Global Day of Prayer for Burma – March 14, 2009

The Global Day of Prayer for Burma is an annual event initiated in 1997 by Christians Concerned for Burma at the request of Burma’s democracy leader, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.  Next Sunday, churches around the world are urged to pray for Burma during their services.  See the following link for details:

http://www.prayforburma.org/IDX/Prayer/Day_of_Prayer/2010/GDOP%202010.pdf

For Seattle area runners/walkers, the Run for Relief (a fundraiser for relief efforts in Burma) will take place next Sunday in Gig Harbor….See following link for details:  http://www.chapelhillpc.org/our-calendars-mainmenu-17/special-events-mainmenu-131.html

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Sometimes I don’t like God

It was a shock last week, to admit to myself, that there’s times I don’t really like God.  Our C-Group (community group) was reading a bunch of passages out of Jeremiah as part of our One Year Through the Bible thing, and I was starting to get bummed.  As a Christian, I’ve always known I’m supposed to love, honor, fear, reverence, worship, obey and respect God.  But I had to admit, reading some of the verses about the times God said and declared awful catastrophes for all kinds of people-it seemed so random and unfair! Where’s the justice in all that?  Still, I was pondering this with a little a bit of emotional distance left….until Wednesday.

Tuesday morning, our beautiful little new grandson, Austin, made his entrance into the world.  Strawberry blond, crying, wiggling….all those cute little newborn things.  I was privileged to be there to watch the miracle of new life as he made his entrance and to rejoice that even with all the unexplainable ##*#* going on in the world, God still seems to be in favor of life.  Things were good, and the gratitude level was high, even though there was this nagging question about whether or not it was blasphemy to admit I had some issues with Jeremiah.

Wednesday morning at 4:40 a.m., our daughter called to say their  precious little guy had just been airlifted to a city hospital in severe respiratory distress.  My voice and my words told her we’d be there as soon as we could catch a ferry to pick her up and bring her over to the little man (her husband drove ahead to meet the chopper but she had to wait for the doctor’s to come in and release her).  My heart, however, did a quick trip back to Jeremiah and the God who isn’t always very nice and prayed (begged) with all sincerity, that He would be the nice, kind, loving, life-giving God this time to this one little family who has waited and longed to meet this precious little guy we’ve all already loved for nine months and one day.

Pulling my head and my heart out of maternal/infant mortality statistics I’ve read and focusing on what was instinctual, needed and helpful, my inventory of my available faith level at that point was on empty.  So, I texted some people I knew would wake up, see their messages and pray.  Then we got out of here and went to be with the Mommy.

At the hospital, while we waited for doctors to show up, get out of meetings, and get Mommy on her way, I used Facebook to put the word out to pray. People who don’t even know our daughter and her truly wonderful husband responded and there were prayers going up for this little man, and people sending words of encouragement and hope.  Thank you!!!!!

As much as I would like to pretend that I was full of faith and knew God was gonna make things Ok, I wasn’t and I didn’t.  I was AFRAID that maybe, like so many other people in so many other places who live with loss and disaster each day that has no explanation, that this little family might have to experience that because God was doing something else.  Gratefully, my fears did not materialize and Austin’s doing much much much much better….

Lesson learned:

  1. There are times when your tank is empty, and that’s when the prayers of others who aren’t on empty can help carry you, if you just ask.
  2. The community of  faith will respond if asked and their prayers may touch God’s heart, and keep yours from breaking.
  3. Pray.  Ask others to pray.  Pray some more.
  4. You don’t have to go through it alone….ask for help!  Others can believe even when you can’t.
  5. Don’t forget to give thanks, regularly, privately, publicly and every other way as a matter of habit and discipline.
  6. Maybe, for now, I’m gonna focus on gratitude, and quit reading the Jeremiah sections (one of our amazing friends-a spiritually wise lady I really respect, said there was a time in her life where she couldn’t do a bunch of Psalms at once-they were too violent, and the priest just told her to pick a different reading….God bless him!)

To the two or three people who might read this, thank you.  To all those who prayed for Austin and his family, THANK YOU SO SOSOSOSOSOSOSO MUCH!

Maybe there are times when the fear of God takes precedence over the love of God….and maybe whether or not I LIKE Him is irrelevant?

(PS  I printed out the six pages of comments and prayers ya’all put on Facebook for Austin and his family and gave it to his Mommy and Daddy for his baby book)

I think this is a Sabbatical (personal musing)

You can figure your life may have been a little out of balance if working 40-45 hours per week seems like a sabbatical.  Been figuring that one out the last couple of months, as responsibilities have changed in some areas.  Finding out how many uncompleted tasks I had stacked up, dusting them off and starting to catch up.  Instead of aiming for burn out, blow out or freak out, accepting the gentle hands of God putting me in time out for six months before I compulsively engage in taking on any new projects (even good ones).  This is a new discipline for me.  It seems I’ve spent the last six years trying to gobble up all of life I can possibly participate in, and while it has been incredibly meaningful, it hasn’t necessarily been the most effective.

While I sometimes miss my friends and the community I came from, I am also incredibly grateful for the new community here that has enfolded me and made me a part of their lives.  The past few years of over-active living has been richly peopled with some of those who are effective in making a difference in people’s lives and providing practical help in a variety of ways to those in some dire circumstances. I have been privileged to listen to the stories and learn from the lives of those who have lived meaningful and well and demonstrated their faith in practical action.

As I approach the end of month 2 of my time-out, I find my life has still been very full.  For example:

  • Spending time some weekends with much loved adult children
  • Sometimes helping with major carpooling of refugee community to church in Kent
  • Going to hear friends from other parts of the world speak in different churches in the area while they’re home on Sabbatical
  • Hanging out with new young friends (thoroughly enjoying being unofficially            adopted as a grandparent)
  • Watching God work even in the midst of the Intensive Care Unit in my Mom’s life and giving thanks for the angels that work in hospitals with the desperately ill
  • Parenting parents, through a variety of crises
  • Finishing up previous privilege of being a non-profit bookkeeper for 6 years and attempting to hand it off to the upgraded version (a retired CPA)
  • Learning new techy skills to finish some long neglected projects for my kids
  • Working on getting the rest of my songs together for home-recording another CD for kids/family (before I’m too old to remember what I wrote)
  • Handling paperwork for parents through changing circumstances, challenges, insurances and learning more about Medicare/Medicaid and the American medical nightmare than I ever wanted to know
  • Giving thanks for the buyer of my parent’s condo (two year project finally finished!) and our amazing friend/realtor (Shellie) who got it done
  • Participating in major software upgrade/transition at work with related stress, and liking it:)
  • Finishing several whole books without falling asleep just ’cause I sat down (the latest: Little Daughter by Zoya Phanhighly recommended)
  • Giving a few piano lessons to new little friends
  • Exercising more, drinking coffee less
  • Catching up on bookkeeping for our business
  • Doing things “almost grandmas” are supposed to do:) (crocheting baby blanket, etc.)
  • Visiting a major event in our old community and spending time with people I haven’t seen in quite a while
  • Trying to recognize those moments when you hold someone’s heart in your hands and praying for the grace to respond in a way that brings hope to them
  • Spending time listening to those around me, and trying to be present in that moment instead of reaching towards the next one
  • Missing Rich and counting the days til he comes home from Alaska (5 to go!)

So….nothing profound, just trying to reorient the compass to measure my life not just by the tasks completed but by the relationships nurtured and formed-taking the time to try to notice, give thanks, and pray for those who come across my path each day….remembering to breathe….and literally, stopping to smell the roses, (or pet the kitties) when I’m out for a walk.

Poverty’s Stereotypes

The healthcare debate opens up all kinds of cans of worms.  It challenges our politics, our pocketbooks, our stereotypes of those people on public assistance or those who are “choosing to go naked” (not buying health insurance, which of course they could afford).  It challenges our view of poverty American style.

Poverty comes with many names and faces.  I have the privilege of seeing some of them each day at work, as people seek “affordable” dental care.  As I screen calls and try to steer people towards the most effective solution to their need, I hear all kinds of stories, and get all kinds of responses.  Some people thank me for the information or the connection, and others occasionally cuss me out for not having an easier path to point them towards.  Sometimes in mutual frustration, I acknowledge that the system is imperfect and broken, and if they want to fix it, suggest talking to their Congressperson.

This opinion piece from the New York Times talks about the power and limitations of community during personal or national economic downturns…all too true!  And we are all elgible.  It’s not just those other people who can get in a bad spot.  Many of us may not be that many steps from the wrong dominos lining up and flattening us.

News Story on Local Karen Refugee

One of the local refugee girls, Helber (age 16), has been a gift to her community in a whole lot of ways…registering other kids for school, helping people with paperwork and appointments….translating….the article below recognizes both her contributions to her community, and the journey to America.
 
http://www.seattlemet.com/issues/archives/articles/refugees-0709/

The end of her days….?

I’m not sure what people are supposed to feel at this point….when the hospital calls and says “Your mother is going downhill fast, and may end up on a respirator tomorrow”…when they want you to fax the paperwork that tells them what her wishes are for how things go from here…when you look at the mixed blessing that her life has been at times….and you question if you have done enough to be a bearer of light to someone who at times seemed like darkness…and you pray for grace to be graceful under pressure and to let her know in whatever way she can receive it, that you know it was her illness, not her intention, when she was difficult, unreasonable or impossible…and you pray again for grace to be light and to help family members as they struggle with the enigma that is her life…..if this is the end of her days, I pray she finds peace, and that as a child in His arms, she is at rest, undamaged, at last….

Reality Check–Cyber Psalm 15

Our friend, Dan, had a heart attack this week.  Scary.  So that made it doubly cool to get a perspective challenging email from him this morning with this Cyber Psalm from a blog he likes by David Ker, a Wcliffe Bible Translator in Mozambique.   

Cyber-Psalm 15

 NOVEMBER 23, 2007                                                                   by David Ker

What would heaven be like

if books of theology 
were written by children not men?

And what if sermons were delivered by the poor. 


And devotional books were written by the hungry. 


And hymns were composed by the sick and the old.

The Sermon on the Mount requires no interpretation, 


unless you are fat and happy.

If our hope of heaven were colored 


with children’s crayons and felt tip markers.

And our theology of hell were tempered 


by the dying breath of those who suffer.

The hair-splitting and hand-wringing 


of over-educated men in ivory towers 


goes largely unnoticed by grandmothers in their kitchens 


and office workers in their cubicles.

They go on putting silly magnets on their fridge 


And trading forwarded e-mails about heaven. 


Two thousand years of systematic theology 


Disturbs them not a bit!

God is honored and praised  

Hoped for and prayed to 


By myriads who never learned Greek.

Their revelation is not a scroll  

But a hope vaguely imprinted 


On a soul made by God.

The sick and the blind and the poor  

Receive Jesus with gladness. 


The Gospels require no spiritualized application.

Feed us, friend Jesus. 
  

Our stomachs are empty.


You are the one our hearts hope for.

Heal us who are sick. 
    

We ache and we suffer.

Save us in death. 
    

We are dying in darkness. 


Savior Jesus, our hope at life’s end.