Friday, February 28, 2014

Naming Names

"Now the first lot for Asaph came out for Joseph;
the second for Gedaliah..."
1 Chronicles 25:9

My Bible reading today took me to Chronicles, where I found myself reading through name after name after name.  I am always kind of fascinated by those chapters.  I used to just breeze right on past them, thinking they weren't really all that important, but that was a long time ago.  Several years ago I came to the realization that they are important, simply by virtue of being Scripture, and then a few years after that, I came to really enjoy them.

Partially I like them because I like to sort of say them out loud inside my head, and see how they sound.  Sometimes they are rather melodious.  Other times, I have to admit, they sound rather awkward.

The other reason I like to make a point of concentrating on them a little, is that I will recognize them.  Maybe I've read about them in some other place already.  Maybe I will sometime soon.  But if I gloss over them, I'll never know.

But sometimes all those names seem unnecessary.  In some places, we can see that the listing of names was important, so that we can see the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus, coming from the lineage of David.  But what about other times?

Well, Isaiah 40:26 tells us, "He has created the stars; He brings out their host by numbers, He calls them all by name... Not one is missing."  Surely our Lord who calls the stars by name, values our names beyond measure.  And Hebrews 12:23 tells us, "you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven."  And then I see how perfectly God remembers and records each name.

We are listed by name, too.  Revelation 3:5 says, "he who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, "A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one's birth."  I think this verse is referring to your reputation, and being honored upon your death, but in light of these other chapters, I interpret them more literally:  "a good name" is one that is written in the Book of Life, and the day of your death is the day you will join Him in His Father's mansion.

Revelation 21:22-27 talks about names, too.  It says, "But I saw no temple in the new Jerusalem, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.  The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.  The Lamb is its light.  And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it... But there shall... enter it... only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."

And I think, most beautiful of all is Luke 10:19-20 ~ "I give you the authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this.... but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Amen.


~

Thursday, February 27, 2014

One More Thought on the Olympics

"this poor widow
has put in more than all;
for all these have given
 out of their abundance,
but she out of her poverty"
Luke 21:4

I don't know about you, in whatever country you live in, but sometimes it's a little frustrating to watch the Olympics in the U.S.  NBC seems to be convinced that we are only interested in American athletes.  Of course I'm interested in the U.S. athletes, but I also love getting to know new names, and hearing their stories.  Sometimes I even remember them from previous Olympics, and find myself rooting for them.   I think NBC has gotten better about giving us a more global look, but I still felt like I was missing stuff.  I would especially love to hear more national anthems.  I heard the Russian, and the Norwegian, but I think that's it, other than the U.S.

The other that that kinda bothered me was that every night they'd show us the Medal Count {hear impressive fanfare here}.  They would show the top five countries, which were the same every night, although they changed places several times over the two weeks.  But I'd be thinking about that athlete from some smaller country that took a medal in some event that day.  I thought about how thrilled that country was to have their first medal of the games, or maybe their first gold medal ever.

And more than once, when I saw the U.S. at the top, or near the top of the "leader board," I thought, "Well sure we've won a lot of medals; we've got a lot of people!  Odds are we're gonna have the ability to produce several excellent athletes."

So I went looking online, and found what I wanted.  A list of medal wins as it relates to population. 

Norway is number one.  Twenty-six medals, with a population of slightly over five million.  That's the equivalent of one medal for every 190,000 people. 

Number two?  A country that won only eight medals.  Slovenia.  But they have a little more than two million people.

Austria and Sweden came in third and fourth, with 17 and 14 medals, respectively.  And number five?  With only three medals?  Latvia.

I'm so fascinated by looking at it this way.  It is such a wonderful perspective, and it celebrates how important that medal or two must be for that country.  How proud they must be of that athlete!

The U.S. comes in 21st on the list.  Twenty-seven medals, 313 million people.  The only countries below us on the list are Great Britain (4 medals), Japan (8), Kazakhstan (1), Ukraine (2), and China (9).  All of a sudden, it seems like our grand medal total is not that impressive.  (Only Russia had more medals than the U.S.)

I think, for me, it brings the accomplishment down to a more personal level.  It makes me think about the individual athletes, and how proud their families must be.  And I think that's more like how God looks at it.  He knows each of us so personally.  He knows each one's perseverance, and what they went through on the road to winning.

And He knows the name of every loser, too.  He knows each one whose equipment failed them, or who slipped at a crucial time in their event.  And He knows the ones who tried to make it to the Olympics, and failed.

Jesus praised the widow for giving much, though she had little.  He sees what we have to give, and what we give out of what we have.  And what seems like a small accomplishment to the world, means much more to Him.

~ "There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free,
there is neither male nor female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus" ~
Galatians 3:28
~

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Nothing a little Static Guard won't fix

"take heed to yourselves"
Exodus 19:12

I had a kind of uncomfortable situation today.  But I was the only one who knew.

I was at Bible study, wearing a dress that I only wear a couple of times a year.  It's a lovely dress, but I don't have much cause to wear dresses, and the weather has to be right.

Anyhow, I wore this dress, and got about 15 compliments on it, which of course is nice to hear.  But what those folks don't know is that I was having a serious "static cling" problem.  I guess the air's been a little dry lately!  It's a knee-length dress, and I kept feeling it creeping slightly upwards.  Not a good thing, especially when I had to do a little public-speaking today.

But at one point, when I was chatting a little with someone, and I looked down while surreptitiously trying to adjust my dress, I realized that it was only the lining that was clinging in a funny way.  The outer part of the dress ~ the part everyone could see ~ was fine.  So although I was distracted by it, I was relieved that no one else would be.  It was just my problem.

Isn't that what we all pray for?  That our problems and issues would be hidden from the world?  We all have things that God is working on in us, but isn't it so much easier when whatever that is is not apparent to everyone else?

I think that's generally the case.  Let's face it, God's working on everyone around us, too.  Which means they're pretty darn focused on their own issues.   Oh sure, sometimes it's painfully obvious how God is growing us, but I think it's less often than we think.  It's been said, "You wouldn't worry so much about what people thought of you if you knew how seldom they do."

I guess we just relax, and keep our eyes on our own problems, focusing on conforming to His image.  And don't worry too much about what others may be thinking.  Just worry about what He's thinking.

~ "O God, You know my foolishness;
     and my sins are not hidden from You" ~
Psalm 69:5
~

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And don't forget, it's pronounced "oo-koo-lay-lay"

"stringed instruments for singers"
1 Kings 10:12

I had a wonderful morning today.  It was a busy weekend, what with Olympic watching, getting together with friends for my daughter's birthday, and a writing project I've been working on.  Nothing too hectic, but we pretty much went from one thing to another. 

But I slept well, and I woke this morning ready to hit the day running.  So to speak... And after getting a few things done, I sat down to do some computer work.  And that's when it started.

Music.  Lovely and lilting.  Coming from my daughter's room.  Before she got started on her schoolwork, she was taking a few minutes to play her ukulele. 

We got her a ukulele a year ago Christmas.  She has some experience on the guitar, and we thought a smaller instrument might be fun for her to try.  Besides, it's Hawaiian, and who doesn't love that?

And in the year since, she has come to love that instrument.  She has taught herself several songs, and plays it almost every day.  Sometimes I can tell she's using it to lift her spirits, and other times I know she's playing it because she's in good spirits.  Either way, it makes me smile.  I don't even have to recognize the song she's playing to enjoy the peace that comes from the music.  So this morning I leaned my head back and closed my eyes, and for a few minutes, I just listened.  Then I opened my eyes and got to work, as the lovely melody continued.

I read somewhere recently, about the mostly unappreciated role that worship and praise music plays in our lives.  About how we often relegate it to a four-song set on Sunday mornings.  But worship should be ever-present.  Our hearts should be praising Him often, if not unceasingly.  Our worship, whether spoken or sung, should be the background music to what God is doing in our lives. 

And a little ukulele accompaniment is a nice touch.

~ "Let them praise His name with the dance;
   Let them sing praises to Him
     with the timbrel and the harp" ~
Psalm 149:3
~

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cupcakes and an Egret

"Look at the birds of the air"
Matthew 6:26

My girl and I headed off to run an errand today ~ to buy cupcakes.  Today is her birthday, and we went to a friend's for dinner, so we brought dessert.  And once or twice a year we like having an excuse to head to a cupcake bakery nearby.  They specialize in "exotic" flavors like guava, mango, and passion-fruit.  Oh, and my girl's favorite:  piƱa colada.*  She likes her some pineapple coconut!

{*Please notice that the Apple of my Eye taught me some accent marks, 
so I'm a little more knowledgeable than I was when I discussed bobsleigh!}

Anyhow, as we drove down our street, I had to come to a sudden stop when I saw an egret walking along the sidewalk.  He was so beautiful.  Long and tall and willowy.  He was just slowly walking, with very plodding steps, with his beautiful yellow-orange beak pointed almost straight up. 


He walked up the sidewalk, and then turned into a driveway, wandered a few paces toward the house, then turned and continued back to the sidewalk, making his way toward the next house.  My daughter and I just sat and watched him for several minutes, before reluctantly moving on to our quest.  I wanted to watch his graceful movements forever, to try and figure why he'd visited our humble street.


Here's the thing: we live in the suburbs.  I don't expect to see egrets as I drive down the street.  It's a pretty tree-sy neighborhood, but it's primarily houses and streets and sidewalks and driveways.  Not much to attract an egret.  Well, I suppose there's probably a pool or two on our street, seeing as it's Southern California, but not a lot. 

There is a greenbelt and a walking trail, maybe a mile and a half away.  There's a stream there, and I'm sure it's a lovely place for an egret.  And yet I'm not sure I've ever even seen one there. 

It was special and delightful to come upon this beautiful creature in an unexpected place.  And I wished for a moment that I lived in a place where I could expect to see something like this more often. 

And then I wondered, if I did live somewhere more egret-friendly, would I lose the wonder and joy I feel when I see one?  I do love seeing the woodpecker who comes to visit our apple tree, and I stop what I'm doing to watch and listen.  And the same goes for the phoebes and martins and sparrows I sometimes see.  And while they're less lovely, I also stop to watch the lizards that skitter along the wall in our backyard.  So I like to think that I'd never stop appreciating the beauty around me. 

But I also know that I probably do stop being thankful for other things in my life.  It's just human nature.  And of course I wouldn't realize I've stopped being thankful for something, because I've stopped noticing whatever it is I've stopped being thankful for. 

I think maybe if I'm more thankful to Him for reminding me to be thankful, that I'd find myself even more thankful, for more things. 

So starting today, I'm going to be more thankful for thankfulness.   Join me, won't you?  Thanks.


~ "O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all.
The earth is full of Your possessions" ~
Psalm 104:24
~

Sunday, February 23, 2014

More Lessons from the Games

"Have you not asked those who travel the road?"
Job 21:29

When we went to the Olympics in Vancouver, I journaled a lot.  {I didn't have a blog back then, and all you lovely people with whom to share my thoughts and lessons :-) }


And my goal, on that trip, was to recognize ways that God was teaching me something, and then tie it in with His word ~ much as I do here.

So some of these thoughts are a few years old, while others are thoughts from the Sochi Games...

~

My money, when I crossed the border into Canada, was useless.  Well, maybe not useless, but most places did not want to take it.  But I could go and exchange it for Canadian money, and then that piece of paper had value for me.  That which we value so highly ~ money ~ has value only because of the government that stands behind it.  I have an old Confederate dollar, too, but it's now only worth the paper it is printed on. 

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, but treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

~

My passport, something I don't ever think about when I'm at home, became the thing I guarded the most.  Not that I would have been trapped forever in Canada if I lost it, and not that that have would been such a horrible thing, but my passport gives vital information about me:  the nation to which I belong; the government that is my protector; my citizenship.

"You call yourselves citizens of the holy city, and rely on the God of Israel ~ the Lord Almighty is His name." (Isaiah 48:2)

"But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ." (Philippians 3:20)

~

Curling.  I know now that there are ten rounds, or ends.  In each end, there are 16 stones sent down the ice.  Of those 16, only the last 4 or 5 are going to impact the score earned in that end.  So I can't tell you what they're thinking when they push the first 11 or 12, but I start paying close attention when they get to the last few.  I don't understand all of curling, but I recognize what's happening at the end.

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.  On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on in the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift of your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28)
~

I saw a cross-country skier, nearing the finish line, who kept looking back over his shoulder.  And while he was looking over his left shoulder, another skier passed him on the right.

"As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, 'I will follow You wherever You go, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.'  Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'" (Luke 9:61-62)
~

I also saw a cross-country skier, after 18 miles of skiing, striving and pushing and stretching out her ski, trying her hardest to beat the skier right next to her.  And these two women were battling for 23rd place. 

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

~

In Vancouver, there were enormous crowds enjoying the festivities in downtown every night, and though you know there was plenty of drinking, they were always well-behaved.  But one night, a group of young men was starting to get too rowdy.  The crowd around them responded by surrounding them, and joining together to sing the Canadian national anthem.  When they were finished, the boys felt foolish, and wandered off.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:21)

My family had never been out of the country before, so when we came home from Canada, we didn't know what to expect from Customs.  We wrote down all our purchases, which pretty much consisted of t-shirts and Olympic pins, and we packed them all in one suitcase, in case someone wanted to see them.  We added up how much we spent, and we had all our receipts.  But we knew we'd be coming home late at night, and we were sort of dreading long lines and government bureaucracy.

At the airport in Canada, after the regular security line, we went through another line, where an intimidating man wearing a bullet-proof vest looked over the form we'd filled out.  He asked us a few questions about our vacation, told us to have a good flight, and sent us on our way.  I assumed we'd have to repeat the whole process when we landed in the US; that we still needed to clear Customs.  But we got off our plane, walked to the baggage claim, and the exit was just right over there.  We were free to go.  We did what we had to do before we even made the journey, and we were accepted and approved.

I'll bet you know where I'm going with this... Our destination is decided before we make the journey.

"If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)

~ "Whoever walks the road, although a fool,
shall not go astray" ~
Isaiah 35:8
~

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Lesson from Snowboarding

"they shall fall among those who fall"
Jeremiah 6:15

I'm of two minds about snowboarding.  We attended a snowboarding event in Vancouver, but the weather was miserably wet and cold, so I don't remember much.  It rained and rained, and by the time we got some ponchos to put on, we were soaked.  Plus, the rain prevented us from seeing the snowboarders very well.  Thirdly, because the rain never stopped, we were never able to take any photos, which makes the whole thing hard to recreate in my mind.

But the sport in general both fascinates and puzzles me.  I'm puzzled by the half-pipe, but it's not a criticism.  I think it's just that I don't appreciate the nuances of the different tricks they do.  Everything looks like going up the slope into the air, turning around, maybe touching your board with your hand, and then coming back down.  I give them huge credit for doing something I could never do, but I don't think I quite appreciate it. 

A sport like snowboard cross, however, captivates me.  Fast-paced, slightly chaotic, impressive, and the outcome can change without warning.  They are flying up and down hills, sailing over those small valleys, trying to stay on the inside track and take the lead, all without crashing into one another.

But crash they do.  Frequently.  Sometimes it's just a pole or ski getting tangled in someone else's, other times it's one athlete colliding with another. 

It must be frustrating to have your race impacted by someone else's mistake.  But they almost always seemed resigned to it, congratulating one another, and shrugging at the camera.  They just understand that it happens in their sport.  They are all going for the same target, and sometimes accidents just happen.  It's not fair.  But as every parent says at one time or another, "Life isn't fair." 

Which, let's face it, it isn't.

What's your fight?  In what way are you starting from behind, or disadvantaged, or missing something crucial that someone else has? 

You're not alone.  Did you see the cross-country skier skiing with a broken foot?  Did you see the one whose ski broke in the middle of the race?  Did you see the downhill skier having to compete with a bad cold?  Did you see the speed skater whose father took four days to get to Russia (from Detroit) because of delays due to the winter storms on the East Coast of the US?  How about the bobsledder (bobsleigher?) recovering from bones broken in recent training?

And how about the many, many athletes grieving for loved ones?  So many of them competing in the memory of someone they wish could be there with them, or carrying a photo or small token of that person. 

But what got each of these folks to the Olympics was the strength to come from behind.  To play the hand they had been dealt.  Whining just doesn't get you very far, and it saps your energy along the way.  God has a plan for your life, and it includes obstacles and mountains and collisions. 

Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and grab Him by the hand.  He's got places for you to go, and great things ahead. 

~ "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm
have gained Him the victory" ~
Psalm 98:1
~

Friday, February 21, 2014

One -- No, Two -- No, One Lesson from Speed Skating

"Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly"
Isaiah 5:26

Our days of the Olympics are winding down.  I am so enjoying every minute of watching these varied and interesting sports.  The athletes are engrossing, the countries are interesting, the sports are fun to watch... But there's still some good stuff remaining to be seen in these last few days.

My topic for today is speed skating.  I can't believe how very different are the variations in this sport.  Short track is fast and crazy, and there's a fair-to-middlin' chance someone's gonna bump into you in the chaos.  But then in "regular" speed skating, there are events that can go on for several minutes.  Lap after lap...  Yikes...

That's the first of my lessons, the very long speed skating events.  See, in a way, it's not that different from cross-country skiing.  Endurance and perseverance and begging your muscles to do what you've been training them to do for all these years.

However, with speed skating, the view isn't anywhere near as beautiful.  The view is boring, really.  And very, very repetitive.  Around and around and around.... Over and over and over...

But the good part is that your coach gets to be nearby.  Every lap you go by him (or her) and he (or she) can give you instructions, or advice, or encouragement.  Frequent cheering, from someone who knows you well enough to know exactly what you need to hear.

The second lesson about speed skating is different, but the same.  Stay with me.

One of the things that has been fun to watch about speed skating is the athletes from the Netherlands.  I mean to tell ya, they own this sport.  I think they've swept the podium four times, winning something like 20 medals in various speed skating events.  Clearly, this country is fond of this sport.  The stands are filled with people wearing and waving orange.  They really make their presence known.

And because the sport is so popular in the Netherlands, among the fans in the stands are the king and queen.  I was so fascinated by them.  They are fairly young (relative to, say, Queen Elizabeth, who's one of the few monarchs in the world that I can name.) and they've got their orange on, and they're just hanging out and cheering as if they are nobody important.  And the speed skaters do their victory laps, and wave at their king and queen, and the king and queen wave right back.  If I didn't know better, I'd think that everyone in that country knows each other.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima ~ photo credit: Zimbio.com
The two lessons are the same:  the nearness of your King and Coach.  Cheering you, guiding you, and urging you on.   He is never far, you have only to look to Him and ask for His wisdom.  Victory is certain; the only question is the quality of your race.  Draw near to Him, and He will draw near to you.


~ "With Him are wisdom and strength,
       He has counsel and understanding" ~
Job 12:13

~ "I am the Lord, your Holy One,
       the Creator of Israel, your King" ~
Isaiah 43:15
~

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The real "Ultimate Fight"

"you fight"
Joshua 10:25

Okay, I'm gonna break away from Olympic sports for a day to talk about a sport that I can't believe is a sport.

UFC.

Ultimate Fighting Championship.  Are you familiar with this?  I've heard the term "UFC" but I never really knew much about it until recently.  "Mixed martial arts"... I no idea what that meant...

But recently I had a chance to find out.  We were over at a friend's house, and they had it on their TV.  I sat for a few minutes and watched it, and came away a little dumbfounded.  It was astounding.  There seemed to be no strategy, no game plan other than, well, fighting.  Punching, ducking, tripping, kicking, general flailing.  They both looked exhausted, and neither one looked like they were winning.  How does one win?  How is one "good" at it?  Is it just about endurance?  Are there rules?

Not to judge ~ just my opinion ~ but not only can I not understand why anyone would participate in this, I can't understand why anyone would watch it.  To each his own, I guess.

The funny thing is, that like other things in my life at this point, it made me think of Job.  That's what happens when you're deeply entrenched in Bible study!

But UFC seemed to have a sort of "anything goes" mentality.  It seemed that you had to be ready for anything, and respond to what came, the best you could.  And I thought, "This must be what Job felt like."  After all, he was being hit from all sides ~ his home, his family, his property, his health.  There seemed to be no rules.  That's when we get that feeling, "It's not fair."  We feel that life ought to play by certain rules.

Job clearly felt this way.  He acknowledged that God is wise, strong and holy, but he also accused God of not being fair.  That seems like the worst thing he could have thought.  It questions God's integrity.  The word "fair" means "in accordance with accepted or agreed upon rules or standards."  But whose standards?  Whose idea of reasonable?  There's the rub.

But that's the beauty of what was truly happening in Job's life.  There were rules.  There was a standard.  God had told satan what was allowed as satan tempted Job to abandon his faith and curse God. 

God is the standard of "fairness" and justice.  And He is a part of everything we go through in life.  Every trial; every struggle comes to us through His hands.  And He strengthens us and equips us for what's head.  It might not all be easy, but I'd certainly rather battle what He sends than any "fighting championship" the world could send my way.


~ "Do not be afraid,
   nor be dismayed;
   be strong and of good courage,
   for thus the Lord will do to all your enemies
against whom you fight" ~
Joshua 10:25
~

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Two Lessons from Bobsleigh

"on a fast downhill slide"
2 Peter 2:1

Yes, bobsleigh.  I know we here in the U.S. generally call it bobsled, but pretty much everywhere else in the world, it's called the bobsleigh.  And that's the name in the official Federation Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing.  (There's supposed to be a few accent marks in there, but I don't know how to make my computer do that.  My apologies.)

My family had fun, in Salt Lake City, trying to remember to refer to the events as bobsleigh a deux or bobsleigh a quattre.  (There's supposed to be a few accent marks in there, too... I guess my computer doesn't speak French.)

I didn't see bobsleigh in Utah, but I did in Vancouver.  And it was one of the most enlightening sports to attend.  By that I mean, it's so much different seeing it in person, than on TV, and I never would have known that. 

To be honest, it might be better seeing it on TV.  After all, with a camera at every turn, you're seeing a pretty good shot of the whole race.  When you're at the event, there are video screens to look at until the bobsleigh comes into view, but it's kinda hard to look at them.  First of all, you're there, in person, so it's just not instinctive to be looking at a screen.  But also, you want to see it in person.  You feel a little like, "If I wanted to see it on a screen, I could have stayed home!"  So you find yourself looking at an empty track, not wanting to take your eyes off of it, waiting for the action to come to you. 

So here are my two lessons from bobsleigh. 

First of all, I was very surprised by two things:  how loud the bobsleighs are, thundering past you on the track, and how incredibly fast they are going.  Somewhere around 80, 85 mph.  I mean, they just fly by.  I don't know how many times we said that to each other, "Man, I just can't believe how fast they're going!"

It's a reminder to me that we simply cannot understand some things, until we experience them.  You watch something from afar, like someone's life, or their decisions, and you think you understand all there is to understand.  But you don't.  Their life is louder or faster than you can tell from where you are standing.  And they're doing the best they can.  Judge not.

Lesson #2 is about teamwork.  Cooperation.  Partnership.  And I learned that in the picture-taking.  The sleighs are going so fast, that we got several pictures of empty track...

like this...
... and this...

... and this.

before finally getting a picture with a bobsleigh in it.

like this...


... and this...
... and this.

And the way we finally achieved that, my sister and I, is by working together.  She held the camera at the ready, looking forward, finger on the button.  I looked off to the left, to where the sleighs were coming from.  And as soon as I saw it come into view, I would say, "Now!"  Through trial and error, we finally figured out exactly when I needed to speak up, in order for her to get the picture. 

And why was that?  Because the bobsleighs are going by faster than you can believe!

It was her camera, but she was able to share some great pictures with me, because I helped her take them.  Do unto others, and they will do unto you. 

See?  There's always something new to learn.  

~ "That all may learn and be encouraged" ~
1 Corinthians 14:31
~

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hard to say, "I'm sorry"

"I have considered the message"
1 Kings 5:8

I had to write an apology note the other day.  I'd gotten together with some friends last week, and had a very slight disagreement with a longtime friend.  I felt bad about an offhand, meant-to-be-funny comment I'd made, and I didn't want it to fester between us, since it will probably be a few months before we see each other again.

And I wanted to write a note, because an email, or a phone call, would call for an immediate response on her part.  I didn't necessarily want her to feel compelled to say, "I'm sorry, too" if she wasn't thinking that.  Or if she felt she had nothing to apologize for.  I just wanted to take it all on me, though I'm not entirely convinced I'm the only one who should apologize, ya know?

And I pondered the wording of the card for a day or so before actually writing it.  I wanted to make sure it was phrased properly.

Here's what I wanted to say: 

"I'm so sorry for the comment I made the other day.  It was just that I have long felt that discussions on that topic were sort of stupid --"

Nope.

"I'm really sorry for what I said the other day.  I was frustrated by the idiotic conversation --"

Nope.

"I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings when I made that comment, but if you hadn't --"

Nope.

"Sorry for what happened between us the other day.  I've just always had trouble with people who --" 

*sigh...*

And you know what I realized the problem is?  Pride.  I want explain why I said what I said, which is that I wasn't feeling well, or I was tired, or I was provoked or whatever.  None of which really matters to God.  My heart was in the wrong place, and my mouth followed. 

The thank you note I finally wrote included nothing but an apology, and a hope that she knows that I value our friendship.  Justification really only comes from Him anyway.

~ "When pride comes,
    then comes shame;
     But with the humble is wisdom" ~
Proverbs 11:2
~

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Lesson from Downhill Skiing

"sitting on the top of a hill"
2 Kings 1:9

The past couple of days I've been enjoying the downhill skiing portion of the Olympic experience.  "Alpine Skiing," they call it.  Downhill, Super G (no idea what that stands for.... gravity, maybe??  Wait -- I just asked my sweetie, and he said he thinks it's short for "Super Giant Slalom".) Slalom, Giant Slalom and Combined.  All different in their own way, but lots of fast, and lots of down. 

We saw slalom when we were at the Salt Lake City Olympics.  It was an incredibly snowy day, though, and it was very hard to see the top half of the mountain, even on the video screens.  Hard to believe that spectators used to watch events without video screens!  But it was plenty exciting to see them come around the turn and out of the snowy air to race toward the finish line. 

I still remember the woman who took the gold in the race we watched.  Her name is Janica Kostelic, and she's from Croatia.  She was Croatia's golden girl, I think, beloved in her country, and it was so much fun to see how excited her countrymen were.  I was cheering right along with them!  And I've had a soft spot in my heart for Croatia ever since. 

Plus, they have a cool flag. 

Flag of Croatia.svg


But I've noticed something this time around that has intrigued me.  And I've seen it a few times in the past week.  It happens when the skiers are in their own world, pre-race.  Sometimes they are listening to music on their headphones (or "earbuds" as the kids call them today).  Sometimes their eyes are closed.  But what I love is that they are "rehearsing" the run in their mind, and with their bodies.  More than one I've seen in the "skiing" position, but just standing, holding imaginary "poles" in their hands, and running through the course they are about to ski.  And one girl I saw sort of squatting, on her bottom, but with her legs up in the air, mimicking that low-down position that skiers take when they're going fast. 

I love two things about this.  First, their focus.  I love that they take it so seriously that just training runs are not enough.  It's not just physical practice, it's mental practice. 

And secondly, I love that they know the course well enough, that they are even able go over it in their minds.  I don't know whether it's because they have run it so many times, or because they've studied the run visually, or what.  But they know they can't do their best if they are unprepared for any part of the course.  There are too many variables already ~ wind, temperature, condition of the snow, etc.

I wonder if it would work to run through my day this way, especially on a day when I'm anticipating challenges.  That would be a wonderful prayer time, wouldn't it?  Going over with Him what you're going to work on, each bump and curve, the ins and outs of your day... to be as prepared as possible for the predictable parts so that you have energy and patience in the unpredictable parts. 

A little focus, a little eyes-closed, a little quiet time for Him to guide you through what's expected.  And then it'll be all downhill from there. 

~ "Whoever does not practice righteousness
is not of God" ~
1 John 3:10
~

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Because

It's Sunday, and I'm feeling very strongly like praising Him.  Join me, won't you?

Because He is Jehovah
"And God spoke to Moses and said to him:
'I am the Lord.  I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob,
as God Almighty, but by My name Lord, I was not known to them."
Exodus 6:2-3

Because He is my Satisfaction
"As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness"
Psalm 17:15

Because He knows me Intimately
"O Lord, You have searched me and You know me...
You perceive my thoughts from afar...
You are familiar with all my ways."
Psalm 139:1-3

Because He is my Advocate
"My little children, these things I write to you,
so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, 
we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ"
1 John 2:1

Because He is Unequaled
"'To whom will you compare Me?
Or who is My equal?' says the Holy One
Isaiah 40:25

Because He is my Teacher
"I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye"
Psalm 32:8

Because He is the End
"He said to me, 'It is done.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End.'"
Revelation 21:6
~

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Lesson from Biathlon

"make every effort along the way"
Luke 12:58

My focus today is the biathlon.  I'm endlessly fascinated by this event, and I'm not quite sure why.  It might be that I love it because it's one part cross-country, which I love. 

It might be that the sport has its origins in Norway, a country that greatly intrigues me.  I'm a bit of a cold-weather girl, for one, and I've been enchanted by Norway ever since the 1994 Games in Lillehammer. 

It might be that the two events in biathlon ~ cross-country skiing and shooting ~ seem like an odd choice to combine.  But it makes perfect sense when you know the history of the sport:  military training.  Isn't that interesting?

But mostly I think I love it because the two components call for entirely different strengths.  Cross-country is about endurance, physical strength, and a certain amount of planning ~ maintaining the necessary pace on the uphill, downhill, and level portions.  And shooting is about concentration, poise, and keeping your body as still as possible.  One of the commentators said this week that if you want to know what biathletes feel like, run up ten flights of stairs, then thread a needle.  I've also heard it said that biathletes are the best athletes of all, because your heart has to be well-conditioned if you're going to shoot well after cross-country skiing.

I think the biathlon is an apt comparison for the spiritual life God wants us to live.  Christian living often calls for all-out effort... stamina, and perseverance... forgiving and loving and showing kindness without ever compromising truth.  It takes effort and sometimes a planning ahead (getting your armor on, and getting full-up on prayer) before the more difficult times. 

But it's also about little things.  It's about details and things that seem unimportant to us, but matter to someone else.  

And consider this:  the word "sin" comes from a word that means "missing the mark".  Coincidence?  I think not.

~ "He will bless those who fear the Lord,
   both small and great" ~
Psalm 115:13
~

Friday, February 14, 2014

Who loves ya, baby?

"that it may be well with you
  and you may live long on the earth"
Ephesians 6:3

I took my kids to the pediatrician a few days ago.  Kinda seems weird to be taking an almost-seventeen-year-old to a pediatrician, but that's how it's done.

Since I have a child of each gender, we had to see two different doctors ~ a female for her, and a male for him.  But since I was off-schedule with their well-checks, I wasn't taking them near their birthdays.  So I went two days in a row, once with each child.

It was an interesting comparison, seeing how different doctors handle appointments that are substantially the same.  Sometimes they said the exact same things, like they'd been trained by the same person.

But in other ways, they did the same things differently.  Both kids had a "baseline concussion" test, because both are involved in sports.  What it means is, they had to answer questions and do balance tests that can act as a comparison in case they ever suffer a concussion.  These tests were largely the same, and yet each doctor varied them a little bit.  Me, I just sat there quietly in the corner, intrigued.  'Cause that's what I do.

And both kids got the same "lecture" about taking care of themselves.  Eating right, exercise, getting enough Vitamin D while still protecting themselves from the sun...  And of course there was some discussion about drugs, which led to advice about peer pressure. 

I have awfully mature kids, I must say, so I've never been too concerned about peer pressure.  Plus, they're homeschooled, so they don't have that many peers around them on a daily basis.  But sometimes peer pressure is a bigger danger on things that seem smaller.  Maybe they are confident that they would say "no" to drugs, but sometimes we can be convinced to do something that's "no big deal".  Those are the times we just move ahead without giving something enough thought.

But here's what I loved:  the doctor who examined my son told him that if he ever has any questions, or is worried about anything, he should "talk to the one that loves him the most".  With that, he gave a nod in my direction, and my boy grinned at me.  I thought it was a great way to remind my son not only who he should talk to ~ his parents; but also why ~ because there is no one who loves him more than we do.  There is no one who wants the best for him the way we do.

It's good advice for all of us, to remember who loves us the most.  Who we can rely on for thoughtful, wise counsel?  Who can we count on to give us truth, even when it's not easy?  Who knows what is best for us, and will guide us in that direction?

Hopefully you have several someones in your life who fit that description.  But even more important than that, is knowing you can go to the One who loves you more than anyone on earth.  The One who is love, and wisdom.  He's got appointments available whenever you're ready.


~ "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything 
by prayer and petition
with thanksgiving,
    let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God
 which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus" ~
Philippians 4:6-7
~

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Lesson from Ice Hockey

"the whole armor"
Ephesians 6:11

I'm thinking about ice hockey today, but surprisingly, I'm not thinking so much about Olympic hockey.

{This, despite the fact that the American women were robbed today.  
The whistle clearly blew before the puck went in the net.  
But it's okay.  Stuff happens.  
And this game wasn't for a medal.
And I like Canada.}

No, I'm thinking about my kids.  The two NHL hockey teams nearest to us (the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings) sponsor activities to introduce hockey to kids, so every Tuesday this month we are going to a rink not too far from our house, and our kids are getting to experience a little bit of ice hockey.  The rink lends them all the equipment, and there are numerous coaches on the ice, running drills, giving advice, etc.  It's a really well-run program.  And it's all free.

The Apple of my Eye signed them up for it a few weeks ago, and he was very excited about them having the experience.  He's been playing ice and roller hockey for thirty years, and it's a sport he loves, so he was thrilled to share it with them.

Last week was their first time, and things were slow at his work, so he was able to take the day off of work to join us.  It turned out to be very good decision, as the three of us had very little experience in donning all the gear (socks, shin/knee guards, socks, pants, skates, shoulder pads, elbow pads, jersey, helmet.  In that order.  Now I know.)

But this past Tuesday, he couldn't be with us.  Man's gotta earn us a living, after all.  But he was still so helpful.  The night before, he made sure they had all their equipment in their bags. (The rink let all the kids take home everything in-between times, so they didn't have to search for fitting stuff again every week.) 

He made sure they both had tape in their bags, and reminded them to bring clothes to change into afterwards.  And he gave them instructions to check the blades on the rental skates, showing them on his own skates what "sharp" feels like and telling them to ask for a different pair if they felt theirs were too dull.  I thought it was so sweet, how thoughtful he was.  This was important to him, and he wanted them to be well-prepared.

The whole thing got me thinking about Ephesians 6, and that wonderful passage about the armor of God.  I was reminded that God wants us to be ready for anything; to be protected and well-equipped.  But He does more than just want it, He instructs us, and shows us, and even more, promises to be with us always. 

Isn't that just like a Father?

~ "Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,
having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith...
And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God;
praying always with all prayer..." ~
Ephesians 6:14-18
~

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Maybe tomorrow I'll be proud if he doesn't finish his homework...

"the dishes, the pans, the bowls..."
Numbers 4:7

My son disobeyed me today.  And I was really proud of him.

In my efforts to teach my kids how to keep house, I try to teach them not just cleaning stuff (how to do laundry, etc) but also how to do things efficiently.  Like putting things to soak, and then you can clean off the counters and maybe put the food away or whatever, and then when you go back to clean the dish or pan, it will be easier.  Efficient, right?  I made that up. 

Kidding, of course.

But I also have a rule that when you're putting your dirty knife, or your cereal bowl or whatever, in the sink, you do not put it in an already-soaking bowl, if that already-soaking bowl was used to cook something greasy or excessively saucy.  'Cause that's gonna make your dirty item to become completely dirty:  greasy or saucy.   Then I have to scrub every square inch of the item, when maybe the back or the handle only needs a cursory cleaning.  Or I have to put the item in the dishwasher, when I could have done it by hand. 

My family is pretty cooperative about these two things, although it has not come without some reminding.  And as the youngest, my son was probably the last to get in these habits.  (Although the Apple of my Eye was a close second.)

Well today at lunch, my boy made himself a delicious-looking fried rice bowl.  Made the rice, sauteed some veggies, cooked a little chicken, and then tossed some sort of Asian sauce over the top.  And he dutifully took the bowl in which he had cooked the rice over to the sink to fill it with water.  'Cause dried, stuck-on rice is particularly tricky to scrub if it hasn't been soaked.

But he couldn't put it in the sink, because I had put a large, very dirty pot in there to soak.  He knew he shouldn't put his rice bowl in the big dirty pot, but he also couldn't put his rice bowl to soak because there wasn't room in the sink.

Now, you should also know that he wasn't feeling well today, otherwise he would have just solved the problem by just washing the bowl, or filling it as much as possible and setting it on the counter or something.  But I happened to walk into the kitchen as he was caught in this dilemma, and he just looked up at me, almost helplessly. 

I kind of laughed, and helped him solve the problem, but I also told him how much I appreciated his efforts to be obedient to me.  Of course I'm not going to punish him, or even be angry, if he made a mistake or forgot.  If all of us are most of the time helping the house to run smoothly, then I have nothing to complain about. 

But just the fact that he was remembering, and giving thought to how I'd want him to solve this problem, was so sweet to me.  And again I'm reminded that this is how God is with us.  Sometimes we're not sure what the right to do is.  But our desire to please Him goes a long way.  I find great comfort in that.

~ "Through Him we have received
grace and apostleship
for obedience to the faith" ~
Romans 1:5
~

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Lesson from Figure Skating

"as workers together"
2 Corinthians 6:1

Okay, I'm well into my Olympics TV watching.  And when I'm not watching, I'm recording, and any time there's not something live on TV, I'm watching something I recorded.  It's nonstop. 

{I'm kidding.  
I have things to do and kids to teach and dinners to make, etc.  
But I'm definitely watching more TV than usual...}

Today I'm celebrating pairs figure skating.  How delightful is this sport to watch?  Of course it doesn't hurt that they are accompanied by music, but it is just so pleasant and fascinating and inspiring, all at the same time. 

And I think what I'm appreciating most is the combination of beauty and strength.  These are athletes who are artists.  They leap and twirl amazingly and gracefully,  and most of the time, land flawlessly on that skinny steel blade.  And if the individual leaping isn't remarkable enough, I'm finding myself newly astounded at the fact that these men are throwing their partners into the air!  Lifting another human being, and tossing them!  And these lovely women glide elegantly through the air, land, and then do it all again.

Now first of all, I love the idea that anything done well can be beautiful and artistic.  Even something like leaping and landing... throwing and being thrown.  Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in one of her books about watching the preparation for the railroad, and being fascinated by the graders moving smoothly and rhythmically as they did their work.  It was men and horses and machines, but it was also art, in its way. 

And the second thing I'm loving about pairs figure skating, is the synchronicity.  These two people who have worked and trained for so long that they are in wonderful sync with each other, and it doubles my amazement!  It's an inspiration for anyone in a marriage, or any sort of partnership that calls for cooperation.

Teamwork is admirable... strength is lyrical... hard work is beautiful.

~ "Honor and majesty are before Him;
      Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary" ~
Psalm 96:6
~

Monday, February 10, 2014

Who among us doesn't have special needs?

"they shall attend to his needs"
Numbers 3:7

I was reading an article in a magazine the other day, about families with special needs* kids.  It was encouragement and a little bit of advice.  Nothing unusual or remarkable really. 

{ *Can I just say how much I love the phrase "special needs"?  
I love how it encompasses so many different scenarios, 
while emphasizing specialness, in a positive way.}

But there was an interesting quote in there, from a child.  It was a sibling of a special needs child, and he said to his mother, "I think God gave Brandon to us because He knew we would take good care of him."

Don't you just love that outlook?  That child recognized that his brother was higher maintenance than average children, but instead of seeing it as a responsibility for his family, he saw it like they were specially chosen for that child.  I think that's very sweet, and very true.

I think it caught my eye because it's something we've said in my family, about our dog, Holly. 


Holly, as I've mentioned before, is a dog of very-little-brain.  Well, that's not totally true.  She's bright, and mostly obedient.  But that phrase hearkens back to Winnie the Pooh, whom Christopher Robin referred to as a "Bear of Very Little Brain".  And I think in the case of our sweet girl, it accurately conveys how simple and pitiful she is. 

Pitiful, because of her fear.  She's afraid of strangers, and people we know well... she's afraid of other dogs, even little ones... she's afraid of noises of all sorts.  She barks for a lot of out-of-the-ordinary noises, and hides behind a chair in the living room in other cases.   She's afraid of the vacuum cleaner even if it's not on, and going for rides in the car, and she gets nervous if we do something unusual like move furniture.

The point is, she's high maintenance.  She takes a little more care, and a little more effort, and a little more understanding than the average dog.  And my kids have more than once commented that it's a good thing she came to our family, because we are what she needs.  We take good care of her. 

I like to think it was part of God's design.  That I have the perfect kids for me, and the perfect parents for me.  That my sisters and my husband and my closest friends are in my life, and I am in theirs, because God knew we would understand and care for one another. 

But I guess that's just how love works.

~ "If we love one another,
God abides in us,
and His love has been perfected in us." ~
1 John 4:12
~

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Lesson from Cross-Country Skiing

"view the land"
Deuteronomy 32:49

So, a few thoughts today on cross-country skiing.  It's one of my favorite events in the Winter Olympics.  It's an event we saw in person in Salt Lake City.  Well, actually, outside Salt Lake City, at the picturesque resort called Soldier Hollow.

At the time we purchased our tickets to the 2002 Games, cross-country seemed a bit like an "also-ran" sport to me.  Like jogging.  I didn't know much about it, but the tickets came in "packages" ~ so you got something like two tickets for ski jumping, two tickets for the women's slalom, two for a hockey game, and two for cross-country.  But with nearly every package, no matter what events were included, included tickets to cross-country.  I think it's simply because there are so many places for spectators to sit and stand.  They can accommodate a lot of people there.

{We didn't see any cross country at the Vancouver Olympics.  
But we did see bobsleigh, 
another sport that accommodates a lot of spectators.}

So I wasn't particularly excited about seeing cross-country in 2002, but I came to love it.  The scenery is so beautiful, and it's all around you.  And you aren't crowded with your fellow attendees, (unless you have seats in the bleachers at the start/finish line.) so you can choose your vantage point, and then try someplace else, and then go back to your first spot because you realized you could see better over there.  And as you move around, you're standing next to new people, all there for the same reason, but talking in any one of a number of languages that are different from yours.   Fascinating.  I still have the pin I exchanged with a man who was visiting from Finland.

Most of all, you are so close to the athletes when they zoom past where you are leaning against fence.  You feel, for a millisecond, that you are part of the action.  You can cheer them on, and really feel you are heard. 

photo credit:  m.utah.com ~ We didn't own a digital camera back then

Or you can ring your cowbell, and know you are heard.  

But today's lesson about cross-country has to do with the length of the race.  It's long, relative to other Olympic pursuits.  Cross-country is about more than just speed; it's about endurance.  It's about pacing yourself, and working through aching lungs and fatigued muscles. 

photo credit: fasterskier.com
Ever notice how many skiers collapse at the finish line, gasping for breath?

There's an important comparison here, to our lives.  Ups, downs, long straightaways with not enough rest... and trying not to bump or be bumped by others who are also just trying to make it through. 

But that's not the lesson.  The lesson is about the scenery.  'Cause it's gorgeous. 

photo credit: utahnordic.com
The evergreen trees, some with snow still on them... the snow-covered mountains in the distance... hills and bushes... going from brilliant sun to dappled shade, and back again.  And blue sky and a few fluffy white clouds overhead. 

{I mean, sure, sometimes the days are cloudy, 
but still ~ a grey sky can be lovely, too.  
And you know the sun is still there!}

One of the commentators said today that cross-country skiers need three things to succeed:  an acceptance that pain is coming; the need to be prepared for that pain, and a desire to persevere through that pain.  I think we need the same approach to difficult times in our lives. 

But even more importantly, we need to look around and enjoy the view.  Yes, the work can be long and sometimes hard.  But He has provided us with beauty on every side. 

~ "Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
      Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" ~
Psalm 29:2
~

Saturday, February 8, 2014

On "why?"

"Why?"
Job 3:23

We're finishing up the Book of Job in Bible study.  And I had a kind of interesting real-life illustration the other day. 

I was watching something on TV that included one of those "this day in history" things, and I was reminded that has been 20 years since figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked at her practice rink.  You probably already know the story.  Rival skater Tonya Harding's husband was trying to help his wife advance to the Olympics by eliminating the competition, and paid someone to break Kerrigan's leg. 

I vividly remember the coverage of the attack; it was such a huge news story during the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.  But the most lasting image for me was, in the moments after the attack, the video of her sitting on the ground where she had fallen, crying out in pain and anguish, and repeatedly saying one word:  "Why?"

It was an image that, when it was brought to my mind, seemed to fit with my image of Job.  For several chapters of the book, that's his position:  in pain and in misery, and desperately wanting to know why.  He uses that word more than two dozen times.

Sometimes we feel that if we could just know the reason we were going through a difficult time, it would make it easier.  But that's not necessarily true.  After all, Nancy Kerrigan eventually found out why someone had hurt her, but it was so cruel and bizarre, how could the attacker's motivation lessen the pain?  How could it make her recovery and physical therapy easier?

Knowing why is about having control.  And control is something we generally want more of.  But control is not always what it's cracked up to be.  For that matter, neither is knowing. 

It's okay to ask why.  But we need to accept that sometimes we can't know.  And maybe sometimes we're better off not knowing.  And anyway, it's enough that He does.

~ "He is Lord of heaven and earth" ~
Acts 17:24
~

Friday, February 7, 2014

(Un)Answered Prayer

"all night in prayer"
Luke 6:12

There was a traffic accident outside our house last night.  It's not the first time.  Our backyard overlooks a somewhat busy street in our city, and every three or four months we hear the screech of tires as a car going too fast tries to react to something.   And then sometimes the screech is followed by the sound of impact.

We've seen cars hitting other cars, and cars hitting the light pole, and cars hitting the median.  But yesterday evening it was a car hitting a bicyclist.  Scary.

We couldn't identify the sound at first.  Frankly, I didn't even hear a screech, I just heard a metallic thunk.  It sounded like when I was a kid, and we had metal trashcans and one of them fell over or was banged into.  My husband went outside to look around a little bit, and when he looked over the wall, he could see what had happened. 

The driver was there, and the cyclist had not been alone, so his friend was there, too.  They were obviously calling 911 already, so there was nothing we could do. 

Nothing but pray, of course. 

The worst accident we've ever witnessed was several years ago.  There was a horrific crash about 11pm ~ a driver going the wrong way crashed head-on into a car carrying two people, both of whom died.  One instantly, one at the hospital later.  The driver who crashed was fleeing the police due to some other crime I have now forgotten about.  He ran away from the accident, and was apprehended in our next-door neighbor's backyard. 

The kids slept through the whole thing.  {Mercifully.  It was quite frightening to wait inside our house as we heard the police running through our yard and our neighbors' yards in pursuit of the driver.  I'm glad I wasn't having to explain things to the kids, or reassure them.} 

And after the police took the man away, my husband and I went back outside, as we didn't know how bad the accident was.  An ambulance took the passenger away, and we watched the police pull a sheet over the driver.   And then, because it was a crime scene, the police/paramedics/coroner were there all night.  They set up bright lights, and did all those things that have to be done ~ taking photos, measuring skid marks, dealing with the victim, etc.  We slept very little that night, as our bedroom faces that side of the house, and there wasn't much chance of blocking those bright lights, even if we hadn't been somewhat traumatized by what had taken place. 

I was so aware of prayer that night.  I'd never felt so helpless as when I watched those terribly hurt people.  I thought about their families, and the phone calls they would be receiving with the news.  And I prayed and I prayed. 

I thought about all that again yesterday evening.  I knew the cyclist was far less hurt than that time ~ I could tell he was talking, and I saw him move his toes when the paramedics told him to.  But I could also see the dent in the hood of the car, and that he was bleeding in a couple of different places. 

I don't think I'll ever know how he is, and how well he recovers.  There are two major hospitals near here, so I don't know where he was taken.  I don't know his name, and even if I did, with confidentiality laws being what they are, I doubt the hospital would tell me anything about his condition.

So again I'm in a position where all I can do is pray, and I won't ever know the answer to my prayers.  But I'm glad to be doing my part, and glad to know my prayers matter to Him.  But most of all, I'm glad to know that whether or not I ever know His answer to my prayers, I can trust His plan for whoever I'm praying for.

~ "Pray for one another" ~
James 5:16
~