Monday, October 31, 2011

It’s time for the Spook's

Today many people dressed up in costumes before they headed off to work. Many are planning to attend parties and lots of kids are looking forward to trick – or – treating this evening.
Along with all of this fun, comes the scary side. Witches, skeletons, goblins and ghosts are hung up as decorations. Haunted houses are visited around town. People walk through them and they are scared out of their wits by things jumping out at them in the dark. Usually, a person will leave one of those places, exclaiming, how in one way or another, something terrified them.
It’s a time to tell stories that make your skin crawl or watch a movie, that can even make a grown man, not want to turn the lights off at night. The holiday is full of the spooks.
I used to love to get scared. I would spend this time of year at the scariest haunted houses and watch scary shows. If anyone was into a super terrifying movie, it was me. At the time it was exciting.
All that spooky stuff lost it for me years ago. And it’s something I don’t spend my time focusing on anymore.
See, one day I started learning about the greatest power there ever was, is, or will be. This One has the power to give and take away the very breath I breathe. Yet, He is so filled with love; He made a way for me to live eternally.
I read that yes, there is a spiritual world, but even the demons are afraid of Him and submit to Him. This One has all authority to tell the demons to be gone.
And the demons that are so evil, and do such horrible things, have a horrible place to go to at the end of time. And the One I follow, is going to put them there.
And although, Jesus is so powerful, the message He gives His children is, “Do not fear.” And His perfect love CAST out all fear. His word says to meditate on things that are pure, just, holy, true, praiseworthy, knowledgeable and of good report.
This very One I follow, rules over all of those things, that try to terrify us. The very One I follow, doesn’t want me to fear. He wants me to walk in peace and love.
He leaves a comforter for those who love Him. He never leaves us nor forsakes us. And yes, the enemy does come and strike and try to mess with our lives, but the One who has called me and all those who follow Him as His own, has sealed us. We are His.
His word promises, that as His child, absolutely nothing could ever separate me from Him. "...not death, nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
So, now I’ve learned to spend time, enjoying the day the Lord has made. And enjoying the very one’s, He has given me to spend time with while I’m on this earth.
Now, I like to carve out a pumpkin or two. Hang with friends and eat candy. I MIGHT dress up, but then maybe not. This year I’m joining my daughter trick or treating around a neighborhood.
And instead of paying attention to evil things, I’m going to pay attention to the good. Like my daughters funny costume, or the smile on her cute face when she gets candy added to her bag. Or something my husband, parents, or sister might say.
I hope you have a Happy Halloween. And I pray you can walk in peace knowing, that Jesus. who loves you more than anyone ever could, says, “Do not fear.”  

Friday, October 14, 2011

A New Twist on the Changing Season

Fall is normally my very favorite time of year for one reason: in the Pacific NW, some of the trees turn beautiful colors of orange and red in the midst of evergreen trees that stay green all year long. It's incredibly beautiful, especially, when you take a drive down the gorge, around Mt. Hood area or even up around the Olympic peninsula.

Not that a person has to go for a drive in those areas to be in awe over the beauty during this time of year. Pretty much each street will be painted in vibrant colors as the leaves change color before dropping.

Besides being beautiful, fall is so cozy. The weather cools just enough to be able to wear old comfy jeans and, at night, to put on a favorite sweater or sweatshirt.

And high school football is underway. So a person can have fun huddling with other fans on cold rock-hard bleachers on a chilly night watching the game. I have some sweet memories of doing that when my nephews played football and when I was in high school. Now some of my friends have boys at that age.

People start to be indoors a bit more. New Bible studies start, and classes at school begin. And then, right after this wonderful time of year, is the holiday season.

But this year, I had a hard time letting go of summer. It's said quite a bit around the Pacific NW that we didn't really get a summer this year, and technically it's true. This year, the temperatures didn't blast us with heat, where a person was forced to go from one air-conditioned place to another or stay in a pool of water.

For me, though, it was perfect. Many busy days were spent outdoors and at the pool enjoying my daughter and her friends and my own friends without getting scorched. The days were busy and fast, and when school started I wasn't ready for the end of the season. I wanted more active days of summer, because it was my favorite summer in a long time.

Now that fall is here, I'm starting to enjoy it. But I still really miss those summer days. In fact, I can think of many seasons in my life that I just didn't want to let go of, but I had to, because it was time to move into another season of my life.

One of the hardest changes of seasons for me includes friends. One year a very dear friend of mine announced that she and her family were moving to another state. It hit me right in the gut. I thoroughly enjoyed this friend. Because of the type of group we had met in, she was a friend I could tell anything to, even if I was completely thinking wrong. She'd listen, her wise words would help straighten my thinking, and she'd encourage my faith. She was fun to shop with, go to movies or out to coffee with.

Then the day came when she was gone. I cried for three days straight and stayed sad for quite awhile. I still get excited when I get to see her in person, which isn't often. We have the opportunity to talk on the phone. But it's not the same as being there.

I've had to do this with quite a few friends over the years. When I was in elementary school, it seemed every year my best friend moved, and I had to find a new best friend. One year I moved.

It's hard to let go of a season of daily interaction with a friend and move into a season of phone calls or an internet social site to keep up the relationship.

Another season of change in relationships I've dealt with is saying good-bye to friends or relatives who pass on. It's especially hard if I've watched them battle an illness such as cancer, and I pray and pray for them and know there are many others battling for this person's life in prayer also. And then one day, that person is gone. Sometimes I've been in a store or a church and there, in front of me, will be someone who closely resembles the person I'd known who passed away. Seeing that person's face brings back such sweet memories that I have to curb the impulse to go up to that lookalike, just to make sure.

Truth is, nobody ever replaces anyone in my heart. People leave such huge holes when they're gone. But gradually a new way of living without that person directly in my life starts to build. The next day it's a little stronger. Though the picture of the loved ones is gone, it still hangs on the memory wall of my heart.

But I'm starting to think of the seasons this way: Going from the fun season of summer, to a comforting and sometimes changing season of fall, to a long, cold, bitter, hurting season of winter, always leads to the promise of spring, and a new season of rebirth. Through the changes of the seasons, God is consistent to bring about new life and new hopes, no matter what we go through.

This fall, as I cozy up to my computer, or sit over a cup of coffee with a friend, or dress in a comfy sweatshirt and jeans and hang outside with my family, I'm learning to enjoy the moments I have in each season.

Seasons change, things in life change, so I take time to build my life on the one "not changing" foundation: Jesus. He is never changing. The same yesterday, today, and forever. And that is what I build my life on.

(edited by Ramona Tucker)
This post can also be seen on by OakTara where you can read some other incredible blog postings.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Friend at the Fence

Today, visiting us at the fencepost is a dear writer friend of mine, Sylvia Stewart.

Her book "Kondi's Quest" has just been released by OakTara. I can tell you first hand Kondi's Quest is a great book. So enjoy.

In 1946, a few days before my sixth birthday, I landed in Stanleyville, The Belgian Congo. I remember the palm trees flying by as our old propeller plane taxied down the dirt runway. We stepped out into muggy heat as we crossed to the terminal.

From that day, Africa has been my second home – as dear to me as my birth home in Oregon, U.S.A. As I grew up, my one desire was to “go back home” to Africa.

My mother taught me first and second grade. Then I went to Rethy Academy, 350 miles and 10 hours’ drive from my parents. I began to learn to think for myself, to be independent and to rely on my heavenly Father.

I especially remember one moonlit night, lying on my back in my dorm room’s top bunk. Loneliness crushed my heart until I could hardly breathe. I’m alone – all, all alone! Just then a jackal began to howl not far away, and I wanted to howl with him. Tears trickled into my ears and I clapped my pillow over my head to stifle the sobs that shook my slight frame. I didn’t want the other girls in the room to hear me crying, and think I was a baby.

In the stuffy darkness under the pillow, with even the moonlight cut off, God spoke to my heart as clearly as if His voice had been audible: “I’m here. You’re not alone – I am here!”

Throughout my life, God has been “here” for me. In the ups and downs, in the thick and thin, in the joys and sorrows, He has been the Solid Rock to which I’ve clung. I learned this lesson early in life because I had to be away from my parents at such a young age. God is WITH me and will help me through any issue that I face.

Kondi lives in Malawi, East Africa. She will show you much about her culture and the African way of life. Kondi is the composite of a number of Malawian girls I knew. She has poignant, tragic and funny experiences. She’s artistic, smart and loving. She’s also afraid.

Will this same promise also holds true for Kondi in Kondi’s Quest? Will God be close to her in all her troubles and her efforts to please God and her earthly father? Will she learn that living for God meant He was with her – even when He seemed to be distant?

It is my prayer that Kondi’s story will touch the hearts of pre-teens around the world and help them know God loves them and that they will experience His presence when they are most vulnerable and in difficult circumstances.

You can have a chance to get to know Sylvia better by clicking on the link to her website;

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
I remember lying in bed as a young girl trying to memorize the 23rd Psalm. Every night before I went to sleep I worked and worked on memorizing it.
Finally, one day it stuck in my head. I’ve repeated it often and I’ve heard it often since that time.
It’s a very comforting verse, as are quite a few of the Psalms.
Now many years later, I am doing a Bible study on the author of that Psalm, David. And during part of the study I looked up this verse again.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1. I know the LORD is my shepherd. He watches over me, protects, feeds and steers me. I have no doubt about that.
The LORD is my shepherd - very comforting words.
I shall not want.  REALLY?
Okay, if only I could say, I didn’t have a want list. It’s hard in this world, and the way things are in our economy, it can be hard to not have a want list.
I’ve been in times where I didn’t think about the economy and how it affects me and still I had wants.
And now during these tough economical times the list of wants can grow rather quickly. When I have those moments where the wants became something that causes anxiety or envy I grab onto His word.
Life can be hard. But when walking and looking to the Shepherd to guide, comfort and lead we can rest without all the wants causing us anxiety.
Jesus told a parable about a sower who went out to sow his seed.
"A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rocks; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold."
When he later, explained the parable to the disciples, he told them the seed is the Word of God.
He explained the seeds that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to  maturity.
It’s so easy for my mind to meditate on the cares of this world. The problem is, it can mess up my faith walk. It’s more important during the times that the cares of this world, seem extreme, for me to spend time focusing on Him.
I try to make it a practice to bring all my thoughts to him and to pray without ceasing. When life gets to tough for me, I call a friend who prays or knows just what to say to encourage me back on my feet.
I firmly believe no person is meant to be on an island. God didn’t go through all the animals he created and bring them in front of Adam, to see if any would be sufficient for his companionship for nothing. And when all the animals were presented and a proper companion wasn’t found, he made Eve.
And the Bible says we are all part of the body of Christ. Each person has something they are gifted at to encourage and help build the believers.
Look how many letters Paul wrote while in captivity in prison. And people went and visited him.
No one is meant to walk their path alone, especially, during the hard times.
The Lord is the shepherd of many not just one or two.
When I read the “shall not want” I realize if that list is messing with my faith or my emotional well being, I need to spend some time to just draw near to him and trust he will give me what is needed.
It may not be the economy that makes your want list grow; it may be it has to do with your health, a relationship, a loved one’s decision, a move. No matter what it is the Bible says, to “Cast your cares upon Him.”
Because, He cares for you.
Bible verse from NKJ version