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42

Well,

I’m no longer 38.

I’m 42,

today.

Praise the Lord!

With this birthday I wanted to look over what I’ve learned.

To open myself before the Lord.

How am I doing with my list of lifestyle changes?

I needed to go back and look at them again:

1. My age is nothing to be embarrassed about. Because it’s a testament to life, a gift from God.

2. Each day is a special gift. No matter what happens, Jesus is with me and has something in each and every day.

3. People are far more important than tasks. No task, chore, or accomplishment will ever be as important as one soul.

4. Each person’s value was complete at their conception. God, Himself creates each individual and the worth of one person is so precious Jesus died for every single one.

5. You can never be too thankful or too loving. There’s such selfish ugliness in the world due to sin, that it’s a constant surrender to the Lord of oneself to be loving and thankful.

I can say there are days I’ve walked in these lessons.

And honestly, days I’ve not.

With this reality comes God’s mercy. He has helped me come back to them. He has taught me them again and again, with each lesson bringing out their beauty.

As I’ve learned new ways to surrender due to my health and learned to rest in His Sovereignty with all that is occurring I’m becoming more pliable.

And He’s added new lessons.

6. God is good, all the time. Nothing evil is of God, so when all I can see is evil, I’m looking at the wrong things.

7. Surrender is a daily, sometimes minute-by-minute choice. Many things in life which I’ve clung to have actually hindered my walk with Christ. I have to cling to Jesus and His word before holding on to anything else.

8. Thankfulness is a lifestyle which must be chosen, but brings amazing rewards. As I’ve learned to be thankful, no matter what is occurring, it’s opened up a clearer perspective of God.

9. What I think is best rarely is relevant. Too often my opinions are based on my shortsighted views and when I come at life with a willingness to love instead of get my own way God is able to help me find His best for me and those around me.

10. Life is too short and too valuable to waste on what is temporary. True riches are godliness, mercy, grace, integrity, love, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, thankfulness, and peace. They are not easily added to one’s character but they are so much more rewarding than trophies, pleasure, or stuff.

And I still have so much more to learn!

But the most important lesson I’ve learned is this:

11. Time spent with Jesus in prayer and study of the Bible is the most valuable and eternal time. It has been so very sweet to spend more time with my Savior. It has showed me where true blessings are found, has increased my understanding, and has been the place I’ve found rest and peace.

No matter how sick I have been, Jesus has carried me through.

No matter what physical or emotional pain I’ve endured, Jesus has carried me through.

No matter what tomorrow holds, Jesus will be there too.

What a wonderful gift to receive this birthday!

And every day.

When God says, “no”.

This is an old photograph.

Both my parents, my sister and myself are in it along with my niece and nephews.

Looking at it brings a little sting with the joy.

My father has been gone a long time.

My niece and nephews were visiting, the only time their Mom (my half-sister) brought them out.

Their father had died and she was having us all meet.

And she’s been gone many years now also.

Death has never lost a sting of pain.

But it’s never held the poison of hopelessness.

I have a great deal of hope that my father is waiting for me in heaven.

Although I never met my half-sister’s husband and I only met her once I hold on to the same hope for them.

I know my father knew Jesus and I am confident that knowledge is even greater today as he lives with the Lord.

And today I was reminded again of the sweet hope of heaven.

It’s eternal and so many things are not.

Today’s reminder came in the form of a text.

“The baby girl died today.”

My chest tightened and my heart lurched and I almost felt sick to my stomach.

This text was referring to a little baby girl we and others have been praying for.

Her condition had been very bad and the family had asked for prayer months ago.

And we had prayed.

Recently another cry had come to us to pray: she’s not doing well.

We did.

We put her on the prayer chain.

We asked others to pray.

Then yesterday we heard the baby’s infection was gone.

I was so excited as I texted the good news.

I felt so encouraged as I prayed again for her and her family.

Then this afternoon I heard of her death.

God had answered.

It just wasn’t the one I was expecting.

I texted the prayer chain.

I texted our friends.

And one response was the reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness:

These are the days I realize that the only thing we can really look forward to is eternity. Where there will be no more pain or death. Praise the Lord for salvation and eternal life with Him. Praying for God’s peace and joy for the family as they mourn the loss of their baby girl.

Amen.

Salvation is our comfort.

Heaven is our home.

May God be glorified even in this.

The journey continues

Breathe

Never before have I experienced lack of breath.

Breathing.

It’s an amazing gift.

Yet it took its loss for me to truly appreciate it.

I’ve been recently diagnosed with asthma and allergies.

I’ve heard of asthma.

My husband and I had a friend die of asthma, but I’ve never paid much attention to it.

I’ve heard of allergies, but so has everyone. Isn’t it just something you learn to live with?

When you start to research this thing that is making you sick it can feel a bit overwhelming.

Thankfully the feeling was momentary.

Chiefly due to some encouraging words from a friend.

Life just has trials, if it didn’t we wouldn’t look forward to heaven. We were meant to walk with God in a beautiful garden so until we do we will long.

These words brought me back to the reminder that we are on a journey.

As our family continues on this journey we can see God.

He really is in charge.

Do I know what tomorrow will hold?

Yes.

It will hold another part of the journey.

It will be another opportunity to praise God.

It will be another example of God’s Sovereignty.

I just have to choose to look at it that way.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for each breath. Thank You for each part of the journey which brings me closer to You. Thank You for the path, no matter how difficult, it is teaching me how good You truly are.

Journey

We are all on a journey.

It’s called life.

Lately mine has been a bit rocky.

The path has changed.

The pavement is gone and although I can still see to take the next step it’s not on smooth ground.

In some ways we have been breaking the path free from weeds and brush which entangle and try to snare.

There is a frightening feeling about forging a new path in an area that’s foriegn.

Yet the gifts which have been discovered along the new.

LORD

In this journey I’m learning anew the Sovereignty of God.

I belong to Him.

All that is in my life belongs to Him.

He is good.

He is worthy of praise.

He can be trusted completely.

So…

No matter how difficult or easy the path is today,

it belongs to Him.

period.

In that I can rejoice.

In that I can trust.

In that I can find peace.

To be continued…

20

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20 years ago.

I married the guy in this picture.

(The big one, not the little one,  he’s our son!)

It was the opening weekend of rifle deer season. (Which I heard lots of complaints about from those gents who wanted to get up early the following morning to hunt!)

My own gent was a bow hunter at the time and didn’t care at all!

We’ve seen much in these 20 years.

My dad was killed in an accident almost exactly a year later.

Our four beautiful children were born.

We bought a house.

My husband lost his grandmother and then a few years later his grandfather on his Dad’s side.

My hubby worked full time night shift for years while going to college to earn his mill wright journeyman card.

We sold our house and moved overseas.

We lived for a year in the country our girls refer to as “home” and then moved back.

We walked through extreme physical problems.

(I can’t express the emotion of dropping my spouse at the ER because he thought he was having a heart attack, but not being able to stay because he wanted me to wait with the children a good 45 minutes away.)

Then his health improved.

We walked through owning a business.

We walked through my extreme physical issues.

We walked through the slow process of physical rehabilitation.

We walked through closing our business.

We walked through buying another house.

We walked through another job change.
(Praise the Lord!)

We walked through our children growing and starting sports.

We walked through my hubby working full time and going back to college.

We walked through our first high school graduate.

We walked through our first child getting married.

There is so much more.

So many things.

Over and over and over God has worked and been so present in our daily lives.

Yet, I don’t want to spend too much time looking backward.

I want to look forward to what God has for our future, our family.

I have learned much.

But I know there is so… much more.

More for me to grow in, for me to understand,  for me to learn.

It is good to live in today for the Bible makes it clear.

Today is a gift from God.

Jesus, thank You for my husband. Thank You for 20. Please continue to teach me how to be a godly wife and mother. Please bless our family. Thank You.

Humble

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I’m choosing that word instead of the one which keeps coming to mind:

IDIOT.

So, I’ll have to back up almost a week to give you the full story.

My sweetheart put up a garden fence so the dogs won’t eat my tomatoes.

( I know, I know. I live in deer country and one would think the veggies get nibbled by them. Nope. Our dogs keep them out of the back yard, however they LOVE tomatoes and I barely got any last year. )

I needed a support for my peas which my hubby simply placed by screwing two wood pieces from the main fence to stabilize the post.

I was thrilled!

The next day I was bent over and carefully tending some seedlings near my peas.

I moved along slowly making sure not to harm them or the pea seedlings on my right.

Then it happened.

I took a step while standing up.

Bang!

Before I realized what had happened I was clutching the top of my head.

I had unwisely walked underneath the support post and when standing up to leave I struck it, hard.

Ouch!

My head was sensitive for the rest of the day.

I laughed at myself and tried not to think about it more than necessary.

The following afternoon I was in the garden with our Anne.

Several times I warned her about not hitting her head.

Told her my head still hurt.

Explained how I’d grown careless which led to the pain.

She was very sweet and listened carefully.

Each time she was over near the peas she was paying attention and avoiding the cross beam.

Then it happened.

I had carefully given her some instructions.

I had just finished with my last chore and went to plant some lettuce.

Just after finishing the lettuce I somehow stood up directly underneath the exact same cross bar.

This time I hit the ground before I realized what I had done.

Ouch!!

My head throbbed and I struggled to get out of the garden to where I could sit down.

Since our daughter had gone out of the garden to do what I asked she found me clutching my head and wobbling toward the house when she came back.

Upon hearing what I had done she replied, “But Mom! You were just warning me not to do that…?”

“Yes! I know.”

The day ended with me going to bed early from a severe headache.

The next day one of my students prayed for me at lunch time, because my head still hurt.

That was Wednesday and today is Monday.

I was in the utility room moving laundry from the washer to the dryer.

We have a tiny space and our stackable washer/dryer are invaluable!

I noticed I had dropped a sock when transferring the wet laundry.

I bent over to get it, stood up and…

Yup.

I hit the top of my head on the dryer door I’d left open to receive the sock.

That’s when the word came.

IDIOT!

How in the world can I possibly hit my head so often? Can’t I think before acting? What is the matter with me?!

I texted my hubby that I would be laying down for a bit on account of my own carelessness.

As I tried to get over my frustration with myself I heard the Lord softly speak to my heart.

Humble

I can’t go back and undo the damage.

But I can be humble and move forward to change the danger.

The cross beam in the garden has two ropes to keep me or anyone else from being able to stand up underneath it.

The dryer door will soon have a guard to hold it open and out of the way.

What kind of work do I need to do inside my character?

Was it pride which caused me to warn and instruct our daughter to a danger I was too busy to pay attention to for myself?

Was it my own selfish motives which drove me to hurry in a few garden tasks when I should have been inside cooking dinner?

Was it poor organization which found me trying to rush through switching laundry, because my thoughts were on the company coming tonight?

I can’t go backwards, but I can be humble and see the areas God is using my folly to teach me character.

“Dear God,

Thank You for loving me and not allowing me to hurt myself worse than I already have. Please continue to help me see the areas which need honing so I can avoid carelessness in the future. Thank You that even in moments where I’m embarrassed You can turn it to an opportunity. Let Your name be glorified Lord Jesus!

Amen!”

“God has really blessed me.”

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This is our Bell.

She’s her own person.

She has the same brown eyes and brown hair as her older sister, but there are a number of differences.

She’s not tall.

I haven’t measured her lately, but I believe she’s 5’2″.

Don’t ask me her weight, I truly don’t know, but she’s got muscle all over.

She’s fairly quiet.

She doesn’t mind chatting with others about everyday things, but when it comes to anything deep or emotional she reserves her comments until she knows exactly what she wants to say.

She can be just a little blunt from time to time, yet it is not seasoned with malice.

Like everyone, Bell has things she’s not too happy about in herself, and works to gain control over them.

She’s an athlete.

When she was in first grade she played soccer for one year.

Then I put all the girls in dance school and said sports was on hold.

She enjoyed dance and thrived.

The year we moved back to the US she played softball and loved it.

The following year their team was undefeated the entire year.

Then she joined track and basketball.

It was much closer to home and when I had a conflict with scheduling the school ran a bus so she had to give up softball.

Yet she found a love for track and basketball.

As our family was so blessed to watch our oldest girl run at the State Track and Field our Bell spoke to me on the way home.

“Next year when I’m in high school, my goal is to make it to State.”

She has been working hard all track season in an effort to keep her goal.

She’s well aware of the stiff competition.

I’ve told her Freshman rarely make State.

Yet everything hung on the District meet in Bend.

If she could get 1st or 2nd in either of her races she’d go.

And she did.

Despite her being ranked at 4th place before the race she took 2nd.

I was surprised to hear from her coach the next day.

He called to let me know she’d made it to State in the long jump!

I was surprised.

She had jumped her best jump ever at the meet, but I didn’t think it was good enough.

So after yesterday’s meet where she jumped in the long jump and ran the preliminary race in the 400 she turned to me.

“God has really blessed me.”

I smiled and reached over to place my hand on her.

“Yes He certainly has.”

Her next words surprised me.

“How do I let people know that I’m just a vessel God is using?  After I race people say, ‘Good job!’ and all I can do is say thanks between breaths.”

“Honey, you tell people about God’s blessing in the other times, those moments when people say, ‘I read your name in the paper.'”

She nodded.

It wasn’t until this morning I began to see another side of the whole affair.

She was able to make the cut and will be running today in the 400, but she didn’t say much about her poor turn out in the long jump. She didn’t even jump a personal record.

She was nervous and her footing off the board wasn’t the best.

Yet as she spoke of the long jump it was the joy of friends she’s made who were also jumping.

In her reflections at the end of the day she didn’t show the least bit of disappointment or discouragement.

She was simply thankful to God for His blessing her with the ability to get this far.

This humility in our Bell has prompted me to look closer at my own heart.

Am I thankful for the blessings or just eager to attain more?

Am I thoughtful as to how to give glory back to God for His gifts or simply smug in the face of those around me?

God forbid that I ever take the credit for His hand in my life.

As I spend my morning in prayer for our day I smile.

What a blessing to have such a humble daughter.

What a gift to be able to watch our daughter compete at any level.

What a joy to hear her praise God for His gifts!

I can say it:

“God has really blessed me!”

Inspired

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That’s our girl in the black and white.

She took 1st in both her races today.

I  was very proud of her.

Especially since she was throwing up between races.

Yet, I was inspired by another race.

As I stood waiting for our girl to run, the boy’s 800 began.

I cheered for the boys from our school.

Then I noticed a boy from the school I graduated from, Douglas high.

He was running the 800.

Well, most of the time he was running.

As he came around my corner his pace was slow.

Several of his teammates shouted encouragement.

He kept going.

I watched him slow to a walk twice before he began approach my corner again.

He was walking.

Many of his teammates were yelling encouragement.

Told him to keep it up.

Said to finish strong.

Shouted, “You got this!”

Just as he rounded the mark for the last 100 meters a loud male voice came across the field.

He was simply shouting the runner’s name.

He ran across the field and up along side his teammate.

He stayed in the grass, but kept yelling his team mate’s name.

By this time the boy was running.

They ran the last 100 meters side by side.

One on the track the other in the grass.

It brought tears to my eyes as I watched and listened.

The boy in the grass called his friend’s name the whole way.

I was inspired.

***

How often we find the race of life a struggle.

Yet just one person to run alongside and call encouragement can make all the difference.

I want to be like that young man.

As I run towards Christ, I want to run alongside those who are also running towards Him with all their strength.

I want to call encouragement to those He has placed in my life, words bolster their run, to watch them run as fast as they can.

And frankly, I want some people running alongside me, shouting my name.

So, I’m inspired.

I hope this story inspires you.

Run the race.

Run with all you have.

And look for those who need to hear their name, calling them to run as well. 

Joys of the season

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Yesterday,
we went cherry picking.

Today,
we went to a graduation/18th birthday party.

Tomorrow,
is lunch with Papa and Nana.

It’s a season.

Not just a chance to be outdoors.
Not just beautiful weather and fresh fruit.
Not just a break from the routine.

It’s a season of life.

When it passes something else will fill in each day,
but to miss the joys of the season would be to waste the gift.

Too easy to look forward to what tomorrow will hold.

Too often to look back “when…”

Too precious to ignore, is the season that each of us resides in, whether it be childhood, teenager, adult.

Each season brings blessings even through the trial.

As infants and toddlers I was always concerned with their health, their manners, their clothes.

As school aged the concern turns to friends, academics, and sports.

Teen years have been full of relationships with everyone, emotions, events and life decisions like GPAs and scholarships.

There is a parallel to the seasons of the year.

Summer holds so many good things,  but I never get stung in the winter.

Fall is colorful and often still allows some time outdoors, yet the flowers all begin to die and the business of school crowds the calendar.

Winter brings the coziness of a warm fire along with hot chocolate, homemade brownies, and holidays, but the flu and colds attack reminding each of their frailty.

Spring is rebirth as trees, flowers, and animals all great the world with something new, yet the weather can fluctuate so rapidly that the rains break the flowers and the trees lose their blossoms.

Are we to look at the seasons and focus on the ways it brings discomfort or loss or pain?

No.

Instead we should look to our Heavenly Father and thank Him for all the positive points in each season.

As you walk in this season of swimming pools, travel, and parties or weddings I pray you are able to make a thankful list. Nothing fancy, nothing worth showing off but simply a chance to recall all the various blessings this season brings.

Here’s one I’m starting:
I am thankful to God for:
1. More time at home.
2. More opportunities to be with family and friends.
3. Weather which allows me to walk in the garden.
4. All the veggies in my garden.
5. The chance to read something other than textbooks.
6. The time to bake.
7. Fresh produce to can for the winter.
8. The time to reorganize my house.
9. Enough water to wash clothes, dishes, the dog, or anything else.
10. Longer quiet times with the Lord, my Bible, and journal.

Tea time with the Lord

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Recently,
I was enjoying a cup of tea,
while reading my Bible
and came across a scripture which puzzled me.

So I stopped to reflect.

“When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry…And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand,  his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters,  the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So when it came to pass,  when they had brought them outside,  that he said,  ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains lest you be destroyed.’ ”
Gen. 19:15a, 16-17

The story goes on to tell how Lot stood there an argued with the angel to spare the city of Zoar because he  was afraid to go to the mountains. He even said, “I cannot escape to the mountains, lest some evil overtake me and I die.”

The angel agrees and Lot and his family make it to Zoar. When they do judgment comes in the form of brimstone and fire to every other city in the area but not Zoar as the angel promised.

For some reason, Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. Yet the story continues. Lot becomes even more afraid and flees to the mountains, the very place he refused to go in the first place.

I understand being afraid.

What puzzled me was his inconsistent choices.

First, he refused to obey despite the fact these very angels had saved him previously from an angry mob by striking them with blindness.

Then he sees the consequences of his wife’s disobedience to their direct warning to not look back.

Yet he flees for his life from the refuge of his own choosing.

It is obvious he was running, scared blind.

What was blinding him?

The Lord answered,
“His perspective was off. He couldn’t see that which had been done just to preserve his life, he kept making choices based on emotion.”

–Sigh–

I did the exact thing this week.

One problem after another I simply ran to “fix” but all my effort was in vain for I would get to the problem and find God had already answered.

My running had caused nothing but stress and frustration.

My perspective was off.

Praise the Lord,
I finally noticed as I was relating the troubles to one of our teachers.

“I have been running around like crazy, when I should have been saying,  ‘Wow, this is a problem, I wonder what God is going to do through it?'”

Since my cup of tea with the Lord,
I have been praying
for perspective.

I don’t want to choose out of emotion,
I want to follow God’s direction.