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

Here are 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


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.