Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh No. . . and Leprechauns

When I was about 3 ½ years old, we lived in Fort Devens, Massachusetts.  One night I had a nightmare during which I woke up terrified that there were bears in our house.  My mother came into my bedroom and held me, telling me I was just having a bad dream and that there were not bears in our house.  I did not believe it – there WERE bears in the house. And, they weren’t just any bears -  they looked just like Dancing Bear on Captain Kangaroo.  As I continued to cry, mom took me around the entire house, opening closet doors and even taking me down to the basement to prove there were no bears.  She then tucked me back into bed, gave me a kiss and I eventually went back to sleep.

I was reminded of this story when visiting my daughter and her family in Georgia this past week.  On the first night I was there, my 4-year old granddaughter told me she was afraid of leprechauns.  I had to stop a smile from appearing on my face as she was telling me that leprechauns are little, they carry a hammer that they hit you with, and they take your gold.  She even made a noise and told me that was the sound she heard from the leprechaun in her preschool classroom.   She was dead serious.   I reminded her that leprechauns were pretend, and we played a little game of “Is it real or is it pretend?”.  This game consisted of me saying something and she would say whether it was real or pretend.  Each time I said leprechaun she correctly said pretend . . . but I could tell she wasn’t quite sold.

The last night I was there, I was tucking her into bed when she brought up leprechauns.  I asked her why she was scared. She told me her teacher had read a story about leprechauns and that she had a scary dream about them that night.  I asked her if leprechauns were real or pretend. Again, she said pretend but was obviously still afraid of them.  I shared with her that when I am scared about something, I ask Jesus to help me – to keep me safe – to make it go away.  I asked her if that sounded like a good idea and she said yes. So, Grandma prayed with her little granddaughter.

What is the “leprechaun” in your life?   What is it that you fear – what keeps you awake or scares you during the night:  Finances?  Relationships?  Your Job? 

Do you let God get you through these fears?  Scripture tells us that worrying is not good. 

Proverbs 12:25
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

God wants us to need Him, to rely on Him to get us through our fears and worries. He wants to help us deal with the "leprechauns" in our life.

Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Will you let Him?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's In A Name? A Lot!

After becoming a Christian in 1981, I immediately began to attend Sunday School. [Garden Path:  It was a Single Adults Sunday School and was, in fact, where I got to know this wonderful man to whom I have now been married for almost 29 years.]

School is defined in Merriam-Webster as an organization that provides instruction.  So, in Sunday School we were instructed on God’s Word.  And, from time to time there were activities for the members of our Sunday School class. 

For many years, I continued to attend Sunday School until one day the term “Sunday School” was replaced with “Small Group”.  The core concept was the same; that is, to learn more about God and His plans for us.  And, from time to time there were activities for the members of our “Small Group”.

“Small Group” evolved into “Care Group” – a more appropriate name that captured the fact that we all cared about one another while learning more about God and how He wants us to live our life.  We truly cared about one another through pray, laughter, and tears.  And, our “Care Group” sponsored events and activities. 

Not too long ago, “Care Group” was replaced with “Life Group”.  At first I thought great, another change - why?    After all, we are the same group of people worshiping God and caring about one another – exactly what was described by the “Care” in “Care Group”. 

But then, upon deeper reflection and a discussion with a very special person, it dawned on me that “Life Group” better describes the purpose for the group's existence. 

“Life Group” is not just for getting together once a week, wondering what the snack will be or to share prayer requests.  It is not just to learn more about God and how to better apply His word in our lives.    The “Life” in “Life Group” hits the nail on the head – we are a part of one another’s life!   It is not a Saturday Night or Sunday Morning only relationship.   

The relationship the 15 +/-  of us have is strong.  We have a safe environment where we can freely share what is really going on in our life and know that confidentiality is maintained.   Through tough times (and we all have them)  my “Life Group” has been there to encourage, support and hold me accountable and I for them.    We get together as a group for game night, WII Bowling or football parties.  We have fun!  We enjoy one another!  We are a part of each other’s LIFE!  I will be so bold as to say we love one another. 

Several months ago during a “Life Group” get together, a member’s daughter (who is an RN) took all of our blood pressure.   I was surprised by a high read.  I have never had high blood pressure. Therefore, I attributed it to excitement over the football game, anxiety in having my blood pressure taken, etc.  Several weeks later she took it again and once again it was high.  That got my attention!  Discussing ways to reduce my blood pressure included a discussion on weight and exercise; the excess of one and lack of another – I will let you guess which is which! 

I made a commitment to myself that day that things would change. And, unlike anything I would have done in the past, I shared during “Life Group” that I needed to lose weight and begin to exercise.    It is not unusual for me to get a text message from someone asking how I am doing that week.  My “Life Group” is a part of my spiritual and my physical life, demonstrated by their actions and words.  Life would be tough without a “Life Group”.

How about you?  Do you have a “Life Group”?   Believers who love you no matter what?  Pray, laugh and cry with you? Hold you accountable and are there for you?    I sure hope so as life can sure be tough without one.

Heb 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


A few hours before catching my flight from Hilo to Honolulu, I took a short walk to Coconut Island.   This “island” is close to the hotel and is where I have enjoyed watching people fish from the shore; where I have seen a little toddler enjoying the water, wearing the same “outfit” he had on at birth; and where I can look in the tide pools for fish, listen to the sound of the water and feel close to God.   

Hawaii is a place of beautiful surroundings and beautiful people. I love the Hawaiian people.  I love their culture, especially their sense of “ohana”.  I love the Hawaiian word Kama'aina that means native-born, child of the land.

My father, a career Army soldier, was stationed in Hawaii when I was four. I attended kindergarten and first grade in Hawaii – wearing “slippers” (aka flip flops) every day, learning how to hula, and spending lots of time at the beach with my mom, dad and three sisters.  I experienced the beauty of Hawaii at a young age.  

I have very clear memories of celebrating May Day when I attended kindergarten when living in Hawaii.  It is Lei Day and to this day is celebrated.   Is May Day even celebrated anymore on the mainland?  I am mesmerized watching hula dancers, whether young or old or male or female.  The stories told with their hands and facial expressions; the gracefulness and at times the boldness of the dance.    The sweet sound of the ukulele . . . Israel "IZ" Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow.   Hawaii is a beautiful place with beautiful people with a beautiful culture. 

So while I don’t have Hawaiian blood “or coconut” flowing through my veins, I live vicariously in the Hawaiian culture.

There is a small church I attend when here.  The doxology is sung in Hawaiian, the pastor is barefoot, the sound of the traffic comes through the open windows entwined with the sound of the birds, ukuleles join guitars, the truth of God’s Word is shared and I celebrate my Christian culture with other believers from various places and various stages of life.    This is a culture I chose that day in 1981 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord & Savior.   This is a culture to which I belong  and a culture in which I actively participate.  This is the culture I claim! 

Mahalo Jesus!