Monday, October 2, 2017

Stronger Than Hate

Horrified by the shooting in Las Vegas. Angry. Sad. Wishing there were answers. Told Jeff, "I'm starting to doubt everything is going to be okay."

He said, "God did not wake up this morning and go, 'Oh my goodness! I had no idea!'"

I know... but what's He doing?

It's hard to see any good when I look at death tolls and injury reports. When I look at the hate. But then I read about those who dragged others to safety, those who delivered wounded to hospitals in their own vehicles, those who took down the shooter... those who were not overcome by evil but overcame evil with good... those who saw hate in all its weakness and responded with love in all its strength.

It reminded me of a story about Longfellow which I first heard a couple years after Dad's suicide. This story gave me hope again today, and I hope it encourages you.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lost his wife, Fanny, in July 1861.

The summer was hot, so Fanny decided to trim their daughter's hair while her husband napped. She saved the trimmings in a sealed envelope. In those days, envelops were sealed with hot wax, and as Fanny lit flame to melt the wax, a breeze set her dress on fire.

Fanny ran into her husband's study for help. Awakened from his nap, Henry threw a rug over Fanny to try to smother the flames. But the rug was too small, so he threw himself over her and stifled the flames with his own body as best he could. Fanny died the next morning, and Henry was so badly burned he was unable to attend her funeral.

The first Christmas after her death, he wrote in his journal, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.”

The next Christmas, his 1862 journal entry was, “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

On Christmas Day in 1863, Longfellow wrote nothing at all.

But on December 25, 1864, he wrote his poem “Christmas Bells.”

It begins with an observation which appears to be cheerful:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!
But Longfellow is not cheerful, as he goes on to explain:
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Yes. Hate is strong, and it does mock the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men. But the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men was not written by men. It was written by God Himself. Hate is strong, but God’s love is stronger. Wherever evil attempts to flourish, God pours out grace and mercy in greater measure. Satan loses every battle he fights.

This Longfellow knew:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Last night in Las Vegas, The Wrong reared its ugly head. But then it failed. This morning, as more stories of heroes pour in, The Right prevails. Indeed, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.

"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Confessions of a Used Furniture Addict

It was Teresa's job to find a couch for the upcoming play.

Becky knew this.

But Becky is a used furniture addict.

Teresa, the assistant director, sent along a picture of the kind of couch she had in mind for Hope Covenant Church's summer outreach drama camp production of Disney's 101 Dalmatians Kids on August 4 at 7pm at Zion Lutheran School in Lake Stevens. (Be there or be square.)

Somehow, Becky's Facebook Marketplace notification algorithm found out that Teresa was looking for a couch. No one knows how that happened. Anyway, Becky sent Teresa lots of links to free Facebook Marketplace couches that would be *just perfect* for Roger and Anita's living room scene.

Teresa was prob'ly very thankful. Prob'ly.

Becky volunteered her husband, Jeff, to fetch whatever couch Teresa decided on. They contacted the giver of a free couch in Burien, but the giver never responded. And never took down their ad. Negligent couch giver.

Jeff was commissioned to drive to the corner of Jackson and Broadway in Everett to fetch a free couch supposedly lounging around on the curb. Alas, it wasn't there.

The next giver never responded.

The giver after that said their couch had just been given away. Zounds!

Finally, Teresa discovered a couch in North Everett. The fabric pattern was dubious, but Becky liked the shape of the back and Teresa liked the wooden legs, so Jeff and Becky fetched it.

It was pretty ugly.

They went straight to Value Village to find a king-sized bedsheet they could use to fake-reupholster the ugly couch. They found lots of pretty fabric at dumb prices. Jeff said, "I'd rather pay $20 for a different couch than buy $20 of fabric to try to fix the ugly couch."

That Jeff. So practical.

They were already at Value Village, so they just backed the truck up to the donation door and donated the ugly couch. Ironically, Value Village was closely screening its ugly furniture intake, and it seemed they felt as dubious about the ugly couch as Jeff and Becky did. But in the end, they relented, accepted the ugly couch, and gave Jeff and Becky a 10% off coupon in return.

In other words, one day, Jeff and Becky took a random drive to North Everett, plucked a random ugly couch from a random curb, and kindly delivered it to Value Village.


Jeff and Becky left Value Village and headed to Applebee's, where Becky vowed to continue the couch hunt over dinner.

"That sounds really boring," said Jeff.

"You can search, too!" Becky replied cheerfully.

Jeff grunted.

At Applebee's, Becky found a free Facebook Marketplace couch nearby in Arlington and messaged the giver. Jeff found a Stunningly Perfect couch on Craigslist. It was very far away in Normandy Park, but Becky wrote to that giver, too.

The Arlington giver wrote right back. "You can come tonight? Yes, please." The Normandy Park giver did not write back. Typical.

So Jeff and Becky collected the free couch in Arlington. Then Becky texted Teresa and said, "Couch acquired!" Not the couch they'd discussed... but... a couch, at any rate.

It was really a pretty cool couch, and it really would have worked just fine. But it wasn't Stunningly Perfect like the couch in Normandy Park. Oh well. Becky had to let that go and be content with the pretty cool couch.

Or did she?

The next morning, the Normandy Park giver wrote back! "I was busy last night, but you can come get my Stunningly Perfect couch tonight between 5:30pm and 8:30pm."

Jeff had a home inspection at 4:30pm, and there was no way he could finish the inspection, fetch Becky, and drive all the way to Normandy Park before 8:30pm. So Becky wrote back to the giver and said, "Tonight doesn't work for us, but how about tomorrow?"

The giver didn't respond.

*sigh*

Then Jeff's home inspection got moved up a couple of hours. Huzzah! Becky wrote back to the giver and said, "My husband's appointment got moved up, so we can come tonight after all." The giver called and gave her his address over the phone, because the Internet Is Evil.

Becky texted Jeff, "Guess what?! The Stunningly Perfect couch is still available!!! Let's go get it!"

Jeff, slightly dazed and definitely long-suffering, limped wearily home from work, stashed the pretty cool couch in the garage, changed out of his work clothes, and drove his giddy wife, who was on a used furniture addiction high, an hour and twenty minutes to Normandy Park.

The drive down was simply gorgeous. There was bad traffic on the 5, so they got to go the old fashioned way on 99. They went through a tunnel, up onto the Alaska Way aqueduct thingy, along the the pier, past the ferris wheel, and around the stadiums. To top it all off, Mt. Rainier was out, majestic and splendid, as always.

After stopping only once (in a residential neighborhood to retrieve four nearly-full gallons of paint sporting a "free" sign), the Frames arrived in Normandy Park on schedule. And there it was.


The Stunningly Perfect couch lay serenely in the giver's driveway, singing seductively of its own perfection. And it had background vocals. A coffee table, a piece of butcher block, a soap dispenser, and a $300 kitchen faucet. All free for the taking.

The Frames took them.

It was July, but even so, they didn't quite make it home before dark. Their strapping sons helped unload the couch, and Jeff, with insight aforethought, positioned it strategically in the driveway for the photo shoot sure to ensue at the crack of dawn.

"It's so handy," Becky commented, "to be married to someone with huge muscles. Great for moving couches!"

"You know," Jeff replied sagely, "that's three couches in two days."

"I know! I'm very thankful!" Becky bubbled.

"So I don't ever want to hear another word about my car collection," Jeff teased. At first, Becky thought he meant matchbox cars, of which he has no collection, so he prompted in a singsong voice, "He had seven cars when we met..."

Ohhhhhhh... THAT car collection.

Jeff has asked Becky several times where the couch is going to live after the play. Becky doesn't know yet. But she is bound and determined to find a spot for it in her home, even if she has to add the rest of her seating to the used furniture graveyard growing behind her house.

In the meantime, on with the show!


P.S. If you have kids entering 6th-9th grade in the fall, sign them up for camp! It's July 31-Aug 4 from 9a-3p daily. And once again, all are welcome to attend our performance on August 4 at 7pm at Zion Lutheran School. Come see our Stunningly Perfect couch in all its splendor.

P.P.S. All the "no" couches led to an awesome "yes" couch. Keep this in mind when God tells you no. It's like He's saying, "Awesome yes coming soon." Or, you know, soonish. That's grace upon grace.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

God Is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lost his wife, Fanny, in July 1861.

The summer was hot, so Fanny decided to trim their daughter's hair while her husband napped. She saved the trimmings in a sealed envelope. In those days, envelops were sealed with hot wax, and as Fanny lit flame to melt the wax, a breeze set her dress on fire.

Fanny ran into her husband's study for help. Awakened from his nap, Henry threw a rug over Fanny to try to smother the flames. But the rug was too small, so he threw himself over her and stifled the flames with his own body as best he could. Fanny died the next morning, and Henry was so badly burned he was unable to attend her funeral.

The first Christmas after her death, he wrote in his journal, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.”

The next Christmas, his 1862 journal entry was, “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

On Christmas Day in 1863, Longfellow wrote nothing at all.

But on December 25, 1864, he wrote his poem “Christmas Bells.”

It begins with an observation which appears to be cheerful:
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!
But Longfellow is not cheerful, as he goes on to explain:
And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Yep. True. Hate is strong, and it does mock the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men. But the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men was not written by men. It was written by God Himself.

Hate is strong, but God’s love is stronger. Wherever evil attempts to flourish, God pours out grace and mercy in greater measure. Satan loses every battle he fights.

This Longfellow knew:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, goodwill to men!”
Most people agree that 2016 was difficult in one way or another. But God’s bells still peal out love and mercy and grace and joy and peace. Indeed, God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save; He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing… of peace on earth, goodwill to men” (Zephaniah 3:17, Luke 2:14b).
Peace on earth, goodwill to you.