Friday, September 26, 2008

Hiding Place

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. ~Psalm 91:1

Even before my sweet grandmother became ill and eventually went home to be with the Lord, she gave me two worn, paperback autobiographies. I remember my grandmother telling me stories about Corrie ten Boom and the honor I felt to receive these books about her life. More than ten years later, I have finally taken the time to read through them both. Now I know why she spoke so fondly as I have now been personally encouraged by the courageous life of this simple woman from Holland.

The Hiding Place is Corrie's retelling of her life growing up in a quaint Dutch town as the daughter of a watchmaker, and provides vivid detail of the night when everything changed forever. The ten Booms were some of the few Christians who hid Jewish families in their home, including a widespread networking system with other safe houses. The number of those hidden across the network was upwards of 800 by the time men from Hitler's regime broke down the door of the ten Booms' home and dragged them away to certain death in German concentration camps. Corrie tells of the heartache when she received news by word of mouth that her father did not last ten days, and I was then brought to tears as she described the experience of witnessing her sister Betsie also pass away. Corrie was finally released after spending roughly three years in several concentration camps. She did not find out until many months had passed, beyond the final liberation of these prisons, that she was released due to a clerical error. Corrie ten Boom was not supposed to leave the doom of the German camp that day. Less than a week after she walked outside the gates in freedom, all adults of her age group were sent to the gas chambers. In the sovereign plan of her Maker, she was supposed to leave that day, for He had more in mind for her life than she could have even remotely comprehended.

One of the most vivid memories I have from my time in Israel as a youth was that of the Jewish Holocaust museum we visited. Outside the building was a garden scattered with trees, each one marked by a humble nameplate on the ground. There was a particular tree I passed by which was planted in memory of Corrie ten Boom. Our guide for the museum tour explained to us the incredible impact this woman had on thousands of people to the extent that this tree stands in her honor. Amidst all of the famous names of great leaders from that horrific time in history, that of the watchmaker's daughter is remembered and deeply treasured.

Corrie ten Boom did not claim anything about which she could boast. Her only claim in life was that she was bought, was spared, and persevered because of the blood of Jesus Christ. This was her fuel upon leaving the concentration camp and following the path that would lead her all around the world in the years to come. She left knowing that she had no strength of her own, but that in her weakness Christ would be proclaimed. Corrie was still traveling to all corners of the world well into her 80s, including Germany. In the sequel to The Hiding Place, Tramp for the Lord, she candidly tells of the great pain she experienced knowing that she was called to forgive those who had persecuted her to the very threat of death. Only by God's grace was she able to stand before her captors and tell them with all sincerity of God's forgiveness.

The lessons learned from a woman such as Corrie ten Boom are astounding and much more room would be needed in order to fully elaborate on the encouragement I received from reading her story. She is an example of why we should regularly read on the lives of those who have gone before us. Such individuals were not giants among men according to human standards. Corrie was a simple woman, sometimes envious of her sister's beauty, often sighing over her own awkwardness, in the habit of admitting that she was a sinner in the hands of a loving and merciful Lord. During a particular interview (one of many) conducted in 1974, Corrie was asked, "What was it that got you through the dark nights?" Her response: "It wasn't what, it was Who got me through."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Song for Sunday ~ Hymns are good for the soul...

My Jesus, I Love Thee
(W. Featherstone, A. Gordon)
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, and I’ll love Thee in death,
I’ll praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in Heaven so bright;
And sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Reflection on Our Electric Lives

Power Outage - A Reflection on Our Electric Lives ~ R. Albert Mohler
The remnants of Hurricane Ike brought a very unexpected windstorm to Louisville, Kentucky on Sunday. Worshippers in area churches heard and felt the massive winds hit at just about the time morning services were ending. By the time most got home, the winds -- sustained at over 70 miles per hour -- had done significant damage to trees and power lines.
By nightfall, the impact was obvious. We are not threatened by short interruptions in electrical power. We generally assume the power will soon come back on. In this case, most of the city appeared to be dark -- very dark.
Our immediate responsibility was to take care of the hundreds of students and student families on the campus, and the whole seminary community pulled together. There were signs of God's mercy around us. First of all, no one was hurt. There was no structural damage to our campus. The weather was cool and the moon was bright. Our prayers were with those in genuine distress, such as the residents and refugees who suffered real losses in Hurricane Ike's earlier history.
We were not in danger, so long as we took care of the vulnerable here. We were, for the most part, inconvenienced. But . . . as the hours and days ahead made clear, we were very inconvenienced. In fact, we were largely out of commission.
We could not hold classes. There was no way we could safely bring hundreds of people into darkened buildings for instruction. It was not just about being without power for laptops and video screens; it was about safety. No lights to see in hallways and bathrooms. No adequate security and alarm systems. No means of communication in case of emergency.
Nevertheless, we learned a lot in the dark. For one thing, we were forced to face the reality that electrical power is so woven into our lives that being without it is not only inconvenient, but potentially life threatening. Food quickly spoils, medicines go bad, systems start to fail, and evildoers have the cover of darkness.
Our homes are largely uninhabitable without power over days. Our institutions are often reduced to darkened buildings. Phones go unanswered, computers no longer compute. Basic and emergency services are, as the military says, lean on the ground. Communication is itself a problem. How do people without power check for information on the Internet? Cell phones quickly die, and folks are seen charging phones in cars -- assuming that the cell systems work anyway.
The usual entertainments of the digital age go dead, and the elegant pleasure of reading a book becomes difficult. Reading by candlelight is nostalgic, but not easy. The legacy of scholars, readers, and writers of previous eras -- all before the electric light -- grows more impressive.
People go outside and sit in what remains of the natural light. Our homes and buildings seem designed more to keep that light out, rather than to let it in. Why did we not notice this before?
We have grown dependent on electrical power, and there appears to be no turning back. Given the choice, there is no way we are going to return to a day without electric lights, ventilators in hospitals, traffic lights at intersections, air conditioning, computers, and air traffic control.
There is no going back. Electricity is now basic to our way of life -- to cities and farms, to hygiene and health, to eating and cooking, to even how we can communicate with each other. We find this out in the dark.
Folks who want us to cut back on energy consumption and to develop alternative energy sources -- both worthy goals -- go on the electronic media to make their case against reliance on electricity. We can certainly learn to save energy, but it does not appear that we can function well without it.
Now, for most of our campus, the power is back. Still, well over 150,000 homes and businesses, including many involving our friends, faculty, and neighbors, remain without power -- perhaps for some time. Area schools remain out of session and nerves are growing frayed.
The Lord, as the Bible says, causes it to rain on both the just and the unjust. Churches and taverns are both dark. Darkness fell on those doing good and those doing evil. The difference may not be evident again until the lights come back on.
In John 9:4, Jesus tells his disciples, "We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work."
This week, that verse has taken on a whole new meaning.

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Taking Shelter in His Massive Sovereignty"

photo courtesy of
1,000 miles from Galveston, TX, the primary location where the effects of Hurricane Ike have been felt, this massive storm unexpectedly made its presence known when it collided with another storm system. I look at the image above of Galveston, look at the damage our city here has suffered, and all I can do is thank the Lord. After what we have witnessed here in Louisville since Sunday, I absolutely cannot imagine the horror of hunkering down in the face of even more ominous winds. We were spared much, but also reminded of both the Lord's provision and His sovereign power over the greatest of storms.

~Pictures below were taken yesterday at our complex, the first one from a news source and the others from my camera~

Less than an hour after arriving home from church on Sunday afternoon, the power was out and we had the weather radio tuned in to receive any updates they could offer. The abrupt arrival of the storm sent us into a flurry of wondering what we were going to do, planning on how to salvage our food, all the while trying our best not to worry or panic. As the next couple of hours creeped by, we began hearing the specific details of what was taking place outside beyond the safety of our four walls. Our unexpecting city sustained 70mph winds for an hour straight, at times gusting up to 80mph, against the backdrop of a clear blue sky with not a drop of rain. People began calling in with the reports of downed trees and power lines, and by around 5:00pm they had the approximate total - 280,000 people in Louisville were without power. As the late afternoon wore on, my tendency toward worry and impatience continued to be tested...

Local officials were asking all residents to stay put unless an emergency called for getting out on the roads. We heeded the warning, but the question lingered as to how long the power would be out and what we should do with our newly-stocked refridgerator. We decided to brave the dark, debris-covered roads in search of ice. You don't realize just how crucial the glow of traffic lights are until you don't have them. The busiest of streets in Louisville had no lights, so it felt as if every vehicle was at one another's mercy in order to see. We spent the rest of the evening after arriving home getting our ice chest and freezer filled with as much ice as would fit in order to preserve whatever we could. In the background, long after the sun had set, we heard the radion station give the latest update -- it could take up to a week for residents to have power restored... As my husband and I were settling down on the couches for what we hoped would be a restful night's sleep (our upstairs gets very stuffy without any air conditioning), our minds were still reeling over the "what if" questions. Then, at 3:00 in the morning, we were ripped from our sleep from the lamps and TV coming back on. The relief at the light and sound were enough to move me to tears.

I didn't find out until coming in for work yesterday morning that we are the only ones I know of who lost power and had it restored. Everyone else I have spoken with who lost power on Sunday are still without. I have heard countless conversations about families staying with other families, creative ideas on how to preserve food, and one of our friends invited us for dinner last night as he was cooking over his dutch ovens what would otherwise spoil. All but two of the traffic lights I drive through while coming to work are still out, and the scenes of trees laying in yards and on roofs is hard to take in. We have been completely overwhelmed the past 48 hours at the magnitude of a storm that first made landfall 1,000 miles from here. Who would have anticipated winds of such a level turning our city upside down? In an instant we were completely powerless with no answer as to when things would return to normalcy. I couldn't help but think of those on the Gulf coast, trying to imagine what damage those residents have sustained in comparison to what we have. I have also thought about the families in Louisville who are still without power, those with children to care for, and wondering how they are doing with this incredible weight that has been placed on their shoulders.

We are some of the few I know who had the ability to brew coffee this morning. I was able to prepare for work this morning with the lights in the bathroom, rather than by dim candlelight. I am able to write this morning because the IT department at my company worked around the clock to ensure that our systems would be restored. We are some of the few who aren't frantically lined up at grocery stores wondering what kinds of food to buy over the next few days or how to preserve the fresh food bought just days prior to the storm. My mind has been reeling with such thoughts since Sunday, and all of this under the comfort of the Lord's sovereignty. He is good and He is near even when all seems lost. He displayed a measure of grace to us in that our power was unexpectedly restored much earlier than that of countless others, and showed His magnificent power over this storm that rocked even us who are twenty hours inland from the coast. I am overwhelmed by how much He has afforded us, and moved by the outpouring of service and support to those still in need.

Lessons learned? Though small and simple as these lessons may sound, we have been shown how quickly the unexpected can occur. We have been shown just how fortunate we truly are, and the utter waste of even the most minor of complaints. We have also learned the value of simple steps to helping others, whether delivering any ice we may have on hand in order that a friend not lose food, or telling a manager at one of the many inundated restaurants in town, "Hey, you're doing a good job." Always have your ears and eyes open to even the smallest ways in which you can help others with the resources you have been afforded. These lessons do often come through such tests and trials, and if that is what the Lord ordained, then we gladly and humbly welcome what He has taught and revealed to us.

"When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer." ~ Corrie ten Boom

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not a Political Ad

The following post was written by Albert Mohler on his blog back in May. He referenced it several days ago when Governor Sarah Palin's name was suddenly thrust into the limelight. I refer to this post with deep respect for a female leader, one who is clearly conservative and more grounded than the tacky media can even comprehend. I don't refer to this to promote some political agenda, though I am firmly convicted that Christians have a responsibility to weigh the principles to which potential government leaders adhere. We are each of us fallen, and were this an ideal world we may not be talking about a woman holding public office. But here we are and ample opportunity has been provided for us to observe the men and women involved in this year's very tense campaign. I can say that I like Sarah Palin, and I don't just mean that I'm fond of her trendy glasses.

Welcome to the World, Trig Paxson Van Palin
A little boy with an extra chromosome was born on April 18. His name is Trig Paxson Van Palin and his new home is the Alaska Governor's Mansion in Juneau. His mom is Governor Sarah Palin, who along with her husband Todd, has welcomed Trig as their second son and fifth child.
Governor Palin has already made a mark on the political scene. A high school basketball star and beauty queen, she was elected Alaska's governor in 2006. She is often mentioned as a potential running mate for Sen. John McCain. The Palins' other children include Track, their oldest son, who now serves in the U.S. Army. They also have three daughters, Bristol, Willow, and Piper.
Trig made news long before he was born, as Alaska's citizens learned that their governor was pregnant. Then, for the Palins, the story got more complicated.
This past December, Sarah Palin was told that her baby was likely to have Down syndrome -- just one extra chromosome.
As the Associated Press reports:
The doctor's announcement in December, when Palin was four months pregnant, presented her with a possible life- and career-changing development.
"I've never had problems with my other pregnancies, so I was shocked," said Palin.
"It took a while to open up the book that the doctor gave me about children with Down syndrome, and a while to log on to the Web site and start reading facts about the situation."
When he was told, Todd Palin quickly said, "We shouldn't be asking, 'Why us?' We should be saying, 'Well, why not us?'"

The Palins never considered aborting the baby. That means that Trig Palin is now is a very rare group of very special children, because it is now believed that the vast majority of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome before birth are being aborted.
Modern diagnostic tests are driving a "search and destroy mission" to eliminate babies judged to be inferior, disabled, or deformed. Some experts now believe that up to 90 percent of all pregnancies diagnosed as having a likelihood of Down syndrome end in abortion.
Back in 2005, ethicist George Neumayr commented: "Each year in America fewer and fewer disabled infants are born. The reason is eugenic abortion. Doctors and their patients use prenatal technology to screen unborn children for disabilities, then they use that information to abort a high percentage of them. Without much scrutiny or debate, a eugenics designed to weed out the disabled has become commonplace."
The Palins would not even consider aborting their baby. "We've both been very vocal about being pro-life," Governor Palin said. "We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential."
She loves her baby boy and is proud of him. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin told the Associated Press. "Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"
Some ethicists now go so far as to argue for a "duty" to abort a baby with a Down diagnosis. This is an assault upon the dignity of every human being. The fact that so few Down syndrome babies now make it to birth is a sign that America is making its own pact with the Culture of Death.
Trig Paxson Van Palin has an extra chromosome, two proud and loving parents, four very happy siblings, and he will bring his own joy to untold numbers of lives.
He will face some unique challenges, but he has a loving family who will face those with him. They will learn together the wonder and beauty of a Down syndrome child and will learn to see the glory of God in his trusting face.
Mothers Day 2008 is certain to be a special day in the Alaska Governor's Mansion. What an unspeakable tragedy that so many other homes will have aborted that joy.
Welcome to the world, Trig Paxson Van Palin. Your very existence defies the Culture of Death and gives us all hope.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Song for Sunday

Speak, O Lord
Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.
Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of Your purity.
Cause our faith to rise; cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow'r that can never fail—
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.
Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of Your plans for us—
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we'll stand on Your promises,
And by faith we'll walk as You walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till Your church is built
And the earth is filled with Your glory.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Long-Awaited Sigh of Relief

While checking my email yesterday after work, I noticed that there was a new one in my inbox from my mother-in-law. Needless to say, friends and family all breathed a sigh of relief as we heard the news we have been anticipating. Short and sweet, here is the email she sent:
Well, my lady friends, I just wanted to let you know that I took my last Herceptin treatment today. The doctor said the year had passed by so fast. I informed him that the speed of the passing year was dependent upon which side of the treatments one was on! Anyway, I wanted to let you know that this phase of my battle is behind me. I want to thank each one of you for supporting, encouraging, and praying for me. You will never know what each of you has meant to my recovery. I feel truly blessed to have had so many in my corner all these months. Thanks again and God bless each of you.
Love, C
I am convinced that I have the greatest mother-in-law in the world. She truly showed her strength during what was an often excruciating season. After this, her second round of cancer, I have more love, respect and admiration for her than ever before (which I didn't really think was possible!). Everyone who knows her is blessed, and praise the Lord for His nearness in the valleys and His presence when a new day finally dawns.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Good Time for Good Fellowship

This weekend proved the ideal opportunity for some much needed rest. I went into the long weekend with heavy thoughts I was struggling to even process. Unexpected news was received from one of my doctors on Friday afternoon, just before the workday ended, news that remained uncertain as I looked forward to a few days of rest and sweet fellowship. Saturday was the perfect day to spend at Scrap Mania with my favorite scrapbooking ladies, and my husband commented that he was glad I was able to go in order to get my mind off all of the things going on. It was all I hoped for: fun, productive, and a sweet time with this small group of women. We then spent Sunday resting at home and preparing for the next day's event -- Labor Day cookout at the Party Palace!
Monday was blazing, but some still opted to play outdoors the whole time. I learned over the course of the evening that I am not good at Corn Hole, once again proving that I truly am athletically challenged!Most of the ladies were smart and chatted indoors~

Nate & Sara (enjoying little Anson's nap)
Here are some of the men (including my handsome husband!) discussing everything from swords to...well, I mostly heard them talking about swords~

The youngest of the Party Palace Pack was in a very silly mood. Have you had much experience around a small child who is being silly, then realizes they're being silly, so they start saying or doing the same thing over and over? My stomach hurt I was laughing so hard~

This is MOST of the Party Palace Pack! Dr. P & and the oldest son aren't in the picture, but Wooster managed to sneak in for a cute photo opportunity~

BEFE - Best Elbow Friends Forever! (Nate volunteered to take this picture of us, but got a beautiful shot of our elbows on the first attempt)

The day wasn't complete without having a picture taken of us. And a Labor Day cookout isn't quite the same unless everyone is sweaty and exhausted from all the fun. We truly enjoyed the fellowship, as it did provide the encouragement of fellowship we were looking forward to. I've said it before, and I will say it again; we are so thankful for this little church body the Lord has so clearly and richly provided.