I've been thinking - always a dangerous thing!! I've been thinking about christian community and how blessed we are to be a part of one. I was thinking about this bible verse from 1 Corinthians 12:26 - If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. The scripture is talking about the body of Christ and we, as Christians, are a part of that body.
Our family - the kind related by birth or marriage - has been through several things in the last year or so. We've had family members who have had a recurrence of their cancer. We've had one who had to have a breast biopsy. We've had another diagnosed with cancer and who has other issues. We've had one who suffered from a major job change. We have one who is facing more testing this week and possible surgery. The list actually goes on . . .life happens. Even the crappy stuff happens. It just does. BUT in each situation, we have been surrounded by the body of Christ. Meals have been prepared. Prayers have been said. Cards have been sent. We feel blessed.
Then I started thinking outside of our birth and marriage family to some of our close friends. Several have had cancer (it seems like it is everywhere!) and one has been healed (yay God!). One couple needs to sell their house. Another family has had some issues with their grown children. Still another has a son with serious mental health issues. Once again, the list could go on. But the body of Christ is still in action in each of these cases. Others cook meals, buy gift cards, send funny cards, write notes, lend a listening ear or a shoulder.
It doesn't stop there. In our church, we have new babies born just about every week. We vow to help raise those children in the faith. We cook meals for those families. About two weeks ago, one of our precious young couples gave birth to a sweet baby boy. Baby Wint went straight to the arms of Jesus. His mommy had to have surgery because of complications and now she can't have any more babies. The scripture says that if one part suffers, all will suffer. Oh my goodness - the body of Christ has suffered and wept for the past two weeks. Meals and cards and prayers and tears . . .more tears than you can ever imagine. Tears shed by the body of Christ for this young couple. And the prayers continue.
It is not just in the sad stuff though. When one part rejoices, all rejoice. Our friend, Jason, who has suffered through horrific surgeries and lethal chemo and burning radiation . . .has no evidence of disease. After 5+ years of sheer hell . ..his last scans show NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE. There has been much rejoicing in the body of Christ over this news. There have been tears of joy shed over this news.
It goes even further. Outside the walls of our own church to the world at large. Children need clean drinking water . . .let's send a team over to build wells. Mothers need a way to cook for their children without smoking up their living quarters - let's build a rocket stove. Homeless folks need a meal and a place to sleep, let's serve at the Firehouse Shelter.
I'm going to be honest. When I first thought of this post, during my prayer time this morning, I only planned to write about our friends - those that we call immediate community - those that we choose to spend time with - those with whom we surround ourselves . . .but oh, God's idea is so much bigger. Through the Internet, we are connected to people we've never met. I prayed for four years for a little boy in Louisiana - I still read his aunt Mo's blog and keep up with the family . . .long after he went to be with Jesus. I've never met these people but we are connected by the body of Christ. I (and others) pray for several little girls - one in Auburn, one in Mobile and one many states away . . .and we are connected by the body of Christ.
Twila Paris sings a song and this is just one line from the song:
How beautiful, how beautiful. How beautiful is the body of Christ. From the rest of the lyrics, she is singing about Jesus himself . ..but we are his hands and feet and mouth and hugging arms here on earth . . .and how beautiful is the body of Christ.
I have this thing about twins. My daddy had twin sisters. I barely remember Aunt Lorene. Her sister, Irene, died when they were 5 years old. Aunt Lorene and my cousin, Woody, lived with my grandparents. I didn't think that was unusual at all. It was just normal. But think of the times - it was 1958 (when I was born) and not many people were divorced. To be honest, I don't think I even knew they were divorced. (actually, I'm not totally sure of that - I guess he could have been dead but I don't think so) Anyway, it was just normal to me. We have one picture of the twins and it is sort of eerie looking - really old photo and their eyes look kind of scary. They look identical but I'm not sure. I don't think anyone ever said. Irene died of one of those childhood diseases that kids don't usually get today (I can't remember which one). Anyway, fast forward to my school years. Two of my best friends were twins - Kaye and Faye. We did everything together. Usually there were four of us - Karen was the number four. The three of them (Kaye, Faye, and Karen were all a year older than I) and I spent many hours together. We went on various family vacations together. We got into way too much trouble together. We were all roommates at various times in our young adult lives. As a matter of fact, I was living with Kaye and Faye when I met Mark . . .who is a twin. His name does not rhyme with his twin brother like Irene/Lorene and Kaye/Faye. His twin brother's name is George. They are identical. Actually Mark is thinner than George but unless you see them right together, you might not notice that. So . . .I was living with Kaye/Faye and met Mark/George on a canoe trip. It was a church trip and they brought beer (yes, we were old enough) and I thought they must be the cool guys!!! I could not tell them apart which is hysterical because Mark had a mustache and George didn't. So I had to remember "M" is for mustache and for Mark. Fast forward a couple of years and Mark and I married . . and Kaye/Faye were bridesmaids - so two sets of identical twins in the wedding. Fast forward two more years . . .and we started our family and had twins - but not identical twins. Anyway, I sometimes think I'm a twin magnet or either I'm just obsessed with twins. (this is really a post about nothing, isn't it??) Anyway, I love to crack an egg and for it to be "twins" - I know that is probably weird but I guess I'm weird. Not only is it weird, but I took a picture of it to show you!!! Look at that - two yolks.
Lord, have mercy - I cannot believe that I just wrote a whole post just to show you the twin eggs. Must be the middle aged mind at work :-)
I've never been one to listen to the radio in the car . . .maybe when I was younger . . .or when I'm in someone else's car . . .but normally I just enjoy the quiet. I bought a new car in January - her name is Ruby Red . . .I HAVE always wanted a red car and now I have one!
One of the features that came with my car is satellite radio. O.H. M.Y. G.O.O.D.N.E.S.S. I love it. There is a Christian channel that plays wonderful music and there are not a lot (maybe not any) commercials advertising mortgage companies and other junk and the DJ's (or whatever they call them these days) don't do a lot of talking. They just play wonderful music. They play lots of new stuff and they play some great Big Daddy Weave and other older groups. Big Daddy Weave came to our church and did a concert before they were famous!!!! Every once in a while, the station throws in an old gospel tune which takes me back to my youth. I used to usher at the Boutwell Auditorium with some friends for all of the big gospel "singins" (no "g" at the end). We also had some pretty good old songs that were sung in the church where I grew up.
Last Friday, I drove to Mobile (4 hours) and spent 4 hours with Glenn and Lauren (while she had her biopsies) and then I drove home (4 hours) . . .in the same day . . .I was so proud of myself - I did it!! Anyway, the Christian radio station and I became wonderful friends. I felt like I was . . .no I didn't "feel like" I was worshiping - I was worshiping as I drove up and down I-65. I know that people in other cars could see me singing (glad they couldn't hear me!!). I didn't care. I have several favorites right now. I love "I turn to you" by Selah. Just typing those words brings a song into my heart and that feeling of knowing that no matter what is going on - I can turn to Jesus - that is a particularly good feeling right now. Here are just a few of Selah's lyrics: (find this song on you tube and listen if you don't know it)
When I'm lost in the rain,
In your eyes I know I'll find the light to light my way.
And when I'm scared,
And losing ground,
When my world is going crazy,
You can turn it all around.
And when I'm down you're there - pushing me to the top.
You're always there, giving me all you've got.
For a shield from the storm,
For a friend, for a love to keep me safe and warm
I turn to you.
For the strength to be strong,
For the will to carry on
For everything you do, for everything that's true
I turn to you.
When I lose the will to win,
I just reach for you and I can reach the sky again.
I can do anything 'cause your love is so amazing,
'Cause your love inspires me.
And when I need a friend,
You're always on my side giving me faith taking me through the night
For a shield from the storm,
For a friend, for a love to keep me safe and warm
I turn to you.
I also love "Held" by Natalie Grant - here are just a few of her lyrics:
Two months is too little
They let him go
They had no sudden healing
To think that providence
Would take a child from his mother
While she prays, is appalling
Who told us we'd be rescued
What has changed and
Why should we be saved from nightmares
We're asking why this happens to us
Who have died to live, it's unfair
This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be held
I have been using my time in the car to be renewed. Since I teach and facilitate, I don't always get a lot of food. I read my Bible and have my prayer time and read a devotion and hear a sermon every week but sometimes music seems to reach deep down into my soul and it is almost as if I can fill a pitcher pouring out inside of me . . . filling me. Giving me strength.
I know that a few of you read my blog. Where do you feel God's presence? What is your favorite form of worship? Do you have a favorite worship song right now?
I can't believe that I just came across these photos. I was actually uploading all of my 2011 pictures to snapfish so I can print (and hopefully have time to scrapbook!!!). These pictures are from our John Wesley Sunday School party. We are so blessed to be a part of this class. We've been a part of this class since 1984. That is so hard to believe. The class formed in September of 1984 and we had married in May of 1984.
Scott and Laura are so generous to offer their home for some of our big parties. They have this incredible kitchen and den on the back of their home and it is a perfect party house.
We had amazing food! I made that fun recipe by Stephanie at http://www.plainchicken.com/. You use a round sourdough bread and slice it crossways (both directions) and stuff cheddar cheese and bacon in all the slits and then melt butter and add dry ranch dressing. Wrap in foil and bake. It makes the most incredible pull apart! YUMMY
On that night, there is lots of fellowship and conversation.
I took these pictures with my phone and I had not practiced that much so the quality is not good. I'm getting better!!
The ladies (or the majority) play Dirty Santa with ornaments/Christmas decorations. There is always an ornament or two or three that changes hands repeatedly. To be honest, I always want my ornament to be one of those!! (I know that is silly and I guess sort of selfish - just being honest here) It wasn't this year. It was the very last gift opened. The perfect person went home with my ornaments though. They were these beautiful and fancy ornaments that I found on sale after Christmas last year so I was able to buy something much more expensive than normal. Angela ended up with my ornaments and she has such a gorgeous home that I'll bet those ornaments looked great on her tree!!
A lot of fun was had by everyone!! Our class has become so large that it is nice to socialize together because you just can't talk to everyone on Sunday morning.