Friday, October 30, 2015

All of Me, For You

All of Me, For You

Lord, train my heart to know Your grace,
I turn my eyes to see Your face,
Tune my lips to sing Your praise --
All of me, for You.

Let my ears receive Your word, 
My life reflect the truth I've heard,
I'll stand boldly, undeterred --
All of me, for You.

Might my feet walk in Your way,
My choice be always to obey,
Your Spirit guide me every day --
All of me, for You.

Ginger Kauffman
October 30, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Women of Influence

There are people who leave a mark on the lives of others, not because they set out to do so but  because of who they are. Several remarkable women have left their mark on me.  I have not been mentored by them, but I have watched their authentic lives over the years. Their gifts and passions  have impacted the way I see the world and live my life.

They are like the apostle Paul, as Eugene Peterson describes him in his introduction to the book of Philippians in The Message: "This is Paul's happiest letter. And the happiness is infectious... Paul doesn't tell us that we can be happy, or how to be happy. He simply and unmistakably is happy..."

Starting with the upper left hand photo and continuing clockwise, here are some of the women whose infectious spirits have made a difference in my life.

Lois and Lavern Snider were the career missionaries I worked when I was in Japan in 1978-81. Their responsibilities included the oversight of several short-term volunteer English and Bible teachers and hosting and serving as leaders of a church that met in their home. Lois put her heart into her work as a gracious hostess, always respectful of the needs and interests of those she served. Over many meals and cups of tea at her table I got to know her heart for Japan in a way that heightened my vision for the people we served and helped me find my place there. 

Delia Nuesh-Olver and her husband Paul are committed to each other and to the work of the church. Sometimes he's the pastor (Seattle's Rainier Avenue Church), sometimes she is (New Hope Church in Rochester, New York) and sometimes they both are (Brooklyn Free Methodist). Currently all of Latin America is their parish as Delia oversees the work of the Free Methodist Church in fifteen countries and Paul works in leadership development. The gospel is Delia's heartbeat and she joyfully shares it with people wherever she goes. Her welcoming smile and winsome ways are evidence of the Spirit's presence in her life. 

Another ministry team, Dan and Carolyn Brannen, have impacted hundreds of international students in the Seattle area where, for years, Dan worked on college campuses through the ministry of International Students Inc and they opened their home to students. Unpretentious, Carolyn serves up meals to all who sit around her table. The food is delicious and the atmosphere inviting. When you are with Carolyn you have her undivided attention. I worked alongside the Brannens for several years and appreciated Carolyn's cordial servant heart and her genuine love for people.

The first time I met Charlotte Deuel I sensed her passion for the world. I remember when she first told me about her burden for an unreached people group, and I delight in the ways she has found to use her background in food technology to assist developing countries with agricultural programs. Courageous and faithful, God hears this woman's prayers and uses her in ways unique to her gifts and earnest heart for the world.

Muriel McDowell was a busy pastor's wife and mother of five. I worked with her and her husband, Bob, at Warm Beach Camp and with the youth group of our church in the mid-1970s. From time to time I sat at their table for a meal or a youth group planning meeting, where love and laughter flowed together. Indeed, laughter is the first of Muriel's outstanding qualities that comes to mind, even before her efficiency, her music, or her undaunted spirit. Your crinkly eyes, your beautiful smile, and the sound of your delighted laughter—such a legacy you left us, dear Muriel.

Miriam Adeney's worldview is founded on Christ's commands to love God, to love people and to spread the gospel. In the classes I took from her  after I returned for Japan, Miriam encouraged me in my writing and equipped me to do a better job of it. I was especially challenged by her book, A Time for Risking, a call to Western women to look outside our own lives and reach out to our neighbors. She was proof that this could be done as she ministered to Muslim women along with teaching, writing, and raising a family.

I have spent hours with Deanne Lessley, enjoying together the richness of life in Christ. She loves Scripture, she's an avid reader, her conversation is honest and uplifting. I am always impressed with her passion; she lives out her faith with her every breath. Before I went to Burundi she told me she had some baby clothes she'd made, would I take them with me? I last saw her in August, just before she went to Canada to be with her brother and his family during his last days of life. Deanne lives her life in response to the charge: "Find a need and fill it."

Opal Townsend was nearly sixty when she began working with international students at Seattle Pacific University and she was my inspiration. I loved the students I met in her apartment during my college days and, after my three years in Japan, I looked her up again. Townie was still going strong, by then in her mid-seventies. We ended up working in International Students Inc (ISI) together for several years. She served the Lord she loved by offering weekly Bible studies, hosting meals and parties, and loving  students who were far from home. Townie touched many, many lives, including my own.

Nancy Nelson prays big. This faith-filled woman who sees God at work in miraculous ways in her own life and the lives of others leads our Soulcrafters Sunday School Class each week in a time of worship as she shares a devotional and asks for praises and prayer requests. I have been challenged by her confidence in God and His promises, and the way she models the praying life. Hanging out with Nancy each week increases my faith and encourages me to pray boldly.

These women have had different gifts, different callings, and different personalities. Yet they have this in common: they all have loved Jesus and shared that love freely. I have been privileged to be influenced by these women of faith.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mother Teresa on Love, Kindness, and Smiling

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. 
Be the living expression of God's kindness: 
kindness in your face, 
kindness in your eyes, 
kindness in your smile." 


"People are unrealistic, illogical, and self-centered. 
Love them anyway."


"Smile at each other.
Smile at your wife, smile at your husband,
smile at your children,
smile at each other --
it doesn't matter who it is --
and that will help to grow up in greater love
for each other."


"Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things.
It consists in accepting,
with a smile,
what Jesus sends us.
It consists in accepting and following
the will of God."


"Every time you smile at someone,
it is an action of love, 
a gift to that person,
a beautiful thing." 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Central Park in Fall, Time Lapse

Enjoy a few moments of Fall in Central Park. The producer of this video, Jamie Scott, visited fifteen spots in Central Park twice a week for six months, each visit just after sunrise, and spent hours editing to create this fast-forward experience of Autumn.

Fall from jamie scott on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How Do You Find the Words?

As hard as it is to watch, I seem to have a magnetic attraction to the movie, The Guys, starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia. A haunting story, it is about Nick, a New York fire captain who has been asked to give the eulogies for eight of his men missing since September 11. Grief overwhelms him and he has no words to express his sorrow or to comfort the friends and families of the fallen. He turns to Joan, an editor, who helps him find words and give them structure.

"Tell me about Jimmy," Joan says, or Patrick, or one of the others. Nick shakes his head and gropes for some image, some fragment of a conversation lingering in his mind. Just words and phrases—"mischief," "lives with his parents," "kitchen"—provide hooks for Joan as she gently, persistently coaxes from Nick pictures of the missing men. Her gentle probing and ability to organize his scattered thoughts bring these lost lives into clear focus. The results of their grueling efforts are stunning.

It's as if Nick had never seen his guys fully until this experience. Even his knowledge of his best friend, Patrick, crystalizes through the agonizing process of preparing Patrick's eulogy.

The magnetic power this film has on me is two-fold. First, it is the value of the individual, the uniqueness of each person who has ever lived, that calls me back to this intense dialog. My feelings are like those that Joan expresses as she struggles to come to terms with the sudden and devastating loss of life in New York, her beloved city. "I knew that every time I saw someone on the street I just saw his public shadow. The rest, the important part, lived in layer after layer beyond my view. We have no idea what wonders are hidden in the people around us."

Secondly, Joan's insight, patience, and hunger to breathe life into the memories of Nick's comrades allow her to persistently grapple with this project. There is something so deep, so real that needs to be salvaged from the wreckage of September 11 and Joan is willing to do the hard work to uncover the treasure. As a writer who tells people's stories, I am moved and challenged by Joan's example.

I believe anyone who watches The Guys will be impacted by it. Whether or not you are a writer, I recommend it. People around us have stories to tell and hidden wonders to share. Perhaps they are just waiting for someone like you to help them find the words.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Just in Time

Are you anxious about how you will pay your bills? where you will live? whether or not you will get the job you've applied for? when you will ever be through the ordeal that is consuming you?

Take heart. God is at work, and He will care for you. But it will be in His time. Although He may seem slow, His timing is perfect. He may not answer in the way you want or at the time you expect, but He will not fail you. Trust in Him, and in His timing. 

I am the Lord; 
in its time I will do this swiftly.
Isaiah 60:22b

But when the time had fully come, 
God sent His Son...
Galatians 4:4

(This post originally appeared on March 13, 2013)