Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Dividing Line


The Dividing Line

The photo above is taken at a cool place.  It's a spot on the map where four states intersect with each other.  It's called Four Corners and it's on an Indian reservation.  The four states are Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.  In this picture taken in 2009, I'm managing to be in four states at one time -- talk about multi-tasking! 

I thought of this picture when I was doing a lesson in my Bible study, "All Things New," by Kelly Minter, and she made a statement that struck me as being very relevant.  She wrote, "I can think of a few dividing lines in my life, experiences that marked a before and after.  Some were amazing; others painful." 

The point for this post is that each state has a dividing line from the other state.  Except in situations that produce a cute photo opt, we are on one side of a dividing line or the other side.  The dividing line we're talking about here is the "before and after" line that pops up in our lives on a regular basis and marks our life's calendar with both gladness and sadness.

One of our family's dividing lines happened three months ago today when My brother and sister-in-law went up to heaven.  The tragic events surrounding their home-going were traumatic, producing a stark before and after.  As my sister Ava said, our lives will never be the same.  In truth, there are many dividing lines in our lives that cause a complete shift in our paths, though few as horrific as our most recent shift. 

Consider various dividing lines in life.  Marriage takes us from being single before, to being a couple hoping for a happily ever after.  The birth of a child presents a big dividing line -- such as before I was able to sleep -- after ... not so much.  These are some of the good before and after events that dot our lives.  As Kelly Minter pointed out, "Some are amazing; others painful."

When my husband Larry lost vision in one of his eyes, one day before he could see and the next day marked an after when his vision in that eye was no more.  We had a similar feeling when my 91-year old mother fell and broke her hip.  The remainder of her two years of life were marked by before and after that event.

Getting back to the Bible lesson - Kelly continued by writing, "All of us living today are on the backside of history's most epic event: Christ's death and resurrection...this historic dividing line can do nothing but change our thinking."  Various times I've considered how glad I am that I was born after Christ's death and not before.  For one thing, we are so blessed to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us - something the early believers usually did not have.  And, we can know our Redeemer personally.

Dividing lines in life can be turning points in our lives that cause us to look at life more carefully.  It can be a time as scripture would say, "to examine ourselves" - to check the direction our lives have been heading.  Dividing lines can be life-changers for better or worse.  I think we all know that "better" is not only better, but best.

From our earthly view, some dividing lines can be so painful.  We know from scripture how the disciples felt on the day Jesus was crucified on the cross.  They were devastated and from their earthly view, life as they knew it was over.  Ironically, life as they knew it was indeed over - but for the best.  That painful death and later resurrection was, from heaven's view, the triumph of eternity because, at last, sin's debt had been paid once for all and the promise made in the garden had been fulfilled. 

From heaven's view, the eternal before and after is this:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Trust in the Lord


TRUST IN THE LORD

Trust seems to be the theme of the day for me -- one that is all-important to each of us.  Looking at yesterday's Jesus Calling, God reminded me to "Take a deep breath and dive into the depths of absolute trust in Me. Underneath are the everlasting arms!"  Such reminders refresh my soul!  The photo above was taken when we visited Vor Frue Kirke (Our Lady Church) in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May.  I love the way the sculptor portrayed Jesus with open arms of welcome to all who will accept Him.

As I thumbed through Psalms, I came upon one of my favorite verses, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God" 20:7.  I always smile when I read that wonderful truth.  We serve such a mighty God -- with might and power and omnipotence beyond anything we can ever understand.  How marvelous!

Then, as I drove back from the post office this morning, listening to a delightful CD my daughter Sara burned for me, I heard the song by Lauren Daigle, "Trust in You."  Oh, my, those words spoke to my heart and, of course, I cried.  I also lifted my hand in praise (the other hand kept firm control of the car) and thanked God for always meeting me where I am.  Here are some of the lyrics of a wonderful truth:

When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There's not a day ahead You have not seen
So let all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less


You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There's not a place where I'll go
You've not already stood.


Trusting when we cannot see or understand - that's what God wants of us.  It's not easy, but that's where the peace and power and purpose begins.  Let's pray that God will help us to trust Him fully.  My favorite verse is found in Proverbs:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path" 3:5-6.

 
  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

If The Shoe Fits...

If The Shoe Fits...

   There's an old saying, "If the shoe fits -- wear it."  As you can see, these shoes were not about to fit my size 7 foot.  Granted, they weren't made to fit anyone's foot, but I kinda think that's the point of the whole message.  There are some "shoes" in life that we as women try our hardest to fill, but its just not gonna happen.  Just like Cinderella's two wicked step-sisters trying to cram their big feet into that dainty glass slipper, some shoes will never fit.

    The key to avoiding pinched toes and walking comfortably through life with a spring to your step, is to find the correct size shoe that God created for your very unique feet.  These giant shoes I'm playing around with in the photo sit in front of a shoe store in the charming town of Rostock, Germany -- and I'm pretty sure they're not going anywhere. 

    I'm sure you've guessed this message goes beyond finding a correctly-fitting shoe.  Sometimes in life, we try to wear a shoe that is way too big for our feet.  In other words, we try to do too much, perhaps thinking some part of Wonder Woman or Supergirl is in our job description.  Have you ever tried to wear shoes that are too big?  It's a strain trying to keep them on your feet, and sometimes they cause you to trip.  Taking on too many responsibilities and trying to do too much can be downright exhausting -- and, it's been known to trip us up as well.

   God tells us that He has plans for us (Jeremiah 29) - plans that fit like a well-crafted shoe.  One of the things we are told to put on our feet is the "gospel of peace" (Ephesians 6:15) -- now that's a lovely shoe I'd like to put on every day.  If we walk in the light as He is in the light, His peace will spread over us, and the shoes of peace and purpose will fit just as He intended them to fit.

     I've always been a person who likes shoes and I have a 17-month old granddaughter who is following in my footsteps (literally - she tries to put on my shoes!).  My big shoe doesn't fit her anymore than her cute tiny shoe fits me.  In the same way, my responsibilities and purposes don't fit her anymore than the paces she's going through in life -- learning to talk and stop climbing on everything -- fit me.  I can talk, let me tell you!  And, climbing on tables is just not my thing anymore. 

     Find out what shoe God wants you to wear in life and that life will fit you so much better than trying to force your foot into a shoe -- or a life -- that is too big or too small.  "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands" Psalm 138:8.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Glimpses of Europe

Glimpses of Europe

That last post was a bit deep, so here's one offering some glimpses of lovely Europe.  We enjoyed our recent journey to some neat countries.  You can experience some of our travels without any aching feet (which I had on most days).  In the pic above, Larry and I are standing before the large, handsome Royal Palace in Brussels Belgium.  A pretty, green park spreads out in front of it on the other side of the street.  And no, we were not invited inside -- an oversight, I'm quite sure.

The Town Square in beautiful Brugge, Belgium
 
Canals, canals and more canals in Amsterdam, Netherlands
 
In Amsterdam, we boarded the Holland America Koningsdam for a 14-night cruise
 
I was excited to see this famous view of Copenhagen, Denmark called Nyhaven
 
I daresay there is not a single TJMaxx in America that is located in a building as pretty and historic as this one in Rostock, Germany.
 
Not the greatest picture of us, but the wonderful medieval town of Tallinn Estonia is like a beautiful fairy tale village.
 
It was hard to choose which picture to use from St. Petersburg, Russia, but I just loved this Church of the Spilt Blood.  The interior is literally covered in mosaics primarily depicting the life of Christ.  It's a really beautiful church.
 
It was a lovely day in Helsinki, Finland, and we saw beautiful spring flowers along the way.
 
My favorite thing about Stockholm, Sweden was the narrow European streets that I love. It was our one rainy day on the whole cruise.
 
It was a beautiful sunny day in Kiel, Germany.  Here's a view of their Town Hall across a lake.
 
Aarhus, Denmark was our last stop on the cruise.  It is a lovely medieval town and it was a pretty day.  Here is a view down a lane with colorful old houses.  It was so picturesque.
 
We are thankful for our grand journey and as always, so thankful to be home. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Struggles Against Satan

Struggles Against Satan
 
The golden statue above stands in St. Michel Cathedral (ca 1400s) in Brussels, Belgium.  It well depicts this verse in Revelation:
  "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world..." Revelation 12:7-9.

We have visited many cathedrals and significant buildings around the world, and I have been struck by how many of these places feature a statue or painting of the angel Michael defeating a dragon or depiction of Satan who is also referred to as a dragon.

The carving above is on the Town Hall (ca 1454) in Brussels.  The front and sides of the building are filled with beautifully carved statues of all kinds.  I especially liked this one of the angel Michael -
   "But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you” Judges 1:9

This wicked looking carving is a depiction of the ugly devil under the foot of the angel Michael (below).  It's in the Church of St. Catherine in Brussels.  I rotated the picture upward so that we could more fully see the evil expression on the ancient enemy's face.  Such things help remind us:  "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground..." Ephesians 6:12-13.

Although we must always "be aware" of the evil one and his demons that are so active in our world today, we should also "beware" of falling for their subtle schemes to pull us from walking in the light.  We also need to take great encouragement, hope and strength from the fact that "Greater is He that is in us (as Christians) than he that is in the world."  The Lord will help us in our daily fight - and He will ultimately win the war when His time is right.
 
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" James 4:7.
 
"For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone" Psalm 91:11-12.
 
Praise God, HE is in control - and He loves us SO much!
 



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Signs

SIGNS
When we were in St. Petersburg, Russia, recently, we saw this sign as we walked along the sidewalk.  Although we couldn't possibly understand the written words on the sign, we immediately recognized the golden arches pictured above.  Everyone knows that the golden arches means hamburgers and French fries, etc. at McDonalds.

I started thinking, what are some other well-known signs that cause us to immediately know what is being referred to and offered - and how often do we know just what we're getting when we "make use" of what is being offered by that sign (i.e. go inside and purchase a hamburger)?


This was an interesting sign displayed at the entrance of a beautiful cathedral on our tour.  The sign's message appears so random.  Like - why single out chewing-gum and ice-cream as forbidden within the cathedral?  Does that mean that a soda and hamburger might be allowed?  I should think a sign saying, "no food or drink," as we see here in our country would be much more all-encompassing and preferable.  As we've often commented, they do things differently in foreign countries - hence, the term "foreign," at least to our way of doing things.

Then we have the road signs.  Oh, my!  If I had to depend on reading and following this road sign to get to my destination, I would be lost!  Why, they don't even use the same alphabet as we do!  Not to mention, what do those numbers mean??  Thankfully, we were riding in a van with a driver who knew the roads and knew just the right direction we needed to go to get us safely - not only to our ultimate destination (our home on the ship) -- but also to various meaningful stops along the way. 
 
 I'm sure you've begun seeing the spiritual messages behind these signs.
 
Because we are so familiar with McDonald's menu (having eaten there way too much!), we know exactly what the golden arches signifies and what it means to us personally.  When I see a representation of the cross of Christ, such as the one pictured below in a church in Brussels Belguim, I know just what it signifies and what it means to me personally -- no written words needed.  This particular one with the white drape represents our risen Lord who died on that dreadful, yet beloved cross to offer each of us free salvation from the wages of sin.  The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  For me personally, it means that I'm redeemed and have a guaranteed spot in heaven when the need for it arises.  Praise God!

 You'll have to come up with your own spiritual message for the second picture -- I just think it's humorous, but the third photo about finding the right direction, now that's one we can understand.  If we had to depend on following the world's directions to a safe final destination, we would totally be lost!  The world's idea of finding redemption and heaven is as indecipherable (translate: "makes no sense") as that Russian road sign.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the light.  No man comes to the Father, but by Him.  Letting God "drive our van" (translate:  lead our life) is the best way to reach our final destination safely - and to make those various meaningful stops along the way better -- much, much better.  God promises His children, "Lo, I am with you always - even unto the ends of the earth."  I smile, thinking, that's the kind of driver I want maneuvering me through the pitfalls and rocky roads of this life.

When I can't understand what's written on those signs before my sometimes tear-filled eyes, He knows what every letter and punctuation mark means and He will get me through the obstacle course of life, eventually delivering me safely to my ultimate destination -- heaven.
 
 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Anniversary

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
28 years ago, my baby brother Clark (he's 10 years younger than me) and Sally were married.  Doesn't he look handsome and doesn't she look beautiful!!  Every year for their anniversary, they'd go to Colonial Williamsburg for a weekend getaway and enjoy the lovely spring flowers.  Below is a picture from their last anniversary trip to the colonial capitol.


This year, Sally and Clark are celebrating in heaven - enjoying the beauties of that wonderful place.  Two weeks ago on Palm Sunday, they were taken from us.  While we greatly (greatly!) mourn their loss, it is a comfort to think of them smiling and happy in the heavens above.  That is surely our great comfort as Christians.  As scripture tells us, "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord."  I also love the verse in 1 Corinthians that says, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" 2:9.

At such times, God's promises and loving grace are surely what get us through it all.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Capitol Collectors

CAPITOL COLLECTORS
    While visiting a state capitol a couple years ago, our guide told us that my husband Larry and I are considered "Capitol Collectors," because we like to visit state capitols.  We both liked that label, so we've adopted it and continue to add capitols to our collection.  To date, we've visited 31 of the 50 state capitols in our good ole US of A.  And yes, they are all different.  Last month, after a Caribbean cruise, we took a road trip and visited #29, #30, and #31.

   The capitol above is in Tallahassee, Florida.  As many times as we've visited Florida (many!), we'd never gone into the panhandle.  We were surprised how "unpopulated" it is compared to the rest of Florida, complete with large areas of pretty much nothing but trees and a few mobile homes.  Even the capitol city is smallish and surrounded by trees, trees and more trees.
   The historic capitol, circa 1845, is quite handsome and is a grand museum.  Note the red and white awnings on the windows.  That is quite unique.  Just behind it, you can see the 22-story newer capitol building peeking up.  A visit to the top floor offers grand views of the surrounding countryside, as well as the city near the capitol.
     Our next stop was Montgomery, Alabama.  Surprisingly, this was our first ever visit to Alabama.  The capitol (ca 1851) is very nice and we enjoyed a guided tour, which turned out to be private since on one else showed up on a Saturday morning.  This was the capitol where Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the United Confederates States back in 1861.  There's a star on the porch to mark the spot and his statue is right out front.  It was that nation's capitol for about six months before it was moved to Richmond, Virginia.  There's a lot of history in this place.  It was especially lovely to visit a capitol city on a Saturday when there was no traffic and we had our choice of free parking places.  Ahh...if only it was always that simple (:
 
   Contrast no traffic in Montgomery, with the Monday morning traffic in Atlanta, Georgia, and it is total opposite ends of the spectrum!  There were at least eight lanes of traffic pouring into the city - and parking was rather pricey as well.  Nonetheless, we found a good spot and it was not as difficult as we'd feared.  We had a nice visit to this handsome, gold-domed building.
    The capitol of Georgia was built in 1889.  The place was hopping during our visit since they were in session.  We were able to sit in for a while in both the House and the Senate and observe how they conduct themselves.  It was most interesting!  We actually watched the Senate pass about half a dozen bills in a short period of time.  It CAN be done!
    
    Well, these are the latest additions to our capitol collection.  Wonder which capitol will be on the list next?  Only God knows the answer to that question.  We'll look forward to seeing what He has in store for us.  God bless your day!
 


Saturday, February 11, 2017

How We Handle Things

How We Handle Things

I love this picture of my one-year old granddaughter gazing up at the tall character of Wolverine.  She looks unafraid, in spite of his rather scary appearance and long, sharp claws.  Then, just days later, she was in the presence of beautiful, sweet Snow White and she displayed an entirely different response to this gentle lady --

Go figure!
 
    The interesting thing about these expressions (besides that the baby is SO CUTE!), is how they reflect our own responses to life situations.  Often times, when we have to deal with serious difficulties - things that can look big and scary -- we handle them.  We don't let the sharp claws of the situation intimidate us, we just jump right in and stare the thing down.  We might even be surprised at how strong we were and how well God got us through it.
    Then, even a few days later, we might be faced with a simple thing that could be described as "gentle" in comparison - and, we fall apart.  We crawl away crying and end up wondering, "What just happened??"
 
It reminds me of Elijah when he stood on Mount Carmel, facing hundreds of the enemy, and fearlessly taunted them in the name of the Lord.  How he set up an impossible sacrifice and then called upon God, who responded with fire from heaven.  Elijah saw a mighty victory that day (1 Kings 18).  Yet, by that evening, he had run away, sat down under a tree, and prayed to die because he felt so despondent.  We shake our heads in wonder - how could Elijah become so discouraged, so fast?
 
Look at my granddaughter's expression in each picture and you get a clue of how quickly responses and emotions can change.  In that moment when she crawled away crying, her mother gathered her up in her arms and comforted her.  She assured her that she is safe and loved, and her needs would be met.
 
How precious our heavenly Father is to do the same with us.  When Elijah was despondent, God sent an angel with food for him and then blessed him with a good sleep.  He did that twice, because Elijah was exhausted.  The angel said, "Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you."  Too great for Elijah, but not for God.  God is able and God is love.
 
Thank you God, for gathering us in your loving arms and caring for our every need!



Friday, February 3, 2017

Bobbing at Sea

Bobbing at Sea

My favorite devotional book is "Jesus Calling," by Sarah Young.  As I read the February 1st page, I was nodding my head, "yes, so true!"  It starts with the truth:  "Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world."

I wrote in my journal:  "I am touched as I read this precious reminder of God's gracious faithfulness.  I feel like a cork bobbing on the sea.  My life is good - far less complicated than most - and yet - I feel adrift in this moment."

Then, I began pondering my feelings in the face of my "good" life.  The thing is, so many needs of others swirl around me, it gets overwhelming.  The weight of things going on and the needs of others around me can be stifling.  Then I thanked God for His rich blessings toward me and prayed for Him to help me to live in the light of His loving presence - to stop looking around me and instead, look up to Him.

Amazing how a simple prayer and a difference in viewpoint can change the emotions so fully.  When I looked up, He helped me to glimpse the world around me from heaven's view.  Ah!  Now, that is the perspective that I need to keep in front of me.  Putting things into perspective (i.e. from heaven's view) in the era of craziness we live in will help keep us sane.  I felt peace seep into my entire body and a smile slipped across my lips unbidden.  My bobbing cork was stilled by the Master's hand and it feels so good!  I know He is in control of all that is happening around me, and I can rest in His loving grace to handle it all.

I wanted to share these thoughts with you today, because chances are, some of you may be experiencing some of these same feelings.  "Jesus loves me (and you), this I know!"

--Photo:  I snapped this photo of chunks of ice floating in Glacier Bay, Alaska.  They remind me of that cork I spoke of bobbing in the sea.