Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shades of Yellow (by Judy)

As I was driving to school last week, I began to think about the color yellow. Earlier this summer my granddaughter had gone around a room filled with family, asking people about their favorite color. Everyone jumped in either with the basics (blue, green, purple), with the exotics from those with Crayola crayon familiarity (magenta, indigo, burnt umber), and with the predictable (from 2 year old granddaughter, pink). I was the last one, and I said yellow. It always has been my favorite choice, though basically ignored by the population at large. So before I go on, dear reader, what about you?

As I drove, thinking about yellow, I marveled at the golden beauty of my daily drive through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park - slanting rays of the early morning sun, wildflowers in the fields, birch trees among the pines, the flitting of finches, a sports car passing me with its top down. But I also saw all sorts of yellow warnings - not to cross the center line, to watch for bikers, walkers, horseback riders, crazy turns ahead, railroad crossing. As I reflected on the delights and warnings that yellow offered during my drive, my road ended. Right in front of me was a sign - an arrow to the left, and arrow to the right. Black arrow on a yellow background. My choice.

Joshua was a mighty Old Testament leader, probably best known for the battle of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down. But as he was about to die, he spoke words to his assembled people that came to my mind as I sat in front of the yellow sign. "If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve—and do it today. As for me and my family, we'll worship God."

Isn't that like life, and isn't that like God. We are not marionettes on a string. God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, but He is not a master puppeteer. We have choice - but whatever we choose, do it today. I traveled on to school, where my first project was to work in the garden. As I ascended the hill, I saw a sunflower against the sky. On the way home that afternoon, I bought the best-in-the-world Ohio corn, which we had for dinner. That night I sank to my knees in gratitude for the yellow world I live in, and that I have made my choice!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tea for Two (or Three, or Four, or More!) by Carolyn

I live next door to four precious young girls ages 4 - 12. Over the years we have enjoyed many tea parties. Some fancier than others. Some put together at the last minute, some planned for elaborately, some simple, some elegant, but all fascinating to me!

What is it about tea parties that little girls enjoy so much? Is it the planning? Is it the preparation? Is it the act of putting the tea in the pot, putting the cups on the table, getting the napkins and the sugar bowl, filling the vases with flowers and putting the candles in the candlesticks? Is it pouring the cream? Setting the table? Is it the actual partaking of the little cups of tea and the crumpets? Is it sharing in all of these things together? What is it? Is it serving the tea? Is it all pomp and circumstance, or tradition? Is it because we're girls? What is it?

I do not know. But women and girls love tea parties.

Years ago, Judy and I put together our own tea party for women's groups. We prepared a presentation where she and I assumed the roles of women inviting women from the Bible to come to a tea party for Jesus. We invited Lydia, Priscilla, Tabitha, Esther, Hannah, Abigail and others. We introduced each of them to the audience and sang songs in between the arrival of each lady. Then we invited all to come to the table we carefully prepared in advance while we awaited the arrival of the guest of honor; Jesus. The women in the audience supplied all the imagination we needed to make the tea party a total success!

Just imagine the party the Lord is preparing for the wedding supper of the Lamb! It will be a tea party PLUS! The Lord has invited us all to come, taste and see that the Lord is good. He has already filled our cups to overflow with blessings and thanksgivings. Our cups "runneth over" with goodness, love and joy. In our hearts we love parties! We are thankful we've been invited! And our Host will not disappoint us. We will be thrilled and astonished with the banquet He has prepared! He will be our All in All and I can hardly wait!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Outer Banks Beacon (by Judy)

The Outer Banks of North Carolina, August 2010. Sun, sand and surf with son, daughter, spouses and 5 grandchildren. What a wonderful, happy time together. Oldest granddaughter Lia always arose first, crawled into our bed and snuggled, offering and accepting kisses, warm and sweet smelling. Youngest granddaughter Matilda was indomitable, not at all intimidated by her cousinly and brotherly elders. When challenged, she roared like a lion, literally. Towering above us, visible from almost every window was the Currituck Lighthouse. Whenever I looked it, I heard music - the mariner's hymn, sung at the funerals of so many of our fathers, both literal and figurative. Jack Kennedy. Ronald Reagan. John Wolcott.

Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep, Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!

What is there about a lighthouse that challenges sons. Why did older grandson Max daily beg to climb the 212 steps, and when he finally achieved his goal, what thrill kept him at the upper railing, circling and circling, a tiny figure triumphantly waving at the world below; while his 5 year old counterpart Arial, like the Disney mermaid, delighted in jumping waves, and tripled the length of the walk from house to beach and back because she stopped to pick up so many glittering, multicolored shells. Did Max recognize that lighthouses stand in the gap, filling the darkness with bold beams of light, 3 seconds on and 17 seconds off, so that ships with precious cargo and brave deckhands can make their journeys in safety.

O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard, And hushed their raging at Thy word,
Who walked'st on the foaming deep, And calm amidst its rage didst sleep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!

I love that lighthouse, just as I love the lighthouse of my childhood, Barnegat, on Long Beach Island in New Jersey. Each night I lay in bed while familiar voices intermingled in the living room. I opened my Bible on the night table and read from Isaiah, Psalms, Job while the steady rhythm of the light passed by my vision. I smiled as I thought about younger grandson Ian praying at the dinner table, eyes squeezed together, drawing the words and sentences out as we all held hands. Raised in China by Christian parents, he symbolizes for me the passing of the mantle, a new generation filled with the Spirit, God's beacons in the darkness.

Most Holy Spirit! Who didst brood Upon the chaos dark and rude,
And bid its angry tumult cease, And give, for wild confusion, peace;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, For those in peril on the sea!