Category Archives: God

Favorite Bible Verse

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YouVersion, the free Bible app I sometimes use on my phone, recently sent me an email that listed the top ten Bible verses most often bookmarked by their users. Here they are:

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Proverbs 3:5 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:7 – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 3:6 – In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

I Corinthians 13:4 – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It’s a good collection. There are so many treasures there… promises, comfort, encouragement for the journey. Great verses. Is your favorite there? Mine isn’t. Philippians 4:6 is high on the list, though. As someone who has struggled all my life with fear and anxiety, the assurance that I can cast my cares on the One who made me and loves me offers great strength.

My favorite verse (right now) is Romans 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

I know a lot about hope. Hope that startles, hope that rises, hope that quietly wraps around you and keeps you holding on for one more day. In my life, I have seen God come through over and over. Sometimes He flies in like Superman and sweeps away the obstacles; other times He simply assures me of His presence–a small, warm light glowing through the dark, just bright enough to illuminate the next step. And then the next. And the next.

And I take those steps. I take them trembling. I take them stumbling. But I take them, because I know they are leading me to the home that was promised. And that He who promised is faithful.

So do you have a favorite Bible verse? What is it? And why?

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Crossed Over

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Beautiful Sara is finally home–free at last from all her pain and struggles.  Even though I never met her, she has been an inspiration to me to “choose joy” in all circumstances.  Her thoughtful, grace-filled words always challenged me and shed light into dark corners as I pondered the shape of true faith.  Now she has gone on ahead of us, into that other country whose citizenship is known only to the One to whom she gave her whole heart. One day I, too, will fall into His arms. Among God’s family, separations are only temporary.

Goodbye for now, Gitzen Girl.

Katie’s New Life

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April 3rd, 2011, was a day I’ve been praying for since my beautiful daughter was born, twelve years ago.  That was the day Katie declared to the world that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Lord and Savior of her life!

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  -3 John 1:4

 

“… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  -Romans 3:23

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for an unrighteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  -Romans 5:6

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  -John 3:16

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’  Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.'”  -Acts 2:37-39

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone; the new has come!”  -2 Corinthians 5:17

QotD

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“For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here, knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world.  It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want, but the experience of God’s presence.  That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think, the miracle that we really get.”

–Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

It’s Not That Kind of Help

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Katie had a lot of homework on Tuesday, and she was most sincerely and demonstrably not happy about it.

Since the kids get out of school about forty-five minutes before I leave work, they usually sit in the conference room down the hall from my desk and work on homework until it’s time to pack up and go.  As I tried to cram a few more essential tasks into the few minutes of working time I had left, I could hear Katie’s whining and indignation at having so much homework to do (and on a video game day–the gall of her teacher!) all the way down the hall.  It was getting progressively louder as she increased her volume by increments until she was sure that I could fully appreciate the injustice of her burden.

Caleb, who just can’t bear to see his sister in pain, offered this advice:  “You should pray about it, Katie.”

“That won’t help,” she moaned piteously.

“Yes, it will, Katie!” he said firmly.  In the past few months, Caleb’s burgeoning faith has received a great boost through answered prayers, and he often asks me to pray for him before school or when he’s scared at night.  He persisted in reassuring his sister.  “If you pray, God will help you.”

“Caleb,” she said, with the exaggerated eye roll that only older sisters can properly manage, “I’m supposed to do the work by myself.”

Merry Christmas!

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This morning, we got a text message from Daniel, my newest brother-in-law.  It said:

Wishing you the very best in this time of yearning between the now and the not yet.

Happy Christmas

Daniel & Amber

On this day of family, food, and friendship, I pray the same for you–both the yearning, and the fulfillment of it in Jesus Christ and the home He has prepared for those who love Him.

Happy holidays!

Wedding Drums

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Well, Amber is a married woman now.

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I know she’s 29 years old, but she’s still my baby sister, and seeing her in a wedding dress was every bit as surreal as the first time I witnessed my brother (the one who used to give me Indian rug burns and wrestle with me for control of the TV remote) changing diapers and answering to the name of “Daddy.” Still, the look on her face was beyond description. I suppose I could say that she was glowing, but it doesn’t seem to do her justice. When that kind of happiness, so deep and transforming, shines out from someone’s eyes, it’s almost too beautiful to look at. Seeing it radiating from my beloved sister warmed me straight through.

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The wedding was lovely. It was a perfect reflection of the two hearts being joined together that day. Daniel’s twin brother and best man, Samuel, sang a song in Shona, and Amber walked down the aisle to the sound of African drumbeats. Then she and Daniel faced each other before a crowd of smiling witnesses and promised to love each other always, to build their lives on God’s truth, and to be home to one another forever. After their first kiss (which was heralded by Daniel’s sincere “Woohooo!” of glee and the onlookers’ appreciative chuckles), the newly married couple a-wimoweh-ed back down the aisle together to the strains of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens, grinning from ear to ear.

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Thanks to the round-the-clock food preparation and decorating efforts of some very dedicated extended family, the reception was a vision of candlelight and white tablecloths, filled with the aromas of delicious Italian meatballs and skewered chicken. Our Aunt Linette made the wedding cake, a delectable Italian Cream cake festooned with red roses. Samuel made a sweet toast to the happy couple, and the bride and groom entertained the guests with their own harmonic performance, singing an array of songs, accompanied by their musical friends, Butch and Linda. A few brave souls even jumped up to strut their stuff on the dance floor; mostly the kids, who found it an excellent way to burn off their sugar high from the cream cheese frosting.

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Finally, the cake was eaten, the bouquet was flung, and Daniel and Amber were ready to exchange the noisy wedding festivities for the quiet refuge of their reserved room at a nearby bed-and-breakfast. Instead of birdseed to hurl at the bride and groom (possibly causing grievous injury or inviting freak bird swarm attacks) the guests received glowsticks to wave around and light the path through the dark parking lot to Amber’s well-decorated car. With one last run through the cheering crowd, the freshly joined pair jumped into their escape vehicle and drove away to begin their new life.

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Just like that, the wedding was over.

The cleanup, however, was just beginning.

***

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Congratulations, Daniel and Amber. May God bless you with true friendship, self-sacrificing love, and more mountains than valleys. I wish you both very happy!

(Final photo courtesy of Mike McElhatton)

Nine

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Katie Nine 1

Today I am the mother of a nine year old.

Nine. The last single digit birthday. The last age that sounds right with “and-a-half” tagged onto the end of it. The last year of the whimsical, wonderful pre-pre-teen stage, when magical thinking and a burgeoning awareness of the world live comfortably side by side behind an enigmatic expression.

Katie, my little girl, is nine.

Didn’t she just turn eight, like, yesterday?

I’m trying not to panic here, but tell me this: where does the time go?

***

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Katie, I love you. I love the baby you were and the child you are and the woman you will be.

I love your zest for life, your unquenchable optimism, your childlike faith. I love the cute crooked teeth (those are from me; sorry!) that peek out from behind your ever-present grin. I love the way you face each day with determined good cheer, and the way your infrequent burst of temper dissolves as quickly as it came, like a brief summer squall passing away in the sunlight.

I love your goofy jokes (even the ones that don’t, strictly speaking, make sense) and your easygoing ways and how you get giggles which, once started, can’t be stopped by any force under the sun until they’ve run their full course and tears are streaming down your face. I love your tender heart and your million questions. I love the way you protect your brother, even when the protection is clearly (and loudly) unwanted. I love your joy.

I love your growing independence (but you might have to remind me sometimes). I love your tender heart. I love the way the world looks through your eyes, even while I’m showing it to you through mine. I love our talks, long rambles through the garden in your mind. I love our time together, and all the more because I know it will be short.

I love you, Katie. You are one of God’s best creations.

Happy ninth birthday.

***

(You just came up and started reading over my shoulder. Don’t worry, sweetheart. They’re almost all happy tears.)

And now for something completely Katie:

Stranded

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I usually ignore those little lights on the dashboard.

Our car, a Ford Escort, was born the same year the Euro was introduced*, and is starting to show her age. I’ve decided that the “check engine” light, which has been on for the past 30,000 miles, is the automotive equivalent of arthritis. We’ve taken our beloved car to professionals, performed batteries of tests, and repaired everything from the timing belt to the oxygen sensors, but that red light just stays on. I don’t even notice it anymore.

That’s why yesterday, when the little battery-shaped icon started flickering on and off, I didn’t panic. The car seemed to be functioning at normal parameters and I knew the battery was only a year old. Still, to be on the safe side, I pulled into the NAPA parking lot on my way home from dropping Katie at school, just to have them check it out. (Side note: I love NAPA. The floor and walls and shelves are full of interesting looking parts and gizmos that I don’t understand, the air smells slightly of engine grease, and the employees are always extremely kind and helpful and not condescending at all even though I clearly don’t know a manifold from a manatee.) I told the man behind the counter about the flickering battery light, and right away he knew it was caused by one of two problems. Grabbing one of his many cool diagnostic voodoo devices, he followed me out to the car and hooked its two clips up to my battery. After studying the display for a moment, he announced, “Well, the good news is that it’s not your battery.”

In this case, the “good news” wasn’t so good. A battery costs about $50 to replace. A new alternator, on the other hand, costs closer to two hundred dollars. And a new alternator, he assured me, was what we needed. “How long have we got?” I asked. “Do I need to drive straight to a mechanic, or can I get away with shopping around for a few days?”

“Well, if you turn off your radio, heater, and headlights, you might be fine for a while. Just don’t go out of town. And ma’am? If you stop at 7-11, leave the engine running.”

Yikes.

“A while” turned out to be less than 24 hours. We had made arrangements to have my father-in-law, an auto mechanic who works near Paul’s office, take a look at the Escort this afternoon, but that wasn’t soon enough. This morning, as I was driving Paul to work (we only have the one car), our alternator commenced its death throes. First, the engine started missing. It lurched, and stalled, and lurched again, making a sickly thrumming noise all the while. We were about a mile from our destination. Then I noticed the speedometer had stopped working. Its needle was buried deep under the zero, unresponsive. Next, we lost our turn signals. I switched on the left one to take a corner, and nothing happened. We were about a block away. “You’d better drive straight to the garage,” Paul directed worriedly. “There’s no way you’re getting home in this bucket.”

In the end, the engine cut out (and this is no exaggeration) just as we were coasting into the last available parking space in front of Dad’s garage. In fact, Paul had to push us the last three feet. Talk about timing! I’m thinking it was a God thing.

While Paul went and consulted with his dad on our options (a two day wait for the proper part, most likely), I made phone calls to cancel my eye appointment and to tell Katie’s school why she wouldn’t be in attendance today. We came in from the cold and Paul’s wonderful coworkers set the kids up with some computer games to keep them busy as we tried to decide what to do. Ultimately, Dad loaned us his truck and Paul deposited the kids and I back at home, where we are marooned until such time as our old red tank is ready to roll once more.

Not exactly the best morning, but being a cup-half-full kind of girl, I’m going to count the blessings in this situation. Here they are:

*The car died right in front of the garage, not on the side of the road or in front of the school.

*Paul was with me, so I didn’t have to juggle kids with waiting for rescue and working out the car salvage details.

*We actually know what’s wrong with the car, and we have the money to fix it.

*It’s great to be related to a talented auto mechanic. Between Paul and his dad, our cars and computers always receive the best technical support.

*We didn’t have a wreck, despite having to drive our rapidly decomposing automobile on slick, icy roads.

*We might be stranded, but we’re warm and together and at home, with no place to go, just watching the snow falling, falling, falling outside.

It’s not so bad.

*1999 (You didn’t know my blog was educational, did you?)

Thank You

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This Thursday we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a day of feasting, football, and family–not to mention friends, fart jokes, finicky four year olds, and fifty foot parade floats. It’s a day for generations to assemble and share laughter and sweet potato casserole recipes, a day for competitive games of Trivial Pursuit and falling asleep in the recliner with your mouth open. It’s a day to share all the old stories (like the one where Kathy put me in charge of the gravy and I turned it into something resembling turkey-flavored jello.) It’s a day for tradition. And I so love all of that. It’s important, though, amidst all of the foofala, when we’re pushing our chairs back from the table and unbuttoning the top button on our pants in gustatory delight, to remember what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about: giving thanks.

So this week, Thanksgiving week, I’m going to post every day about one of my blessings. I have so many, the only hard part will be choosing seven. Because I’ll tell you right now, I am one very rich girl. My cup runneth over. My heart is full. I am blessed far beyond my deserts. (Desserts? Did someone mention desserts? That could be a whole day of thanks right there…)

Today, the first day of my week of Thanksgiving, I am kicking off the gratitude by giving thanks for my Number One Blessing. Because what I’m most thankful for is also the One I’m thankful to. My biggest, best blessing is that I am a child of God, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, and heir to an inheritance that will outlast everything else I have in this world. God loves me. He died for me! And now I get to be with Him forever. That pretty much blows all my other blessings out of the water.

So thank you, Father, for the blessing of being a part of your family. I hope my life shows my gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!