Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Modern Day Pentecost

Oh my! It's been a while. Special thanks to Heather for reminding me. She's such a doll!

Big news? I finished my book. I'm now doing edits and getting it ready to pitch at the ACFW conference in September. I have a second book I need to finish for that same reason. Yes, I am a very busy person at the moment. And this is just the beginning.

So, to move forward. One of the most amazing things I ever experienced in our church in Z├╝rich was being in the unique position to worship with people from almost forty different counties. That experience turned into an indelible memory the day our pastor had us all say the Lord's Prayer—in our own languages.

The church was an old, castle like building. We shared it with the French Church. And as you can imagine, faces changed frequently. Most people were only there for two to three years before going back to their home country or on to the next.

The people were amazing. So many cultures and walks of life, bound by one purpose—to serve God. Bound by one Spirit—the Spirit of Christ. Bound by one love—God's.

Those voices ringing out, all at once, including mine. The vaulted ceiling echoed with our chant. It felt like a modern day Pentecost. All those languages, yet I knew exactly what each was saying, as did all the others. I can only imagine what God felt that day, how He viewed his children, so different on the outside, so alike on the inside, joined in worship, united.

It still takes my breath away. I hold the memory in my heart with pride. Pride in the body of Christ worshiping God as one. We can walk away and go about our separate lives, but in a moment like that, you get a foretaste of heaven.

I will treasure the experience always. Only when I finally go home will I get to do that again. And I am really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Exact Change

Hey there! I'm finally back from my cross country trip. What an adventure. We saw some pretty interesting things along the way. And, we are now more familiar with our own country. I am incredibly grateful for that.

But what I'm most grateful for is the strengthening of our family ties that resulted. My hope and prayer is that it will continue.

So, another European adventure. Let's see. Here's one I wrote a story about. Hope you enjoy it!

Exact Change

I stood in line at the grocery store that I had finally gotten accustomed to. We had been living in Switzerland for the past three years and had found it to be as much of a challenge as an adventure. The first two years alone had been a real struggle for our two daughters. Learning the language and trying to make friends in the small community we lived in had proven to be more difficult than we had ever imagined. Just shopping for groceries had been one of the biggest adjustments in my life. That and coping with the daily struggles of living in a foreign country had to taken its toll.

As I stood in line the only thought that kept going through my mind was this. "I can't do it anymore."

It was the same thought that had dominated my mind before my two daughters and I had joined my husband in London for a week. He had been assigned to a client there two months earlier, and it now looked as if he would be there a couple more months. That meant two more months of handling things on my own, and I was already worn out.

Managing the house, being the main interpreter in the family and coping with some of the stigma that came our way because we were foreigners had finally caught up with me. There was no escaping it now. My mind was overwhelmed and my heart was about to shrivel. I felt I had nothing left to offer, or the energy to even try.

Hopeless. That was the word that fit the best. I felt completely and utterly hopeless over the whole situation. I cried out to God for help with what little strength I had left. I couldn’t form a request at that point, and it wasn’t even a cry really. Just a simple statement.

"I can't do it anymore."

I put my groceries on the counter and waited for my total in a daze. All I wanted to do was get my groceries and get home as fast as I possibly could. The cashier finished ringing up my items and told me the amount was 45.56 CHF (Swiss Franks). I pulled out my bankcard to pay for it but was completely confused when it refused to work. The cashier said to try the card again. I did, but it still didn't work. Once more. Still no results.

Since we had just flown back from London the day before, I hadn’t had time to go to the bank. I had only come to the store for a few things to get us by until I had the strength to do serious shopping. I can only imagine the picture I made in that store that day as I opened my wallet in the hopes that I had enough cash to pay for my groceries. The thought of having to put something back was more than I could handle at that point.

As I counted out the bills I was partially relieved to see I had exactly 45.00 CHF. Now at least I had a chance. I dumped my wallet over into my hand to empty the change, but the cashier held out her hand to count it for me. I think she realized I was a woman under stress. This, I have found, is an identity that transcends all cultures and languages.

The next moment is still clear in my mind to this day. She looked up at me with eyes bigger than the largest coin she held and said it was the exact amount. She was in more shock than I. My wallet lay empty, not a single coin remained, and the groceries were paid for. Exactly.

The next day I went to the bank to order a new bankcard. The teller took my card and ran it in the pin machine. It worked perfectly. There was nothing wrong with it. As I left the bank I suddenly felt as if a light clicked on. It had been no coincidence that my groceries had totaled the exact amount I’d had in my wallet. That was when I knew I would be okay. God had shown me I didn’t have to do it alone anymore. He had used a simple activity such as grocery shopping to remind me of what I had somehow forgotten. He was the one in control and was with me every step of the way. I simply had to quit trusting in my own ability and trust him. Where I fell short, He was exactly what I needed. Right to the last penny.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Family

Smiling shyly, I type in the words of my next blog. Yes, it's been over a week. But you know how vacations can be. I'm not on the road at the moment. Actually I'm in Florida visiting family. That's what this trip was all about—family.

Families are amazing entities. The bonds that hold them together are an enigma to me at times. For the most part we're motivated out of love, but sometimes I think it's partly to do with identity. We identify ourselves with this certain group of people, and this identity grows.

What amazes me too is the ongoing pattern. The children grow up and start having children of their own. The family grows, changes, redefines, yet it's still family.

I sat at a baby shower the other day. This is part of the children growing up and having their own children. A few days later another of these little ones turned eighteen. I can see the next wave soon to come. Hopefully not too soon!

The cycle repeats. As do so many things around us. The seasons cycle and change, yet repeat the same basic pattern. A seed germinates, grows, blooms, dies, then distributes its seeds. The next flower comes and so on.

God created such wonderful patterns for us to see, if we only look. They tell us much about His intricacy and brilliance. God's creation is so interdependent. The food chain. A seahorse. A snowflake. A family.

God's family is the same. I think all the examples here on earth are designed to point to the family of God. And we are connected by blood. Christ's blood. It runs in all who accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

Interconnected, interdependent, integral and invaluable. We all matter. We're all a part of something bigger than the individual.

We're family.

(Next time we'll go back to the European adventures, so stay tuned. There's more to come! Blessings!)