Sunday, October 26, 2008

the blue backpack. . . .

This week I have an addition to my backpack-it's a reread (do you ever read a good book more than once?)-The Hidden Smile of God, the Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd, by John Piper. I pulled this one off the shelf as I was thinking about a friend-wondering if it would encourage her. . .

So far, I've read through the introduction (the biblical theology of suffering) and the first section about John Bunyan. In 1672 in Bedford, England, Bunyan was released from 12 years of imprisonment; Piper quotes from Bunyan's writings, he found prison to be a painful and fruitful gift. . . .12 years in prison- a fruitful gift? Bunyan tesified that God enabled him to survive and flourish in jail-the visible world died to Bunyan and he learned "to live upon God that is invisible"- hmmm, I'd best muse on that for awhile. . . so, Piper details Bunyan's life, explores his affliction and then poses the questions, "What was its fruit? What did it (affliction) bring about in his own life and in the lives of others?"

A few weeks ago John and I watched a DVD movie of The Pilgrim's Progress (a modern day retelling);for me, one of the greatest scenes in Bunyan's classic is when Christian and Hopeful, perishing in Doubting-Castle, remember the key which unlocks the door to the dungeon of despair. Piper notes that Christian found the key in his chest pocket, or in his chest, meaning that he had hidden God's promises in his heart by memorization-a timely personal reminder. . .

. . .in the end, I decided to share a different book with my friend (more on that later)- however, The Hidden Smile of God has been a treasure in my backpack this week- numerous times, over coffee, I've shared its truth and encouragement.

Nothing glorifies God more than maintaining our
stability and joy when
we lose everything but God. (Piper)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

for Selma. . .

. . . hard to believe-but last year right about now, I was in Pamplona, Spain waiting for Selma's birth-this little grandaughter who lives across the ocean with her parents, brothers, and aunt; this week she celebrates her first birthday! So, what's a grandmother to do?

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. . . .and sweet Selma, I'm so grateful forJesus, the Good Shepherd; He calls his sheep by name-the sheep follow him because they hear his voice. Papi and I pray for you, lamb, that soon the voice of the Shepherd will resonate truth in your heart and that you will spend your life following him wherever. . . .

love, gran

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

because life is more than. . . .

I'm discovering that to work along side my grown children in their projects is a worthy pursuit.. . . . in July we arrived in Syracuse in time to lend a hand to Abigail & Nathaniel in their "packing up and moving out" endeavor; they're moving to London for one, maybe two years-so, how many shoes, books, essentials will fit into four suitcases?

The young couple surveyed their piles of earthly treasures and asked thoughtful questions: what is necessary for London? what to store for the future? what to throw away? what to give away to a specific whom? what to lend out for an undetemined time? (while the older couple purposed to work and restrain giving advice. . . )

So, the July work marched on: sorting, wrapping, boxing, throwing, cleaning. . . .and in the midst of the disorder, it was wonderful being together- we ate ice cream every night for a week!

Also in July, I was reading through the gospel of Luke--ahhhh, so good, and God refreshed my own perspective on earthly treasures; in Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who purposed to tear down his barns to build larger ones-this man, consummed with earthly wealth, spoke foolishness to his own soul (vs 19). Jesus calls him a fool, and so is every man, every woman who lays up treasure for herself and is not rich towards God-I'm compelled to examine my own heart. . .

There's a certain weightiness and distraction attached to our earthly treasures; Jesus continues encouraging me not to be anxious, ". . . for life is more than food, and the body than clothing." Interesting, isn't it- for our earthly lives do, indeed, involve food and clothing (and the enjoyment of them), however Jesus reminds me that my life is more than those things.
Pondering and applying all this is a worthy pursuit, wouldn't you say?

Friday, October 17, 2008

the postscript. . .

So, this is little me sitting on the steps of the Sommerset public library, July 2008, thinking about memorial stones. . . remember when God cut off the waters of the Jordan River and all his people, the Israelites, crossed on dry ground?- then God told them to carry away stones from the dry river to remind their children that the hand of the Lord is mighty; hmmm-I forget and God keeps handing me memorial stones. . .

In July, John and I were perking along the Pennsylvania turnpike (a little tense for us southerns-like when and how do you get on? get off? how many coins??) We were traveling east from Cinncinatti, enjoying the Alleghenys, when we noticed the sign for Sommerset; we exited the turnpike and coasted into town. It's the same place but spruced up-perhaps more tourists land in town these days--the mountains are lovely. We cruised around and John parked in front of the mechanic shop, the same shop where he replaced the engine in our VW in 2002.

He told me, "I think I'll go in and look for the fellow who helped me-I meant to send him a Texas postcard- just to thank him for being so kind"; ten minutes later John returned, beaming- eager to relate the dialogue:

friendly mechanic: "Hi, how you doing? need some help?

John: "well, I was wondering if you worked in this shop in 2002?"

mechanic: "six years ago? I remember you-you're the guy from Texas who changed the engine in your VW right here in my shop!"

. . . . pretty amazing-I guess my husband has a memorable face (or the scenario was that crazy-suburu engine? in a volkswagon? he has all the tools?) So, we took some time to remember Sommerset 2002- the budget Inn, the diner, the bus station; we ate our picnic lunch in the little park beside the public library, and John said to me, "Sometimes we forget that God never abandons us. . . " Indeed,this was a good interlude-good for my soul.

So, I called my children. . . . " remember Sommerset 2002? Mercy, remember the public library-the children's section in the basement? well, it's the same. . . and remember, "the hand of the Lord is mighty. . . fear the Lord your God forever."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A story with a postscript

Sommerset, Pennsylvania-so quaint

I love it when my adult children plan a sibling gathering-I love that they enjoy being together-you know, really liking each other without the parents insisting, appealing, exhorting. . . however, I do wonder about the stories they share, the memories which provoke chuckles and groans? For sure, one memory category could be titled: Saga of the family Volkswagons (it would include numerous chapters). So, this story with a postscript is for Josiah, Jeremiah, and Mercy who experienced it all . . .

August 2002, we were traveling home from an east coast road trip, traveling in our VW van between New York and Ohio, enjoying the Allegheny mountains when. . . the engine in our van blew up-I mused, "hmmm, this has happened before but never so far from home." In time, the tow truck carried us off the curvey mountain to quaint Sommerset, Pennsylvania where the van landed at the mechanic shop and we checked into the budget inn. What now? So-we prayed and then we ate a meal at the town diner; next we hiked to the bus station-(we all agreed, just leave the vanagon in Sommerset and take the bus home to Texas!) but one-way tickets were pricey and what about our camping stuff? In my memory, this is where my resourceful, cheerful husband shines-I knew all along that he really wanted to find an engine in a salvage yard. . . I really wanted to get home to San Antonio fast; the situation posed unique challenges: first, because John had performed a nifty engine conversion on the van, he must locate a suburu rather than a volkswagon engine in Sommerset (not exactly the mecca of junk-I mean-salvage yards). Second, where would the work take place? and who would do it? The shop mechanic confirmed that he couldn't even look at our van for at least a week-besides, John relishes the VW challenge, well, most of the time.

Here then, is the rest of the story. . . John and the boys did, indeed, locate a suburu engine in the local salvage yard-a perfect fit for our VW; they bought it, had it delivered to the shop, where the kind mechanic offered John space, without charge, to do the work himself. And he did. In three days we were again cruising through the Alleghanys, headed for Texas-imagine that?
-the postscript to follow. . . .

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

a peek into my blue backpack. ..

Since I've broken the straps on two respectable looking book bags, I now routinely carry an old blue packpack everywhere I go. I found it in the closet of one of my children's empty rooms. Recently a friend commented, "Darcie, that backpack is as big as you are!" She's right and it's also about as old. . . .however it's such a roomy satchel and handily holds the treasures and resources for my weeks study and work; also the straps are plenty strong to bare the weight. I'll unzip the three sections, and you can take a peek. . . actually it's quite a jumble.

Trusting God (Jerry Bridges), Shepherding a Child's Heart (Tedd Tripp), Teach Them Diligently (Lou Priolo) crowd together in the deep section of my bag-wonderful resources which guided my meetings yesterday and today- next, tucked in the middle section you'll find: The Gospel Primer for Christians (Milton Vincent) and Living the Cross Centered life (C.J. Mahaney). This month I'm enjoying these two for personal study. Attributes of God (A.W. Pink), always a worthy read when waiting at the tire repair shop or the like, occupies the front section, along with Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety (Elyse Fitzpatrick)- a valuable resource for my every Monday meeting; aswell, I can't help but carry around a new favorite: Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God (Noel Piper) (Ah, to be so faithful and indeed, my God is extraordinary!). My backpack also contains an arsenal of writing utensils, a small pink knitting project, a composition book, my lovely blue & brown journal and tattered Bible. . .still more tattered as of yesterday's tumble off a table-hmmm. . . my worn Bible, a priceless treasure.

So, each time I arrive at the airport with the blue backpack, I vow to acquire something new, more respectable looking, for the next trip-yet still, this backpack carries a wealth of worthy pursuits, wouldn't you agree?