Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Touch of Jesus

"Unclean, unclean!" was the cry of a leper as he neared other people. According to Levitical law, people with leprosy -- a generic term applied to a variety of skin disorders such as eczema, ulcers, cancer and others, whether or not they were contagious -- were commanded to live outside the camp. So not only did they have a skin disease, they were outcasts and subject to public humiliation as well.

But this was the old covenant. And Jesus did not live by the old covenant.

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the story of a leper who approached Jesus for healing.
While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.  (Luke 5:12-13)
This man knew that anyone who came in contact with a person suffering from leprosy would become ceremonially unclean. Having lived with the reality of the rituals surrounding leprosy, it must have been inconceivable to him that anyone would be willing to help him. Assuming a position of worship and of supplication, he fell with his face to the ground and begged Jesus for healing. He knew Jesus could heal him, yet he was not sure if Jesus would want to contaminate Himself on his behalf.

Ah, but he did not yet understand the lengths to which Christ would go for us.

Matthew recites some of Jesus' healings in chapter 8, starting with this story.  In verse 16 he says, "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'"

Our sins, our sicknesses, were laid on Jesus and he bore them for us on the cross.

"Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!''

The touch of Jesus makes the unclean clean! Whatever our infirmities, whatever our needs. The touch of Jesus brings life and healing.

Holman Bible Dictionary

Monday, October 29, 2012

Even in Our Suffering

A diving accident forty-five years ago left Joni Eareckson Tada a quadriplegic. As she has learned to trust God she has experienced His faithfulness in profound ways. This video, updating viewers on her life since facing breast cancer two years ago, provide a poignant view into the life of this woman who has trusted God through years of intense suffering. It is also a testimony to God's faithfulness, even in our suffering.

Joni's book, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Sufferings, Pain and God's Sovereignty, "offers her perspective on divine healing, God's purposes, and what it means to live with joy" (Amazon). It's a book that allows the reader to grapple with the really tough issues of pain and suffering, right along with Joni, and continually points them to the Father's heart.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Make a Difference

14-year-old Tom standing by the home Sister Connection
built for his family. Now that his mother has passed away,
he is caring for his 8-year-old brother
Craig Reese, a Sister Connection staff member from the US, is in Burundi now, visiting widows in their homes and helping develop microfinance businesses. He's posting photos and stories from this trip on the Sister Connection Facebook page. Feel free to check them out.

In a post earlier this week he shared the following story:

"I met one young orphan named Tom, who is just 14 and lost his mother a short time ago. Remember, in Burundi, if you have no father, you are considered an orphan. He had already lost his father and now his mom has passed as well. He maintains the home that was built for his mother by SC with his eight year old brother.

"As of now he has no sponsor, so he earns what he can from the labor jobs he can find. He indicated a desire to go back to school, but was more concerned for his brother who is younger and not so far behind in school that he couldn't catch up. There are too many stories like this..."

Currently 21 orphan-led homes are sponsored by Sister Connection. Usually the head of the house is an older teen or a young adult. According to Abby Nelson, SC's Executive Assistant, "most have two sponsors to provide extra money because mama isn't there to grow food or work to help them eat -- that way kids can go to school."

One of these orphan-led households is sponsored by Susan Rice, with whom I traveled to Burundi in July, and her family. The oldest sister is in her early 20s. She was uable to attend the widows' retreat so Susan arranged to meet the family in Bujumbura just before we returned home. She was ill, but she sent her four younger sibling and their pastor to meet us. Susan shared photos of her family with them and prayed for them. She also gave them an UNO game and our translator, Francine, taught them how to play!

Right now there are over 450 households waiting for sponsorship. Most are widows and their families, and often include extra children that need a home. But there are a few of these families on the waiting list that are led by orphans. To sponsor a household is to provide the funds to cover basic needs and beyond -- food, seed to plant, clothing, routine medical, school supplies, household necessities. The cost is just $30 a month. That seems like a meager sum to us, but this ongoing support makes such a difference in the lives of the people who are sponsored.

So here is my shameless appeal: Check out the Sister Connection website. Ask the Lord what you can do to be a part of this amazing ministry. Sign up to be a sponsor -- perhaps for Tom and his brother or another orphan-led household. Pray for the widows and orphans of Burundi. And tell others about Sister Connection and how they can impact the world by getting involved too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Tribute to a Man of Faith

Here I am with Lavern and Lois Snider in Japan, 1978
I received word this week of the passing of Dr. K. Lavern Snider. I've known him for 35 years but didn't know that the "K" stands for Kenneth. We just called him Lavern. But I had another name for him, a name I never called him out loud, but one which fit him perfectly. I knew him as a modern day Apostle Paul.

When I was a young adult I wanted to "go somewhere and do something," though I wasn't sure where or what that might be. Japan seemed like a good place to go, but I was not interested in being a missionary. I preferred to travel as a "good guy for God," putting in a good word for Him when opportunity arose but not being too pushy. I began exploring my options for getting to Japan and the only door that seemed remotely open to me was to go through VISA (Volunteers in Service Abroad, a ministry of Free Methodist World Missions).

Dr Snider was a career missionary in Japan and over the years had supervised a number of VISA workers -- people who had gone to Japan on a two-year assignment to teach English as a second language as an entrĂ©e to sharing the gospel with their students.  I met with him one afternoon on the patio of Seattle Pacific University's Student Union Building. He was all business, telling me about the missions work in Japan, the program for teaching English in businesses, schools and neighborhoods. He told me about the mission house in Osaka where I would live and that three days a week I'd be staying with his family in Nishinomiya so that I could teach several English classes in their home and work as the mission secretary one day a week. We discussed my study of the Japanese language and how the finances of my two years in Japan would be handled. Did I have any questions?

I was blown away, not only by the truck load of information I'd just heard but by the excitement in Dr Snider's voice and the speed with which he had emptied that truck. Overwhelmed though I was, I signed up.

When I told people I was going to Japan I just said I would be teaching English. If they pressed me to know more about it, I'd say, "I'mgoingasamissionary" in a muffled voice.

I arrived in Japan on a September afternoon in 1978. Lavern, his wife Lois, and a few of the other VISA workers met me at the airport. It was heady stuff, traveling halfway around the world alone, stepping into a world so different from what I'd known before. I had no idea what I was doing.

The staff met once a month, gathering our team from various cities to share a meal together and talk about the work. Sitting in the living room of the mission house in Osaka at one of those staff meetings early on I said -- in the way a young woman in the late 70s who was trying to "find herself" might say -- "I don't really know why I'm here." Without missing a beat, Lavern looked at me and said, "You are here to share Jesus with the people of Japan!"

He wasn't sharp with me or scolding. He was simply stating what to him was so obvious, the purpose of the VISA program. This wasn't about me. It was about the people of Japan with whom we were privileged to develop relationships. Most of them had no exposure to Jesus Christ. We were there to represent Him.

Lavern may have had times of discouragement or frustration. But I never saw them. He was committed to the Lord and to serving Him. Besides his work at Osaka Christian College and Seminary he and Lois opened their house two Sunday afternoons a month for a home church. They ministered to the community through friendship and the classes they hosted. He was concerned about the size of the churches in Japan -- so many were no more than 20 or 30 people -- so he traveled the country, interviewing pastors of larger churches and writing a book called It's Happening in Japan Today: The Story of 8 Growing Churches as well as a follow-up book featuring ten more growing churches.

I remember riding the train with Lavern once and watching him with the people around him. He was tall, fair-skinned, clearly foreign, but he moved through the train as if he were Japanese. I thought then that, despite his appearance as a gaijin, he had become Japanese in his way of thinking.

When thinking of Lavern these words of Paul to the Thessalonians come to mind: "Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake" (1 Thes 1:5). Lavern lived among the Japanese people for their sake, and his message was more than words. It was the power of the Holy Spirit and Lavern's deep conviction and commitment to Jesus.

As my two-year assignment was drawing to a close we got word that the woman who had planned to begin the VISA work in Sendai would not be able to come. The door opened for me to go in her place, allowing me to extend the very sweet experience of sharing Christ in Japan. It also allowed me one more year to work with Lavern and Lois Snider. I relished that year.
The Sniders in 2008

I saw the Sniders a few times over then next 25 years. General Conference, 2008, was the last chance I had to catch up with them. They were living in the Toronto area and Lavern was a wedding officiate. His name was on the list of people to call for couples who wanted to get married and needed someone to perform the ceremony. He told me that, in his meeting with couples before the wedding, he always spoke to them about the Lord and encouraged them to turn in faith to Christ. Even at 84 he was finding ways to serve his Lord. I can't imagine anything any different for him.

At the end of his life, Paul wrote the following words to Timothy. They could also apply to my dear friend, Lavern Snider: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing  (2 Tim 4:7-8).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sermon Notes

I was reminded at church yesterday just how blessed we are to receive solid Bible teaching each week. Just now we're studying the book of Ephesians in Sunday School and the book of Isaiah in the worship service.

We were handed a printout of Ephesians 3 during Sunday School and given a few minutes to read it and mark what stood out to us. Do you realize that this chapter identifies the mystery that had been hidden from the beginning but was revealed to Paul. He became the administrator of that mystery -- that through the gospel (Jesus Christ) -- the Gentiles became one with Israel! They became "sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus" (v. 6). While Paul had been out persecuting Christians, with the sanction of the Jewish leaders, God had other plans for him. The Lord stopped him in his tracks and gave him a new heart and a new purpose. It was Paul's role, then, to "preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery" (9-10). As Paul prayed for the Ephesian church in verses 14-21 he includes these words: I pray that you may "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

It was not enough for the Lord to reveal this mystery to Paul. He made it possible for us, even today, to be "sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus." And He calls us grasp the immensity of Christ's love, which is completely beyond knowing! And to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God is an utter impossibility. Even if we could somehow grasp it, we could never contain it. Mind boggling and soul stirring words!

Pastor Pat's message on Isaiah 6:8-13 was a call for us to live as faithful servants of God. Here's just a portion of the sermon.

Becoming a Servant of God
- Acknowledge our hopelessness without God.
- Be shattered by our sinfulness.
- Receive God's grace and be cleansed.
- Glimpse God's heart and be available to serve Him.

We usually think that our development comes from building on our strengths. But with God (as seen in Isaiah and in Jesus) we must be taken apart first. Isaiah saw his own weakness. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people o unclean lips, and y eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" (6:5). As for Jesus, to fulfill the purpose God had for Him cost Him His life.

 Like Isaiah, we are called to listen to God, be undone in His presence, and trust Him with our lives and our service.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dinner's Ready: Butternut Squash and Chicken Bake

My parents came for dinner last night and I wanted to prepare a meal using the butternut squash I had on hand. This video by Laura Vitale was simple and delicious.  We added a green vegetable and topped it off with baked pears for dessert, a great dinner for a rainy fall evening.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Trip to Pendleton

Last weekend, while the folks in Western Washington were experiencing their first significant rain in 81 days, I was in  Eastern Oregon, catching a couple of extra days of sunshine. My Canadian friend, Lorie, who was my roommate in Japan long ago, invited me to travel with her to Pendleton.

Have you ever been to Pendleton? My two earlier visits were brief and left no lasting impression on me, but on this trip I came to really appreciate this town with its colorful history and friendly locals.

We stayed at the Pendleton House, just a block or two from downtown. It was built in 1917 and was as charming now as it must have been then. We ate breakfast with the other guests, and savored the delicious meals and opportunity to get to know people. One of the guests, a chef, entertained us with cooking stories, including how to make turducken

When we arrived early Friday evening the Farmer's Market, which set up in the middle of Main Street, was just breaking up. The produce we saw in some of the trucks were huge!

We planned to drive out of town on Saturday to get the lay of the land and visit some sights that were out a ways, but we never got out past downtown! Our first stop was the Underground Tour, which took two hours. If Brad, our tour guide, had slowed down his speech to a normal speed, we would have been there for a good three hours! His personal knowledge of Pendleton -- he's spent much of his youth exploring the 20 blocks of tunnel under the city -- and his obvious love of history brought his stories to life. Many business, both legitimate and questionable, made their home in the Underground over the century that it was in operation. I was  especially interested to learn about the Chinese workers who many spent years building the tunnels and living in them, and to hear stories of Lt. Col. Jimmy Dolittle and his airmen who trained in Pendleton for the raid on Japan in 1942.

Shopping is fun, no matter what town you're in. The Pendleton Woolen Mills, just outside of town, features beautiful, classic clothing and blankets made in the adjoining factory. We explored antique shops and a used book store as well as Correction Connection, a store selling work jeans and denim apparel made by inmates of Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute.

We were surprised at how many restaurants we had to choose from. The summer salad (loaded with sweet strawberries, even in October) at Sisters Cafe was amazing, and the food at The Great Pacific (pizza, sandwiches) hit the spot. But the best thing about The Great Pacific is that every Saturday night the large round table at the front of the building is saved for anyone who wants to bring a fiddle, guitar, banjo or bass violin. We found an open spot nearby and listened with delight to the bluegrass and country/folk music of those who gathered that evening. The man with a striking black violin seemed particularly talented. It turns out that he is a two-time winner of the national fiddle contest!

The rain had not yet come to Pendleton so the October leaves were especially stunning.

Lorie and I hadn't had much time together lately so this was the chance we needed to catch up with each another's lives. She is a dear friend who has enriched my life over the years, and our friendship grows sweeter each time we're together. Too bad that we didn't stop long enough to have someone take our picture.

Thank you, Lorie, for the trip and for your friendship.

Oregon grapes covered with dew

Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Live With a Fool

There's a remarkable story recorded in 1 Samuel 25:2-42, about a woman, a fool and a king. The woman was Abigail, the fool was her husband, Nabal, and the king was David.

The scripture makes it clear that Nabal is a fool. He's called "surly and mean in his dealings," he's described by one of his servants as "such a wicked man that no one can talk to him," and Abigail herself tells David that "he is just like his name -- his name is Fool, and folly goes with him."

Nabal was also rich. He was in Carmel, shearing a thousand goats and three thousand sheep, when David sent ten of his men to him with a message. Since David and his men had protected Nabal's shepherds in the past, he requested that Nabal make some provision for David's company. (It was a festive time and David was requesting the hospitality that was expected in his day.) Nabal, however, refused to share anything with David and his men and, instead, hurled insults at David.

"Put on your swords!" David told his men when he heard Nabal's response.

One of Nabal's servants went to Abigail and told her what had happened. He concluded his report with, "Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household" (17). We are told that Abigail was intelligent, and this servant knew she was their only hope.

I wonder how Abigail was able to endure living with a fool. When I try to put myself in her place -- married to an arrogant, ill-tempered, selfish and spiteful man -- I think I would have either shriveled up or become bitter. Where is the breathing room when you live with a fool? Yet she was a clear-minded and decisive peacemaker. Here's what she did:

She took action. "Abigail lost no time" (18). And then it goes on to describe the food she gathered to take to David and his men, "enough to feed an army," as they say.
She took courage. She went directly to David, even though she knew that David was on his way to bring disaster to her whole household (23).
She took the full responsibility. "My lord, let the blame be on me alone" (24). This may seem strange to us, but a dreadful wrong had been committed and someone had to take responsibility.
She told the truth.There's a difference between taking responsibility for something and making excuses for the person who is really at fault. I don't believe she was making excuses for Nabal. She clearly acknowledged that he was a fool, but she could not allow his foolishness to bring destruction on so many. She left Nabal to God's judgement (and we see later that God was quite capable in that department.) (24-25)
She gave God glory. She recognized God's intervention in keeping David from shedding blood (26).
She sought forgiveness on her husband's behalf (28).
She gave a blessing. "May your enemies and all who intend to harm you be like Nabal"(26).
She gave wise counsel. "Let no wrongdoing be found in you as long as you live" (27-28).
She exercised good judgment. She didn't tell Nabal about her plan when he was angry (19) or when he was drunk (36-36).

How could she demonstrate such grace and wisdom? She held on to the truth. She accepted the reality of her husband's foolishness and God's faithfulness. She did not let her extremely difficult circumstances dictate her actions. She remained true to what she knew to be true.

But there is also something else. Her name, Abigail, means "My Father is Joy." If your Father is joy, you can endure hardship and still thrive. Maybe Nehemiah had Abigail's example in mind when he wrote, "...the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pottery Talks. Are You Listening?

Whether you're dealing with fresh clay or old dirt, pottery has a lot to tell us about life. That's what Susan Klein, a pottery artist, and Esther Read, a pottery detective, would tell you. I love watching Klein  form the piece she's working on, and how her hands are so skilled and that her sense of fulfillment as an artist came only after she began building things. But I also love the seed that she plants when she talks about people in the future wondering about her life as they use her vessels.

That curiosity is what Read cultivates as she takes us through a few simple steps of how to study a little piece of an old pot that you might uncover in your own back yard. If the video interests you, you may enjoy the article by the same name that gives a bit more information. It appeared in UMBC Magazine in the Fall of 2010.

Pottery Artist from Gavin Young on Vimeo.

How To Be a Pottery Detective


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

And What a Day it Was!

We left the house at 7:00 Sunday morning, driving into the sunrise to cross the mountains and meet friends for lunch in Leavenworth. Judi, my college roommate, and her husband Arlin had come from Spokane to Leavenworth's Octoberfest. The drive over included some photos from the windows of the moving car and a few taken along the Skykomish River on the west side of the Cascades. The trip also gave us a chance to meet Craig and transfer the Burundi-bound auto parts that I wrote about here. After a little produce shopping at Smallwood's Harvest in Peshastin we went back to Leavenworth and up Icicle Canyon to visit Roger and Sandy, who live off the grid in forrest fire country. They told us how the fires had come within three feet of the corners of their buildings in 2001, and they've been watching the helicopters drop thousands of gallons of water on nearby mountains, knowing that the wind could change direction and send the fires their way at any time. 

To spend unhurried time with friends, to take in the beauty around us, and to know God is at work in this world -- yes, it was quite a day!

Tom and I were both shooting away on our cameras, so I can't take credit for some of these photos. Hope you enjoy them.

With Judi and Arlin

Tom and Roger, looking for deer tracks

Sandy and me on a trail Roger cut on the property

Monday, October 8, 2012

Yes You Can -- Do Your Part

Sometimes we think that our little, everyday actions are inconsequential. Yet the Lord may be using our small acts to accomplish something much bigger than we know.

 Not long after I returned from Burundi I received an e-mail from my friend Dan in Japan. Ginger, he said, can you help our friends get some car parts to Burundi?

Dan and Carolyn manage a guest house for TEAM Missions in Tokyo where two gentlemen from Bujumbura stayed on their way to do tsunami relief. They also hoped to pick up some parts for an Isuzu that they use in community development work back home in Burundi.

But the parts they needed were too costly in Japan. So it was decided that Dan would order the parts from his neighborhood auto mechanic in Seattle and find a way to get them from Seattle to Burundi.

Aha! Ginger’s been to Burundi! Maybe she knows someone who could carry them in!

With a little creative thinking, a workable plan was devised. Dan’s wife Carolyn was in Seattle for a few days and I went to see her last week. She gave me the parts, which had been delivered to their Seattle home, and the contact information for the men who needed the parts. Yesterday, while Tom and I were in Eastern Washington visiting friends, we delivered the shock absorbers to Craig, a Sister Connection staff member who lives in Wenatchee and will be going to Africa in a week. Craig’s bags are already full but I was given enough money for him to get the parts to Burundi. He’ll have his Burundian co-worker call the guys in Bujumbura and they can come claim their auto parts.

There were at least six people involved in getting those critical auto parts to Burundi. How like the Lord to involve several members of the body of Christ to accomplish His Kingdom work.

Remember Paul's words, "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6)? Nobody's given the entire assignment; we work together. And, anyway, it is God who makes the seed grow, so He's the One who gets the glory.

Using another image, Paul says that, just as the body uses all its parts working together, so it is in the body of Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, just as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16).

We sometimes get stuck on what part of the body we are -- the hand? the mouth? the little toe? Really, now, does it even matter? What if today we simply do the things that are before us with our whole hearts, whether big or small, and let the Lord use us as He will. When the day is over we will know that we have done the part He has assigned us in the work of the Kingdom. And that's enough.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Packing Boxes for Kids

Carol Jarret doesn't store any of her own things on the top shelf of her hall closet. She keeps the shelf open for all the items she buys throughout the year for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. She shops the sales for school supplies, toiletries and toys to put into shoe boxes to send to kids around the world and squirrels them away on her top shelf, filling it so full that she can't cram anything else onto it. And then she schedules a work space and recruits volunteers to put the boxes together.

Carol lives at Warm Beach Senior Community. Her recruits are other residents, staff and friends of Warm Beach. Thirteen people showed up last Thursday and filled over 80 boxes. They would have done more if they hadn't run out of pencil boxes. Once they get more pencil boxes they can pack more shoe boxes. And shoe boxes are one thing they have in abundant supply!

Jim Perron, former Everett police chief, has been volunteering for Operation Christmas Child for seven years, He's the guy who brings in the boxes. Starting on Labor Day weekend the clerks at the nearby Famous Footwear store ask their customers if they'd like to donate their shoebox for OCC. They collect the boxes, and Jim picks them up. Through the Fall he gathers enough boxes to supply both Warm Beach Senior Community and the church next door.
Carol (on scooter) with JoAnn Walston

"Two years ago we filled over 300 boxes," said Carol Jarret.

Operation Christmas Child is an arm of Samaritan's Purse, a ministry serving hurting people around the world through emergency relief, community development, education programs, and care for children in need through providing them food, clothing and shelter. Their shoe box outreach began in 1993. This year they expect to surpass 100 million shoe boxes packed and distributed to children!

This is Carol's fifth year to gather supplies for the boxes and round up a crew to fill them. It's no small feat to pull off such an operation, but it's old hat for Carol. She has given leadership to many projects through her life.

During her years on staff with World Concern, Carol worked as supervisor in the warehouse. Each month they gathered clothing donations, baled them, and packed them into containers to send to SE Asia, Africa and South America. Later, at Twin Rivers Correctional Center, she was one of the World Concern staff who helped set up and oversee a quilting project for the prisoners. In one year alone the inmates made 1500 quilts for World Concern's refugee program.

Most of the volunteers on Thursday were in their 80s and 90s. Each was assigned a specific item to prepare and put into the box. Ninety-five-year-old Marjorie Schroeder slipped bars of soap into ziplock bags and wrapped a colorful washcloth around each one.

The boxes are so much a part of Carol Jarrett's life that she can't help talking about them when she's out. Her dentist and his staff have shown great interest in her project and have contributed tooth brushes and tooth paste over the years. This year her hygienist was so touched when she heard about Operation Christmas Child that she donated her collection of beany babies! She told Carol that her kids have given her beany babies for every possible occasion. She had many on display and dozens more tucked in a cupboard. Now they'll be a source of joy for many children.

Each year Herb Kuhnly, a resident of Warm Beach Senior Community, contributes some of his handmade wooden cars. And Dixie Tremain makes tops using a CD, a marble and a bottle cap. She glues them together and adds some bright colored decoration and ends up with a fun and simple toy to pass on.

 Once the boxes are filled and the stickers are put on, identifying the age and gender of the child, they are stored until the week of November 12, when they'll be delivered to a relay station where churches from all over the area bring their boxes to be packed into larger boxes and sent off to Mukilteo to join still other boxes, and they'll finally be sent to California for distribution. Phew!! 

All over North America there are Carol Jarretts and Jim Perrons who make the work of Operation Christmas Child possible by giving leadership in their church or group. Packing parties are a fun way to prepare boxes. But families and individuals are also making an impact, one box at a time.

Have you got an empty shoe box sitting around? Check out Operation Christmas Child's website and start packing!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Into the Forest

I spent the last few days in the forrest of Western Washington, at the foot of Mt Si in North Bend, attending a retreat at Rainbow Lodge. The facility was very comfortable and the food was delicious. The retreat, called Space for God, gave us the opportunity to spend time in the Lord's presence. It was a very sweet time.

The picture above shows the grounds off the back of the lodge. There is a trail on the property that winds through the forest, crossing over a stream a number of times. I had great fun exploring. The photos below are some of the sights that caught my fancy in the forest.