Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Yes, I do love Meredith but this blog is about a book calledCrazy Love by a pastor in Simi Valley, CA and graduate of the Master's College and Seminary, Francis Chan. Over the years I have been greatly challenged when this man has presented the Word of God as it is--radical, awesome, gripping...
I am right now enjoying listening to it as an audio book, which I got for free and thought others might want to know how. Christianaudio.com is a website that sells audio books. Having an account on file (creating a login) comes with the perk of a free download every month. Crazy Love is this month's offer. Previous downloads have included titles such as The Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyan, The Rare Jewel of Christian Conentment by Burroughs, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd edited by Edwards to name a few. Briefly, you might find opening an account worth your time. A single email comes once a month to notify you of the free download.
To obtain this current title for free, open an account this month, add Crazy Love to your cart, and enter JUL2009 as the coupon code. Enjoy!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
I've had this blog for a few years now and, although the posts do not show it, have enjoyed writing on it. The name, however, needed some adjustment. It just wasn't right. So I hope you appreciate the new title. If it looks the same, it basically is with one change. Like a grammarian, I attempted to be clever with punctuation. Whereas at one time I wrote about one pilgrim, from now I write about two who progress together by God's grace.
On Friday, I asked Meredith to marry me! We are so excited as we look forward to this December. As Meredith is from Florida and I am a Californian, attempting to keep this a surprise has taken significant planning. She expected to be going to the mountains of North Carolina with her parents this weekend, but her parents and I had other plans. The schedule she anticipated was to have professional family photographs taken Friday on the beach and then to leave for the mountains the next morning. The beach photography was correct in that her parents would be taking the pictures and there she would find me waiting for her.
Her dad and I scoped out "the spot" the night before. On the secluded beach wood decking (approach) leading down to the beach, she found a rose and a poem I wrote for her. At the bottom of the ramp, I was waiting at the end of two rows of chinese lanterns. She was so surprised (shocked really at how she did not suspect anything) and happy!
I'm thankful to family and friends who have encouraged me in my life in waiting for God to bring that unique woman for me. He certainly does amaze me with His incomparable goodness. Below is the poem I wrote for Meredith, which she said I could share:
Who could have known, how this bud would have grown? Since sown, she was loved and cared for, the strength of that affection revealed by the length of her stem, all that she required for breadth and character, cultivated by a gardner's hands and good earth. Yes, there were dangers along the way, but a thick bramble was ready, pruning threats toward dismay. And in this home, with this support, the bud rose, tip tose to meet the sun's rays, standing strong in its gaze.
And God brought the bloom, crowned her life with beauty. Painted her person with vibrant colors and intricate details with fine brushstrokes to make all things beautiful in His time.
As this flower was appointed for more than one season, a day for plucking found a reason in an admirer's heart, when beauty was defined for him, cast in floral art. Turning his face to her, he presents himself as a vase to her. A reservoir in his base for her, she drinks her fill, basking in the sun, incubated by his love. Displayed in her windowed home, she is protected from all but the light of what's right as her beauty transcends transparent walls. And though she cannot dig deep to stand alone on her own, the welcome of her lean is never outgrown.
Though absent to wonder, when you were younger, now at the crest of an ocean of dreams, he waits for you in the plucking field.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Strength and Dignity are Her Clothing
Below, I have copied the eulogy I gave at the memorial service for my Mom.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her; (Prov 31:25-29a)
Because Jeanne was the kind of woman this Scripture in Proverbs speaks about, I am provoked also to be one of the children it describes. As you can imagine with the loss so near, this is very difficult and I do not know that my heart will sustain me through what I have prepared to say, yet my Mom raised a son who would try. My aim, then, in these brief moments is to bless my Mom, recounting her uniqueness from a son’s perspective.
She was a woman who was dedicated to her home. She refused to believe the world’s lies that homemakers are somehow second class citizens and parenting is among the hobbies a modern woman can entertain. I bless her for being there and for loving it. She loved her family and raising her children. She understood that making an excellent home required a full-time investment. So… when we wanted be superheroes, she made capes so we could fly. When we were struggling in school, she became our patient tutor. When we were misbehaving, she administered correction. When it was raining outside, she taught us to make cookies inside. When we wanted to compete, she became our biggest fan and supported us with early morning rides to practice. When we grew older, she also became a close friend and counselor, one to confide in with perfect trust.
She was a woman who was dedicated to work. She was among this world’s hardest workers. I know that when she was very young, she worked by ironing the clothes of her neighbors. She also worked as a bank teller. She worked as a homemaker as well as a day care provider from our home for 25 years. In most recent years and until a couple months ago, she worked as a customer service agent for Grace to You. In fact, I knew that her condition was becoming more critical when she stopped working (because if she could have she would have). And she worked with conviction: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10), the Scripture says; and in another place, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col 3:23-24). She told me a story once. While she was working at Grace to You she processed a letter from a group of children. On the letter, there were quarters, nickels and dimes taped. The children explained that these coins were their allowance and they wanted to give it as a donation to Grace to You. My Mom worked each day with that sacrifice in mind. She worked, worked, worked. In this way, she was also a great helpmeet to my Dad. She could put on gloves and be a construction worker in our yard, and then put on a dress and be such a beautiful lady. Perhaps, her work ethic is best seen through the garden she kept for so many years. To keep a garden demands patience, hard work, and care as a matter of one’s character.
Last, She was a woman who was dedicated to her God. She walked with God, since her early life. I can remember even as a little boy how she would put us to bed. She would tuck me in, then kneel at my bed and invite me to pray. Then she would go to my brother’s bed and repeat, and then to each sister. And she did this every night. By this, I learned that we are to turn to God in everything. Watching over the children committed to her in her day care business, she taught them two things primarily: their ABC’s and about Jesus. It was her pattern to have the children sit down. Then she would hold up flashcards with different names and ask, “Whose name is this?” Or with letters on them, “What letter is this?” But then she would tell them a Bible story. She walked with God through her cancer and gave testimony of His grace in the midst of suffering. On the Thursday night before her home-going, she gave testimony that she knew God was walking with her, each step reminded her of His presence. She said, “I don’t know how anyone could go through this without the Lord.” As a family a few days before her home-going, with some of her last words, she communicated her greatest desire for her children was that they would walk with God and that she would see us with Jesus too.
Jeanne was all these things to me as a son, and I rise up and bless her and miss her.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Jeanne Clutterham Memorial Service
Friends, my family is trying to contact people about the memorial service for my Mom. I'm hoping that this post will help spread the word.
Jeanne Clutterham Memorial Service
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Grace Community Church
13248 Roscoe Blvd.,
Sun Valley, California 91352
Monday, March 24, 2008
A Greater Cloud of Witnesses
We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thess 4:13-18)
God appoints a time to die and He does so in His infinite care, and wisdom. There are many things that I know to be true and at the same time beg the Spirit to convince me of them in the way I trust, think, speak, and do. The Lord brought my Mom to heaven at 4:40 this afternoon. We rejoice in her heavenly experience and joy. I know this is true but still wait on the Spirit to make me to know it.
My Mom was a wonderful lady. She was the most kind and compassionate lady I knew. I remember kisses at elementary school drop-off, hot cocoa on rainy days. I remember finding her in the crowd of parents when getting a school award. I remember meeting her (tear-filled) with hugs when coming home from long trips. I remember family vacations, family bike rides, and waterskiing.... I loved my Mom so much.
More mercies of God to me:
6. 27 years with Jeanne Clutterham as mother. No one chooses their family and some are placed in the most difficult of environments. I have known a mother's love my entire life.
7. Jenna Guillory, RaeAnna Seaton, and Nate Scroggins who served us this last week (and are still serving) by turning people's desires to help into action. I am so thankful for them and those who have been cooking for us.
8. Encouraging emails, blog comments, facebook grafitti, phone calls from friends. These helped balance the sorrow with truth-telling, hope proclaiming.
9. John MacArthur's visit to our home this afternoon to encourage us and pray for my Mom and our family.
Now brothers and sisters, my Mom joins a long list of faithful saints who have gone before us, proclaiming that Jesus is trustworthy in all that He promised and that the race of faith can be run to the finish. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Heb 12:1).
A memorial service for my Mom is being arranged for this Saturday at Grace Community Church. I will give more details as they become available. I would like to extend an invitation to all who knew my Mom or have a connection to someone who knew my Mom or our family.
The Home Stretch
Friends, It appears that my Mom is heading down the home stretch of her life and battle with cancer. When hearing the news from Dr. Hugh last Tuesday, I considered that God was bringing my Mom's condition to a point of decision, rejoicing that either way would result in divine healing (whether through the restoration of her tumor-damaged organs or through leaving that earthly tent behind, 2 Cor 5:1-8; Ps 103:3). Her hospice nurse was here this morning. After taking her blood pressure, it seemed likely to her that she would go today.
I have seen that it takes great courage to die of cancer...and my Mom has been heroic. Thursday night (last week) with a full room of visitors, she gave testimony of the joy of walking with God. She told us of how she knew that God was walking with her each step of the way and then led us in singing a hymn: Blessed assurance.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
More mercies of God to me:
4. Mike and Christina Roe who twice made and brought homemade ice cream to my Mom in the last week. In the midst of her suffering, it brought us joy to hear her say, "That's good."
5. A father who kept his vow to the end: "To have and to hold...in sickness and in health."
Please pray for my Mom, that this will be a sprint of faith to Jesus--and for my Dad that he will hold onto the promise ("neither death...will separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord," Rom 8:38-39).
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Days or Weeks
We sat in the noisy hospital room waiting for news. The procedure the previous day had failed to remove the waste fluids that were accumulating in my Mom's legs and abdomen. Dr. Hugh was sent to level with us. He, in the most gracious but straightforward way available, presented my parents with the option: days or weeks. Her tumor on her liver (despite the surgery) had grown steadily to the point of making it inoperable. This then contributed to the breaking down of the function of her kidneys (which work to remove waste from the body). In Dr. Hugh's estimation this signaled the beginning of the breakdown of her body's essential organic system. Poking and prodding, taking blood and giving pills would mean a painful extension of life for a few weeks. Days are shorter than weeks but presented the alternative of being more comfortable, in the place where she has called home for almost 35 years, surrounded by an unbroken chain of family and friends to tell her that they love her. Believing that there is a life to begin in the presence of Jesus on the other side of death, my parents decided days at home would be more precious than weeks in the hospital.
My Mom (Jeanne) is resting now. With great courage, she made it through the night. She asked my aunt Karen this morning (who has worked as a nurse for many years), "Karen, is this what happens?" It breaks the heart of a son. The days have been exhausting. Physical energy can be spent as much in tears as in laying bricks. But our faith and hope are in Jesus who promised us, "he who believes in Me will live even if he dies."
I will share more in the coming days as I give updates. But, with the example of Paul (Phil 2:27) and a dear friend (here) who acknowledged the mercies of God in the midst of trial, I would like to start a list of of noticed mercies of God to me and my family.
1. God's provision of a caring, believing doctor for the five years of my Mom's battle with cancer. I bless Dr. Lee for her personal care of my Mom for all these years. It was a precious sight for me to be there when she came to visit last Tuesday. Being so exposed to death, she was overwhelmed with sorrow to acknowledge that death was near.
2. God's gift of salvation to my Mom as a young 5th grader. He saved her and worked to sanctify her for so many years (about 44 years). The difference between my Mom and the other patients in that room was so evident. God has caused her to become like His Son with a gracious and kind Spirit.
3. God's provision of many friends who love my Mom. Their visits in these last days have been so precious as she is reminded of how she has blessed so many. Their expressions of love have been an unending song, the same melody of love with new verses of blessing and faithfulness, these last few days.
I will stop there for now. There are many more which are evident for me but I want to keep the coming posts manageable.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Why I love my blog banner
I was telling a friend about the picture I use for the banner of this blog and why I love it. The picture was taken on my second trip to Croatia (Aug 2005) outside the town of Krapina. To me it is the picture of contrast. A sign indicating the course of the railroad track and the railroad track itself, which appears entirely different than the sign indicates. My friend and I were talking about how many temptations to get off the track of trusting God present themselves everyday. We were reminding ourselves of the proverb that speaks God's wisdom concerning these temptations:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge HIm, and He will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5-6)
My banner illustrates this instruction to me. The future may hold a million different curves, sharp turns, and go in unexpected directions, but to the man who trusts the Lord the future is straight. The principle begs the action of always trusting the Lord. Life's test may offer other options in multiple choice fashion, but the right answer is always A: Trust the Lord (all down the scantron, answer TTL no matter how attractive B or C look).
A good friend of mine (and roommate in college) serves as an example of someone who did this characteristically. I watched how time and time again he exercised faith in trusting God's wisdom. God used him as an RA at the master's college, brought him to Israel for a semester of study, brought him to the Master's Seminary, and then onto missions in Scotland. As God was doing these things I was struck by how straight his life appeared. I know that there were curves along the way, but God made them straight.