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A Grand Hotel Desire On A Motel 6 Budget

David and I have the opportunity several times a year to work at a JESUS Film Executive Briefing. These are large, fundraising events for our ministry always held at very swanky places. The hours are long, but the benefits of hearing how God is working in people’s hearts all over the world are amazing. And, on my Motel 6 budget, I’d never get to places like this on my own.

Image 1Our most recent trip was just two weeks ago to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Michigan. I’d never been to Michigan. The Grand was the site of the 1980s film “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The hotel is incredible–126 years old. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the island, so everyone travels by horse or bicycle. It’s idyllic, quiet, peaceful–and cold. It virtually shuts down in the winter when Lake Huron freezes and the only mode of transportation is snowmobile.

Even with a Starbuck’s on the island, I felt as if I had stepped back in time, like Richard Collier in the movie. Oh, there are all the modern conveniences–running water, indoor plumbing, cell phone service–but the quaint Image 2atmosphere devoid of all engine noise (well, there is a small airport) created a sense of peace that I so long for back home. I think if I could, I would live in a place like this–only it would be 75 degrees year round. I’m not really a cold-weather person.

We’ve stayed in other fancy hotels before, but none with the history of the Grand. Apparently, the hotel is owned by a single family rather than a corporation. In fact, one of our JESUS Film Project staff members had a chance encounter with the owner and chairman, Dan Musser, and his children at Sadie’s, the ice cream shop in the hotel, the night before we were to leave. Mr. Musser asked Gabe and Rachel’s young son if he had had some ice cream and, impressed by his enthusiastic answer about the strawberry cone he had consumed, Mr. Musser then gave him a gift card in the shape of a dog bone, good for a free scoop.

Image 3Oh, to sit each night on the porch of the Grand and reflect on God’s goodness while gazing at the water of the lake. In my ordinary world, I would never be able to spend time at such places. But God has blessed us immeasurably to be a part of this ministry and a part of this briefing team that serves at these events. I don’t take it for granted. And when such privileges help bring people into the kingdom of God, it’s incomparable. During this event, and others like it in other locations, our guests pledged to fund new language translations of the JESUS film, projects such as the JESUS Film Media app and tools like motorcycles for film team workers in hard-to-reach countries. Praise God that He has blessed so many people with the income and the hearts to help reach the world for Christ. And praise God that I get to be a part of seeing that happen.

Even if it means having to hang out at places like the Grand.

In Memory Of Those We’ve Lost

american-flag

Because I believe that freedom is not primarily for the privileged, but for the oppressed, and because I believe that the strong are obligated to take up the cause of the weak, and because I believe that those whose voice has not been silenced are duty bound to speak for those who have no say, I will fly my flag proudly today and say thank you to those who have given their lives not only to protect America, but to fight for freedom all over the world.

Hope After The Oklahoma Tornado

found dogI just watched a little clip from an Oklahoma news station (Tornado survivor finds dog during live interview) after the terrible tornado that tore through Moore, Oklahoma and surrounding areas. An elderly woman was talking very matter-of-factly about sitting in a small bathroom with her little dog in her lap when the tornado hit. She did what she was supposed to do, survived the storm, and then called for her little dog. She got no response.

As the reporter continued asking questions, someone on the camera crew notices some movement, or maybe a small sound–it’s hard to tell from the video. But someone notices a dog. As the camera turns, you can just see in the darkness of a hole in the rubble this little, gray miniature Schnauzer face. It’s the woman’s dog. Overjoyed at finding him alive, the woman asks for help uncovering him, and out he walks, probably frightened, a little dirty, but very much alive.

The woman, with softly spoken words of “bless your little bitty heart” to her dog, acknowledges that God didn’t just answer one prayer, by letting her be OK, but He answered both of them. A ray of hope amidst unbelievable destruction. There she stood, amidst the detritus of her former life–her entire neighborhood–and she knows that God is good.

It’s not just a matter of being an optimist, it’s a matter of having faith in a God who has proven Himself over and over again. Yes, bad things happen. But God is good.

And a little dog helps to show it.

Thankful today for:

886. glimmers of hope

887. healing rain

888. 4 more teaching days of school

889. the chance to stay at the Grand Hotel (location for the movie “Somewhere in Time”) in June

890. graduations

photo from CBS.com

Ride Into The Danger Zone–Or What Teaching Seemed To Me To Be

schoolhouseAt the beginning of last year, I set out to list 1,000 things for which I was thankful. I stalled out at 860. As we approach the end of the school year–and my first year of teaching 6th grade–I want to work on completing that list. Today’s are all school related, but the rest won’t necessarily be. Better late than never, so here goes the first of the last:

861. Jenni, my fun and capable co-teacher who has owned the science curriculum
862. Iris, my math teacher, because I would be totally unable to teach that subject, but she loves it
863. An hour at the beginning of each school day to gather my thoughts and consult with the teacher who has taught this curriculum for 16 years
864. 10 bright, happy students who have given their all this year
865. A grace-filled school that understands my limitations but entrusted me with this job anyway
866. That our school is right across the street from my house
867. For relatively little drama in my own house so that I could have the emotional energy to tackle this job
868. The Internet, which allows me to look up information on the fly when I have very little knowledge of the subject I’m teaching
869. My education, which taught me more than I thought about things like ancient civilizations
870. Julie, Michele, Sheryl, Christine, Gigi, Sheri, Cristina, Jo and Jill–my students’ moms who are also my friends
871. Carol, my stupendous teacher’s assistant
873. Mary Alice, the aforementioned previous teacher of this curriculum. Her input saved me many, many times
874. A management team who believed I could do the job
875. My husband, who put up with my hours of lesson planning and paper grading
876. Grace, both to do what I feel incapable of doing and to cover my many mistakes
878. Recess
879. Field trips
880. Latin curriculum so that I have tracks to run on
881. My iPad and Apple TV, which way rock over overhead projectors
882. Shari, our teacher mentor, for her input
883. Flexibility
884. Starting each week with teacher prayer
885. My students, because they’re engaged, fun, good kids with good attitudes and good hearts

That’s all for today. It’s good to look back and remember all the good that has happened. It gives me a renewed breath for looking ahead to next year.

What Modern Technology Does For Prayers

I have had the privilege more in the past couple of years, it seems, to pray for people I don’t know. I’m not just talking about general prayers for all the unsaved people in Asia or Africa, or all the people who were affected by the latest hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc. I’m talking about specific prayers for individuals who have names and stories, but whom I’ve never met.

One of these people is a man named Greg. He and his wife are on staff, as we are, with Cru. I’ve never met them, but their story caught my attention. Nearly two years ago, Greg was the recipient of a new heart. I began praying for him after reading his story on our Campus Crusade for Christ women’s resource web page. Now, I receive email updates whenever there is something to report. Two years later, he’s had a couple of setbacks with his transplant, but he and his wife–and I who have been praying for him–are praising God for his new lease on life.

Another person I pray for is Anna, the adult daughter of a friend of mine. Ten months ago, Anna had her 7th baby. What they thought was going to be a routine delivery ended up being a nearly life-ending tragedy for Anna. I prayed often throughout the days for Anna and her family, that God would spare her. He saw fit to do so when every doctor attending her thought there was no chance. I rejoice with her family at her survival. She still struggles with repercussions, so  I still pray for her as her mom sends updates.

Then, just recently, I prayed for another friend of a friend whose newborn son was born without a trachea. My heart ached for this family who should have been celebrating the birth of their twin sons, but instead held vigil over their one who had little hope of survival. And though this baby outlived all expectations, God took him home just a few short months after his birth.

Currently, I am praying for the 13-year-old daughter of another family I don’t know personally, but they work at Cru headquarters, and we have mutual friends. When this young girl woke up from a routine endoscopy, she couldn’t remember anything; her mind was a total blank. What a weird and scary circumstance. I pray for her everyday, and I am thankful for daily updates that give me specifics.

What all these scenarios have in common, beside the fact that they involve committed followers of Jesus, is that I heard about these needs either via email, Facebook or an internet website. People literally all over the world could be praying for these people within minutes of a posting, whereas previous to these electronic avenues, that would not have been so immediately possible.

Take my sister’s little dog, Luna, for instance. My niece posted on Facebook that Luna had gotten lost a good distance from her home in Kirkland,Washington, and would we please pray for her? Immediately we started praying. We checked for updates and prayed every day. Finally, nearly a week later, I got a text from my niece: Luna has been found! Literally the minute Luna jumped into my sister’s arms, I knew about and could rejoice with her, tears blurring my eyes. And I hadn’t even met this dog. But she is important to my sister and her family, thus she is to me.

Is God different now that there’s an internet? No. But we have always known that prayer changes things. The ability to rally the troops all over the world to petition God for the needs of His saints is powerful. It’s a privilege to pray for these needs, and I’m thankful for the technology that allows me to know about these needs.

Thankful today for:

619. windows open all day

620. a profusion of pink roses

621. the Raiders on TV in Orlando, win or lose

622. companies that stand by their products

623. technology

What’s So Good About It?

Today is called Good Friday. When you think that it’s in commemoration of the day Someone died a violent, torturous death, you might wonder what’s so good about it. Here’s what I think:

The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom giving us free access, through Jesus, to God the Father. No more priests, no more animal sacrifices. When we want to talk to Him, we simply say the words.

My chains are gone; I’ve been set free. My God, My Savior has ransomed me. Amazing. (1 Thess. 1:10 “rescued us from wrath”)

I am no longer a slave to sin and death. Romans 8:1-4: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

I am so, so, so loved “For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

‘Nuff said.

Hallelujah.

Thankful today for:

169. what will be a great gathering of friends at our house on Easter

170. freedom

171. new growth on rose bushes

It’s Nathan’s Big Day!

Today is my middle  child, Nathan’s, 13th birthday. Here he is a few years ago. And really, this is typical Nathan. Goofy and doesn’t care who knows it. (He put on his sister’s pink swim goggles so his eyes wouldn’t tear up while he was chopping an onion.)

This is Nathan just a couple of months ago. He really does have his serious moments, momentary though they are. Nathan is all boy. He loves to read and whack things with sticks. He loves swords and knives and bows. He’s taking a fencing class, and archery, and excelling at both. He hates math, or so he thinks. He has no idea what he wants to do with his life, since he thinks the only things he’s good at are reading and whacking things with sticks.

At one time he thought he wanted to be a missionary adventurer, traveling to exotic places and telling people about God. He loves learning about animals and buying books about animals, but when it comes to actually doing the dirty work of taking care of the animals? Not so much.

He loves God. He loves going to the youth group meetings at our church. He loves Greek mythology and learning Latin in school and studying ancient civilizations.

He’s smart and funny and cute (don’t tell him I said that). When his little sister was a baby and crying about something, he would try to cheer her up by telling her a joke or making funny faces at her. Now, if he hurts her, which is a frequent occurrence, he tries to get her to laugh about some other goofy thing he’s doing.

He tried to lie to me once. Didn’t make it past 10 minutes before he was confessing his crime.

He loves back scratches and Wii Lego Harry Potter. And food. He’ll eat about anything in many unusual combinations.

He’s lovable, irritating, sweet, goofy, moody, easy-going, a bit careful when it comes to trying new things.

He’s Nathan, and I love him to death. Happy 13th birthday, dude.

Today I’m thankful for:

25. Nathan

26. Another night when I don’t have to cook dinner

27. Middle school volcano experiments