Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Is Your Faith Ready?

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Prophetic dream…or buttered hot dog roll eaten late in the night?

A storm was coming.  A destructive storm.  It was huge and was going to affect everyone and everything.  It came from the sky…from on high.  And when it hit the ocean waters, the ocean waters swallowed up everything on dry land.

I saw the wave coming…everyone around me saw the wave coming.  Some tried to run.  I stood still…very still…and let the water rush over me.  It missed nothing.  It swallowed everything.  Bodies and trees and animals were swirling and swirling, tossed to and fro, washing machine agitation.  I could see the looks of pure fear and panic on faces around.  I could see looks of resignation to an obvious fate.  I could see looks of anger that this storm was now in control and these people had no say in what was happening to them.

And suddenly, with no hope in sight, I was on my feet and dry…with everyone around me.  I was in a bubble…a huge, clear bubble that looked out into what appeared to be space.  Millions of stars to be seen.  The bubble was other worldly.  You could see clearly from one side to the other, even though there were hallways and sidewalks and rooms and closets.  If you looked one way you could see the smaller units of the bubble.  But if you looked out you saw stars…and if you looked toward the center of the bubble, you saw the whole bubble…clearly…full of thousands of people.
What happened inside the bubble was bizarre.  There was a day the sun shone so bright that the bubble began to heat up and people threw themselves from the bubble into space…falling (which in retrospect was strange because my mind knows there’s no gravity in space to make one fall).  There was the day things got cold…seeping-into-the-bones cold.  As I looked across the bubble, frost was forming on the walls.  People were racing for blankets…for a warm body to lie against.  And in the cold, many froze.  But I was watching it all…not a part of it even though I was there.  My eyes could clearly see all that was happening.  There were fathers chasing children.  There was food…so much food.  And some sat at tables eating and eating and eating.  They never left the tables…dining until they collapsed from the amount of food they’d eaten.  No one who sat at a table got up and left a table…they died while stuffing their faces full of the delicacies offered to them.  No one was satisfied.  And we could all see what was happening in this dining area…and still people chose to go in and take a seat.  There was so much more that happened in this dream…it seemed like every few minutes the scenery changed to some other story.  Every story started with something good…something that looked fine.  Nothing inside the bubble felt dangerous, until a person started to participate in it and could not escape that enticing scene.

There were elevators…hallways…open concourses…rooms…closets.  At times the walls appeared as glass and at other times they were walls that became boundaries so dark that no one could see in and no one could see out.  The closets were frightening.  I could only look inside of them…I never entered one during the dream.  The colors were vivid…the smells of food made my mouth water…the sounds of laughter so loud and clear…along with the screams of pain and fear.
I struggled to escape the dream.  This wasn’t the kind of daydream that one can capture or release and move on.  I came up out of the dream as if coming up out of deep waters.  I lay still.  I took a breath, aware that I could breathe.  I felt disoriented as I opened my eyes into my somewhat darkened bedroom and realized the time with a startle.  The dream had gone by in what seemed a flash, but I’d slept for five hours…a long time for me to sleep at one time.

I felt a voice clearly directing, “Write it down.”  You see, I had prayed only two nights ago asking God to speak to me in a dream.  The Bible is full of stories of angels visiting with messages from God and I wondered if God still spoke in dreams.  And I lay in bed pondering that dream.  Was it a message from God?  Was it my mind just sorting out life?  Was it a good dream or a nightmare?  Everything about it was wonderful…and frightening…and beautiful…and full of darkness…and confusing.  But as I continued to wake, and ponder, I kept grabbing bits and pieces of the dream and could see how it could be comforting in light of the events happening in my world today.
The storm represents the turmoil of the political scene these days.  In less than 48 hours, Donald Trump will become the 44th President of the United States.  He does so surrounded by tumultuous hate and despair and vitriol like I’ve not seen in my lifetime.  Donald Trump is not the storm!  It’s the incredible turmoil of the people that is the storm.  My eyes tell me that the storm is over-taking me.  My eyes tell me that it’s deadly.  My eyes tell me that it’s going to sweep up everyone and everything in its path.

But my spiritual eyes, grown through almost 60 years of faith in God and a loving knowledge and experience with my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, tells me the TRUTH.  The storm CANNOT hurt me because my FAITH is the BUBBLE that will protect me.  My FAITH/spiritual eyes can see the big picture.  All that the world has found enticing and pleasing and fun and comforting will still be available… everything the people desire will still be available.  BUT IT’S TO BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS because it has the power to overcome and deceive and pull a person down and away from the bubble.  When we are admonished in the Bible to “persevere”…when we are encouraged to “finish the race”…when we are reminded to not give up “the good fight”…it’s because we are going to need those gifts and abilities to withstand the temptations to give in to what we see.  If we do so, our lives are over and we are no longer going to be protected by the “bubble” of our faith.  God has provided the bubble…it’s given to us for the purpose of protection…for the purpose of opening our eyes to see…for the purpose of revealing the truth.  We MUST HOLD ON to all that’s been planted if we are to face the coming days of turmoil, and fear and fear-mongering.  Doomsday prophets who have nothing to do with God will predict horrible scenarios that are out-and-out lies.  They will be led by the tools satan has clearly used to bring us to this day.  Media, technology, false religions and purely distorted minds will speak with authority…and we will know clearly which authority they represent.  They are the walls that will capture us and bind us to our deaths.  The hallways are the paths that we must rely on God to move us through to safety.  Elevators are those paths we can traverse with others, in groups…safety in numbers.  But those closets…those closets represent deep dark places.  Secrets.  Lies that cannot be undone.  We must steer clear of the closets.  And if we must deal with the closets, we must do so only IN THE LIGHT.  Light must be shed on secrets and can only be done so if secrets are revealed.  We keep secrets for a number of a reasons:  1) to protect ourselves, 2) to protect someone else, 3) to deceive or 4) because satan wants to have his way with us.  The only secrets we should have in our lives are those that are shared with God in private.  But one of satan’s greatest tools in this world is the destructive power of a secret.  One of the biggest truths we can remember from God’s Word is that we are to CONFESS.  Confession starts with speaking out loud what satan wants kept in private…because in revealing the secret, satan loses his power…the tenuous power that he uses to bind us to him.

I know that there is a lot of science that suggests our dreams are merely our minds reaction to physical things that are happening in our body while we’re at rest.  Our digestive system is at work when we’re resting.  Our muscles are repairing while we’re resting.  Our minds are sorting and cataloging events while we rest.  I’d grabbed an easy snack in the night when hunger spoke louder than sleep…and that food was being digested as I rested. 

But this dream was something so much more than the aftermath of that snack.  This was a reminder from God that my faith would get me through the storm.  The faith I have in Him…in His promises…in the knowledge of His Word…will help me to discern truth in the storm of lies that are headed our way.  My faith…even if it’s as small as a mustard seed…will cut to the chase and still have the power to move mountains.

A storm is coming.  Is your faith ready?

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Another Walmart Customer Service Story

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December 23, 2016…WALMART…I know you’re already saying, “Why???”

We had some grocery and essential shopping that needed to be done, and I knew I didn’t want to go to Walmart on the day before Christmas…but it never dawned on me that half the town might be thinking the same way.

Several months ago I started using the electronic carts at Walmart.  The decision to do so resulted from a fall in 2000 that caused a lower back problem that has never been resolved.  I can’t stand for more than a couple of minutes without extreme, nauseating pain in my back.  Earlier this year I started noticing a swollen lump on the back of my right foot, and a visit to the podiatrist revealed a large bone spur…and an aggravating Achilles tendon that swells, making it almost impossible to walk sometimes.  I tend to walk like I’m wearing a high heel on my right foot.  The doctor gave us an application for a handicapped sticker, but I usually ask Dan to let me out at the door and my foot hurts by the time I walk in the door and find a riding cart.  So I don’t go to the store unless I really have to.

I’ve had strangers rudely comment when they see me riding a cart.  They assume I’m lazy and I’m using the cart because of my weight.  It’s very likely that my weight aggravates my injuries, but I choose to just grin and bear the ugly remarks because I know the truth…and I would NEVER in a million years say something so ugly to someone I know nothing about…but that’s a different story completely.  Let me move on from the background info to today’s trip to Walmart…a store usually known for long lines, few employees available to help and few lanes open for check out!

I got the last electronic cart when I walked in the store, and was just thrilled to be able to get one.  I moved towards the produce section and quickly filled the basket with veggies for a fresh veggie tray at the family Christmas dinner.  Before I could turn to aisle #2, the beeper went off indicating “Low Battery”…so I headed back to the front of the store.  I got to the main front aisle and DEAD…right where folks walk in and walk out of the store…worst possible place for a “breakdown”.  The Walmart greeter (who’s duty this time of year is to check receipts) stopped long enough to help me move all my veggies to a small basket because I couldn’t take the chair to the charging station with anything in the basket.  It charged enough while I was stopped that I was able to crawl at a snail’s pace to the charging station.  Plugged her in…sat for about 3 minutes…and it lit up with a “Full Charge”!!!  Seemed unbelievable that it could charge that quickly, but I counted my blessings, unplugged and pulled forward…about 5 feet….and it dropped to “Low Battery”…so I backed up and plugged it in AGAIN.

This time I sat for 10 minutes thinking, “I’ll bet Dan’s wondering where I’ve disappeared.”  At the end of 10 minutes, I unplugged and headed back into the store.  Plopped my blue basket right into the cart basket and hit the “forward” button.  I found Dan almost immediately.  In my wisdom, I had actually printed TWO shopping lists…so we split it and he headed off to hunt down his items.  I only had 5 things I needed…but before I could find 3, that blasted beeping sound started up.  I started crawling back to the front of the store.  This time a VERY NICE EMPLOYEE caught up with me in produce and said, “Here, let me give you a push and we should be able to get you to the front of the store quicker.”  Would you believe we got back to the EXACT SAME SPOT that it had died the first time, and it gave up the ghost???  The young man said, “Let me see if there’s another cart available,” and moments later came riding around the corner.  He and the Walmart greeter helped transfer the blue basket and other items…and Dan’s coat…to the basket of electronic chair #2!  I moved over and pushed the forward button.

NOTHING!  I hit the backward button.  Again, NOTHING!  And yes…I’m back in the busiest intersection in the store.  I stood up and reseated myself…I wiggled the seat around…I sighed…I pushed the buttons again.  NOTHING.  My head is hanging in defeat now.  The greeter has no clue.  We’d both watched the other young man drive it without any difficulty (and I should add that he was heftier than I am).  In desperation, I tried ONE MORE TIME…and voila’!  Movement.  I said a prayer and raced as quickly as a cart will race (approximately 3 mph) to the back of the store to get crescent rolls because no Christmas dinner is perfect without crescent rolls.  I parked right against the refrigerated section so I could reach up and get my crescent rolls.  I put them in the cart and pushed the “Forward” button…and, you guessed it.  NOTHING!  For five minutes I sat there.  Do you know how many people buy crescent rolls and pie crusts (on the bottom shelf) on December 23rd???  I do.  Too many.  I was in everybody’s way.  Finally a store manager showed up to ask a shelver a question and I explained my dilemma.  SHE WAS SO NICE (2nd nice Walmart worker in one day).  She paged the front hosts to see if there were any carts available on either end.  There were NOT.  She paged someone from maintenance to come look at the cart.  She had Dan paged.  I asked someone who was buying crescent rolls if he would just “whack the cart” because that’s what guys do to fix anything that’s not working.  He asked, “Did you drop it yet?”  NICE WALMART WORKER #3 showed up.  She pushed buttons…she sat on the seat…jiggled it and wiggled it.  The crescent roll buyer ACTUALLY LIFTED THE BACK OF THE CART AND DROPPED IT.  Still not a budge.  They had me sit back down to wait for Dan (who is really the one who should be riding an electric cart but refuses to do so).  He came limping up and we transferred everything to his basket.  I stood up and the supervisor AND maintenance worker both decided they should just push the cart out of the way…but it wouldn’t budge!!!  It’s apparently supposed to roll freely when it’s not in use…so they knew something was wrong with the front wheel.  They both got down to look at it.  They stood up, and once again the maintenance lady sat down and pushed the button AND THE CART TOOK OFF!!!  We all laughed.  Apparently, the weight of the stuff in the basket had put too much weight on the front of the cart. 

Yes, it’s a long story!!!  But the highlight of this story is that on one of the busiest shopping days in Walmart, EVERY CUSTOMER SERVICE PERSON I came in contact with smiled, apologized to me, told me not to worry, tried to make me feel better when I said I was embarrassed and sorry for causing all the trouble.  EVERY CHECKOUT was OPEN.  So I just want to say kudos to the staff of Walmart in Olean, New York for making this day as good as it could be.  Your sweet attitudes and helpfulness really stood out today. 

I see sooooo many stories of nightmare issues at Walmart.  I’m happy to say that was NOT my experience…and really never has been my experience.  Merry Christmas to all the wonderful CUSTOMER SERVICE workers at Walmart who put the SERVICE in and made this CUSTOMER feel very merry at Christmas!
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Friday, November 25, 2016

Mia - My Gift

Tonight I asked Mia, my 6-month-old kitten, “Why are you here?” 

She’s in the place she’s chosen to be “her space” since coming to us back in June.  I kid you not…she lays with her hind end on my left arm and her body stretched across my chest…her heart beating next to my heart.  If I lay down in my bed, and she finds me there, that’s where she will lie.  If I try to move my arm out from under her, she waits till I put my arm back in place…and immediately moves to lie on top of me.  It is "her spot", and she is there as often as she can be.

She does this to no one else in the family.  She may lay on top of their stomach for a few minutes and let them pet her…but it won’t be for long.  She’s a “momma’s girl” of a cat.  But what she really makes me aware of is my missing breasts.  Is it my imagination, or is she really trying to make up for what’s missing?  Is she comforting me?  How could she even know…she wasn’t here when they were taken six years ago?  Why does she only lie on my left side… where the tumors were?

These are some of the “strange” questions that slide through my mind.  And I thank God for gifting me with a precious, beautiful, soft cat that seems to “know” somehow that six years later I still struggle with the fact that I stared death in the face…that it was growing only a few inches from my heart…that a doctor, with the wisdom of God, was able to remove three tumors…that medicine that kills cells was able to do battle inside my body and restore only the healthy, strong cells so I could continue to live.  And after a day of thanksgiving for all I’ve my blessings, I hurt for the mother that was taken from me by the very same disease.  And I remember her beautiful cat, Callie, who lay on her hospital bed in her living room…lay at her feet…growled at me when I’d try to move her to change the bedding. 

Cats!  I know there are some people that detest them.  I also know some people that go a little overboard and love as many of them as possible (I remember reading of a woman in California who moved out of her house so it could house more cats…and she has hundreds of cats on her property that she’s caring for). 

I have been blessed to love many cats in my lifetime.  I can remember my first cat.  I was eight…living in Canada…when we got “Angel”.  I remember the box with her litter of six kittens…black and gold and cream-colored babies that were the tiniest, cutest things I’d ever seen.  I remember Hai-Ki…my dad’s 40th birthday present…a Siamese that played hide-and-seek and walked with us whenever we walked our dog.  I remember the brother and sister cats I had from the same litter when I lived in an apartment during my college days…one solid black and the other solid white…named Ebony and Ivory!!!  Ebony once rode in a luggage carrier on top of a car from Ruston to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Thanksgiving holiday.  You can imagine my surprise when my next-door neighbor called from N.O. to let me know she’d be taking care of Ebony for the week.  I remember a tiny deaf kitten we brought home to care for…removed by a landlord that had a “no pets” policy (ouch).

I’ve loved kitties for over 50 years!!!  Not sure why I felt compelled to share this tonight except that Mia (short for MacadaMIA…because she’s a “nut”) once again plopped down on my chest…purring…invading my space…healing my heart…just being herself.  There’s a lot to learn from this kitten who is being just what she was created to be…who is doing just what she was created to do…and brings purr joy (pun intended) to my heart.  May your life be blessed by a furry “critter” who may just be an angel in disguise (personal opinion…there are no Scriptures to back up the idea that angels ever visit us in fur – weak smile).

Thank You, Lord, for furry friendships that somehow still draw attention to You and the comfort You offer.  And thank you, Mia…just for being you!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Choose Love

With snow on the way this weekend, it seemed appropriate to start prepping the porch for winter…and Christmas.  Thanksgiving will come and go quickly in a week…and this year we get an extra week to enjoy all that Christmas brings.

The Christmas season has somber moments now that I’ve reached the “Afternoon of Life”.  I’ve said good-bye temporarily to people that were part of my Christmas for over fifty years.  Now they celebrate the season in the Presence of the One Who made letting them go less painful…but not without pain.  There’s that moment when I hear Dad’s laughter in my sons’ voices…when I see Mom’s beauty in my daughter’s eyes.  There’s the wish that my grandchildren could have known the extraordinary love and wisdom my parents imparted while here on earth.  I know that they see Dan and me in the same way my children saw Dad and Mom…and I know that I just never feel like I measure up to her.  It’s not for not trying, though.

I sat for a few minutes on my porch swing tonight as the temperature seemed to plunge with the sun.  I watched the “evening star”, Venus, shining spectacularly over the mountaintop across town and wondered if my fascination with that star compares at all with the purpose of the wise men from the east that followed the star to Bethlehem.

And for a few minutes, I felt it…that “peace that passes understanding”.  In a world that appears to have gone berserk with anger…with filth…with hate…with lies…with misunderstanding…with fear…I felt peace.  That same star that guided the wise men to the One angels proclaimed would bring “Peace on earth, goodwill to men” became the focus of my heart.  And I was overcome with pure peace…that the world I live in does not have any of those horrible things in it.  My neighbors wave and say hello.  The clerk at the store smiles and wishes me well.  My millennial children have been raised with a foundation of values that helps them to recognize truth from satan’s lies.  My grandchildren will grow up loved, cared for, taught well and blessed because in my lineage were men and women who have trusted God’s truths through the years…and been found faithful to the end.

I have fretted and worried and grown angry at the pettiness of men when the one I should be angry with is the enemy of God who has lied and deceived and continues to divide and destroy.  But I was reminded tonight that God works in mysterious ways.  And no one would have believed that a baby born in a stable and laid in a manger would become the focal point for measuring time…would grow up to perform miracles…healing the lame…helping the blind to see.  No one could have known that night the baby would be worshipped by shepherds who would spread the news and light a fire that would continue to burn over 2,000 years later.  And no one had a clue that night the baby would one day lay down His life…so that I could have eternal life with God!!!

God works in mysterious ways.  If He can work with a baby born of “insignificant” parents in the history of men and women…if He could draw three “wise” men from afar to recognize His significance…if He could make twelve weak, every day men turn into bold disciples and witnesses that could grow a church that spans the globe today…I suspect he can use a man with funny hair and a foul mouth and a strange mind and a caring heart to do whatever God wants to do with this land.  We wait to see if God is saving our land…or judging our land.  But this I know…

I am praying for Donald Trump.  I am praying for Mike Pence.  I am praying for the men and women of the Senate and Congress.  I am praying for the members of the Supreme Court. 

And I am praying for my neighbors...especially the ones who live far away and continue to act out.  I choose to love despite their actions.  I choose to love despite their opinions of me and my faith.  I choose to love…and my world will continue to be a world full of “peace that passes understanding” amid the hatred and turmoil and sinful actions of those who feel differently.  May God bless America!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lots of Blessings in 58 Years

Today I’m ending my 57th year on earth and beginning my 58th.  I thought it would be fun to see if I can list 29 BLESSINGS…one for every other year of my life.  I actually have so many more than that…but this seemed like a challenging number…and I’m sharing my blessings with you as a gift to say thank you for your friendships…you’ll see that FRIENDSHIPS are high on my list of blessings!  You’ll also see that my 29 are not “single” blessings…so there’s way more than 58 blessings listed here!

#1   God…my Savior…my Lord…my Everything

#2   My wonderful Dan…a husband…a friend…a gift from God

#3   My beautiful children…Andy, my hero…LeeAnne, my joy…Stephen, my blessing

#4   My grandchildren…Holden, Orlando, Roman, Shannon, Devlyn and Erienelis…they make life better than I deserve for it to be.

#5   My extended family:  I’ve said goodbye on this side of heaven to Dad and Mom and I look forward to seeing them again someday.  I want to believe that my brother will have made things right with God before they met and that I’ll see him again too.  My “baby” brother, David, is a unique gift all on his own and I dearly love him.  I’ve also been blessed with aunts and uncles and cousins galore!  Special blessings Sharen and Robin because they are the kinds of cousin people write about…loving, caring, staying in touch, funny, sharing…they just make my life rich.

#6   Friends out the whazoo!!!  If I tried to list all the friends I’ve been blessed to know, there just wouldn’t be enough room.  Some of you are closer than others…but all of you have made my life better!  Thank you for that.

#7   My church family (families).  I don’t like to think I’m a “church-hopper” … but many moves (physically and spiritually) have placed me in several churches where God has given me brothers and sisters that I look forward to spending eternity with.  At times, these church family members have been closer than blood family members…they’ve loved me unconditionally … they’ve held me accountable … they’ve prayed for me … they’ve forgiven me … they’ve restored me and built me up.  Thank you for being who God intended you to be in my life.

#8   Music…music has played a special role in my life.  For as far back as I can remember, I’ve sung every day (I can remember as a 4- or 5-year-old being told it’s time to stop singing and go to sleep).  My piano has given me great comfort and joy.

#9  The Bible…I could not function without my instruction manual…and I’m grateful to God every day that He chooses to speak to me and help me live here on earth!

#10   Nature…every day I see God because He has made His Presence known through all that He created.  I’m always amazed when people say they can’t “see” God…because I can’t “not see” God!!!

#11   Other children…they don’t even have to be my own for me to love and appreciate their purity…their innocence…their joy…their zest for life…their incredible curiosity…their unquenchable thirst for knowledge (as in the 478 times a day my granddaughter asks “Why?”)

#12   Words.  Stop laughing!  Words have been my friend since I could first utter them.  I love that I can communicate…that I can put my thoughts and feelings into words.  I know many who wish I used less of them (and I do too) … but I just love the way the feel on my tongue and in my mind…and I love sharing them.  Sorry if you’re not as blessed by them as I am (embarrassed grin).

#13   Books…along with my love for words, I’ve long loved the many adventures I’ve enjoyed while reading for pleasure.  I’ve also been thrilled with the knowledge I’ve gained.  I’m grateful for everything that’s come to me through books!

#14   School…I don’t remember much about elementary school…but I do remember Jr. High, High School, 3 different colleges … and work with special people on my Master’s degree!  Each gave me experiences that increased my knowledge AND wisdom!  I’ll be forever grateful.

#15   Food…I know; I know…everyone can tell this is something I’m grateful for.  My favorite is chicken…I’m not really grateful for Brussel Sprouts or really many green veges.  But overall, enjoying food has been a pleasurable experience and a blessing.

#16  My home…I’ve lived in a lot of different houses in my lifetime, but no home has been filled with as much love as my “Little House on the Mountain”!  By American standards, it’s nothing…but world standards, I’m rich and abundantly blessed!

#17  My vehicle…we went a whole year without a vehicle a few years ago…it can be done.  What it taught me was that I should never take transportation for granted!!!

#18  My travel experience…I’ve visited 39 of the lower 48 states…lived in Canada for 3 years of my life…and visited South Africa TWICE in my lifetime.  I know some people here who have never lived anywhere else.  I can’t even imagine that.  I’ve been blessed to see what I consider a big portion of “my land”…and I’m so grateful for this beautiful country.

#19  America…yep…I’m a died-in-the-wool, patriotic, country-loving kind of girl who knows that life could have had a totally different outcome had I been born anywhere else in the world.  I don’t think America is the best country in the world…I don’t know what would make one country “greater” than another.  But I know America has granted me the ability to worship without fear…to vote in a democratic society…to be part of a solution in a world full of problems…and I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.  She may have her flaws…but they’re nothing compared to the blessing of being a part of this wonderful country!

#20  South Africa…while I love America, a big chunk of my heart resides in Durban, South Africa…in the memories of loving men and women of God who are changing the heart of a country in the only way a heart can be changed…by the Word of God being shared.  I love the diversity of the people and the languages…the beauty of the India Ocean…the smiles…the incredible landscape…the animals we saw at Kruger Park…the people…the people…the people.  Will always consider my interactions in South Africa a big blessing in my life!

#21   Community…living in a small community can be trying sometimes (gossip, backbiting, too many people knowing everyone else’s business) but this small community also gives a sense of security…love…concern…and joy!  Sometimes the people of Salamanca are unaware of the true beauty of their community because they’ve lived here too long and take so much for granted…but this town is a wonderful town!

#22   Crafting…in my lifetime I’ve enjoyed cross-stitching…scrapbooking…card-making…homemade gift making…coloring …music making…book making…writing poetry…so many creative outlets!

#23   Teaching…teaching is a “gift” and I was blessed with two wonderful teachers who raised me and gifted me with a love for learning…and a love for sharing all that I’ve learned.  I especially enjoy the “Ohhhhhh!!!” moments of teaching… when they “get it” and learning has taken place.  I hope to continue teaching in one form or another till the day I die.

#24   Facebook … okay, you can stop groaning.  But for this stay-at-home grandma, Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with people from my past…with friends all over the world … with family.  It’s given me new knowledge.  It’s provided laughs…and lots of animal videos (grin)

#25  Four seasons … yes, I realize this counts as part of nature, but having lived in Louisiana for the greater portion of my life, where there are only two seasons (hot and hotter), it’s been a joy to have four distinct weather seasons in my life since moving to western New York.

#26  Talent – I’ve been blessed to know and work with many talented people in my life.  I could not write a list of blessings and not especially include the friends of Enchante Cabaret who filled about a fourth of my lifetime with incredible talent…lots of laughter…a few tears…and wonderful memories.

#27  Speaking of memories … I know that people lose the ability to remember, and I pray that never happens to me because I so enjoy walking down memory lane and remembering all the blessings of my life.

#28  Adversity … I know this seems like a strange thing to be thankful for, but life has been full of adversity.  Failures…divorce…miscarriage…sins…troubles…heartbreak...cancer…death!!!  You name it…I’ve experienced it!  But through every adversity I’ve grown into a stronger, more capable, more loving woman of God.

#29  GOD AGAIN … Everything in my life begins and ends with God.  I love that I can love Him (since He loved me first)… I love that I can talk about Him.  I love that I can testify to His goodness and greatness.  I love that everything about Him is personal with me.  I cannot thank Him enough for being the blessing in my life that gives and gives and gives and I can only pray that He knows how much I love Him!

So I’ll stop here with a half a lifetime of blessings because, technically, if I listed all the parts of each of these, there’d be way more than 58 blessings here.  I just know that my birthdays ARE happy because I know who I’ve believed in and have been persuaded that He is able to take care of everything in my life.  Thank You, Lord, for 58 years of Your faithfulness and greatness in my life.  Amen!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

My "Rainbow" Days

Recently I helped someone I love dearly as she started to "journal".  She wants to get to know herself better...which I think might be a challenge for all of us...I know it is for me.  I gave her a "starter question":  What color would you use to describe your life?  From her description, I challenged her to dig deeper into the color she'd chosen...and that got me to thinking.

There's just no way one color would do for me...and because her heart is so like mine, she'd actually used one color as a blend of two.  But even two aren't enough for me.  So I took the colors of God's rainbow to describe my days, knowing that there's even more depth to my days because of all the hues and shades and depths of each color that make up my life.  I see my life in colors and hear my life in tones...I suspect that's why music and beauty take my breath away.

I've x'd out names for privacy reasons...and I've also x'd out my list of sins that you'll see, because that's pretty much between God and me.  But I challenge would you color your life if it was a coloring page?

Red  -  A red day is an angry day to me.  It’s a day when I let people’s actions get to me.  Usually it’s a day of unfulfilled promises or unrealistic expectations that aren’t met.  Once a day starts red, it seems hard to get it to change colors.  I have to let the night come and sleep on it and move away from it to get a grip on it.  But falling asleep on a red day often proves difficult, because red days tend to make me focus on the problems instead of the solutions…and I mull things over in my brain too much…causing me to have difficulty drifting off to sleep.  Even my sleep will be restless…full of troubling dreams.  I do not like red days.
However, occasionally, when the grandchildren come calling late in the day my red can fade to a beautiful pink … usually because their silliness and laughter helps to mute the red.  Falling asleep after a pink evening is usually pleasant and I find myself smiling as I drift off to sleep.  Dreams consist of “visits” with people from my past who made my life better.

Orange – An orange day is usually a “happy” day.  When I think of orange days I think of activity.  Some “event” happens that gives the day a different flavor.  It can be something as simple as a ride through the countryside…a field trip with a grandchild’s class…a doctor’s visit.  Somehow orange days feel more purposeful…as if there’s a reason for my being here.  I like orange days.

Yellow A yellow day is a day or productivity and accomplishment.  It’s a day I can check things off my “to do” list because they’re finally done.  I always feel better when I can “see” that I’m not just floating through senselessness and laziness…but that I am accomplishing something and making    my mark on this world.

Green – A green day is a day of peace and rest.  It’s a day I’ve paid more attention to creation and all the beautiful things around me.  It might be a squirrel at play in a tree…a cat on the prowl…the way the wind sounds blowing through the dry leaves of the trees…the sparkle of the sun or moon on the river. It’s letting my spirit connect with God’s creative Spirit and appreciating how blessed l am to be a child of His.

Blue A blue day is a usually a day of thought for me.  There are days I find myself digging deeper in my Bible…thinking deeper…dreaming bigger.  Blue days are the days my thoughts try to work out any problems…restore any relationships…renew my energy…spend more time writing.  They are my planning days,    my organizing and preparation days.   These are probably my most common days…they appear to be get-nothing-done days…but they’re probably the days the most gets done!

IndigoAn indigo day is a dark day for me.  These days will probably have tears in them.  These are the days I choose to allow myself to grieve.  I grieve for the loss of life and love:  xx, xxx, xxxxxxx, xxxxxxx and many friends who already gone to be with the Lord.  These are the days I grieve for lost relationships that still hurt:  xxxxxxx, xxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxx and any friend I may have lost out of hurt or misunderstandings that I might have been able to control.  These are the days I grieve for the painful places in my past:  miscarriage, divorce, cancer…things I could not stop from happening in my life.  These are the day I grieve for my many sins that have hurt God:  xxxxxxx, xxxx, xxxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx, xxxxxxxxxxx xx xxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxx, xxxxxx xxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx, xxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxx…the list is long.  Because this description is longer, it may look like I have a lot of indigo days, but these days are under my control most of the time and I allow them and dwell in them only when necessary…and when possible, I never have two of them in a row.

Violet Like the seventh day, the seventh color, violet, is my color of rest.  It’s the day I rest in the beauty of my life.  I rest in the grace and forgiveness I don’t deserve but that God has given            because He chooses to love me so.  I rest in the love that surrounds me from xxx, from xxx, from xxxx, xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx xxx xxxxx, from xxxxxx, xxxxxxx, xxxxx, xxxxxxx, xxxxxx and xxxxxxxxx, from extended family, especially xxxxxx...and from my friends and the kids’ friends who have chosen to love me (and allowed me to love them in my lifetime).  I bask in friendships too numerous to count.  I dwell in the beauty of nature and all that makes life gorgeous.  I thrill to music that touches me in places nothing else can.  I like indigo days and I don’t just do them once a week…there are times I have weeklong indigo days!
God has colored my world in such a way that if I named every color that exists I could match it to a feeling...because I have so many feelings that rise from the heights of glory to the depths of despair.  I challenge you to look at God's colors in your world and enjoy knowing that He did that all for you...and me...and everyone He loves!!!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Original Sin: Pride

What was the sin that caused satan to be dispelled from heaven?  It was his pride!  He thought, “‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” (Isaiah 14:13-14).  Since that day, it is the sin of “pride” that has caused most to fall away from truly knowing and loving the Lord.
“Like the Most High”???  What was it that satan really wanted.  He wanted to escape from the authority of God.  He wanted to run his own life.  He wanted to make his own rules.  He wanted to assert his own rights.  For in his time, God was the Only Authority and everything was run through the RIGHTEOUS mind and hand of God.  There was “no freedom” to do one’s own thing. 
What did that wish and assertion bring satan?  HE WAS CAST OUT OF HEAVEN FOREVER.  There were consequences to deciding to be his own self…to make his own decisions…to run his own life…to do things his own way. 
And let’s watch satan’s first move here on the earth…created in perfection by God.  Satan immediately attaches himself to God’s perfect creation…and goes prowling about to find the very good part of that creation…man!  And the first “temptation” satan uses to get to the man (and woman)???  “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5b)  The very thing that satan wanted is what he used to tempt Adam and Eve…and they succumbed to the temptation.  It’s a heady thing to be promised an opportunity to be “like God”.  Self-authority… anything goes…whatever *I* want.  When we look at our opportunity to be like God, we never look at the rest of the picture…responsible for all mankind… responsible for maintaining the universe…responsible for loving the unlovely… responsible for fulfilling a covenant when all other parties refuse to hold up their end.  Adam and Eve fell to the sin of pride.
What’s happening in our world thousands of years later?  Have we yet learned the consequences of capitulating to the sin of pride? 
We no longer have respect for authority, provoking retribution for the failures of a few on the many who have respected and fulfilled their responsibilities has authority figures.  No longer are the “criminal” or “lawbreakers” held accountable for their actions but are instead “exonerated” because someone else failed to act appropriately.
This is not to say that human authority is perfect.  It most certainly is not.  I’ve had personal experience at the hands of those who have misused their authority… authority granted them by God but instead distorted for personal purposes. 
Now we are taught “you can be anything YOU want to be” instead of being encouraged to seek for and accept graciously God’s plan for our lives.  Now we are taught that “whatever’s right for you is right for you” instead of being taught the righteousness of God that exceeds anything righteous we can do.  Now we are taught “look out for #1” instead of “love your neighbors as yourself.”
Consequencess???  A society that now demands to be allowed to do whatever they want to do…freedom to live however depraved they want to live…and an inability to understand that there IS A GOD and HE HAS STANDARDS for our “protection”.  Satan has convinced the world that God only wants to ruin your life…and many have bought into this lie.  Satan has convinced the world that “being like God” is still possible…and it’s not.  Satan has convinced the world that what “looks good” IS good for you…and it’s really just an opportunity to die to all that God had planned for you.
We have no forgiveness…we have no understanding…we have no moral compass…we have no hope!  All of those can be found only in Christ Jesus and the restoration with God that comes through His shed blood on the cross…the ONLY payment that take away the debt we owe for our sins.
I, like Paul, am the worst of sinners.  I cringe when I think of all the ways I’ve failed God during my life.  I don’t pretend to be better than any sinner.  But my joy and hope comes in knowing that I will be held in the arms of my Savior one day…the same Savior who will stand before God and say, “She’s ours!”  And a God and Savior Who can love me like that deserves my love…my honor…my respect…and my loyalty.  I will not keep silent in the midst of chaos.  I will call satan the enemy that he is…but also remember that he is DEFEATED ALREADY.  He’s growing desperate because he knows his opportunities to steal what isn’t his are coming to an end.  He has looted from God’s kingdom with the promise of riches…and comfort…and notoriety…and fame…………all empty promises that will end in eternal death and separation from God.
If you choose to continue to turn God away, He will give you what you want.  You’ve never lived completely separated from God because there has always been a remnant of believers on this earth.  But when God’s people are taken away to heaven, and you truly feel the results of your allegiance to satan and all his broken promises, you will remember that you were told the truth and given an opportunity to make things right with God and you chose to ignore the truth.
Who do YOU say Jesus is…and what are you going to do with your knowledge of Him?