Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Day's Legacy

Have you ever wondered how your obituary will read?

Sometimes I think about it. Sometimes I wonder what kind of things will be said about me. Will I be remembered as:
A good mom?
A sweet wife?
A faithful and kind daughter, sister, sister-in-law?
A lover of Jesus?

I would hope to be known for all these things, but more then anything I would want to be known for living a life on fire for the Lord. I read an obituary today of a friend who graduated last Saturday. I was amazed by the things this young man accomplished and I cried as I read it. I cried because this man will be missed and because he was so dedicated to the Lord. At the age of twenty-five this young man had done more in his life for Jesus then I think I have in my thirty-two years.

Now, I know my life has gone in a different direction then his did. He had a call on his heart by God to reach people for Jesus. I am not called to be a missionary, I am called to be a wife and mom and writer. But what struck me was that whatever Daylon Harrington set out to do he did it with passion. Whether it was skiing down a snow capped mountain, dancing across a ballroom floor, or flying a plane to different countries he did it to the glory of Christ.

I had to ask myself, do I do that? Do I passionately enter into what the Lord puts in front of me to do, however joyful or difficult the circumstances may be? Do I live my life so abandoned to Christ, letting every word I speak or write honor Him? To be honest, no I don't. Not completely.

I look at the things I let occupy my mind and arrest my attention that don't really matter. When I die will very many people be moved by the size of my hips? Sounds pretty silly in light of eternity, huh? Will people remember me as a woman who loved Jesus and her family or will they remember me as a woman who entangled herself with the world, forgetting who she was in Christ? I'll tell you what, over the last couple of years the Lord has been showing me just how unimportant the values of this world are. What Jesus tells us is important, the world tells us its not. In the world's eyes my life looks like a waste. But my life isn't governed by this world...

Or is it?

I am frequently forgetful when it comes to the importance of Christ and I let the world tell me that I should be living for me, myself, and I.

But then something happens in my life, like the death of a wonderful, godly man, and I'm allowed a brief glimpse of Heaven and its KING. My earthly thoughts are shattered and I am reminded of how short and meaningless this life is without Christ. My priorities are shifted once again and I am reminded that my life lived fully for Christ matters in eternity, not the distractions this world has to offer.

Someday my life will begin in the next realm and end in this one. I don't know if it will end in a nanosecond like Daylon's or if it will be years of trusting Christ through an illness like my friend, Shari. Whichever one, it is my prayer is that my obituary will read like the theirs did and my life will be one lived fully, passionately, and lovingly for my Savior.

How will yours read?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The wind blew coldly across the large Canadian lake, skimming the top of the water and rippling it in the process. My sister, mom, auntie, cousin and gramie huddled under a heavy blanket in the back of the boat, ready for the hour long journey it would take to get back to the campers and trucks we had left at the docks two weeks earlier. Papa started up the boat and the roar drowned out all voices. As he shifted into gear and accumulated speed the back of the boat sunk lower into the water. The canvas covered our heads but the plastic windows didn't offer much of a view, nor did it offer much blocking of noise. After a while we adjusted to the drone of the motor.

After we docked the men jumped out of the boat and began unloading baggage and food. The women and kids were left in the boat. They probably figured it was safer for us to be in the boat then running wild on the docks. Besides, the trucks would need warming up and there would be bustling around until then. Not a good place for little people to be underfoot. After a few minutes Kelly and I needed to use the restroom. Gramie said she would take us up to the little restaurant/cafe on top of a muddy hill. So the three of us, bundled in our warm woolen coats hiked the hill together, listening to one of Gramie's stories about a cat and a prince.

On the way back down to the boat we carefully walked the rough road, hopping over puddles and trying not to slide in the mud. As we walked onto the dock I decided to show off. I called out,

"Hey Gramie, I can walk backwards with my eyes closed!"

"That's great honey," she said.

She and Kelly turned onto the next dock leading to the boat. I kept walking backwards.
My right foot stepped back then my left then my right again, but there was no more wood to step back on. Before I knew what was happening I was falling into the icy water. The water swallowed me quickly.I came back up gasping for air, the shocking cold had knocked the air out of me. My wool coat soaked up the water fast and became too heavy for me. It pulled me back under the surface. I opened my eyes and could see only a muddy haze and what looked like ground going up to the shore. But I didn't know how to swim yet. I struggled to come up again.

When my head broke the surface I heard yelling across the water. A man's voice hollered out, "Go get her, Son! Go get that little girl!" No one had seen me fall except one man standing on the shore. He was there with his two sons, fishing.

I flailed about trying to save myself or at least keep breathing. Heavy footsteps pounded the wood as two teenage boys ran to me. They couldn't reach me, I was too far from the dock. I could hear them yelling to one another. One of the boys jumped in immediately and grabbed me as I started sinking again. Pulling me to him he brought me back to the dock as the other boy reached for my hand. One lifted, the other pulled up and before I knew it I was out of the water, soaking wet and scared to death.

It's funny how memories can bring a slew of emotions to go with it. I cried through writing some of this story. Partly because I remember feeling panicked because I couldn't catch my breath and I knew I couldn't save myself. I didn't know how to swim.

The other reason I cried was from the memory of some one's voice calling for help for me, someone had seen me and was trying to get help.

That man standing on the shore knew his son could reach me faster than he could, so he sent him to get me. That boy knew that the only way to save me was to jump into that cold water with me.

And isn't that what Jesus did? Didn't His Father send Jesus because He was the only one who could do it? Didn't He jump in with us because He knew we would drown without Him there in water? No one else could rescue us except for Him and He willingly threw Himself in with us in order to do it.

I don't know the boys or the man who saved me that frigid, winter day. We never heard from them again, but that fifteen-year-old memory stays with me like it was yesterday.
Because...I remember feeling scared and desperate for someone to come save me. the face of that desperate fear it paints an amazing picture of what being rescued is all about.

Rescue: to free or deliver from any confinement, violence, danger, or evil.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Sad Life of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle

Last night I was reading a book about spies, particularly female spies. I came across a woman named Mata Hari. Her story so intrigued me that I went on line and checked out who this woman was.

She was born Margaretha Geertruida "Grietje" Zelle on August 7, 1876. Her father was wealthy for a while and sent her to a private school. In later years he lost his money and divorced his wife. Life as they knew it fell apart and Margaretha bounced around to a couple of different relatives houses.

At age 18 she answered an advertisement for a wife written by Dutch Colonial Army officer Rudolph John MacLeod. They married and soon after moved to Java in the Dutch East Indies. The marriage was a difficult one. They lost their two year old son to complications from syphilis. They also had a daughter who would later die at the age of 21 of the same illness. Officer MacLeod was not only a violent drunk, but also had another wife as well as a concubine.

While in Java Margaretha learned how to dance the Indonesian dances and adopted a stage name of Mata Hari ("eye of the sun").

In 1903 Margaretha and MacLeod moved back to the Netherlands and divorced. MacLeod kept their daughter forcibly and wouldn't allow Margaretha to take her. After the divorce she moved to Paris and started out as a circus horse rider. In 1905 she moved on to provocative dancing in which she would proceed to strip down to barely anything by the end of the show. She took the stage name again of Mata Hari and was known for her exotic dances and flamboyant lifestyle as a courtesan. Many of the men she attended to were high ranking German and French officials. Because of her involvement with them she would often travel between countries during World War I. She was suspected of and eventually imprisoned, and executed for being a double agent. (Wikipedia is where I got my info.)

I started thinking about who this woman was exactly. She was a real woman who lived at a dangerous time and suffered real pain in her personal life. She married an abusive man, lost a child, had another child kept from her by the abusive ex-husband, and was divorced at a time when that wasn't acceptable. The rest of her life is one of an erotic dancer and courtesan who went from one bed to the next with important men in hopes to find critical information for another country or in hope of love. At age 41 she was executed by a firing squad. Only a priest, two nuns, and her lawyer were there to say goodbye to her. The ironic fact is that no one really knows if she was a double agent or not. The records from her trial were sealed for one hundred years. In 2017 they may be opened and there is a very good chance that she was framed by France and not really an agent after all.

After I read the account of her execution I was deeply saddened by her life and death. She refused to wear a blindfold or be bound. She simply stood and looked the death squad in the eyes as they each pulled their trigger. BOOM!
After she fell another soldier bent over her body and shot her once in the head as well. BOOM!

What was the point of her life?
What was the point of her death?

There is a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean Part: At Worlds End that haunts me. Elizabeth is on a ship and sees her father rowing his boat in the underworld they are trapped in. She thinks they are back to the live world because she sees him, but then realizes he is actually dead. She yells out to him, "Father!"

He says, "Elizabeth, are you dead?"


"I think I am," he says. "There was this chest, you see. It's odd. At the time it seemed so important... Silly thing to die for..."

I wonder: Does Mata Hari sit in black nothingness and question her life, thinking it was all silliness and unimportant in light of eternity in utter darkness?

I wonder if my life were to end tomorrow would I see it as a failure or an accomplishment. Would I see my life as chaff in the wind, full of emptiness and leaving nothing good for my children? Or... Would I wake on the Other Side and find that I lived my humble life the way it was supposed to be lived and the treasures I live for was really what life was all about.

It is so easy to get caught up in this world and all it's vanity. It tells us that this is the only life we get and to live it to the fullest. It tells us that is the only life that's important and afterlife doesn't matter. It tells us that this life is really all about us. But this World is wrong. Dead wrong.

There is more to this life then money and glamour, brokenness and pain. There is a Hope that is worth living for. There is a Hope that is worth dying for.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Keep your head down, but your eyes up...on the Lord

My chest felt tight and I wondered if my heart would explode if I didn't stop to catch my breath. But I couldn't stop. Not for a while yet. A deep burn traveled through my legs as I forced them to continue peddling. I glanced up to see how much longer I had to go.

Ooh, bad mistake. The top of the hill seemed even further away.

A friend rode up close behind me and yelled into the wind, "Don't look up! Keep your head down!" I nodded but didn't respond. I was too busy trying to breathe and not crash into the ditch

Sweat poured into my eyes and mingled with tears. I fought with my body and mind, forcing myself to keep going when my brain said I should give up and my body said I couldn't do this. It was too much. It cost me too much to climb this hill.

I tried to swallow but my parched throat screamed a reminder at me that there was nothing for me to gulp down. I reached for my water bottle for a long drink...and came back to reality.

And just what is my reality?

This is actually a word picture for where my life is at the moment. I'm not on a bike trip but on a life trip. A few days ago I crashed emotionally, feeling unable face the trouble in my life. I called my dear friend up and cried out to her, "I can't do this any more. It hurts too much." I knew she would understand my heart when my words wouldn't do my pain justice. Then she shared with me this scene.

The trick to riding a bike uphill is to keep your eyes up enough to see where you're going but your head down. Then she told me this is what I need to do in my life. This hill I'm climbing is long and steep. If I focus on how long it will take me to get to the top of the hill I will lose momentum. If I focus on how steep, meaning painful in this case, I will lose hope to see it through. However, if I take it one pedal at a time, keeping my head down and my eyes up enough to see the few feet in front of me, I know I'll make it to the top.

Psalm 121
I lift my eyes to the hills--
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip--
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm--
He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.