Sunday, November 29, 2009

Don't I Know You?

Last Tuesday we went to the Salvation Army to help distribute Thanksgiving meals. I worked with some friends from church handing out the food. Each family received a frozen turkey, a sack of potatoes, and a grocery bag filled with stuffing, cranberries, etc. David and the boys helped people carry the heavy items to their cars. If they had cars, that is. Many were on foot.

As he helped a woman to her car, David overheard an exchange that went like this:

woman: "Don't I know you?"

man: "No, ma'am, I don't think so."

woman: "Yes, I am sure I know you!"

man: "I'm sorry, ma'am, but I'm sure we've never met."

woman: "But I am certain I know you! Are you a child of God?"

man: "Well, yes, I am."

woman: "I knew you looked familiar!"

Don't you love the family of God? I agree with that woman, you know. Those who are in God's family share a certain resemblance. We all look a little like Jesus. In fact, the word "Christian" literally means "little Christ." This season, I pray that we all live up to that name.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Therapy

I am not sure which I prefer:

Thanksgiving with a psychologist who actually issued me a diagnosis by the end of the meal (I wonder if he'll send me a bill)...

...or Thanksgiving with my parents, my in-laws, and my gynecologist and his wife all around the same table (may I note that a roasted Turkey with its feet in the air takes on a whole new look when sitting across the table from one's OB/GYN).

I have now officially had both.

I guess you could say that Thanksgiving at my house is never boring; but, the food certainly doesn't get top billing when my mental and/or ovarian health are out there for everyone to chew on.

Actually, I think I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving more than any other event of the year. I love setting the table, cooking the food, lighting the candles, lingering over a long meal with dear friends, and enjoying lively conversation. Oh, and learning that I have a deeply held phobia that originated in childhood. That's always fun, too.

Well, the dishes are done, the left-overs are in the fridge, and the Christmas music is playing. I am now ready to embrace the season of holly, stockings, and eggnog.

And no, I am not going to tell you what my newly named neurosis is. Not yet, anyway.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong!

Okay, so I have been notified by more than one source that I was wrong in my assertion that Thanksgiving does not have a Charlie Brown Special. My own children inform me that I have, indeed, seen said special. My apologies to Snoopy and the gang!

Other things I have been wrong about in my life include (but are not limited to):
  • the lyrics to innumerable songs
  • believing that syrup could be added to spaghetti sauce without detection
  • the idea that an interpretive dance would be a good thing to include in a Christmas Dessert program
  • thinking I would live in my remodeled Spangle farmhouse for the rest of my life
  • that everything is not a race (with two boys, everything IS a race)
  • calling the tall gold robot in Star Wars CP3O
  • the distinction between ENOCH and a EUNUCH in the Bible
  • my ability to play football with the big boys
  • countless dates and times
  • thinking that dish washing liquid could be substituted for dishwasher detergent

I am thankful for the ability to laugh at myself, for gracious friends and family, and for the love of a forgiving God!

Friday, November 20, 2009

This and That

It's that time of year when I am trying to determine if there is a family photo saved in our files that will suffice for our Christmas Card or if I have to beg, bribe, and bully the boys into having one specifically taken for the occasion. 'Tis the season.

Speaking of the season, does it seem to you that an unusual number of people are already listening to Christmas Carols and putting up trees? I am most certainly NOT a scrooge, but I am rather disturbed by the premature decking of the halls. Thanksgiving deserves its due! Crunchy leaves, pumpkin pie, and bulky sweaters must be fully enjoyed before the transition to snowflakes, peppermint, and parkas. Let's hear it for the turkey! I bet if Thanksgiving had a Charlie Brown Special it would get the respect it deserves.

This week we rented the newly released Star Trek Prequel--a totally awesome movie! At one point in the movie a Star Fleet Captain asked the young and rebellious James T. Kirk if he was proud to be the only genius in the county with a criminal record. I was strangely comforted by the realization that smart guys have a certain talent for trouble. You know, because I live with a couple of brilliant boys..., and well, they do have certain talents....

But on another note, have you noticed the fundraising thermometer on the side bar? We are fast approaching the 75% mark, and as of this week , we have exactly 100 donors! We continue to meet with people regularly, and each opportunity that we have to share our story reminds us of the call that God has on our lives and the hope that we have to be in France.

And just in case you haven't seen me in a while, I should let you know that I am now sporting bangs. Not a drastic change, but a change, nonetheless. The day I had it done the boys said to me in total shock, "Mom, what is wrong with your hair?" Not exactly high praise. Oh well. At least they noticed!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wanna have a hot date on Saturday night?

Dear Friends,
You are cordially invited to
a Black Tie Worship Night
on Saturday, November 21
from 6-8 p.m.
at the Black Tie Coffee Company
2910 East 29th
Spokane, WA

The Williamson FOUR for FRANCE will be featured participants in Black Tie's monthly worship night. David will be helping to lead worship, and we will be sharing about our call to France. Black Tie is the Coffee Shop that I blogged about here, and you can visit their blog by clicking here. You will LOVE their yummy drinks and scones, so come hungry! Feel free to bring your friends, particularly those who would like to hear our story.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, November 16, 2009

World Vision Weekend at Life Center

Our church has been going through a sermon series that has focused on poverty, and what, according to scripture, we should do about it.

The series culminated this past weekend, when Rich Stearns and his wife came to Spokane to speak at Life Center Foursquare. Rich is the CEO of World Vision and the author of the book The Hole in Our Gospel. He spoke at all three of our Sunday services, and afterwards, the members of our congregation "adopted" a total of 1,492 children from Swaziland through World Vision sponsorships. We ourselves chose a little girl, Nosipho Marry, who just turned seven years old.

But the excitement of the weekend actually began for me on Saturday. Working with an amazing team, we set 15 tables to host an event for women leaders at our church. Our keynote speaker would be Renee' Stearns, author, advocate for women and children, and beloved wife of Rich. She is also an attorney, a mother of 5, a lover of Krispy Kremes, and a knitter.

I am delighted to say that we exceeded the expected number of participants by almost DOUBLE...we had planed for 120, and we had 225 women attend the event. After a scramble to gather tables and chairs from throughout the church, it was my great privilege to intoduce Renee'.

She was a wonderful speaker: Informed, warm, humble, candid, inspiring, realistic, understanding, hopeful, and passionate. She spoke of personal experiences, shared multiple ways for us to become involved in the war on global poverty, and cautioned us: "Do not to fail to do something just because you cannot do everything." She concluded with the story about the woman who bathed Jesus' feet in perfume. Scripture tells us that this woman would be remembered because she "did what she could." That is all Jesus asks of us. To do what we can.

To conclude the evening, I invited those who attended to engage in a brainstorming session. I introduced the session with these words:

Now, friends, it is our turn to get in the game. I was recently struck by some verses from James chapter 1. James writes this:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

For four weeks we have listened to what God has to say about the poor. Hopefully we have begun to examine ourselves as the mirror of compassion has been held to our eyes. Now the question is, will we merely listen to the Word, or will we do what it says?

If you turn your note sheet over, you will see two columns. The first says, “What can I do?” This is where we are going to start. If we are not willing to use our own personal time, talents, and money to solve the problem of poverty around the world, then we will not be in the position to lead others in that direction. We must first ask the question, “Lord, what do you want ME to do” before we can begin to answer the question, “Lord, what do you want us to do?”

Most dangerous of all is deciding what everyone else should do. After the first sermon that Pastor Joe preached on poverty, I was in the car with my older son, Graham. I had planned to stop on the way home from church and buy him an i-tunes gift card, which he had been asking for for quite some time—just to bless my kid. On the way out of the church parking lot, we were stuck behind a rather large luxury vehicle. My thirteen year old boy, who truly has a heart for the poor, began a very inappropriate tirade about the selfishness of people who drive such cars when there are children starving in the world. He was quite sure that he knew what THEY should be doing with their money. I reminded him that it is best to leave church asking, “God, how would you like for ME to respond to that message?” instead of, “God, how would you like THEM to respond?” He was quiet for a few moments. As we worked our way out to the main road, he asked if I could take the $15 that I was going to spend on his i-tunes card and donate it to World Vision for vaccinations instead. We went home and did just that. At that point, he had not only asked the right question: “Lord, what would you like ME to do?” but, he had also decided to respond in obedience to the answer that he heard.

And so now it is your turn. What is God asking YOU to do? Think locally and globally. Share ideas. Inspire each other. Make real plans. What will YOU do?

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Did you just hear that horrible flushing sound? It was the sound of $700 going down the tubes so that my car can have new rear calipers. I don't even know what a rear caliper is or what it does, but I know that it is stinking expensive.

I can think of about 700 things on which I would rather spend $700! That money could sponsor a child in a third world country for almost 2 years. It could buy a plane ticket to Hawaii. With $700 I could get David the new electric guitar he wants, or fly to Amarillo to visit my sister, or redecorate my bedroom. Think of the shoes I could buy! How many homeless people could that feed? How many Bibles could it translate? How many wigs for cancer patients would it purchase?

But alas, my Diva of a six-year-old car will get her rear calipers.

And I am thankful.

Five years ago we would have had to put this car repair on a credit card. But thanks to Dave Ramsey, the money is sitting in an "emergency fund" for an occassion such as this. An unexpected car repair is not a crisis, just an inconvenience.

We are blessed to have a car, and even more so to have the funds to pay for its upkeep! Did you know that only 7% of the global population owns a car? And we have two.

Want to feel really rich? Then let me share this little known fact that I read in the book The Hole in Our Gospel, by World Vision president, Rich Stearns. Half of the world...50% of the people living TODAY live on less than $2 a day. That, friends, is an annual income that is about equal to the amount of money it will take to fix my car.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recapturing the Wonder

After the opening worship song, Pastor Joe asked us to greet one another before sitting down. I turned behind me to see a weary looking father with three rag-a-muffin little girls. The girls were eagerly shaking hands with my two handsome sons, while the father extended his hand shyly to me. Our eyes never met, but we mumbled perfunctory "good morning"s to each other.

As we sat down a young couple carefully ascended the stairs to the stage to dedicate their baby.

"Ooooohh look at the baby" the whispering began behind me.

"They adopted the baby, Daddy? Is that what he said?"

"No, he said they adopted this baby and now they're going to have another baby," answered the authoritative voice of an older sister.

"Kamayah is her name? That's a pretty name."

"Yes, it's a nice name. I've never heard it before"

"When will they have the other baby?"

"Her tummy isn't even fat yet, it must not be coming soon"

The happy couple returned to their seats, and Pastor Joe began to explain that it was time for communion.

As the band began to play, the whispering behind me continued.

"Daddy, what's communion?"

"Can I take one? What is it? Can we keep the cups?"

"Why do we have to wait to drink it? Can I have your cup, too?"

On and on they kibitzed, to the point of total distraction for me. Not a frustrated distraction, but a wonder-filled distraction. I was having an awakening. I had not realized how completely routine the whole church experience had become for me: Sing a song. Check. Dedicate a baby. Check. Take communion. Check.

But as the excited narrative continued behind me, my eyes began to see the service in a whole new light. Each of these events is holy. Each one has eternal ramifications. And each is beautifully unique to the Christian church. Somehow, I had lost the wonder of it all.

Those girls, whispering in delight over each little piece of the service, HEIGHTENED my appreciation of the weekly worship experience. Not a single detail escaped their notice. Every song was enjoyed. Every spoken word was analyzed. Everything...down to the disposable plastic communion cups, had value in their eyes.

There is an old adage that says "familiarity breeds contempt." As believers we are commanded NOT to give up the habit of meeting together. How can I engage in the "habit" of worship without giving in to the comtempt that comes from familiarity? I don't want a flashier service, or louder music, or more eloquent sermons. But I do want to enter each week with fresh eyes, fresh ears, and heart that expects to be amazed. By God.

Thank you, Lord, for the gracious disturbance that you gave me in those little girls. Help me to become like them.

At that time Jesus said, "I praise you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." Matthew 11:25-26

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pedaling as Fast as I Can

A few weeks ago I decided to quit grumbling about NOT being in France just yet.

The whining came to a screeching halt, and I changed my nagging question from:

"God, when will we get there?!?!"
"What do you have for me today, Lord?"

The answer has been a beautiful buffet of people, programs, and projects. I have embraced the fact that until I am THERE, He wants to use me HERE. When I finally gave up my perpetual pout, He began to show me a purpose in this place. Now, rather than pacing to pass the time while we await our departure, I am pedaling as fast as I can to keep up with all that God has called me to do.

Here are just a few of the opportunities He has given me:

  • I have the JOY of planning an event that could have rippling effects long after I am gone: Renee' Stearns (the wife of World Vision President, Rich Stearns) is going to speak to the women of my church about practical ways that they can engage in the fight against global poverty. I fully expect the evening of this event to be a pivotal moment for the women of Life Center.
  • I have the JOY of co-teaching at a women's Bible Study for a series called "The Frazzled Female." God typically calls me to teach out of my weaknesses, and that will certainly be the case for this study, given that fact that I feel more frazzled than ever! I look forward to learning (while teaching others) how I can "find peace in the midst of everyday life" just like the subtitle promises.
  • I have the JOY of being asked to speak at an outreach Christmas Dessert, where I will give unsaved women the opportunity to make a first-time decision for Christ. Oh to stand on the brink of eternity, reach out a hand, and introduce a lost soul to the love of a gracious Savior! There is nothing sweeter!

So perhaps God did not make a mistake in keeping us here beyond our desired departure date. Perhaps He has even held back supporters from jumping on board until we have completed all that He ordained for us in this place. Perhaps...perhaps...the waiting is every bit as purposeful as the going.

Remind me of this later, will you?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Making Cookies with God

We are a family of recovering perfectionists. Unfortunately, we are not driven to perfectionism in the same domains; ergo, we drive each other perfectly crazy!

Chandler is a perfectionist when it comes to games to grades. Anything less than first place or 100% and he might as well have failed completely.

Graham is a perfectionist when it comes to music and art. Almost nothing he produces meets his own expectations.

David is a perfectionist when it comes to scheduling, banking, and alphabetize-able items being in alphabetical order (i.e. DVDs, CDs, and books (by author first, then by title))--a system I continuously disrupt.

I struggle with perfectionism when it comes to the proper use of prepositions and adverbs, the cleanliness of the kitchen counter top, and the immediate removal of garbage from my car. And a few other minor areas that really aren't worth mentioning.

I believed myself to be furthest along in recovering from my perfectionist tendencies...until yesterday--when I made cookies with Chandler.

Together we made gingersnaps. Sort of. I say, "sort of" because:
  1. We were out of ground ginger (a key ingredient in GINGERsnaps)

  2. Chandler accidentally added double the prescribed amount of ground cloves.

  3. I prefer chewy cookies, so I take measures to ensure that my gingersnaps are not actually snappy (a key feature of the gingerSNAP).

But the fact that our gingersnaps could more accurately be called cloverchews did not bother me in the least. I'm all for adventuresome cooking, and to tell you the truth, the cookies taste delicious!

My perfectionist tendency reared its ugly head over a much more trivial issue.

In our division of labor, I shaped the dough in to one inch balls, and then Chandler rolled the balls in sugar and placed them on the pan. Each time he placed a cookie on the cookie sheet, I was tempted to move it (mere millimeters) so that the spacing of the cookies was exactly even. Chandler's spacing may not have been perfect, but it was without a doubt sufficient for the cookies to bake without touching each other.

In a small victory over the perfectionist monster, I successfully resisted the urge. I did not move a single cookie. I left every one where Chandler put it. But may I confess that it caused a knot in my stomach to put imperfectly spaced cookies in the oven? Why in the world would such a menial thing have the power to cause a physical reaction in me?

Perfectionism is a tool of the enemy. It drives us to selfish pursuits and distracts us from God's purposes. Though the Lord is perfect in every way, He accepts us in our imperfection. He is all about relationship, and demand for perfection from ourselves or others often interferes with true loving relationships.

I think the cookie-making incident is a great analogy. Everyday my Jesus invites me into the kitchen of His kingdom work. He is fully able to do all things without my "help;" nevertheless, He lovingly involves me in His purposes on earth. By allowing me to "help" mistakes abound! Key ingredients go missing, unimportant side ingredients get over-emphasized, and cookies end up all willy-nilly on the pan. And yet, for the sake of RELATIONSHIP--not PERFECT cookies--God lets me work in His eternal kitchen.

Because of His great love, and in spite of my missteps, the result is always sweet. What a joy to make cookies with God.