The Beauty That the Camera on My New Tablet Can’t Capture

August 24, 2013

There we sat at the breakfast table, Jorge and I with my new tablet.  We were trying out the camera, and after taking pictures of ourselves, we hooted with laughter. “Is that what you see across the breakfast table every morning?” I asked him, horrified at my image. With my coffee mug in hand, a severe case of bed-head, a saggy old discolored nightgown (or was the saggy part under the worn-out nightgown?…) more wrinkles than I realized I had, my horror was justified.

Jorge was just as shocked at himself when he saw the picture he took of the top of his once-full-of hair-but-now-balding head. “Am I that bald???” After all, it was the first time he got a view from the top.

We each saw ourselves within the parameters of reality, and there was nothing handsome or physically beautiful about either of us.  (You’ll notice I’m not publishing those pictures.) We just don’t look the same as we were when we met and married a few decades ago, and that’s OK. Our goal is to wear our beauty on the inside.

The Apostle Paul expressed it this way: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day… while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18)

During our years of walking together with the Lord, Jorge and I have learned to appreciate each others’ inner beauty: love for God and others, obedience to His word, kindness and compassion. Those are qualities that we value and want to cultivate more of, even as our “outward man” gets more saggy and balder. They are the eternal things that really matter, that the Lord is renewing in us day by day.  We echo the prayer of Moses in Psalm 90:17: “And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us”. That beauty is something that the camera on my new tablet can’t capture!

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Wrinkly Hands and the Brevity of Life

August 21, 2013

It was child evaluation day in the three year old class where I was the lead teacher. The little ones were being tested on their ability to count to ten. I asked little Abby, who was sitting across the table from me, to count all her fingers, and then spread out my hands on the table and had her count my fingers. After successfully completing her counts, I congratulated her and added, “You have ten fingers just like I have!” to which she bluntly responded, “Yeah, but mine aren’t all wrinkly like yours are.”  I didn’t even notice how wrinkly mine were, until she pointed it out.

That incident with Abby was a vivid reminder of the brevity of life. What she didn’t know then, is that her smooth, plump, flawless hands would probably look a lot like mine some 45 years later. That’s the life cycle that we all experience. What does God’s Word say about that?

MOSES reminded us of how brief life is in Psalm 90:10-13, and prayed that God would “teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

JOB, in his pain, expressed that his “days are swifter than a runner; they flee away, they see no good.” (Job 9:25)

JAMES expressed that our life is “a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14) To emphasize the uncertainty of the future, he instructed us to say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” (4:15)

PETER assured that even though we are transient in this world, “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:24,25)

SOLOMON wrote of the brevity of our days and encouraged us to enjoy life, along with a solemn reminder: “Walk in the ways of your heart and in the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9)

Yes, smooth hands get wrinkly; we cycle through life. We wither as a flower and disappear as a vapor. Let’s seek God’s wisdom to enjoy the time He’s given us and to live each day in a way that honors Him, the Giver of Life!


A Puddle, Accusations and No Condemnation

August 18, 2013

Little Dillon’s Dad was very diligent to see that all of his three-year old son’s needs were met each day when he dropped Dillon off at the pre-school where I was a lead teacher. So like all of his classmates, Dillon had a change of clothes in his cubby, just in case he needed them.

One day Dillon reported an unfortunate accident to me with tears rolling down his little cheeks. “Miss Kathy, I wet my pants.” Feeling his pain and shame, I assured him that everything would be OK as I turned towards his cubby to get his spare clothes. Spontaneous commotion broke out from the other side of the room. All the other three-year olds were encircling a puddle on the floor, and chaos reigned as they tried to figure out what happened. Intending to restore calm, I said, “That’s OK, I’ll clean it up. Someone had an accident.” …to which Dillon immediately added, “It was probably you.” I could hardly contain the laughter as I cleaned up his puddle and the crowd dispersed.

That incident reminds me of the accusations the enemy of our souls hurls at us. Even when we are innocent, he tries to make us – and others – believe a lie about ourselves. Praise God, His truth is that “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), and that if He has justified us, “Who is he who condemns?” (Romans 8:34)

Just as I was certain that the puddle on the floor wasn’t something I did, I am equally convinced that God’s truth stands, and I don’t have to fear our enemy’s lies or his accusations. I am eternally grateful that I’ve been justified in Christ, and NO ONE can condemn me!


WELL, YOU LOOK LIKE YOU COULD BE A GRANDMA!

August 13, 2013

A conversation with a four-year old a few years ago reminded me that people aren’t always what they seem to be. Little Vanesa’s enormous, questioning brown eyes looked me over and she inquired, “Whose Grandma are you?” I was in my mid-40’s then, and taken aback by her spontaneous, innocent question. I replied “I’m not a Grandma.” And the conversation continued. “Why aren’t you a Grandma?” I was sure that  “Because I’m not old enough” would satisfy her curiosity, but it didn’t. Vanesa had the last word, frankly expressing her observation, “Well, you look like you could be a Grandma.”

People aren’t always what they seem to be. The ruddy, bright-eyed, youngest son of Jesse didn’t look like he would be the one to sit on Israel’s throne one day; at least his dad didn’t think so. A keeper of Jesse’s sheep, David was chosen by God not only to lead His people, but to be the direct ancestral line through whom the Savior of the world would be born! (Matthew 1:6) God saw in David what neither his own dad nor the prophet Samuel could see. God knew David’s heart, and told Samuel that “the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Like Jesse and Samuel, we can easily fall into the trap of thinking that people really are as we see them. It’s easy to hold someone in low esteem, or to be judgmental and even feel a little “holier than thou” when others don’t line up with our personal set of standards. It just takes a wacky neighbor, an obnoxious co-worker, a grumpy cashier at the store, or someone who outwardly expresses their inner creativity…and the trap is set. We tend to immediately assess them. Instead of thinking that’s who the person is, let’s ask God to see what HE wants us to see in them. A cry for help? A longing to be accepted? A compassionate bent? A future friend? Loneliness?

People aren’t always what they seem to be. Let’s look beyond “Well, you look like you could be a ….” (you can fill in the blank) and discover the “real” person. Let’s allow them to enrich us in their unique way, and see how we can bless them with the love of God that has been poured out in our hearts!


INSPIRATION FROM A TEN-MONTH OLD

August 10, 2013

When I took our grandsons home after their weekly dinner and evening with us, four-year old Milos raced into the house and immediately ran up the stairs. He stood there looking down at us. His ten-month old sister Kayra did not take her eyes off of him as she leaned on the bottom step, clutching to the second one and repeatedly lifting her little right leg, trying to propel herself up to the second step. She was unsuccessful, but that didn’t deter her! Laughingly, I warned my daughter-in-law, “You’d better watch out! One day when you turn your back, Kayra’s going to be at the top of the staircase!” A day or two later, before they had a chance to install a “childproof” gate, Mommy gave me the news: “Guess where I found Kayra? On the fourth step!” It’s hard to tell how far she would have gotten, had Mommy not found her.

Not understanding the though process of a ten-month old, I can only fabricate what was going on in her little mind. Maybe she thought, “I see my brothers run up there all the time. Mommy and Daddy go up and down the steps, too. Why can’t I? It looks like it’s one step at a time. I’m observing them. One leg up, the other leg up…I think I can do that. I’ll give it a try some time as soon as no one’s looking. Maybe it’s not so hard. It is big, but what have I got to lose?” (Unaware of the fact that she could possibly take an unpleasant tumble back down…) Kayra set a personal goal, and she is pursuing it.

I never imagined that our ten-month granddaughter would inspire me to set a goal and pursue it, but she did. My current short-term goal is to publish a book. My thought process follows the pattern Kayra may have had: “Others have successfully done that, why can’t I? It has to be one step at a time, learning from others. I think I can do that. I’ll give it a try. Maybe it’s not so hard. It’s daunting, but what have I got to lose?”

Do you have a goal? Maybe you’re wistfully thinking, “If only I could…” find better employment, lose weight, learn a new skill, save for something special, or pay off debt. Maybe it’s not so hard. Be inspired by Kayra…go for it!

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV)


LOOK WHAT ELSE MADE THE HEADLINES!

August 3, 2013

Since I found out how entertaining headlines are, I’m on the lookout for new ones every day. I still don’t read the articles; I just keep shaking my head in unbelief as I mumble an “Are you kidding?” to myself as I read how ridiculous some of them are. Read the latest bunch and you might find yourself just as appalled as I!

Does Happiness Make You Fat? I can’t seem to make the connection here. Experience has shown me that what I eat makes me fat. It’s superfluous to defend that fact!

Cellphone Use May be Making Us Fat.  The more you talk, the more you eat? The Apostle Paul disciplined his body and brought it into subjection. (1 Cor. 9:27). We should be moderate in all things, too!

DirecTV to Launch Channel for Dogs. So can we assume that the actors and news anchors will also be dogs? Shows about dogs, by dogs and for dogs?

Are Open Relationships OK? That’s not God’s plan. His plan is 1 + 1 = 4. (1 man, plus 1 woman, equals  a marriage relationship 4 ever.)

Will Owning a Home Really Make You Happy? No guarantee! Proverbs 16:20 says: “…whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he.” Homeowner or non-homeowner!

Need a Reference? Hire a Liar! The Apostle Paul foresaw that when he wrote that “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

Avoiding Estrogen Treatment Can Lead to Death. Last time I heard, everything leads to death. Hebrews 9:27 reads “…it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” with or without estrogen!

Could There Be Another You Somewhere New? I’m not sure how I got to that “Somewhere New”, but I am certain that I’m on God’s wonderful earth by His design. Psalm 139 assures me of that.

Can Thoughts and Words Affect Water? Absolutely!…but only the words of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  He spoke the words that created water. Matthew 5:45 says that “He sends the rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Dream Control Could Make Sleep Extra Satisfying. When we trust in the Lord, we enjoy extra satisfying sleep, because HE controls our dreams and our lives; we are safe in Him. Psalm 4:8 states it well: “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” THAT is extra satisfying!


“GOOD” ISN’T A BIG ENOUGH WORD!

August 2, 2013

“…the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting…” Psalm 100:5

I open my eyes this morning and praise God because His compassions are new again today. Just in the first hour of this brand-new day, He pours His compassions on me. God is good, but “good” isn’t a big enough word.

I can think. I open my eyes after a restful sleep. Nothing hurts. I am healthy.  I can see the person He gave me to share life with, who lives out His love to me, and who I’m deeper in love with than I was when I met him. He’s right beside me. I hear “Amazing Grace” being sung on the radio and praise Him for that grace. I get out of our comfy bed. The temperature is perfect. I’m in our own home. I go through my morning routine, enhanced by hot, running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity. I smell the coffee and enjoy breakfast. I taste and savor each bite. I can walk, talk, breath and digest. I have enough food in my refrigerator to prepare my lunch to take to work. I am employed.

I take my steaming mug of dark-roast to my office and sit in my cushioned chair. As I open my Bible and notebook to worship my good God and Savior who makes all this possible, my all-time favorite guitar player is playing a worship melody from his office, right beside mine. “Cuando pienso en tu amor tan bello, y te veo a ti en santidad…te adoro a ti…la razón por la cual yo vivo es para adorarte…” (I worship You…the reason I live is to worship You.)

I pray, “Lord, let me start off each new day with a sense of awe of You; with thanksgiving and praise, blessing Your name. You are our unchanging God. You are good”

At that point my heart nearly bursts with gratitude as I “taste and see” God’s goodness (Psalm 34:8) God is good, but “good” isn’t a big enough Word!


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