scott) said that in special (or natural) revelation, here is one of the things that happens:
Every morning when the sun comes up, it preaches a sermon. The light of God always triumphs over the darkness!

How is that for a cool picture? It might be enough to make me a morning person...almost:) That might dispel the darkness for today...and remind me that I'm focusing on the wrong "reality".

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WELCOME TO A NEW FAMILY MEMBER. No, it's not a new baby coming, but another son-in-law! When we first got our email address, we added the number 8 to our name because that was how many family members we had. With the coming of the last two grandchildren (a month apart), the number jumped to 10 so with Steve joining our family, that will make 11!
He popped the question last night in Austin, TX and got that ring on Dawn's finger just in time for her to go back to Ukraine tomorrow. Over the next few weeks, she will be planning how to smoothly transition out of Ukraine. That will help them know when to set the wedding date. The latest date will be in June (before their next birthdays). Of course, they would like it to be sooner, so we'll see how it all works out. It is interesting that this happened the week of our 39th wedding anniversary...which is tomorrow.

I guess I should tell you a bit more about Steve. He lives in Austin, TX...and has lived there most of his life. He is active at Crosspointe Church...a PCA church in Austin that is located near the YMCA. He is the oldest of three boys. He is 6'3" tall making him the tallest son-in-law marrying the shortest daughter:) He is 39...celebrated his birthday the week he met Dawn in July. (He was with a group from his church that was on a mission trip there. He was praying for a wife...a woman who was strong-willed with a strong spiritual foundation. When he met her, he knew he had found what he was looking for! He plans to go back to Kiev for Thanksgiving and Dawn was already planning to come to the US for Christmas. She had delayed her HMA (furlough) until May.

They are looking forward to God continuing to guide them in the weeks and months ahead. Our prayers are with them as well.
For more from Dawn, click here http://dawn.covblogs.com/archives/022231.html