“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Monday, November 30, 2009

and I babble...

Half Dome, Yosemite - photography by Christopher

Words still escape me. A magical spontaneous trip to Yosemite in November. Never having been... I wasn't even sure what was in store for me. All I knew was that Anthony's anticipation made me long for the place I had never been.

It was a feast for the eyes. And being the blogger I am... I thought of all the wonderful posts I would be sharing with you... about this hidden jewel. The eye candy photographs tied with words of wonder... but alas... I have been speechless.

But I have noticed, when someone asks me about the trip to Yosemite... My eyes light up, my heart beats faster and I babble about standing around the park and just staring at sights I have never seen before. Sights that I could never have dreamed existed. And I am reminded of visits to the Grand Canyon... and Crater Lake. And how can you describe just how "grand" Grand Canyon is... or how blue Crater Lake is?

And the only thing I can compare it to... is my relationship with the Lord. How often words fail me when I try to explain what the Lord is doing in my life... How I want to describe His majesty, His beauty, His love... All I know is that when I am asked about Him... My eyes light up, my heart beats faster and I babble about how totally wonderfully awesome He is. And how grateful I am.

Especially this time of year... when my thorn starts to flare. And although I would rather run from depression, the Lord has asked me to draw near. He will take care of me. It is a trial. Sometimes a temptation. But I know that He will see me through.

And it makes sense. As I read through Anonymous... and Alicia Britt Chole speaks about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness... in the desert... I realize that is where I am. And it is where I learn the most. And it is where my experiences and weakness tend to show me how dependent I am on the Lord. And it makes me who I am.

And I stand on God's promises. Promises I have memorized this year.

That He will show up and take care of me.
He will bring me back home.
He knows what He is doing.
He has it all planned out.
He won't abandon me.
He will give me a future.
He will listen to me.
He can be found.
He'll turn things around for me.
I can count on it.

This is God's Word on the subject:
"As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before,
I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home.
I know what I'm doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you,
not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.

"When you call on me,
when you come and pray to me,
I'll listen.

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me.

"Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree.

"I'll turn things around for you.
I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—
"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile.
You can count on it.

Jeremiah 29:10-14 MSG

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Trudgery


I almost missed it. We were hiking back (and up) to find the waterfall sweetly named "Fairy Falls." But I turned my head and looked through the trees and there it was. A rainbow. It touched water and sky... and my soul. I was entranced and stood there as I marveled at this play of light and water. I slowly pulled myself away so that I could continue moving on to the prize... of "Fairy Falls."

We were on an expedition. A photo expedition. We were hunting for the perfect shot. Well, at least Anthony was. Christopher and I were along for the ride.

We sent Anthony ahead to find what he was looking for... and we trudged the almost 2 mile trek to the "Fairy Falls." I almost turned back, but I encountered some friendly hikers and they told me it was just about 2 more minutes up the path. And since I had come that far... I decided my weary legs could withstand 2 more minutes... and so they did.

We turned the corner... and when I finally saw the prize... what I had traded in my peaceful quiet Sunday afternoon for... I had left my soul-touching rainbow for... I was disappointed. It was much smaller and darker then the photos had shown. And it didn't compare to everything I had already seen on the journey. It was quite underwhelming. Wishing and wanting it to be more... but I couldn't. It was already getting dark... and I was getting wet.

When we got home and Anthony downloaded his photos, he showed me the prize. It was the rainbow. I told him that it didn't even look natural. And had I not seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed it.

I think of how many times I have sought out the prize. Something that I thought was going to bring me happiness or an end goal. My eyes fixed on the end goal. Not wanting to deal with the long and winding trail that is required. Wanting to be instantly transported from here... to there. Not wanting to deal with the weary.

I'm on that trek right now. Seeing an end goal. Not wanting to deal with the trudgery. But here is the truth of the matter... it was along the way that I saw the rainbow. The miracle. The true beauty. It was along the way to what I thought would be the prize that I saw God's promise.

And the next time Anthony invites me along for an expedition... I will say yes. And, again, I will encourage him to go on ahead, but this time I will anticipate the trudgery. Knowing that the end goal is the long and winding trail. Keeping my eyes open for God's promises all along the way.

What grows in that underestimated gap between God's calling and others' perceptions, between our true capabilities and our current realities? Most of us struggle if our dreams are delayed one year, let alone twenty! We find God's pauses perplexing. They seem to be a waste of our potential. When those pauses extend beyond what we can comprehend or explain (say, for instance, three days), we often spiral into self-doubt or second guessing.

But in anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout his hidden years: Father God is neither
care-less nor cause-less with how he spends our lives. When he calls a soul simultaneously to greatness and obscurity, the fruit--if we wait for it--can change the world.
~ Alicia Britt Chole,
Anonymous: Jesus' hidden years... and yours

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Can You hear me anyway?

Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.

You will seek me and find me
when you seek me
with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13



Lord Move, or Move Me by FFH

I can't find the words to pray, I'm a little down today
Can You help me, Can You hold me?
I feel a million miles away, And I don't know what to say
Can You hear me anyway?

What I need is for You to reach out Your hand
You have taught me no matter what You'd understand

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.

I've looked every where to find a simple peace of mind
But, I can't find nothing on my own
So I gotta leave myself behind, take up this cross of mine
Give away everything I hold onto

Lord I know the only way is through this
But Lord, I know I need You to help me do this

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.

Out of this place of complacency
To a place of fellowship with Thee
'Cause I am weak, but Lord, You are so strong
And You know it's been way too long
It's been way too long

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move)...,

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Very Own Purim

We're in the last week of our Esther study. Each day of homework that I complete I am somehow more amazed with the One I call Lord and Savior.

I just completed Day 3 of Week 9, An Annual Remembrance. Beth Moore reminds us that the book of "Esther shows that ordinary events are never coincidental in the lives of God's people." She then encourages us to remember any turnarounds (a time when the Lord delivered you from despair) in our lives... to read Psalm 30:1-3, 11-12... and to personalize it, "O Lord, You brought me up from the grave, you spared me from the depths of depression." (The bold is my personalization.)

Beth then shares that we should remember to praise God for our turnaround. Perhaps begin an annual celebration. How our "victories are meant to be joyfully treasured and greatly celebrated." And I thought... I already do... I already have my very own Purim.

January 15th.

And so in preparation for our table discussion this Tuesday, I thought... I will print out my posts that show my celebration of January 15th to share with the sisters at my table. So, I went to the posts to re-read them...

And here's the thing... it's not enough that I already celebrate my very own Purim. Not so coincidentally... or in other words... providentially, the words of Psalm 30 were already penned upon my heart. Thank you, Jesus.

Below is my original post celebrating January 15th on its second anniversary. Here is a follow-up post the next year. Please let me know if you have a "Purim" that you celebrate. I'll bring the cake and presents!


originally aired on January 15, 2008
In Honor of January 15th
ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Christopher overheard me saying that January 15th is an anniversary of sorts. He asked why I was celebrating January 15th. At first, I told him that an anniversary isn't always something that is celebrated, but actually in this instance... in an odd sort of way... I guess he was right.

Sunday, January 15, 2006
I woke up tired. Light-headed. Dizzy. I fought the feelings and pulled myself together to go to church. All I can remember is sitting down in the pew and having the desire... no, make that the need to lay down.

My mind raced. Where could I lay down at church? Wasn't every room being utilized? Then I remembered the "Mother's Room." Perhaps it would be empty this early in the morning. It was empty, but I felt strange laying on the floor... I mean, what if someone walked in? So, I tried to sit in one of the rocking chairs, but I couldn't hold up my head.

At the end of service... I don't remember if I sat through service or not... I think I stayed in the "Mother's Room"... I persuaded Anthony and Christopher to take me home. I immediately crawled into bed.

And so began my journey into a very deep and cavernous depression.

So, why would I "celebrate" such a day? Psalm 30 captures my thoughts today:
I will exalt You, O LORD,
For You lifted me out of the depths...
I called to You for help and You healed me....
You brought me up from the grave...
You spared me from going down into the pit...
To the Lord I cried for mercy...
You turned my wailing into dancing...
You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy...
That my heart may sing to YOU and not be silent...
O LORD my God, I will give YOU thanks forever.

So many of you were used by God... my heart swells when I think of you... Others of you, well, you just met me... but somehow you knew I was a little different. LOL

After we finish The Friendships of Women... if you're up to it, we'll talk a little more about depression... Don't worry, I know what happens at the end of the story... there is dancing and singing and joy.... and HOPE.



Friday, November 13, 2009

Anonymous


I read Alicia Chole's Anonymous earlier this year... full well knowing that I would read it again... and most likely again. I passed it on to my friend, Sheila. When she was done reading it, she said, "Sheri, I know what Bible Study we're doing this winter break."

The women's Bible study I attend takes a break two times a year. Over summer and over Christmas. And I understand that. I get that. There is sooo much going on. Especially at our church which does an amazing Christmas Performance that is breathtaking every year.

But I have found for me... I have to stay in a study. Year round. Some might suggest that I could stay in the Word for the 49 days between Bible Studies on my own. But I have examined myself and found that I need structure. So, I pick a study... and now I have been inviting others to join me.

This year, it is Anonymous. And I cannot wait. The women that join me are precious jewels who realizing it or not... hold me accountable... not only to the study, but to being authentic.

And besides all that... Elaine at Peace for the Journey, my dear bloggy friend and mentor recommended it to me. (See her recommendation for Anonymous.)

So, here's my invitation to you... JOIN ME! We'll be meeting once a week to review what we read and the study guide. We'll also get to watch a session of Alicia on DVD each week. Contact me for more details if you live in the Portland area.

If you're not able to join me for the study... I encourage you to read the book. I'll be giving you glimpses into my thoughts throughout the study. I'm looking forward to the journey.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Freedom isn't Free

Three years ago, I humbly admit that I didn't acknowledge the passing of days like Veterans Day or Memorial Day. But when my dear friend lost her beloved brother on September 3rd of 2006, it became personally evident that Freedom isn't Free.

And so today, I honor all Veterans. Your sacrifice for your country is to be commended. I am grateful for the freedom that I benefit from because of your willingness to serve. God bless you and thank you.

Originally Posted Monday, May 25, 2009
In Honor of Richard J. Henkes, II:
"The Forgotten Mourners"


My dear friend, Tamara Henkes,
lost her brother on Sunday, September 3rd of 2006.




Richard J. Henkes, II, died in Mosul, Iraq
serving his country with pride.



"He loved what he was doing,
and he was very, very good at what he did.
It's what he knew and believed in."



"He believed in serving his country and
doing something
that would have a positive effect.
He believed he was doing something
for the greater good."


"...Always the jokester...
But be could also be very quiet.
He was very serious about what he was doing for a living.
He was a very caring and compassionate person."


Rich was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.


"Rich always knew he wanted to be a soldier and believed in the mission in Iraq."


Rich grew up in Oregon and graduated from Clackamas High School in 1992 where he wrestled, ran track and was involved in band. He enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately after graduation.


Gwen Kalvelage, a friend of the Henkes family, visited this memorial in Salem, Oregon. She granted me permission to use these photos.


Often, siblings are "the forgotten mourners." Their grief often pushed to the side or discounted in preference to parents, spouses or children.


My small gesture... to comfort my friend, to honor her brother... and to never forget the sacrifice made by our military.


Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life
for his friends. John 15:13 KJV

Monday, November 9, 2009

Enough said:-)

"You probably wondered why... it's only fair you should know... the Holy Spirit directed you to write your last three posts for me! You are a blessing! Enough said:-)

In case you are worrying about a response, there is none necessary. Just wanted you to know so you keep writing."
My last three posts? My last three posts. It didn't seem to fit in my mind. Curious, but respectful of the words, "Enough said," I left it alone. Humbled and speechless.

But she invited me in. And shared a part of herself. A part that has been kept hidden. And she was okay if I was judgmental, but she just thought I should know... so I would keep writing.

But I told her, I was not judgmental now, nor would I become judgmental later. But that my heart hurt for her. And that I wept for her. And that I weep for her. And pray.

She said I could ask her questions. And I said, "I will." But for now, my words are few.

Streams in the Desert by Charles E. Cowman
November 9

They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn and grow as the vine. Hosea 14:7

The day closed with heavy showers. The plants in my garden were beaten down before the pelting storm, and I saw one flower that I had admired for its beauty and loved for its fragrance exposed to the pitiless storm. The flower fell, shut up its petals, dropped its head; and I saw that all its glory was gone. "I must wait till next year," I said, "before I see that beautiful thing again."

The night passed, and morning came; the sun shone again, and the morning brought strength to the flower. The light looked at it, and the flower looked at the light. There was contact and communion, and power passed into the flower. It held up its head, opened its petals, regained its glory, and seemed fairer than before. I wonder how it took place--this feeble thing coming into contact with the strong thing, and gaining strength!

I cannot tell how it is that I should be able to receive into my being a power to do and to bear by communion with God, but I know it is a fact.

Are you in peril through some crushing, heavy trial? Seek this communion with Christ, and you will receive strength and be able to conquer. "I will strengthen thee."

Yesterday's Grief

The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that encloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.

The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.

O faint-of-heart, storm-beaten, this rain will gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow no be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be beauty in the magic of the morn.
~Katherine Lee Bates

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Last Time We Spoke,
You Said You Were Hurting..."

I heard this song today... and I thought if I could talk to you today... these are the words I would say...



The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets

Three in the morning,
And I'm still awake,
So I picked up a pen and a page,
And I started writing,
Just what I'd say,
If we were face to face,
I'd tell you just what you mean to me,
I'd tell you these simple truths,

Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say,

Last time we spoke,
You said you were hurting,
And I felt your pain in my heart,
I want to tell you,
That I keep on praying,
Love will find you where you are,
I know cause I've already been there,
So please hear these simple truths,

Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
These are the words I would say,

From one simple life to another,
I will say,
Come find peace in the Father,

Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
Thank God for each day,
His love will find a way,
These are the words I would say

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Then Neither Do I Condemn You

...bind up the brokenhearted,
...proclaim freedom for the captives
...comfort all who mourn,
...provide for those who grieve

...bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
...a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

condensed from Isaiah 61:1-3


I didn't mean to make you cry. But some of you did.

For some of you... the previous post easily could have been your own story. You've been there. Your tears were for the mother and daughter I wrote about... but they were also for yourself.

And then... there are some of you... and this is where my heart breaks... that made a different decision. You had the abortion. And you haven't told anyone. Not even a soul. And sometimes it seems daily that you struggle with the decision you made. And you wonder how could God forgive you? Because you can't even forgive yourself.

And if anyone knew... especially in the church! Well, the scorn and the shame... it really would be too much to bear. And you keep your struggle to yourself. And you are barely getting by some days.

I want you to know that I pray for you. I think of how hard it must be for you. Especially sitting in church or Sunday School. Hearing people gasp at the thought of a Christian making a choice to have an abortion.

I know you are there. The statistics tell me. But it will never come up in conversation. And I understand that.

But after listening to the testimony of another woman at the Pregnancy Resource Center's fund-raiser, I knew I had to let you know... that you are on my heart.

The second testimony was a precious woman who spoke of her three abortions. And I have to admit the rest of her story slips my mind... because all I could think about was her. Being there. Sharing her story so that others might share in the abundant life she found through a Bible Study called HEART.

Whenever I hear women speak of HEART their eyes glisten with tears when they talk of it. And you know that their lives are not the same because of HEART and they are eternally grateful.

HEART provides safe and confidential post-abortion support groups for men and women -- offering hope, comfort and healing. If you live in the Greater Portland, Oregon area you can call 503-22HEART or visit their website. For any other area stop by this website to find a local Pregnancy Resource Center.

If you or someone you love is facing an unplanned pregnancy, I want you to know that the Pregnancy Resource Centers are compassionate and caring. They are truly a resource. I had the privilege of volunteering at our local Pregnancy Resource Center and I was touched by the love that enveloped each woman... no matter what her decision. No condemnation. No persuasion. Just love. God's love... Jesus... poured out through human vessels.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

John 8:3-5, 7, 9-11

Dear sisters, you are so precious to me. If it were not for Jesus, we would all have the imprints of stones on us. Death itself. But we don't have to live there.

There is hope. There is help. There is Jesus.

I love you.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I Can't Remain Silent.

"For if you remain silent at this time,
relief and deliverance for the Jews
will arise from another place,
but you and your father's family will perish.
And who knows but that you have come to
royal position for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14


I sat there amazed.

A Reversal of Destiny. Chiastic Structure. Divine Insomnia. Peripety. A Story Worth Telling.

No, I wasn't sitting there reading the book of Esther or working on my Esther Bible Study. I was at a fund-raising event for our local Pregnancy Resource Center.

I sat listening. Entranced. There she was on the stage... an Esther of sorts. Telling about a hinge in her life that redirected her path.

She had been 19 when her boyfriend sat her down and told her that there were only two options. Abortion or adoption. And truth be told... he wanted her to have an abortion.

She had been raised in a christian home. Her parents were active in their church. Her heart hurt over the shame she would cause them... so she remained silent.

They secretly set up an appointment with an abortion clinic. After hearing the details, they decided to schedule the abortion for the next day.

The next day? The tomorrow? That sounded familiar.

If the king regards me with favor and
if it pleases the king
to grant my petition and fulfill my request,
let the king and Haman come tomorrow
to the banquet I will prepare for them.
Then I will answer the king's question.
Esther 5:8

And then she said... that in the night... she thought to herself... I need to talk to someone else before the abortion. But who? And then she recalled seeing brochures around her home about the Pregnancy Resource Center.

Not sleeping? Divine Insomnia? Brochures... chronicles?

That night the king could not sleep;
so he ordered the book of the chronicles,
the record of his reign,
to be brought in and read to him.
Esther 6:1

She told her boyfriend that before she had the abortion, she wanted to go to the Pregnancy Resource Center and talk to someone. And so they did.

And the counselor asked her if she wanted the abortion. And she said no. And the counselor asked her why she was having the abortion. And she said she wanted her boyfriend to say STOP! But he wasn't going to stop her... so she decided to do it.

She decided to stop herself.

And my heart is in my throat... because I am so like... PERIPETY! Here it is... here is THE HINGE! The hinge on which the reversal of destiny turns! Can you believe it?

And THEN she tells us that she hadn't told her daughter until recently. She decided to tell her -- after her daughter threw a Tea Party (or a feast/banquet of sorts), and asked that the money raised from the party go to the Pregnancy Resource Center. Her high school daughter didn't know the story. The Story Worth Telling!

And I am so like... GET OUT OF HERE! Chiastic Structure!? The very place (Pregnancy Resource Center) that had rescued her... she is now trying to rescue (by raising money).

The Reversal of Destiny. A precious daughter destined to be aborted...

And there she was... the precious daughter... in the room with us. Standing there. And she was beautiful and lovely. An Esther of sorts. Who had sat through her mother telling us Her Story Worth Telling.

With my heart in my throat, I quietly thanked the Lord that I was privileged to hear this story... and to hear it within days of learning about Reversal of Destiny in session six of the Esther Bible Study. And that it would be seared in my mind. Not just a lesson to be learned, but a story to be told.

A story of life. A story of redemption.

A story worth telling... and I thought... I can't remain silent.