Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking back

As I read my Bible at the beginning of the year, a particular phrase seemed to appear with regularity. I don't remember noticing the phrase before, even though I'd traveled this particular road with this particular reading plan and this particular Bible for two previous years. The phrase was "hold fast to Him" and it appeared five times within a matter of days. Little did I know.

But God's like that. Revealing Himself in ways that we need, when we need it. And this has been a year of needing it. As adventure after adventure has presented itself to us, He's been there. Lifting, carrying, soothing, comforting, caring, loving. Reminding me who He is over and over again. And while my track record is far from perfect, I believe I've gotten a bit better at holding fast to Him.

A few weeks ago the boy mentioned that he was looking forward to an upcoming doctor's appointment because he had a few things to discuss with the doctor. Since the boy is no fan of blood work and so forth, I was somewhat surprised. When I finally had a moment to ask what these "things" were, he informed me that he had lost the peripheral vision in his right eye. About a month ago. Ack! When questioned as to why he didn't say anything he replied that he didn't want to worry me. Sigh.

Anyway, we went off to the eye doctor who pronounced his optic nerve "perfectly fine" and performed a visual field test. Which the boy failed. Twice. The eye doctor then recommended that we schedule an MRI to check for a brain tumor. Um, hello? I'm sitting there thinking blindness is the worst possible thing and all of a sudden you are using words like brain tumor? You know what I discovered? The words "brain tumor" cannot compete with the command to Hold Fast to HIM. During the next week as we waited for tests and results for tests, there were a lot of prayers lifted up. A lot of holding fast. And at the end of the week, we got the call. No brain tumor. We trekked off to the neuro-optometrist. Visual field tests re-administered. Three times. The boy passed every time. The "shade" was gone from his eye. He could see! God heals!

Here's the thing. As long as we are holding fast to Him, the outcome doesn't really matter. And while it might seem that it's easy for me to say because the answer was what we wanted to hear, there have been times this year when the answer wasn't what we wanted to hear. Wasn't what we hoped for. And for whatever reason, there are still a few "bumps" in the road to follow us into 2011. But GOD is still there. Lifting, carrying, soothing, comforting, caring, loving. Holding us up. Remember that. It's good stuff.

It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
Deuteronomy 13:4

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking forward

Each year about this time, I start to look forward toward the new year. I don't make new year's resolutions so to speak, but I do make plans. The past few years those plans have included how I want to be challenged and grow in the Lord. I want to be able to look back at the end of the year and see that my walk is stronger and hopefully my life is a tad bit more fruitful. =)

I've "loosely" made these plans for 2011 (I say "loosely" because God may have other plans for me this upcoming year.):

a) to read the Bible in historical order this year. Rather than read it in the order that it happened, I will be reading in the order that it was written.

b) to work through the Bible study the amazing collection as I read through the Bible. The Amazing Collection goes through the entire Bible and I think it's a good way to reinforce as well as doing an in-depth study of what I am reading.

c) a friend and I have committed to scripture memorization this year using Robert Morgan's 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart. We hope to memorize all 100 verses this year. (She's planning on learning some of them in Japanese as well. Go, Amanda!) I'm not sure if I am going to participate in the Siesta Scripture Memory thing this year. Since I will be learning more than 24 verses I might. I'm not sure what's holding me back from committing to it. I'll have to think about it. Actually, that's not quite true. I do know why I am hesitant. If I can work around it, I will.

d) I would also like to do some word studies on certain scriptures this year. My intent is to look into the original Hebrew and Greek surrounding verses containing particular words to get a better idea of what the Lord intended for us. (Perhaps my questions surrounding the Sabbath will finally be answered!)

At first glance, they seem like pretty big plans for the upcoming year. However, there are 365 days to work on them. And who knows how they will change my life. Looking forward...

Monday, December 6, 2010

We are holiday people at our house. We will probably be adding decorating touches all the way up to Christmas as we keep dragging out our collections of Christmas things.

There are fluffy stuffed animals, pillows, ceramics, wreathes, candles, figurines and nativities galore scattered throughout the house, each competing for attention, each telling a story of sorts. But it's the ornaments that speak loudest to me...each one tells a story and I think (for the moment) I can remember how we got each one.

This was the first Christmas ornament that Josh and I ever purchased. It was our first Christmas together, 1986, the Christmas before we got married.

This little gingerbread girl was the "dated" daughter ornament the year that Jessi was born. Little did we know that she would grow up loving to cook and bake. I think this year, the first Christmas that she's in her own home, makes the memory a little sweeter. (no pun intended.)

This ornament came from a very dear friend at the end of a life changing journey, the year I first read the Bible chronologically. (For those of you who did the Esther study, this was a "peripety" moment.)

This figurine always reminds me of Jessi. When she was a little girl, she had long curls and I thought she looked like this little girl when she had her hair in a ponytail. When I found this ornament, I couldn't resist it! (Feel the sentimental tug at the heartstrings? Someone is missing her girl.)

Josh has been a Lilo and Stitch fan from the moment he saw the movie. (And he does a great Elvis impersonation!) This ornament was a perfect choice for him. (Our tree this year has a "Disney" section, a "star wars" section, a "Santa" section, a "penguin" section, a "Hawaii" section and a variety of others.)

Last year, LifeWay carried a series of ornaments that had Peace, Hope, Joy, Love and Jesus on them. Each one had a scripture on the back and they have become some of my favorite ornaments. I love the promise of Hope and Joy for the Christmas season and believe me, there are many days when I need the visual reminder right in front of my face.
There are others, too many to share here. Jonathan's apple he "made" in Sunday School his first Christmas. Ornaments from the year we decided to "make" our own. Ceramic ornaments that Josh has painted. Ornaments from family vacations. Memories I've forgotten until I unwrap each ornament. So tell me, what stories do your decorations tell?