Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crisis #362

"Hey, Honey. The toaster won't work." 

"Try another plug."

"Nope, it won't work over here either."

"Guess we won't have toast this morning."

I wasn't too upset. We'd already had to replace the toaster once. 

I moved to the stove area and flipped the switch for the overhead light. 

"Hey, the light over the stove isn't working." 

"The light in this room isn't working either. Hmm, the computer's running on battery."

"Quick, call Joe."*

"I'd really rather not disturb him again unless we have to."

Curt went downstairs to see if there was an announcement posted, as usual, inside the front door that he could decipher about the power being shut off for some reason. 
He was back in a flash.

"Evidently we're the only ones without power."

"Oh no, now what do we do? Let's call Joe."

"First I think I'll check the electrical box in the storage closet."

Curt didn't notice any of the circuit breakers being popped. 
He started to turn each one off and back on systematically. 

"Bingo! Hey, that's it. The lights are working."

Smiles. Cheers. Rejoicing. Gratitude.

"I'm glad we didn't have to bother Joe."

We solved the crisis with only God's help. Yippeeee!

Curt's The Man!

Let's have breakfast.

*our Czech neighbor

Monday, January 28, 2013

Psalm 18: 30-36

God = perfect, His way = flawless

God = a shield for those who hide in Him

God = the only Rock

God = my Strength

God = my Refiner

God = my Transformer

God = my Lifter-up

God = my Trainer

God = my Equipper

God = my Sustainer

God = my Advocate

God = my Protector

Hallelujah and Amen

Psalm 18:30-36  NIV 1984
30 As for God, his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord is flawless.
He is a shield
    for all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
    and makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he enables me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You give me your shield of victory,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    you stoop down to make me great.
36 You broaden the path beneath me,
    so that my ankles do not turn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Celebrating Sidewalks

You might guess that city sidewalks could be difficult to manage in deep snow.  

You might imagine that city sidewalks could be dangerous when covered with ice.

You would be correct.

Few people would think that city sidewalks could be tricky under a few fluffy flakes.

They would be wrong.

We know because we have now experienced all three options.

Last winter there were practically no clear pathways except downtown where the tourists roam. Every time we went out of our building we were taking our life in our hands.

We made it to the tram stop for a ride to the grocery store pretty much on schedule twice a week. We got to church most Sundays. That's all we could risk on the block and cobble stone walkways even though there was very little snowfall. 

This winter somebody must have decided clear sidewalks are important. 


The first time we came out and saw the open pathway down the middle of the sidewalk we felt like jumping for joy. There was even some sort of fine gravel sprinkled around for traction. We were able to walk normally instead of 'skating' as if we were walking on a frozen pond. 

AND that day wasn't a fluke. 

We've been enjoying snow-free passages all around the city no matter the precipitation or the temperature. 

I could say we're basking in sidewalks, but that sounds silly. 

Instead I'll just say we're celebrating them as gifts from above. 

"They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness."  Psalm 145:7

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Psalm 18:7-19

God doesn't merely know what's happening and what's coming up.

God doesn't ask me to simply understand His love, power, justice, mercy, compassion, 
. . . AND trust Him. 

Though all of this would (ought to be) more than adequate to sustain my life.

God goes further.

In the midst of the release of His wrath on the earth:

God reaches down and grabs hold of me,

God rescues me from whomever/whatever would overpower me,

God sustains me in the heart of calamity and tragedy,

God leads me into a wide-open spaces,

God does all this . . . provides . . . protects . . . brings me out


God delights in me.


Psalm 18:7-19 NIV 1984
The earth trembled and quaked,
    and the foundations of the mountains shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
12 Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.[a]
14 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies,
    great bolts of lightning and routed them.
15 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Haircuts & FEAR

I tore off a page of my calendar and read the note I'd written to myself. 

My stomach immediately tied itself into six square knots.

Haircut    (time to make an appointment)

I tried to fight the panic with reason. 

"What's the big deal?" I ineffectively asked myself.

I spent a week looking at that word alternating between complete avoidance and timid tolerance of the idea.  
(Izzie used to cut her own hair and it looked nice. ... It won't be that bad and it'll grow back.)

The next three days turned into bouts between rationalizing further delay and gritting my teeth to pick up the phone. 
(Maybe I'll let it grow out so I can wear a bun or French twist. ... You're a grown-up, just call.)

I jumped off the precipice on Agony Day 10 and touched in the number of the salon. 

It took everything inside of me to do it. I'm not joking when I say I was holding my breath.

The lady answered in Czech - naturally! I said hello in Czech and asked if she could speak English. She said 'one moment' in Czech and called out to her colleague. 

I took a breath. It was going just the way Samaria, the stylist from last time, said it would. 

Samaria remembered me and was happy to make another appointment at my convenience. 

I started praising God from the top of my raggedy hair to the tips of my slippered feet. My stomach muscles relaxed.

I know all this may sound absurd. It feels ridiculous to me as I write it.  But that's how feelings are a good bit of the time; irrational. (not logical or reasonable)

Now look, I'm not admitting that I didn't have an excuse for my fear. After all. I've gotten my hair chopped four times already in Prague. That's enough to send any lady under her covers.

And to be fair, I've had similar experiences in various places around the USA. It's just that in the cross-cultural setting there seem to be more details to feed the dreaded beast.

I seem to find myself walking this road of crippling fear pretty regularly. At this point I could probably write a lengthy essay on the biblical perspective of fear. 

Instead I'll let you know the nugget I'm seeing this time around. The only person who deserves to ignite the flames of gut-deep, heart-centered, mind-grabbing fear is Almighty God. May we each be humbled, repentant, and grateful before Him. Amen

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."  Matthew 10:28

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Psalm 18:1-6

I love the LORD. He's my STRENGTH.

I cry to the LORD for help in the midst of my distress.

The LORD is my Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, Horn of Salvation, and Stronghold.

How bad was it?

I was ensnared by arguments from hell, drowning in destructive emotions, confronted by tomb-like silence. 

The LORD heard my plea in His sanctuary. His ears were open to my voice. 

The LORD delivers me.

Praise His Holy Name!

Psalm 18

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
    He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I am saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave[b] coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came before him, into his ears.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Snow White, Laundry, Luxury

It was time! 

I went into the bedroom and took the cases off the pillows. I pulled the sheets from the bed and threw everything into the laundry basket. 

"Heigh Ho. Heigh Ho. It's off to work I go."

I put the sheets in the washing machine and headed off to get out another set. The fresh bedding was tucked in place and I exalted.

I put my hands on my hips and nodded my head in delight. 

"What L-U-X-U-R-Y."


I would have had that same reaction, if I hadn't been living with me in this sixth floor flat for the last 13 months. Here's the background.

We don't have a clothes dryer. It's not a big deal. We even prefer to air dry our clothes. It's just that winter weather is not very conducive to fabric losing its moisture. 

Last winter I had . . . (Shall I use the proverbial word? Yes, why not.) . . . an interesting go of it when it came to laundry, and sheets were the highlight.

Since we only had one set of bed linens I had to make sure to strip the bed and get them into the washing machine the very first thing in the morning. It was really important for me to keep one ear tuned to the washer so that as soon as it shut off I could get the sheets out and hanging. Even then the conditions were usually not adequate to dry them in time to re-make the bed. 

My clever little brain came up with the idea of draping the sheets and pillow cases on the radiators to complete the job. Thankfully that task was relatively easy since we didn't have any furniture to block access to our 'stable drying apparatus'. Week in and week out we would have a lovely montage of fabric collages decorating our living space. 

"O the days!"

But now, today, I revel in having an inventory of our former 'spare sheets' brought back from the USA. It's probably just as well we don't need the radiators to dry our bed clothes any more because the furniture God has given us would make it difficult to spread items on them. 

"Luxury of Luxuries!!"

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  Ephesians 3:20,21

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Yolky Yoke

I had a hard start to my day - not wanting to wake up, greasy dinner pans to wash, . . . When the first broken egg slid out of my hand, I almost laughed. I cleaned the sticky swath on my hands and knees, taking the high road in my thinking. Well, at least this one spot will be extra clean.

When the second egg hit the floor I started sobbing! 
I confess it. I was inconsolable. 
[read Believe it or Not!, 31 December 2012] 

I lowered myself to the task and once again scooped up the shell and most of its contents. Then I sprayed and scrubbed the runny stuff off the tiles. Tears and unhappy thoughts flowed.

Thankfully God interrupted my pity party!

The Spirit dragged my mind upward and the Father spoke to my heart with an impression I pray I will not soon forget.

At first it seemed I was hearing the tender words of my Savior, There's no need to be so upset, Sandra. I'm right here. My hands stopped moving as I paused to contemplate.

I knew I was falling on the spiritual battlefield. I was bathed in humility. My confession and request for forgiveness flowed from the lips of my heart. The words of Romans 8:1 burst over me, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

I thanked God for the verse. I let Him know how much I needed Him and His Word to hold me. I acknowledged my weakness. I denounced this human flesh that betrays me so often and so defiantly.

Somehow Jesus still seemed to be beside me. I sensed Him putting His arm around my shoulder in a reassuring embrace. I understand the flood of feelings, Sandra. Remember, I lived in the same type of body you've got and in the same fallen world. I worked along side Joseph, the carpenter.

I hit my thumb with a hammer. I had to pull splinters out of my flesh.

There were days I would measure once and have to cut twice. 

There were times when my younger siblings caused trouble - like the day they took a charred stick and wrote all over a piece of wood I'd fully polished for the front of a cabinet. 

[Look, I'm not a crazy lady. I know Jesus was not physically sitting on the floor next to me. I didn't hear an audible voice. I realize that these scenarios are not holy Scripture. Yet I was aware of my Older Brother's comforting presence in a powerful, almost tangible way.]

I'm glad you remembered Romans 8:1 because it's true. I'm not here to condemn you. I came to let you know that when the 'little things' overwhelmed my life my reactions never once fell short of the Father's standards. 

I received every single piece of frustration and annoyance, disruption and distraction, human interference and opposition as an expression of His perfect will for my life. I never reacted or retaliated improperly. I embraced every detail of my Father's plan to secure reconciliation and glorify Himself, no matter the cost.

I did all of that for you. 

You see, Sandra, I do understand that the human frame is incapable of meeting the Father's requirements. I came to earth to live that perfectly calm, loving, faithful, trusting, joyous life in order to offer it beside your name in the Book of Life. 

Right now, right here, the Father sees me graciously accepting the mess of these broken eggs from His hand and peacefully cleaning them up with gratitude for His watch care over me. That substitution of my behavior for yours is the Redemption He declared in Genesis 3:15 and fulfilled through Me. Please receive the consolation I bear and walk in it. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Household Emergency

"I'm going to have some coffee. Would you like a cup of tea?" My Honey asked.

What a lovely way to break from a morning of writing. And at just the right time too.

"Yes, thank you," I replied.

"Splutter . . . splosh . . . sputter," the spigot spat. 


We looked at each other in shock. The washing machine was running so maybe the problem was only in the kitchen. Nope, the bathroom sink doesn't have any water either.

Quick, unplug the washing machine. 


Curt called our Czech neighbor pretty certain that he'd know what was happening.


He turned his dishwasher off and went to see if he could find out what the problem was.

WAITING.  (Shall we whistle or twiddle our thumbs?)

Uh, in case nobody noticed, I haven't taken my shower yet.

Curt's cell phone rang. 

It's only supposed to be shut off for about half an hour to allow for an upgrade somewhere in the building. 


Sure enough, half an hour later we've got water.

Welcome to life in Prague with all it's ups and downs, covered in blessings by God's grace.