Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leaving Your Mark

I can usually tell which daughter has used my computer by the stuff they leave behind. I find shoes underneath the desk, coats and purses on the chair, and their doodles on my post-it notes. They certainly leave their mark, and there’s no need to dust for fingerprints to see who has been on my computer.
One person whose prints would be impossible to detect is quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada. After being nominated to serve on a National Committee, she had to undergo an investigation which included being fingerprinted, a task that the agent found impossible to complete. Confused, she asked if this was a common problem. He explained that the only people without prints are people who never use their hands. He went on to add that carpenters, bricklayers, typists, homemakers, and anyone else who uses their hands a lot would have good prints. A person without fingerprints leaves no marks, no prints, and no evidence of where they have been. And a person who is lazy and doesn’t use the gifts that God has placed in them will not leave any marks in this life.
Although she could not use her hands, Tada became an artist by learning how to hold a brush between her teeth to paint. In addition, she is a Christian author and speaker. She uses what she has to not just leave her mark, but to point people to Jesus.
When we use what we have, our God-given talents and abilities, we are able to bless and serve other, leaving behind evidence that points to Jesus.
The New Year, 2010, will be filled with many opportunities for us to us our abilities to serve God and others. May we live up to our full potential and not waste one single moment of the brand new year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas

Although I try not to get caught up in the shopping and hectic pace of the days that precede Christmas, sometimes it happens. My mind reels, What in the world will I buy Victoria? By the time I finish decorating for Christmas, it will be time to pick it all up again. Will the only thing that Geoff requested be delivered in time? Does my husband really want to know how much I’ve spent?
At times like these, I like to sit back and focus, really focus, on what happened during the months that preceded the very first Christmas. Life must have looked pretty good to Mary before the angel’s visit. Her engagement to Joseph was probably the fulfillment of her dream. Then the Holy Spirit surrounded her, the power of God overshadowed her, and Jesus, the Word in flesh, was implanted in her. Her dream had exploded! The Word inside of her caused her to grow (not just physically), changed her plans, and challenged the thinking of those with whom she was in contact.
A few months later, while most of the world was sleeping, she brought forth Jesus, Who is the Word, the Light, the Life. The One Who had already changed her was about to shake the community, and eventually the world.
How exciting it is to be a Christian today. We have access to the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power of God. In addition, I believe that it is our responsibility to fill our hearts with the Word of God. The Word will change us, and as it comes forth from us, in word and deed, it will wake people up, affecting not just the community, but the world.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Value

I asked, actually I begged, my kids for Christmas lists. Monique emailed hers to me, complete with website links. A few online orders, a little mall time, and I was done with her.
Lauren left her list on the kitchen counter. It is the first Christmas list that I have ever received that needs a key for reading it. Each request has stars beside it. Four stars means “really, really want/need to live,” three stars, “love it” and two stars, “could live with or without.” Only a couple of items had four stars: “pass statistics” and “flat, brown boots.” Since there is nothing I can do to help her to pass statistics, I decided to get the boots.
After searching store after store, I went to Macys. Finally, I spotted them. Flat boots with beautiful, soft leather that reached my knee. Perfect. I turned over the boot and said to my friend, Linda, “$75. That’s a little more than I want to spend.”
“But you have a coupon,” she reminded me.
“Right! And surely they’re on sale, everything else is.” I asked the salesclerk for Lauren’s size, and I asked her to check the price.
“Five hundred and,” she began.
“What?” I said as I flipped the boot over to look at the price again. $575! “Oh, no,” I said, “I thought the 5 was a dollar sign!” No wonder it was so soft and so perfect. It was a very valuable boot. So I carefully, very carefully, placed the boot on the table. Even with my coupon, I was not willing to pay the price.
That little shopping expedition has me thinking about the extravagant love of God. Knowing who we would be, the bad things that we would do, and the good things that we would fail to do, God still wanted us to live with Him forever. The price tag of our salvation? John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins. When I list what I am most thankful for, His name is at the top. With four stars.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Love Stops My Fall

I don’t like to brag, but I think that I’m going to be a wonderful grandmother one day. It looks like it will be a while before I have grandchildren, and that’s okay. It just gives me more time to practice on my grandnieces and nephews. They have given me a glimpse into that special season that so many people describe as the ultimate time of life.
Because he lives so close to us, the grandnephew that I see most often is Dylan. Dylan is the little “never met a stranger/will always remember your name” two year old son of my niece, Kerri, and her husband, Justin Smith. When he walks into our home, everything else stops. The next moments are devoted to him, a hobby that my family thoroughly enjoys.
It doesn’t hurt his case that he calls my husband, PawPaw probably due to Michael’s gray hair. Maybe we should have corrected him earlier, but we thought it was cute, and now the name has stuck. (I should amend the above paragraph to read he “always remembers the name that he assigns to you” because he calls Victoria, Minnie. Another story for another day.)
Michael, or PawPaw, will do anything that Dylan asks of him. I stopped him once as he was following Dylan to the trampoline. “It’s been years since you’ve been on that thing. What about the operation on your knee? What about your bad Achilles tendon?”
“Dylan wants to jump,” Michael said, as his only defense. Thankfully someone else beat Michael to the trampoline, or else he would have been on there with Dylan.
At a recent football game, Dylan wanted a hot dog and I wanted to take a walk, so he reached up for my hand and we walked down the steps of the bleachers. We made that trip three times, and all three times he reached for my hand. And every time that I held it I thought, I would do anything to protect this child. Had he started to stumble, I would have just held it tighter. The only way that he would have fallen is if I had gone down first. I’d like to think that it would have taken something major for me to fall. Like a sniper’s bullet. Or a tsunami. But one misstep would have had the same effect, so I was very careful.
At times like these, when I feel such overwhelming love for this little two-year-old, I am reminded of the love God has for us. While I may not understand His great and perfect love, I am grateful for it. It makes me want to stay close to God and follow Him, so that I can experience the promise of Psalm 37: 23, 24. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”