We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On Saying Farewell . . .

Remember the farewell song from The Sound of Music? The irony of the lyrics leaves me with mixed emotions every time I hear it. 

In real life, I feel the same way about saying good-bye. How about you?

I think it all began when, as a college freshman, I watched my parents drive away to return home some 800 miles away. Determined, I smiled and waved, but my tears gave me away. Truth be told, I felt half sick. What had I been thinking? Christmas vacation seemed to be light years into the future.

In the late '90s my sister and her family left for missionary work in Africa--before the age of cell-phone towers in the African bush. In 2001 our first-born decided to attend college in Arizona. As the city of Phoenix grew smaller from the plane window, my heart literally ached. And now, I'm on the verge of that final hug as I leave my youngest at her college campus, only to return home to an empty house. 

Life has its comings and goings.

Love has a price tag, but really, what's the alternative? Even though I sometimes find my cheeks wet with tears, I'm grateful for these relationships, I pray for each one, confident in God's continued work in all our lives.

This past week, my small group said farewell to our leader and mentor, who is moving to another state. It wasn't easy to say good-bye to the one who had encouraged us in God's Word, met with us individually outside of our weekly meeting time, and spoke truth into our lives, all with grace and good humor. Together, we had walked through heartache and joy, defeat and victory, disappointment and blessing.

In my living room, over lemon cake and coffee, our group shared stories and counted answers to prayer. We read Acts 20, the account of the apostle Paul's farewell to the people of Ephesus. I was struck with the similarities of this ancient story and Kim's ministry: "You yourselves know how I lived among you . . . serving the Lord with all humility . . . how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable and teaching you in public and from house to house . . . And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."

"And when [Paul] had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful. And they accompanied him to the ship."

Can you picture it?

Similarly, our little group prayed around Kim, committing her to God's keeping. Sorrowful? Oh, yes. Yet, we celebrated God's direction, His promises, and His good work in all of us.

I don't think farewells will become easier in this life. I'll still shed tears when I give my sweet girl that last hug tomorrow. But we can both be confident of this: "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ready for Anything? When Life Re-defines You # 5

"It's easy," the man behind the counter insisted. 

We walked around to the model garage door in the showroom. I craned my neck to see where he was pointing, trying my best to memorize his instructions.

"See this button. Push it once. If the light here turns yellow, press the remote once. If it's purple, press one button on the remote, then the other."

"Okay. Thanks for your help." I gave him an uncertain smile as I turned to leave. 

"You'll get it," he said. 

Later that afternoon, I gingerly climbed the ladder and reached for the button, muttering his directions step by step. Soon one, then the other garage door opened and closed with the push of a button on the remote! Another victory in learning yet one more new thing. "Thank you, Lord." 

Like me, have you found that household maintenance has a way of piling up? First, the hot water heater needs to be replaced, then the garage door openers don't work, then the phone acts up, then . . . well, you get the picture. That's just the nature of the way things are in this world.

This is the last in our blog series about being prepared for the unexpected, a summation of the workshop I taught at the Women's LYFE Conference in June. So far, we've looked at the following:

Strategy # 1: Examine your relationship with God.
Strategy # 2: Check your relationships with others.
Strategy # 3: Keep complete and accurate records in one place.
Strategy # 4: Have adequate insurance.
Strategy # 5: Be intentional about how you manage your finances.
Strategy # 6: Simplify.
Strategy # 7: Update your legal documents.

Here are the last three big ideas:

Strategy # 8: Keep up-to-date with home and car repairs.
Postponing repairs and letting routine maintenance fall behind will cause double the headache if you are thrown into a time of trial. I'm learning to jot down a list, ask for advice (or do some research), and make a plan. And maybe you can even trade services with others who also need some help.

Strategy # 9: Access your health. Take care of yourself.
The stronger and healthier you are before a crisis, the better off you'll be as you move through it. It's easy to keep putting off that visit to the doctor or dentist, your exercise routine, or taking those supplements. Let's remember that we are responsible to care for our health. 

Strategy # 10: Have a network in place. 
When your car battery runs low, you need a jump. In real life, sometimes our "batteries" grow weak and we need someone to infuse energy into us to help us in physical and spiritual ways. Interdependence, mutual loving care, and networking not only provide for those in need, they also create opportunities for ministry and service. 

Now is the time to connect with others. When you face some trouble, you already know and trust them--and in the meantime, you have occasions to serve and help them out.
  • Be active in your local church.
  • Be part of a group in your community.
  • Establish a relationship with a financial advisor and tax accountant.
  • Find a plumber, handyman, computer expert, etc.
  • Be involved with people!
All in all, we cannot completely prepare ourselves for the unforeseeable future, but we can completely trust the God Who holds the world in His hand. And even as we trust God, we can take the necessary steps to act wisely with what He has given.

Let's give our what ifs to the One who says, "Fear not, I am always with you"--BEFORE a crisis, DURING a crisis, and BEYOND. Whatever re-definitions come your way, God lovingly invites you to trust Him with your story.

Photos from bing.com/images