Monday, April 2, 2012

Wind and Waves

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Without warning, a furious strom came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, " Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!"
Matthew 8:23-27

I'm spending part of my spring break this week at the Outer Banks in Nags Head, NC.  When I was invited to join friends at the beach front house, I imagined myself sitting on the beach with my bathing suit on and book in hand, reapplying suncreen every hour or so, and taking a refreshing dip in the ocean.
Much to my dismay, the weather hasn't quite cooperated with my expectant plans.  It has been cool with high winds each day.  A walk on the beach yesterday was almost too difficult.  After reaching the pier, a mile from the house, we turned around to walk against the strong gusts back to our safe haven.
This morning I stood at the sliding glass doors on the top level of the house looking out at the endless ocean.  The wind was whistling and blowing anything that could be carried away.  The waves were crashing onto the shore, one after another without interruption. 
I thought about the disciples who were afraid as they were caught in the storm as Jesus slept.  Fearful, they woke Jesus in a panic.  But there was no reason to be afraid.  Jesus calmed the storm.  He spoke and calmness overcame the waters and the wind stilled. 
I am amazed by his power.  Why do I doubt?  Why do I fear?  What can rock my boat that Jesus can't, if it is his will, still for me? I am thankful for the wind and waves at the beach yesterday and today, and for the reminder of Jesus' presence and power in my life. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

One Thousand Gifts...and Counting

I came across a new author and her first book this summer.  Ann Vos Kamp, a farmer's wife from Ontario, wrote a book about the gifts we find in life.  She has suffered a great deal of pain and loss in her life with the earliest memory being her 18 month old baby sister's death after being run over by a truck on the dirt road outside their home.
Vos Kamp met God in her late teens when she started going to church with a boy from her high school.  She married that boy when she was 20.  Her writing is poetic and soul-singing.  She reveals her heart and the innermost parts of her being in her book, One Thousand Gifts.
For me, this book is perspective-shifting...even life-changing. 
Is there a secret to figuring out life?  Well, it may not be a secret but it is hard to figure out.  A true, meaningful life can be found in the the process of "eucharisteo".  This word has three greek words woven together to give it rich meaning.
  • Charis- grace
  • Eucharist- thanksgiving
  • Chara- joy
The daily pursuit of eucharisteo is to recognize our blessings.  It's the progression from the realization of grace we receive, to the response of thanksgiving, to the fullness of joy we can experience.  God gives us gifts we don't deserve, we have thankful hearts, and we find ourselves overflowing with joy.  This is eucharisteo.

Now, this is not easy.  It's hard to see through the junk, hurt, disappointment of this world to the grace.  But we must.  To see through the thick layer of dirt on the windshield of life to the good and beautiful surrounding us is worship.  See the grace in the mess.  And give thanks for the speck of glitter in the mud.

“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.”
Saint John of Avila

The next part of her book becomes a challenge.  It's not just to see the gifts.  She challenges her readers to write them, to make a record of thousand of them. This is not a challenge that she herself has not done.  Vos Kamp took on this challenge and shares some of her list.  She records things like the sound of clothes tumbling in the dryer, the shadows from sunlight across the kitchen table, the tiny voices from her children asking for hugs. She reached one thousand, but didn't stop there.
She shares that this challenge to write down and number one thousand gifts "becomes a dare to celebrate innumerable, endless gifts."  It doesn't have to stop at #1000.  And it won't.  Life-gifts are innumberable.  The hard part is for us to recognize them and focus on the grace, gratitude, and joy that should fill us and flow into the lives of others. 

Find the gifts around you, unwrap them realizing they are there by GRACE. 
Give THANKS and be filled with JOY.

Friday, December 23, 2011

But the World Didn't Know

Two days until Christmas.  My to-do lists are done, my gifts are wrapped, and I'm ready.  Not until today have I felt myself relax, have a rest, sit and think.  I have been thinking about the days leading up to the first Christmas, Christ's birth.  There were no stockings to hang, trees to trim, cookies to bake, or gifts to wrap.  There was no Christmas before Christ.  Was anyone prepared for the Savior to enter the world?  Who was waiting expectantly other than Mary and Joseph and their close relatives and friends who knew of the Angel Gabriel's message to Mary?  What was it like the night before Christmas?
One of my favorite Christmas songs is by Brandon Heath.  The lyrics contemplate this very mystery..."The Night Before Christmas".  There was an empty manger that became the birthplace of the King of kings, Lord of lords, the Prince of Peace.  Jesus was about to be born.  But the world didn't know.  "Empty manger, perfect stranger...about to be born."

Merry Christmas to you! 
Luke 2:10-11

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Top 10 of Summer '11

Today is the last day of summer.  I feel like summer ended in August, but as my calendar points out tomorrow is the equinox of autumn.  Therefore, as of tonight it's sayonara summer.  As we say goodbye to the long carefree days where the sun smiled down on us, I'd like to revisit some of my favorite moments.  Officially, summer began June 21 but I'm going to take some liberties and go back as far as May as I recount my favorite summer memories.  Let the countdown begin (in no particular order)...

10. College Friends Beach Weekend in Sandbridge, VA

9. Meghan Kathleen Howie got engaged to Christopher Hueghan...MKH forever <3

8. A week in Florida with my Krissypie! 
Pool, drinks, beach, Everglades, Harry Potter, shopping, food, Jefferson, sunshine...precious time with my a wonderful friend...bliss!

7.  Lindsay's Wedding Day
A beautiful ceremony and fun reception to celebrate Dan and Lindsay's nuptuals.  It was really special to have my dad walk Linds down the aisle and faciliate the exchange of vows.

6.  Deep Creek Lake Girls Weekend
Had a blast with college girlfriends at Nicole's lakehouse!  Hiking, boating, tubing, and ice cream eating fun was had by all.  And most importantly, we had quality time together to catch up on life.

5. Georgetown Cupcake!
Finally was able to get in without having to wait in a line blocks long. 
We had the red velvet with cream cheese icing.  So good.

4. Gonzo's Nose at Tarara Winery
Got completely soaked, but had a blast with J & J dancing in the rain and drinking wine.

3.  Fourth of July Fireworks
We watched the DC fireworks this year from the Navy and Marine Memorial.  It was especially beautiful to watch the fireworks fall over the Potomac and see the reflections of the light bursting on the water.  A spectacular show.

2.  The Help!  In honor of the movie, Cassie and I made chocolate cream pies from scratch.  It was somewhat of an undertaking, but they turned out really well and was a great addition to our girls movie and book discussion night.

1.  Wicked at the Kennedy Center with Momma
Fabulous show!  Loved the story, the music, and a fun night out with my sweet mom.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I awoke this morning with a heavy heart.  The vivid memories of 9/11 have remained. 
I was a freshman in college, just starting my third week of classes.  I was in chapel when Dr. Keehlwetter interuppted the regular courses of service that morning to announce that a plane had crashed into the North Tower in NYC.  We were stunned, but unaware of what was happening.  Less than twenty minutes later, in my World Civ class with Dr. Kemeny, we found out that a second plane had hit and before that class ended the Pentagon had been attacked.
I don't remember much of what I thought that day, rather what I felt.  Walking back to my dorm late that morning, I felt scared.  I wanted to find my friends, who weren't even really my friends yet.  We had only known each other a couple of weeks.  I wanted to call my family, but phone lines were jammed and it was impossible to get through.  I felt alone.  TVs were on everywhere with the coverage and footage of the terror that had found it's way onto American soil.  I felt unsafe. 
Our life has changed post 9/11, but I was reminded this morning in church that even though the world around seems to be crumbling, our God is faithful.  He has not changed. 
President Obama read Psalm 46 at Ground Zero this morning.  The words of the Psalm are powerful and comforting.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging." Psalm 46:1-3

So as I go about my days, waking and sleeping, I shed my heavy heart.  With a light spirit and my hope in God alone, I know that my Lord is a shield about me.  I pray for our nation and the world to turn their hearts toward Christ.  He is to be exalted, even in the midst of uncertainty and evil. 

As we remember 9/11, the fallen are not forgotten.  May we not forget the Lord of all- present, past, and future. God Bless America, and may America Bless God.