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Monday, May 20, 2019

RESTORATION

There is a marked disparity between restoration and redemption.  Many times in life we are searching for restoration and do not recognize it when it is right before our eyes.  Mr. Webster defines restoration~noun
  1. 1.
    the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition

Redemption is defined as~noun
  1. 1.
    the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.


In most cases we are seeking a former place and condition when addressing restoration .

It has been just over three weeks since the F3 tornado hit my sweet home town.  The past three weeks have found me fighting to hold back tears for the bad--but also the good.  Ruston has once again proven to be exactly where God wants me planted.  The slogan has become RUSTON STRONG since the storm. The outpouring of support, help, and standing shoulder to shoulder with all our neighbors, whose world was turned upside down that night in the blink of an eye, has been heart warming and bolstering of my faith in mankind.  Restoration from those brief minutes of devastation began within minutes of its occurrence.


ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY PAUL BURNS https://www.travelingnorah.com

WHOSE MOTHER AND FATHER LOST THEIR HOME





Mother Nature threw her fury straight at Ruston that night.  Decades old trees which have marked the streets with their majestic beauty became missiles of destruction and sadly death.  Friends literally had their world split right down the middle.




How can we ever restore our city to its former beauty?  How can the lives so many of our friends and neighbors knew ever be restored to the place they were before that brief late night intrusion   explosion?






Life will never be the same, BUT life is still good.  We have been reminded all of this world is temporal, but our relationships--they can be eternal.  The love, goodwill, support, and compassion of our families, friends, neighbors and even strangers have made the horrendous mess into a meeting ground for the good in man.  



The mess will eventually all be cleaned up, homes will be repaired, others will disappear to never be seen again or replaced by today's architectural offerings, and the landscape is forever altered, but from the chaos there has risen great beauty.  The beauty of man's good---his desire to help those in need---his willingness to cry with those who are mourning and stand shoulder to shoulder with his fellow man in the struggle for restoration.  

In most cases restoration is never obtainable.  How do you replace trees which took decades to grow?  How do you calm the fears of those traumatized to the point of terror over any approaching storm?  How do you replace lives lost?  BUT God---lives can be rebuilt, homes can be repaired, fears will quiet with time, and man's faith in his fellow man has received a huge boost.  It may never look the same, but it can still be a glimpse of the great beauty of man's leaning toward hope .

I have been reminded of Job.  All was lost---fortune, home, family, everything was gone.  We are told at the end of the book that all was restored to Job~but there were things he lost that were never returned.  The former was gone, but that did not lessen the good of the present.  Life was forever altered, but life became good once again.  What a gift hope is!  A hope for a beautiful tomorrow, a hope that man will rise up and help those in need, a hope that there is always a rainbow at the end of the storm.  

So thankful to call Ruston home and looking forward to witnessing the restoration of this sweet town to an even better place to live.  


RUSTON STRONG INDEED!

And the God of all grace,
who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will Himself restore you and make you
strong, firm and steadfast.
I Peter 5:10

Friday, May 17, 2019

I RESEMBLE THAT


How many times have I uttered this statement!   The statement was made famous by the "Three Stooges", specifically Curly~those great philosophers from my childhood.



The remark could be~"We do not allow the riff raff in the front door."  To which Curly would reply, "I resemble that remark."  It is a self demarcating stab at humor.

My dear friend can send me into spirals of thinking in any one conversation.  Recently we were discussing the things we spend a great deal of time doing.  They reminded me of the passage in Jeremiah which addresses man's propensity to become that which he chases.  The secret is to maintain balance in your life.  We become those idols we worship in life.  It could be success, wealth, learning, beauty, or fill in the blank.  When we begin to chase things of this world, we are surely stating what is important to us.

Gary Beole stated, "What people revere, they resemble either for ruin or restoration."  We can either revere the world and conform to it or revere God and become conformed to His likeness.  Jesus plainly tells us in Matthew 6:24,
"No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money."  Strike through money and fill in anything else of this world.  We become what we worship and our worship is directly reflected by how we use our time and resources.

These conversations leave me soul searching and reflecting upon who I am.  Praying I do not resemble Jeremiah's admonition~

This is what the Lord says;
"What fault did your fathers find in me,
they they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves."
Jeremiah 2:5


Thursday, May 16, 2019

WARY OF STRANGERS

We all teach our children the lesson~


After all, a stranger is someone we do not know, nor do we know their intentions.  I have learned to be careful about talking with children I do not know.  I love children and my first reaction when I see one is to speak to them.  This encourages them to trust strangers.  No longer do I enter into a conversation with them unless they have an adult with them.  Certainly, I appear harmless, but in most cases, so do the adults who might harm them.

I, myself, am careful around strangers.  I squelch my natural instinct to speak with everyone in my path, especially when alone.  In today's world, unfortunately, we must be aware of our surroundings and the potential for threat or harm.  The news and social media are filled with stories of strangers robbing or doing other harm to the unsuspecting.  The rule has become check out your surroundings before proceeding.  Sadly, the innocent world of my childhood has disappeared and we need to be wary of strangers.

There have been strangers whom have become good friends over time.  One of my neighbors in Fort Worth, when walking by my house, saw me out working in my yard and shouted a greeting.  She has become a great friend whom I dearly miss.


The fact of the matter is almost everyone beyond family, starts out as a stranger.  Why I even have family members who are strange strangers.  Who do we actually know when we come into this world~except for the voices we heard from the womb?

This week I have been mulling over Peter's letters contained in The Word.  Peter calls us "strangers in the world" as he writes to God's elect.  He references the Believers twice as strangers and also aliens.  We often think of aliens as someone who was not born in this country.  One who is not a naturalized citizen of the country in which they are living.  WHY would Peter think we are strangers in the midst of those we know so well and how can we be aliens to the place we have always called home?

Remember in Ephesians we were told once we accepted Jesus as our Savior and declared our faith in God, we then were sitting in the Heavenlies with Jesus and God?  Our eternal life began at that point and we became naturalized citizens of The Heavenlies.  We were granted permission into the presence of God Almighty and His home became our home.  

At that point in time, we became citizens of The Heavenlies and therefore became strangers or aliens in this world.  We are no longer "Of the World," but instead are "At Home in the Heavenlies."  We are sojourners through this world, and strangers to this world.  

This does not mean, we are not to interact with those of this world, but instead the Great Commission states the opposite.  We are to be wary of strangers, but not withdrawn   We are to be the influencers and not allow the world to influence us. Peter encourages us as aliens of this world to live our lives in a manner which points to Jesus.  Aliens usually have different customs and habits from the citizens of a country.  I pray our customs and actions always point to our being different.  A different others want to emulate.  We are different because Christ has made us different---a citizen of The Heavenlies with all the rights and privileges according to citizenship.  May our lives be a beacon of the wonder of belonging to Him as we, as strangers, travel through this world.

For our citizenship is in heaven,
 from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior,
 the Lord Jesus Christ;
Philippians 3:20

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

ALWAYS THE SAME

We all desire to have a living legacy when we leave this terrestrial ball.  This mommy looks a great deal like her mommy at approximately the same age.






The physical resemblance is undeniable and as she ages, she looks more and more like me.  I am blessed to call her daughter.















We call this grand "Little Gabe".  He not only looks like his Uncle Gabe, but has many of his personality characteristics.  The consummate entertainer, he loves to be the center of attention.  It is really difficult to not laugh at his antics, just as it was with Uncle Gabe.  Unfortunately their teachers do not always find them quite so cute.

It is human nature to want someone to carry on our legacy.  A legacy of our character and appearance somehow gives us the peace that we will always be here. 

Physical appearance is one thing, but how often have we said, "He/She acts just like _____"  Our personality traits can be inherited as well as our physical looks.  My obsessiveness and need for order was passed on to #1 Son.  My tender heart was passed on to #2 Son.  My love of relationships was passed on to #1 Daughter.  Each of my children has been marked by some aspect of my personality.  Each of them is different, but there are distinct similarities also.  The phrase "uniquely and wonderfully made" comes to mind.

We are told in The Word that we are created in God's image.  Somehow man has turned the tables and tried to make God into our image.  God's character, unlike man's, is unchangeable.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  God came first and then man.  We are created in His image and not the other way around.  Man is guilty of even taking God's attributes and putting our spin on them.  God being good does not mean we are guaranteed health, wealth, and prosperity.  It does mean  "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose," Romans 8:28.  Our definition of good is not the good of eternal consequence.

We limit and define God based upon our finite mind.  God is infinite and His character is immutable.  When you stop and consider, this unchanging--unable to change character of God is a great comfort.  Man may change based upon the time and circumstance, BUT GOD is the one constant we can rely upon.  He is consistent with His character.


Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above,
 coming down from the Father of lights,
 with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
James 1:17

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

ENDLESS PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Mother's Day brought great reminders of the joys of raising my children.  We come into this world crying for what we want to make up happy.  In those early months, happiness is easily obtained with a full stomach, dry/clean bottom and a gentle touch.  Our wants and needs are simple.


With the addition of years, the wants and desires increase.  Our children want an endless supply of junk food, unlimited screen time, always moving bedtime, and total freedom of choice.  They think this will make them happy, but we, as adults, understand why these are bad choices.  Their happiness would be temporary at best.  The consequences of these happiness desires will surely lead to unhappiness for them and many of those in their wake.


The materialistic world has taught us we will only be happy if we have----FILL IN THE BLANK.  It is a shifting target based upon current fads and how deep our pockets are.  In fact, many do not wait for a full pocket, but use plastic to fulfill what they think will make them happy.  I will never forget the question when I expressed a desire for yet another house project, "Now will THIS make you happy?"  One project always leads to another and there is never an end to home improvement plans.  We spend far too much time comparing what we have to what others have and staring at "HG TV".  The outdoor kitchen is great proof of my point--after all HOW MANY DAYS can you actually use this multi thousand dollar improvement.  Let me assure you, this rainy year in Louisiana, there have been few days to cook outdoors.

The phrase "God wants us happy," is the way man has made God into man's image.  It is the character the world has given God and not defensible in His Word.  I beg to differ, God does not necessarily want us happy.  Happy is a temporal term.  Here today and gone tomorrow, our happiness is a moving target.  Man is seldom satisfied with what he thinks will make him happy.  God understands these fleeting desires of the worldly man and has a better plan for us.

God does want us content-

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
Philippians 4:12

AND he does desire for us to be joyful~

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

The peace that comes from joy is the contentment Paul spoke of in the first verse.

No, God does not want us happy--happy is temporal, but He does promise us joy--and joy is eternal.  I would trade the happiness of a day for the joy of eternity any day--there is no contest.  I thank God for the joy that comes from knowing Him and the contentment of knowing His ways are always best.

Monday, May 13, 2019

SEARCHING FOR THE TRAIL HEAD

Almost all of the hikes we have been on have clearly marked trails and trail heads which are easily found and followed.  This did not prove to be the case in California.  We spent a great deal of time looking for the beginning of the trail.  We spent as much time in Yosemite wandering around searching as we did hiking the actual trail.  A park ranger explained the loop trail we were hiking had several points of entry that caused the confusion.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but in all the parks we have hiked in, this has never been the case.



In Yosemite, once we found the trail, we were able to stay on it.  There was a stretch of a shower from the fall spray and the stream we had to cross in the beginning of the trail.  This necessitated wringing out of wet socks before continuing~a minor inconvenience.



And then there was the elusive bridge.  Our fellow hikers kept telling us we would have to turn around on the long bridge, because the trail became impassable.  Could I just tell you how many bridges we crossed?  FINALLY we got to the turn around point.





Well worth the effort once we finally arrived at the correct destination.  The original hike was to have been all the way around the Loop Trail.  The snow melt and flooded trails made this impossible.



Lake Tahoe proved to also have trail challenges.  Same song-different verse.  The trail quickly went underwater and we decided to wander through the woods in search of a place to hop back on the trail.  This was a stroll through the brier patch.  One of the hikers came back with a terrific case of poison ivy-could this be where she was exposed?  We were in the midst of dense foliage and identifying poison ivy in the thick maze of greenery was impossible.  I ended up completely turned around--thank goodness for the trail boss who kept her sense of direction.

We were told to stay on the trail, but it was difficult finding the trail at times and impossible to stay on it at others.  The sign above warned us it was dangerous to stray from the trail.  There were times we had no choice but to stray and hope to find our way again.

So it goes with life, we are forced off the trail at times.  The trail head becomes lost in the confusion of the world.  We become sojourners who loose our way and our sense of direction becomes turned from God's plan to the World's Way.  Just as we experienced on our trip, all is never lost.  Eventually you will discover your way and get back on the trail~if you keep searching.  Keep looking for the signs and markers--our Guide is always close by.


“Set up road markers for yourself;
 make yourself guideposts; 
consider well the highway,
 the road by which you went.
Jeremiah 31:21

Friday, May 10, 2019

CLINGING TO THE YELLOW LINE

Somehow I have been voted driver when we go on our adventure trips without our token male, Jim.  The conversation seemed to go something like this, "I don't like to drive~~~You have lived in the city and are accustomed to city traffic"  Without even running for the office, I became driver by default.  I thought when I reached 70, they would elect someone else, but OH NO--they are willing to pay additional to not have to drive.

On our recent trip to California, we made a big circle trying to see as much as possible while there.  The cost of flying inspires thrifty measures.


We landed in San Jose, drove down to Carmel and Big Sur, Across to Yosemite, Up to Lake Tahoe (and our one brush with Nevada), across to Sonoma -Golden Gate Bridge, and San Francisco, to the Muri Woods, and back to San Jose.  It was a 1414 mile sojourn through the middle of California.  The state is breath-taking beautiful, but who can afford to live there!!

The day we traveled from Yosemite to Lake Tahoe we drove over a mountain pass of over 8000 feet.  There was still LOADS of snow in the mountains.


There also were mile upon mile of switchbacks and hairpin turns.  NOT easy driving.  When we reached the crest of the pass, we found ourselves in the clouds and unable to see five feet in front of the car.  On one side we have a shear drop off of a mere 8000 feet and the other is on-coming traffic and there is no visibility.  White knuckled would describe me perfectly.  The one thing I could see was the double yellow line in the center of the road.  There was nothing else to do but to slow WAY DOWN and cling to the yellow line in hopes we would start down again and descend from the danger of the clouds.  The yellow line became my plumb line---the way out of the danger of the clouds and lack of visibility.  Stay focused and live became my mantra.

Life is filled with hair pin curves and lack of visibility.  If ONLY we knew what was around the next curve, what might be heading in our direction, where this trek is taking us.  Just as I had no idea what was in the road ahead, we do not know what tomorrow will bring as we trek along through the clouds of an uncertain future.  BUT GOD---gives us a plumb line---a double yellow stripe to follow---a road map to make the trek doable.  His Word is the map, the directions, the yellow line which leads us forward.  How thankful I am He has given us a sure and certain map to make this trek through our time on this earth the best it can be.  Cling to the yellow line and know His provision of peace and security as we traverse the beautiful road as well as the treacherous unknown.  Cling to the yellow line and know God is faithfully by your side.

My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.”

Psalm 17:6

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

I NEED YOU




The World has encouraged my autonomy.  Unfortunately many of the lessons learned while traveling along the path of life have lead to putting a wall around my heart.  Admitting a need for each of you, tears down the boundaries I have carefully built to protect myself from pain.  In all of my introspection, it has become crystal clear God created us to be in relationships.  It is impossible to have a relationship with a mirror.  A mirror is a cold non-thinking or feeling object only used for studying our physical reflection.  It adds nothing to our lives and creates an  emotional vacuum.  A mirror has a single dimension, and we are not created as single dimension beings, but instead are multi- faceted complex beings.  The mirror does not provide a true representation of who we are.

The reflection that best exemplifies the real us comes from those we have relationships.  Just as our voice does not really sound the way we hear it, we are not always the person we think we are.  What clouds this is the eyes of the beholder are influenced by their experience and history.  One person may see us as talkative and open and another may find us aloof and withdrawn~all depending upon the point in time of interaction and their perception.  Yet, we need each other to have a true reflection of who we are.



Opening myself up to vulnerability by admitting my need for you to complete myself is not an easy step.  Yet, I find I do need you.  Family, friends, acquaintances, and even casual encounters all influence who we are. Those from the past, those who will come along in the future, and those currently in our lives~all make us who we are.  We have a clearer understanding of how others see us by the manner in which they respond to us.  We have all walked into a room and felt as if we were the odd person out.  How quickly we try to identify someone with which we can connect.  The power of rejection creates a panicky need for someone to acknowledge us.  This is the best example of the great need we have for relationships and community.

I am opening myself up and admitting to each of you


I NEED YOU

  YOU are important to me and my life will not be the same without you.  I pray I can help you be the best you.  I pray we will be mutually blessed by our relationship.  I am here for you and thankful for you.  Thank you for reading, responding, and encouraging me.  God has placed us in each other's lives for a purpose.  May this purpose be for His Glory and Good Purpose.  As for today, please know I Need You and life would not be the same without you.

"In everything, therefore,
 treat people the same way you want them to treat you,
 for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12





Friday, May 3, 2019

TRIP OF A LIFETIME

The three weeks in Europe were certainly the trip of a lifetime.

Go

HERE

For a brief description of one of my favorite cities.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

A RECENT TRIP

Here's to hoping this trip does not result in any injuries such as these~

GO HERE

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

WHERE'S LULU

STILL OFF SEEKING ADVENTURE

HERE IS ANOTHER

BLAST FROM THE PAST

CLICK

HERE
FOR ANOTHER
FAVORITE ADVENTURE MEMORY 

Monday, April 29, 2019

OLDIE BUT GOODIES

I am off the grid today, BUT

Click     HERE

for one of my favorite stories from our adventures.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

FEAR-PART TWO

I LOVE my friends who cause me to think.  Following yesterday's post on fear, I received this text.  "How do we distinguish fear from wisdom?"  Let's all jump into the deep end, Friends!



God has given us wisdom to know when we should not engage in risky behavior.  When pondering hiking a trail, I take into consideration the danger involved.  Based upon the degree of difficulty, my physical abilities, and a little bit of good sense, I decide whether or not I should trek that trail.  OH, for sure, when I decline a trail and all the others come back unscathed and proclaiming the wonders of what I missed, I am distressed.  BUT, I  also know you should always listen to your inner voice of reason and good  judgment.  JUST BECAUSE the others made the trail with no problem, does not mean I would have.  I was not operating out of fear, but instead was relying upon wisdom.



FEAR--is another thing altogether.  I find myself occasionally fearful over my future.  The "What If's" invade my thoughts.  What if I need constant care, what if the economy fails, what if I break a bone~~~  I can take off down that rabbit trail and end up in the briar patch before you can blink an eye.  I am fearful over something I have little or absolutely NO control over.  THAT is when fear is an issue.  The enemy has crept in and pushed my buttons--KNOWING all those things which will cause me anxiety.  NOW--WHO am I going to listen to in this scenario~  The old sneaky deceiver or the Truth God has given us.  This is when fear becomes the ruler of our lives and takes our minds away from those things of eternal importance.

HERE is the truth--God intends for us to live in peace because of the truth of His promises.  "Peace does not refer to the absence of chaos, but rather to an overall, deeply entrenched sense of harmony, health, and wholeness in the midst of chaos." Priscilla Shirer  God's promises are the foundation which crumble the high wall of What If's.  We know the plans He has for us--so let's live without fear and in the certainty of hope.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
II Timothy 1:7



Wednesday, April 24, 2019

FEAR NOT

There is ALWAYS one who gobbles up life with gusto in every family!  This one~


captured his personality perfectly in this selfie.



He came strolling through the kitchen at around 9:00 AM Easter morning with only one ear left on his recently acquired chocolate Easter Bunny.  He conveniently forgot to ask permission to eat an entire chocolate bunny for breakfast.  The first one in the pool, the one who became stuck while climbing the fireplace wall, the one who bears keeping an eye on at all times--he is not leaving anything untried.  No fear and always open to a dare, he jumps in the deep end first with no hesitation.  He is going to enjoy life to the utmost and never back down when challenged.  He does not know the meaning of fear.

Yesterday's post on giving it all to God brought a comment which set the wheels to turning.  Why don't we give it all?  My response was we fear the unknown and will chose the known path--even when we know it is stinky --rather than take the risk of the path we have not traveled before.  Fear is a powerful motivator and can cause us to miss some of the best moments if we do not conquer it.

My hiking trips have morphed into tales of avoiding danger when possible.  I am fearful of breaking a bone ~which would be life changing at this point.  This causes me to miss some of the summits, hesitate on the rock strewn trail, and generally avoid risky treks.  I am cautious to a fault and carefully pick my steps to avoid falling.

The spirit of fear has become an hindrance to going for the gusto.  I am missing some of the best out of an abundance of caution for fear of what might happen.
God does not want us to live in fear.  What might happen around the bend can cause such paralysis that I become frozen and unwilling to even glance around the corner.  He has taught me through experience, than even when the worst happens, I can keep moving forward.  Fear, in many cases, is worse than what we fear happening.  


I fell and sprained my ankle while hiking in the Grand Canyon.  I would have never seen some of the beauty I experienced if I had stayed in camp and not taken the hike because of fear of injury.  I was injured, but that did not take away from what I saw that day.  The injury healed and the memory of the grandeur was a wonderful reward for conquering the fear.

So leave the fear behind of giving Him it all.  Live life to the fullest in His care.  His plan may not be my plan--but it is always the best plan.  Cast your fears upon Him and live life abundantly--to the fullest--in His presence.

“He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

TAKE THE PLUNGE

Easter was absolutely fabulous this year!  Having just returned from a quick Birthday/Easter celebration, I am still filled with the warmth of a wonderful weekend.  #3 Grand celebrated his 10th birthday on Easter Sunday-those double digits are an important milestone in our trek through this life.

The reoccurring theme for Easter Sunday seemed to be "Water".




We attended the early service to begin our Easter celebration.  There were six baptisms during this service and twelve more to come in the next two services.  The six baptisms we were blessed to witness ranged in age from teens to old as me (Think of the age of dirt).  Each person gave a short testimony of why they were seeking baptism.  The stories varied as we are all different, but each story was beautiful in its own way.  One of the ladies came up from the less than warm water with a gasp.  Most of us are not fans of cold water.

We then headed West to the other Grandparent's beautiful home for Easter lunch.  The grands and a couple of the braver adults all jumped in the pool~



The water temperature was a brisk 68 degrees.  NO THANK YOU!  It is always interesting to see how different personalities approach getting their feet wet when daring the frigid water.  The little princess eases in from the steps.  The adults and big boys take the plunge by diving in.  A quick submersion, which brings them surfacing with a gasp.  Both adults agreed it took your breath away.

One of the testimonies we heard Sunday morning involved taking the plunge to complete commitment to God.  I believe her words were "Giving it all to God."  Exactly what I have been asking myself for a few months now, "Am I holding anything back?"  It is man's propensity to hold on to those areas of our life which we think we need to maintain control.  Frankly it is a little (perhaps a lot) alarming to release total control.  I am a planner from WAY BACK and like to know what is going to happen and how as I trek along the trail.  Those surprises around the bend are not my friend.  WHY I seem to believe I have any real control is beyond me, but I keep a tight grip on a few areas of my life.  That has worked well for me--NOT!

What does it look like and how are we able to give it all to God?  I suspect it closely resembles jumping into the deep end of a cold pool.  It takes your breath away.  Slowly though, everyone who took the plunge became acclimated and settled in to enjoying the water. The initial plunge was heart gripping, but the reward was thrilling.  



7 So give yourselves completely to God.
 Stand against the devil, and the devil will run from you. 
8 Come near to God, and God will come near to you
James 4:7-8



Thursday, April 18, 2019

FROM THE ASHES

The BIG news story of the week has been the fire at the historic Notre Dame Cathedral~




I remember as a child the saw mill in my hometown burning.  As the crow flies it was about a mile from my house~with a forest of trees between.  The entire night sky was glowing orange, and the smell of smoke drifted through the woods for days.  Entire trees and the remnants of other trees were burned that night--along with mountains of sawdust.  The heat was so intense, the firefighters had a difficult time getting near the mill.  I can only imagine the same scenerio--but MUCH larger in the middle of a city.  Fire is a destructive force like no other found in nature.



The ashes had barely cooled before the city was vowing to reconstruct the iconic land mark to man's need for God.  Hundred of millions of Euros have been pledged to rebuild this centuries old House of God.  How telling to see that man quickly runs to the aid of rebuilding this historic House of Worship.  I began to wonder where does this quick response originate from.  Does man feel a need to recreate the tourist mecca of one of the continent's most important cities or is man seeking to honor God by the rebuilding of His House?

My first thought after seeing the report of the fire was God is not there.  It would seem there has been a wholesale turning from God around the world.  I was wrong--God is omnipresent--eternally.  God is with us.  We may turn our backs to Him, but He is still ever present.  God is there and here and everywhere~God's presence permeates the darkest night.  Nothing can keep Him away--fire, flood, earthquake---any disaster- God is ever present.

Good for the French for rebuilding this historic monument.  God can use whatever the reason for His good and glory.   Many have and will continue to visit to see the ancient treasures, the amazing art, the astounding architecture~the relics from the past.  All who enter those hallowed doors will be amazed by what they see. AND you will still feel the presence of The Almighty--the quiet reverence will still swirl around you like a cloud of incense, you will be still and KNOW there is a God.

From the ashes--comes beauty.  How telling this Holy Week.  Did God allow this to happen at this particular time was a poignant reminder of the beauty which rose from the ugliness of death, this very week?  I choose to believe He is at work---He is calling us back---He wants to raise us from the ashes of the mess we have made of our lives.  He wants to rebuild the beauty He originally intended.  From the ashes~~~can come great beauty and new life.

So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer
 and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.
Daniel 9:3

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

WHEN I STOP TO THINK

Am I the only one who has a friend who seems determined to keep me humble?  No matter what the circumstance, just as I begin to think PERHAPS this is all working out okay and I am not really so bad after all--


they sneak up behind me or come in swinging  from the side and the next thing I know--GOT YOU!  Some disparaging remark hits me blindsided.  The ZINGER leaves me shaking my head and wondering, "Did they just REALLY say that?"  I am left rolling the remark around in the gray matter for days to come.  WHAT did I do to deserve that???

How about just when you those around you seem to think you have your act together and all is right with the world.  Perhaps some recognition has come your way, but at a minimum you can enter a room filled with people and goodwill flows all around you. You love the world and the world seems to love you.  WHAM--something occurs--perhaps even out of your control--and the tide turns.  Now when you enter the room, eyes turn away, and perhaps vicious gossip swirls all around.  The crowd has turned from adoration to a mob bent upon vicious attacks.  Can anything be more painful than rejection by those you thought loved you~or at the least tolerated you.  Life can change in a second--one day respect and the next condemnation.

As I have contemplated Holy Week and all it held, it has rung true that Jesus experienced this very thing.  A triumphant parade celebrating the Messiah~who had come to save ~began this week.  It begins to escalate with the pharisees stirring the pot, determined to get rid of the threat to their good business.  One day a parade and another a banquet and the next a call for crucifixion.  Rejection by the very crowd who cheered his entry into the city destined to be the place he dies.  The world turned from praise to scorn with the final complete betrayal in one short week.  How must He have felt to know He had been abandoned, scorned,  betrayed, and headed for great pain and ultimate death--through no fault of His own?  

I pray you stop this week and contemplate all that happened in one short week and the ultimate victory for us all that came from it.  When I stop to think of all Jesus did for me that I might live eternally, it absolutely is beyond my comprehension.  What a GREAT Savior we worship!  Thank You, Jesus!

And many spread their cloaks on the road,
and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.
And those who went before and those who followed were shouting,
"Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!
Hosanna in the highest!"

Sunday, April 14, 2019

OH PRAISE THE NAME

THE FINAL TRIUMPHANT

ARRIVAL

HERALDED PRAISE

FOR ALL ETERNITY



BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Friday, April 12, 2019

GET YOUR STUFF ON



I have decided to try a yoga class--chair yoga (whatever that is).  At this point, any and all stretching is needed.  My tendons and ligaments are beginning to feel as tight as an old rooster~too tough to even put in the cook pot.  I still have the desire to strut around, but the strut has turned into a stumble.  A good friend, who is in the class, told me to bring my own yoga mat.  Why, OF COURSE, I have my own yoga mat!  The only problem was locating said mat and wiping the dust off once I did.


Over the years I have had more exercise equipment than a well supplied gym.  Most of it I have given away after I grew bored or maybe gave up.  Fads come and fads go.  I have owned a couple of bicycles and all the stuff that goes with them.  I still have a drawer full of biking clothes, a pump, a lock, and a repair kit.  For what purpose I kept those fragments from the past, I have no idea.  I have had boxing gloves and pads, all kinds of jump ropes, weights, straps, balls, treadmill, ski machine, leotards (for my one failed class in ballet), tapes, and videos to name a few.



I would never dare attend a class unless I had on "the outfit".  Recently my exercise buds told me I had a bicycling coat on when we were walking and I could not do that.  I told them to call the Bike Police and arrest me.  My trainer told me I should get a special kind of shoes to do my squats in for maximum results.  I AM NOT buying another pair of $150 shoes in which to do squats!  Why even hiking requires the right kind of hiking uniform and equipment.  One hiking buddy recently told me she had purchased ANOTHER backpack~I believe she told me this is her fourth or fifth.  Various sizes and designs~it pays to be prepared.  Of course we need hiking poles, hiking shoes (walking shoes will not do), water bottles, hats, netting (flies can be horrendous), and on and on.  Walk through even a Wal Mart and look at all the equipment available for purchase to take a few miles walk through the woods.  Why REI has an entire section of said equipment--rows upon rows.


One must always have the correct equipment and clothing before embarking on any exercise regime.  We would not DARE step into the gym in our PJ's or, heaven help us, our blue jeans.  I was actually at the gym when a blue jean wearing macho man was told to change or leave.  The right equipment is essential for the war against time and atrophy with Mother Nature.  The BIG SECRET the trainers and gurus do not tell you is, "SHE WINS IN THE LONG HAUL!"



There is a war going on--right now--all around us.  The enemy is seeking to kill, steal, and destroy every moment of every day.  WHY THEN, would we walk out the door without the benefit of our armor?  God has provided the tools and all we have to do is put them on at the beginning of everyday.  It is well worth the effort.  We all know who wins the war, but why suffer temporary defeats when victory can be ours with the tools He provides?  Why spend a moment in defeat, with God as our Commander and Chief?  Dust off the equipment and strap it on-Victory is yours~with God's help.


Put on the whole armor of God,
that you may be able to stand
against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11