Monday, July 31, 2006

wedding bells

Two days, two weddings.

Friday, we settled ourselves in long, aisle-facing pews in Bastyr University's austere chapel (think Westminster Chapel-grand) and watched as our beloved Gina walked the rose petal-covered path on the arm of her father. The moment had been prayed for and anticipated for several years. Gina waited. She didn't rush into the first relationship that came along. She knew Bill was out there somewhere, and she waited for him to make his appearance. When he did--when we, her church family, caught our first glimpse of him and recognized God's imprint--we smiled. Her wait had been worth it.

I'm not sure I've ever been to a wedding that magnificent. It wasn't just the place, although you could sit in that chapel for a month of Sundays and still not see every detail in the frescoes, the cutwork, or the stained glass. It was an atmosphere of elegance that enveloped the large bridal party and every guest in attendance. It was the glow of rose petal-encircled candles lining the long aisle. It was the lighting of overhead chandeliers. It was knowing that the waning light from outside met us through windows embellished with the Word of God.

I loved hearing Dave's voice ringing in that chapel. And I loved the message he gave Bill and Gina--the reminder that God had created them differently to bless one another. He told Gina that God had placed a great need for admiration in the heart of Bill, and that her calling was to spend her life giving him that respect and admiration. He told Bill that God had placed a great need for security in the heart of Gina, and that his role in this marriage was to bathe her in love--to lay his life down as our Savior did for His Bride.

They left in an old Model-T type car driven by an elderly man in a rounded top hat. His wife sat beside him, sporting her own fancy, tulle-wrapped hat. In the box seat behind them, Bill and Gina donned similar hats and waved to the rest of us, who stood laughing and watching. The whole thing delighted me. There was brand new love, sitting expectantly in the back seat, while love that had stood the test of time guided it on to the next step.

The next step, in this case, was the reception--held at the Christian school where Bill is a wrestling coach. We lined up for water and punch and then lined up for an array of food that you don't have often--or ever. Shrimp cups and curried chicken. Brie and sourdough. Chicken salad tartlets. Rice Krispie treats dipped in your choice of milk or dark chocolate, which dribbled invitingly from separate fountains.

We ate, and laughed, and visited with old friends, and watched the wedding party arranged on stage a la Da Vinci's "Last Supper." We listened to a short list of toasts and raised our glasses in agreement with each heartfelt expression, and I cried when Gina's father told her how much he loved her.

Shortly after, when Dave reminded us both that he had another wedding the following day, we said our good byes and started for home. If I'd known that the dancing was about to break out, I would have begged for another half an hour. From what I hear, fifty-some women and three lone men tore up the floor. It would have been fifty-some plus one.

I love weddings. I love watching as two become one, and knowing that amid all the hard times that are sure to come, sweet moments will be interspersed--moments when one pair of eyes will look in astonishment at another and be startled anew to discover that in this big, cold world, someone has promised to love you.

There's still another wedding to share ...



Sunday, July 23, 2006


After church today, I'm heading north to a campground near Deception Pass (a breath-taking spot of Northwest beauty) to help at our church's annual Kids' Camp. I'm substituting as counselor for a cabin full of giggly girls until their regular counselor joins us ... so if you find yourself feeling a persistent, urgent nudge to pray, it's probably God asking you to lift me up and beseech Him for my protection.


Back later this week ...


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

please pray

When I asked Dave to pose for this picture, we had just walked through the beautiful, wooded area of Tel Dan, Israel. Whenever I remember that day, two memories come immediately to mind: Dave sitting here at the "city gates," as the elders of a city would do; and the scene that played out a short time later: us touring the remnants of a high place and turning to stare at Lebanon in the distance. Our tour guide, Ronnie Cohen, told us, "See that Lebanese village in the distance? Likely, there are eyes looking right back at you."

The border between Lebanon and Israel is fluid today. Rockets disregard such things. And every time I watch the news or read the Jerusalem Post, I see images of places I love, places I can recall with no effort at all.

Our friends are there, living in a war zone. I'm asking for your prayers. Please pray for Steve and Pat Apple, the pastor and pastor's wife of Calvary Chapel Tel Aviv. Pray for Ronnie Cohen and his wife, transplants from New Jersey. Pray, too, for our dear Israeli friends, Hananya and Devorah. They're in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv ... and closer to Lebanon.

And while you're praying, remember Israel itself. Nothing has changed since God called her the apple of His eye. Nothing has changed since He promised to bless those who bless her and curse those who curse her. His plan for this nation will unfold in His timing. His protection of His people will astound all those who see.

May we see it soon.


Monday, July 10, 2006

God is amazing ...

My friend, Andy, just sent me this series of pictures. How vast is our God?

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

casting crowns

A few weeks ago, when Dave was getting ready to take a run to the dump, we tackled a pile of boxes which had been stored in a covered area along with our hay. Spying one dilapidated box, I told Dave, "I think those are the last of Cindy's things." A woman from church and her two children had lived in our travel trailer a few years ago, and she'd left a couple of boxes full of things she no longer wanted. The shoes on the top of that box were hers--so I almost suggested that Dave just toss the whole box. But at the last minute, I said, "Maybe I should take a quick peek first." I'm so glad I did. Inside that box were old pictures, old letters, and a diary that had belonged to my mother when she was just a teenager. I don't know how Cindy's unwanted shoes found themselves on top of such a treasure, but while Dave was driving to the dump, I was sitting on the couch sorting through my memories. I've much to tell about what I found there. But for today, let me tell you about Garrett ...

He was the tallest of my first graders, and probably the one with the best memory. Six-year old Garrett Smith loved two things: dinosaurs and Star Wars. On his first day of first grade--which happened to be my first day on my own as a teacher--Garrett asked me if I'd like to hear the opening lines to the Star Wars movie. He then stood with his head high, legs locked, and hands on his hips, and began the soliloquy he'd memorized from watching the movie: A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away ..."

He knew the whole thing. And it so delighted me that I made frequent requests for encores throughout the year. "What was that opening line of Star Wars, Garrett?"

Because of the efforts of his mother, Ann, Garrett had an in incredible vocabulary. Whenever he got an idea, he wouldn't say, "How about this?" or "I know! Let's ...." Instead, he'd raise his index finger in the air and say, in his high, six-year old voice, "Mrs. Woodward, I have an EX-cellent suggestion!"

Garrett's face and voice came alive for me when, while sorting through my newly rescued pile of letters and photographs, I came upon a lavender, dinosaur-stamped envelope. "Mrs. Woodward" was written across the center in distinctive first-grade handwriting.

Inside, I found two math pages. The first question on the first page showed six milk cartons lined up next to the number "6" and below, three milk cartons lined to the right of the number "3." Big as life, Garrett had written "9" on the line beneath the problem--just like I'd taught him. He knew the next answer, too--"1 + 7 = 8," and all the ones that followed. In fact, he'd received 100% on this paper. On top of the front side, I'd drawn a smiley face and written Great! On the flip side, I'd written Wow! Page two sported a colorful gold fish looking up at Garrett's answers with bulbous, astonished eyes. Garrett had taken the time, on this picture, to color all his answers with blue, green or yellow crayon. Again, all his answers on this paper were correct. For his efforts, I'd given him a Yipee! on on side, and the coveted Super Duper! on the other.

Garrett had received his prize ... and for whatever reason, he wanted to give it back to me. I don't recall the conversation that occurred when Garrett handed that lavender envelope to me and I opened it to find his two perfect math papers. But I'm fairly certain I didn't make the connection I do today. Today, it seems pretty clear to me that Garrett was doing what I'll do when I reach the end of my life and face the One who gave it to me.

He was casting crowns.

The twenty-four Elders fell down before him and worshiped him, the Eternal Living One, and cast their crowns before the throne, singing, "O Lord, you are worthy to receive the glory and the honor and the power ...'" --Rev 4:10-11 (TLB)

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