Monday, January 25, 2016

Fixated on a fixer-upper or—When that penchant for fixer-uppers gets you in a real fix

You know how amazed you get when you see the beauty some people, (like Chip and Joanna Gaines on Fixer-Upper) can make out of a wreck of a house? Just knock out this wall here and put in a stainless steel kitchen there. And ta-da! A new house is born right before your eyes.

It’s easy if you have the ability (and the money) to “see” the vision. I can see the end result when I have something to work with—we knocked out walls in confident abandon in my present home
before
—but I have no, absolutely none, conceptual ability to transpose a
after
flat scale drawing of a layout into an actual 3-dimensional space. And I can’t sleep or think on anything else until I get it.

So for the past three days I have been walking around my house measuring spaces, measuring couches and desks and doorways in an attempt to imagine what they would look like in a new little house that doesn’t yet exist. My left eye is bloodshot, my brains are beat and I’ve used up a whole pad of graph paper trying to “see” the house that will replace the one we bought after we tear it down.

Yep. That’s it above. I was afraid when our kids saw what we just purchased, they’d be putting us in a home all right but it wouldn’t be the one on the hill.

Monday, January 18, 2016

When God knows you need a pick-me-up

You know how you can’t sleep when you are in the midst of a big decision?

That’s how I was last Wednesday. Even with the help of a little melatonin, I tossed and turned and poked my husband (who wasn’t worrying at all). Finally I got up, put on the gas logs and knelt on the floor to talk to the Lord. Poured out all my concerns, spelled out all the details that posed problems and waited. Waited for him to say something. Waited for some remembrance of the perfect Bible passage that fit my situation and assured me all was well.

You know how God is notably quiet sometimes and the only passages you can recall are about walking by faith?

After a while, reluctantly, I shut off the logs and went to bed, believing “by faith” God heard my concerns, but wishing he had given a little acknowledgment. A few hours later I rushed to get to a writer’s group in the next town. If it hadn’t been for book review I was scheduled to present, I would have skipped going altogether.

Minutes before the meeting began, I slid into my seat and heaved a sigh that I’d made it in time. Alycia, the president of the group, who knew nothing about what I’ve been up to, leaned over and handed me some gift cards for coffee. We don’t have much relationship outside of the critique group so I was totally confused as to why.

“The Lord told me, ‘Marcia needs a little pick-me-up,’” she said. And then this, “He also said to tell you he is aware of the details.”


You know how when God seems to take the long way around and you wonder why?

That’s because his ways are perfect. If he had assured me directly that night, I might have been satisfied or I might have doubted whether or not I’d really heard from him. By giving the message to someone else to deliver, he left no room for me to doubt, he encouraged someone else that her act of obedience confirmed she had heard the Lord, and he gave the both of us a chance to share the testimony with others.

I hope this encourages you that God cares even if he doesn’t seem to be listening. You have no idea whom he may have intercede for you or how he’s working out the perfect plan. And for those whom he chooses as messengers—may you have the courage to go for it.

In the joy of the Lord,
Marcia



Monday, January 11, 2016

Would you like to win a billion?

We’re walking the dog, the sun is shining on the frost, and all is well this morning in this corner of South Carolina. I’m thinking about one of the headlines occupying the newsfeeds. “Would you even want a billion dollars?” I ask my husband.

He looks at me. Wordless. Furrows his brows as though trying to decipher what foreign language had just come out of my mouth. There’s no doubt he would.

“I could see a few million, but can you imagine the horrors that would come with a billion?” I continue. “People would be chasing after us like dogs on a foxhunt. Sick people. Sad people. Villains. Kidnappers. We’d have to get bodyguards. Go incognito. Even disguise Laila.”

He’s not convinced. He thinks it’s simple—save out a few million, take care of the kids, and start a foundation to support ministries with the rest. That’s part of the dynamic of our relationship—I bring up all the complications of a situation, Bob initially dismisses them as overreactions. Eventually he comes around to my way of thinking, (smile) so I continue.

“Imagine if one of the kids decided they liked having enough money to be independent and got divorced? Or a relative thinks the hundred thousand we gave them was stingy, or my brother suddenly realizes that collection of Hardy Boys books I snitched from him was actually very special and caused him trauma? To say nothing of all the people we’ve probably offended over the years. Someone’s sure to find reason for a lawsuit.” I think back to grade school when I said poor Alice had lice and her mother marched up to our front door and made me look through Alice’s hair.

 I understand Bob’s genuine intent to set up a foundation (although I suspect lots of people negotiate with God about how generous they would be, as if he didn’t really know), but I don’t underestimate the deceits of the human heart. Especially my own.

A man in the convenience store the other day noticed me eyeing the fistful of little winning tickets he was cashing in. “Stand next to me and maybe it will rub off,” he offered. 

The lure of the lottery. Regardless of the impossibility, we love to dream we might be The One out of the whole 300,000,000 people in the US to win. We’d be the wise ones and invest carefully. We’d be the generous ones, the humble ones. But we wouldn’t put our trust in our wealth, no, we’d be aware that “in a blink of an eye wealth could sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.”—Prov. 23:5

Maybe so, but I think a good place to test that opinion of ourselves is to look at just how wise, generous, and humble we are with what we have right now.

Years ago we helped a plant Abundant Life church on Long Island. The six-foot tall pastor and his family lived upstairs in rooms so small they could stand in the bedroom doorway and fall into bed. After exhausting every inch of space in that building, they bought another, again utilizing every square foot to grow a ministry. To me they exemplified what it means to “be faithful in little and you will be faithful in much.”

Although I certainly wouldn’t mind having a healthier bank account (or a quaint island home in the Caribbean for that matter), today I have a warm house, a cupboard of food, a car that runs well, a body that’s holding up far better than might be with this mileage. This morning I witnessed a stunning sunrise. For all of this I am thankful. How about you?

And please stop by the lovely Fragrant Ink site today. My friend Cathy Baker has generously invited me to share about how I spend time with the Lord. 

In the joy of the Lord,
Marcia















Monday, January 4, 2016

When Hope Comes Disguised in a Dream

I overheard actor Robert Redford tell someone that I might “be the one” in my dream last night. 

(For those of you who weren’t even a gleam in your parents’ eyes back then—watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and see if those two bank robbers don’t have you swooning and sighing even as they meet their well-deserved demise.) 

Now these days I don’t at all care for Redford or his politics, but in my dream I was delighted to be “special,” “recognized,” “chosen” to be his girl.

Later I moved into another dream where another man, I think he was an editor who resembled—go figure!—Donald Sutherland, liked my work. Recognized its worth.

These two dreams, back to back with the same theme, gave me a good feeling. An important person saw something in me that others missed. I woke with an inner rearrangement of expectation and energy.

That’s what HOPE is—a “pleasurable and confident expectation.” It’s what Emily Dickinson calls “a thing with feathers that perches in the soul/ And sings the tune without the words/ And never stops at all.”  She’s not writing about the finger-crossing wish that things would change, but about an expectation so sure that its song carries even in the “Gale.”

That kind of hope is certainly not dependent upon the fickle, fragile things of man. The hope that conveys a pleasurable confidence and expectation can only be anchored in Someone who has the power and possibility to fulfill a promise. It is so confident in this person that it holds even when trouble seems to go on Forever.

It’s the hope I fear our world is quickly losing. A law enforcement officer told me that the most common cause of calls he responded to on New Year’s Eve was suicide threats. Really? Not weaving the wrong way on a one-way street? Not serenading your neighbors with a sloppy song at 3 a.m.? But stabbing yourself? Shooting yourself? Not seeing any reason to be?

Hopelessness and despair are running rampant. It makes me mad, this deception of death that’s cloaking our culture. I know there is a God of Hope whose words have power. But I also don’t want to be like a noisy gong in the early morning by scattering words of scripture around when someone isn’t ready to receive them. (I wonder if they’re not received sometimes because they are not so evidenced in my own life—that was a sudden personal musing, do with it as you may.)

So this for today: May those of us who know the Lord, grow in the Delight of Him. He’s not just a memorized verse that we’ve pledged to think about or distant director who never smiles. I don’t know if Olympic runner Eric Liddell actually said the words the movie script credits him, but they’re good words to think about. He said, “When I run I feel his pleasure.”

To feel God’s pleasure.

May those of us who know the God of Hope press in to know his pleasure so much that it radiates from us and shines into the lives of those we encounter who have lost it, or never found it to begin with. May we pick up the battle of prayer because regardless of the lies and deception that are settling so softly over us—God’s word is true and powerful and we are the bearers of his hope.

And whether the Holy Spirit inspires you in the form of someone like Chris Hemsworth or Donald Sutherland, (speaking to women here!) I pray your dreams be sweet and you awake in hope!

In the joy of the Lord,

Marcia

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tribute to a Mayan named Mario



 Marcia Moston
The notation on the yellowing page in my Guatemala photo album reads: Dear Mario—a little goofy, a little blind, a lot loved. Mario (go figure a Mayan boy with the name Mario) latched onto us when we first arrived in his village in Guatemala many years ago.

Although he didn’t understand English, he always seemed to know when Bob was goofing and making up silly words. Mario stuck close to our daughter’s side and served as her protector when she went about the village or the home for orphans. My last memory of him as a boy was when he held the gate open for us, tears streaming down his face, as we drove out of the highland village of San Andres Sajcabaja for what we thought was the last time.

Last week Mario died in a bus accident in Quiche.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Help is on the way

Marcia Moston

 I thought it was unfortunate I didn’t have a problem that day. Otherwise I might have thanked the voice in the self-checkout machine at the supermarket for her encouraging words. Maybe taken them as being prophetic.

Unlike the woman on my GPS who launches into a frantic litany of commands before having a robotical breakdown if I veer from her directions, the checkout machine voice remained calm and collected. 

“Help is on the way,” she said after twice telling me to please put the item in the bag. I had already put the item in bag, but had tried to rearrange things so the milk wouldn’t sit on top of the tomato, which I had unwittingly put in first, but you can’t disturb the weight once it’s on the scale, and so I waited for my help to arrive—a young girl with her key card that set things in order again.

“Help is on the way.” The voice played in my mind throughout the day, reminding me of times I desperately needed to hear those words.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The corner hoarders, creativity and Bob

Marcia Moston

Have you ever noticed how so many houses on street corners belong to junk collectors? How you can be driving down a perfectly pleasant road, thinking to yourself, I wouldn’t mind living out here, and then you come to the house anchoring the corner. You know the place—the one with the bathtub and old tires and car hood from the 70s tossed alongside crumbling concrete lawn ornaments and tumbled over plastic swing sets. At first I thought this to be a phenomena of the countryside, but then I remembered George.

George had a sprawling corner lot in Islip Terrrace, a tidy neighborhood on Long Island. You had to walk by George’s fenced yard to get to the main street. Of course, you couldn’t help looking at the mounds of broken, rusting treasures George had somehow not only managed to find, but to haul back home. If George saw you looking over his fence, he’d yell and mutter something unintelligible, and chase you away. There’d be no coveting George’s precious possessions.

I am not a gatherer of the unnecessary, so when we moved to our own colonial on a corner in northwest Jersey, I had no reason to suspect we’d contribute to the corner collectors.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Searching for Messiah: A Jewish Man's Testimony

Like the light of dawn that rapidly dispels the darkness, God can change the trajectory of our past--our upbringing as well as our own actions--and direct a whole new future that affects our children and all those, even thousands, whose lives intersect ours. 

I love NY Times best selling author Joel Rosenberg's story of coming to faith and his parents' testimony and willingness to see truth. Look at the impact of that decision and take heart about what God has done and will do in your own lives, your family's and who knows who else’s. I doubt Rosenberg knew just how much his coming to the Messiah would impact his Jewish heritage and influence millions.

I recommend his encouraging post about his own recognition of the Savior and the surge in interest among Jewish people today about who Jesus is. What a reminder that even if the whole world turns against Israel, God is on the scene changing hearts. He will have the last word and the final victory.


"When my father, who was raised an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, discovered in 1973 — after a  careful study of the Gospel According to Luke — that Jesus of Nazareth is the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, and received the Messiah by faith, my father thought he was one of the first Jews in history who believed this. He had never met a Jewish believer in Jesus. He had never heard of  such a person. And in 1973, there were fewer than 2,000 Jewish people on the planet who were  followers of Jesus.


But today, some 300,000 Jews around the world are followers of Jesus. And millions of Jews are searching for the Messiah and thus reading the Hebrew prophecies . . ." 


In the joy of the Lord,
Marcia