Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pink October

Pink pushes it way among vibrant golds, rusts, and red of our October landscape. Breast cancer survivor stories and fundraisers abound. It is good.

My young friend, Kara, continues to do battle with breast cancer; her stage 4 disease has found its way to her blood, her bones, her brain. She confronts the reality of her days numbered and lives in the beauty of this day.
courtesy of Jen Lints Photography

I love this dear woman.
I hurt for her.
I hurt with her family.

And with the many I pray big, bold prayers.

I do my bit. Scripture love flies through cyberspace. I stop at the grocery store, bring flowers and other small gifts, and sometimes prepare a meal. Like lots and lots and lots of her friends do.

Others have loved in their ways. Texting wisdom, speaking truth, ironing, babysitting and much much more.

As I’ve watched Kara’s hard story unfold, as I’ve watched how she lives it, and as I’ve watched the love of her community, three lessons emerge.

First about Kara. Kara lives authentically. She is not afraid to be human. She invites Jesus to speak into her reality. She knows his presence and allows his peace. 

She lives out-loud. Through her blog, Mundane Faithfulness, and her best-selling book, The HardestPeace she welcomes us to journey with her. As my friend Trisha said, “I love her book. I feel like she has invited me into her living room and we’re having a chat”. And indeed through her words, she has.

Her cancer story fuels her writing, but her writing is not all about cancer … and it is not all about Kara. It is about Jesus and how he meets her on her worst day, at the edges, and in the impossible. And in her writing she is sharing grace and is discipling her readers. My picture of Jesus is bigger because Kara doesn’t keep her story to herself. Thank you, my friend.

Secondly, my 30-something friend has lots of other 30-something friends. They love her up-close. The massage her feet, they drive her to treatments and stay with her. Literally they climb in bed with her and talk, and laugh, and listen to music, and scheme like mommas do. And sometimes they just listen to the soft breath of her sleeping form.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s a good thing to be brave enough to crawl into bed with your friend who has cancer.

Lastly, it’s also okay to sit on the edge of her bed, to love from a bit of a distance. It’s okay to love in the way God created you to love. Indeed, it is good.

Kara loves all of us well who are following her story. And we get to love her well too in multitudes of ways, up close or from a distance—what a gift. 

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”. John 15:13

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Eating the Word

The bits of cardboard scribbled with the words of scripture lay scattered on the coffee table—the
Lynn with her dad
coffee table that was just the right height for baby Lynn to practice her new walking skills.

As she walked her pudgy baby hands reached out for the scripture memory cards. And like any good baby, she immediately employed her sense of taste to learn about them. Ummmm good!

We, the observing adults laughed and encouraged—the walking, not the tasting. And in that moment, God reminded …

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.” Jeremiah 15:16, The New Living Translation
(Originally memorized in NASV)

Lynn is in her forties now. Those memorized words have been bouncing around my head all those years. Often I’ve thought of eating (taking in, meditating on, digesting) the word and how that guides, encourages, instructs my days. And yet I’ve let the discipline slide. 

But it was just a few weeks ago that I received a very needed scripture memory booster shot. It wasn’t painful but it was challenging. Thank you, Dan! As Dan and Trisha and Bill and I exchanged grandparent stories, Dan consistently shared the scriptures he was memorizing with their GRANDS; not only the verses but the passages. (Last Christmas all their GRANDS—ages 4-10—memorized Isaiah 12).

Last summer I came across this excerpt from a letter to Dietrich Bonhoeffer …

“He (Bonhoeffer) received a letter from one Finkenwaldian (one of his students at Finkenwald) who had resisted meditating on the biblical texts. But in the midst of war, he told Bonhoeffer that he kept up the practice on his own. When it was too difficult to meditate on the verses he simply memorized them, which had a similar effect. He said that just as Bonhoeffer had always told them, the verses “opened out at an unexpected depth. One has to live with the texts, and then they unfold.” Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas, page 384.

Back to Jeremiah 15:16. I’ve been living with those words for a long time. Yet it was recently that they began to unfold for me. I spent time reading the words around Jeremiah 15:16 and realized Jeremiah is complaining to God and this chapter records their conversation. And in the midst Jeremiah says, “your words were found …” 

Perspective changes; God’s intimate involvement in my life is real again. Not only did God’s word speak to Jeremiah, they spoke truth, comfort, and wisdom to my heart as well. When I meditate on the word, it becomes a joy because of my identity. I am called by his name! 

When the word is not my joy, I need to glance back. Am I meditating? Am I assured of my identity? Over and over God declares his love for me. I need to trust it.

Dan’s encouragement came at the right time. Here is my newest Bible memory card. I’m learning that a bit of color and a few shapes all help the memory process. And I’ll take the all the help I can get!

Have you ever memorized scripture? What are your success helps? What was the first verse you ever memorize? (John 1:12 was mine) Why did you memorize it? How old were you?

Is on-line help encouraging to you? Check out

GRAND-son, Judah
Children memorize easily. Four year old Judah loves quoting his reservoir of scriptures to me. And I love listening. 

When our boys were in elementary school, my husband and I published a Bible memory program for children, Well-Versed Kids,  published by Navpress in 1988. It is still being used today. Recently the ownership has returned to us. Would you like a copy? Let me know. 

“But he answered, “It is written, “ ’Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “ Matthew 4:4