Friday, May 21, 2010

For Me, This Day Is Significant!

These days, I often write out my prayers. They are highly personal, just between me and God. Today, though, here is part of what I wrote...

Father, this is my mom’s 84th birthday. I can’t find enough or adequate words to thank You for her being my mother. She is indeed rare. She gave herself to care for her family. She couldn’t imagine anything other than raising her kids and praying for them to know and love You. She lost Cabby* and still found hope. She took in foster kids and loved them, knowing that she would influence them only temporarily. She accepted Refugio** like a son, though she couldn’t speak his language. In short, she has continually poured out her life to love others. Thank You for her example.

* Cabby (Carol Beth) was my sister who was 4 1/2 years younger than me. She died at age 20 because of a heart infection.

** Refugio first came to work for my dad when he was age seventeen. He was the sole support of a younger brother and sister back in Mexico. He lived on my parents' property, ate his meals with our family (adding Jalapenos to almost everything!) and was like a brother to us.

At 84, mom still goes out of her way to care for people who need help. She listens, laughs, cries, prays and gives to meet others' needs.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Defend or Decry?

Have you noticed how we tend to defend the indiscretions of those with whom we agree? And we decry the same indiscretions in people whose views are different than ours.

Two recent events, both involving people whose opinions are similar to mine, have given me a ray of hope. In each case, the leader took himself out of the picture because of his own weakness.

The first incident involved John Piper. Piper, a popular Christian author and pastor is currently on an eight-month Sabbatical from virtually all writing and ministry. Announcing his decision, he wrote, "I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with [my wife] Noël and others who are dear to me." In other words, he wisely chose to pull away from the limelight and the rat race before more serious damage was done.

The second situation was unveiled just today. Indiana Republican Representative Mark Souder announced that he is resigning from Congress, effective Friday. He said that he has "sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff." Souder further explained his decision by stating, "As I leave public office, my plans are focused upon repairing my marriage, earning back the trust of my family and my community, and renewing my walk with my Lord."

We live in an era in which it is common for people to step over such weaknesses and fight on for the greater good. What's interesting is how we tend to evaluate indiscretions as large or small based on our perception of what the "greater good" actually is. If a certain politician was the swing vote in a cause we are passionate about, would we be tempted to overlook a moral failure? To put it differently, have we turned a blind eye to the past failures of leaders because we liked their public decisions?

Both Piper and Souder seem to be aware of that often forgotten characteristic of God: "Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) Also, God is "no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34) In other words, God wasn't looking on from heaven and thinking, "This guy is normally on my side. I ought to overlook this failure so he can continue to influence people in the direction I want to go."

The Bible says that it is time for "judgment to begin with the household of God." (1 Peter 4:17) The promise of God's Word is that God will hear from heaven and heal the land of His who people humble themselves and pray, turning from their wicked ways.(2 Chronicles 7:14) For that reason I find the actions of these two men refreshing.

If you pray, please pray for them and their families. From their individual statements, Piper has probably inflicted far less damage on those he loves than is the case with Souder. As one who has far too often sat across the counseling table and watched the tears stream down the face of a spouse whose husband or wife has cheated, I am painfully aware of the grief they must endure before the relationship is truly healed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Breakfast For The Select

Inhale. Smell the hot aroma of eggs, melted cheese, green chili and bacon. It has to be some of the world's best breakfast casserole. Accompany it with bagels and chase it with a mixture of yogurt, berries and granola. Wash it all down with juice and coffee. Mmmmmmm.

No, this hasn't morphed into a cooking blog. I barely know how to boil water. Instead, it's this morning's breakfast. But you have to be invited.

You see, Cathy got the idea over 25 years ago that we should do something for graduates at this time of year. Initially, we bought little gifts, cooked food and invited graduates and their families over to our house for "Graduation Breakfast." 24 years ago we relocated to Yuma and Cathy kept up the tradition.

Graduation Breakfast brings us great joy. We watch transitions in the lives of young people and their families. We have often seen them graduate from Middle School/Junior High then (it seems) blink twice and they are back as they conclude High School. Some of them have been here when they graduate from college, also. The awkwardness of kids entering adolescence matures into the focus of young adults ready to make their mark on life.

The biggest downside over the past few years is also one of the greatest blessings. Tammy, who leads our Student Ministries, is doing such a great job that we had to relocate to the church campus to accommodate the large number of grads.

We should still have enough breakfast casserole, though.