I’ve read where people have climbed a mountain alone. I can’t begin to imagine how scary that would be. If you need help, where do you turn? Is it really that big of a deal to tackle a mountain alone?
Just like life – we need people. We need God.
The mountain I’ve been climbing has become a little bit easier – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the wisdom I recently received from a message at church.
God works that way, you know. Sometimes when you least expect it, you hear a message that makes you realize that God is listening. He knows the struggle, and He’s with us – every step we take.
Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
I’m so thankful for that reminder. Perhaps you needed it, too.
I started 2019 with a bang! No, I didn’t go mountain climbing. I had to get a filling and a new crown. I mean, it just doesn’t get more exciting than that.
Last year wasn’t a fun year for me. I had to go to the ER TWO times. I had to go to TWO specialists – a Cardiologist and a Hematologist. Found out my platelet count was double and my cholesterol was too high. Had to have blood drawn TWO many times. Although I don’t have anything life-threatening, it all put me on the struggle bus. Have you taken a ride on it? It’s not exactly a fun ride.
I wasn’t going to write about this, but I have felt a nudge after seeing what Toby Mac had to say about sharing our struggles…
So, here I am – telling you about my journey. Here’s where things start to change.
I was stopped in the turn lane the other day when I heard loud music coming from the car that was stopped next to me.
A young gal was singing every word to the song with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wondered if she was happy because she was on her way to see a friend or maybe because it was Friday. Who knows. All I know is that I want to feel that happy again – at least for five minutes.
The weight of the world can certainly keep you from enjoying life, can’t it? Sometimes you don’t even realize that a weight needs to be lifted until you see a young girl singing a song….
Our life has been up and down like a rollercoaster the last 3 years, and now it has my head spinning in circles.
What. A. Ride.
We’ve lived in Florida for three years. While most people our age choose to come down here to retire or stay during the winter months, we moved south because of a job.
We’ve been blessed to meet many wonderful people since we’ve lived here. Some, we only met maybe once because we served together at a nursing home, helped supply water for a homeless shelter, helped clean hundreds of buckets for a Thanksgiving dinner outreach, or briefly chatted while meeting for the first time when we were walking in the area. Others have become life-long friends.
Soooooo….My husband recently found out that his job (along with many others) is being eliminated in March. The corporate world is so ……. COLD. Even though they try to convey that everyone is valuable to the company – their actions speak louder than words. Let’s be real. It’s all about the money – that’s what’s valued.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been so unsettled since we’ve been down here. Even though there were many things that were good and many things we were thankful for – like the fact my husband had a good job, we had a roof over our head, we had food on our table, and we’ve been surrounded by some wonderful people – I still felt out of place. We both did.
We live near the beach, almost always have beautiful weather, and we get to see Florida’s tropical beauty – every. single. day. Still, something important was missing.
At this point, we don’t know where we are going to live or what we’re going to do for an income, don’t know anything about the future – yet I now experience such a peace like none other. We both do. I don’t even know how to explain it!
Maybe it’s because we’re heading back to a place where we lived more than 55 years. Maybe it’s because the pieces to our puzzle are falling into place with a possibility of being back in the ministry. Maybe it’s because this is SO much bigger than us, we know it will take our maker to work out all the details.
Looking from the outside, you probably think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe a little, but the truth is – I AM trusting God. There’s no doubt he’s cutting the ties for us here and has allowed us to be in a position where we need to totally rely on Him for answers. When you know who’s in charge of your journey, it sure does bring comfort and a calm in the middle of a storm of uncertainty.
“It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
Thank you, Lord, for never leaving my side. Please forgive me when I doubt your faithfulness and goodness….for you are good. All the time.
Once again, I heard a story about a family that doesn’t talk to one another any more. They don’t get together for birthdays, holidays, or any other day. Sisters, brothers, and parents live near one another, but apparently have chosen not to speak.
Whether the door was closed on you, or you severed the ties with someone, you could add so much more insight to this story. Both sides would probably point their finger at the other person, but I’m pretty sure both sides would agree that it’s not supposed to be this way.
When my husband and I were married, my mother didn’t come to the wedding. She shut me out of her life weeks before. I was still living at home before my wedding, and the morning that my dad and I were headed for the church – my mom stayed in her room with the door closed.
Silence speaks louder than words.
I wasn’t surprised, but it still hurt like crazy. I made the choice on my wedding day that I wasn’t going to let her absence ruin my day or my life. Thirty four years later, I can honestly say that it didn’t.
Ohhhhhh, there were times over the next few years when I felt the hurt. Like all those times I attended a wedding after mine and watched the mother of the bride hug her daughter and shed tears of happiness for her daughter, or when I went to someone’s baby shower and caught a glimpse of what a mother/daughter relationship should be like. Yes, I felt the sting.
Relationships are important. They’re never perfect, but the good and the bad helps us become a better person if we allow it.
There’s another type of relationship that I want to talk about and how you handle it is of eternal value. It’s with Jesus.
You do know that He loves you, right? Have you talked to Him – ever? I don’t mean through some memorized prayer or that one time you yelled “Oh, God! Help!” I’m talking about sitting down wherever you are and spending time talking to Him like you would a best friend – spilling your guts. Reading His word and getting to know Him. And most importantly, listening.
He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5
Or is He one of your loved ones that you’re shutting out?
When you think about heaven, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe you think about angels, clouds, or streets of gold.
Hopefully, you think about seeing and worshiping God. I mean, He IS the one who created you, pursued you, and has been waiting on you to join Him for eternity.
I’m doing a study about heaven, and the book is called Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven, by David Jeremiah. He explains that how we live life now – how we worship God now, is like a dress rehearsal for how we will worship Him when we see him face-to-face. Think about that for a minute. What is your attitude when you go to church? When you are asked to stand to sing? When you are asked to bow your head to pray? When you are asked to serve or help someone out. Are you thinking about Jesus?
Maybe you don’t like the songs that your church sings, or perhaps you don’t know the words, so instead of worshiping, you find yourself counting down to the last song. Like, H O W long do we have to stand to worship? Surely there’s something written somewhere in the church bylaws that states we shouldn’t have to sing so many songs. (sarcasm)
I don’t know about you, but when I think about my life’s most memorable moments that took my breath away – it makes me realize just how amazing heaven will be.
Falling in love.
That first time I saw and held my newborn. (X 3)
Watching my adult son fall in love.
The moment I heard the words “You’re going to be a grandparent.”
Holding my grand baby the first time.
If you’re a sports fan, maybe you can relate to something that’s filled with hours of anticipation and excitement….
Have you ever had the opportunity to watch your favorite team play and win a game – in person? My first NBA final game I attended is something I will never forget. The place was packed. People (including myself) were standing the minute our team ran out on the court. I think the only time I sat down was at halftime. I could barely hear myself talk to my husband because people were cheering so loud – the whole time! And when they won with a last second shot, it became even louder because the fans didn’t want to leave. They stayed there – chanting the winner’s name: PACERS! (clap, clap) PACERS! (clap, clap) PACERS!
Friends, I believe that’s a little taste of what it’s going to be like when we get to heaven! We won’t care what kind of music is playing or what songs we will be singing. We won’t care how long we are going to stand. We will be in such awe of His presence as we shout out His name – and worship.
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ”Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was la rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.
And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
”Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”
9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”
We are here to love others. How are you doing that today?
I recently met a very sweet woman who lives in a nursing home. I really don’t know a lot about her other than the few things she shared with me when I visited with her. I was careful not to ask a lot of questions about her family in case they don’t stay in touch. The last thing I wanted to do was make her feel sad.
She sat in her wheelchair at the table with her arms crossed and her eyes closed. When we asked her if she wanted to make a craft, she declined. When someone brought the Bingo cards over to see if anyone wanted to play, she declined again.
I soon found out why – she was blind.
I pulled up a chair and sat between her and another gentleman. We had the most pleasant conversation. She was reserved at first, but she soon opened up. I could tell she had a very tender heart. I asked where she grew up, and she asked me the same. We talked about her long hair and I told her how beautiful it was, and it was. We talked a little about our siblings and if we were the youngest or the oldest. I found out that she loves spaghetti – especially the sauce.
She heard the Bingo balls rolling around as the caller mixed them up and asked what was making that noise. When I explained the game and why it was fun, it dawned on me that I should ask her if she would be my Bingo partner. She smiled and wanted to play.
The Bingo cards and markers were extra-large – making it easy for the older ones to see and handle. I handed my new friend one of the chips so that she could feel what I was placing on the card. I told her they looked like a piece of pepperoni. I guess that wasn’t a good idea because within minutes she was placing it into her mouth! I tried to stay calm while explaining that it wasn’t something to eat. She insisted there was something inside of it. I told her that I wished there was something good on the inside – like chocolate, but there wasn’t.
I thought she understood, but I caught her hiding it under her clothing – just like a child would do to save for later. I finally convinced her to hand it over so that I could use it on a number that was just called. She smiled and even laughed. Maybe she was picturing my expression when she put it in her mouth – I don’t know.
Our time was up and it was time for me to go. As I guided her wheelchair into the hallway, I heard her say, “It makes me sad that I’m blind.”
She really caught me off guard, but God gave me these words, “But you have something that so many other people don’t have – you have a very kind and loving heart.” She asked me how I knew that, and I told her that it was obvious after spending time with her that morning. She thanked me.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:12-13
“THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN BEING BLIND IS HAVING SIGHT WITH NO VISION.” ~ HELEN KELLER
Fall. Some people love it, while others dread it. I guess it depends on where you live.
It was always one of my favorite seasons when I lived in Indiana. Humidity was gone. Leaves were stunning. The change in weather (cooler temps) meant you could wear different clothes, and enjoy different activities. Even your menu changed! Although it was a reminder that summer was officially over and winter was next, it also meant that Halloween was around the corner.
Halloween. A day I always looked forward to when I was young. I remember my dad dressing up sometimes as he and my mom walked me from door to door. My parents loved handing out candy and seeing all the costumes. Especially my dad. It was a holiday that didn’t have all the stress that others would sometimes bring to our house.
But everything changed one year.
Several years ago, my mom lost her battle to cancer the day before Halloween. I wasn’t with her, but I’ll never forget it. I wanted to be, but she wouldn’t let me. She shut me out of her life when she knew life was coming to an end. I really thought that was cruel and selfish of her at the time, but now – I guess I understand.
Life is hard, and although I haven’t experienced it yet – I’m certain that living your last days is even harder. I can’t imagine how hard it is to know you’ll never see your loved ones again, at least not here on earth. Knowing that you will be missing out on graduations, weddings, grandchildren, or just being there when someone you love needs you – would break your heart. Maybe it’s too much to bear.
But. What about all the other things that you will get to experience? If you are a believer, you will get to see Jesus. Have you thought about that? You finally get to see your creator, bow before Him, and touch His feet. You’ll get to experience pure love, and be in a place where there’s no sadness, no pain, no bitterness, no worries, no more sleepless nights because of big or bad decisions. And one day, you’ll get to see those people you didn’t want to leave or those who died before you. You’ll be together – forever.
Doesn’t that make it worth believing in Jesus now?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Heaven. The next season – if you believe.
Have you ever been caught off guard and discovered that someone was either hurt, influenced, or inspired by something you did or said? God certainly has a way of revealing lessons in the most subtle way.
I just got back to Florida after spending a few days in Minnesota. I went from 89 degree weather here to the 40’s up north. Let me tell you what – it was like a breath of fresh air!
Loved everything about the cool, crisp air. Thankful I got to experience fall and see the change of color in the leaves. I even got to see Minnesota’s first snowfall when I woke up on Sunday morning. It was like I was sitting inside of a snow globe. Beautiful.
The best part of my visit, however, was spending time with my son and granddaughter.
Let me tell you a little about her.
She is two, energetic, inquisitive, fearless, determined, sweet, loving, and fun. Seeing the world through her eyes – what is important and what is not, and witnessing her excitement over the smallest things was the best. thing. ever.
Like all grandmothers do, I took a lot of pictures. Here’s three of my favorites.
I tried my best to capture special moments, but found that you just can’t take a pic of everything you want to remember.
There were two instances when I so wished I had the moments captured by a picture or video because of how priceless they were. I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget them, though, because…. they were that good. You know, those moments that make you feel so good on the inside.
First moment: I needed to shave my legs. (T.M.I.? Ha.) I pulled up my sweatpants above my knees and propped up my leg onto the bathroom sink. When I shook the shaving cream and gave it the first squirt onto my leg , my granddaughter immediately stopped looking at her coloring book. She stood up and was mesmerized with what was going on. I loved when she said “Whoa!” as I spread the shaving cream to cover the bottom part of my leg. I watched her from the corner of my eye as she looked down at her pants and managed to pull them up above her knees to look like mine. She stood there as if she were waiting in line to get hers done next.
Naturally, I had to put shaving cream on her legs, too. I used a Kleenex as my razor and ‘shaved’ the front of her legs. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her stay so still. She didn’t take her eyes off of her legs until I was done.
Second moment: I had a phone call from a friend. My granddaughter headed for her bedroom when I was on the phone, so I followed her and sat down on a chair. Within minutes she climbed up next to me, holding a play phone up to her ear. What was priceless was her expression and how she would repeat certain words or phrases that she heard me say, like – “Oh my goodness!” or “Uh huh” – then we would both grin.
Here’s the thing…. You never know how your actions or words are going to influence someone else. I wasn’t even trying to get my granddaughter’s attention. I wasn’t planning on teaching her how to shave her legs. I didn’t even think she would be interested! Not that I was bothered, I was just surprised that she was interested in what I was doing – especially when she was holding her favorite coloring/sticker book.
And what about how we speak to others… I mean, what if I had been in a heated discussion with someone on the phone and had said things that I wouldn’t want her to learn or repeat. What if my tone would’ve frightened her or made her sad. Not that I typically use words that shouldn’t be repeated, but what if….
My point is, our actions and words do make a difference. All of them.
What a good reminder that we need to pay close attention to our words, our actions, and our reactions. You never know who might be watching you or listening to the words you speak.
And if you think no one cares how you live your life, or that no one listens to you, think again…
“Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me – in front and in back – and have put your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.” Psalm 139:1-6
“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
There’s nothing better than that moment when you experience the unexpected – the kind that makes you laugh and forget about everything that’s dragging you down.
We were talking to our son, daughter in law, and two-year-old granddaughter yesterday. Can I just say – I love and appreciate modern technology? We live several states away from them, so we are more than thankful that we get to see them often – even though it’s not in person. Can you relate?
We got to watch our grandchild demonstrate her forward rolls, “read” to us as she turned the pages of one of her favorite books, and last – she grabbed a stool from the bathroom – brought it back into her bedroom and climbed on it. She reached for the light switch, and out went the lights.
Icing on the cake was hearing her giggle when we told her we couldn’t see her.
We were cracking up!
With all of the tension in our nation and some within my own personal life – this was more than refreshing. It was a burst of fresh air!
When the lights were back on, she blew us a kiss.
Sweet, kind, honest, truth, true love and innocence still exists in this world. I hope you can experience it, too.
A pinch of God’s love….
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
“if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.” Matthew 17:20
If you have ever experienced a heart attack, or at least had similar symptoms – then you know how scary it feels. I recently made my first visit to the ER in Florida. When my husband walked in after doing a 5 mile run, I told him I needed to go.
The ER: Naturally, they didn’t know a single thing about me. I kept thinking – if we were in Indiana (where I spent 56 years of my life), I wouldn’t have to waste so much time telling them every single surgery I’ve had, what meds I’m taking and what I’m allergic to, what my parents did or didn’t have, my address, or what kind of insurance I have. They would know.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone here was very nice, professional and caring, but I was missing the comfort of not just being a number. Every time I had to repeat what was mentioned above, I was reminded that I was in a place where no one knows me.
There’s something powerful about being known.
Living in Florida has been a challenge. When people ask me if I like it, I pretty much always say the same thing. The view and weather are beautiful. We have met a lot of great people through our church and Mark’s work – for that I am so thankful.
But. That feeling that I had in the ER summed up what I don’t like about living here. I don’t like being so far away from my sons and family. I don’t like being far away from my friends – friendships that took years to build. Those people know my history. They know my mistakes and struggles. They were there when we had a death in our family or when we celebrated special birthdays. Some of them knew my parents. We experienced life together – not miles apart or on social media. It’s not the same.
The good news in all of this?
- I didn’t have a heart attack. They added a medication and referred me to a cardiologist.
- I have a wonderful husband who is very patient with me and understands.
- I have a loving God who does know me – and is walking beside me all the way.
- I have learned the value of reading scripture.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.