Friday, November 28, 2008

Silver and Gold

The Silver and Gold Season has officially begun...

My friend, Michelle, commented on my last blog with this wonderful poem about old and new friendships. You've heard it before. Maybe you even know all the words. In keeping with the theme of Blessing which this Season inevitably inspires, I wanted to share this poem with you.

Silver and Gold

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test-
Time and change-are surely best;
Brow may wrinkle, hair grow gray;
Friendship never knows decay.
For 'mid old friends, tried and true,
Once more we our youth renew.
But old friends, alas! may die;
New friends must their place supply.
Cherish friendship in your breast-
New is good, but old is best;
Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.

For those of my friends who are among the "new", I want to tell you that even now, as friendship is being born, I look forward to when we are old together. I didn't know what old friends were until the last few years, but now that I know, I value more richly the diamonds in their unrefined state, knowing what they might become.

What are silver and gold to you?

Monday, November 24, 2008

“Aha” Moments

(photo of me and my friend, Abby)

When we initially moved to Oakhurst in 2007, there was so much going on in our lives. In the midst of our move, there was also a lot of pain. I think the needs of the moment circumvented the needs of the heart. It took a while for my heart to catch up and mourn what I left behind. My friend, Jill, however was left in the lurch and was processing my move and her life from those first days in 2007.

Jill wrote in April of 2008 about an “aha” moment she had with God. If I recall, I think we were having a chat on the phone when she had her “aha” moment and her blog tumbled onto the www after that.

I mention Jill because I just had a similar “aha” moment on the floor of my bedroom. It’s where I wrap things. Gifts. Lots of them. I like presents; both the giving and the receiving. I was wrapping gifts for my friend Abby and her family, who live in a land far far away.... Maryland.

Like me, Abby has the gift of giving and receiving. Many years ago, when we parted company, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with every birthday, but in the short time we had had together we had quite a repertoire of traditions and experiences. Abby was always sharing something. She still does. That’s what I love about Abby. I’ve never stopped missing her and her husband and her children.

That’s what the gifts are all about.

After every holiday, I collect little things from wherever I can find them. Usually, a set of valentine napkins from the grocery store, green bowls with shamrocks on them and this year I got a great deal on a July 4th decoration in the shape of a gigantic sparkly star! In the holiday box with all the holiday things go the holiday wishes - We think of your corn beef on St.Patricks Day. We remember your love for us on Valentines....stuff like that. I miss her. I miss her sweetheart husband. I miss her boys. I want to give her little gifts that make moments in the year pretty or silly or special. I love when one holiday ends and the next starts, because then I can start my hunt for the markdowns! I can spend a few moments in the middle of Vons just thinking about Abby and what she might like. I can’t be with her, but I can send her my heart in a box.

Then, came my “aha” moment. I wonder if Jesus is up in Heaven collecting things for me and attaching His heart to them? Does he tie little notes on those precious treasures and pass them along to me as the year unfolds? Does He gather them eagerly, excited for what I might think? Does He imagine how I will use His gift? I can see Him wanting me not to miss the lovely moments in life, little or large. I can see Him wanting to be included in them the way I want to be included in Abby’s celebrations.

I want Abby to be thinking about me, to remember me, to know that I love her and care for her. I want Abby to know that she is important and is missed all year long. There are times when Jesus seems like Abby, living in a land far far away, preparing a place for me to come home to someday. But the Truth is, Jesus is with me. I just need to open up my eyes and say, “aha!” as I see all the little gifts He has given me. I need to take a little time to read the notes on the treasures He has sent my way. I can’t always be with Abby, but Jesus is always with me.

Jill said it best in her blog

“Could it be He moved our friends to remind us that nothing can separate us from Him? I think that is, at least, part of it!”

“I take great comfort in the fact that the Lord has a reason for these distances. I praise Him, that He desires us to know that He will never leave, nor forsake us! I thank Him for every glimpse of Heaven and Heart that He allows us! Some day we will all be together forever in the Glory of the Lord..”

That is what Christmas is all about: God is With Us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ho! ho! ho! down!

It may not be Christmas yet but Jesus was alive and well at our annual Harvest Festival. Seriously, if you go to church in the Oakhurst area, you need to consider Sierra Vista. You got a whole lot of folk who love Jesus and a whole lot of folk who love each other. That’s what makes our church special.

We’ve got kids like Evan (not my Evan, another, much taller Evan who plays the tuba) getting jiggy with the little kids.

We’ve got gals like Rae, who also totally Rocks and that’s not just cuz her last name’s so cool. She has a gift for delicious ideas like COTTON CANDY and a “can-do” attitude that’s infectious!

In addition, we’ve got Sherry (Fabulous) Faber who can decorate anything with anything and make it look so darn hoe downy its amazing.

We’ve got a pastor’s wife who is silly enough in her own right to show up with polka dot hair ribbons, overalls and freckles painted on her nose and beleive it or not, she didn’t get the best dressed prize!

We’ve got kitchen leadership in Kim, who hates being in the kitchen but has an encouraging word and the prettiest smile to share every time you go in there.

We’ve got the Wolters, who, I am so sorry to say this, are too dang cute AND CAN DANCE! Did you miss having them in your square? Too bad for you cuz Eric knows how to swing his partner dosey-doe and everything else with the hands of a man who knows what the heck he’s doing.

We’ve got DJ, aka Denise Jones, who can orchestrate the miraculous - a coming together of all ages where love and laughter is shared and worship is obvious not because we’re singing songs or praying but because together we are God's family. Check out her blog because she has cornered the market on great photographs and subsequently, a great slide show....AFTER you watch mine. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Glad Game

I need that movie. You know the one I mean? Disney’s Pollyanna. In that old movie, people are transformed because someone comes into their world speaking words of hope and truth. Pollyanna gave the people reasons to be thankful by teaching them to look through another lens - The Glad Game. Do you need a Pollyanna in your life? Are you one?

Another blogger (who I now can’t trace) quoted John Piper on her blog. He said, “The people who love God most enjoy God most, cling to him most, hug him most are the most broken people. They’re the ones who have felt most deeply how desperate they are. So let’s be a broken happy people.”

I am often lost between the optimist and the pessimist in me, the broken person and the profoundly blessed one. Loss must not be minimized nor ought it be dwelt upon. Life goes on. Hope can be found in the darkest of places and if such a hope exists, do we dare ignore it?

Yet, it is in my brokenness, my disappointments, and my sorrow that I cry out to God the most. It is often my circumstances that provoke relentless prayer. Yet as bad as circumstances might be, the depth of my brokenness is determined by my conscience. It is then that I know Who I really am! How can I be less than one of those broken happy people?

Pollyanna found reasons to be glad. I am determined to do the same and the words of this song sum it up for me perfectly. It is because of the truths expressed here that my spirit can be released to really play the Glad Game. This is what I’m thankful for:

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me

When Satan tempts me to despair
and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there,
Who made an end to all my sin

Because the sinless Savior died
my sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
to look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
my perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I Am,
the King of glory and of grace

My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven, He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased with His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God