Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wowed by Some Verses in 2 Kings - Elisha's Power Did Not End in Death

So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:20-21 ESV)

You could not write a better screen play.  God's words are powerful, yes.  But how amazing is the story!  Just imagine the emotions, the drama, the images.  Time in Israel must have been tragic.  From these verses it appears that an invasion was expected every year.  How sad.  Elisha, a man of God, had died.  Power, messages from God, miracles had paused.  Were the people hopeless, helpless, lost?
So now here comes the Moabites and a maurading band.  They were bent on a raid of ravaging proportions.  Anything they could get their war torn, blood thirsty hands on were trophies of battle.  But people died.  And buried.  But one soldier hit the jackpot.  Not that he died, but that he was thrown in to Elisha's grave.  I wonder if he knew this man of God or even who he was.  I wonder if secretly in life this man ever wanted to catch a glimpse of the power that this man showed.  His death was tragic.  His burial was rushed.  His resurrection was miraculous.
Can you even imagine what that must have looked like?  An open grave for one thing must have been disgusting.  Did they know it was Elisha's?  War and marauding was destructive and bloody.  This man had died in the battle.  There was no ceremony for his death.  His body was quickly thrown into someone else's grave.  Then God chose to wow everyone.
As soon as his bones hit Elisha's lifeless body, this soldier came back to life and stood to his feet.  I would think that maybe he looked around and everyone else was on the ground, faint.  Just maybe.
Elisha was a man.  That was it.  Yet, God chose him.  God used him.  Elisha was not perfect.  He was not God, but he listened to God.  God's power through Elisha was known throughout the world in that day.  It gave me pause to see that God chose to extend this man's power even after death.  It had nothing to do with Elisha.  He was dead and buried.  Yet, new life was given even in death.
It does not say that a revival took place.  Israel kept making mistakes and walking away from God.  I would think this man's life would have changed.  Then maybe that is what is all about, changing one life.  It may not be so dramatic as that, but is my life one that even in death, even in my complete state of powerlessness, God can use me to change even one life?
I just love these gems that God shares in his Word.  As you read the Bible, don't be surprised by what God did.  Sit in wonder and wow.  Are there any verses you have ingested lately that have made you smile or make your jaw drop?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Reflections on SCC's Take Another Step

"Take Another Step"

Well the band was playing, the flags were waving
And there you were
In the middle of a sunny day parade
The crowds were cheering, the sky was clear
Not a worry in the world
Marching on sure and steady, strong and straight
Take another step and another step and another step

Then the lightning flashed the thunder crashed
And suddenly
It began to rain and everybody ran
Then the sky went black as midnight
And you couldn’t see
Paralyzed by what you just can’t understand
And now here you are
You’re afraid to move
You don’t know where to go
You don’t know what to do

Take another step, take another step
When the road ahead is dark
And you don’t know where to go
Take another step, take another step
Trust God and take another step
And another step and another step
Take another step and another step and another step

We walk by faith and not by sight we know it’s true
We say it and sing it and love the way it sounds
But none of us can even begin to truly understand
What it really means ‘til all the lights go out
And there we are nothing to hold on to
But the promises God’s made to me and you

Take another step, take another step
When the road ahead is dark
And you don’t know where to go
Take another step, take another step
Trust God and take another step

If there’s an ocean in front of you
You know what you’ve gotta do
Take another step and another step
Maybe He’ll turn the water into land
And maybe He’ll take your hand and say
Let’s take a walk on the waves
Will you trust Me either way
And take another step
Take another step

Take another step
Take another step
Trust God and take another step
Take another step
When the road ahead is dark
And you don’t know where to go
Take another step
Take another step
Trust God and take another step
And another step and another step
Take another step and another step and another step
Take another step and another step and another step
Take another step and another step and another step

Steven Curtis Chapman continues to wow me through the years with powerful words and catchy tunes.  His album, The Glorious Unfolding, proved true.  I hear these words echo in my mind some days before my feet hit the floor.  My little guys scream from the depths of their toes, "take another step."  My ten year old son does not understand it all, but he has seen enough darkness.  Trusting God with another step requires much faith.  He is learning.
I am learning.  Many days my choice would be to curl up, pull the covers over my head and not move for a really, really long time.  That will never work.  I know that.  God has called me to take another step even in the darkness, in the storms.  When the ground is uneven, when my body hurts, when my strength is barely enough, I can take another step because I know that my God is there next to me ready to catch me.  I do not have to know the final destination, but I am not asked to.  Taking another step allows God to continue to direct me to where he wants me to be.  If I don't trust him with the next step, how can I trust him with the ones that lie down the road?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Car Rides Never Seem to End

No one tells you when you cradle your newborn that many hours of your life will be measured sitting in a car.  When your little one struggles to sleep at night, you drive in circles simply to settle a screaming child.  As he becomes school age, the hours you spend now bracket a school day.  Middle and high school bring after school sports practice and games.  Maybe your child is gifted in music and will travel with a team on Sundays.  Or drama is his bent and hours of practices leading up to production require hours more in the car.  
Then comes summer.  Camps provide a platform for a child to grow, take good chances, make good friends, and learn outside of your home.  Great stuff that requires, you guessed it, more hours in the car to get your child to and from camp.  
Don't you wish one could bottle up time earlier in life, but ineveitably we ignore hints to do so.  Somehow the moments creep up slowly and fly by quickly.  Grasping them becomes a virtual impossiblity.  
At this point in my life I have eight children, only one of whom has a license.  She is only home during the summer.  Four of my children require an additional six hours of my time weekly out of my home so that sibling visits can take place.  For a stay at home mom, I spend a great amount of time out of my home.  
So what?  God has chosen to lay that before me now.  I do not always enjoy it, honestly.  Often major tiffs occur (and not just with the kiddos).  My youngest has a penchant for swearing, which of course gets any mom's goat especially when she is driving.  
Yet, in the midst of all this driving I have seen rainbows, watched clouds loom on the horizon forboding storms, caught the sun as it peeked its way through,  laughed at turkeys crossing the road, listened to my little one ask Jesus to forgive her sin.  I have shared life lessons with my teens, wept in my heart for hurting children, prayed aloud for little ones who struggle.
I get to the end of many days physically exhausted and drained, tired of running, driving.  But, I have to remember that what drains from me can be poured into my kids.   These are days when God reminds me that he never stops for me either.  His plan is perfect eventhough it is not always fun.  His grace includes energy and allertness to buckle one more car seat, wait in one more parking lot, make one more trip to camp, and start it all over again tomorrow.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Turning 47 Made Me Smile

So, I am guilty of spending more than enough time scanning countless, unrelated pins on Pinterest.  Many are repetitive and completely unrealistic for this mama.  Some I pin and file away for another day, if I can actually remember what I pinned.  Then there are ideas that grab you.  Grip tightly.  Make you think.  Challenge you.  Make you do something.  So, I did.
Random Acts of Kindness is not a new concept.  Yet, I was challenged to choose 47 (the number of years God has blessed me with) ways to show kindness to other people.  It was going to take some planning and a bit of creativity.  Many of the pins that I read about were 30 somethings celebrating.  Forty-seven is not a small number.  I was determined.  
Two weeks before, I chose my list.  I knew that it was going to take the weekend to accomplish, so I made sure that my family was on board with my plans.  Including them was half the fun.  
I did much of the shopping alone, which of course is a treat in and of itself.  
My birthday fell on Sunday, so Saturday I set the plan in motion.  
1.  Barnes and Noble is my home away from home.  After I bought an iced coffee, I bought a $5 gift card, wrote a quick note in it and handed it to the next lady in line.  It was my first birthday blessing, and I was excited.  
2.  At the bookstore, I also bought a Caldecott Medal book that I would place in the church library the next day.  I love kids' books.  My kids loved this one too.
 book cover image: a sick day for amos mcgee

3-5. The next stop was Produce Junction where I got to buy flowers and a potted plant.  A few stops after the produce store, I visited Aldis, a store at the end of our development.  I frequent there regularly.  There is a particular cashier who makes me smile every time.  She is encouraging, a hard worker, and a mom herself.  I searched her out in the store to bless her with the other bouquet of flowers.  Her smile reached from ear to ear, and it never stopped.  She even gave me an additional hug before I left the store.  

Later that evening, my kids and I visited our neighbor who is like a grandma to our kids.  Her generous heart blesses our family weekly, and I wanted to share a blessing with her.  The plant made her smile.  Then she gave us some free bread.  Wait!  What is wrong with this picture?
My mom came over on Monday to help me watch the kiddos while I took Laura to the doctor.  Little did I know how the rest of the week would play out.  She spent many hours at our home.  Flowers seemed like too small a token of my love for her, but she smiled none the less.  I love that woman.
6-30  The kids had a great part in this next smile maker.  We loaded 24 water bottles in the van and went to our town's playground and started handing them out to moms, dads, kids, soccer players, basketball players, basically anyone who would take one.
31-40  I also bought some bubbles to give to some littles at the playground.  One dad was there with his two little girls.  It melted my heart to see him walk with them further into the field to blow bubbles with his girls.  
41  I found this set of plastic animals at Walmart.  I set two of my kids on a mission to find a hidden place where kids would fit and would see some fun toys to play with and imagine.
42  Dunkin Donuts is another one of my faves.  We have one in particular where we stop each Sunday morning.  I walked in on my birthday.  One couple was sitting enjoying their morning as well.  I was able to bless them with a $5 gift card.  It feels good to make someone smile. 
43  Another neighbor is always ready to help out.  He is a grandpa and loves our kids.  We made him some brownies and brought them over.  His grandkids were thrilled too.
44-45   My foster kids have supervised visits twice weekly.  The facility is more than adequate, but often with the high turnover and difficult population, some of the basics get overlooked.  Many of the moms are on limited incomes if they have a job.  The kids are the ones who will go without.  I cannot fix the big problem, but I knew I could supply a very little to help.  Now this may seem silly, but I bought straws and sippie cups.  Yet, in the four years I have dealt with this company there have been multiple times where these simple items were not available.  It is a small pebble in a big ocean, but I know it will make a little one and maybe a young mom smile.
46-47  I had planned on finishing my birthday celebration on Monday, but God had other plans.  I spent the next three days in the hospital with Laura.  Choosing to be patient, smile when answers were not available, and be gracious were all kind things that I had to choose.  
I had wanted to place a clean diaper in a changing station for a mom who may find her self with a little one and an emergency.  
Also taping a bag of microwave popcorn to a Redbox was in the plans to make someone smile unexpectedly.  
Those things may still happen.  I don't have to do it all on my birthday weekend.  Random acts of kindness need to happen more than randomly.  
One of the extra blessings was watching my kids share in my journey.  We get too caught up in what we get and forget the giving.  Thank you, Lord, for nudging me to step outside of my comfort zone and share with others because of the many ways you have blessed me.