Thursday, September 26, 2013

Yes You Can -- Rice Bowl Ministries

Cal Rice
I got out of my car at the bakery outlet and looked at the van beside me. Rice Bowl Ministries was written on the side. Feeding the Hungry; Clothing the Poor. At that moment I had three large bags of clothes in my trunk that I wanted to donate. There are lots of thrift stores that will sell your donations, but I wanted to find an outlet that would put our clothes on the backs of people who needed them, and it dawned on me that I may have found just such an outlet!

I stepped inside and found a man gathering up his purchases. "Is that your van out there?" I asked. When he said it was I told him my situation. Yes, indeed, he would take the clothing to pass out to folks who could use it. I followed him to his van.

The man's name is Cal Rice and he and his wife Jackie are passionate about serving others. The Lord used this passion to bring them together six years ago. A widow, Jackie had no plans to re-marry unless she found someone with a common heart. And that was a heart of service, which she has demonstrated for year as she has raised her children, taken in folks with difficulties, or served in soup kitchens. Jackie met her match in Cal. Among other things, Cal started Shepherd's Heart Food Bank in Burlington and has been involved in Love INC, a network of Skagit County churches committed to meeting the needs of the community through sharing the resources, ministries, and talents of the people in their congregations. They were married a month-and-a-half after they met!

Jackie Rice

With hearts like theirs (and Rice for a last name), what could be more suitable then that they should begin Rice Bowl Ministries?

I spent some time with them at Project Homeless Connect, a day-long event working to end homelessness in Skagit County. They were one of dozens of agencies and ministries offering various services. Rice Bowl Ministries was a highly visible group, with its bus, van, two trucks and 24 volunteers!

It was a busy day for them as they started out with more than twice the items
on these tables and racks.

Every week Rice Bowl Ministries parks the van in a various places and passes out clothes and bedding in the community. The van is carefully organized and includes not only pants, shirts, and jackets but also things like underwear, hats, belts, and winter coats. When the van returns to Cal and Jackie's home after an outing, it takes them a couple of hours to restock it and prepare it for the next run.

A donated van with a canopy attached makes them an all-weather parking lot outreach

There is a row of winter coats behind this row of lighter weight jackets

Pants, organized by size

Every inch of this van is efficiently organized to provide maximum space
for carrying clothing and other supplies

The Soroptomists of Anacortes helped get Rice Bowl Ministries up and running, but used clothing and supplies now come to them through people in the community. Cal picks up donations at various locations, or folks drop them off at their home. "I've only parked in the garage once in eight years," Jackie told me. "There's just no extra room in there for a car!"

Because Jackie is recovering from a back injury, she is grateful that others are taking more responsibility for the ministry. The day after Project Homeless Connect, a men's group was planning to take the van out for them for an event; it was the first time a group has helped them out in this way. They are praying for someone to take over the ministry at their house.

Even if that happens, it will not stop them from serving. As soon as they find a place to offer meals they want to get back to feeding the hungry. Through Operation Soup, which is awaiting a new location, they have served as many as 100 people a day. If you know of a place in the Mt Vernon area, please let them know.

In their beautiful, selfless way I watched Cal and Jackie interact with clients and volunteers, laughing with people, tracking down more shopping bags or offering a prayer for someone with a need, always sharing the love of Jesus. It is an honor to call them my brother and sister in Christ. I plan to spend more time with them and some of the incredible people they introduced me to. (Has Jackie's sister ever got a story! I'm looking forward to sharing it with you down the road!)

This encounter was clearly God-ordained. He used three bags of clothes to get me together with two of his very special servants and to introduce me to a lively, healthy network of his people actively sharing his love. If you feel a nudge to come alongside Rice Bowl Ministries in some way -- by donating clothes, bedding or furniture, or by helping distribute clothing, or if you know of a place to host a soup kitchen -- don't miss out on the opportunity. Let's also pray for them. As Cal and Jackie bless so many people, let's bless them too.

Cal and Jackie Rice

* * * * * 
Yes You Can is a monthly post featuring people who see a need and do something about meeting it. Is there something you feel drawn to do but aren't sure you can? Let the stories here encourage you. By God's grace, Yes You Can!

* * * * *

Update: I just received this note from Jackie:
Thanks Ginger and a big thanks to you.  We have a lot of friends who help us with this ministry and I would like to give them all a big thanks.  We could not do this by ourselves as we have gotten so big. I have ladies that come by when they can and help go through clothing and some of our board members are here all the time helping out.  I don't want people to think we do it all by ourselves.  And, thanks to the people who donate the clothing etc.  Without them, we would not be here.  Thank God for everything as it is His ministry that we have been blessed to run.  And, thank you for your wonderful blog.  I am looking forward to seeing who else you have chosen to write about.
God Bless you, Jackie
Rice Bowl Ministries

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's for Dinner? Roasted Veggies and Pears!

I stopped by Lisa R's house yesterday to get the box of pears she picked up for me on her annual produce run to Eastern Washington. (What a blessing she is to lots of folks who order peaches, pears, tomatoes, potatoes, whatever she rounds up, and carries it all back in her van!) 

She told me about the dinner she'd made for her family and it sounded so good that, by the time I got home, I'd changed my evening's menu. It was so delicious that I wanted to share it with you. Here's what we did:

Roasted Veggies and Pears

Peel a delicata squash, remove the seeds, and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Peel and slice 2 or 3 carrots. Scrub several potatoes and cut them into bite-sized pieces, unless they are already very small. (If they are organic they will not need to be peeled.) Cut up 1 or 2 onions; prepare several cloves of garlic. Cut up 2 pears (or Asian pears).

Pour olive oil into a roasting pan, add the vegetables, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. (We used sage, thyme, and oregano.) Mix them so that they become coated with the olive oil. Add the pears and mix again.

Cover. Place in a preheated (375 degree) oven, and roast for an hour.

My before and after photos don't do this dish justice. I wish my food photography skills were better developed! The fresh, chopped ingredients were a beautiful medley of color and the aroma as they cooked called to us from the living room. Everything was cooked perfectly (nothing still firm yet nothing too soft). But the best part of the dish was the pears. They were a little under-ripe when I prepared them, but by the time they were finished roasting they were had the most lovely red blush to them. They were a perfect addition to the roasted veggies.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ode to Summer as She Ends

Here is my song bidding summer farewell. It was an amazing summer, with the great weather, the feeling of being warm clear to my bones for weeks on end, wonderful times with people I love, opportunities for service, and many other blessings. I don't mind fall, and I don't really expect it to live up to summer's glories. Indeed, I suspect it will have its very own highlights. But it was so nice to be warm. I guess I'll just have to buy a new sweater or two.

So here's my song, to be sung to the tune of The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, with my sincerest apologies to them.

Good-bye summer, my old friend,
I'm sad to see you have to end,
But the calendar informed me
That your glowing sun which warmed me
Will be cooling as, tomorrow, autumn comes.
I am bummed --
There'll soon be no more summer.

Under the sun I spent my days,
Enjoying all your gracious ways,
The fresh tomatoes from the garrrr-den,
Watching my muscles start to harrrr-den
As I walked through the neighborhood at night.
Such a delight
To have a happy summer.

Good times with friends and family,
Sitting with Tom under a tree,
A happy birthday dinner with my sis --
Who knew that life could be as sweet as this!
It was more than I ever could have dreamed,
And now it seems
We've reached the end of summer.

The awesome books I got to read,
The flower beds I did not weed,
The joy of sumer filled my heart each day,
And now the only thing that I can say
Is, "Thank you for the marv'lous memories.
Oh, won't you please,
Repeat yourself next summer?"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

So I Stay Near the Door

Entrance to Chartres Cathedral by Tom Kauffman

So I Stay Near the Door
A poem by Rev. Samuel Shoemaker

I stay near the door.
I neither go too far in, nor stay too far out.
The door is the most important door in the world --
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There's no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it...
So I stay near the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door -- the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands,
And put it on the latch -- the latch that only clicks
Ad opens to the man's own touch.
Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter --
Die for want of what is within their grasp. 
They live on the other side of it -- live because they have not found it.
Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him...
So I stay near the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in --
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stay near the door.

The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving -- preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for these who have entered the door
But would like tot run away. So for them too,
I stay near the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.
Where? Outside the door --
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But -- more important for me --
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch,
So I shall stay by the door and wait
For those who seek it.
'I had rather be a door-keeper...'
So I stay near the door.

Thinking today of some of the door-keepers who have been a part of  my life:
Arvon Hughes
Marky Barrett
Carole Rasmussen Dryer
Earl Magnusson
Muriel McDowell
Miriam Adeney
Dan and Carolyn Brannen
Rick Rood

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Four Years of Blogging

It was four years ago today that I woke up with a bee in my bonnet. I can't rightly say how it got in there, but she started buzzing early in the day and stung me by mid-morning. "Today is the day you start a blog," she said, and she left her stinger inside my head.

Seems to me she must have been a queen bee, as she was quite insistent on how things should be done. I should write today, I should publish at 8:57 every morning (she knew that I needed some incentive to be consistent by writing each day and meeting a deadline; she thought if I published at three minutes to nine I would be a bit ahead each day -- if only by three minutes -- and that it would give me a blog name that was not already taken), and that if I chose the name Chrysanthemum, nobody would ever find me. Turns out I couldn't even spell it myself and had to look it up.

So I kicked my son off the computer and sat down to write.

It's a snap to stat a blog on Blogger. Select a template, choose some colors and styles, drop in a few photos, type up a story, and hit "Publish." Within an hour or so I was an official blogger.

That first day I got a comment from a reader in the Philippines! I was ecstatic! Let me just say right out loud, I've received comments from time to time, but a blogger soon learns that you dare not blog with the express desire of accumulating comments. You blog because you have something to share. Maybe it's a deep and stirring thought, an insight, a bit of humor, or something mundane that you just want to say. And maybe people will comment. But probably they won't.

As I study the map in the Blogger Stats, I am always a bit overwhelmed by how far flung my readers are. Usually the US is the darkest green (meaning the most readers on a given day or week) but for months, now, Russia is a close second. Russia? Why Russia? I don't know -- they never write to tell me why they're reading!

As for what I write, and why. I've been advised that a blog should focus on a general area, that being the writer's area of special interest or knowledge. Since there was no dominant motif I felt qualified to pursue, I decided to open a package of wildflower seeds and sprinkle them across the pages of my blog and see what bloomed. A little cooking, an occasional book review, stories about interesting folks I've met along the journey, a passion for the Jesus Way, videos and stories I've enjoyed, music (especially, but not limited to, hymns), parenting and other life callings, lovely places to visit (and lovely times sharing them with my husband) -- and a few seeds of my dopey humor. I love rose gardens, but I'm more of a wildflower kind of gal.

At first I posted Monday through Saturday at 8:57 a.m. That was pretty wearing, and I soon discovered I didn't have nearly enough clever stuff to say every day. But, like the kid in the book Holes, who had to get used to taking a cold shower every morning, I got better at creating my own content over time. When I cut back to just three days a week it relieved some of the pressure I had put on myself, but I know that the consistency of posting on a regular basis was a great discipline for me.

Now I'm rambling, which is not becoming in a blog. So let me just say, after nearly 1000 posts and over 100,000 pageviews (not all mine or even my husband's!), it looks like I'll still be here for the foreseeable future.

If you'd like to comment -- especially if you are from Russia -- go ahead! And any time you'd like, take a stroll through my garden. The blog archive in the right margin lists all the posts I've ever done. Or you can query for a topic in the search bar at the top left of the page.

Thanks for visiting. May you leave with a bouquet to brighten up your corner of the world.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Reflection on a Friend's Passing

Artus died. She was the 93-year-old mother of my childhood friend, Gretchen. Artus and her four kids lived about a block from us and I spent quite a bit of time at their house, especially in my elementary school days.

I liked Artus. She was always kind and welcoming.

I remember her cinnamon rolls. My mom's cinnamon rolls are as desirable for their lovely sweet frosting as for the roll itself, but the secret of Artus' was her lavish use of cinnamon and sugar and the timing of the thing. I was skeptical when Gretchen offered me one of her mom's cinnamon rolls (what, no icing?) but it was fresh out of the oven, and oh-so-heavenly!

I'd never seen a player piano before I met Gretchen's family. They showed me how the cylinder fit into the piano and how it could play the music if you simply pumped the pedals. I could have watched the keys press and release for hours and the scrolls of paper with the pricks roll by as oldies poured out of that amazing piano.

One day I went into the bathroom and lifted the lid of the toilet. Gretchen's brother had drawn a pair of eyes on the inside of the lid and had written, "I see you!" But they didn't see me for long -- I hightailed it out of that bathroom as soon I as saw them!

Artus took her kids to the little Christian and Missionary Alliance Church up the street from us. I don't remember our own church having VBS, but each summer we would go to VBS with Gretchen and her brothers. Artus also hosted Good News Club in her home during the school year. I wonder how many years I attended that club, heard Miss Nelson share the stories, and grew in my love for Jesus.

Peach, do you remember the day we wore our paper dresses to Good News Club? How did we ever talk Mom into letting us buy them? Getting a paper dress on was tricky enough, but walking and sitting in one was even trickier! They were good for about one wearing since you could hardly get them off without tearing them. It was a rather short-lived style, as I remember.

Artus never drove, so she walked, every day, long distances. She walked to get where she was going, and she walked to keep ahead of the debilitating arthritis that stalked her. We'd see her walking past our house, and she'd stop and chat with my parents when they were doing yard work. This went on for at least 40 years, rain or shine, even when she had to rely on a walker.

After she moved in with Gretchen three years ago, I stopped by to see her. I wondered if she'd remember me. As it turned out, it was one of her good days and we had a great time reminiscing about life.

I didn't realize how important Artus had been in my life until I found myself blinking back tears while I told Tom my memories of her. The tears surprised me, but they shouldn't have. This good, faithful woman who loved her children and their friends offered me the same safety and support my own parents did. creating a deep bond. We were more connected than I knew.

Thank you, Artus, and good-bye. You gave me a gift long ago and now that has taken me years to unwrap. It was your gentle presence in my life, accepting me, affirming me, modeling grace. Thank you. It's a gift I will forever cherish.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Simply Trusting

I've spent the last couple of mornings mulling over Numbers 11. It is, in part, a re-telling of the manna and quail story told in Exodus 6, how the Lord provided bread and meat for the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness. But in Numbers we also get some tough lessons about attitudes.

We see it right off. Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused (v 1). So aroused, in fact, that He sent fire to the outskirts of the camp, which lasted until the people cried out to Moses, who prayed to the Lord.

Verse 4 records that the rabble with them began to crave other food... When they thought about the free meat they'd had in Egypt and the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic they used to enjoy, they began to pine for the good old days. They complained that all they ever got now was manna and they'd lost their appetite! All the people wailed at the entrance of their tents, and it made the Lord exceedingly anger. It distressed Moses as well.

So God took action. He set in motion a plan to give the people their meat, not just enough for  one or two days, even ten or twenty days, but for a whole month -- until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it -- because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying,  "Why did we ever leave Egypt?" (18-20).

God sees hearts. He knew that the people's demand for meat, beyond displaying an ungrateful spirit, actually revealed their stubborn hearts. They had craved something other than the Lord and in so doing they had rejected Him.

At the same time, God was keenly aware of Moses' heart. He dealt with Moses on two particular issues.

First, Moses complained to the Lord about the people he had to carry. "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?... I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me" (11-14). Moses took this so far as to tell the Lord to kill him so that he wouldn't have to face his own ruin!

Moses presented his case to God with self-pity, blame, and drama, not so different from the way the Israelites had acted! But Moses was not rejecting God. He was being honest with him. He was overwhelmed with what he thought God was asking of him -- to carry them in his arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors (12). God wanted Moses to lead the people, but as for carrying them, that's God's job! (see Isaiah 40:11).

Moses was exhausted, and God sent him help. He empowered 70 leaders of Israel with the Spirit so that they could share the burden with Moses. When the load is too heavy, our emotions are running rampant, and exhaustion has us overtaken us, God want us to experience his rest. He knows when our self-pity, blame, and drama flow from our being overwhelmed, and he will make a way for us.

The second challenge was this: did he really trust God?  Moses said, "Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, 'I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!' Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?" The Lord answered Moses, "Is the Lord's arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you" (21-23).

Moses had come to the end of his resources, and, as far as he could imagine, there was no earthly way to feed these people. But God is not dependent on earthly ways! Resources are not a problem for him! Once again, God outdid himself; he sent a wind that drove in quail from the sea, quail as far as a person could walk in any direction, just three feet from the ground, easy pickin's for the hungry mob.

I have often thought that I do not want to get to the end of my life and look back and say, "I wish I had trusted God more. He always kept his promises. He always cared for me. He was always faithful. Why did I doubt?"

Can we settle it once and for all -- God is faithful and he can be trusted. God is faithful and I will trust him. Will we commit ourselves to this undeniable truth and hold fast to it all our days? Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23). Grab hold, my friend, and don't let go. The promise-keeper is faithful; all we have to do is trust him.

Monday, September 9, 2013

La Conner and Deception Pass With Brother Dan

We had a weekend visitor -- Tom's brother Dan from Western New York. Danny is a dentist in Fillmore (get it?) and he likes to call himself Dr. DK ("Dr Decay"). We hadn't seen him for three years. As you might imagine, it was fun to have him here.

We took him to La Conner on Friday. It's a wonderful place to take visitors, with it's art and water and good food. He oohhhed and aahhhed his way down Pioneer Highway and through the Skagit flats, and  couldn't understand why he hadn't spent more time in the area when he was a kid growing up in Seattle. Just think how excited he'd be to visit during the annual Tulip Festival in April!

The first thing you notice on the streets of La Conner is the great old buildings. This historic downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places.

(This was my favorite)

Like his dad and his brother, Danny is a woodworker and thoroughly enjoyed the Wood Merchant, which features the work of over 200 wood artists. 

According to Wikipedia, "La Conner was first settled in May 1867 by Alonzo Low and was then known by its post office name, Swinomish. In 1869, J.S. Conner bought the settlement's trading post and in 1870 had the name changed to honor his wife, Louisa Ann Conner, the French-appearing 'La' representing her first- and middle-initials." (Sorry, Danny, but La Conner isn't French, after all!)

The town is situated on the Swinomish Channel, and fishing and boating are a way of life there.

Photo by Tom
The Rainbow Bridge over the Channel has its own enchanting appeal.

When we got home on Friday, Dan discovered that his glasses were missing. I called the restaurant and they said they'd found them on our table. Personally, I think he enjoyed himself so much on Friday that Danny left them there on purpose, just so he could go back the next day to pick them up!

And that's what he and Tom did on Saturday morning. After getting the flat tire on his rental car repaired, they set off for La Conner and then drove over to Deception Pass. Here's what they saw there:

It was great to have you here, Dan! Let us know when you want to come back, and we'll show you a few more sights you missed as a kid.

(Deception Pass photos and La Conner bridge photo by Dan Kauffman)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why I Listen to National Public Radio

As a kid, my heart would sink on those evenings that Dad settled himself in front of the TV after dinner. Invariably he'd tune in to Channel 9, KCTS, our local PBS station. There was little that could convince him to turn to That Girl or The Waltons or whatever I'd been looking forward to watching. Instead we'd be doomed to a close up view of butterflies and their migration patterns, or how to make a china hutch, or something scintillating about World War 2. Occasionally I'd sit and watch with him, out of my desperation to watch something; more often than not I would slink off to my room. But those evenings I spent watching PBS with Dad always turned out way better than I had anticipated.

Since I discovered National Public Radio, things are different for me.

Early morning, when my house is quiet and a sink full of dishes is laughing at me, I reach for the radio and turn on Morning Edition, NPR's in-depth news from all over. Likewise, during afternoon errands or returning home from distant appointments, I tune into All Things Considered, and find myself in places I will likely never go, learning about things that I didn't even know existed!

I love NPR!

The news is more in-depth than you get on most networks, there might be various segments on the same topic. I like that. It gives me something to sink my teeth into. I may not agree with what I hear, but it stimulates my thinking. I am exposed to more international news through NPR; the problems people face, even thousands of miles away, become tangible to me.

Say a recession hits a community in a rural area. We'll hear stories of the owners of the factory that is shutting down, the employees who are being laid off, and a customer who has depended on that factory's product. I've heard freedom fighters in the Middle East and aid workers in Africa and a family who took their kids out of school for a year to travel the world (that's 29 countries on 6 continents!). This sumer they did a series on American Public Libraries with such intriguing titles as How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune Into a Library Legacy, and For Disaster Preparedness: Pack a Library Card? Just this week they ran a story on an auto auction that will take place later this month in Nebraska. It will feature 500 cars from the Lambrecht Chevrolet Dealership in Pierce, which closed in 1996. Many of the cars are brand new, such as a 1958 Cameo pick-up truck with only 1.3 miles on its odometer!

Each morning, as our local NPR affiliate is about to start their jazz programming at 9:00, they play a short segment called BirdNote, with wonderful stories of birds and much chirping and singing. StarDate is another brief by highly informative and fascinating program that airs on NPR.

I love the banter between the hosts, the fun everyone seems to be having. Then there's the insightful questions on hard subjects and the thoughtful responses that teach me something new. It's a terribly inviting place that expands my world.  I thinkNPR is great!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy 65th, Dad and Mom!

Today is my parents' 65th wedding anniversary. They were young when they married -- Mom was still a teenager and Dad just 22. They built their life around family, raising five kids of their own and influencing hundreds of others who passed through our home and church.

You can check out these former posts if you'd like to get to know them better and sense what it was like growing up in their home: Honor thy ParentsFlash Flood, My Parents' Bibles, and Dad's Testimony.

We've set up a Facebook page for the month of September. If you'd like to post a greeting for them, maybe a photo or a video or just a written message, feel free to do so. The page is called Ken and Helen's 65th. Even if you are not of Facebook, you should be able to click on this link and it will take you there.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Standing at God's Window

I was talking with a friend today, a mother of several adult children. Life throws her family a lot of curve balls, and they are in the middle of a doozie right now. We clung to one another as we shared with each other our mama cares for our children.

This life is not easy. Our world is full of trouble, and it reaches into our own homes and creates chaos for those we love the most. We watch our children struggle and our hearts break. We see the difficulties they must navigate and we take up their burdens for ourselves. There are times when we can see no way out for them and we are overwhelmed to the point of despair.

But we turn our eyes to Jesus and see that he has our loved ones in his hand. He who made them knows them completely and will not fail. As we entrust them to his care -- every day, every minute of every day -- hope is restored and we are at rest.

Does this sound preposterous, foolish or irresponsible? It is not. It is a demonstration of our faith in a God big enough to carry the people we love the most. And as parents of adult children trying to find their way in this world, it is our privilege to lay them at the feet of Jesus. We trust him to call our children to himself in ways we could never imagine. He sees below the surface of their lives; he hears the cry of their hearts. And he knows how to reach them where they are.

I told my friend that only total reliance on the God who made our kids and knows them intimately will see all us parents and our beloved children all the way Home.

"We stand at God's window," she replied, "watching to see how this God who is mighty to save -- not just in the future but at this very moment -- is going to answer our prayers for our children.

"See us all the way home, Jesus!!"