Monday, December 11, 2006

Rough Weekend

Thursday, John felt very constipated. By 8:00, he was in an ambulance, heading toward the emergency room. His cousin drove me in. I'll leave out all the details, but after 11 hours they determined that the blockage was way up level with his kidney. They couldn't do surgery because of his breathing problems, so they would need to keep him for a day or two. Ha! It's now Monday, and he's just now on his way home.

My purpose in writing here is to muse randomly on some of the things the Lord did with me during this whole ordeal. Primarily, He let me see that I'm not quite as dependent on John as I thought I was. I'm not as independent as I was back in California, but I did much better than I expected myself to do. He provided people to help me, and I got very good care. I pray that I can build a stronger network of friends here, in case anything even more serious ever happens to John. But watching the Lord provide for me has strengthened my faith regarding the future.

Prayer has been very interesting throught this journey, too. Often, I catch myself using prayer as a means of manipulating circumstances, rather than simply making my requests known to Him and trusting Him to respond according to His will. All my studies on predestination and His sovereignty last month have really helped me trust His wisdom, even when (especially when?) things don't go as I think they should. The peace in me surprised me. The Lord had His purposes in this situation, and I rested in that knowledge.

Also, He gave me grace to pray for other people. As I left the emergency room Friday morning, I saw a woman in the waiting room who had come in seven hours earlier. (Most of that time, I was able to be with John, rather than in the waiting room.) When she first came in, she was relaxed enough to sleep in her seat. But seven hours later, she sat wide awake, her face riddled with worry, sadness and emotional pain. How could I not pray for her? All weekend, I've had times of praying for situations other than the one with John, ranging from the kids' Christmas play at church to the war in Iraq. It's been encouraging to see God lift me out of self-centeredness!

I'm not eager for John to go through anything like this again, but I'm so blessed by the fellowship I had with the Lord. Psalm 56:3 was my anchor Scripture:

Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Divine Romance

Today's email from ChristianityToday.com featured a column that addresses one of my pet peeves.If you'll click this link to http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/december/17.56.html, you'll read about the teaching that Jesus is Husband to single Christian women.

During my long years of being unmarried, I often received counsel to let Jesus be my Husband. On occassion, I sincerely tried to implement that counsel, only to feel like a spiritual failure when my desires for an earthly husband returned. The truth is that Jesus indeed wanted me to long for a husband, because He had John waiting for me! He never meant for me to diminish the image of Him as Bridegroom of the Church into a means of soothing my emotional turmoil. Rather, He simply wanted me to trust Him. He knew what He would do once I got connected to the Internet.

Of course, John can't meet all my needs. I do need to trust Jesus as my ultimate Provider. But He meets my needs for a husband through John, not through quasi-spiritual experiences between Him and me! Scripture teaches that He is the Church's Bridegroom, and that human marriage reflects His union with the Church. To misapply Scripture in an effort to ease the pain of singleness is at best misguided.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Wonder of Christmas

I decided to break from studying election, predestination and God's sovereignity (at least for now) to study aspects of Christmas. I'm completely amazed by the Incarnation. Have you noticed how many people talk about "the wonder of Christmas" without understanding that the real wonder is God made flesh? And yet, the more you think about it, the more amazing it gets, don't you think? I just love thinking about Almighty God needing to be breastfed. What awe Mary must have felt!

The resource I'm currently using comes from http://www.bible.org. Bob Deffinbaugh of Dallas Theological Seminary wrote a series examining the Incarnation, in which he observes the link between the Incarnation and the Atonement. Those who deny that Jesus is God in the flesh also generally deny that His death on the cross provides sufficient atonement for sin.
Studying Scripture only deepens my awe of Who Jesus is and what He did for us! What a wonderful demonstration of love!

Monday, December 4, 2006

First Snow of the Winter


On general principle, I hate snow. Even when our town shovels the sidewalks, the snow gets piled up at the curb-cuts, so wheelchair users can't cross the streets. That makes for very long winters, especially after doing as much as we did this past summer and fall.
And as you'll remember (the photo upper-left may jog memories), New England had a glorious autumn! My mother-in-law has lived in the Greater Boston Area all her life, and she says she can't remember a fall as spectacular as this!
So I wasn't too eager to see "the evil white stuff" this morning. But, you know?--it wasn't bad. John had to rush to snap the picture below because it started to melt so quickly. I could get to like snow like we had today!



Saturday, November 25, 2006

God's In Control

Lately, I've been studying doctrines like election, predestination, and the sovereignty of God. Far from being dry and academic, this study has really given me peace, especially in the wake of the November 7 elections. I'm learning that the Lord has a broader plan than what I can see with my human limitations. It's so much easier to trust Him since I've been immersing myself in Scriptures that deal with these topics.

I've always been more Arminian than Calvinist. Looking back, I believe Arminian theology attracted me because it allowed me to take credit for accepting God's gift of salvation. But now I believe that I contributed nothing to my salvation. The Lord even gave me the faith I need to accept the shed blood of Jesus as my only passport to eternity with Him. I no longer fear losing my salvation because it's the Holy Spirit's responsibility to hold me.

I wish my feeble words could convey my joy in learning just how strong my Savior is!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Photo Becomes Art

Not surprisingly, I decided to play around with a photo John took in New Hampshire. I really like the results!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More New Hampshire Pictures

First view of the lake
The trees were so tall!
Not quite the Redwoods I was used to in California,
but still evidence of our magnificent Creator.

This pair of wild turkeys that roamed about the camp didn't like having their picture taken, but John prevailed using the zoom lens on his digital camera.

Isn't this view of the lake inspiring? Even looking at this photo makes me want to worship the Lord Jesus Christ!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Honeymoon Photos

John found this balcony for us to use in our Saturday morning discussion
Garreth and Heather Bowie
our volunteers

Speaker Willie Batson and wife Cindy


Balcony View

Weekend In New Hampshire

This past weekend, two ministries of Vision New England (Vision New England Disability Ministries and Family Builders) combined forces to put on a Couples Retreat for married couples with one or both spouses having a disability. The Lord opened doors for me and John to attend, which was special because we'd never gone away together. We consider it our belated honeymoon.

We stayed at the Barbara C. Harris Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire, a fully wheelchair accessible facility overlooking a lake. What a splended campsite! Our room was spacious, comfortable, and well-suited to our various needs. I loved the woods, dressed in the fading colors of a New England autum. The weather was uncharacteristically mild, which only enhanced everyone's sense of worship.

Willie Batson, the founder of Family Builders Ministries, taught on the theme, "A Chord Of Three Strands Is Not Easily Broken." Of course, Jesus is the central strand in a Christian marriage, so Willie identified three aspects of our relationships that can reflect the Lord: Friendship, Grace and Determination.He used the book of Ruth to demonstrate how those qualities can work themselves in marriage. The most profound point he made was that God's purpose in marriage is to display His glory to those who watch the couple.

A young couple from Maine, Garreth and Heather Bowie, volunteered to serve as our attendants for the weekend. They were very attentive, and yet gave us privacy. The Lord matched us well with them.

I praise the Lord for blessing us with such a wonderful weekend! Waiting four and a half years for a honeymoon was well worth it!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Disappointed, But Trusting God

Of course I wish yesterday's election had gone much differently. I believe our country is going to change radically as a result, and I'm not sure those changes will please the Democrats once those changes are taken to their logical conclusions. I'll have more time to elaborate on my beliefs in coming posts, but tonight I just want to say that I believe our country made dangerous decisions yesterday.

Having said so, I also believe God is in control. As He allows us to suffer serious consquences for how we voted, He will work with American Christians to purify us. Again, I'll cite specifics in future entries. I do know that He has His purposes in this election, even if I don't understand most of those purposes. I will honor my Democratic leaders by praying for them. And I'll trust the Lord for America's future,

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Pretty Picture


Those of you who've been reading my blog since July will recognize this little girl. Last night and today I drew the window and curtains, using one of John's photos for the view outside. Hope you'll enjoy the results as much as I enjoyed creating the picture. If creating digital art is this much fun for me, can you imagine how much fun the Lord must have had creating the heavens and the earth?

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Decision 2006

I've shared many photographs in this blog that John took at various points on Boston's Freedom Trail during our adventures this past summer, and many of those who know us personally have remarked on how neat it is that we've had the opportunity to visit these places. And it is! But I think our summer has done far more that merely provide us with memorable adventures. Rather, it has deepened my conviction that the liberties the early colonists fought and died to bestow on us must be treasured.

Frankly, I don't believe political liberals understand that many of their policies could jeopardize the freedoms that exacted such a cost during the Revolutionary War. Advocates of gay rights and abortion, for example, seek to silence those of us who wish to preserve the Christian morals that men like John Winthrop wanted the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (and, I'm sure, the entire United States) to uphold. Those who don't recognize that our presense in Iraq is crucial in protecting us from terrorists forget that giving our country to radical Muslims will, ironically, make homosexually a capital offense and strip women of far more than "reproductive rights."

This election will determine whether or not America retains the precious freedoms won by the heroes who lie in burial grounds throughout New England. Out of respect for these brave men, please vote on November 7.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Second Attempt

I looked at a few Paint Shop Pro tutorials on drawing drapes, and combined them with some ideas of my own. I'm very pleased with the results:

First Attempt

Yesterday I made my first attempt at drawing a curtained window to frame one of John's photographs. John's more pleased with the results than I am, but it's not bad for my first attempt.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Just Experimenting

We were waiting for company this afternoon, so I randomly chose one of John's photographs taken two years ago, and played around with it in Paint Shop Pro. I didn't expect to actually come up with something! But I like what happened!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Outside Our Windows

The colors outside our apartment have always been splendid in October, but this autumn they're especially beautiful! We live on the third floor of our building, and both our living room and bedroom windows look out over a section of woods. I love looking out over the trees, and this past week I've relished the view even more than usual!

The photo on your right is from our window in the living room. A few weeks ago, they trimmed some branches from the birch tree right in front of this window, so now we can see even more of the woods. It's so nice to look out this window and see the variety of trees that the Lord planted here. When I get too thrilled with my digital art, this view reminds me that He is the real artist, and nothing I can paint comes close to His creation!

Below is the view from our bedroom, which I think is even more spectacular than the one from the living room. What a delight to begin my day praying with John and looking at these dramatic colors! Sometimes this view reminds me that the same Jesus who painted these amazing living pictures outside our windows will be faithful to care for me and John.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Reminder


I haven't shared any of my art lately, so I thought this little guy would bring some joy to you. His message is something all of us need to remember.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Amazing Fall

Yesterday, the temps were in the high 70's. Who could waste such gorgeous weather by staying indoors, especially knowing it would probably be the last really nice day until April? Certainly, John and I wanted to enjoy it! So we wheeled to a little park here in town, and snapped this picture at the small pond.

Before we could get the camera out, however, a large bird flew out from the trees and passed by over head. It looked like some kind of crane. We don't think cranes are indigenous to New England; John surmised that it was migrating south for the winter. Pretty exciting to see it, though!

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Birthday with Paul Revere--The Sequel

As I was saying, from Paul Revere's house, we followed the Freedom Trail to Revere Mall, just in back of the Old North Church.The centerpiece of the Mall is a bronze sculpture of Paul Revere, riding out from the church to warn that the British were coming to attack Patriot troops in Concord and Lexington. We crossed into the church courtyard itself, but saw only stairs up to the church. However, since we saw cars driving in front of the church, we wheeled our chairs around the block so that I could see the front of the building. We were both pretty sure there wouldn't be wheelchair access.

We were both pretty wrong. Happily, a lovely brick ramp went up to the door, and we wheeled inside with confidence. Once inside, we learned that Old North Chuch is the oldest church in Boston. Originally built by Puritans, it had become an Anglican (or Loyalist) church by Paul Revere's time. Therefore, it's ironic that the Patriots used its steeple to hang the lanterns that signaled the British troops' invasion from the Charles River. But as you can see in the above photo, the Belfry Steeple was the highest point in Colonial Boston, and therefore the most strategic point to hang the warning lanterns.

The lanterns were hung in the Belfry, not by Revere, but by Robert Newman. Newman was the church janitor, though he was denominationally a Puritan (he worked for the church in order to feed his wife and children). As janitor, he had the keys to the church. When intelligence discovered that British forces were coming by means of the river, he climbed the stairs behind the organ (pictured below) and up to the top of the Belfry.

The British naturally could see the lanterns also, and knew pretty much what they signified. They came to the church, but found it locked. By the time they broke in, Newman had escaped through a window in the sanctuary. He was arrested a few days later on charges of treason against the king. But the open window led to his acquittal, since it could have easily been opened by a Patriot breaking INTO the church.

I look forward to more adventures on the Freedom Trail next summer!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Birthday with Paul Revere


Even though my birthday's actually tomorrow, the weather forecasts and other scheduling considerations made it necessary to do my birthday adventure yesterday. Using buses and subways, we followed the Freedom Trail from Haymarket Station to Boston's North End, where we visited the home of Paul Revere.

This house was built in 1680, so Paul Revere wasn't its original owner. The exterior of the house has been restored pretty much to its 1680 appearance. When the Reveres owned it, the colors outside were brighter (probably yellow with red trim, according to drawings the docent showed us), and there was a third story dormer where, at various times (but never all at once) his sixteen children slept. Revere's first wife (Sarah) died soon after the birth of their eighth child. For months later, as was typical for Puritan widowers who had children that needed care, Revere married Rachel and fathered eight more children.

Using a very steep portable ramp, we managed to go inside the ground floor of the house. Sorry to say, photography isn't permitted inside. It's a small house by 21st Century standards, each floor having but two rooms. Each room was the size of a modern apartment's living room, however. Bedrooms included a sitting or dining area, where people entertained guests. A family as well off as the Reveres (who made a fair amount of money from Paul's silversmithing) usually had one very nice bed in the master bedroom, so they liked their guests to see it in much the way people now like guests to see their Plasma TVs.

After leaving the Revere House, we followed the Freedom Trail to the Old North Church, from whence Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride in 1775 warning that the British were coming. But I'll save that for my next entry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Good Spiritual Food

I used to believe contemporary praise music (notice I didn't say "worship," because worship encompases so much more than singing comtemporary praise songs) was the most important part of church. Singing them does open me up emotionally, and I know there have been instances when God used those emotions to keep me from falling away from Him. So I greatly appreciate contemporary praise songs.
But now I'm so, so glad to be in a church that worships through contemporary praise songs, hymns and solid preaching. Of the three, I now find contemporary praise songs the least effective in promoting true worship in me. Firstly, I find myself feeling prideful that I'm raising my hands and feeling spiritual emotions. Such pride is hardly true worship!
Secondly, I am increasingly aware that that contemporary praise music appeals more to my feelings than to my mind. At times, that's good, but it doesn't give me balanced spiritual nourishment. Hymns and preaching feed me the doctrine that causes me to grow. We know the Lord through Scripture, and only afterward through emotional experience. Contemporary praise music is a delicious dessert, complementing the balanced diet of hymns and expository preaching.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

History--United States, Holocaust and Personal

Walter and I have been friends since 1972, when he accepted Christ through our church back in California. He grew up in Wesson, just east of Boston, so he's been out here this week to attend his high school reunion (I'll be polite and refrain from saying which reunion) and visiting his brother. He graciously set Monday aside to spend with us. Of course, his visit merely gave me and John an excuse for another one of our adventures!

We began by taking the ferry from Quincy to Long Wharf. Our first stop was Quincy Market, where we ate something that was advertised as Authentic Mexican Food. If that's authentic, I'm Abigail Adams! Oh well, during lunch Walter caught me up on news from back home. It's always good to hear how people there are doing. We told John a few old stories, and showed him pictures of Walter's wife, daughters and granddaughter.

From there, we visited the musuem at Fanueil Hall. I was most impressed by a cannonball from the Battle of Bunker Hill. It's about the size of a soft ball. Kind of exciting seeing that!

Next we went through the Holocaust Memorial, which is always very painful, but important. As I read how so many nations minimized or ignored Hitler's actions until he had killed far too many people, I hoped the world would not ignore al Qeada's threat to the world today. I wish more people could go through this memorial and make the connection between the two eras.

After the Memorial, we went to the Old South Meeting House, which the Puritans had established in 1729. On December 16, 1773, colonists met there to protest England's tea tax...and hatched the idea for the Boston Tea Party.

All in all, it was a wonderful day. I hope more friends from my past will visit and give me and John an excuse for more adventures.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bargain Huntress


Wednesday, clutching the "Shopping Spree" money that John had given me as an anniversary gift, we took the Red Line to Downtown Crossing and visited the clearance racks at TJ MAXX. Here's two of the three pieces I got.

Sweater (originally priced at $59): $7
Skirt: $15
Feeling I got from sniffing out good bargains: PRICELESS!

Monday, September 11, 2006

We Must Remember

Five years ago, I responded to Al Qeda's attack on America by confessing sin in my own life, and urging my loved ones to get right with God. I didn't see the attacks in and of themselves as being God's judgement on America, but as a reminder of the judgement our nation deserves. For a while, people did start thinking about the Lord. Church attendance across the country rose, and people actually wanted God to bless America.

But five years later, God is once again unwelcome in our country. Few people attend church, and those of us who do dabble in sin. Myself included. We avoid sermons on repentance, hell and judgement, instead gravitating to prosperity theology and Christian psycho-babble. We rationalize sin by distorting the doctrines of grace and forgiveness. Jesus is Savior and Friend without being Lord and Judge.

I watched televised commemorations of 9/11 this morning. I wept for the children who lost parents. I wept over the massive loss of lives. I wept that so many people don't support our president in the war on terror. But mostly, I wept over my own sin.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

After Harvard

Disappointed that Brattle House wasn't preserved as an historical monument, we took the Red Line to Quincy Center. We had to catch a connecting bus back home, but John let me go to nearby Hancock Cemetary to visit a grave that captured my attention four years ago. As you can see, it's worse than eroded--the headstone is broken in two. All identification has worn away. It's only by the emblem staked beside it that we know he fought in the Revolutionary War.

I'm saddened that this man, who sacrificed so much to establish this country, lies so neglected. But I'm even more saddened at how far our country has strayed from the Christian morals and values of our Founding Fathers. Soon, we'll return to Hancock Cemetary...to leave flowers on his grave.

Friday, September 8, 2006

Brattle House

Harvard Education...Of Sorts

We didn't want to waste yesterday's beautiful weather (knowing that the "evil white stuff" will be falling all too soon), so we took a bus to Ashmont Station, and then took the Red Line to Harvard. I really should have turned my wheelchair off inside the University's gates, so I could "pahk my cah in Hahvahd Yahd," but I was too interested in exploring.

I should have done some research before going. I know the Puritans began Harvard for the purpose of educating men for Christian ministry, but I couldn't find any buildings built before the 1800's. The most interesting building we found was Memorial Church, in the center of Harvard Yard. Look at how tall its steeple is!


Sadly, we couldn't take photos inside the sanctuary. It was resplendent, with a huge vaulted ceiling, intricate moulding, and luminous red carpeting. Even the elevator was classy!

After leaving campus, we had lunch at a quasi-Moroccan restaurant called Casablanca. Good, healthy food, by the way! We had lemon chicken, cucumber, yogurt and feta chees wrapped in pita bread with a side of mixed greens (like a salad). On the wall behind the bar was a mural depicting Rick, Sam, Elsa, and the other usual suspects. (Sorry John cut off half of Elsa's face.

Once we'd finished lunch, we went to explore Brattle House, thinking it was preserved as an historical monument. To our disappointment, however, it now houses classrooms and administrative offices for Adult and Continuing Education. Unfortunately, I can't get Blogger to upload any more pictures right now, so I'll continue this narrative next time.

Friday, September 1, 2006

It's All Happening At The Zoo

Although John's birthday isn't till Tuesday, we celebrated yesterday with a trip to Franklin Park Zoo. I can't show you all the photos we took, nor can I relate all the adventures. But I will share about the three exhibits that we enjoyed the most.

I have always loved ostriches because of their flirtatous eyes. So we were delighted to see one right away. He had no problem posing for John, as you can see! Isn't he marvelous? He kept biting at the fence; I'm not sure if he was attempting a jail-break, or if it tasted good. But we sure enjoyed visiting him!

John knew I like giraffes, so he steered me to their habitat. We got very close to one of them. A younger giraff was nearby, so I'm wondering if the one we photographed was the mama. She didn't seem overly thrilled about being photographed, but she did her duty. Wow! These animals are 19 feet tall! I just love being around them!

One of the most interesting exhibits was Butterfly Landing, a huge tent housing a beautiful flower garden and several species of butterflies. It's a very serene garden, with soothing music, a Japanese footbridge, and a little waterfall.

We were thankful that this zoo doesn't push evolution down people's throats. John and I could enjoy God's creatures freely, rejoicing in His sense of beauty and variety.


Oh...please note the new framing technique I've just learned.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Encouragement

I was reading comments on my last post, and found a note from a fellow Blogger who calls himself "AliveandKicking." Like me, this man was born with disabilities, but has overcome them. His Blog is brand new, so please visit it at http://disabledbutliving.blogspot.com/ and encourage him to keep writing.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Anniversary on the Beach


Yesterday John and I celebrated our fourth anniversary by going to Nantasket Beach. Our first stop was the Carosuel. It's a wonderful old-fashioned carousel, with wood carved horses. It brought back many happy memories (for me) of the carousel at the San Francisco zoo, even though I always refused to ride the "up and down" horses (I was terrified of falling).

Next, we went to lunch at Raffael's, an elegant restaurant in an equally elegant hotel. We got a table by the window, so we could look out over the water. For lunch we had baked stuffed lobster, roasted potatos, green beans, sparkling mineral water and chocolate mousse. Very good meal, although I had jokingly asked to eat at Daddy Dogs instead. I'm glad John didn't listen. Anyway, we were dressed for Raffael's.


After lunch we wheeled along the beach. The Weather Channel had predicted rain, but the Lord blessed us with absolutely beautiful weather...just warm enough. We found a wheelchair ramp that allowed us to get down to the sand. Of course we stayed on the ramp, but still we got a beautiful view of the waves.

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