Archive for April 2011

God is Good

Saturday, April 30, 2011

I've been hearing that phrase a lot lately. I do agree with it, however, I find it usually follows a story of how everything went the person's way. Rarely does someone convey a tragedy, sadness or pain and end with the explanation that our Heavenly Father is "good." Why is God's goodness dependent on having life turn out to our liking? But it sure seems to be, huh?

Case in point. I was in one of my favorite gift stores a while back. The lady helping me was in her early 40's. As she was wrapping my package, she shared how her oldest was graduating from high school and they went out to celebrate on their boat. She then went on to describe the conversation she and her husband were having (while dancing cheek to cheek on said boat)about how great their life was. I listened as she went on and then she ended with "Yeah, we've really had nothing bad happen to us. No major life issues, no illnesses or accidents. God has been good." Inside I was shouting "Wouldn't he still be good even if you had?? Is that really a blessing? How can you be compassionate to another's trials if you've had none of your own?" It wasn't the time or the place but that conversation stuck with me. So then when I heard a friend utter those words yesterday it brought me back to this scenario.

I know I have fallen victim to that same thinking. If I do this, then my life will turn out perfectly. I'm not sure where that comes from but I'm glad that God (in his GOODNESS) saw fit to save me from myself. I thought that if I was a "good girl" and obeyed all the moral rules, then no harm would ever befall me. I was mad at God for years as I endured disappointment after disappointment. I really expected life to go my way as a reward for my moralistic lifestyle. Instead I dug in my heels and chewed on the fat of my pride when I didn't receive the material blessings I thought I deserved. However, I have learned that the sufferings are His greatest blessings. And through those sufferings, is when the goodness of God really shines through. And our response shows the world where our peace lies.

I love these lyrics from the Mercy Me song "Bring the Rain"

"I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise you after all that I've been through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?"

Or do they change who HE is? Never. He IS good. All the time.

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Short Cast-finally!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

After three LONG weeks of excessive itching that couldn't be scratched, missing out on swimming, bowling, biking or anything else that required two arms, Ben is one step closer to freedom. Last week he "upgraded down" to a short cast glowing in his soccer team color of purple. We have now changed the kitchen chalkboard to a countdown to being cast-free. Twenty more days!

The other party took responsibility for his crime.

I guess you could call it "Huskies purple" too-if you were a "Husky."



Monday, April 18, 2011

When Trey proposed marriage almost 20 years ago we were in a quandry about many of the wedding details. We had been living in Maryland just 8 months but had begun dating while back in Seattle. We didn't have a home church and thought it made more sense to get married where I grew up. The tricky part was where to have the ceremony and who to marry us. Earlier in our courtship we attended Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, Washington and quickly fell in love with Pastor Ken Hutcherson-a former NFL linebacker-turned-preacher who was larger than life. He was the kind of man who told it like it was, loved God with all his heart and soul and spoke tenderly about his wife and children. We knew it was a long shot but we sent him a letter (way before email was an option) asking if he would consider performing our ceremony. Surprisingly, he agreed as long as we committed to pre-marital counseling at a local church. I say "surprisingly" because I'm certain we weren't the only ones asking for favors. His church was growing by leaps and bounds and he was in high demand. While preparing for the big day, we didn't give it much thought as to the impact this man would have on our guests. In typical 24-year-old fashion we were pre-occupied with ourselves, making August 1st, 1992 the most perfect day and sailing off into "happily ever after." Leave it to Hutch to shake it up.

It all started with the rehearsal. Not only had I disappointed my own grandmother by choosing to get married in a Protestant church, but when Trey's 85-year-old southern grandmother walked into the sanctuary and caught sight of "Hutch" at the altar, her first question to her daughter was: "Who is that man?" "He's the minister, Mom." Big sigh. As we practiced for the wedding day, Hutch proceeded to give our entire wedding party a talking to about what he expected from them. No grape juice that might spill on my dress. No whining or fussing and calling attention to themselves about anything. No late arrivals. He made it clear that it was our day and nothing and no one would get in the way of that. He immediately earned respect from the skeptical and redeemed himself with both grandmas. I was a little surprised at how strong he spoke but I trusted his motives. He really did have our best interests in mind.

Judging from his earlier speech, I knew we were in for more of the same during the ceremony. Once again, Hutch did not disappoint. Just before the vows, he gave an amazing description of the significance of using gold as a symbol for the marriage relationship heating up. He sugar coated nothing. He followed with imploring our witnesses to accept that they had just as much responsibility for the success of our marriage as we did. He took nothing lightly and I know his words did not fall on deaf ears. For years to come we heard comments from friends and family that they had never been to a wedding with a pastor like this--ever. Some of our friends even ordered a copy of our video so they could hear his message once again. One couple were inspired to began attending his church and he performed their marriage ceremony shortly thereafter.

Once we moved back to the Northwest, we always talked about wanting to see Hutch again. Living almost two hours away from Kirkland with a busy family made it difficult. We kept up with him through the news. In the past 6-7 years he has becoming a major figure in local politics speaking out about that which he believes is unbiblical. He has made a name for himself beyond the pulpit but, more importantly, he has never compromised his integrity or convictions in the process. Many on the other side would call him a polarizing figure but he is simply a man who will not go down without a fight and will die for his beliefs. Unfortunately, we also learned that this is the path he is currently on. Prostate cancer entered his life 8 years ago and has been slowly ravaging his body. He is a shell of what he used to be physically but his spirit and conviction has only become stronger.

Last weekend, Quinn had a soccer game just miles down the road from Antioch so we took the opportunity to risk that he might be preaching. He was! When we walked in and I saw him sitting in the back of the church prior to the service, it was sobering to see the physical changes He looked at us quizzically and when I said "We're Trey and Dana, you married us 18 years ago," his face lit up and warm hugs followed. It was sooooooo good to see him. We introduced him to the boys and they loved his humor and teasing. Although they were most impressed by the Super Bowl ring displayed on his right hand. (Maybe we can find some spiritual significance in this.) The service was incredible and his preaching as amazing as ever. It was well worth the trip.

Thank you, Hutch for staying true to who you've been called to be. You continue to inspire just as you did for a starry-eyed young couple and their unsuspecting family and friends 18 short years ago. Godspeed, dear friend.

August 1, 1992

Antioch Bible Church
April 10, 2011


On second thought

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So one of my last posts was singing the praises of the community college experience. These first two weeks of spring quarter have made me consider a drastic change in my opinion. What a difference an instructor, a subject and some classmates can make. After coming off the high of a 4.0, a job offer to be a writing tutor on campus (which didn't pan out after all) and my cup full of new knowledge, I must say I am reserving judgment this time around.

If I choose to be "Pollyanna" I would simply say that a lot of it has to do with the fact that: 1.) I am taking courses which are considered humanities requirements that most students are simply trying to endure for 12 weeks; 2.) One of my classes is taught from 5-7:30 in the evening, two nights a week, in a classroom with no windows; 3.) I am the oldest person in both classes so the age diversity I loved last time around doesn't exist; and 4.) I can't expect every single quarter to be stellar.

On the other hand, the more jaded and realistic side of my personality is just plain bummed out. When my instructor assigns reading with no shortage of "f-bombs" and crude dialogue, it's hard for me to jump on board. When the classmate seated behind me tells the teacher if she calls her by a nickname that many others use for her given name, "she will want to throw something at her", I want to find another seat. When the instructor asks a student his opinion of the assignment and he replies "I didn't read it. I forgot." I want to ask, "why are you here?" When I watch the young men and women around me with sadness in their faces and a faraway look in their eyes, it makes me realize how disconnected our culture is from relationship and over connected to laptops and smart phones.

I know I can't change any of what has happened so far and that my hopes might be considered antiquated by today's generation but I still believe it can exist. It makes me all the more determined to foster a classroom community where no one feels like I do. I'll just have to wait 2 more years to do it. In the meantime I will plug along, keep a smile on my face and a bar of soap in my pocket (just kidding).