Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

11.26.2013

A Seaside Excursion

 
The first year six of us spent a fall weekend at the beach, we had to look out carefully for the cottage we were renting, holding our breath that it was actually going to be decent. We stopped constantly for pictures along the scenic drive, and we holed up in our cottage on Sunday morning because of our uncertainty about any good churches in the area. We were between the ages of 17 and 20, many of us still in high school with part-time jobs at best. We counted every penny, drove in fear of snow, and couldn't change a flat tire. {Read more about our trip three years ago here}.




 
The tradition is still going strong. This time, the six of us met at a charming bubble tea place in town for lunch on Friday. The requisite car drama (there's always something!) was dispensed with before lunch, and we were on our merry way to the seaside! This time, when we stopped in our favorite Astoria thrift shop, the owner remembered us from two years ago. And when we reached Cannon Beach, we drove straight to the same, comfortable, cozy little cottage with its eccentric leopard print carpet that suits us just right.



 
We took rambling walks on the beach, elected not to do the hike we had planned (because the skies stormed and raged in a fascinating fashion all weekend), ate quantities of good food, attended a mediocre play, watched Bleak House (yes, all 8.5 hours of it!), laughed until our stomachs ached, soaked in the hot tub until the fumes made us ditsy, stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, and ate lunch at 4:30.



 
We discovered the best coffee of our lives (and that is saying a lot, coming from 6 coffee connoisseurs!): Sleepy Monk Coffee. The freshly roasted beans, the creamy richness, and the not-too-sweet flavor of the "foofy" coffees beckoned us not once but twice over the course of the weekend!

 
 
We re-visited the church that we had ventured to two years ago and were just as delighted! The pastor remembered us, and I was blessed by the commonality we all shared as one Body--dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Throughout the course of the weekend, we read through James, sharing our thoughts and applications in a wonderful, rambling manner such that everyone came away with something and all of us were blessed by the reading of the Word! {To see what we talked about two years ago on our beach getaway, click here!}



 
It seems as though we all might be a wee bit older this year than the first year we travelled to the beach together. God has been faithful to bring us along on our journey through life. But, ah, how thankful I am that my journey these last years has intertwined with these ladies' journeys and has included so many wonderful weekends at the coast!

Happy Thanksgiving!

11.19.2013

Wait Till Sunrise


 
The sunlight sparks my gaze,
Filling my ears with music golden.
My fingers yearn for its rays
To gather them as life for my soul.
 
A dark hand defeats me;
The sun dies in smoldering embers.
My hope shrivels blackly,
And fear slithers in, stealing my soul.
 
Nightmares wail, shadows bound,
Darkness suffocates, the music ends.
My own thoughts hunt me down—
The sun is gone, and with it, my hope.
 
A missive of light glows.
My eyes seek the sun, finding instead
The rising moon’s halos
Sending a message borne on sunlight:
 
The test of darkness betrayed
Your hope to be fragile as fine glass.
The sun died not, but bade
The moon glow for your wait till sunrise.



Photo Credit:blinkingidiot

11.12.2013

Precious Life

A Father's Tenderness

The story of Tim Bowers ended tragically last week [1]. It wasn't one of those beautiful fairy tales in which the good guy triumphs, the villain hobbles away, and the last page concludes with "and they lived happily ever after" and a large, flourishing "The End." Tim Bowers' story took a turn no one--least of all he--expected. In a heartbreaking moment, he fell 16 feet while hunting, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. The story of his life was forever changed--nothing would ever be easy or even happy again. But with his mental faculties fully intact, his life story wasn't over!

To a culture that murders helpless babies in the womb, though, his life story was over. To a society that increasingly scoffs at the helpless, his story had no meaningful contributions left. To a world that has granted terminally ill patients the right to commit suicide, his story had ended.

This man would never be able to hunt, never be able to hold his baby, never be able to walk, and never be able to feed himself. Doctors said that he might not ever be able to breath on his own. Yet he would still be able to converse, kiss, laugh, think, debate, cry, and live. His life was still precious!

There is a time to cease artificially keeping someone alive--but this is a decision arrived at slowly and carefully. I will never know what caused the Bowers family to consider taking out the breathing tube only 24 hours after the accident or why, when they took Tim Bowers out of sedation to ask him, Tim consented to going off the ventilator. I grieve with them for the loss of this precious life.

And I grieve for my country that extols such a decision. When we end a life and praise the "control" it brings to an out-of-control situation, we set ourselves up as God. When we end a life because of its messiness, we take selfishness to its farthest possibility. When we end a life based on future possibilities, we react in irrational fear.

God has created each human being in His own image! Europe and North America--I will take the 95% of down syndrome babies you are aborting [2]! They are precious lives! The 673 Oregonians alone [3] who have committed physician-assisted suicide were precious lives from whom my generation had so much to learn about courage, love, and selfless sacrifice. To the hospital who refused to treat a baby until threatened with legal action--is this now survival of the fittest at its finest [4]?

The Old Lady and the Birds

Oh, precious lives! Who will speak and defend and care for them?
 
Weigh in: At what point is life support artificially keeping someone alive and when should it be pulled? Do you agree with Tim Bowers' decision?



[1] Paralyzed Hunter Chooses to be Taken off Life Support
[2] Caroline Mansfield, Suellen Hopfer, Theresa M Marteau (1999). "Termination rates after prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome, spina bifida, anencephaly, and Turner and Klinefelter syndromes: a systematic literature review". Prenatal Diagnosis 19 (9): 808–12. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-0223(199909)19:9<808::AID-PD637>3.0.CO;2-B. PMID 10521836. This is similar to 90% results found by Britt, David W; Risinger, Samantha T; Miller, Virginia; Mans, Mary K; Krivchenia, Eric L; Evans, Mark I (1999). "Determinants of parental decisions after the prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome: Bringing in context". American Journal of Medical Genetics 93 (5): 410–16. doi:10.1002/1096-8628(20000828)93:5<410::AID-AJMG12>3.0.CO;2-F. PMID 10951466.
[3] http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/year15.pdf
[4] http://www.visionforumministries.org/projects/llmaf/baby_nathan_valor_jackson.aspx

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trynes
Photo Credit: Christopher Walker

11.05.2013

Doing Friendships Wrong


Photo Credit
 
A precious little boy I know hazarded playing with a new group of kids.  Spurning and teasing shut him out like a slammed door on a smiling face, and those were just the responses of the Christian children. 
 
You might say that’s terrible.  And it is. 
You might say that’s rare.  It is not. 
 
Indeed, I suggest to you that the majority of Christian young women have friendship just as radically wrong as those kids did. 
 
We speak of “having” a friend as we speak of “having” a charm bracelet. 
We see our friends as means of entertainment with whom to while away boredom.  (Are we talking about a television or a human being, here?)
We share with our friends all the things that eternity will erase and leave unsaid the crux of our souls. 
We sob and suffer through loneliness while surrounded by over 7 billion people.
Our happiness and comfort is the Lens through which friends will be viewed, the Ruler by which friends will be measured, the Law by which friends will be judged, the Password by which friends will be permitted.
 
And that list hardly cracks the door on the room of lies with which Satan has bewildered our friendships.  The Bible is our standard for everything in life, yet why have we lived as though it does not define the purpose of friendship? Jesus said, 


“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” {John 15:13}

Greater love. 
 
No one speaks like that anymore.  We don’t contemplate laying down our lives for someone before we “friend” them on facebook.  We no longer say we love a friend with great love or that she is a “friend who is as your own soul” {Deuteronomy 13:6}.  Instead we put our happiness first and use trite phrases like “BFF” and speak of “having” a friend.  We are satisfied with the mediocre, when Jesus called us to the greater.
 
Jesus said being a friend meant having a love so great you would step up to a murderer.  You would tell him, “Take me instead," giving up your life and with it your hope of holding the hand of your grandchild, your dream of journies across the world, and your daily chance for a morning sunrise. You would throw your own body across your friend’s to take the bullet and feel, not fear and bitterness burning in your throat, but deep forgiveness and overwhelming peace along with the scorching pain of death and the joy of eternity. 
 
Why? Because you love that person more than yourself or your happiness. 
 
Jesus was that friend to us, so it should not surprise us that friendship was God’s idea.  From the description in Genesis we can picture the deepness of Adam and Eve’s relationship with their Creator. Unfortunately, this means we also grieve all the more intensely the depth of their loss in discarding that one perfect friendship.
 


“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”  {Genesis 3:8}

And so we have been hiding ourselves ever since.  Not just from a friendship with the God of the universe, but from the knitting of our souls to the soul of another human being whom God miraculously placed on the planet at the same time and in the same place as us.  From giving without reserve of the treasures of our minds to strengthen.  From depleting our depth of emotions to encourage.  From loving face to face and soul to soul. 
 
And so, instead of laying down our lives for our friends, we find ourselves in the position of laying down our friends for our lives, our way.  Of doing coffee and going out to a movie and never really getting to know the soul of the girl who sat next to us through it all.  Of loving the comfortable mediocre more than the demanding greater.  Of loving our happiness with the status quo more than the little boy with love to give.
 
But “greater love has no one than this…” 
It’s time to get this one right, girls. 
 


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Daniele Zanni

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