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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

WHAT I LEARNED ON THE ZIPLINE

Several years ago, Larry and I had the chance to cross off one of our bucket list trips when we went to Alaska. We were not disappointed. It is a spectacularly beautiful place and we were able to see things we may never have the opportunity to see again. In addition, we did it all with great friends and some incredible memories were made.

Now, I feel like I am a moderately adventurous person and I love to try new things. BUT.... I am afraid of heights. Or maybe a better way to say it might be I am afraid of falling. So when the entire group decided to go zip lining, I was terrified. On the other hand, I  didn't want to be the only one in the group wouldn't do it - the party pooper, if you will - so I agreed to go.

The day came and we got all geared up. The practice runs were nothing. We got to the first big line and I was nervous, but it was a nice, tight line and seemed pretty stable. I took off. Flying through the trees was wonderful. I thought, "I CAN DO THIS!"

Does the look on my face say it all?
Then we came to a station on a TALL tree. The platform we had to zip to was much lower and the cable between the two was not taut. It came to be my turn. I walked to the edge of the platform and stood there....and stood there....and stood there. Fear is paralyzing and I could not move. The guide who was on the platform with us (a sweet, young girl whose name I wish I could remember) stepped next to me. She didn't give me a hard time about being afraid or tell me to "just jump". She quietly and calmly gave me facts about the cables and their ability to hold me. She encouraged me by letting me know others had gone ahead of me and I could trust the cables to get me to the next destination.

Finally, I summoned whatever little bit of courage I had, closed my eyes, and stepped off the platform. I can't say I enjoyed that particular segment, but I made it safely to the other side.

The best part is what followed. It was the most breathtaking scenery of the trip that day. We zipped over rivers and a waterfall.

There was so much I would have missed if I had let my fear win.





Sometimes, we come to the edge of something and we don't like what we see. Sometimes, there is a segment of the journey we don't like and we decide we want to opt out. We want God to build us a bridge or just pick us up and put us on the other side. But most of the time, it doesn't work that way.

So what did I learn?

We need encouragers (and we need to be encouragers). 

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today", so that none of you may be hardened by sins deceitfulness."  ~ Hebrews 3:13

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:11

We need someone to quietly come alongside and stand with us in distressing times. Be that person.

The more we know, the more we can trust.

This isn't just knowing scripture (although that's a start). It is knowing GOD. The more we know Him, the more we know He will get us through our struggle.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ~ Isaiah 41:10

Sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and take that first step.

The only way to get where you are going is to step out in faith and go.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

There is a reward on the other side.

I would have missed so much that day if I hadn't taken that first step - but I didn't know it at the time. When we come to scary places in our lives, we can move forward knowing God has great things on the other side.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.' " ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mono Diaries Lesson 3: Get Some Rest

I can promise you this: If you ever get mono, you will hear or see the words “get some rest” 5,492 times a day. Well.... maybe not that much, but a lot.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. We see two sisters with vastly different personalities - and that’s okay. Jesus came to visit. The God of the Universe, the Messiah is sitting in the living room. Verse 40 is very telling regarding Martha’s state of mind. It starts off “but Martha”. Jesus is in the house teaching those who were present, but Martha.... she was distracted, anxious, troubled, tired. All of that emotion drove her to confront Jesus with the words, “don’t You care?”. Oh my, how many times have we all been there?

When my doctor called me to give me test results this week, he told me that 80-90% of the population carries the Epstein-Barr Virus that causes mono. Most of the time a healthy immune system is able to fight it off. But when we become over tired and stressed our immune system becomes weakened and next thing you know you are flat on your back.

God created us with a need for rest. He gave us that example at Creation. He did not need to rest, but He did. When He handed the law to Moses, He established a day of rest, not as an option but a command. (It isn’t anymore but that’s a whole other blog post). 

Another favorite story is when Elijah runs from Jezebel in 1 Kings 19:1-8. He has just had a great victory, God haas shown Himself mighty in defeating the prophets of Baal. But Elijah has to run for his life. He is tired, hungry and alone.  He sits down under a tree and prays to die. The next few verses are so amazing. God doesn’t come down and say “Elijah - look at all I have done. Get yourself together. Think about those amazing moments. Look on the bright side.” Nope. He sends an angel to bring him food and water. And he lets him get some rest. And once he has been taken care of, fed, and RESTED, he is able to rise and continue his ministry. We were made to rest.

All to often, we think rest is a waste of time. All we want to do is go..go..go, or we don’t feel like we are getting the most out of life. Or we think no one can do what we are doing. We become so bogged down in the day to day stresses and crises that we push ourselves to exhaustion. I believe that is a sin.
I wonder if God gave us a little built in mechanism whereby our bodies say, “Enough!” and we are going to rest whether we want to or not. 

Lesson #3: Get some rest.

Jesus said “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me (that’s what Mary was doing back in Luke 10), for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find REST for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

I have a friend who told me last week that mono was the best disease she ever had because when she got well she was rested and refreshed. Not sure I am there, yet, but I will be looking forward to getting a little more rest on a regular basis.



Monday, April 23, 2018

Mono Diaries Lesson 2: God Has Impeccable Timing

In my previous post, I mentioned that Larry and I have been dealing with aging parent problems. My mom in particular is suffering with dementia and I knew my dad could no longer take care of her alone in their home. Unfortunately, until they came to live with us, I did not realize just how much she had deteriorated. After an illness, surgery, and two hospitalizations, I came to realize I could not bring her home again. So she went to rehab, my dad stayed with us, and we began the search for an appropriate assisted living.

After looking at options and talking with my dad, we found a place we felt was perfect for them, got them at the top of the waiting list and began to pray for an opening. In the meantime, we were shuttling my dad back and forth to the rehab every day and at each visit my mom would beg us to bring her home. I know his heart was breaking.

After a couple of weeks of this, I began to feel tired. No big deal. We've been busy and stressed and we all just needed a day off. My dad was getting anxious to get my mom moved and settled. I called the ALF and no chance of an opening anytime soon. So on a whim, I called another facility close to our home. Yes, she had an opening for two and we could move them anytime.

By now, I had already begun to experience intermittent fevers but still thought I just had a minor bug and would be fine in a few days. We made arrangements to move my folks and got my dad moved in first with my mom following a few days later.

My illness worsened and my doctor was becoming concerned. He ordered a series of diagnostic tests and the verdict came back after several days that it looked like I had contracted mononucleosis. I probably wouldn't be feeling better any time soon.

Had we left things the way they were and had God not prompted me to call the second ALF and had they not had an opening, this is where we would be.... my mom would be taken care of at the nursing home, but Larry would be trying to manage home, meals, appointments, taking my dad back and forth, etc. Plus, my dad would have been exposed to the virus which he certainly did not need to be.

God did not answer my prayer for the opening at the place WE had selected. Instead, He found a place five minutes from our house, created an opening, and allowed us to get my mom and dad moved so that they could be cared for while I am recovering and Larry is having to play nurse.

Lesson #2: God's Timing is Impeccable.

He knows what we need when we need it. Better than we do because...

"...My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."  Isaiah 55:8-9

We need to...

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" Psalm 27:14

Because...

"Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted (I can sympathize right now); BUT they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

When things aren't going according to your schedule, just remember - there may be a better plan.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mono Diaries Lesson 1: Be Careful What You Pray For

I haven’t written in a long time and decided I would make the most of my time of confinement.

The first quarter of two thousand eighteen has been a difficult and stressful one for my husband and I.  Dealing with issues related to aging parents has put a strain on us that we could not have anticipated. Wanting to do what is best for them, still do what is best for us, dealing with dementia, hospitalizations, nursing homes has been enough to create a level of stress that has taken a toll.

On a particular week when we had been running back and forth to facilities, doctor appointments, and just trying to keep up with day to day responsibilities, I remember venting to the Lord in my quiet time and praying what I have come to see as a fateful prayer. I remember, probably a little resentfully, telling God that I wished I could have a day to just do nothing and read a book.....

As of today, I have had FIFTEEN days to do nothing and read books. As a matter of fact, it is being encouraged. God with His infinite sense of humor allowed me to develop an illness that people usually get as teens or young adults. An illness that lasts a loooong time.

Did He make me sick? I don’t believe that. But I believe He uses circumstances in our lives to teach us lessons and make us realize that He knows better than we do. So, I asked for a day and boy did an get one. Not sure this is what I had in mind, though.

Lesson #1: Be careful what you pray for because....

If you “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

And...

He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think..” Ephesians 3:20

He might just answer your prayer bigger than you imagined and He does have a sense of humor. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

It's Finally Over.... What Now?

I have tried to stay out of the fray for the most part re: this election. And now that it is over, I have something to say.

I have seen some divisive political campaigns in my life, but this one may top the list. I believe Satan has used it not only to divide one half of this country from the other, but to divide Christians as well. Christian brothers and sisters calling the faith of others into question because of their voting preferences or political opinions. James 3:10 says "From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so." 1 Peter 4:8 says "ABOVE ALL, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins." I have seen so much hate and vitriol posted on social media this past year and much of it has come from fellow believers. As James says, 'this ought not to be so.' Not only are we at each other, but at opposing parties and candidates. Name calling, belittling remarks, etc. Where does it stop? 

You know that candidate that you didn't vote for and the people who did? Jesus loves them. He died for them. He can use them. He has a plan and purpose for them And we are called to love and pray for them.

So enough of the soap box. What now?

1. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY! Christians were praying for this election, but now that it's over it is not time to stop. If anything, it is time to ramp it up. We can't sit back now because, guess what? In four years we get to do this all over again. What do we pray for?
  • For unity in our nation.
  • For a revival in the church and a spiritual awakening in this country.
  • For the outgoing administration that they would finish well. This has to be a bittersweet time for them.
  • For the President elect as he makes decisions regarding cabinet members and other positions.
  • For the transition of power to go smoothly.
  • For Secretary Clinton as she faces the loss of the election.
  • For our Congress to make wise decisions.
  • For the Supreme Court - the same.
  • For the salvation of those in and outside of government who are lost.
2. BE KIND. Enough already. There are people hurting today. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to pour so many years of my life toward a goal, truly believe I had reached it, and then have it fall apart before my eyes. Make it a point to show some act of kindness to someone who thinks differently than you. "Therefore, as God's chosen people. holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." ~ Colossians 3:12

3. SHOW SOME RESPECT. We are not all called to agree with the government, but we are called to submit to it. "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished." Romans 13:1-2
And to pray for them, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior," 1 Timothy 2:1-3. These instructions were given to Christians under the rule of the Roman Empire and Emperors like Nero. Name calling, insulting, disrespect, etc is not acceptable. Period.

4. EXERCISE YOUR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Tell somebody about Jesus. Shine the light in the darkness. For many evangelicals, this was what drove us to the polls. Let's put it into practice. 
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

5. LOVE OTHERS, As Christians, we are supposed to represent Christ to the world. Spiritual growth is essentially becoming more like Christ and He came to this world to show it the love of God. (John 3:16). Likewise, we are to show His love to a lost and dying culture.."Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7-8

6. TRUST IN GODWe have an incredible opportunity before us as a nation and as Christians to see how God is going to work out His plan over the next few years. We have to trust that He has a plan and that it is for "good and not for evil to give us a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11) We have to "Trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding. In ALL our ways acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

What do you think? Leave me some comments on how you think we can reach out to others during this time? How can we be reassuring? Encouraging?



Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Power of Forgiveness

Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

I recently had a falling out with a friend. I said something she disagreed with. A lot. I disagreed with her. A lot. It was tense for a few weeks. We rarely spoke to each other and when we did it was... Well... Tense. I really thought we were done for.

After a couple of rounds of "intense fellowship", we began to realize something. We valued the friendship and each other more than we valued the argument. We forgave each other. We became tenderhearted and said kind things to each other. Then, God did what He always does. Not only did He restore the friendship ~ He took it to another level. We now meet weekly for prayer. If we hadn't been willing to forgive, we would be missing out on a prayer partnership.

Proverbs 17:17 says "a friend loves at ALL times". Good times, difficult times, times when we are unlovely, times when it would be easier not to love. Love "covers all wrong" and focuses on the friend. (Proverbs 10:12)

How are we able to live out this kind of friendship with others? Because we have been drawn into a friendship with Christ. He has poured out His grace and forgiveness on us so that we might pour it out on others.

Who better to pour a little grace on than a friend?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Can You Hear Me Now?

Yesterday was not my best... not a great... kind of a bad day. I know it was partly my fault. But we all have "those" days. The whole day wasn't awful. I had a great lunch with my daughter and a sweet friend for her birthday. It all just seemed to go downhill after that.

Here is the deal: My work load is almost overwhelming right now. My best friend is moving out of state. I have some family issues that are challenging at best. My mom had some medical procedures last week. My husband had a major surgery.

It could be so much worse. Most days I know I am blessed. I am blessed I have a job. I am blessed to have a good friend who will stay my friend despite location. My mom is doing well. My husband is recovering nicely. And God's grace is sufficient. 

So why the meltdown yesterday? I wasn't being heard. I tried to have one conversation and the person on the other end was talking to someone else.. I didn't feel heard. Then I tried to have another conversation with someone who answered their ringing cell phone in the middle of my sentence... I felt less important than that phone call. I wasn't being heard. 

I do not write all of this to have a pity party. Indeed, I probably need to confess my selfishness and move on. I write this because God smacked me in the face with it this morning.

"This is what you do to me. You allow other things to interrupt your time with Me and you don't hear Me. You talk to other people about the things going on in your life before you talk to Me and you don't hear Me. I want to be heard too."

Ouch! How many days do I neglect God? Does He feel like I felt yesterday when I don't show up? I think in a way He does. I think He feels the same hurt and disappointment that I feel when I am more preoccupied with other things. But no matter how badly I treat Him - He is ALWAYS there for me.

1 John 5:14 says, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to His will, HE HEARS US." In Psalm 46:10 He tells us to "Be still" and know that He is God... In order to do that we have to listen. We talk to Him - He listens. We listen - and He talks back. Every. Time. No distractions. No interruptions. I always have His undivided attention (I have no idea how that works with 6 billion people on the planet - but that's why He's God). 

Scripture after scripture tells me He loves me, He delights in me, He sings over me.. and on and on. How can I not reciprocate?

Yesterday was a bad day. But I love when He takes those days and turns them into lessons. With His help, I intend to learn this one well.