The Shimps

The Shimp Family

Our friends could use your help.

All of a sudden, this January, their life was flipped upside down.

On January 16th, of 2014, Scott was diagnosed with stage 4 Esophogeal cancer. Treatment began almost immediately and treatment is now under way. On January 23rd, Scott completed his first round of Chemo treatment.

Scott is younger than me. They have a son who is not even two years old. (And three more beautiful children.)

You never know what’s coming…

Of course, lots of people deal with cancer.1 But twice?

We met the Shimp family probably somewhere around the year 2007. In 2006 they learned that their 17-month-old daughter had leukemia. For two years they fought the disease with their tough little Autumn, and two years later, she was cancer free. (And still is today!)

But here they are again.

We know the Shimps through our good friends from college, the Velasquezes. We like to call them, “The Vs”. The Vs are really good at meeting and loving people, and I think that God, knowing that, arranged for them to meet the Shimps—quite randomly, by overheard conversation at a library, only to realize that they shared a back yard!—and subsequently walk through those years with Autumn’s cancer together. And through that “chance” connection, we’ve been able to enjoy their friendship through the years since then, too.

There is a website—supportingtheshimps.com—that explains much more about what is going on, and how you can help. If you are able to help, these are good people to help.

And, if you can believe it, they also just started a new business in 2014. I spoke with Scott this past weekend about that, and he said that is still a go. They produce screen printed t-shirts, and embroidered products in any quantity, with really fast turnaround time (according to Scott… he seemed impressed!) and it is a great way to support their family, as well as accomplish something for your organization, business, etc.

If you need “screen printed or embroidered apparel”, please consider using CrossRoads Apparel!

The Shimps are a family whom God has certainly allowed ample opportunity to trust him, in the roughest of times. And they do. Actively, and inspiringly so. (I know this not just from my own thoughts, but from the comments I read on their website, and Facebook pages, etc.)

We don’t know what will come of this, but that’s one of the neat things about them. They are optimistic, trusting, and taking life moment by moment, walking forward with Jesus.

I’m not sure what I’d do in Scott’s position. I think I would face this giant obstacle with similar determination and trust in God’s goodness. But I’ve not had to face anything quite like this. And I’m not sure what I’d do in Susanna’s place, either, if Jen were the one diagnosed with this powerful, terrible, menacing illness. Susanna is incredibly strong in her faith in Father through this, also.

I’m certain you know people who could use help, too. (And if so, please tell me/us about them in the comments here.) If, after reading this, you are able to and prompted to pray, or to give…

May I request that help be directed toward our friends, the Shimps?

Thanks.

  1. According to cancer.org, about one in two men in the United States will develop cancer at some point in their lives, and one in three women. One in two! And, according to their predictions, 1,600 people per day will perish from the disease in the year 2014. Wow.

Give Us This Day

frenchbread

I know Jesus always meant what he said. In my own life, I really try to “mean what I say, and say what I mean”, and for the most part, I’d say that is generally what is accomplished.

So when Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread” (or however your translation happens to phrase it) I think he wasn’t really just talking about bread—or even just our food.

Too often we are caught up in any moment besides now. Worries about the future, or even just plans and strategies for our future; hurt, pain, doubt, guilt from our past, whether of our own doing, or somehow inflicted upon us—these things can consume us.

We really have no idea what is coming next, nor how our past has prepared us for the now.

All we have is “this day”.

That reality has been so present for me again lately. I have friends who have been thrust into a daily place that I’m sure they don’t want to be (and yet, I know they are seeing and even feeling God’s blessings in the midst of such a hard place) and we are even waging our own daily battles here, too, which seem to have been going on for far too long now.

Maybe someone you love has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Maybe you have. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you lost someone that you love. Maybe you’re living a life that you never thought would be “like this”, and you don’t know how to change it.

Maybe you doubt your Father’s love, or his goodness… or even his existence.

Give us this day…

I think today, I will drink deeply of the place that God has me. I know the bad. Somehow it is often better at being noticed. (Or maybe I am better at noticing it.) But I also know the good. There is good, now. It’s not some future reality that will be present once I’m through this, or change that, or realize some yet-unattained desire.

I have breath in me. I am here, in this place, now. There are people (whom God loves) around me whom I can share that breath and life with … now.

This day.

None of this is new, I’m sure. It’s not to me. But it sure seems that I need reminders to slow, to breathe, to just… be.

Daily.

May your day be filled with all that he gives. Even if it’s not what you were hoping or looking for.

He is there. This day.

Loss

[ThisDay] Life Suddenly Changed

You never know what a day is going to bring. We don’t even know if we’ll see the next day! Life unfolds before us—good and bad, joy and sorrow—without our permission, and usually without much influence from us at all. January twenty-eight of two thousand eleven was one of those days for us. Some new, good friends—our kids had almost instantly taken to them as adopted grandparents—had their world dramatically altered in a moment by a sudden, unexpected death. The ripples from this sudden absence of one changed our life that day, too. Remember to cherish those you love today, and hopefully also know and enjoy that you are cherished by someone(s), too. We never know what the next moment will bring.

Life Suddenly Changed

January 28th, 2011

pacific-sunsetA friend of ours passed away this morning. It was very unexpected, apparently very sudden (though I do not fully know the details) and… it just feels very final.

I have not known this friend very long. We met his daughter and her family a little more than a year ago when they moved to our town. They home school their children and had met some mutual home schooling friends who introduced us and we pretty quickly became good friends. Her parents moved to town shortly after her dad had a massive heart attack (about one year ago) to live in the apartment attached to their house. It was all very God-arranged.

We met Wayne & his wife shortly after they moved to town and, likely due to our good friendship with their daughter and family, they quickly became our good friends too. They were equally quickly “adopted” by our kids as their third set of grandparents. (Really! There was even a signed certificate created by our kids!) 🙂 They graciously offered an open invitation to us to watch our kids any time Jen and I needed to get out for some no-kids time. (And we have taken them up on that invite several times!)

The first time I met Wayne, I realized we had a shared love of words. Both reading and writing. Wayne has been far more prolific than I in both departments, to be sure. I am currently reading a book he recommended, and I had been talking with him about helping him publish some of his books. I hope to still do that for him.

It’s been a strange day. Death has not touched me much in life. Presently, I can only think of two people who were really close to me who have died. My Mom’s dad died when I was 12 or 13. I remember that, and remember thinking, “Wow… that’s weird.” But I didn’t realize till later that reaction was due (at least in part) to my Mom’s relationship with him—I had only been with him a handful of times. The other person is my wife’s brother, Jeff. My brother-in-law for only about a year. He died just before our first son Ian was born. (I remember it was really hard. Really shocking. Very sad.) That’s the reason that Ian bears his name. (Ian Jeffrey Campbell).

Otherwise, death has always seemed to be a couple relationships away from me.

But I know Wayne. He is my friend. I already miss him.

I was processing all of this with another friend in an online conversation when I said, “Life just changed suddenly.” I didn’t mean it to be profound, but the more I thought of it, the more I realized it was true. Life—my life—is now different, and quite suddenly so.

Now, I’m sure I don’t hurt nearly as much as our friends who lost a dad, a husband, a grandpa … and we will be asking God to fill the large void they now (suddenly) have in their lives. He can and I know he will…

But there is a hole. There is an absence. Life… is different.

Each of us is so much more impactful than we admit. (Or perhaps we really don’t realize, or understand it.) Every person we know, every place we go, everything we do … is part of the “fabric” of the lives of all those around us. So, the closer we are, the more time we spend with people, the more the void is felt. But all of us feel the absence. All of us.

So I will (and already do) miss him.

Although I am not as naive as to think that death would never touch me, it still nearly always comes as a shock. We are such hardy, fragile creatures. One moment it’s incredible what we can come through, and the next moment we can be gone within that moment. We just never know.

What that means—since we know that—is that each moment we have is precious. We can very easily get to thinking otherwise. Life’s daily details overtake (perhaps overwhelm) our conscious thoughts. But we just never know when we won’t have the people we love with us anymore. All we know is that we have them—we are with them—now.

Please take a moment today, after you read this, and remind the people around you how much they mean to you. Take a second to encourage some of the greatness you see in them. Maybe take more than a second. We can’t live everyday worried that we are going to lose those we love, but, we can certainly remember to let them know what they mean to us as often as possible.

I’m glad to have known Wayne Leavitt. I hope to see him again one day.

Until then, while I am still here, I am now reminded to enjoy the moments I have with the people whose lives God has intertwined with mine, and to let them know how glad I am that he has.

I hope you will do the same.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 28th

[ThisDay] First And Second Birthdays

Today’s post was a poignant piece, originally published one year after the death of a family friend. We all celebrate birthdays, but it’s harder to celebrate our second birthdays; at least it’s hard for those left behind here in this mortal existence. I wrote this about one year after our friend died, and one day after my mom’s “first” birthday (Jan 26th). If you’d like to read something lighter, January 27th is an active day for publishing in GregsHead.net history. See the list at the end of the post for the lighter fare. But today’s primary selection is just below. Enjoy.

First And Second Birthdays

January 27th, 2012

Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. January 26th is a circled day on the calendar, celebrated by our family. Has been for as long as I have memories. All day long, we think of my Mom. We call, we video chat, we send cards… we celebrate the life she began on January 26th, 19xx. 🙂

(I don’t know that my Mom has any real problem with me sharing her age, but… just in case… since she reads this blog … Suffice it to say that this year her two-digit age ends with a zero! So in some ways it was an even more memorable/special year.)

I love my Mom and love celebrating her birthday! (Even if we’re not in the same location on the birthday day.)

At some point during that day I was reminded that the 26th of January is also the birth day of our good friend’s Mom. She, too was born on the twenty-sixth day of the first month of the year. If I recollect correctly, she was even born in the same state, not far from where my Mom was born. She too has children who love her, and many grandkids.

But she has another birthday.

A little over a decade ago, she was born into her eternal life. She is now with Jesus. So her birthday is celebrated at least a little differently than the way we celebrate January 26th here, where we can still show our love and see it received, and given back.

It’s better to be with the Lord. The Bible tells us so. But I’d imagine first birthdays are at least a little harder when the one birthed has had their second birthday already, and you’re left celebrating without them.

This week I’ve also been thinking of our friends who are coming up on the one-year anniversary of a second birthday. Tomorrow will be one year since our friends lost a Dad and a Husband and a Grandpa; and since we lost someone who was becoming a good friend.

Death leaves such an absence. It’s hard to celebrate the second birthdays. Again, it’s better to be with the Lord, but that truth seems distant when the life so suddenly changes, and the void is so clearly known and seen and felt.

I know it’s been rough again lately for our friend who lost her Dad. (And I know for many years our friend who lost her Mom has missed her so dearly on many occasions, more than just first and second birthdays.)

It definitely makes me value the days that I have now with my Mom, who’s still only had her first birthday.

The hope that we have runs deep. I know and trust that once we have both passed the threshold into our eternal life, I won’t have to live or think about living life without my Mom in my life. That is a great hope.

But I’ll say it again: for now, on at least some levels, I’m very glad my Mom is still only one.

I rejoice for the lives of the two parents I know, mentioned above, who are missed yesterday and tomorrow. They loved well and are still well loved. I am praying peace now for the kids who miss their beloved parents on their first and second birthdays respectively. But I already know they have hope. And in that I also rejoice.

This talk of “second birthdays” has a bit of a morbid undertone, but if you know our Jesus, it’s a wonderful thing when you turn two.

It’s just harder for all the one-year-olds who are still waiting for their own second birthday.

It will come. And then others will both mourn and rejoice on our two birthdays. And we will celebrate with all of the ones we loved who went before us.

What a birthday party that will be.


Note: This photo of my Mom is slightly dated, but it’s a good one, with several of our kids loving their Grammy. There are not many photos of my Mom in existence, and I’m nearly certain this is the only one published online! So, I might get in a tiny bit of trouble, but… I know she still loves me. Right, Mom? 🙂

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 27th

[ThisDay] Relating

Only two posts were written on January 26th in all of the years of published words here at GregsHead.net. Two! That is interesting… but maybe even more interesting is that this day on the calendar is the very day that my Mum was born! Happy birthday, Mum! (We’re not British, so… well… I don’t know why I’m using their spelling? Maybe it’s just my favourite, or something?) 🙂 Today’s post comes from the year twenty-twelve, when I wrote about something that I often write about—the importance of relationship. Enjoy!

Relationship

January 26th, 2012

You might think I write because I have answers. Or maybe that I think I have answers. Sometimes I guess I do have a certain bit of information I learned that I’d like to share, or a thought on something that might be worth your consideration, it’s true. But often I will write more because of questions I have, rather than answers.

Tonight is one such night.

I have been thinking about the way we relate to each other as a culture for quite some time now. (Search for “Relationship” in the search box to the right and you’ll see what I mean.) It has been important to me for a number of reasons. How we Christians relate to each other as the church, and also how our family relates to and with the people around us. Life is relationship, so it makes sense to me that this would be a common thought thread through many of my days.

Lately I’ve just been wishing there was another family or two with whom we could “do life”. People that we’d spend several days a week with, for varying lengths of time, sharing the important and unimportant things of life.

There are some folks we see pretty often, and whom I feel know us well and vice versa. These are all valued friendships. I’ve just been wondering why there isn’t more? (And by “more” I simply mean more time; more shared life; more relating.)

And I completely understand that part of it is the way we have chosen to do life.

We are not actually removed from life with other people (there are people all around, and we are glad to be with other people) but we are “removed” from the standard relational structures of our society. We home school our kids, so we are not part of the public school community. (That of course is a huge chunk of life for many people with families similar to ours.) We are not part of a “church with a name”, so though we have many great relationships with Christians whom we share our life with God with… well, we aren’t “part” of that “community”.

It seems to me that we Americans can only relate when we are plugged into a larger social structure. We don’t know how to stop over for tea anymore. We don’t know how to hang out on someone’s porch. (Not in the winter time, of course…) We rely on our busy schedules to keep us near to and connected with the people we know. (And that is how we know anyone at all: by being part of the same activities.) When you are not involved in the “activities” of the busy American life, it’s easy to feel “forgotten”.

Now, the weirdest part—and where I have the most questions—is that I know some busy people who have definitely not forgotten about us, and yet we rarely see them. For one reason or another, there’s just not enough time in the week (or month!) to find ourselves in the same physical space to enjoy some time together. But again, if we were doing the same things, we’d either (1) feel like we had “seen” them, and so met the invisible relational quota, or, (2) be reminded/encouraged to make sure to plan other visiting times, or even just drop by?

I’m really not complaining. Even just today a friend dropped in for a brief visit that was much appreciated. And as I said, God has placed some great people around us and we love being part of their lives and having them in ours.

I’m just so baffled by the way we do this. Trying to work out these thoughts!

Now, I think there are regions of our country, in our culture, who live this out differently. I think maybe the South is a bit more relational by default. We experienced this a little when we spent a week of vacation down south this past fall. Random strangers will begin conversations with you at any place or time, and not always just small talk. That is seems to me a bit “healthier” relationally, but I admit, it could just be a personal preference/personality thing. (But then, how is it nearly universally true of one of our American cultures?)

The point is, we are definitely made for relationship. God wired us that way. We’re not meant to be alone. But are we only meant to be together in order to put on, partake in, or attend some function? Aren’t we on some level just supposed to enjoy the company of each other?

I really love it when people just drop by!

(Is it just a structured vs. unstructured lifestyle question I’m really asking?? No. I really think it’s deeper.)

We are missing something. With all our busyness, we are missing each other. We see each other. And in that way we feel a part of a community, but too often keeping our schedules overpowers the opportunities to give to and draw from the people God has surrounded us with.

And, I will also admit to perhaps over-thinking this. I am definitely wont to do that. But something in my gut says there’s more here. There’s more for us. We have a form of relating but deny it’s power. (To twist a Scripture verse…) 🙂

I’ll keep on this and see what Jesus shows me over the next few days, weeks. Maybe you have something to add? Please do below.

Or, just drop by for tea.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 26th

[ThisDay] God Saved Our Bacon

January 25th may not have the most posts from which to select, but it was interestingly challenging to pick the “winner” for this day. First, on this day ten years prior, I wrote about how special Jen is to me. That’s worth sharing again! But also on this 25th day of January I wrote about our Backyard Ice Rink escapades—a great family memory. AND, BEST of ALL… please read the highlighted post in the list of other posts on January 25th at the bottom of this story. It’s kind of amazing! (Remember the point of these repostings was to see if indeed life (or at least, my head) is cyclical? Well… just click that link! For now, though, please enjoy this great story of God—quite literally—saving our bacon!

bacon

God Saved Our Bacon

January 25th, 2009

It’s been a full week. Fuller than usual for some reason. (I’m not sure “fuller” is a word, but, in this case it seems to fit.)

Each day has ended very late, and been full of either lots of one thing, or many different things. But whatever the landscape of the day, each has ended with a very tired Greg’s head.

Yesterday was no exception. Perhaps only in that it was the day this week that I actually felt the most tired. (Tireder?) I got home from a long day of training people at the Apple store, tired, hungry, and ready to eat a (quiet?) dinner with my family.

Oh right… I have five kids ages ten and under… 🙂

So, it wasn’t quiet. It wasn’t even particularly pleasant. (Though the meal was fantastic. Nice job, Jen!) 🙂 I kept feeling more and more tired, more and more badder…

And that’s when God decided to save our bacon.

After finishing my dinner, and as the kids were still complaining, fighting, whining, and pretty much exhibiting every bad behavior known to mankind, a peculiar thought entered my mind: “I should make the kids some really special ice cream sundaes.” (Yep, you read that right.)

I remembered that we had a bucket of vanilla ice cream left over from Ian’s birthday party about a month ago, and even some cool toppings from that day. The kids had been horrible, Jen & I were fried – and not letting the nicest things come out of our mouths – and for some reason, the idea I had was to be ridiculously generous to our little hooligans.

Well, I acted on my strange impulse and got up and lined up four bowls on the table (for the oldest four) and began bringing out all the awesome toppings. Chocolate and strawberry syrups. Maraschino cherries, peanuts, and even coconut flakes. The kids were getting pretty excited!

Finally I grabbed the 5-quart bucket of ice cream and popped off the lid. And that’s where it got interesting.

I dipped the scoop into the bucket with a decent amount of force, as the ice cream promised to be pretty hard having just been removed from the freezer. What met my decent amount of force was a very unexpected, squishy, super-soft blob of almost completely melted ice cream!!! What??! I tested a few other areas, and indeed, the whole thing seemed like it was room temperature!

This was very disturbing, and NOT what I wanted at my then current energy level. But, with a freezer full of meats, veggies, and a few fruits (thanks to the generosity of friends and family, actually) … I knew I had to try and do something to save it.

I am no refigerator repairman, so I really had no idea where to begin. But I poked around, and did notice the fan was not blowing. That has meant in the past that it was frozen over. I pulled out all the contents of the freezer, with “Plan B” being to store them in a giant Rubbermaid container outside that night. When I got the panel off in the back of the freezer, I discovered that it had frozen over. I got out the hairdryer and melted away the ice… and the fan came back on!

After cleaning it out – what better opportunity would I have to do that?? – I put all the food back in, moved the fridge back in place, and in just a couple hours, all was back to normal. (The water dispenser had frozen up as well, but as I type this, the ice maker is back in full swing.)

That night – and again this morning – I was super thankful that God had (I believe) prompted me to first, bring peace and joy to our dinner table and our home with a special treat on an especially bad night, and as a very cool side-effect… he quite literally may have saved our bacon! Who knows when I would have checked the freezer again? Probably not till I saw a pool of water outside of it the next morning.

See, the that’s the cool part of the story. In the middle of an otherwise forgettable evening, God took a very simple (yet strangely generous) idea, and turned it into a rescue effort. And it worked. And he definitely gets the credit.

God really did save our bacon. 🙂

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 25th

[ThisDay] Christianity, or Jesus? (Aren’t They the Same?)

January 22nd in GregsHead history was slightly more difficult to whittle down than some of the other days. It was not due to volume, though—only five posts. Four of the five posts are worth reading (the other is worth it if you are using WordPress for blogging…) but of the six options, I selected the article below for today’s re-reading. Please enjoy this little anecdote from a dinner conversation just last January. Good theological discussion!

Christianity, or Jesus? (Aren’t They the Same?)

January 22nd, 2013

Our family is currently making our way through the book of Luke together. We’re taking our time, but I do enjoy reading in larger chunks, so we will often read what might be the subject of an entire series of sermons in one sitting.

Tonight, we read through the fifteenth chapter: the three stories of lost and found.

Though we’d often read more than that, it’s such a good three-part story—with the most famous, the Prodigal Son story at the end—that I thought it would be nice to stop and discuss.

The kids are reading and learning about “unreached people groups” with Mom during the school days, and both of the older boys picked up on the “lost” theme that Jesus’ stories held.

When I asked what everyone heard in Jesus’ stories, Ian replied first, “I think it shows that God cares about every single person: if even one in a thousand is lost, there’s a celebration when he realizes he’s wrong and returns to God.”

“Yep. So right, Ian.” I affirmed.

Alex chimed in next, “Or, like if one person in the 10 million in Japan who are buddhists or other things turn to Christianity. It’s like that, even.”

I smiled and affirmed Alex’s insightful answer, too. But something didn’t sit right with me, the way he had phrased that answer.

Ian and Mom both explained what they had been studying—unreached people groups—and I realized what it was that bothered me: the lost returning home story is not about conversions to Christianity, it’s about the Good News that Jesus is life and nothing else.

I tried to lovingly expand on that thought to Alex, but I guess maybe it didn’t come out quite right. Jen didn’t think I was saying it correctly, and by offering further instruction at that time, kinda squashed Alex.

jesus-christ-in-stained-glassAnd, honestly, she doesn’t really agree with my instruction, that Christianity is not the same as Jesus.

I told Alex that the somewhat subtle distinction between someone “turning to Christianity” and someone meeting Jesus (The One true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent) are often, even usually very different things.

One is a religion. Plain and simple, Christianity is not in the Bible. (Really! It’s true!) In this sense, Christianity is no different than Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, and so on. Jesus never talked about establishing a religion (though he did mention building the Church) and I can’t think of anywhere that the word “Christianity” or “Christendom” can be found on the pages of Scripture. (Though other people called the Church, “Christians”—Acts 11, and Acts 26—the only other occurrence of the word is in 1 Peter 4:16.)

Returning to a loving Father is a different story. Realizing our need to be connected to the Vine; understanding the limitless, boundless love that God has for us, wanting from before the foundation of the world to adopt us as his own children; understanding how the cross restores our friendship with God by destroying sin and death and shame once and for all…

That’s a different story. (And doesn’t “sign you up” for anything.)

Now, I’m certainly painting with too broad a brush right now. Firstly, only a chapter or two before, Jesus addressed his disciples and the crowds following him, making sure they understood the cost of being his disciple. The cost is… everything. He said we need to be willing to give up everything (even family, wealth/possessions, a home), even our own life.

But the key is, nothing else matters outside of his Life. Nothing.

And that’s the point. Converting to a religion often satisfies our own accomplishable goals and benchmarks. There are “measurables” with Christianity. You can check things off like, reading your Bible, or having quiet time, joining a prayer group, or some other “small group”, going to services, volunteering for a ministry… or five ministries. All of those things can become “feathers” in our caps.

Jesus asks us to volunteer to be last, though. To not be noticed. To give up our dreams, turn the other cheek… all of that. And all because there is nothing we need or could ever want more than to know him.

Paul knew that, and wrote:

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. —Phil 3:8

Honestly, I could be convinced that I’m straining out gnats here. OR, I could be convinced that this is the pivotal, most important, fundamental part of the Gospel: Jesus matters.

It’s him. And nothing else. Not a religion (Christianity), not a building or an organization (First Christian Church of Wherever), and not even a set of benchmarks that you set up for yourself to take your spiritual temperature.

Do you trust him? Then you’re in. And your life will never be the same. If you believe that Jesus is Immanuel, God made flesh, the Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life… buckle up!

That might be the same to you as “Christianity”, and if that’s the case, I’m really glad. My experience has been different. We people are good at maintaining control, and I think Jesus wants—longs for—us to relinquish that. Most often systems with fancy names—Christianity—don’t allow any room for that to happen, and even worse, they keep us in the “performance” mindset, where we’re always trying to “do better… for God, of course…

But Jesus’ words were always simply, “Follow me.”

I think it might really be that simple.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 22nd

  1. I’d really recommend reading this post, too, if you’ve got the time. It was a very close second!

Stillness

Lake Tahoe - Calm Water

Quiet can sometimes indicate trouble. (Perhaps this is most true for parents of young children?)

When someone you love is quiet, it can cause you some concern. “Are you feeling okay? You seem so quiet…”

Other times quiet is necessary. We must stop to process. To think. Ruminate. Cogitate. Meditate.

To pray. Commune.

We read this morning from the book of Mark that when Jesus was most sought after by the throngs, he was off by himself. Remote. Distant.

Quiet.

There is silence here for the moment, for a variety of reasons. It’s somewhat peculiar that last calendar year was one of prodigious production for me, literarily, and then since late in twenty-thirteen, there has been naught but silence on these digital pages.

Are you feeling okay?

I am a child of God, loved more deeply than I can ever fathom. I am more than okay.

For now, I have no plans to resume publication of my thoughts, ruminations, and rumblings (or is that… grumblings?) but the archives beckon, no?

Peruse previous entries by year (2013, 2012… even 2003?) or by category: family, life with God, personal, government, or even tags like science and “Things That Are Weird“.

If you are in a season of silence, I pray it is productive. Don’t rush it. Enjoy and allow it to season you properly.

And remain—abide—in the stillness until life quickens once more.

Hope

Hope1

Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see.

Hebrews 11:1

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.

Hebrews 6:19

There are days. There are weeks, months and long years where … boy, it just feels like nothing is worth it. Am I right? I’m guessing, unless you have not lived long enough to experience a full enough breadth of human experience, that you most certainly know what I’m talking about.

I think this is what I was getting at in my recent post, What Motivates You? Hope. When there is hope, there is “motivation”. And love gives hope. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13)

Unless we have hope—that good is coming, that any effort we’re about to put forth is at all worthwhile, that things can change—there really is no point at all. We are hope—less.

How we arrive at such a place is more than understandable. Did you see yesterday’s post? There is a great darkness pervading our entire world—and it’s us. We are dark from the inside. A correlating “side effect” of the free ability to choose what is good and right and excellent, given to us by our Creator, is the ability to not choose those things, and even (much) worse things.

Much worse.

And yet, there remains a light in this world. The Light. Certainly Jesus, the God Man, is the Light of the World (he said that he is) … and so, too, are his people, The Church. Not always. And definitely not everyone who bears the name “church”. (See this post from earlier this summer…) But in every kindness shown, mercy given, forgiveness offered, selfless sacrifice made … he is there, and he is Light.

There is hope.

Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

Hebrews 6:11

This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

1 Timothy 4:10

As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:3

It is clear to me that our one primary motive must be hope. Even if it is hope to satisfy some temporal, carnal nature in us—there still must be some promise of future fulfillment. Some reason for what we do.

There are SO many more references in scripture to “hope”. Please do read through as many as you have time for. Come back to it later, even.

And hope. Hold on to the hope we have in Jesus. Not just for a future kingdom—which will be beyond anything we can even dream right now—but in his kingdom now, the Kingdom of God that is near. Even in this present age of darkness.

He is here. With us. Forever.

And so we hope.

  1. “hope” © 2009 Evonne, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Darkness

You know, this world is ugly. Really ugly. I don’t know if my heightened awareness of this is due to my reading The Screwtape Letters again, or maybe just the mood I’m in, or the correlated ongoing state of frequently feeling so depleted…

Or maybe this is just how it is.

The hatred spewed from mouths of many, directed at their perceived enemies; the gorging of gluttony, the never-satisfied, ever-increasing pursuit of fulfilling lusts; rampant, uncontrolled greed, at the uncaring expense of a neighbor, no, all neighbors; and just the general devaluing of ourselves and everyone around us that can lead to all kinds of abuses, including sexual abuse of young girls.

I have young girls. Some stories I have read lately simultaneously turn my stomach, and anger me greatly. It’s really awful how disgustingly we can treat each other. My words here are not strong enough.

I deeply wish—often—that my kids did not have to grow up in and be part of this world. But they are. They do.

So it’s true then, what Paul said about us, while quoting some Old Testament scriptures:

“No one is righteous—
    not even one.
No one is truly wise;
    no one is seeking God.
All have turned away;
    all have become useless.
No one does good,
    not a single one.”
“Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with lies.”
“Snake venom drips from their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“They rush to commit murder.
    Destruction and misery always follow them.
They don’t know where to find peace.”
    “They have no fear of God at all.”

There’s a whole bunch more from the first chapter of Romans. Listen to this paragraph:

Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

But I love what Paul follows that with, saying directly after that:

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.

It’s awful dangerous when we notice the darkness of other people, but forget to acknowledge our own.

The world is ugly, because we are ugly.

I have not been personal witness to some of the ugliest things that one might encounter in this world. (Like murder, sexual abuse, and similar horrible, awful things we do to each other.) I think this helps me to maintain a false distance from the grotesque darkness of us. Of me. Thankfully, and so graciously, Jesus continues to build in me the desires that match his, and my inner light shines brighter with his resident spirit inside me—but I am far from perfect. I know darkness inside me, too.

But thanks be to God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our lord.

Yes. And we do have the victory, we’re “more than conquerors” … that just seems so far off sometimes.

Sounds like I need a good read through the book of Romans. What a great overview of the world as it is, through God’s eyes, and how it will be redeemed.

Boy do we need it.

Remember that Jesus is the light. Stick close to him, through whatever darkness you are in, or may find yourself in. He will walk through it with you.

Philippians 2:13
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

2 Peter 1:2-7
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.