Tuesday, October 24, 2006

heart cries

On Wednesday nights, when the message has been taught and we're all full and satisfied, we close our Bibles, arrange ourselves in circles, and turn our gaze from the Word to the Writer.

Within my own group of seven or eight, I try, at first, to not hear the voices in all the other circles. Because I have a hard time keeping my eyes closed during prayer (is it only me who feels closer to my Creator when I study the hands and feet and faces of His artwork?) I stare at the shoes lining our circle, and sneak surreptitious peeks at their owners. But soon the voices in the room begin to overlap and harmonize. I stop fighting the sound. Instead, I let it in, and I envision those ascending chords rising through the ceiling of this building. I've read that God draws in the fragrance of our prayers like a delightful perfume, and so treasures them that He keeps them in a special bowl. So although I can't see our prayers, I know the mingled sounds rise and swell and swirl together en route to the throne room.

    Lord, remember my brother-in-law on the mission field ...
                 ... and she’s only four, Father. Please touch her body ...
            My neighbor, Joe, is going to Korea after being in Iraq ...
                Lord, I want to lift up my workplace ...
        We want to see Your kingdom ...
         ... and so I thank You for providing ...
                 ...and be with the persecuted Church in other countries ...
         We pray for our president ...
                         ... that You would desire to dwell here ...
                                ... the continued presence of Your Spirit ...
        Please give us what we need to respond to You ...
              I want to pray for my dad ...
                                I'm grateful, Father ...

And I think in awe of the God who is everywhere enough to hear it all—-who bends his ear to pick up the sigh of a heart, and stores the memory of His child’s murmur.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

tera's delight

I'm sorry for the lack of posts. I just haven't had the energy. But this morning, I thought I'd drag my pathetic self upstairs to my office and make an attempt.

Tera's downstairs in hog heaven. Spread out before her is a gigantic pile of those annoying magazine inserts offering "deals" on everything from panty hose to garden hoses. Her dad was looking through the bulging packet of inserts last night, tossing one after the other on the floor, when she squealed.

"Oooh! Are you throwing those away?"

"Yep." When Dave is not in the pulpet, he's a man of few words; few syllables.

"Can I have them?" she asked.


But it was bedtime. Past bedtime, actually. So the coveted pile had to wait until this morning. And even though we need to be starting school soon, she whizzed herself down those stairs a la Tazmanian Devil the second her eyes flew open, grabbed a pen, and settled herself in front of the bounty.

Why, you might ask? I'll let Tera tell you in her own words: "I love those things. When I fill them out, I feel like I'm a businesswoman ... like I'm paying bills or something."

I'm ridiculously fond of Brussels sprouts--and few people can understand or relate to that, either--so I'm not going to comment on the strangeness of Tera's delight. I don't mind if she sits in her happy puddle of paper for awhile, giggling and x-ing out boxes. She can't stay there all day, mind you. I mean, if she's going to grow up to be an actual, bill-paying businesswoman, she's going to need to get a little more math under her belt. But she can have herself a brief party before I go back downstairs and ring my school bell. And after I've infused a bit of education in her, she can return to her pile. In fact, she can spend the whole rest of the day sitting on the living room floor, filling out those squares, if she likes ... as long as none of them actually find their way out to the mailbox.

We have all the panty hose and garden hoses we can handle at the moment.



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

tea and jammies

I had surgery last Friday. The ordeal was minor and, in part, miraculous, as one "to do" on my surgeon's list got crossed off when the area in question showed the infection had just "gone away." As surgery goes, it was a pleasant enough experience. A writer friend, Dana Williams, took a shuttle from the hospital campus where she works to the campus where I was being checked in ... all so she could pray with me. Aren't those kinds of friends amazing? Then Dave and my sister, Tarri, prayed with me. And then my surgeon popped in and said, "May I pray with you?"

I love my friends, and my family, and my surgeon. I'm not too fond of the nurse who called me out of my anesthesia fog, though. "Shannon? Shannon?" I despise my name when it's being used to call me out of that fuzzy trance. Probably because I'm always nauseated right then and there.

As I said, this surgery was minor. I'm sore, and I'll be dealing with wound care for several weeks. But I'm not immobile. It takes me a bit longer to get from one side of the room to the other, but I can do it. Still, I'm enjoying this quiet week of tea and jammies. Sometimes, God has to take drastic measures to white-out the pages of our daytimer.

Had this surgery not happened, I'd be smack dab in the middle of a typically rushed week. Instead, I've spent most of my awake minutes lying on the couch, holding court as an array of friends bring me their crockpots. I've also spent this time listening to Shakespeare with Tera, and playing chess with her when she finishes her math, and enjoying extended, luxurious devotional time, and knitting a hat for Dave. Only the hat provides evidence that I've been alert and active. All the rest just dissipates into air. And for a person who spends her life putting words to paper (where they stay put in indisputable black and white) and editing the work of other writers (with a bright, red font), it's difficult to feel productive in your jammies. But maybe this was necessary. Maybe I needed to feel unproductive for a little while.

How else would I have heard God's reminder? There it was, this morning -- that voice so full of kindness, so loving, but firm and authoritative as well. It broke through my sighs and set my thoughts straight. If you stayed on that couch forever, and never wrote another word or cooked another meal or crossed another task off your list, I'd still love you.

Oh, Father ... keep me right here, clutching that truth.



Thursday, October 05, 2006


Every October, I cram six pairs of shoes and clothing for two weeks into my suitcase and head to Murrieta, Californa for three nights and three days of refreshment. Don't say a word about the extra clothing. All women know you must pack for both mood and weather.

Today I'm back from our annual Calvary Chapel Pastors' Wives Conference. The suitcase awaits unpacking, but my thoughts are not on the reorganization of my closet this morning. Instead, I'm enjoying the after-glow of a brief respite with 900 of my closest sisters.

Our bonds deepen every year as we share more tears together, more worship, more prayers, more understanding of the God who called us and who loves us. And every year, I think the exact same thought when I arrive at the gate and hear one of the 600 Bible students say, "Welcome to the conference. God bless you." I think, This must be what heaven will be like. There's no other time when I know that every heart I pass and every smile that greets me belongs to someone who loves Jesus as I do.

Today, I'm missing heaven.

But I know that God called me away for those sixty-some hours so that I could get a refilling of the passion and joy I'll need for the coming year. There's still work to be done. God's heaven is ahead somewhere; my Murrieta-heaven-on-earth will be waiting next October; but while I pass the time waiting for both, I've been called to a task. We were reminded of that calling and that responsibility by every speaker this year. "Love the sheep. Tend the sheep. Feed the sheep."

What a privilege. To serve God is enough; but ours is a God who not only calls us into service, but blesses us while we serve and rewards us when our service is ended. Sandy MacIntosh (wife of Pastor Mike MacIntosh) introduced our Bible passage in the first session:

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

--1 Peter 5:1-11 NKJV

We were reminded by Sandy, June Hesterly, Cheryl Brodersen, and Jean McClure that the ministry brings suffering. It's the nature of tending God's people, pure and simple. But the Chief Shepherd knows our suffering and uses it to perfect, establish, strenghten and settle us. And one day -- maybe one day soon -- He will appear again. The God of all grace will bring with Him a crown of glory, and we will forget the suffering in an instant.

May He come today.

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