Category: Family

Family. Families hurt together,  hurt one another, but most importantly families can heal together.  These posts explore the past and what makes my family what it is today as well tells on our ups and downs.

Mike’s Collapse – Praycation, Part 4

“One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying.”      – Catherine Marshall

Our Praycation has put us on the move again; Mike and I are heading East now. As we drove through the Idaho Panhandle and into Montana, we’ve been filled with nostalgia.  So many old things to look at … so many past seasons and events to contemplate.

Mike has been very patient with me asking over and over, “Should we get that shot?”  He now just nods, as I flip the u-turn and drive back in hopes of re-capturing  what I saw just moments ago. (It’s like a disease that only other photographers will understand.)

One of the most fascinating things we’ve observed so far is a rock quarry in the middle of nowhere, lined up with old car after old car.

I’m not sure what it is about Montana, but the state appears to be one endless collection of old cars; it is a living museum of expired automobiles and abandoned buildings. (My next blog will share photos of some of our favorite old buildings.)

Rock Quarry in MT

Cars in Rock Quarry (MT)

“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.”

-Ally Condie, Matched

Rock Quarry Cars

Quarry full of cars (MT)

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

– Marcel Proust

Quarry full of Cars (MT)

Quarry full of cars (MT)

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:13b,14

Cars in a Quarry

I’m always torn when it comes to  nostalgia:  Looking back is good for learning lessons and for celebrating wonders and successes.  Living in the past, however, is a burdensome habit …. makes it kinda hard to embrace new people and moments when my heart and hands are full of days that will never return, especially when those memories are nothing more than the dead weight of resentment and anger.

While we’ve had many  opportunities to look backwards, many of the people we talk to are looking forward.  The number one prayer need that Mike and I encounter has been that we pray for the children of those we meet.  Another Praycation Encounter emphasized the concern of parents for their children.

This encounter involved a change in our itinerary.  Instead of driving straight across Idaho, we decided, at the last minute, on the more scenic route through Sandpoint.  Live music outside of an Italian restaurant lured Mike and I inside for lunch along the river, where we had an outdoor patio and a busy waitress to ourselves.

“Ask her,” Mike urged.  This has become code, for sharing  our “Praycation mission” and asking if there is something we could pray for.

The waitress had a strange mix of joy and pain in her eyes.  “You know, I used to be very angry at God.  I didn’t really know Him, and I definitely didn’t know Jesus,  just that Something was out there. I had this idea that every path was going to somehow lead to Him, although I could never seem to find Him. ”

She then told us how her daughter, 16 at the time, was in a horrific accident with no hope of recovering because of the severe brain damage.  Devastated, the woman screamed out her pain to this God whom she didn’t understand.

Miraculously, her daughter began to communicate with her mother through sign language.  This distraught woman learned that her daughter had seen Jesus.

“Did He send you back because He has something for you to do?”

“No,” the girl replied.

“Do you want to come back?”

“No,” came the answer again.

“Then why has He sent you back?”

“For you,” the girl replied.

Mike and I teared up as this mother shared about dropping to her knees on the spot and repenting. “That was eight years ago and my life has been filled with some of the worse challenges you could imagine, but the anger and bitterness is out of my life.  As I have learned of Christ’s love and forgiveness, I have learned to truly love people who have betrayed me. I don’t know how to explain it.”

Her prayer request is for her daughter who is in a wheel chair and who has speech defects, but who lives independently in a different city. This daughter is experiencing a difficult season at present and needs encouragement.

And so, we pray for a young woman named Brianna, and for the many like her whom God has touched with His mercy, yet who struggle from time to time in this broken world.

Father,
Thank You for loving the broken hearted and the lonely.  May You be our rock in unsteady times. May courage find a way to hearts, even when we are most weary and uncertain.  May hope fill us again and again.

 

Mike’s Collapse – Praycation Part 2

“Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

– Charles Finney

Mike and I are  into week #2 of our Praycation and are most recently holed-up in the Spokane area, enjoying the hospitality of some of our dearest friends.  It’s a week of rest, reflection, heartfelt conversations, delicious food, card games, movies, and praying.  It sounds busy, but it’s very laid back, and the gang is allowing me some space to catch up on some writing while Mike treasure hunts area thrift stores.

This is probably the most quiet week in terms of getting out and praying for others because I’m being somewhat anti-social , focusing on my projects, yet we’ve still managed to experience some interesting encounters and can easily see things around us to pray for.  Most obvious and concerning are the fires of Western Washington.

VTN_0522

This picture is of Eastern Washington taken at 4:30 in the afternoon in what is supposed to be a sunny, hot day. Facing the far north part of Spokane, it instead, looks like a winter’s day out there … a muggy winter’s day that smells like a giant campfire That doesn’t add up, does it? It started “clouding up” on Saturday night and now (Monday), the smoke has robbed almost all visibility.  Although there have been some fires in this area, the west side of the state is the cause of this.

This was Saturday Night's sunset from our friend's home in Spokane.  This was from a local fire.
This was Saturday Night’s sunset from our friend’s home in Spokane. This was from a local fire.

We’re praying for …
Rain
The safety of firefighters throughout the state and region
Safety for farmers bringing in their crops (Some of our family had a close call this weekend.)

I’ve been thinking … what would happen if my family intentionally took an extra one minute at dinner each night to pray for an event in the news, like the fires? And what would happen if we added a second minute to pray for a loved one in need or who doesn’t know Christ?  Two guaranteed minutes of prayer together a day … where might this lead?

Last weekend brought a handful of face to face opportunities to either pray for people on the spot or to let them know that we would be praying for them throughout this week. One of our most memorable encounters took place during a yard sale where we met a delightful young family. After talking to them for awhile about a number of topics, Mike explained our Praycation and asked if they would like us to be in prayer for them.  They were surprised and seemed a little unfamiliar with such ideas, but were quick to share a need.

“We want our to keep our life simple and uncluttered,” the wife said. “And we want to have wisdom raising our children, especially the teenager.”

I’ve been hearing these sentiments repeatedly of late, and have then offered prayers like this:

Father,
Please show us Your purposes in our families. Help us to recognize and remove any distractions, any idols. Help us to love Your word again.  May we read and teach Your word faithfully.  Help us to linger in prayer on behalf of our children.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in our homes.  Thank you, Jesus.  Amen

Love the farmland! So thankful for our farmers and those who labor over the soil
Love the farmland! So thankful for our farmers and those who labor over the soil.

You’re Just a Speck

“I’m insignificant… And the galaxy is a speck. I’m a speck on a speck orbiting a speck among other specks among still other specks in the middle of specklessness. I suck.”

Wonders

Well, that kind of ruined my day.  Driving home from the hospital several weeks ago, that pronouncement  blared at me from a talk show on the radio.  More depressing was that it came from the lovable, Bill Nye the Science Guy.

“Wow,”  I thought to myself, “In a culture that worships science … extols science as having  all the answers … a culture that insists that science and evolution makes me who I am … this is the final conclusion?  I suck?”

“Humankind may not be that special.”

Yep … Science Guy said that too.

Here I was, fighting for my husband’s recovery as we looked at a month-long stay in the hospital, and in the same season, praying for a handful of friends in dire, life-altaring crisis of their own, and now I was tempted to wonder why bother.  If we’re just little specks floating around in the middle of nothing-ness, seriously, why bother?

Then I shook myself, “What are you thinking in your head?!”  I didn’t believe that stuff anyway, why was I letting it get to me?  But still, I felt sad, because I look into the faces of people every single who day who believe that they are just happenstance and simply, they suck.

I have spent my life working with young people and nothing is more painful than watching them wrestle with life’s purpose, only to  decide there isn’t a purpose.  Worse, is a teen who decides she is worthless or becomes self absorbed and mean because … well, why shouldn’t she?

I get it … without Christ, we have nothing to boast of … nothing of value … nothing that would gain us audience with an Awe-inspiring, Unblemished, Holy God.  We are like dirty cleaning rags … washed up by our own sins and selfishness. Useless.

EXCEPT … (HUGE exception here) … over and over again God sees us through the filter of His Son. God’s ultra piercing vision allows Him to view who we are supposed to be sans sin.  Oh, to put on His glasses every time I look at humanity around  me, or even simply, when I look into the mirror.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.”

I can say this, because it is how our Heavenly Father made me … fearfully and wonderfully. It is how He sees me because I walk in the shadow of the cross.

Science should make us marvel at this human life.  Out of all of the wonders and mysteries of the universe, humans stand unique and special … able to be caretakers of the world … not dusty little particles that mean nothing. We have a soul; something that science just plain doesn’t know what to do with, so it’s usually dismissed.  Our soul  makes us unique among all scientific wonders.

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made
Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

While Mr. Nye depressed me, leave it to a kid’s movie to inspire.  I can’t say enough about Inside Out (well … except for the corny, short flick before the movie … definitely not usual Pixar standards.)  A unique, well-made movie without political undertones and without bathroom humor or innuendoes, Inside Out celebrates family (a rare movie that actually makes both mom and dad look good).  More importantly, it captures how wonderfully and fearfully we are designed with all of our emotions, capabilities, stages of life, need for relationships, and on and on. We might each be a just a speck, but we’re pretty darn remarkable specks.

I can’t help but think what Science Guy’s conclusion  must look like from an angel’s perspective.  I picture a bevy of angels peering at earth past all the stars and planets … past the sun … beyond majestic mountains, happy streams, and  vast oceans … through jungles and forests and wheat fields and deserts and canyons … next to giraffes and hippos and aardvarks and turtles and parrots and kangaroos and cows and goats and woodpeckers and centipedes and praying mantis …  past ice storms and tornados and blazing sunrises … to see that speck of a speck on a speck (known by God … every hair numbered … every day accounted for) raising his fist and shouting, “There is no Creator.”  “We suck!”

Wonder if the thunder I heard recently is those angels having a good laugh on us.  They should.