Sunday, April 29, 2007

My Cousin Went Home from the Hospital!

Celebrate with us... my precious cousin Hillary was discharged today from the hospital. We're all so thrilled and thankful. Click link on sidebar to get more details and to see great photos of their departure. Thanks to the Lord... and let's keep praying!

Friday, April 27, 2007

It took an old CD and a Pound Cake

to get me in the mood to write again. Like my dear friend, I too feel like I need to reintroduce myself after this long retreat. "Hi audience of 3 and lurkers, Rachel here-- husband of my sweetie and 2 dear sons, very very very part-time campus minister, etc. etc.etc.!"

I've been appropriately sidetracked by important things like my cousin's diagnosis and the VA Tech shootings. I've also chosen to dive into some less noble but still important items around here like spending some good time with my precious Doug (well, that would be noble time-spending, actually), cooking, organizing, and even some early-to-bed nights. Wanting to write has been far down on the list, which has resulted in some writer's block when the desire has hit. Anyway, here I am...

Things have gotten a little wild at chez Flaherty. Tonight I dove into a hobby from my "old life" B.K. (before kids)... baking. I even switched the cd in my portable cd player! I think Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams has been living there for at least 6 months. I pulled out my "old" Sixpence's Divine Discontent and was taken to another world. I'm not certain what was a greater gift, the act of daydreaming itself or the other worlds to which I was taken. I don't have the space for daydreaming much these days, so I was so grateful for the ways these two physical elements drew me into the metagination- my new word of the day. And by it I mean... a place to which I could travel in my head... a place of memories of the past, a place of creating in the present/future.

I was drawn to remember two dear friends with whom I spent much time when I first owned the cd. Interesting how music can do that to you. Memories of long conservations at coffee shops, on campus couches, and even in my humid basement vividly suctioned to my mind.

One was an intern I was training at the time and the other was a student I was discipling. Both now are amazing women on staff, both have huge and exciting things going on right now in their lives. Both live at far enough distance I can't spend the time I long to spend with them while they have these exciting things going on... so it was a nourishing to spend quality time with them in my head- if I can call it as such. According to this song, "If I were a Painter", Nora Jones says I can! I love you Allison and Karen! It was great to see you on this night.

And then I was pulled to the world of creating. Maybe it was the creating of the pound cake that brought my mind and heart to a place of wanting to create more. Flour, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla & almond flavoring, butter, milk, eggs... apart they are not so great, really. Together they make something beautiful and really tasty.

I've been longing for deeper Bible study in my life. Maybe it's my ministry background, maybe it's my vocation- which takes less and less time these days. Maybe it's the raw fact that I'm rarely in It myself these days.

Maybe it's my longing for the Scriptures that never seems to get met in the "Bible studies" I find myself in that are more about fellowship and sharing--- totally important things and nourishing in and of themselves, to be sure. But they often leave my love for the Scriptures unrequited.

Being ministry-minded is a blessing and a curse. I can't sit in my longing for long before I start wondering--- "maybe I should do something about this." So I began to create...

So the creating I did in my head while Leigh Nash was singing and my mixer was spinning was a Bible study that looked at parents in the Scriptures. Abraham and Isaac came to mind. And folks in the Gospels that brought their wounded children to Jesus. And even Jesus' teaches about leaving and hating your father and mother. I found myself longing to sit in these Stories with my woman friends and longing to be met as a Mommy and as a daughter by the Creator of all little and big stories.

It felt good. Anyone want to join me? Apart we are not so great, really. Together, we could make something beautiful and really tasty. Bring your paint brush and let's go!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A Post for Hillary during the Fight of her Life

My dear cousin Hillary is suddenly in the fight of her life. She was diagnosed on Thursday with acute myeloid leukemia. A couple of weeks ago doctors thought she simply had mono. She self diagnosed at the beginning of the week after looking up her symptoms on wikipedia; doctors confirmed this diagnosis Thursday with blood tests. Thursday evening, she began the first of several rounds of chemotherapy. A few basic facts for those who don't know her... Hillary is 30 years old, lives and works in the San Francisco area, and in October married her beloved Chris.

This post is for you and your family, Hill.

Anyone who can self diagnose reflects a resourcefulness and love of life needed to fight such a disease. And you have that. You keep making sure those docs are on top of things!!

I remember when you backpacked Europe after college, by yourself. I've always seen you as a strong and courageous woman!

In elementary school you had a miniature pointillism painting on your mirror. Your love for art began at an early age. You see beauty in life that so many of us pass.

Around the time of middle school, you heard about how animals were treated in their preparation for us to eat. Out of a hurt and conviction for their welfare, you became vegetarian... and you have stuck with that all this time. Most of us in middle school were consummed with fleeting things like how to make our bangs as high as possible. You, however, exhibited a heart of deep compassion that was willing to live out your convictions.

Hillary, you are such an intelligent, compassionate, beautiful, and committed woman, one that I am proud to also call cuz. I stand with everyone who loves you and cheer you on during this, the fight of your life.

On the eve of Easter, may you know and understand in a unique way how God has special blessings for the sufferer. As you, and therefore those who love you, suffer, may you become like Him- who suffered for us on the Cross... may you allow your suffering to lead to abundant life both here and in eternity. May God, the Giver of Life, give you new physical and spiritual life that exceeds anything you could ask for or imagine! (see "footnote.")

Across cyberspace I send you much love and a host of my friends who are joining me in prayer for you, Hillary. And I also send much love to those closest to you... Chris- your beloved husband with whom you long to "share a permanent pillow", your Mom and Dad- who loved you their youngest daughter before they even knew you, and to Stevie... your sister and best friend whom you have longed to be beside your whole life. God's most precious blessings to you all!

"7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 3: 7-14)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Thoughts from Hebrews 10

With heavy eyelids and a warm cup of coffee in my hands, I read Hebrews 10 this morning. It was a refreshing chapter... partly because it was a bit less complicated and more straightforward than previous, more confusing chapters, at least for this twice baby-brained mommy.

And partly because it was so blasted encouraging. The author reminds us that Christ's sacrifice was required once. Sacrificing bulls and goats no longer has to happen. Jesus' body Himself replaced that act, one time.

Encouraging to me today because:
It happened once; it's done, finished. I don't have to repeat and save up my bulls or banana bread given to neighbors or quiet times in the Word or polite thoughts or spiritual revelations in the hopes that they might save me in and of themselves, any longer. No more day after day sacrifices. No more wondering if this one will really take. One time and it was done.

Not only was it only once, the sacrificing of that one time didn't even have to be done by me. I didn't have to save up for that one last sacrifice myself, putting all that I had on the line-- one painful sacrifice that I just had to hope was good enough for our Creator. No. It was one time.

And the one who required the sacrifice actually gave the sacrifice this time. The Lord. Who gave Himself.

And somehow I complain that this life, this christian life, is hard. How can I think following the Lord is hard when I don't have to do anything in and of myself to receive His eternal atonement. To receive His love, His grace, forgiveness, His indwelling inside me. He did it once. And He did it.

I think I have a little deeper understanding that the Lord loves us SO much. To quote the way we write in emails, "soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much." :)

Lord, help me receive your love anew today. And use it to mold me as your daughter who more and more wants to drop everything to follow you and love you back.