Happy Mother’s Day to Jean

Mother’s Day Thoughts For Jean Storey Stephens

May 13 2012

 10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife and mother? She is more precious than rubies. 11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.  20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes. 25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. 26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. 28 Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised. 31 Reward her for all she has done. Let her deeds publicly declare her praise. (Proverbs 31:10-30 NLT)

Jim  11 Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. 12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  Jean, this really stood out to me as I was thinking how to express what I love and appreciate so much about you.  I can trust you and you have greatly enriched my life!  I trust you with and about everything.  I always have.  I always can.  I always do.  You have made my life rich beyond measure and you have brought me a lifetime of good and not harm.

Melissa  19 Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.  I love that Mom has always created things – clothes, for sure, for us and for my boys, but also so many other things—food, crafts, a home, memories. Thankful for a heritage of creativity.  Love you, Melissa

Philip  20 She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy. 21 She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.  Jean (aka Mom) is the epitome of loving and caring. She has made me feel safe, loved, cared for, secure and protected, an integral part of her family.

Barbara  25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  One of the things I have admired about you, Jean, through the years, is your ‘grace under pressure’ approach to life.  If I had to choose one word to describe you, I long ago chose the word “grace.”  You conduct yourself with grace, in everyday life and in the difficult and challenging times of life.  Thank you for helping me to seek God’s grace in my life!  Happy Mother’s Day!  Love you, Barbara

Stephanie  26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  I love listening to my mom.  I’m sure that hasn’t always been the case.  I know I went through a time when I thought I knew it all.  But now I cherish her words—not only the words she speaks to me but the ones she speaks to Philip, the ones she speaks to Jesse, and the ones she speaks to God on my behalf.  I long for the wisdom of my mom.  The words she speaks bring me peace, they bring me clarity, and they bring me the knowledge that I am loved and not alone.  I love you, Mom.

Colin  27 She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.  You are like “Gran” Central Station.  You know everything that’s going on even when there is a lot going on. Thanks for orchestrating such fun gatherings of the family. Good times!

Jesse loves these things about Grandma:  She loves flowers.  We get to take family pictures with no one pushing the button.  I love reading the Bible with her in the morning.  I love Grandma.

Jude loves that Grandma gets him stuff that he wants. 🙂

Zane loves to go to Grandma’s house and do fun stuff. 

All  28 Her children and grandchildren stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”  And so today, your children bless you and your husband praises you!  Happy Mother’s Day, Jean!

Love, Jim and your family

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God’s Peace

In April, a couple of years ago, Jean and I and another pastor were visiting and ministering inBlantyre, Malawi.  This was our second southern African country on this trip and we had one more to go.

We were visiting three countries we’d never been in before and we had to go in and out of Johannesburg, South Africa each time to travel between the other countries.  Every time you cross an African border there are so many things that can go wrong.  And besides, the national airline of Malawi, which used to have seven planes, was down to one aging Boeing 737 that was so old it had ashtrays on the seat arms.  And it was rumored they were about to go out of business, possibly that very day, and we still needed to get out of Malawi, through South Africa, into Botswana!

I was so stressed!  I had been saying to God that if he didn’t find a way to help me deal with the stress of Africa travel, I didn’t think I could keep doing it.

We stopped at our friend Stuart Palmer’s office at the hospital where we had held the Training Course and the pastors’ meeting, to pray, to say goodbye, and to borrow his Land Cruiser and driver to get to the airport.

We talked and then Stuart prayed for us.  He prayed for safe travel and several other things and then he prayed for peace.  As he prayed, something engaged in my spirit and soul and I said, “Father, I receive the gift of your peace.”  I consciously took all my “what-if’s” and gave them to my Father.  I felt peace.

The day was long, the details of our travels were complicated.  Our flights were late.  But every time the stress started to rise, I consciously said, “Father, I give you all these things I can’t control.  Deal with them as you choose.  I receive your peace.”  And it worked!  And it has had a long-term effect.  It still requires conscious attention, decision, and release.  But it still works!

I choose to let God control my today and my tomorrow!

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Is America A Christian Nation?

 If so, that would make us followers of a brown-skinned Middle Eastern guy who didn’t speak a word of English.  His platform for change was good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, free universal health care, women’s rights, voluntary redistribution of wealth, tolerance of differences, and justice for the marginalized and oppressed.  His main enemies were the religious right and the military-industrial complex.  His political enemies said that his message of change would destroy the moral fiber of the nation and that his financial policies would ruin the economy.  He was eventually arrested and accused of being the leader of a terrorist cell and working to overthrow the government.  He died a convicted felon.

So you want us to build our nation on this guy’s teachings and example?  Cool!  When do we get started?

 

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I Believe In You

Listening to Bob Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” album from 1979 on iTunes while I was working on website stuff this morning.  Dylan’s song, “I Believe In You” never fails to bring tears to my eyes and an ache to my heart as I think of friends – brothers and sisters in the faith – who, like Bob, made such sweet and simple and whole-hearted declarations of faith in Jesus when we were all young would-be world-changers.

Then through the years, the cares of the world, the failures of the flesh, and the pain, hurt, and disappointment of betrayals by brothers and church leaders, caused them to drift from the “I Believe In You” intensity of their early faith.

Some are gone now, others living lives of quiet desperation.  Some who thought we were all going to change the world for God have settled for accepting the world as all there is.  I grieved for them today as I listened to Bob sing his bold declaration – so confident in its simplicity and, as we were back then, so unaware of the twists and turns of the road ahead.

From time to time people tell me I shouldn’t be so moved by Bob’s music from the “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved” era, but I’ve been moved by Bob’s music ever since I first heard it!  I’m still moved by the music he’s making at 71!  And I’ll tell you this:  Bob’s declaration to Jesus, “I Believe In You,” rings as clear to me now as it did when I first heard him sing it in 1979!

As for my fallen-away friends, who made their own declarations of undying love and unshakable faith all those years ago, I think Jesus still remembers their sweet and simple faith, and still has more room for them in his Kingdom than we usually do in our crowded hearts and busy schedules!

I grieve for what was lost, but I have hope for what may yet be found.  And “I Believe in You” still rings true!

Listen to “I Believe In You” by Bob Dylan here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tell The Story

4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. 5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles. 6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. 7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness. (Psalm 145:4-7 NLT)

It’s my God-assignment to keep the stories of God’s mighty acts alive for my children and grandchildren. I am determined to take more time to think about the things God has done in my life—how he has sent Jean and me from nation to nation, how he has opened doors of effective service, how he has provided for our needs in the most amazing ways, how lives (ours and others) have been changed as we served him and his people from day to day.

There really have been miracles! I need to think and talk about them and remind my daughters of the miracles of provision and blessing and protection we experienced in Washington, in Oregon, in Missouri, and in Jamaica when they were young. I need to make sure my sons-in-law hear those stories and know how God guided and provided and of the faith-heritage my daughters bring into their marriages. I must make sure my grandsons hear the God-stories from the days in Jamaica, London, and Africa.

Psalm 145 says, “I will meditate, I will proclaim, everyone will share the story.” So it’s up to me to 1) Meditate. I will think about the exciting, challenging, scary, and even routine times and craft the stories for my children, my grandchildren, and for anyone else who is interested! 2) Proclaim. In conversations, through my writing, as I teach and share God’s truths, I will tell the stories of God’s mighty acts! 3) Everyone will share. Others will learn God’s power, his character, his ways. Others’ faith will grow. Everyone wins! I will Tell The Story! And you, friends, tell your God-stories to everyone who will listen!

Prayer:

Father, You have been good and faithful to me and my family through the years. I have seen your hand of power, provision, and protection raised on my behalf and for my family. Remind me daily, Father, of your goodness and your mighty acts. I’ll meditate on these things and I’ll tell the stories to the next generations. I know you will be their God as you have been my God through the years. Amen.

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Expert Predictions

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” –Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.” –Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” –Popular Mechanics magazine, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” –The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.” –Dr. Lee DeForest, “Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television”

“But what … is it good for?” –Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” –Western Union internal memo, 1876

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” –David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” –A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” –Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With The Wind

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.” –Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” –Decca Recording Co., rejecting the Beatles, 1962

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Jamaica Independence Day 2011

Forty-nine years ago Jamaica won her independence from Great Britain. It was twenty-one years ago in October that I left Jamaica to move to the UK, but today I realized that I still remember these words from the Jamaica National Anthem.

Jamaica, Land We Love

Eternal Father, Bless our Land,
Guard us with thy mighty hand,
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours,
To our leaders, great defender,
Grant true wisdom from above,
Justice, truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love,
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty’s call,
Strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish,
Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above,
Justice, truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love,
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love.

Just wanted to share this with you.
Happy Birthday, Jamaica, Land We Love!

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Stay! Good Dog!

Last weekend was our annual family campout at Battleground Lake State Park, just north of Vancouver, WA. It’s about the sixth year for us and it’s become quite a family tradition.

The kids (Philip and Stephanie and Jesse) come down from Tacoma and the other kids (Colin, Melissa, Jude, and Zane) and Jean and I and Buddy the Dog drive up from Bend.

This year it rained about 2/3 of the time we were there. Camping for us is an “in tents” experience, so rain is definitely a factor affecting the overall enjoyment of the experience.

We had a canopy and some tarps and a broomstick or two and devised some ingenious covers for the common area so we could sit near the fire and stay not quite dry. The boys, especially Zane, really enjoyed splashing in puddles and making mud.

For a good part of the day on Saturday, I made Buddy the Dog stay in the tent trailer because it was just too muddy for him to be among us as we gathered round the fire and the table.

I made him stay in for his own good. But each time I went to the trailer, he looked at me with his big sad brown eyes as if to say, “Hey Boss, what have I done that is so wrong you’re making me stay in here while all of you are out there?”

There was no way I could communicate to Buddy that his having to stay inside alone was not punishment for some unknown sin.

I wonder if I’m like that. I wonder if sometimes God is requiring me to do something or be somewhere I don’t want to be or to miss out on the fun that others are having and it is, in fact, for my good. But I perceive it as punishment and feel guilty or feel wronged or feel unloved.

I wonder if it’s as hard for God to explain things to me as it is for me to explain things to Buddy the Dog.

I wonder!

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Are People Supposed To Just Smile?

Are people supposed to just smile and say, “Fine!” and talk about unimportant things and move on?

Are people supposed to say, “I’m breaking apart on the inside and I just want to run away from something that I can’t run away from because it’s inside me!”

If people smile and say “Fine!” their hearts get hollow, then hard, then brittle, then break.

If people say, “My life is on fire!” and try to tell it to the wrong person, it is very uncool.

Sometimes people can’t smile and say, “Fine!” anymore and they just say “It hurts so bad I took the plunge into being uncool because I don’t know what else to do!”

What if I’m a wrong person? What if I wince and turn away and leave the cry of pain hanging in the air?

What if I don’t turn away and I listen and take some of the pain myself? Is that enough? Is there anything else I can do?

I mean what are people supposed to do, just smile and say, “Fine?”

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Installing a Ceiling Fan

My second project for the day was installing a ceiling fan in the bedroom.  We’ve had the fan for a month and today is the day to git ‘er done!

I carefully opened the box, found and removed the packet containing the instructions.  I’ve learned from previous installation projects that it’s good to read the instructions before ripping open the box and scattering all the parts around the house.

So I read through 6 pages of step-by-step, detailed instructions (with photos and diagrams) and it really looks doable!  I can’t quite picture all the details, but it looks like it will make sense when I get to it.

The first thing is to make sure the electrical box you’re going to install it to is UAL approved and properly fitted, then go for it.

I took the existing light fixture down and discovered that the existing electrical box is plastic and is not properly anchored to a ceiling joist or support bar and I have no idea what to do next!

Thinking it through, it seems that one might go into the attic, try to avoid falling through the ceiling, and carefully fit a support bar between two ceiling joists at just the right location to match the hole in the ceiling sheetrock, install an approved electrical box, and properly attach and anchor the electrical wires.

Thinking it through again, that’s way beyond my agility level (climbing up a ladder, through a 16-inch hole in the closet ceiling, picking my way over the wall into the space above the bedroom, crawling across 14 feet of ceiling joists – and then discovering I forgot the tape measure).  It’s also way beyond my skill level to think I could get the support bar cut and installed so it would support the weight of a ceiling fan.  And I have no doubt we’d have a sort of oblong hole in the ceiling sheetrock about a foot from where the fan should go.

So I put it all back in the box for now as I settle down to await a visit from a carpenter-electrician angelic being who will figure out what to do next.

I did, however, manage to put the existing light fixture back and it still works.  So at least we’re no worse off than when I started.  Oh, and I vacuumed up all the sheetrock, insulation, and plaster dust I scattered all over the bedroom.

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