Oh! Those Guppies! Desperate Fishwives, Episode V

Tragedy! After 4 weeks, the last litter of our proud late heroine Mama Guppy were released into the tank. This is a full week older than the 1st was when she was released. There were almost 20 fry in the nursery. A nursery so thick with algae the walls were opaque. Solid green. No visibility.

In the midst of the green, the babies all seemed to be doing fine. The nursing staff definitely had their act together during this extended incubation period. There were a few (2 or 3) fry that seemed to be runts and it was clear that they might become collateral damage in the release. By “collateral damage” I mean “snack food” for the general population.

The horror! All but the runts are gone! Vanished! Nosh for the cannibals! I can’t imagine that the few survivors will last through the weekend. Hansel & Gretel they are…being fattened up for tomorrow’s dining pleasure.

Oh, the lack of humanity. Oh, the fish! Oh! Those Guppies!!!

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Rejoicing comes in the morning!

I’m called upon to sing praises. “Sing to the LORD, you saints of his; praise his holy name….Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said ‘I will never be shaken.’ … But when you hid your face, I was dismayed. To you, O LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: ‘What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit? … Hear, O LORD, and be merciful to me; O LORD, be my help.’ You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.” (Psalm 30)

In living our lives, there will be times of weeping. There will be times when we wonder what happened? Why???? We may not always receive answers to those questions. But if our prayers for mercy include acknowledgement and praise, for the LORD is mighty and full of grace, we can be confident he hears us and will respond. He is the creator of heaven and earth. He is our creator. He wants what is best for us. That does not mean a life that is free of hardship. Hardship so often draws us close to him.

My week was not off to a great start. By mid-week I was wondering “Why???? What do You want from me?” It is no coincidence that when I found myself stumbling into a pit I was not alone. Physically maybe, but not spiritually. I’m participating in multiple Bible studies. I’m working my way through “The Bible in a Year” reading Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs on a ~daily schedule. The Word came to me in the form of steps and ladders. “Here, my child. Here is how you should approach this situation. Step here. Now shift there. Now up again.” I was not able to physically attend either of two small group discussions (one on Esther, one on the Psalms of Ascent) because I chose to go to attend a top level meeting followed by a dinner discussion impacting my job. I doubted my decision. Choosing work over Bible Study? Seems wrong, I know. But I kept up with my studies, watching the missed video for one and doing a lesson for the other. And everything I read is so applicable to my situation.

God answers our prayers. Prayers for my oldest daughter (that she gains wisdom and learns to put her children’s needs above her own), for my middle daughter (that she and her husband grow strong in their faith and seek Your counsel), for my youngest daughter (that she knows Your love is without limitation or imitation, and that my love mirrors Yours), and for my youngest (that he continues to grow in Your light). Others in my prayers include Ashley, Julia, Sarah, Jessica, Deborah, Bernie, Randall, Bill, Christine, Jim, Jim, Jim (yes, 3 Jim’s), Robbie, Jenny, Robert, Sue, Liz, Zoey, Katherine, Eva….Fran (help me to know Your will and to obey).

O LORD, my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Amen.

It’s a matter of faith

There’s a young woman I’ve come to know who was seriously injured in a head-on collision. She has spent the last 6 weeks recovering. The first 5 weeks were spent in the hospital. Now she is in rehab. She has begun the long leg of the journey. I have faith that she will walk again. I don’t doubt it at all. I’m no doctor (the doctors have been cautious in their prognosis) but it is clear that she is a woman of determination, will-power, dedication and faith. She is on a difficult path, but she is surrounded and uplifted by a loving family and a strong network of friends. And she is already showing critical progress, so it’s really no longer a leap to conclude that she will walk again. But I’ve known it for a while. She has been in my daily prayers.

Through this experience, I have learned something very important. Something I knew, but was ignoring. God hears our prayers and answers us in His own time. He may test our hearts. He may test our patience. But He never ignores us. If I’m praying for something and it seems my prayers are not being answered, does my faith flag? Do I turn away? I should not. I should “Keep the faith.” Just as I maintain my faith that the young woman will be walking again.

It is like a diet lifestyle change. The results may not be immediately obvious but if you stick with it, eventually the benefits of the changes will become evident.

So why did I stop praying for my own children? Is it because they have rejected me? Reviled and rebuked me? No. My love isn’t shaken by their need to move out from under my shadow. I think I’m guilty of letting my faith flag. I trust God is watching over them but that is not enough. I’ve renewed and reinvigorated my prayers for them as they travel on their own journeys. I pray they hear the whisper of God calling and that they turn to Him. I pray they stop seeking answers elsewhere.

I’ve been passionately offering prayers of intercession for the last few weeks. Since then, M has returned to Texas. She came to church Sunday with her husband and son. She asked if I could pick them up again next Sunday.

It is wonderful to be reminded that our faith is rewarded. Good things are coming.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:24-26)

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)

I’ve been reminding myself of this since my work situation has given me cause to pause and wonder. Trusting doesn’t mean we never step into the mud and mire, or that we never need steadying. These days I’m seeking the comfort of the rod and staff of my shepherd as I tread on new ground. There are no paths before me. We are pioneering a new business model.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

As a leader in my organization, I am glad that I can bring some comfort to my team. We may not be free from troubles but we can at least be comforted.

I am depending on God to carry me through this. I trust Him in this just as I trust that the lame will walk again. And more than that, I trust Him to drive out the demons that plague my children.

Blessings,

Monday Blueprint Madness

From the perspective of hindsight, I wonder whether this wall was part of the original plan or if someone came along and decided the downstairs needed to be separated from the upstairs. If the goal was to create a wall to eliminate the stairs, I’m thinking the stairs could have been cut off entirely. Why leave 2 steps and a short rail? It’s like glimpsing a path to heaven, but finding your path completely blocked.

In Genesis, Jacob (son of Isaac and Rebekah, Esau’s younger twin brother who supplanted Esau’s inheritance and their father’s blessing) left home to avoid his brother’s wrath. When he stopped for the night, Jacob put a stone under his head as a pillow and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway stretching from earth up to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Above it stood the LORD. (Genesis 28:10-13 NIV)

In the New Testament, Jesus promises, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:51 NLT)

Paul tells the Ephesians that Christ is our peace, that He has destroyed barriers, “the dividing wall of hostility” by abolishing the law with its commandments and regulations to reconcile us to God through the cross, by which he put to death hostility. He preached peace to all, near and far, Jew and Gentile. Through him we have access to the Father by one Spirit. We are fellow citizens and members of God’s household, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:14-22 NIV)

As Christians, we are charged with responsibilities that include breaking down barriers that prevent God’s kingdom from being established here on earth. Sometimes we erect our own barriers that block the Spirit from flowing through us. Sometimes we perceive barriers that are the work of the devil. We have to study anything that prohibits our ability to live as one, loving our enemies as well as the people who are easy to love. It’s relatively easy to to share our lives with people who are like-minded, but even there we may find occasional conflict and discord – barriers to the kingdom. We have to tear down those walls and build bridges that span our differences.

I am finding in my own life that if I allow myself to see that God himself will destroy any barriers that come between us, then those walls seem to disappear of their own accord. It’s amazing to think that I’m the architect who built a wall that blocked the staircase just a few steps above ground-level! Praise God that he helps me to see the error of my ways and to make amends!

Father, bless me as I remove all of the obstacles in this world that prevent me from freely living in your kingdom here on earth.

Peace,

Desperate Fishwives, Episode V

Today’s Episode: Extreme Makeover Edition

Before:

It finally became too much. The chi was not a-flowing. The feng shui was all out of balance. Negative energy abounds in the form of rampant algae. The plastic plants are alive with the stuff. The rocks. The “silt.” Something had to be done. Here you can see the environment, complete with floating nursery containing the last litter of fry from Mama Guppy. You see the randy boyfriend swimming in the upper right (orangish). The benign tetras are mostly swimming around the bottom.

During:

Everything came out for the deep cleaning process. The decorative rocks. The living plastic plants. You can see the pretty & proud Papa Guppy swimming front & center (blue tail). The benign tetras and trying to be invisible. The bottom feeder is hiding behind the thermometer. He is hiding so well that I dug through all of the living plastic plants to make sure I didn’t inadvertently pull him from the tank. Silly Cory.

After:

In a rare fit of spendthrift, all of the decorations went. Out with the old, in with the new. Including a lovely new fake rock and fake bonsai tree. Very feng shui. There is some time lag between the photos and you may notice that the floating nursery has “greened up” a bit. Also, it was a tragedy, but during the reckless pouring of fresh water into the tank the nursery tipped and some number of the fry were freed. One actually lasted for a day or two. But there have been no recent sightings and it is presumed that all were nosh.

It’s been two weeks since the grand redo and the algae is relentless. The nursery walls are now opaque. The fate of the remaining fry is as unclear. It seems the pet store is not interested in fry, even free fry.

All-in-all everyone seems delighted with the new decor. And so ends another episode.

Peace,

Finally! A purse handbag!

A few months ago I lamented my situation regarding the need for a purse handbag. This is a relatively trivial problem in my world today, but one that was causing me aggravation. I’m delighted that I can now consider this problem pretty much resolved.

Target came through for me with the work tote and clutch combo (they don’t exactly go together, but close enough).

The clutch tucks inside the work tote, along with my notebook computer, my glasses case (gotta take care of the outrageously expensive sunglasses, you know!). The glasses case also can fit into the clutch. And, the clutch has a pocket for my camera.

All and all, I am satisfied with this solution. I’m on day 4 and I feel much more organized and prepared for whatever life brings.

Peace!

Monday Blueprint Madness

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, there lived giants. Sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, right? Not really. Genesis tells us that when the sons of God and the daughters of men got together, their children were giants – Nephilites.

Later, during the time when God’s people searched for the promised land, Moses sent out 12 leaders of the Israelites to explore the land of Canaan. When the scouts returned, they reported that the land flowed with milk and honey. “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” Only 2 of the 12 men, Caleb and Joshua, recognized the promised land, the gracious gift from God. The others lacked faith, inciting fear in the people. They falsely reported that there were Nephilites in the land. Giants. “We can’t attack these people; they are stronger than we are.” And the Israelites raised their voices and wept aloud, grumbling against the LORD.

Joshua and Caleb were distraught by the reaction of the Israelites, who were threatening to return to Egypt. The two faithful men tore their clothes and implored the assembly, “The land we explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Don’t rebel against the LORD. Don’t be afraid of the people of the land because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone but the LORD is with us.” But the crowd didn’t want to hear this. They threatened to stone the two men.

And the LORD was not pleased with his people. Moses interceded on their behalf and God agreed to let the rebellious people live…for forty more years, wandering in the desert. The 10 evil spies were struck down immediately. When the people realized their sin, they mourned bitterly. So they decided to go ahead and enter the promised land. But wait! This was no longer God’s plan! The people were again disobeying God! Moses tried to stop them, but they were determined…and they were beaten down by the people of the land. Because God was not with them they were defeated. Although there were no giants, the Israelites needed God’s protection to defeat the natives and claim their promised land.

I wonder if the 10 evil spies came into town and spotted an ATM positioned 8 feet high. It would be easy to presume there were giants living there. When we find ourselves in a daunting situation, we need to assess, “Has God got my back? Will the LORD lift me in this venture to assure my success?” If “yes!” then go for it!

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

“Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” (Psalm 10:12)

Through Him, all things are possible. Maybe not easy, but through faith we can achieve the impossible. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see….And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:16)

Praise God!