Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Undeniable God

This month I did a bit of traveling. 

Wes and I traveled up to Niagara Falls 
to see what that was all about.

It was fascinating.
Much like the Grand Canyon,
it seems to draw people from every culture to its edges.
So many faiths and ethnicities represented
staring at one of the wonders of the world.
I was curious as to what they thought of what they were seeing
The reactions and actions of all these people
Rushing around to be first in line
pushing to get the best view from the rail
grabbing family photos
and the amount of selfies being taken was crazy
I know I am dating myself here,
but I can remember a time where it was customary
to ask a total stranger to take a photo of your family
so that everyone could be in the picture.
It was a random and friendly way to feel involved
in other peoples moments at the same event.
Now people use selfie sticks or just their own arm.
They do their best to stay in their own little bubble experience.
No small talk,
no friendly chatter while waiting in line,
no smiles.
Don't get me wrong, we tried to engage.
But most people just looked at us funny.
Like they thought we were crazy for speaking to a complete stranger.
I did have one beautiful encounter on one of our bus rides.
I did not get her name,
but I happened to sit next to an elderly Mennonite woman.
She was quiet,
no chit chat,
just like all the others we had tried to engage.
Then at one point as I was looking out the window I stated,
"it is hard to believe that one can not see 
the glory of God in these surroundings."
At this point her eyes brightened and she said,
"Yes! God is all around!"
and we began talking about our faith
and our God for the next 5 minutes.

A Christian friend and I went to take a gander 
at the new Mormon temple, in Philadelphia. 

It would be the only time a non-Mormon could 
observe the inside of this building.
For all the manufactured excitement surrounding this event
by those who gave us a tour
and for all the smiles and obvious scripted encounters,
the over arching emotion my friend and I had was sorrow.
For in all the detail and beauty of this building,
which was built right smack in the middle of historical Philly,
the presence of God was absent and 
the requirements of men 
to become worthy to enter "eternity" were highlighted.
And yet, as we drove back home from that experience
our conversation centered on the fact that
God does not need us to jump through any hoops to be worthy
As the old hymn goes...
Jesus did it all
All to Him I owe!

The last and final trip for the month of August
took Wes and I to Florida 
to spend a long weekend with dear Christian friends.

Can I just say, God is good? 
Yes I can!
All four of us have been through some stuff these last 5 years.
Major moves from our homeland
Major job changes
Family struggles
And yet, we did not sit around all weekend 
and gripe and complain about our lives.
Yes, we shared our struggles with one another
but more importantly
we enjoyed each others company

we sat quietly and watched the ocean
we laughed
we ate
we walked
we worshiped...
It was good for us all.

No matter where I found myself this month
I was reminded of the presense of God

His creation 
is more majestic than anything man attempts to create

His Abba Father love 
is more perfect than any man focused religion

His gift of refreshment seen in communing with other believers 
is more peace giving than any man manufactured event

It is instances such as these that remind me that
God is still here
In the midst of all the man made chaos of this world,
God the Creator and Sustainer of the universe
is still at work and is visible

He continues to invite us to be part of what He is doing
He continues to show off His majesty through creation
He continues to care for His sheep

Man may deny His existance,
but God does not rely on man
Man may continue to pursue answers for life's questions,
But the answers have never changed

The Everlasting God of the Universe holds everything together!

Romans 1:20 (AMP)

For ever since the creation of the world 
His invisible attributes, 
His eternal power 
and divine nature, 
have been clearly seen, 
being understood through His workmanship 
[all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], 
so that they 
[who fail to believe and trust in Him] 
are without excuse and without defense.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


1. a toy that spins around, for example, a top or a pinwheel.
2. a thing regarded as hectic or constantly changing.

My life fits the second definition of whirligig perfectly

"hectic or constantly changing"

At times I feel dizzy
sick to my stomach
At other times I feel energized
anticipatory and ready to try anything

a whirligig!

But right now....
I am ready for
a boring, run of the mill, steady eddy, plain, uneventful,
happy, celebratory, successful, comfortable, delightful,
encouraging, pleasurable season

Is that so wrong?

I wonder....

The thing that keeps a whirligig whirling is wind.
Otherwise it just stays perfectly still.
Does that make it no longer a whirligig?
I would say, Yes!

I would argue that it is just a decoration
a lawn ornament
or perhaps a dust catcher

Maybe the only way to understand the beauty and delight of a whirligig
is to first see it
out of motion,
perfectly still.
For, our first response is to blow on it
or spin it around to make it move and twirl
so that we can enjoy what it looks like in motion.

For when it is in motion,
it is beautiful
and being used to its utmost potential.

I think that when I am having days where the motion of life
feels more exhausting than exhilarating
it is time for me to take a little step back out of the wind
just enough to catch my breath
to repair and reinforce any worn out parts

I do this through fasting and praying
being quiet
gazing at the One who created me
Allowing Him to speak truth into my life and my circumstances
Seeing things from His perspective

It would be so easy to stay in that quiet still place
But I am a whirligig,
not a dust catcher
and I was created to be beautiful in motion
To show off what my Creator did in me
and continues to do
That can only be seen if I step back out into the wind
embracing the constant change

Praying for God's protection
that the winds of this life
will allow me to show Christ's love to a dying world
that the wind will not be so strong as to knock me down
and destroy this whirligig
God created the wind and He created me
He is in control

There is a story in Acts 27 and 28 about a ship wreck that I love.
It is about Apostle Paul and his round about way of getting to Rome.
Although this is an account of his journey,
It reminds me of how no matter what,
God accomplishes
with His children what He wants to happen.

There is no wind too strong to take me off course
to what He has set for me to do.

There is no detour to long,
and no time of replenishing 
and refreshing that is wasted.

All of it is part of His plan and His timing.

This story is worth reading...

Acts 27 and 28 (ESV)

Paul Sails for Rome
And when it was decided that we should sail for Italy,
they delivered Paul and some other prisoners
to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius.
And embarking in a ship of Adramyttium,
which was about to sail to the ports along the coast of Asia,
we put to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, 
a Macedonian from Thessalonica.
The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly
and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.
And putting out to sea from there we sailed under the lee of Cyprus,
because the winds were against us.
And when we had sailed across the open sea
along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra in Lycia.
There the centurion found a ship of Alexandria 
sailing for Italy and put us on board.
We sailed slowly for a number of days 
and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus,
and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, 
we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.
Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens,
near which was the city of Lasea.
Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous
because even the Fast[a] was already over, Paul advised them,
saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage 
will be with injury and much loss,
not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.”
But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot
and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said.
And because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in,
the majority decided to put out to sea from there,
on the chance that somehow they could reach Phoenix,
a harbor of Crete, facing both southwest and northwest,
and spend the winter there.
Now when the south wind blew gently, 
supposing that they had obtained their purpose,
they weighed anchor and sailed along Crete, close to the shore.
But soon a tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, 
struck down from the land.
And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind,
we gave way to it and were driven along.
Running under the lee of a small island called Cauda,
we managed with difficulty to secure the ship's boat.
After hoisting it up, they used supports to under-gird the ship.
Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis,
they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.
Since we were violently storm-tossed, 
they began the next day to jettison the cargo.
And on the third day they threw the ship's tackle overboard 
with their own hands.
When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, 
and no small tempest lay on us,
all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.
Since they had been without food for a long time,
Paul stood up among them and said, 
“Men, you should have listened to me
and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss.
Yet now I urge you to take heart, 
for there will be no loss of life among you,
but only of the ship.
For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God
to whom I belong and whom I worship,
and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar.
And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’
So take heart, men, for I have faith in God 
that it will be exactly as I have been told.
But we must run aground on some island.”
When the fourteenth night had come, 
as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea,
about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land.
So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms.
A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms.
And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors
from the stern and prayed for day to come.
And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship,
and had lowered the ship's boat into the sea
under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow,
Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers,
“Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.”
Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship's boat and let it go.
As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food,
saying, “Today is the fourteenth day that you have continued
in suspense and without food, having taken nothing.
Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength,
for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.”
And when he had said these things, he took bread,
and giving thanks to God in the presence of all 
he broke it and began to eat.
Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.
(We were in all 276 persons in the ship.)
And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship,
throwing out the wheat into the sea.
Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land,
but they noticed a bay with a beach,
on which they planned if possible to run the ship ashore.
So they cast off the anchors and left them in the sea,
at the same time loosening the ropes that tied the rudders.
Then hoisting the foresail to the wind they made for the beach.
But striking a reef, they ran the vessel aground.
The bow stuck and remained immovable,
and the stern was being broken up by the surf.
The soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, 
lest any should swim away and escape.
But the centurion, wishing to save Paul, 
kept them from carrying out their plan.
He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard 
first and make for the land,
and the rest on planks or on pieces of the ship.
And so it was that all were brought safely to land.
After we were brought safely through,
we then learned that the island was called Malta.
The native people showed us unusual kindness,
for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all,
because it had begun to rain and was cold.
When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire,
a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand.
When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand,
they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer.
Though he has escaped from the sea, 
Justice has not allowed him to live.”
He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead.
But when they had waited a long time 
and saw no misfortune come to him,
they changed their minds and said that he was a god.
Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands
belonging to the chief man of the island, named Publius,
who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days.
It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery.
And Paul visited him and prayed, 
and putting his hands on him healed him.
And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island
who had diseases also came and were cured.
They also honored us greatly, and when we were about to sail,
they put on board whatever we needed.
After three months we set sail in a ship that had wintered in the island,
a ship of Alexandria, with the twin gods as a figurehead.
Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days.
And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhegium.
And after one day a south wind sprang up, 
and on the second day we came to Puteoli.
There we found brothers 
and were invited to stay with them for seven days.
And so we came to Rome.
And the brothers there, when they heard about us,
came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us.
On seeing them, Paul thanked God and took courage.
And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself,
with the soldier who guarded him.
After three days he called together the local leaders of the Jews,
and when they had gathered, he said to them,
“Brothers, though I had done nothing against our people 
or the customs of our fathers,
yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem 
into the hands of the Romans.
When they had examined me, they wished to set me at liberty,
because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case.
But because the Jews objected, 
I was compelled to appeal to Caesar
—though I had no charge to bring against my nation.
For this reason, therefore, 
I have asked to see you and speak with you,
since it is because of the hope of Israel that I am wearing this chain.”
And they said to him, 
“We have received no letters from Judea about you,
and none of the brothers coming here 
has reported or spoken any evil about you.
But we desire to hear from you what your views are,
for with regard to this sect 
we know that everywhere it is spoken against.”
When they had appointed a day for him,
they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers.
From morning till evening he expounded to them,
testifying to the kingdom of God 
and trying to convince them
about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved.
And disagreeing among themselves,
they departed after Paul had made one statement:
“The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers 
through Isaiah the prophet:
“‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people's heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’
Therefore let it be known to you
that this salvation of God
has been sent to the Gentiles;
they will listen.”
He lived there two whole years at his own expense,
and welcomed all who came to him,
proclaiming the kingdom of God
and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ
with all boldness and without hindrance.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sweet Release

The day we signed the papers 
17 year ago
and received the keys to the house in Chandler
It was a crazy day!

We were moving from Tucson to Chandler
due to my husbands job

We had an appointment 
at the Title Company around lunch time
and the moving truck was arriving 
with our things the next day.

At the time we had three dogs, 
two kids 
and two vehicles 
to get to Chandler

So that morning, 
we loaded up the dogs in the back of the truck, 
which had a camper shell on it
and I took the kids in the car 
and we headed up I-10 to Chandler.

About half way there on the freeway
the tailgate of the truck opened up!
My husband began to slow down 
and the dogs began tumbling out.
I was driving behind and I remember yelling at the kids 
to put their heads in their laps and not to look up. 
I was so sure that the dogs would get run over. 
But instead something wonderful happened.
My husband pulled over and so did I. 
Two of the dogs did not run, 
but stayed put next to the truck, 
so I grabbed them and put them in the car.
The other one began running 
across the freeway. 
Here is the wonderful part
All of the traffic stopped! Both sides!
People got out of their cars 
and helped us get the dog, 
who was terrified.
Never would I have imagined this outcome.
Once we got the dogs and the kids settled down, 
thanking everyone that helped us as well
We returned to heading up to Chandler.

We asked the sellers of the house 
if they would mind if we dropped the dogs 
off in the backyard 
while we signed the papers 
and they graciously allowed us to do that.
So we dropped off the dogs, 
left them some water 
and headed to the title company.
We signed the papers, 
got the keys and headed back to our house!
When we got inside 
we found a lovely plant and card 
waiting for us from the previous owners.
It was clear that they loved that house.
Fast forward almost exactly 17 year later ......

Yesterday was the last day that we owned our home in Chandler. 
All along the way
As we prepared our home for sale
We prayed
We worked
We did our best to leave well.
As I painted each room
I prayed for whoever would live there next
I walked around the outside of the house
 and prayed at each corner 
That those that came after us
would love this house as much as we did
would feel peace and serenity there
that it would be a refuge from the world 
as they came home each day
I prayed that the halls would again be filled with laughter
as it was when we raised our family there
that there would be great family gatherings
as when we had big Thanksgivings 
and Christmas dinners with loved ones
I prayed that God's presence may remain.

I do not know those that purchased our house
But I am confident that The Lord answered my prayers
that whoever it is, they would be the perfect people

And I believe they will be

And like those that we purchased that home from
we left a plant and a note welcoming them to their new home.

We never expected to know who these people are, 
but we were given a glimpse yesterday.
They sent us a note, 
thanking us for taking such good care of the house.
They told us they have three dogs! 
And they shared that they plan to have children 
and raise a family there.

I could not ask for anything more..........

God is good
He answers prayers
and He assists me to move on
What a Great and Awesome Abba Father I have.

Lamentations 3:22-27 The Message (MSG)

God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
    to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
    quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young
    to stick it out through the hard times.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pressure cooker legacy

My Nanny (great aunt) made the best green beans. 
Even if you don't like vegetables, 
I am convinced you would have loved these. 
They were fresh from the garden. 

She would go out in the morning
pick green beans from her garden 
bring them in the house 
and we would clean them and prep them for our meal. 
She would add bacon grease left over from breakfast 
and what ever else she had hanging around 
pieces of ham 
stuff like that. 
Then she would put it all in this strange pot 
called a pressure cooker 
light the gas stove 
and place that big strange pot on the burner 
so that it would begin to cook. 

She would tell me not to touch it because of how hot it would get. 
It would start making noises, 
spouting out steam. 
Looking back I am not sure how she knew it was done, 
but I do remember there was a whistling gauge on the lid, 
so maybe that gave her a clue. 
At any rate, when all was said a done, 
out would come these 
bacon flavored 
green beans 
that would melt in your mouth. 
I have never been able to replicate them! 
And I think that is probably a good thing. 
It helps to keep that as part of the wonderful memories I have 
of those days in my Nannies kitchen when I was a kid.

For some reason I have been thinking about her today 
and that pressure cooker. 
She was one of the most gentle souls that I know. 
She had more heart ache in her life 
than she ever let on 
and she never allowed 
all the ugly awful things that had happen to her 
to color how she looked at life. 
She loved deeply
and was a very wise woman.

I always felt happy and hopeful 
when I was around her. 
I miss her.

As I am getting older, 
I find myself looking for models of how to do it well. 
She rises to the top of my list. 
Of course my mom is right there with her. 
But that story is for another time.

I spent many lazy summer days with my Nanny. 
Running barefoot along dirt roads, 
catching tadpoles, 
climbing the water tank. 
I am sorry that my kids never had days like that.

My Nanny was a good listener. 
And she always invited me to learn about what she was doing. 
She taught me to iron and many other home making things.

There was always cookies in the cookie jar 
and candy in the candy dish.

This gentle soul 
rarely let the pressures 
and heartache of her life 
keep her from living.

I don't believe she was avoiding the pain, 
she was living through it. 
The result was beauty 
and compassion for the hurting,

Why am I writing about this?  
Her life imprinted on mine. 
She left something valuable for me to look back on.

Legacy is the footprints of faith for those that come after us. 
There are people in my life that have left their marks on me. 
Good and bad.

Like a pressure cooker.....
when good fresh healthy stuff is inside of me, 
like God's Word, edifying relationships, forgiveness, faith...
when the heat is turned on and things get 
and too hot to touch....
the result is not disaster, 
it is yummy goodness.
This should be my optimum reaction....
but it isn't always.

I confess that sometimes when the pressures of life hit me, 
what comes out is not good. 
It is not memorable, digestible, or attractive.

The last thing I want my loved ones to remember about me 
is how I reacted badly to the hard times.

I want to leave a pressure cooker legacy. 
To be known for my right responses to 
hot mess situations. 
That my appearance showed 
kindness under pressure.

I am so grateful for my Nanny's example.
I am eternally grateful for a God
that knew that I would need an example like this in my childhood.
For God in His infinite wisdom, 
knew how my life would unfold.

Through out history 
I have seen evidence of God 
caring and preparing those He loved, 
knowing the challenges that were to come.
The Bible is full of examples 
of those that had the heart 
to endure, 
and leave a story to encourage the next generation.
It also is full of examples of failure.

How I respond to the things in my days 
leave a story for my family to remember.
The question is...
what will that be

James 1:3-13 (NCV)

because you know that these troubles test your faith, 
and this will give you patience. 
Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. 
Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. 
But if any of you needs wisdom, 
you should ask God for it. 
He is generous to everyone and will give you wisdom 
without criticizing you. 
But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. 
Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, 
blown up and down by the wind. 
Such doubters are thinking two different things at the same time, 
and they cannot decide about anything they do. 
They should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.
Believers who are poor should take pride 
that God has made them spiritually rich. 
Those who are rich should take pride 
that God has shown them that they are spiritually poor. 
The rich will die like a wild flower in the grass. 
The sun rises with burning heat and dries up the plants. 
The flower falls off, and its beauty is gone. 
In the same way the rich will die 
while they are still taking care of business.
When people are tempted and still continue strong, 
they should be happy. 
After they have proved their faith, 
God will reward them with life forever. 
God promised this to all those who love him. 
When people are tempted, they should not say, “God is tempting me.” 
Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone.