Archive | September 2011

May I Take Your Order, Please?

Mealtimes are somewhat of a collaborative effort around here usually—which is how it should be when there are this many people living together under one roof.  I do most of the cooking—sometimes with Laurie’s help—although Fernando enjoys cooking an Ecuadorian meal now and then.  Katie and Matthew set the table, Melissa fills the glasses and helps clear the table, and Sara and Gabi wash and dry the dishes.  There are sometimes little squabbles—especially between Matthew and Katie.  He always wants to do the part that Katie is doing.  “Why does Katie always get to put on the plates?” he’ll fuss.  I’ll suggest he put on the silverware, but no—he stubbornly walks around the table taking off the plates Katie just set, and then walks around again putting them back on!  That’s a male for you—well, a four-year-old male, anyway.

I enjoy watching the little ones do their chores—especially when they decide to add their own little twist to them.  Matthew has to count out nine of everything.  Sometimes he gets it right, sometimes he doesn’t.  Katie, bless her little heart, has lately been folding the napkins “fancy.”  Her latest thing, though, is to help out sister Melissa by taking everyone’s drink orders.  She tucks her little notebook into the waistband of her pants and puts her pencil behind her ear (pretending she’s a waitress) until she is ready and then whips them out to write down each person’s preference.  Matthew, of course, cannot be outdone, so a minute or two later, here he comes with his big notebook asking, “What do you and Grandpa want to drink, Grandma?”  His writing is just chicken scratch that only he can read, but he carefully “jots” down each order just the same.  And then Melissa, not quite trusting her little sister and brother, goes around double-checking what each person wants to drink.

I have told all three of them several times, “My answer will always be the same—I don’t really care what I drink as long as it is “diet,” and Grandpa always drinks half a glass of milk—breakfast, lunch and supper!”  I still get asked, though, three times before every meal, “What do you want to drink, Grandma?”  Ah, well…

Yes, there’s a little sibling rivalry going on.  Most of us usually outgrow that, don’t we?  There are some families who still experience it, though, even as adult sisters and brothers.  And sad to say, even in the family of God here on earth,  there can be a little sibling rivalry.  We sometimes look with envy on the ministries of others—or perhaps look down on them.  At times we may be critical of the way someone accomplishes his work within the body of Christ.  Or perhaps we are dissatisfied with the ministry to which God has called us, or simply burnt out on it.

We each have our part in the family of God.  Our ministry, our responsibility, our calling.  Romans 12:4-8 says, For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.   Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;  Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

It is important that we realize that before the world even began God had a holy calling for each one of us.   Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”  (II Timothy 1:9)  If, then, He has called us, He has been faithful to also equip us for whatever it is He has called us to do.  I Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

 I Corinthians 12:4-6, 11-25 tells us, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all…But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all
baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.  For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked.  That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”   

This passage of Scripture tells us that God has set each of us in the Body as it pleases Him.  He also says that no member is more important or honorable than another.  Those working behind the scenes are just as necessary and valuable as those in the forefront.  The body could not function if we all were called to do the same exact thing.  There are many members but just one Body, and each one is needed to perform the ministry to which God has called him.

Matthew and Katie are still little and immature.  They will grow up someday and hopefully outgrow their sibling rivalry.  The Lord asks us to be mature, as well, and work in unity for the strengthening and perfecting of each member and the Body as a whole.  Ephesians 4: 11-16 tells us not to be like little children but grow up!  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with
every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

God gives us, through His grace and for His purposes, exactly what we need to accomplish the work He has called us to do—and it has been His will and His plan since before the world began!  I don’t know about you, but that thought is awe-inspiring to me!  It ought to be an attitude changer, as well, if we are at all discontent with our place in the family of God!  Let us then joyfully and
humbly serve Him wherever and however He calls!

Kangaroo Crossing

Sigh.  Once again I must resort to living vicariously.  The house has been quiet and empty this week—too quiet.  The Naranjos have been in Colorado and we are back to just the three of us—Bob, Robbie and me—at least, for a couple weeks.  I enjoyed the peace and
quiet—for the first few hours.  After that, the best I can say about it is that there are no lines for the bathroom.  Whoo-hoo.  I can get into the loo whenever I want.

I am happy for them, though.  The Lord blessed them—“overwhelmingly and beyond words!” according to Laurie—with a big beautiful house on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park for next to nothing this week.  (The house rents for $1500-$1700 a week.  They got it for $200 thanks to the owners who happen to be the parents of dear friends of theirs.)  They’ve been enjoying lots of room to spread out and have some much-needed family time together without us looking on; a million-dollar view of the Continental Divide from their deck; wildlife and the awe-inspiring beauty of God’s creation all around them; picnics, hiking, and
tourist-y fun.  Most of Laurie’s childhood and teen years were spent in Colorado, so she has loved sharing her old “stomping
grounds” with her family.

Cell phone connections were sketchy at times, but we were able to Skype with them with great video and sound.  It was fun to
keep up with their activities at the end of each day and to see their excitement over elks bugling and coyotes howling around their house, catching fish, and getting a family photo done at one of those old-time photo shops complete with period costumes and accessories.  Gabi is really good about keeping us up to date on Facebook and Fernando posted a lot of pictures there, as well.

I chuckled one day as Gabi shared a cute-kid story.  There are a number of deer-crossing signs in the area in which they were
staying.  She was laughing at seven-year old Katie one day on Facebook, who was insisting that one particular sign was a
kangaroo-crossing sign!   “WHAT?!” Gabi wrote, “Haha—what would a kangaroo be doing in Estes Park??  I giggled at Katie, too, until Fernando came on and wrote that indeed, there was a kangaroo-crossing sign in the area—someone’s idea of a joke, no doubt.  Or maybe it wasn’t a joke and someone has kangaroos on a farm nearby and is worried that they’ll get loose.  Whatever—the sign is real!

Shame on us for mocking our little Katie!  She saw what she saw and knew what she knew, and we, in our so-called wisdom, pooh-poohed her.  Sorry, Katie!

This reminds me of those who mock Christians for their belief in God and His word.  They can’t see Him, they have no relationship with Him, and in all their worldly wisdom they believe that we are naïve and even ignorant to believe in what science, common sense and their own intellect (in their minds, at least) have “disproved.”  They have not seen God, therefore He must not exist.
There are no kangaroos running wild in the Rocky Mountains, therefore there cannot be a kangaroo-crossing sign—and since there is no God, we cannot have His Word.

God says they are fools. Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” (Romans 1:19-22)

The Naranjos have been surrounded this week with some of God’s most beautiful creation.  Who cannot see it and simply praise the Lord for His manifest handiwork?  Sorry to say, there are those who do not see the signs all around them and realize that this world was no accident of evolution.  Fools.  Someday they, too, will bow the knee to their Creator.  “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;  And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father .” (Philippians 2:10, 11)  “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”  (Romans 14:11, 12)

I would far rather be wise in God’s eyes than in the eyes of the world.  Let them mock.  “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom
of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.   Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to
nought things that are.”
  (I Corinthians 1:19-21, 27-28)   I will, therefore, believe.

God Is In Control

I have been watching the memorials to 9/11 this week and particularly this morning, and remembering that awful day in our nation’s history ten years ago.  The images we watched that day as they unfolded, of course, are etched into our minds, but seeing them replayed again in remembrance brings back a flood of memories and emotion—and a gratefulness to God for the country in which He has placed us.  We treasure our freedom, and the attacks that day on our freedom and the life that we enjoy here in the United States sparked a war to defend all that we hold dear. 

In actuality, the entire world was impacted on that day.  The people lost in the attacks on September 11, 2001 came from 93 different countries.  Many allies joined together in the war on terrorism after that fateful day.  The last ten years have seen momentous changes throughout the world as we have fought the battle to not allow hatred and evil to wipe out democracy and freedom.

September 11th was a day to remember in our family, as well.  It was Gabriela’s fourth birthday—and the very first birthday we would be able to enjoy with her as she had celebrated her previous three birthdays in Ecuador.  As we became glued to the
television that morning, though, watching as history unfolded, we struggled to tear ourselves away and make our sweet little girl’s birthday fun for her.  She didn’t understand what was going on and she just wanted the festivities to begin!

Another situation was brewing, however, in our family that day that would change our lives forever, as well.  Robbie was becoming sick—so sick that we knew we needed to get him to the emergency room.  I simply could not miss out on at least an hour of celebrating Gabi’s birthday with her, though, so we had a birthday lunch and presents for her and then Bob and I headed to the hospital with Robbie.  It was the beginning of an enormous change in Robbie’s life and ours.  Little did we know that Robbie would be in the hospital that time for another month, and when he came out finally after a life and death struggle, he would never be the same again.

Never the same again.  For better or for worse, America and the world have been altered forever.  I look back on that day and I see the changes in our nation, the world, our family.  I see the beautiful changes in a pretty little preschooler who is now an amazing, lovely teenager, and I can scarcely believe ten years have gone by.  She is so precious to me and I am proud of the creative, unique, independent young woman she has become.   I see the heart-wrenching changes in Robbie, as well, and though my heart aches for him, I know that God is in control and in His wisdom He has planned this life for his and our best and for His glory.  And that is the key to dealing with change—understanding that God is in control.

September 11, 2001 was a fearful and shocking day for all of us.  How comforting it was to know that no matter what the future held for our nation—God is in control.   How comforting to know that our lives are in His hands and when we yield control to Him He can make something beautiful of them.  How comforting to know that even when bad things happen, He knows all about it, He is still on the throne and He never leaves us or forsakes us.  How comforting, safe and secure to face the unknown knowing that God is in control.  Colossians 1:16, 17 says, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and
invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”

Another situation has arisen this week in our family that reminds me once again that God is in control and that His wisdom is not our wisdom!  It has been four long years this week since Julie and David began their adoption journey.  We have struggled to be patient as we waited on God to work in His own time and way.  At times it has been frustrating as we see the indifference and ineptitude in the bureaucracy that keeps children languishing in orphanages for years while perfectly good families yearn to take them in.  We have pleaded with God to open or close doors that might show David and Julie without a shadow of a doubt what His will is in this.   To this point we have not felt that He has closed the door on adoption, but rather said, “Wait.”

The Lord miraculously opened a door this week—but not the door they expected or could have even dreamed of!  For four years they have been waiting to adopt several young children or babies from El Salvador.  Instead, the Lord has brought a fourteen year
old boy from the Ukraine into their lives!  As they incredulously began to pray about Oleg, the Lord impressed upon them that he was indeed the child He has for them and to not be afraid in taking the next step.  One by one the doors opened for them until they knew without a doubt that God was leading and that Oleg fit into their family like a glove.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.   For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8,9)  If they, in their human wisdom, could have put in their wish list for what they wanted, Oleg would not have made the list.  They wanted a younger child or
even a baby; one girl, at least; preferably from a Spanish-speaking country.  Thankfully, they were open to God’s will and not their own; His wisdom and not theirs.  They are all thrilled with the son and brother God is placing into their family, and he is just as thrilled to come to them.  (We’re excited for them, too!)

As far as the El Salvadoran adoptions, they still feel that God is telling them to wait.  The door has not closed on that, and they are
ready, willing and praying that He will bring them to pass in His time and way if it is His will.

When change comes, whether it be for the good or bad; when we are trusting in God we can rest and have peace, knowing that He is in control.  What a blessing to trust our children’s lives to Him!  What a blessing to feel safe and secure in the midst of chaos and fear!  What a blessing to follow His path for our lives with all its unexpected twists and turns knowing that He is leading and will never leave us or forsake us!

Whether it is our nation’s fate, the condition of the world, our families, or even own lives that hang in the balance, know that God is in control!  A song by Twila Paris says it like this:

God Is In Control

 

This is no time for fear

This is a time for faith and determination

Don’t lose the vision here

Carried away by emotion

Hold on to all that you hide in your heart

There is one thing that has always been true

It holds the world together

God is in control

We believe that His children will not be forsaken

God is in control

We will choose to remember and never be shaken

There is no power above or beside Him, we know

God is in control, oh God is in control

History marches on

There is a bottom line drawn across the ages

Culture can make its plan

Oh, but the line never changes

No matter how the deception may fly

There is one thing that has always been true

It will be true forever

He has never let you down

Why start to worry now?

He is still the Lord of all we see

And He is still the loving Father

Watching over you and me

watching over you…watching over me..

watching over every thing..

watching over you..watching over me..

every little sparrow..every little thing…

Life is Not a Board Game

Seven-year-old Katie might surprise you.  On the surface she is a flibbertijibbet—flighty and silly, a tease and a clown.  She simply cannot sit still.  She never walks, but runs, hops, skips, jumps or twirls everywhere.  I watched her do a combination of all those things on her way out to the kitchen the other day.  Her head seems to be in  the clouds half the time, and if she doesn’t immediately obey sometimes, it isn’t because she is being naughty—it is simply because she’s off in la-la land somewhere and she never heard you.

There are depths to Katie, though, that often surprise us.   She is sweet and kind and thoughtful when it comes to others.  She climbs up into her severely handicapped uncle’s lap sometimes  and cuddles with him, not caring that he might drool in her hair or accidentally squeeze too hard.  Every once and a while she comes out with a sentence or word that I would have thought would be far beyond her vocabulary and thought processes.  And now and then we catch a glimpse of Katie the Philosopher.

We play a lot of board games around here.  Lately our favorite has been Rummikub, either at the table or on the computer.  It requires some thinking and I have been delighted to see how Katie and Melissa, in particular, have excelled in their problem-solving
and strategizing abilities and are developing their analytical and cognitive skills.  The object of the game is to put randomly drawn numbered tiles in sets of three or more by making runs (2, 3, 4…etc.) or groups (all threes or all fours, etc.) and to meld them with your opponents’ tiles until someone gets rid of all his tiles.  Sometimes we have to experiment a little, trying to get rid of the most
tiles we can and it does not always work out.  If that happens when we are playing on the computer we can simply click “undo”
and it all goes back to the way it was before we started fooling around.  When we are playing at the table, you are permitted to experiment as long as you are able to put it all back within a reasonable period of time if it doesn’t work out.

Someone was trying to “undo” their experiment-gone-awry the other day when Katie said thoughtfully—and a trifle sadly, “Hmm… Life is not like Rummikub.  You can’t undo what you do.”  I looked at her with a mixture of surprise and pride and said, “Katie, you are so right!  That is why it is important to be careful about whatever we say and do!”

My granddaughter, the philosopher.  That is a lesson it would be well to learn early in life, and unfortunately most of us do not.  How often have we said words that we regretted later?  How often have we had to pay the consequences of some action we had thoughtlessly—or even blatantly—committed, only to be sorry later—but too late.  As the old saying goes, “You cannot unring a
bell.”

I was thinking about this the other night as I tried to get to sleep.  One by one, memories came flooding back to me of things I had said or done in my life for which I was ashamed.  A lot of things, from the time of my childhood, through my teens and on into
adulthood.  So many things that I was shocked!  How could it be that I, who cannot remember where I put my purse or parked the car ten minutes ago, could suddenly remember all these awful deeds and words from the last fifty or more years?   As I tossed and turned and tried to turn off my mind, I told myself that if I had asked God’s forgiveness for these things, and He had forgiven me, why was I bringing them back up now?  Surely I had apologized to the people I had hurt, hadn’t I?  And even if I had not, I doubt very much if most of them would even remember these things at all.

Except that—a bell cannot be unrung.  Words spoken in anger can change a relationship forever.  Even if they are forgiven, a little of the hurt may linger.  Sin may be forgiven, but often there are natural consequences to be paid.  We know when we’ve done wrong.  Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”  We know that God knows, as well.  “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy
soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?”
(Proverbs 24:12)  Galatians 6:7-8 adds, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Someday we will all stand before the Lord—either at the Judgment Seat of Christ if we know Him as Savior, or at the Great White Throne of Judgment if we do notWe believers know we are saved from the eternal consequences of our sin thanks to the shed blood of Jesus Christ, but we are still accountable for how we have lived for Him—or not. “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10-12).  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it
be good or bad.”
  (II Corinthians 5:10)

When I stand before Him, I pray I will not be ashamed.  His will for us is to bring glory to God through our lives.  I Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”  That ought to be our rule of thumb—“We cannot undo what we do.  Therefore, do nothing that will bring shame; do all to the glory of God.”

Thank you, Katie, for the reminder!