Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I described Freckles to Lauryn as “short, muscular, super cute and hyper.” “Hmm,” she said. “Sounds like the perfect Scott dog.” She’s absolutely insane and irresistibly charming. Impish. Adventuresome. Runs like the Energizer Bunny. I never thought I was a dog person. When I was much younger I loved cats—well, actually kittens. In fact, I so badly wanted one that, in spite of the knowledge that my parents would never approve, I circumvented their authority and had a chat with my Father about it. Lo and behold, a stray cat with a lame leg showed up on our doorstep. Dumped, no doubt. She was a charmer as well. In all honesty, she didn’t behave like a cat with a haughty “I own you, so there” attitude. She lived happily ever after with us until shortly after we moved into the country and she was killed by a neighbor dog. Popcorn was the only pet we’ve had in my entire life. Excluding the beta fish, that is. Fish hardly count. Now we’ve got a wired terrier and all I can say is, “we should have gotten a dog a long time ago.” Funny, though, how the ones that show up turn out to be the best pets. I attempted to teach Freckles to sit, but she seems to have associated the desired action with the pressure on her rump instead of the word. Now whenever I pet her she cheerfully plops her little bottom down and cocks her head to peer up at me with huge puppy-dog eyes.

In lieu of any real snow, Lydia and I sat on Mom’s bedroom floor tonight cutting out snowflakes. Mine turned out to have a rather African flair. If there’s such a thing as African snowflakes. Lydia’s, on the other hand, looked decidedly springish. Somehow it seems that we’re both missing the point. Or perhaps we’re just thinking longingly of warmer days. Our bedroom keeps a constant heat index of perhaps forty-five degrees. When we come out to breakfast in the mornings we can slide our hands up near someone else’s backside and they’ll holler about the cold radiating out. Patrolling the energy usage has been next to impossible. We run the electric fan in our bathroom for dressing and showering, but I still keep shaving off goose bumps. And we sleep under electric blankets with only our noses sticking out the top. In the morning our noses are red. Hale and hearty we both must be, for we’ve still not contracted a cold.

“Who did you want to talk to?” Tabby asked when she answered the phone and apparently couldn’t believe her good fortune when I insisted she was the woman and prepared to drop my explosive. “What do you think? Would you like me to take some engagement pictures for you this weekend?” A gasp. A strangle. An excited yelp. An explosion. “HHHHOW would you do that?” she finally demanded. “Oh,” I answered casually, “I have a super powerful telescoping lens.” It’s still hard to believe she’s really getting married. We’d become so close—always going through the same things, it seemed. Suddenly, no more. Nick wouldn’t even believe me when I tried to share the good news with him. “Cliff?” he asked, incredulously. “I was there all summer. I know Cliff. There was nothing happening there.” “I realized I have no clue what I’m doing or where to start planning a wedding,” Tabby confided. “Can I—well, will you help me?” I embrace my part as wedding planner extraordinaire. It sounds as though I’m supposed to be experienced, or something. I’m delighted. Tabitha Faye has been the best friend and deserves the best guy and the best wedding and the best happily ever after. I only wish I could actually be there to help her out.

I don’t know how Lauren could have ever kept her big secret from me. She’s bursting with new little tidbits all the time. “I figured out today that sleeping in is my worst enemy!” she announced. I could have told her that. Instead I dug out a pleasant assent from my storehouse of appropriate phone conversation pieces. Sadly, my storehouse is very limited. But it’s growing. Surely and steadily. Working at a pregnancy clinic has completely altered my thinking. Who’d have thought I’d somehow or other know so much about pregnancy? This little niece or nephew is another hard-to-believe. Lauren reminded me of the birthday card I'd sent her: “I heard you’re expecting…another birthday! Scared you, didn’t I?” Humorously, that would have been just about exactly in time for the little person’s creation. I should have sent it much sooner.

Fanatical is the perfect word to describe the woman I read about today—from Iran. She began as a fanatical Muslim. Praying until her body was swollen and sore, memorizing the entire Koran, pleading and begging to know Allah personally. Until the day she came face to face with a picture of Jesus and fell to her knees in broken repentance. After that it was one little thing after another, as she was able to learn about Jesus, be changed by Jesus and become fanatical about Jesus. She started sharing Jesus everywhere she went, with everyone she met and the Lord started turning lives upside down. She holds Bible studies in Muslim beauty parlors, disciples prostitutes, distributes tracts and hope in nearby cities, hosts a home church and reads and memorizes the Word every chance she gets. Oh, and she’s twenty. Twenty years old. Tears came to my eyes as I realized her devotion—to the truth. Her search had always been for the Truth. And when she found it, she poured her alabaster jar at the feet of the Master and lives a life of radical worship. I was humbled to be caught up in her simple story and realize how boring she would find mine. I want to be like her. I want to be carried away with the joy of the Lord, the power of His grace and the impact of His truth.

We’re in relatively little danger now, facing relatively little opposition. And still I’m a coward. But tribulation stands veiled on the threshold. Now I have a little time to practice before I may be called to perform this dance of life and death. Lord, strengthen me, empower me, discipline me, overwhelm me to share Your precious truth wherever I go.

Lord, we place a greater value
On that which costs us greater pain.
Yet that which costs us greater pain
Often yields a greater gain.

And so, it seems, I place the value
Of Thy secret now revealed
Much lower than my precious sister
Who, daily praises Thy blood spilled.

Teach me, too, to love so greatly
Recognizing that Thy grace
Is poured as richly on my shoulders
By the Lamb who took my place.

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