Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who Are We Following?

1I had a list a mile long today of things I wanted to get done. It’s my first day off where I don’t have a million things other than “my” list calling my name.

The Bible verse, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added to you..” kept going through my mind.

So, I sat down and proceeded to read the required reading of the day for our women’s Bible study group.
We are in the book of Ezekiel which is hard to read. It’s full of prophecy and warning for the Israelites.

I was feeling a bit antsy to finish reading the chapters and get on with my day. I realized I was acting like my daughter does when I’m trying to explain something to her and she has a hard time sitting still.

I tried really hard to actually listen to what I was reading and not just speed read the chapters to say, “Ta-dah! I’m done.”

The words I heard were distressing. God called out a warning about what He was about to do to and they weren't listening.

In Ezekiel 24:13 He finally says, “’Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided. 14 I the Lord have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”

I thought to myself, I would not want to hear those words from God. For those who believe in Jesus, He tells us that Jesus paid the price for all the things we've done.

Although, we have times we face the consequences for our sins, the eternal price has been paid.

Then I thought, I want to allow God to cleanse me. I want to be moldable to what He wants to do in my life. And not fight it.

Yes, the Bible says, that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

So my prayer is that my eyes would be open to those sins that I am blind to. To confess them and walk cleansed because God cleansed me.

Jesus also calls us to follow Him. What does that mean in my life? In your life?

Here’s a thought to ponder. Have you ever taken a good look at whom or what you are following? Is every day filled with following Jesus down the pathway of life?

And are you listening? I know how restless I was today. I didn't really want to take the time to listen. I was just like a child being held on their parents lap, squirming to get away, so I could go do what I wanted to do. 

God still calls out to people. He calls for us to believe in His Son Jesus Christ as their Savior. No matter how much that call is ignored, He is coming back, and He is coming back for those who believe in Him.

There is no argument about that…all of the prophecies of the Bible have happened so far. If God said it He did it.


Let’s not waste our time on following the latest trend, the latest popular person…let’s spend our time following the only one who leads us to our ETERNAL home.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wanting To Know The Answer

Years ago, I had to deal with driving in the Seattle morning traffic to get to work. One day my car just died in the middle of the freeway. I got over to the side of the road and had to deal with a dead car during traffic AND get to work on time.

I brought it to a mechanic who thought he found the problem and after some of my money flew from my pocketbook to his, I was on my way.

Well, a few days later, I found myself stuck on the side of a long, lonely road in Seattle because once again, my car died.

So I handed over some more money to a mechanic after he believed he fixed the problem, and then I was on my way.

I don’t remember exactly how many times this happened, but it was enough times to be exasperating and I began to not trust my car anymore.

Finally, a mechanic found a loose wire and the problem was fixed.

Whew!

Isn’t it frustrating when you have a problem…think you found the solution to the problem, only to discover…you still have the problem?

Lately, we’ve been dealing with something like this with my daughter. We go to the doctor. He does his best to give us the right diagnosis and the correct way to handle the situation, only to discover that’s not the answer to the problem.

So far all of the test that have been run, end up being good, she is healthy. Which is a very good thing, yet, she has a symptom that comes from out of the blue randomly interrupting her day.

Just a few weeks ago, we thought we had the answer, only today because of what occurred this week, the doctor said, no, I don’t think that’s what it is.

Now we are coming at this whole thing from another angle.

It’s frustrating. I’m glad that she passes her test because, yay, she’s healthy, but I feel frustrated we can’t find out what is causing her symptoms. Even though this angle is a better angle than prior ones, it still frustrates me to have to go down another avenue in the hopes of taking care of the problem.

I’m hoping the doctor’s suggestion today works for her and we don’t have to go any further, yet apprehensive that it may not be that.

Sometimes we can just be pulling out our hair over something that goes on in our life. Where is the answer? I need to fix this problem!

It’s a really tough place to be.

God does tell us to come to Him for wisdom.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

He tells us not to worry.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

He tells us not to be anxious.

Phillippians 5:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

To cast our cares upon Him.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

And if the answer doesn’t come right away…then comes the…WAITING. In which there are verses all through the book of Psalms on waiting for the Lord.

Don’t you hate waiting? It can cause anxiety, frustration, hopelessness…

How good are you when you are on hold waiting for someone to help you on the phone?

How good are you when you are in a drive thru line at a coffee shop? Hamburger place? Bank?

Ever have to go someplace and you leave with plenty of time to get there yet you hit all the red lights and end up barely making it to your destination?

Does the person on the other end of the phone line ever pick it up fast enough for you? Do the lines move fast enough?

I know I have days when I seem to wait extra long, everywhere I go, all day, and by the end of it, I will still have a list and I am a wiped out mess.

When does a person want an answer?

Now. Right?

In the Bible there are so many people who seem to wait a long time for their promises to come through. They wait and wait…sometimes they give up…but God always came through.

The apostle Paul came to God about an issue, three times, God told him His grace was sufficient for Him.

Okay, is that an answer that would be sufficient in these times? Don’t we want the answer to be, here’s the solution…here now it’s fixed…here now you’re all better?

Of course. Who doesn’t?

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

Still, as a person reads the Word and sees how God works in people’s lives, when a person hears the promises that are made, when a person learns how God is working EVERYTHING out for good…when things are cast upon Him and the answer doesn’t come right away…a confidence in Him is built because a person knows HIM.

The One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, can be trusted to have “good” be the ultimate end in His plan for a person’s life.

Trusting in Him can bring a peace when we sit and wonder what is going on or what am I going to do now?


Philippians 4:5-7

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

All Bible verses from Bible Gateway NIV translation

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Seasons Change Don't They?

Yesterday, when I stepped out the door to my place I realized it was soon going to be time to put the flip flops away. So today, I wore regular SHOES.

Even though we’ve had our thunderstorms and rain showers over the last couple of weeks, the sun has managed to shine here and there, making it okay to still where spring like types of clothes.

When I drove my daughter to school the streets were lined with leaves and pine needles due to the wind and rain storm over the weekend.

I shook my head. It all changed so fast.

Just a few weeks ago we were out hiking or biking, and sweating while doing it. The views were full of beautiful trees with GREEN leaves.

People were jumping into the waters under the falls. It was a nice, warm season to have outdoor fun. And so beautiful.

 

Now, one by one, people are donning their coats. Here and there I noticed the boots were being worn…

Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy cozy sweaters and a cute pair of boots, I’m just finding through the last couple of years that it’s harder to let summer go and head into my favorite season of fall.

Fall is a time where I love to get into the activities, and come indoors for socializing. I love sitting and chatting over coffee, watching movies, and all I love all of the school and church programs.

Yet, summer brings a sense of freedom, and a season of outdoor fun. But it’s time, to say goodbye and move on.

One season just moves into another. There is absolutely no way to change that.

The other day I went to the doctor to have some of my moles looked at. When I showed him and his assistant some marks that had showed up on my arm, he smiled, before he let me know they were just AGE spots.

I really didn’t appreciate hearing that piece of information. I informed him so and told him they weren’t age spots but beauty spots, and after a couple of suggestions, we all decided they would be called wisdom spots.  
Sigh.

There’s no stopping it, as long as I’m breathing, I’m aging. It’s not something I should complain about I guess, because I really do appreciate the fact that I’m still breathing.  

Still…how did I get to this season?

I remember when I turned forty and my eye doctor told me to expect to have to have to wear bifocals soon just because I was now in my forties. Well, my eyes worked just fine until I was close to fifty before I had any kind of problems.

Now at fifty, I’m getting weird spots on my skin.  

Seasons of life change just as the seasons in the weather change. Yet, it can take a person by surprise.

Ecclesiastes 3:1- 8 tells us there is a season for everything.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
 A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.” NIV

There are many seasons to go through in life. Changes happen. The only thing that doesn’t change is God, Himself. Nothing about Him changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.


So, during the shift of seasons, we can hold onto Him knowing His promises always will stay true.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Its Not What You Have

A couple of days ago, my adventure included driving up to the North Shore Women’s Connection in Kenmore, WA.

An incredible thing happened, I did NOT get lost or make a wrong turn and have to figure out how to get back on the road I was on, and I did not miss any signs! I thought I was lost for just a very short time after I asked someone at the gas station if they knew where the Golf course was. He told me to go in another direction than I was headed.

Well, since I had the directions on my phone, and my husband had written out the directions on a piece of paper, I decided to take my chances and stay on the route that I was on.

We pulled up to a beautiful country club with gargantuan plants, beautifully set around the club house and the turn around. My favorite, red geraniums were everywhere and looked like bushes.
 

I wanted to talk to the gardener and find out some of his tricks.

On my way home, I thought of the beautiful flowers and how perfectly they were placed around the property. A person can only be delighted with the beautiful picture that comes before their eyes as they approach the building.

It brought to mind a Bible verse I read the night before from my daughter’s devotional. “A person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful…” 1 Corinthians 4:2 NLT

The gardener of the Club house was faithful with what he was called to manage which caused a beautiful sight for all to see.

When I was younger and needed a new car, my Dad brought home an old Dodge Polara car that a man had owned and taken really good care of. We jokingly called it the boat. Many, many people could fit in my car. Wearing seat belts and having car seats was not enforced like it is now, when I had that car.

A few nights after my Dad brought the car home, I was washing the car out in the driveway, when my Dad came out to talk to me. I remember one thing he said in that conversation, “It’s not what you have. Its how you take care of what you have.”

I made sure that car was always clean and shiny. I worked at an auto store and many people would come in interested in my car. My friend’s fiancĂ© was always asking to buy it and eventually did buy it from me.
Those words my dad said that night have stuck with me. When I move into a place, I set it up as cozy as I can, to make it feel homey.

Right now, I would love to move to another place, but that doesn’t appear to be in the near future, so we plant pretty flowers, clean around the sidewalk, (It helps we have a landscaper do the mowing and weeding). We’ve decorated the inside to our liking, so when we come home at the end of the day, it’s to a cozy place.

I’ve driven new cars, I’ve driven old cars, and I make sure to keep them nice looking.

Those words resonate in the back of my mind wherever I am. It helps me to be more content, about things, when they aren’t quite the way that I want them to be.

So what are the things you are responsible to manage today? A job that isn’t quite what you wanted, a relationship that’s a bit sour…it doesn’t matter what it is…

Like the gardener, being faithful to what you are called to manage can be a blessing not only to yourself as a job well done, but a blessing to others.


Some of the ladies at the luncheon.

Along with my friend Joan.

Joan. She won the centerpiece to take home. 



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Over Bridges

Before I proceed with my blog…I would just like to make a note that as a blogger…well…I share things that other people probably keep to themselves. I make myself vulnerable to anyone who reads this blog. I am okay with that now…at first it was a little unnerving…I love to tell stories about what God did in my life and I had friends and family that encouraged me to tell the stories, not just to those close to me, but also on my blog. I share my weaknesses, pain, trials, and frustrations along with how God works in my life. I hope it helps you, the reader, no matter where you are in your relationship with God, to get a bigger glimpse of Him interacting in someone else’s life and I hope it encourages you.

God is true to His Word. No matter what situation I find myself in, no matter how big or small my faith is, He is always faithful to show up. So, with all pride put aside, I share this story…

Sarrah and I rode our bikes to Target the other night after dinner. Since it is getting dark earlier and earlier each evening, by the time we left the store, it had grown dark. I was a little nervous to ride home except that I knew Sarrah could ride the sidewalk back so she wasn’t at risk to be hit by a car.

I also knew in the back of my mind that Ben, if he hadn’t fallen asleep earlier, (he was fighting a cold), would probably show up with the car when he looked outside and saw it had grown dark.

Sarrah and I went down a side road, which was great until, we hit a part that for some reason the street lights were out and the sidewalk curved away from the road, into the neighborhood park, where it was quite dark. Although it wasn’t too far away from me, it still made me nervous, so I had her talk loud enough for me to hear her while she was riding that portion of the sidewalk.

My imagination started to get away with me. I began imaging someone knocking me off my bike to get to her, and well…other things flew through my mind making me wish we were already home.

Further on down the road, where it was lit really well, Sarrah and I stopped for a moment. Then all of the sudden Sarrah turned her bike and with excitement rode back down the sidewalk to her…Daddy, who had been following us in the car with the flashers on, to make sure we were safe.

For the rest of the ride he drove with his car flashers on and lit the path way for us so we could get safely home. When we needed to cross an intersection he stopped the car with flashers on and we were able to cross streets.

All of my fears and worries left me knowing he was there to help us get home and do what he could to protect us from any harm.

Needless to say, we made it home safely.

While I was riding I kept thinking about the Bible verse where it says, “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5) NIV

Sometimes we have to go on dark scary roads, that cause us worry and fear.

But just as my husband’s presence that night gave us strength so does God’s presence give us strength for the road we have to travel. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 KJV

I told my friend Joan this story while we traveled to Port Angeles to speak at a Women’s Connection luncheon.

I had already had my customary frustration of missing exits and having to turn around. We got on the right road and there right in front of me loomed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. As I’ve mentioned before on my blog…I am not a bridge lover. If there is anything that causes me to be filled with fear it is to go over a bridge. I have gotten better, but I do not like to go over big bridges.

Especially bridges that have a history of being the bridge that is the new and improved bridge because the first one fell into the water! Never mind that they built this one better. Never mind that the other one fell during a storm. And never mind that it happened in 1940. It fell and they had to make a new one.

And it is a big bridge…here are the facts.


The towers are how tall? 
The two towers of the current Tacoma Narrows Bridge rise 467 feet above the piers. How tall is that? By comparison, the Seattle Space Needle is 138 feet taller, measuring 605 feet high. The Statue of Liberty is only 305 feet high, or 162 feet shorter than the Bridge's towers.

The bridge is how long?
You could line up nearly 10 Seattle Space Needles end-to-end and match the length of the Narrows Bridge today. Or, lay down New York's great Empire State Building 4 times and you'd be really close.
You can also take time to watch the first one fall if you like…

But what was I to do?…I had to get to the luncheon. So I prayed...I moaned and groaned…and we made it.

For a little while we drove on a road with beautiful scenery. We were having wonderful conversations and then the unbelievable happened. We came upon ANOTHER very BIG bridge. This one was big…at water level…and a FLOATING DRAWBRIDGE at that!

 The Hood Canal Bridge (officially William A. Bugge Bridge) is a floating bridge … At 7,869 feet (2,398 m) long, (floating portion 6,521 feet (1,988 m)) it is the longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin, and the third longest floating bridge overall. First opened in 1961, it was the second concrete floating bridge constructed in Washington.
And guess what I discovered…

Hood Canal Bridge sinks during a severe storm on Tuesday, February 13, 1979.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5501 :
On February 13, 1979, about 7 a.m., the western half of the Hood Canal Bridge sinks during a severe storm.  For several hours before the Tuesday the 13th catastrophe, a storm batters the bridge with winds of 80 miles per hour gusting to 120 miles per hour. The bridge on (Washington) State Route 104 connects the Kitsap Peninsula with the Olympic Peninsula.  It is the second concrete pontoon floating bridge in Washington’s highway system, and the world's first floating pontoon bridge built over salt water subject to tides. 

My stomach felt like a porcupine was inside of it. My body felt tingly and I thought I was going to hyperventilate. I was not quiet about it either. I wanted to turn around and go home. This was too much for me.
My friend Joan reminded me of the story I had just told her about Ben and how God is behind us and God surrounds us. While she talked, my eye caught sight of a boat anchored in the water to the right and I thought, wow that looks beautiful over there. The water was so blue. I cautiously looked to the side and the scenery was incredible. Suddenly, I forgot about the bridge and was able to admire the view.

Miraculously we made it over that long floating bridge with all of the fear completely gone.

Why?

Because God filled me with His peace and brought me across that terrifying bridge I had to cross to get to the other side. And I had a faithful friend reminding me of who God is and, who spoke His truth to me.

Once we reached the other side words cannot explain the beauty of the day. The sun shined bright and the sky was clear with a brilliant blue color. The temperature was just right with a gentle breeze. The colors of the flowers, the greenery of the trees and the height of the majestic mountains filled the car window with beautiful pictures.

When we reached our destination, down by the marina, the beautiful blue water went for miles filled with the activity of the ferry and boats.

During the luncheon it was a time to speak to the hearts of some special women and later connect at a closer level as they shared their personal experiences. After hugs, prayers, and encouraging words, we left our destination to head on home filled with excitement over what had just transpired during the luncheon.

I thought to myself, had I quit and turned around when confronted with my fear, not once, but twice, I would have missed all the things God had planned to do at that place. I would have missed making some real lovely connections.

And sometimes, in order to go where God calls us, it takes risks…a lot of risks. Throughout the Bible people took risks to experience what God had planned for them. Moses, Joshua, Noah, David, Peter, Paul, and…and…they all faced fearful situations, but did it, and now their stories have been read throughout history.

Also, I thought about when those terrifying bridges show up, surprising me, like the Hood Canal bridge did and I have no choice but to cross it. I can’t turn around and go another way. Bridges such as job loss, health problems-whether mine or sitting at a loved one’s bedside, relationship issues. When suddenly the path in life fills me with so much fear, I can’t sleep through the night, I battle fearful thoughts through the day…

He is still my strength. His Word is still my truth.

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. NKV (For me, He will make me drive over bridges!)

He will get us through whatever faces us no matter how big, and terrifying the path that looms before us is.

Isaiah 43:2 NIV

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…: )