Friday, May 27, 2011

A Pink World

There is a Cherry-Blossom tree where I live that is glorious in pink splendor every spring. Not only is the tree loaded with 'pink' but the falling double rose-like blossoms fall to cover the grass under the tree!

Recently, a young friend of mine celebrated her 17th birthday with a 'Pink' party.
After the party she wrote a poem. She gave her permission for me to share it.

A Pink Teen
She was Pink.
And all she ever wanted was Pink.
Pink... Pink, Pink, Pink.
Pink paint, Pink walls and a Pink Royal Ball
To which all who attended were Pink.
Pink crown, Pink hair, and a Pink teddy bear
Given to her by a prince who wore Pink.
Just think ... Pink !... a world painted in Pink!
She wanted no fur, nor mink, not any un-Pink thing.
For all she ever wanted ... was Pink.
Pink love, Pink tears, Pink through all the years
Until her life blazed the color of Pink.

What color will your life be?
by McKenzie Rigney

When I first read her poem, I smiled and thought - What a sweet little poem but the question in the last line hung itself on my mind and made me think.
I realized there was a deeper underlying meaning in the words of McKenzie's poem.

The girl in the poem loved 'pink'. Every choice she made was coloured by 'pink'. If it wasn't pink she turned away from it. It was her overriding focus - Pink - the color that brought harmony and beauty and unity in her life!
She was not satisfied... her yearning was not stilled... not until her whole world blazed with Pink!

What color will your world be? What colour mine?

Each of us is offered a palette of colour from which we choose the color that will eventually determine the visual reality of our life.

Some people choose the color of money. Their choices, their goals, their decisions are coloured by the questions... How will this be good financially? What is the monetary advantage here? What is this worth? Is this a promising investment? What is the return for my time spent? More and more their life will brushed until there is nothing left that is not painted the color 'money.

Some people choose the color of self. Their choices, values, motives are painted by the questions... How will this make me feel? Will this make me look good? Will this give me what I want? Me, me, me is the only paint-loaded brush that colors their character, their life... until every is painted the color of 'self'.

Some people chose the color of ego/pride. They load their paint brush to paint .. asking .. How will this give me the advantage over others? How can I show my superiority - intellectually or otherwise? Where can I put others down to show myself higher? Where/how can I find opportunity to put myself in control or be the one with the final word? Finally, with their whole world painted with 'pride' they find themselves alone.

Others may choose the color love. In every situation their brush is ready to pain ... Will I find love here? Can I show love here? Will this choice/decision make me feel loved?

Other choices are made. Some choose the color or discontent.. or the default color of anger. Some may choose the color of good works, the colour of giving or the color of giving their life in service to others.

Our color of choice will keep painting our life until we are known for our color. People will see what our overriding desire are, what motivates us, what determines the value of what we accept or reject.

But how can we know that in the end we will be happy with the color we have painted our world? I believe no matter how pretty or appealing a color may initially look.. there is only one color that will ultimately satisfy us with lasting beauty.

I want the color of my life to be the color of Jesus Christ. I want my thoughts to be a color reflection of His thoughts. I want my actions to be painted with the color of His love in me. I want my reactions to be pained with the color of obedience in forgiveness and grace. I desire the glow of His countenance to be reflected on mine. I want my motives, goals, choices, decisions to be painted with the color of His Word. I will reject all that is un-Jesus. I desire for my world to be ablaze with this one color so that those who look at my life will see and recognize the color of Jesus.

What would the world be like if everyone chose the color of Jesus?

We cannot paint the whole world but we can paint our life 'spot' in it - imagine spots joining to spots until there is a coming together in the unity and harmony of ONE color that the world will not be able to ignore !!

"Till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness (color) of Christ!" Eph. 4:13

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Perfect !

A perfect shot, isn't it ?

My daughter took it of their family dog and sent me the photo with the challenge to use it for a devotional.
I awwww...ed over the photo , of course! Then, I let my thoughts go and I followed them.
Let me share them with you .

Scattered throughout our days and years, often in unexpected time and place, are flashes of perfection. We see a sudden vision of beauty, the coming together of details unusual or rare, insights that quicken our spirits or stir our emotions.

Often we recognize the fleeting quality of a perfect moment and something deep in us immediately reaches out to grasp hold and somehow capture, record, preserve it to relive its pleasure at will, to share it with others or to ensure that the experience will not be subject to fading in our less than perfect memories.

We reach for the camera or the pen to freeze the image, experience or insight that marks its significance in our soul.

Perfection ! Why does the mere glimpse of it resonate so profoundly in the depths of our being?

Did you ever stop to consider that we were created for perfection? That perfection is what 'fits' us best ?
No wonder we are so uncomfortable with sickness, grief, sorrow, pain, confusion, injustice and yes... death itself. We were never 'fitted' for those kind of things. We yearn for the perfect. When there is no longer a need to hold on to fleeting glimpses.

We were created in the image of our Creator God who is a God of Perfection. Would we not also be designed to enjoy perfection as well?

The garden of Eden was perfect. Sin destroyed that perfection and the resulting consequences were ill-fitted to man, leaving him ever dissatisfied deep in his soul.
But God's plan was still perfect....He would use man's failing to raise him up to be a 'perfect' man , fitted in every way to enjoy an eternity of perfection! He sent Jesus to prepare the way... and to send the His Spirit into our hearts . That is our work in this life - to yield to the indwelling Spirit guiding us, preparing and perfecting us for our true eternal home!

There is an interesting verse in Ecc. 3:11 that says "He has made everything beautiful (perfect) in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."

Some bible translators translate the original Greek work into the English 'eternity' and some as 'the world' .
I think both together give the best sense of what God is saying. God has indeed put a sense of eternity and perfection in our hearts so we never lose the yearning to be perfect as we were created to be.
But as long as we are in our earthly bodies we are limited by this earth time. We do not have the ability to see what God did before our time or what He will do after this earth time is over. We cannot imagine what true perfection in all things is like !

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." I Cor. 2:9

One day this earth will end and there will be a new beginning ... A new heaven and a new earth where perfection will rule.
Can you imagine?
Never more a disappointing moment, a moment of sadness, a twinge of pain or regret. The moments of perfection we yearn to hold onto here will stretch timelessly there with nothing to cause even a ripple of discord. Every moment, every experience, every thought, every vision is unending perfection!
What unspeakable joys await us !!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

When People Pray

Does God answer when people pray ??
Let me tell you ... YES YES !!!!

Several months ago I was diagnosed with a large substernal thyroid mass with suspicion of cancer . There followed seemingly endless blood tests, scans, biopsies, ultra sounds, x-rays and referrals to thyroid and thoracic surgeons. I was told to expect something beyond a simple surgery.
Friends, acquaintances and even an atheist rallied around me assuring me of their love and prayers! I was overwhelmed with the love and concern poured out toward me. (the photo above depicts my own 'private nurse' knit for me by a neighbour)
Finally my surgery was booked and on Tues. of this week we left our house at 4:00 am for my 7:25 am surgery appointment at Vancouver General Hospital.
Right to the last minute, complications were expected .... but people were praying!

God answered every single prayer !!!

Medical Concerns Wiped out by Prayers

1. Breathing Tube -- because of the substernal mass , my trachea tube was somewhat compressed and curved. In my pre-surgery appointment with the anaesthetist he advised that because there was doubt whether the tube could be safely inserted after I was put out, it would have to be inserted while I was still awake. He called in a second opinion and his diagnosis was confirmed.
I was nervous about being awake for it.... but as I lay in the pre-op ward the two anaesthetists came to see me. Two very sweet young women. They stood at the end of my bed reviewing my charts and then said... "It would be soooo much more comfortable for you if we put the tube in after you are asleep. We think we can do it... If not, we'll just wake you up again. We will have to put in a larger tube though, which will make your throat more painful in recovery." The thoracic surgeon stopped by and briefly discussed with them the procedure and agreed, adding however that the larger tube would hinder the surgeon's space since she needed all the room she could get. So, he advised the smaller tube! The girls agreed.

2. Neck Opening not Enough
My surgeon advised me that because of how far the mass had grown down into my chest there was a real concern that she would not be able to get it out the usual way through a neck opening. A thoracic surgeon would attend and he would make three openings in my ribs through which two cameras and an instrument would be inserted to push the mass up toward the throat opening for the surgeon to pull the mass out. Failing that, there was a slight chance that my breastbone would need to be broken. I was prepped for the more complicated procedures -- which were not necessary!! The surgeon told me the morning following the surgery that the mass was not down as far as she had believed it to be.
Either all the scans/x-rays were deceptive or God in answer to prayers, shrunk the mass up to where the surgeon could reach down to pull it up through the throat opening. I am convinced it was the later. I had the best surgeons who certainly know how to read test results and examine pictures.

3. Nerves for the vocal cords - My surgeon warned me because of the close proximity to the nerves for the vocal cords there was a good possibility my voice would be affected, hopefully only temporarily. The nerves are often difficult to see. The resident surgeon who was in the operating room came to see me that evening and said with delight in his voice... "Your nerve was just lying there in the open !!" So my voice was not affected at all.

4. Pericardius Attacks
Because I have re-occuring pericardius attacks triggered by my rheumatoid arthritis and because surgery can trigger the attacks in healthy people, there was concern that I would suffer an attack after the surgery. Precautionary drugs were injected into my IV before surgery.
I had no attacks !

5. Cancer - while the mass was sent to the pathology lab for analysis, my surgeon feels that judging by sight she does not expect it to be cancer.

Personal Comfort
1. Vic --One of my biggest concerns going into surgery was was my husband. He was very concerned and I worried about him sitting waiting for me to come out of surgery. A couple of days before my surgery, he had a break-through... He found that place where He could trust the Lord for my well-being. And then my daughter was able to come with us on surgery day to keep him company .. Again, God taking care of the details. It was such a comfort to me to have them both with me!

2. Going, going, .. The last thing I remember in the operating room is looking at the speckled ceiling and watching the plaster specks quiver. Immediately after, I heard a voice drawing me awake. "Julianna, you are in recovery!"
I murmured ... "I was dreaming." I don't remember my dream except for the last scene which was vivid in my mind. A pastoral scene of a meadow... grass, trees , a grazing black and white cow, and sunshine. I opened my eyes to look out the window to see the weather had changed. The picture window revealed a large blue patch of sky bordered by bright fluffy white clouds. When I told my husband, he smiled a big smile remembering a vision he had had before I went into surgery of a blue sky and white clouds and the Lord impressing him with joy!
"So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture will give You thanks forever, We will show forth Your praise to all generations!" Ps. 79:13

3. Pain - Though I was in a fair amount of pain when I awoke, pain meds were quickly administered and those in the recovery room were the only pain meds I have needed.

4. Hospital room -- I had at first requested a private room, but I became uncomfortable with that decision, thinking that spending the extra money was maybe not necessary and we decided that we would just trust God to chose the room for me.
My room was beautiful!! Very quiet... just me and a little old lady.

My room was on the 9th floor and my bed was positioned so that without moving my head, two large windows allowed me to have a view of Vancouver city back dropped by the mountains and eastern sky.
I lay for hours in the Lord's Presence, relaxed and peaceful, enjoying the changing scene before me.
God and I have a code word - 'wings' - that God tucks into a verse or a song or a written/spoken word... to bring me His message of comfort or assurance of His Presence with me. Here ... the 'wings' were real -- the seagulls swooped and soared eye-level , beautiful in their feathered colours of striking shades of black and white. I was mesmerized as I floated with them in the sky and smiled when one and another would soar , wings extended, making a deliberate pass-by almost grazing the window panes.
The clouds formed and reformed, the late afternoon sun edged the clouds in brilliant white, then brushed them with pastel pink as slowly the day faded . Lazily, one by one the lights of the city came on until they sparkled like countless jewels against the night sky.

5. Care - I could not have asked for more gentle, hospital caregivers ... from surgeons, to nurses, to support staff.

6. Friends/family - Sometimes we take our friends/loved ones for granted or don't really realize how many friends we have. I have been overwhelmed with the love of those who share my 'space' in life.

I want to thank EACH ONE OF YOU !! for your expressions of love and for your heartfelt prayers ! Know that God heard and answered !!
May we all be encouraged to pray more , full of assurance that our loving God is listening , ready and willing to answer above and beyond what we can think to ask !
Truly ... "We have not because we ask not!" (James 4:2,3)

"To God be all glory and thanksgiving!"