Saturday, June 30, 2007

Calvary Love... by Amy Carmichael

If I belittle those whom I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting "Who made thee to differ? And what hast thou that thou hast not received?" then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I find myself taking lapses for granted, "Oh, that's what they always do," "Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like that," then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can write an unkind letter, speak an unkind word, think an unkind thought without grief and shame, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not feel far more for the grieved Savior than for my worried self when troublesome things occur, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can rebuke without a pang, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed me; if I say, "Just what I expected" if a fall occurs, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, "You do not understand," or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other's highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying "Peace, peace," where there is no peace; if I forget the poignant word "Let love be without dissimulation" and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I hold on to choices of any kind, just because they are my choice, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into self-pity and self-sympathy; If I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself, if I am so occupied with myself I rarely have "a heart at leisure from itself," then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my threshold, I do not shut the door, and keep that door shut, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not, forgetting that my sinless Savior trod this path to the end, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitter toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of others elates me and their blame depresses me; if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I crave hungrily to be used to show the way of liberty to a soul in bondage, instead of caring only that it be delivered; if I nurse my disappointment when I fail, instead of asking that to another the word of release may be given, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given room there; if the cup of flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that others are caused to feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

That which I know not, teach Thou me, O Lord, my God.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Loving Reminders From God

I've been crying a lot tonight - whenever I stop yelling at the kids long enough to think and feel. It's almost midnight and I've finally got everyone into bed. Life seems overwhelming sometimes... so much bad stuff in the lives of the people I love and nothing I can do to magically make it all better, as much as I'd like to sometimes.

It reminds me of part of a poem by missionary Amy Carmichael: "If I refuse to allow one who is dear to me to suffer for the sake of Christ, if I do not see such suffering as the greatest honor that can be offered to any follower of the Crucified, then I know nothing of Calvary love."

That's a hard thing to swallow, but it's true. It's not in the easy things, the comfortable things, the fun things, that God draws us closest to Him. It's in the hard, horrible things that we would never choose for ourselves or someone we love. I'm reminded once again that I would make a horrible God :)

Psalm 42:11 spoke to me loud and clear tonight: "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God."

Paul wrote that he was the worst of sinners... I am the worst of wimps. I don't deal well with pain and suffering... really, I'm just a total wimp! Life often overwhelms me with all the crap in the world. But I was reminded tonight of something I often forget, to "Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." A wonderful hymn, one that reminds me, as I so often need reminding, to not look at all the horrible things in this world and grow overwhelmed and discouraged, but to look at my huge wonderful God, to know that He is bigger than it all, and in Him, we have not just hope, but an assurance that He is in control, He loves us more than we can fathom, and in Him, everything WILL be okay... not only okay, but wonderful, in the end. And so I pray once again, "Lord, I do believe; help my unbelief." And God, being far more faithful than me, answers my prayer.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tragedy

I was just talking to my brother online, and he told me Canadian wrestler Chris Benoit had killed his wife, their seven-year-old son and then himself. We live in such a sad, sad world. What leads someone to do that? I understand suicidal depression and getting to a place where you're not in your right mind, and you might make a stupid decision that costs you your own life, but I don't think I will ever understand what possesses someone to take the life of someone they love, especially a child. So tragic... my heart grieves tonight for their families, their fans, and all those who are suffering in similar situations. God help us all.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

What A Night!

Tonight, the kids and I watched a video they had picked out from the church library called "HoopDogz." I wasn't expecting much, quite frankly; it just looked like another kids cartoon about dogs playing basketball and learning a good life lesson. To my surprise and delight, it was hilarious! It's a series by the guys who created "Doug," "Stanley," and "Global Thingy" (which I've actually seen as it's featured on good old Sesame Street), based on the Ten Commandments. This episode "God Good, Idols Bad" was based on the second commandment. What makes this show is the televangelists Chad Dimple and Rebecca Ruth St. Esther Eve - I was laughing my head off - Layni was looking at me like I was crazy. Seriously, you have to watch this show... it's funny and has a point and best of all, it's FUNNY!!!

Unfortunately, after the movie I lost my temper with Layni and yelled at her and threw her toy across the room. It was a ball of yarn that she was pretending was her pet cat, so it's not like anything got broken, but I hate it when I lose my temper. She drives me to it, mind you, but I still don't like it. Here's my list of complaints (for tonight): doesn't listen, doesn't do as she's told, always questions, whines, complains, and is the mouthiest little brat... and so it gets to the point where I lose it and start yelling. This is why I never wanted to have kids, because I thought I'd be a terrible parent! And as soon as I've done it, I regret it and think, why didn't I just take a time-out and breathe or count to ten (or a hundred) or pray... why did I just lose my temper and yell? So, as many times before, I sat down with Layni and apologized for losing my temper and we talked about why I reacted that way and what we could both do in the future to prevent it. Will it make a difference? Maybe for a few days... any advice anybody? Thank God He's the perfect heavenly Father for both me and Layni, and that we have Him to turn to when we screw up (as we so often do!).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm Still Alive

Okay, I've been spending too much time on facebook and not enough time blogging... I really meant to be more faithful about it, but time keeps getting away from me. It's almost 1:00 AM and I need to go to bed. 7:00 AM comes too early, and six hours sleep is just not enough for me... I'm hoping it will be better once school is out, but that's probably a futile hope.

Jolie, Marty and I watched Christopher Guest's latest movie, "For Your Consideration" tonight (thus, why I'm up so late). It was a look at the "Oscar buzz" surrounding a movie and how it affected the actors involved. It had its funny and satirical moments, but didn't delve as deeply into the characters as his other movies. "A Mighty Wind" is still my favourite with "Best in Show" a close runner-up. I need to see "Waiting for Guffman" again; I don't remember it that well.

The past week has been full of excitement for me - can I blame that for why I'm so tired and haven't been blogging? Hee hee. Last Wednesday, our Bible study group threw a surprise party for our leader, Maria, to celebrate her "retirement" after teaching for ten years, as well as her birthday - and we managed to pull it off! (This was our second attempt.) We put together a scrapbook of photos, memories and best wishes, and enjoyed getting together to talk and of course, eat! The chocolate cake Krista supplied was DELICIOUS. It was so good to get together and celebrate this wonderful lady!

Thursday morning was our end of Bible study brunch at Shar's place - more food, talking and laughter. We'll be starting a Max Lucado book in July called "Traveling Light: Releasing Burdens You Were Never Meant to Bear" based on the 23rd Psalm. He is such a simple but profound writer - easy to read, very comforting and encouraging. And I really want to reread Beth Moore's "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things" - I feel like I've only scratched the surface of all there is to learn from that study! Oh, I need more time to do all the reading and studying I want to do!

Friday, I had lunch and great conversation with a lady from my church and a couple friends of hers. I also had supper and visited Clipper Street Scrapbooking Store with a friend on Wednesday night. So it was a great week for socializing but also exhausting! I'm not used to getting out that much :)

Saturday was Layni's Tae Kwon Do demonstration at the Korean Heritage Festival. The rain definitely put a damper on things (haha, I'm so punny!) but we enjoyed seeing the dancers and of course, Layni's martial arts skills. Her grandparents (paternal) also came to see her in action, as well as Jolie, Mattias and me. I swear, we might as well have let Mattias roll around in a mudpuddle - how can one little boy get so dirty and make such a big mess? And I thought Layni was bad!

Sunday was Layni's performance in the Children's Choir at church for the Father's Day service. The whole family came - though Jolie, Marty, Lysa, and Mattias were late and almost missed the whole thing! The perils of being bartenders and working until 3:30 AM. Although they missed one of the choir's three songs, they did make it in time for Layni's duet. Lysa, of course, loved the music - and she's been listening to these songs almost daily for a month. She giggled, squealed and shook her maraca in delight. (That pink maraca has been everywhere in the past few years - her faithful friend!) Mattias and Layni got to show Jolie and Marty the church library before we headed to McDonalds for lunch. I think Jolie finally appreciates how hard it is to get myself and two kids to church relatively on time every Sunday morning (partly so she and Marty can sleep in after their closing shifts). I really am awesome (and so humble)- hee hee!

Monday morning, I got to experience the mayhem that is the Women's Connections planning meeting. Really, just more food, talking and laughter - oh, and planning the next year's monthly Connections meetings for women at the church. We've got some exciting, fun stuff lined up!

Tonight, Jolie and I took the girls for a walk along the dykes. It was gorgeous out (oh yes, it's noteworthy that today we actually got sunshine, Hallelujah!) and we saw lots of birds (including a crane perched up in a tree, which I've never seen before - in the tree, I mean; I've seen cranes before), a turtle swimming along, and a deer. Oh, I love the beauty of God's creation - He's amazing!

I'm currently reading "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" - sadly, I'm probably going to cry when I read the last book. I've heard two major characters are going to die, and I just get way too emotionally involved in the lives of fictional people. Go ahead, mock me if you must. I'm also reading "Sunrise" by Karen Kingsbury (will probably also cry when that series ends) and "The 6th Target" in James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series (probably won't cry in that one, though they are fun and fast reads).

Layni has also gotten into chapter books, mostly involving fairies. It is wonderful to see this kid, who at the beginning of the year hated reading the simplest books and was put into resource reading, and now, she's reading chapter books all by herself for fun. And it keeps her quiet, which is wonderful!

Well, that's the highlights from my life and it's now 1:50 AM - somebody better be reading this blog and appreciate me not sleeping tonight just so I could keep you apprised of my life! Aren't I fabulous? It's definitely bedtime. And I'm not even going to check facebook tonight... it will have to wait for tomorrow. Isn't that strong of me?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Random Bits From the Last Week

Lysa made the secretary at the school cry and impressed all her friends with her "hello." She also made me laugh when she cracked up when I called her a "punk" - for some reason, that was a very funny word at that particular point in time and she laughed her head off every time I called her punk for half an hour. I love that kid - she's hilarious!

Layni's school has been learning hip-hop dances this past week and performed on Friday. Layni was very cute in her pigtails and Maxim Golf Experience visor which she borrowed from Mommy... hopefully none of the kids know what Maxim is. They did a fabulous job and were all so cute - even Lysa got into the act by being twirled in circles during one part of the performance, which made her scream with laughter - she's so freaking adorable!

It was Carnival night at Kids Night Out at church on Thursday. I heard there was going to be cupcakes so I accompanied Layni :) Aren't I great to take such an interest in her activities? Haha! It was really a pick-me-up for me in a down week... I had at least as much fun as the kids. I wore Layni's crazy balloon hat, looked like a drunk as I tried to Pin the Man on the Trail (they didn't have a donkey), won a cupcake in the cupcake walk, got three in and won a gumball at the beanbag toss and watched cotton candy being made. There were lots of other fun activities and prizes for the kids - I restrained myself and actually let the kids do some stuff too :)

I've been reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, spending too much time on facebook, and have found a new computer game, Peggles, that is threatening to overcome my obsession with Chuzzles.

Oh, here's my little rant for the day. Jolie and Marty have to work a weekend of day shifts every seven weeks (on rotation) and ALWAYS they fall on the most inconvenient weekend possible. Marty is taking an intensive 9-5 week at school this week (as well as his two night classes) so he can't pick up the kids from school on Friday (and I don't drive). Saturday, Layni is performing with her Tae Kwon Do class and Sunday she is performing with the Children's Choir in church for Father's Day. Stupid day shifts!

Well, I'm off to play Peggles... I mean do something constructive and worthwhile.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Lovely, Lazy Day

Last night, Mattias helped knock out Layni's other front tooth; I scrubbed blood out of the carpet. He was very upset this morning to find the tooth fairy hadn't left him anything - he seems to think he deserves to be paid for procuring Layni's tooth for her. Always good times in the Mack-Mitera-Gilman household!

Today was lovely. Jolie and Marty took Layni and Mattias out to Harrison for a day at the lake - they ate ice cream, went swimming and bicycling, and had a wonderful time. Lysa and I (who mind the heat) stayed home, hibernated in the cool basement and enjoyed the peace and quiet. I watched "Love's Abiding Joy," the fourth movie based on Janette Oke's western series, and "National Treasure," which was quite entertaining - and yes, Krista, I loved the sidekick! I also finished "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and started "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" as well as doing some tidying and organizing. It was a nice, relaxing day - thank You, God!