Friday, August 11, 2017

TIME STANDS STILL

I have read The Noticer and The Noticer Returns, by Andy Andrews, a number of times.  In The Noticer Returns, Jones is speaking, “Time is an odd thing.  Christmas Eve for most adults lasts about as long as most other nights, but for an eight-year-old, on that particular night of the year, time slows to a crawl.” 

A second is a second.  A minute is a minute.  An hour is an hour.  These are all true statements, but they are also not true.  Or, they seem not true.

A MILLION STARS
One night, years ago, Bill and I were in a very small and extremely interesting town - Ennis, Montana.  Would you like to fish for rainbow or brown trout? This is the place.  Want to eat breakfast with the locals?  You will need to arrive early at the drug store or you will not find a seat.  Want to have time stand still?  It can happen here.

We were staying in a place on the outside of town.  It had been a long day, one last sip of water and off to bed.  At about three o’clock, I made a trip to the little room and headed back to bed.  Then I saw them.  STARS!!!  A sky full of stars.  I stepped outside and time stood still.  For a brief moment, I was the only person in the universe and I was surrounded with stars.  They seemed so close I thought I could touch them.  They were so bright.  And quiet.  For a brief moment, time stood still and I was given the gift of wonder.  Time resumed and I woke Bill up, dragged him outside and we stared at heaven. 

BESIDE A HOSPITAL BED
Our daughter has had a number of surgeries.  The family is always given a minute to tell the patient goodbye.  (Never liked that term.  How about tell the patient you will see them when the surgery is over?)  Anyway, every time I have stood beside that bed, time stood still.  I am sure no one else realized it.  Or maybe it was standing still for them too.  But as time stood still, I had time to take a deep breath.  To prepare.  And, in less than what seemed like an eternity, I was able to turn and walk away.  And time resumed.

A GOOD BOOK
Now there is nothing that can make time stand still like a good book.  Others see the hands on the clock move.  Others see the time go from 1 to 2 to 3.  Not me!  While I am helping Jack Reacher solve a mystery (written by Lee Child) or sit at the coffee shop with Father Tim (Jan Karon, Mitford Series) or crashing through Platform 9 3/4 (Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling) or accompanying the crippled woman as she walks toward Jesus (The Bible, Luke 13:10-17), time stands still.  When I close the book, you would think I was on the Millennium Falcon and Hans Solo had the pedal to the metal.  When that book snaps shut, time resumes and somehow I have to catch up with the clock.


Time is an odd thing.  Sometimes a minute lasts an eternity and a lifetime seems so brief.  And sometimes, time stands still.  Time stands still so we can see a million stars.  So we can receive the strength we need.  So our imaginations can travel the world.

Friday, August 04, 2017

A DESPERATE CALL

The other day I read a true story, in the Reader's Digest, about a young girl at her wits end. Up till now she thought she had no reason to live. Addiction is rough to overcome. But in the other room there was a reason to try again.  A reason to succeed.  A child. 

But how?  Then she remembered a slip of paper her mother had given her.  On that paper was the name of a Christian counselor. She took the paper out and looked at it. She folded it up.  She looked at it again. Maybe it was time she called. She dialed. She waited. A man answered the phone. She could tell he had been asleep.

She began to talk.  Telling her story quickly, the man on the other end of the line listened.  Occasionally, he would acknowledge he was still there.  Finally, she slowed down.  Her voice was calmer.  Her breathing was deeper.  It was then she realized she had talked for a very long time.  From 2 AM until 4 AM, she had told a complete stranger her deepest fears, her worst sins, her addiction.  She told about her child and how this time she must succeed.  She must......

Suddenly, she realized this Christian man had not once judged her. Not once had even talked about God.  She asked, "Why have you not said anything about God?"

The man replied, "I need to tell you something but was afraid you would hang up.  Promise you will not hang up."  She agreed.

"I," the man said, "am not a counselor.  You have the wrong number."

They continued talking.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What would you do if you were the wrong number?  What if, at 2 AM, your phone rang and the voice on the other end said, "My mother gave me your number and I need to talk."

Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

Would you listen?  Would you encourage?  Would you patiently wait for the person to finish?  To become calm?

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, 
put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;
Colossians 3:12

Or would you say, "You have the wrong number."  Hang up.  Go back to sleep?

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2


What would you do if you were a wrong number?

Friday, July 28, 2017

HOMES

“While you were gone,” my hubby said when I walked in the door, “I looked at the map and think we should leave July 5, for Prince Edward Island (PEI).”  I replied, “Could we make it the 6th?”

July 6 we left and arrived at PEI July 11.  We had tried to travel to PEI twice before, but each time found us falling short of that goal.  Third time is a charm, because we made it across that eight mile bridge.  Funny.  They do not charge you to go to the island.  They charge you to get off the island. 

We had an amazing time, met some very nice people, heard stories of life on the island and saw these four houses.  Houses which are not houses.  Let me explain.
  

Ever wonder about those abandoned houses?  There they sit.  Empty.  Windows broken out.  Doors missing.  No games being played in the yard.  No supper being prepared in the kitchen.  No grass being mowed.  Much labor and love went into that home.  Yet there it sits.  Quiet.  Useless.  No longer a home.  Just an empty building.

Do you recognize this house?  It is a very famous home.  People come from all over the world to visit.  They want to see the Lake of Shining Waters.  They want to see where a young girl, Anne, leapt onto the pages of a book called Anne of Green Gables.  Many people roam from room to room.  You hear laughter.  There are people sitting in the yard.  But – no cattle are in the barn.  No one sleeps in the beds.  No one eats in the kitchen.  This home is now a tourist destination.

I do believe the man that built a church, two houses, a bar and a very large bottle had way too much time on his hands, absolutely did not know how to sit still or had really lousy cable reception.  For sure, he believed in recycling.  He built “bottle” houses.  10,000 – 20,000 bottles in each building.  They are fun to look at and, since it was an overcast day when we visited, I can only imagine how they look when the sun shines through bottles of red.  And green.  And white.  And brown.  There is only one problem.  Other than being funky, fun to look at and draining tourist’s wallets, they are not houses. You cannot live in them. 

PEI is known for its potatoes, coastline and lighthouses.  It should also be known for its churches.  We crisscrossed the island north to south and west to east and there are churches EVERYWHERE!  This is – are you ready – Saint Mary’s Church.  It was established in 1902 and is breathtaking.  Around the base of the steeple there are sculptures representing the twelve disciples.  The ceiling is a puzzle of wood stained and cut into a thing of beauty.  This is a historic church.  And it is no longer a church.  No church services are held here.  No candles lit.  No voices united in worship through song.  No communion served.  It is now the home of the Indian River Festival and, for a donation, you can walk through the building.

These buildings remind me of some churches.

THE EMPTY CHURCH – This does not mean no one attends.  It means the church no longer has joy.  It means the church no longer has love.  It is just a place to go for an hour on Sunday morning but holds no true celebrations of Worship.

THE TOURIST DESTINATION – This does not mean there are no regular attenders.  It means the church is more show than worship.  It has become a place to be entertained.  It is a place where you put a small admittance fee in the offering plate and then wait to be told the Gospel with lights and sound.

THE BOTTLE CHURCH – Again, many attend the bottle church.  They love the way the light shines through the window.  There is a window designed so the sun shines on the alter, at exactly the instant the prelude begins.  This church is full of joy.  They sing loudly.  They are thrilled to hear the Good News.  There is only one problem.  It is only the good news they hear.  They do not know what to do when the sun is covered with clouds and the altar does not light up on cue.  They are lost when the world is not rosy and good.

THE NO LONGER A CHURCH – The no longer a church has no pews.  It has no worshipers.  There are no hymns sung.  No communion is served. What once stood tall as a beacon to those seeking and searching – What once represented a desire to build a place where believers could unite in their study of God’s Word – What once invited families to celebrate weddings and births and deaths --- Now opens their doors to antique seekers.  And artist.  And a comedy club.  And become a home for humans instead of the House of God.  And sometimes just sits there empty.  With the steeple tilting, the pews falling apart and even the mice have left because there are no more communion crumbs falling to the floor.

What kind of church do you attend?

What kind of church are you?

Drat.  Now I have to answer the question, “What kind of church am I?”


Friday, July 21, 2017

THE STORM

The storm rolled in
The sirens sounded
The TV warned
The sky turned black
The clouds boiled
The wind blew
The trees danced
The rain fell
The thunder rumbled
The lightening raced
The thunder quieted
The rain ended
The trees stood still
The wind became gentle
The clouds parted
The sky cleared
The TV removed the warning
The sirens were quiet
The storm passed

I wrote this a number of years ago but it so fits the last few weeks.  It seems we cannot get a gentle soaker.  No!  We get downpours.  Wind blowing.  Bit of hail mixed in sometimes.  Water running down the street.  Fields flooded.  Banks overflowing.  Yes, we have had a bit of rain.  One day we had over two and a half inches while we were having coffee.  Yes, coffee lasted a bit longer that morning.  No way could we make it to the car without getting soaked. 

This reminds me of another time it rained really hard.  I have used this story a couple of times, here and there, so excuse me if you have heard it.  My mother, sister and I were sitting talking and laughing, after a very nice meal.  We had no idea what time it was until the owner came over and explained it was time to close.  We also had no idea it was raining.  Raining a lot! 

We went outside.  My car was parked at the far side of the lot.  My mother and sister looked at each other.  Then they looked at me and said, “It is your car.”  I was trying to figure out how to get to my car and knew the shoes were going to come off.  Just then a very sweet lady, who was waiting on her husband to pick her up, kindly offered, “When my husband gets here, you just get in and have him take you to your car.”  Not sure which face showed the most surprise.  The man’s face as I jumped into his car or my mother’s face as she realized I never learned the stranger-danger rule or my sister’s as she got the “yup-that-is-Mary” look.  While they stood under the awning, I arrived at my car dry, thanked the very surprised gentleman and picked up my sister and still-in-shock mother.

I love to tell that story.  Makes me smile every time I think about that poor man having a strange women hop into his car.  Makes my heart smile when I think about the woman who provided a way to keep me dry.  Makes my soul laugh when I picture my mother standing there, mouth open, as I rode off in a stranger’s car. 

Rain comes into all our lives.  Storms cause havoc.  Thunder and lightning can make us quiver.  The storms pass.  The sun comes out.

= = = = = = = = = = = =

Sometimes storms come to get our attention.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.     Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.  Jonah 1: verses 4 and 17

Sometimes storms are calmed to show us God’s power.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.  He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.  They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.  Psalm 107:28-30

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.”  So they got into a boat and set out.  As they sailed, he fell asleep.  A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”  He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.  Luke 8:22-24

Sometimes storms happen to get us where we need to be.
(Paul, a prisoner, and others were on a ship that set sail because there was a gentle wind.)  Before very long, a wind of hurricane force, called the Northeaster, swept down from the island.  The ship was caught by the storm and could not head into the wind; so we gave way to it and were driven along.  Acts 27: 14-15

Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.  You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.  So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.  Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” Acts 27:23-25

(The ship struck a sandbar and broke to pieces.  The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners but a centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and stopped them.)  He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land.  The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship.  In this way everyone reached land safely.  Acts 27: part of 43-44

The storm got Jonah’s attention.  The storm being calmed taught the disciples a lesson.  The storm destroyed a ship at just the exact location where Paul was to continue his mission.

Have you had a storm in your life lately?  If so, I pray you had the faith to go through the storm.


Dear LORD, Somedays your children wonder if they can make it through the storms.  I pray you will lift them up and give them strength and courage.  I pray you will take away their fears and do not allow them to get discouraged.  LORD, open their hearts and their souls so they can feel your presence with every breath they take.  Send comfort so they know you are always with them.   Amen and Amen.

Friday, July 14, 2017

TOO OLD WISE.  DO NOT LIVE IN THE PAST.   ALWAYS.

A few weeks back, I wrote about being labeled young or old.  I do believe age is a state of mind, as much as it is the number of birthdays you have celebrated.

I’M TOO OLD WISE FOR THAT

There have been a few changes to my bucket list.  After having a broken wrist, I realize I can break.  After having foot surgery a number of years ago, I realize there are things my feet would rather I not do.   Therefore, I have taken two activities off my bucket list.

Skydiving – Yes, I know President Bush took the plunge way past the age of 70 but I have a feeling there were a whole lot of protections in place to keep him safe.  Pretty much guaranteed no secret service would be in place to catch me if something went wrong.  Skydiving is no longer on my list. 

Zip Line – My mother passed on arthritis in her hands to me, bless her heart.  That means gripping can be a problem.  When I see pictures of smiling people sailing over the tops of trees, they seem to be holding on very tightly.  Zip lining is no longer on my list.  Although, if I didn’t have to climb a gazillion steps to reach the launch area and if I was sure someone at the other end was going to make sure I stopped (both concerns due to previous mentioned foot problems) and if I could actually allow myself be launched off a secure area and flung out into space, I might move this back to my bucket list.

I DO NOT LIVE IN THE PAST

Am I four months shy of 71 or am I two months shy of 19?  (Confused?  Read June 2 blog.)  No matter how you want to figure my years, my heart and mind remain young.  I pray I will always honor the past but live in today.  I hope my mantra will never be:  But we have never done it that way.  NOR  Back when I was a kid.  NOR  I do not need to learn.

Contemporary Christian music – I love the old hymns.  I do.  They have helped build my faith but Christian music did not stop getting written somewhere back in 1872 or 1911 or 1948 or 1969.  Christian artists are still inspiring with their words and music today.  Today’s music will, in the future, be considered traditional.  Christian music can be played on – are you ready for this – guitars, drums and keyboards.  I enjoy Amazing Grace and Even If.  I have a special place in my heart for In the Garden and Hello My Name Is.  My absolute favorite hymn is Here I am Lord and in second place is Flawless.

A New Way – I cannot think of one thing I do that has not changed or evolved over the years.  If I move that pan to this cabinet, it is more convenient.  If I pay bills on line, it is much quicker.  If I learn to use a computer/iPad/internet, I can communicate with the world or develop a website or write a blog or be on Instagram.  Although I still like the feel of a book in my hands and the sound of turning a page, I read many books on my iPad.  Yesterday was great.  It got me to today. 


But I do not live in yesterday.  I hope I never lose the desire to learn and change and evolve.


ALWAYS

Yes - I’M TOO OLD WISE FOR THAT.  Yes – I DO NOT LIVE IN THE PAST.  Yes – parts of my life can only be classified as ALWAYS.


I like to start my day with coffee.  Before coffee, I cannot be held accountable for my actions.


One thing I have never been accused of is being is normal.


Many people, especially hubby, children and grandchildren, are trying to figure out my thought process.  To date no one has even come close.

/ / / / /  \ \ \ \ \

Today’s blog started with an idea and was going pretty good.  But then …..



………… somehow it took a turn and now it is done.  At least the clip art pictures are really cute. 


Have a super fantastic week.
P.S. Maybe there is a point after all.  So often we are absolutely sure we are on the right path.  Our feet, our heart, our mind - all headed in the direction God wants us to go.  Then something happens and we realize we have taken a different road.  Just like this post.  When that happens, stop.  Pray.  Wait.  Listen.  Pray.  Begin your journey again with your feet traveling down the correct path again.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A GREAT CELEBRATION

Red.  White.  Blue.  Noise.  Fireworks.  Hot dogs.  Civic Bands.  Yup!  It is the 4th of July. 

I have great memories of this day.  The town where I grew up celebrated with a midway that rivaled the state fair.  I rode the tilt-a-whirl, the farris wheel, the scrambler and merry-go-round.  If I ran out of money, I knew where to find dad.  He played bingo and I could always go hit him up for a couple more rides.  Mom could be found walking around but she was not the easy touch dad was.  Then the fireworks began.  I loved the fireworks.

I still do!  I love the feeling of the bang when it is loud enough to hammer into my chest.  I love the smell.  I love the designs.  I ohh and ahh as the red turns gold and twirlies (a non-official word) make a sizzle sound.  I hate it when the last one fades.

I love this country!  I believe God blessed this country and hubby and I have been so very fortunate to see the vastness.  From every direction, in every state, along every river, on the top of every mountain and in every valley, I believe God has blessed this country

God was seen in almost every government building as the Ten Commandments were proudly displayed.  Schools posted the Ten Commandments and said the Pledge of Allegiance.  The Cross was displayed on government owned properties.  The manger scene was displayed outside of court houses across the country. 

But now this country is turning its back on God.  The Ten Commandments are being taken down or covered up.  The Pledge is rarely said in schools and when was the last time you heard the Pledge of Allegiance said anywhere?  A Cross is no longer allowed on government owned properties.  And manger scenes are banned from most court house squares.

When did this start?  Why?  What can we do about it?

I do not have the answers.  I searched scriptures and there are so many about Israel walking with God.  Then turning from Him.  Then turning to Him.  Then walking with God.  And repeating the cycle time and time again.  How can our country not learn from these scriptures?  How can this country go from feeling God’s blessings to saying God has no place in our government.  When did God get confined to the inside of the church?

I love this country!   From every direction, in every state, along every river, on the top of every mountain and in every valley, I believe God has blessed this country.  Why are we not blessing God?


Friday, June 30, 2017

SWEET HUBBY

My hubby has always told me he loves me.  The other day he blew me away.  Know what he said? 

I love you constantly.

Wow.  Not I love you this second.  This minute.  This hour. 

Not I love you for making me a pie.  For hemming up my jeans.  For working in the office.

Not I love you because you are the mother of our children.  Because you are a good grandma.  Because you volunteer.

Just plain, “I love you constantly.”

Constantly!

Wow.  Now this is a man who knows how to make me feel loved.  To make me feel special. 

This blog is going to be very short.  The point is brief.

GOD LOVES EACH OF US CONSTANTLY!!

Not for this second.  This minute.  This hour.

Not for doing good.  For memorizing scripture.  For teaching a Sunday School class.

Just plain, “I love you constantly!

Constantly!

I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.
Psalm 52:8b made personal

For God so loved me that he gave his one and only Son, 
and because I believe in him
I shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 made personal

Unfailing.  Ever.  Ever.  CONSTANTLY!

God loves me.  Gave HIS Son.  I believe.  I shall not perish.  Eternal life.  CONSTANTLY AND ETERNALLY!

Please read this out loud: 

GOD LOVES ME CONSTANTLY AND ETERNALLY!  I AM SPECIAL TO GOD!