Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life's Wrinkles...

I had my 6 month's visit to my dentist and the hygienist this week. It's not my favorite way to spend part of a day but it's important and I'm grateful for those who have chosen dentistry as a profession. I had good news - no cavities - healthy gums and mouth.

But the mostly one-sided conversation with the hygienist (couldn't say much while there were fingers and instruments working in my mouth) revealed some real concern in her life. I don't know this gal very well as I've changed dentists fairly recently so have only seen her once or twice before. To the casual, "How are you?" question, she had a rather dubious answer. I asked if there was something she wanted to share about her life since it seemed she was a little uncertain about something. She began to share about the recent discovery and diagnosis of a very rare form of benign tumor which was the size of a baseball. It had been removed but apparently the removal wasn't complete and she was being referred to a specialist who would be doing another surgery very soon. I could tell that she was very concerned and nervous. She said, "I just want it out! I just want to be rid of this! I just want my life back!" As she concluded my exam, she opened my folder to record what she had done. As she leafed through the papers, she found that some of the papers had gotten folded and creased so she tried to straighten them. She was trying to flatten those papers so they would lie more smoothly but they were wrinkled and messy. As I observed this brief episode, I said to her, "Seems like those papers are a little like your life right now - there are some unwanted wrinkles in the papers and in your life."

That subject, the "wrinkles" of life, has been swirling in my thoughts today. Wrinkles come in all sizes and intensity. They come to all people regardless of status, age and gender. A friend's email note today informed me that she has just been informed her employment will end because of the economy this March. This is a huge wrinkle for her and her family. Many people are facing and enduring that wrinkle. Others have broken dreams related to health, relationships, plans... Newspaper headlines report fires, drug busts, ice storms, droughts, foreclosures...

Many of the people whose lives are shared in scripture had serious "wrinkles" during their lifetime. Joseph, Job, Esther, Jonah, Daniel and David come to mind. This subject took me to the book of Psalms. David wrote in
Psalm 9: 9, 10...
The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken
those who seek you.
I see three things here which require my attention -
  1. know your name
  2. trust in you
  3. seek you
Are these difficult? They do require intentional pursuit and commitment. But what is the promise for those who accomplish these things? The Lord has never forsaken those who seek him. What an encouragement when we are in the midst of life's "wrinkles." There will be troubles as these verses say but we have the Lord in whom we can place our trust as we experience the messy wrinkles of life.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ending 2008; Starting 2009...

For me and my husband, the past year ended and the new year began at Laity Lodge We are both employed by the ministry which operates this adult retreat center. My position is part-time; his full-time.

The speaker for the retreat was Dave Peterson, Pastor of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston, TX. His messages were engaging, inspiring and challenging. I took some notes and am still thinking about the things he said which have been causing me to evaluate the use of my time.

The theme for his five talks was BLESS. He used BLESS as an acrostic and had a message for each letter of that word:
  • Bless someone Acts 3: 1-10
  • Listen to God John 10: 1-10
  • Eat with someone (I was working during this message.)
  • Study God John 1:29-33
  • Serve Generously Romans 12:1-2
Day 1 was encouragement to "Bless" someone as Peter and John blessed the crippled man who begged for alms at the temple gate. The crippled man hoped for alms but Peter and John gave him something far more valuable. They elevated his sense of worth by having meaningful contact with him. They pictured another future for this man than he had for himself. Those listening to Dave Peterson were encouraged to bless someone - help someone think the impossible and take a hand to help them get there. Peter took the hand of the crippled man,
"helped him up and instantly the man's
feet and ankles became strong.
He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
Then he went with them into the temple courts,
walking and jumping, and praising God."

Dave Peterson concluded his talk with this thought-provoking, somewhat uncomfortable question:
"Who will leap and dance because you lived?"

So I'm pondering that question. There are people I know who appear to need alms but perhaps their greater need is for a blessing - the thought of a different future from the "survival mode" state in which they currently find themselves. It will require something of me to make this determination. The requirement is first of all my time and my focused attention. So...

This is where 2008 ended and 2009 began for me. Am I willing to BLESS those whose hands reach out to me as I pass by on my way to the temple? It will cost me something but if "walking and jumping and praising God" is the result, it will be worth it.

Note: I added family photos as a slideshow on my blog site. You may wish to take a few minutes to see some of the special people in my life - children, grandchildren, family, friends - here and abroad. Thanks.