Thursday, April 28, 2011

Technologically aging

It was time for my mom and I to hop in the car and start on the road from Florida to Minnesota.  I have a road trip system.  I mapquest my route and then I follow along on a regular map.  I have these wonderful laminated maps I buy every time I enter a new state.  I have my mapquest to give me the main plan but then I am free to follow along or redirect as I see fit with my trusty maps.  My mom on the other hand plugs in her trusty GPS and actually forbids me from buying a map when we stop at a gas station.

I know what you are thinking.  Old school.  But I am not old school.  That would be calling AAA and having them put together a map plan.  Or even older school would be figuring it out myself with an atlas.  I came of age as programs like mapquest were getting popular and I feel very modern to use them.

Back in the day when a person got their driver's license the parents bought them a Hudson map to get around town.  (OK some people's parents did that.  Mine just hoped I had been paying attention.)  This Christmas in anticipation of Jake getting his license we did the more modern thing and bought him a GPS which he has made good use of since getting said license.

Back to Florida

So there we are, driving out of Marco Island, and the GPS did not want to direct us.  We drove about 30 miles while my mom fought with "Sally" her electronic tour guide.  Luckily there is only one way off the Island and it was pretty obvious we were going to need to go North.

As my mom struggled with the GPS I had a thought about all this technology.  I knew that if I wasn't driving I might be able to figure out the problem faster than she could because being younger than her I have had much more exposure to computers over the years but then I realized that if Jake was there he would probably be able to just tell us what to do without even looking around because his level of computer understanding is going way beyond me.  While I have been using computers since I was around his age, he has literally been using computers since he was a couple years old.

Recently the family was at the mall and we stopped at our handy dandy Verizon booth to contemplate our options on the upcoming scheduled upgrade.  We are thinking about getting rid John's blackberry and moving to an Ipad or Galaxy Tab or something like that for internet and go back to a regular phone.  John and I have a vague understanding that you can go on the internet, check email and play games with the things but don't really know much about them.  There were 3 models as we walked up.  John grabbed one, Jake grabbed one and Isabelle grabbed the third.  Within moments Isabelle was playing a game and Jake was browsing the web while John and I were staring at the 3rd device and asking the Verizon guy how it worked.  John accidentally touched one button and suddenly he could see himself on the device.  Amazing, does this mean I could skype on the thing?  It never would have occurred to me that I could do that or to want to do that.  It made me wonder what else the thing could do that I would never do because I wouldn't know it was possible.  It has me thinking...are we smart enough to own advanced technology?

I guess we will keep stumbling forward and 10 years from now when I am fighting with the latest gadget which I am trying to figure it out,  I can look forward to Isabelle rolling her eyes and pulling out of my hands in frustration, fixing it in a moment and tossing it back in my lap.

Can't wait.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Why don't I listen?

I don't know if you have figured this out yet by I like to lead by example.  Bad examples.

I have been reading a book called, "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  If you haven't read it I urge you to run to the nearest store and get it.  Wonderful.  Life changing.  I realized that it would only be truly life changing if my husband and son also read it so my plan was to finish it before I left for Florida so they could read it while I was gone.  Of course I didn't finish it on time and was torn between taking it with me to finish the last 3 chapters or leave it for them and finish it when the return.  Repeatedly as I packed the day before and the morning of my departure the idea come into my head to leave the book because I would come across it while I was traveling and would finish someone else's book.  I contemplated where I might find this book and ruled out options and I am ashamed to say brought it with me.

And because God likes to teach me lessons one of the first things I saw when I walked into the condo was my mom's copy of "Crazy Love" sitting on a table.  There it was, the book God was telling me I could read.  And I refused to trust Him and listen.

AND, while God didn't tell me to leave "The Help" at home it was sitting on the nightstand waiting for me. I had sent Jake out to the Library last night to quickly grab the book from the hold shelf when I discovered I had finally made it to the top of the waiting list.

2 less things I would have had to bring.

What would happen if we truly trusted God to provide for all our needs?  That is one of the questions Francis Chan asks.  I think I know the answer.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Resting in Paradise

One of my favorite books is called, "Disciplines of a Beautiful Woman" by Anne Ortlund.  One chapter she writes about how she is sitting in a beautiful hotel lobby in Hawaii while writing because somehow her and her minister husband had been gifted with some time away there to rest and recuperate from a busy ministry time and surgery she had recently had.  I remember reading it thinking, "who gets free trips to Hawaii to rest?!  I can't relate to this story!"

As I write this I am resting in Marco Island, Florida looking out onto one of the many canals from my parents condo having just returned from my daughter's first trip to the beach.  My parents spend their winters here and my dad has a back injury which has caused him to be unable to drive back home with my mom.  So he flew back to MN in time for the last (better be last) snow of the season and Isabelle and I flew down here the day after the LAST snow of the season to hang out with my mom a few days and then drive home with her.

I haven't had surgery recently and I don't know that my ministry work exactly warrants my spending a few days in paradise but still, God has provided this opportunity (via my wonderful parents) and I am blessed.

Monday, April 11, 2011


This weekend I was at our church women's retreat.  I have planned the last 2 retreats although I am a master delegator so I really just oversee the planning which is exactly what my bossy first born personality likes to do.  I get bored with the details.

I had asked 3 women from our church, all of whom had lived and ministered internationally, to speak to us on the concept of mission in our daily lives and asked them to try and give us a global point of view on the topic.  It was wonderful and they were all wonderful and I came home having been ministered to as I shared my burdens with other women and recieved the prayer and encouragement I needed to continue the ministry God has given me right here as I live my life.

One of the women who spoke was my friend Mwende whose family lives in Kenya and organized our trip to Kenya in 2009 and the ministry work we did while we were there.  She shared in her talk about how someone from our team (If it wasn't me it could have been so I will say it was me) said that I got so much out of the trip and didn't feel like I gave to the people of Kitui, the village we were in, nearly as much as I got out of the trip.  Mwende then shared a wonderful story that I just knew I had to share with all of you.

This past week a pastor from Massachsetts had been in Kenya and spoken at the church in Kitui.  The next day, early in the morning, there was a knock on her parents door and there stood 4 elderly women holding chickens under their arms with their feet tied.  When you are traveling in Kenya you may want to bring a chicken with you to give The feet are tied in order for you to bring the chicken on the bus when you travel.  A chicken is an important gift because it can mean a way for you to feed yourself.  These women announced that they knew this pastor had been from the U. S. and they wanted him to bring these chickens back to the visitors that had come to the village to thank us because they didn't feel they had gotten a chance to do so.

Here we are coming up on 2 years later and they are still grateful for what we did and I am still feeling like I didn't really do anything.

What I am struck by is that my first thought is how I can send something there and do more for them.  I feel guilty that they want to express their gratitude to me and so respond by wanting to do something more.  Something to actually deserve this experssion of gratitude because I am sure I do not.

Why can't I just accept this expression of thanks?

As I have thought a lot about gratitude and being grateful this past year linking up with Ann's blog occasionally on Mondays I was struck this weekend by the other side of gratitude, recieving it.  I must admit that as woman after woman thanked me for putting the retreat together this weekend my continual response was to deny my role and tell them I did nothing and didn't deserve the thanks. 

Why couldn't I just accept their thanks?

I am honored by the opportunities I have had to serve God in smalls ways over the years and am humbled by the thanks I have receieve from the people I have served.  Lord, give me the grace to recieve their thanks.

And I continue to give thanks to God:

  • a community of women to share my life with.
  • a fellowship of wise women to learn and grow from.
  • the opportunities to share my burdons and share the burdons of others so that we may all lighten our loads.
  • Beautiful spring weather.
  • A gentle wind and chirping birds as we do morning prayer together.
  • blue nail polish.
  • time to create a work of art and a process that doesn't require me to be an artist to do so.
  • New friends and deeper relationships.
  • Beauty
  • Variety
  • Complements and grateful women.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Last week I was driving to work when my husband called.  He told me his sister told him the tests his dad had the week before showed he likely had stomach and possibly estophegele cancer.  "That's too bad.  I am sorry to hear that." and  "OK, thanks for calling, have a nice day."  I told him while continuing down 35W to work.

I went through the motions of the rest of the day, answering phones, chatting with co-workers and working sudoku puzzles but in my mind I was still speeding down 35W, frozen in place.

I remember a number of years ago my sister telling me she opened her front door to discover some life changing news.  While her physical body went on with the rest of the day, in her mind she was standing at the front door all day long.  I get it.

It is funny how we respond to life chaning news.  In your mind you expect to respond to it like you respond to everything else in your life but somehow the big stuff causes different responses.  Looking back this isn't the first big thing that has come my way and I have responded initially to them the same way.  I pull back.  I am a processor.  I need to spend time thinking about the news and finding a place to put it in my mind.  Figuring out how I am going to frame this new information and the experiences that will follow so that I do not get thrown off my center as I walk forward.  So I didn't talk about it too much last week.

On the other hand my husband, who normally lets me do all the talking and processing, suddenly started talking.  The man from a family who shares very little personal information suddenly was telling everyone he met, "Hi, my dad has cancer."  I think he needed to say it and hear it and see it outside of himself to process it.

Funny how we are both processing the big stuff in the opposite way we process the day to day stuff.

After that initial phone call lots more tests were performed, the cancer confirmed.  We are still waiting for all the results, all the information and the game plan for the future. 

The day after that first phone call I woke up with the word "Fear" in my mind.  "Do not fear" in particular. There is no fear when we know the Lord.  He takes care of us and walks with us.  I came across this scripture to turn to as we walk with the Lord through cancer.

Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, this is what the LORD says—

he who created you, Jacob,

he who formed you, Israel:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

3 For I am the LORD your God,

the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;