The Messenger: April

Letter from the Editor

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
(2 Corinthians 12:8-9)

In February I had the opportunity to partake in a trip to Israel and Palestine with members of BelPres and members of Overlake Christian Church. I spent eight days with the group learning from our Israeli guide, Eldad, and from our Palestinian guide, Hussam. For many of the group, it was their first trip to the Holy Land. It might as well have been mine for all I realized I did not know or was blind to the last time I went.

Our trip was unique. We did not go to walk in Jesus’ footsteps, but rather to engage with the Israeli narrative and the Palestinian narrative on the ground level. As part of this experience, we had daily opportunities to meet with Israelis and Palestinians who take various positions on the land and the future of a state in the region. We shared lunch and dinner with people who opened their homes and hearts to us.


Culture Shift

Meeting someone who is transformed from addiction is a humbling experience. It may be because, in our daily lives, we don’t recognize that we are all in recovery. I have never been in recovery from addiction, but I have a number of friends who are in the journey to sobriety, whether from alcohol or other stronger drugs. They have been kind enough to share their tales of depression, anger, suicidal thoughts, and helplessness, to name a few, with me. Although their stories are what some may perceive as extreme, it’s not really any different than my addiction to sin. The one thing that I know is common in addictive behavior is that we build a lifestyle or adopt a culture that perpetuates and justifies our behavior.

Recently Dr. Scott Dudley suggested the book The Celtic Way of Evangelism. Within the book, there is a section referring to studies done by William L. White. White refers to addiction as a culture we become a part of. We speak the language, we learn the rituals, we surround ourselves with other addicts and so on. Reading over White’s studies, I asked myself, “Is this cultural immersion much different than how we either hide or justify our sin? If going to the strip club with buddies at work is a normal occurrence, are we not going to protect that culture to continue the high? If overspending beyond our limits is filling a void, are we really going to surround ourselves with people who are trying to talk sense to us, or do we go where our money can be spent without question?” (more…)

God’s Rescue Mission

The news frequently shows people doing heroic things, and afterward the hero often claims he or she was only doing what anyone would do: they knew someone was in the burning house, they saw a person drowning and dove in, they stood up to the bully. They were on a rescue mission, and there was nothing that would stop them from doing what was right to save a fellow human being.

God wants to rescue humanity. God has started a rescue mission to the world. It began with Creation, continued with the covenants with Abraham and Moses, and was completed through Jesus Christ. But although the ultimate rescue has been accomplished, God wants us to participate in it. And that’s where grace comes in.

Grace is in the gap between what should be and what is. It is the thing that draws us across the chasm of our sinful nature and into the joy of being in the presence of the pure and holy God. It is that which allows us not only to have a relationship with God, face-to-face, but which builds us up when we are low. Grace is the thing that makes it possible for us to join God to rescue the world.  (more…)

A Grace That Conquers Grief

Modern discoveries in medical and nutritional science continue to offer my generation new strategies for living healthier and longer lives. “Anti-aging” and “longevity” are popular slogans. Statistics show that since 1985, the number of centenarians in the U.S. has increased by a staggering 65%. People are now living longer. That’s a trend we desire to embrace, yet sooner or later, our life as we know it on this earth will end. Each year, we mourn the loss of people we know and love whose time has come to depart. But when the one we’ve lost is our spouse, the impact of grief can be devastating.

For 30 years I was happily married to Steve, my best friend and husband. He was a handsome, athletic, and intelligent man with a great sense of humor. We lived a productive life full of happy memories. Our dream was to spend the latter years of our life working together. The plan was to make that happen on Steve’s sixtieth birthday. Unfortunately, that plan was abruptly interrupted. (more…)

Grief, Joy, and Cupcakes

About two years ago, someone mentioned to me that a fellow BelPres Preschool mom needed help baking birthday treats for students at Eastside Academy (EA). I love to bake and have always found it to be a relaxing outlet for stress, so I jumped at the chance to serve in this capacity. It was fun to receive the emails outlining the favorite treats of each birthday girl or boy; this got me baking outside my usual go-to recipes and gave me a chance to experiment. My kids were pretty excited to taste-test the treats too!

Six months into this adventure, late one Thursday night, I was working on frosting four-dozen bright and colorful Sour Patch Kid cupcakes. Suddenly my phone started ringing, and when I looked at the clock and saw it was after midnight, I quickly set down the icing bag and answered the call. It became one of those life-changing moments: I got the news that my father had passed away that evening. In shock, I called my husband downstairs to tell him the news, then I picked up the icing bag and with shaking hands continued to decorate the cupcakes. “What are you doing? You do not need to do that right now!” he exclaimed. “Yes, I do.” I completed the cupcakes, and the next morning after almost no sleep and in a daze, I dropped them off at EA. (more…)

Just So Happens

Pasha was one of the NICU nurses who cared for our baby boy, Noah, much of the time he was at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She may have known him better than we did. Day after day, we literally had to leave our fragile, precious, heart-of-our-heart baby boy in the hands of others, trusting they were caring for him the best ways they knew how. It was the most terrified I have ever been in my entire life times a billion.

Pasha “just happened” to be on shift the day we found out Noah did indeed have an incurable, fatal condition called ACD (Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia) that we had feared all along. I remember the doctor ushering my husband, John, and me into a little room that morning with another doctor and Nurse Pasha where he gently and straight-forwardly told us the news:

“Noah will not survive. It’s time to say good-bye.” (more…)

The Lifer Volunteer

My husband and I are one lucky couple. We are expecting our eleventh grandchild in April, and the oldest is just six. You can imagine how our calendar is filling up. We had the pleasure this past Christmas of attending one of our grandson’s pre-school events, and it did not disappoint. There were the wavers, the sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs little ladies, and my personal favorite, the “I forgot my line” guy.

But surprisingly, the star of the show was not on the stage, but three rows up from my vantage point. He wasn’t hard to miss. I’m guessing that he was about 30, but he may as well have been three. He was wearing oversized bold yellow headphones. I’m not sure why. Maybe he had troubling outbursts, and the noise was a bother. Maybe there was soothing music playing in his ears. A graying, older mother was on his right, along with a man who was certainly his father, a man leaning in with his arm lovingly draped around him. You could make up whatever story you wanted. Mine went something like this: (more…)