Faith, family, Uncategorized

Our Unexpected Detour

We had just departed from my older brother’s home in Oregon, after spending a few days visiting him and his wife. It had been a great time, as usual, but we were ready to head for home, and we were only a few hours from our destination.

 
We had borrowed my Mother-in-law’s motor home, an older, open-designed model, with a nice, comfy couch located directly behind the driver’s seat. This is where I sat as we made our way down the highway.

 

 

I brought along some journals, one of which I had been writing in periodically since the beginning of our marriage. As it often goes, there were more entries from the earlier years of our lives than the more recent ones. Included were details about our first-born daughter, Melinda. Memories of her infancy, toddler-hood, and many of her first words and such.

 
I had also started journals for my other children, Michael, who was about 11 at that time, and 1 & 1/2 year old Marty. I thought the long drive would give me a chance to jot down more cherished memories.

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We left LaPine before noon, stopping in a neighboring town to top-off the large gas tank before resuming the long drive home.

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Andy drove, of course, with Marty seated next to him, buckled into his car seat in the front passenger seat. Melinda and Michael were enjoying the ride in the bedroom, which was located at the very rear of the motor home.

 

 
Less than 10 miles from where we had stopped for fuel, as we rounded a curve in the highway, the front tire of the driver’s side blew without warning.

 
I’m thankful for the good driving skills of my husband, for he was able to keep control of the motor home, as he carefully pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder.

 
As we came to a stop, smoke was billowing up from under the driver’s seat, and into the interior of the motor home, quickly becoming thicker and darker. Andy said, “Get out!”

 
I dropped everything, yelled to Melinda and Michael to come on and grabbed my baby out of his car seat while trying to stay calm. Andy struggled for a few seconds to get the latch on the old door to come free, and Melinda said, “Open it, Dad!”

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By the time we all got out the door and began walking away from the motor home, the driver’s side was engulfed in flames. By the time we were a good safe distance away, looking back at the peril from which we had escaped, the entire motor home was an inferno.

 
The thick, black smoke smothered both lanes of the highway, with the fire so intense it literally melted the asphalt beneath it, and ignited the dry brush along the roadway.

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Kind witnesses of our distress stopped to see if we were okay, as the kids and I stood crying and in shock, watching the motor home be reduced to nothing more than the frame it was built on. The only thing that survived the blaze was a pair of cast-iron wall hooks which I had purchased at an antique store. One good Samaritan literally gave Melinda the shoes off her feet.

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We left the motor home with absolutely nothing. The irreplaceable journals, my purse, phones, baby supplies, identification. Nothing. I had packed some of our best blankets on the motor home, including the wedding-ring quilt which I had pieced, crafted, and hand-quilted myself….. It was all gone.

 

After the fire was out and all the legalities were taken care of, a local man who had extinguished the brush fire took us to his home, where he and his wife extended open arms and warm hospitality at what we had just endured. We quickly came to realize that they were fellow Christians, and he was a singing cowboy for Jesus, no less! God-sent is how we would describe them.

 

 
They drove us to a quaint, near-by town, where we waited for friends to come take us home.

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Even though we were all okay and extremely thankful to have come out of the ordeal unscathed, the effort to process what had happened, and the numbness we felt from the traumatic events, was still with us well into the evening. In fact, all the children slept in our bedroom that night. We just needed to be together.

 

 
Sometimes, my mind plays out the other possible outcome. The more I think about it, the more frightened I get, but I remind myself that we were not alone that day.
There was one more passenger with us…Jesus.

Faith, Uncategorized

Adorned In His Righteousness

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10

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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4  (I am not trying to say here that we should not fix our hair, or dress nicely, etc. But I see this scripture saying that our true beauty as human beings is more than what those things may define it as, with the second part of the passage describing from where our beauty should be rooted.)

 

I was attending preschool in the small city where we lived. It was nearly summer, and my class went on a special outing to the city swimming pool.

 

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The city park had a separate, very nice kiddie pool. The large, round pool was a small child’s delight, where one could play and splash with abandon. Evenly spaced around the perimeter of the circular-shaped pool, were small fountains which sprayed water up and into the pool.
Some memories are embedded in our minds because they are marked by strong emotions, so although I was quite young, I have never forgotten this particular day.

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That day, my Mother dressed me in a red, one-piece, very plain swimsuit. I remember clearly like it was yesterday, feeling so terrible in it. Even at preschool age, I apparently had some awareness of fashion, or perhaps it was an early introduction to peer pressure, comparing my attire to that of the other girls. Either way, to that small, shy girl, it was not a good day.

 

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I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and I sat along the shallow edge of the pool that day hanging my head and crying. I didn’t want to play.
I can still see myself sitting there. I would liken it to going to the prom dressed in a plain, hand-me-down, dull, lifeless dress, while all the other girls wore beautiful, sparkly gowns. You would want to find a corner to shrink into.

 

 

That’s what I felt that day. I’m not blaming my Mom. She was a busy mother with limited resources, and I’m sure she dressed me in something we already had, and probably thought it decent and adequate. I can only speculate that my teacher must have spoken to my mother about what took place that day.

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What I can tell you is that my wise Mother put her seamstress skills to work that evening, hand-crafting a new swimsuit for me. The next day, when my preschool class went to the pool, I donned a cute, two-pieced, brightly colored swimsuit!

 

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My countenance changed, and I played and splashed, laughed and dipped along with all the other children! (This too, I remember like it was yesterday.) I was a different child. I didn’t feel like a shy girl that day!

 

 

 

What I wore that second day changed my countenance! It changed how I felt inside.
And what I felt inside, showed on the outside.

 

Oh, you know there is a life-lesson in this story, right!?

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In a secular sense, we change our outward appearance in order to change how we feel on the inside.

 

But God works differently. He begins on the inside of our being, and the inner changes manifest in our outward reflection.

 

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When we no longer keep God confined to the sidelines of our lives, but invite Him to dwell within us, becoming vulnerable and moldable, surrendering our will to His, we are changed from the inside, out.

 

When we allow God to change us on the inside, His righteousness and His goodness begins to manifest in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and we begin to reflect the characteristics of Christ.

 

 

Although His love and abiding presence brings humility to our nature, we don’t hang our heads in shame. No!
Our spirits soar, and dance, and play with delight in Him!
We no longer wear that dull, lifeless old swimsuit. We have a new suit! It is new, and colorful, and it was fashioned by our Father’s own hands!

 

 

Shake off the shame of that old suit, and raise your hands in freedom and joy and dance in your new suit!

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Colossians 3:12-14

Faith, Living Life

Come & Rest

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

 

I offer these well-known and comforting words spoken by Jesus as He beckoned those who were weary to come and rest in Him.

Days become weary… we robotically replay daily routines until they morph into one big blur. Some days are just like that, and we feel the need to take a break and rest.

Do you ever feel the need to lean against someone and just release all that heaviness you’ve been carrying around?

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I remember, as a small child, laying against my step-dad’s chest, listening to his long, heavy breaths going in and out, while feeling his firm chest rising and lowering beneath me. Though not soft and pillow-like as a mother’s embrace, that strength and rhythm felt strong, yet soothing.

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As you become relaxed and still in quiet commune with God, feel His strength. Let His Spirit wash through your soul and sooth, as you are renewed and restored. Lay your head on the bosom of His majestic strength and feel the rhythm of His unfailing love for you.  Listen for His quiet, soothing voice saying, “Come, just rest”.

 

Here are some songs that bring me much comfort when I need to put everything else aside and just bask in who Jesus is and His love for me.

 

Enjoy

 

MercyMe- I Can Only Imagine

Kari Jobe- Be Still My Soul

Kari Jobe- Fall Afresh

Playlist Simply Worship #1

 

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Until Then Dear Friend-Yet Will I Praise 2

 

Today, I learned that my sweet friend left this earth last week, while I was out of town. I am so thankful that I was able to stop by and see her last Sunday. I knew her time here was short, and though she could not respond, I was glad to see her one last time.

 

It was this dear friend who inspired one of my writings just a few weeks ago, as seeing her firmly rooted in her faith in God inspired me so much.

 

So to honor her, I am reposting this previous entry. Perhaps you will remember it, or are reading it for the first time. Either way, may you find hope and encouragement as you read of her courage and resolve.

 

Rest in peace, my friend.

 

leafy-vine

 

Yet Will I Praise

 

 

I was visiting an older, dear friend today who recently suffered a stroke and is experiencing significant physical effects, as well as having to leave her home and she is in the middle of trying to adjust to this huge change in her circumstances.

 

She expressed her unhappiness at her situation, understandably. Who would ever plan for something like that? Who would ever wake up in the morning and think that by the end of the day, life was going to look entirely different?  Nobody, of course.

 

As several women today gathered around her to offer encouragement and prayer, even in the midst of confusion, uncertainty, and unanswered whys, she firmly proclaimed her trust in the God she serves. Her body is not cooperating in the things she wants to do, but her voice is giving her Lord Jesus sacrifices of praise!

 

Being unsure or apprehensive isn’t a lack of faith. It affords an opportunity to face the circumstance, and then look up to the heavens and confirm who God says He is. When we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest! That’s when we lean on His strength, and we persevere and trust in His steadfastness! That’s not always easy to do!  Seeing that resolve in this dear woman is truly encouraging!

 

So all I could think of was this assuring passage in my favorite chapter in God’s Word.

 

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. 

Psalm 139:7-12

 

 

My sweet friend, while in the center of this chaos, though the fight ahead is daunting and unsure, is finding strength and hope in this truth, that the God she loves will never leave her side.

 

That is the hope that every human life needs. In God, there is hope.

leafy-vine

PenguinPrompt-Persevere

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Simmer Down Mama Bear

Sometimes, I get a little stinky.

 

My attitude, that is.

 

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Sometimes, my mama-bear claws come out and I want to start growling in defense of my young one. I don’t want to use the nice words and have a heart-to-heart talk laden with honey and sweetness. I just want to roar, “Hey! That’s my baby, and knock it off!”

 

 

But, nothing good is going to come from that approach. (I tried already, to no avail.)  I know my only choice is to bite my tongue, breath and simmer down, lest I make the situation worse. You mama’s and papa’s know, when it comes to our babies, that’s not easy to do!

 

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But when the choices made by another person are beyond my own control, what other solutions are left? It leaves me angry, frustrated, and feeling helpless.

 

So, I mentally give it to my Lord, take some deep breaths, and try to, as that infamous song says, “Let it go!, Let it go!”

 

I also want my child to learn a better way to manage these situations in life, being careful not to adopt the characteristics being exhibited by this other person.

 

I don’t want to harbor bitterness or contempt in my heart. It almost literally hurts in my gut. It’s not good for me.

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So I pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

 

 

 

For I cannot change that other person, I am not responsible for their actions and stinky attitudes. But I am responsible for my own.

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So even though that circumstance has not resolved yet and I see no signs that it will be in the near future, I will pray for my child and for that person who can’t see beyond her own self at the present time.

 

 

Lord, I give this circumstance to you. I trust you.

Faith, Home Life, Uncategorized

Don’t Forget to Look Up

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our house just about three and a half years. I guess when a house really feels like home and you allow yourself to finally put down deep roots, it feels like you’ve been planted there longer.

 

We have completed several renovation projects on our small home, one of which was a complete kitchen remodel. I like to add my own unique touches and features that make my home feel welcome and warm for my family and guests.

 

The kitchen ceiling is one of those, with a recessed section in the middle of it, and a hand-painted medallion which shows off the beautiful light fixture. It’s a lovely feature.

 

But you know what? I seldom enjoy it anymore because when I’m in the kitchen, I never look up! I’m just so focused on my task or walking through to wherever I’m going, and I don’t think to look up. My gaze is fixed on my eye-level view.

 

So when my granddaughter said the other day, “Grandma, that’s a really pretty light”, I looked up and said “Yes, it is!”. And the Lord placed this thought in my heart.

 

“Don’t forget to look up!”

 

It’s so easy to forget to do that! Life gets busy, there are so many world events that overwhelm our sense of security, not to mention our own personal life crises. Discouragement causes our gaze to drop and we barely find the strength to just get through today. It skews our perspective.

 

Knowing we would face those times, God gave us reminders in His Word to lift up our eyes!

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I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 121

 

Jesus lived this himself as an example for us to follow, when his dear friend Lazarus died and upon arrival at the scene, He gave thanks to His Father in heaven for hearing Him and for the miracle He knew was about to take place.

 

“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.”  John 11:41

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Oh, my prayer is that while I am busy with this life, that my eyes will remain fixed on Him! That I will never forget to look up!

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(Photo- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)

Faith, Uncategorized

A Transformed Heart

border6For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!  Romans 7:22-25

I am still under construction. At my age of 52, I am still a work in progress. I think the day I stop growing and learning will be the day that I am no longer here.

As a Christ-follower, it’s not the tendencies of human nature that I want my life to reflect. Although not all parts of human nature are bad.

It is human nature that makes us want to socialize, to gather as families and friends, to celebrate life together. It’s the reason that we need to hug each other, laugh together, and connect on an emotional level. We were created to need human contact.

 

It’s human nature that causes us to weep in times of grieving and in times of joy. And human nature causes us to laugh and find joy in even the simplest things.

 

It’s the transparency and exposure of the other parts that I’m not so proud of. Like my tendency to lean toward self-preservation at the cost of shutting people out, or forgetting to look deeper at someone or a circumstance and not just take it at face-value. The part that wants to let my emotions get the better of me and affect my perspective. The bitterness of offense that occasionally tries to take root in my spirit.

How am I, who cannot change that I am human, going to correct these negative human qualities in myself?

The fact is, I can make a conscious effort to change, I can learn by the negative consequences of my actions, I can read good books and information about how to overcome, and I can surround myself with people whose influence teaches me a better way. But there is an internal struggle in the heart of man which maintains a constant pull toward those less desirable human qualities.

For some, many of those things are easily pushed down and kept suppressed. And for others the struggle is fought daily, like a weight constantly tethered to our being.

My area of weakness may not be a problem for you. Where you are still learning, I may be at my strongest.

But here is my hope!

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Jesus Christ has my heart! I gave it to Him a long time ago. Though the evidence of my human nature shows itself many times, it is my heart’s desire to instead adopt the nature of Christ.

When I mess up, He hears my repentant cry. When I submit my human will to His, He meets me there and becomes my strength in my areas of weakness. The more I lean on His strength to overcome, and the more I seek and learn of His ways, the stronger I become, and more and more, I will be victorious over my less desired human qualities.

“My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

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He says: “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.    Ezekiel 36:26

 

 

Oh, how I pray that any eulogy that may be spoken of me at my earthly departure would say, “Her life wasn’t always easy, but Oh! Jesus had her heart!”

 

The Daily Post: daily prompt: tether

(Photo credits- Robin Abrams, public domain)

 

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Passenger of Life

Daily Prompt – Passenger

Now days, life is often described as a journey. If that is the case, should I be the driver or the passenger? 

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In my married life, when we are traveling in the car, especially if we are driving any significant distance, my husband has always done the driving. The times I’ve offered to, he says, ‘No that’s ok, I’m fine”. So I sit back, enjoy the scenery, and snooze if it’s a long trip and I get tired. I don’t worry, I know he will get us safely to our destination.

Being the passenger isn’t so bad. But, there are a few down-falls. For instance, if I haven’t been paying attention, I won’t know the way to where we are going. And I don’t have any control of the wheel. I can give input and opinions, but other than that, I’m just a backseat driver.

If my role is the driver, sure I can see a blurb of some of the sites along the way, but I have to stay focused on what’s straight a head. I’m in charge, the responsibility to get myself and my cargo safely to its destination is in my hands. I cannot get distracted, or daydream, or look away from the road.

However, I can go wherever I want. I can get side-tracked or take a detour. But if I get lost or get in an accident because of my error in judgment, I am responsible.

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When I think about it through my Christ-follower eyes, I think my choice would be passenger. Because I want my life to be directed and guided by my Creator. I want God to take me to the destination that he has planned for me, because I know it will be better than anything I could ever imagine!

 

My input and thoughts along the way are valuable to Him and He wants me to enjoy the ride! 

Oh sure, sometimes I get in the driver’s seat and I go the way that I choose. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes I just get myself in a predicament.

But God is always right there, ready to take over and set me back on the right road. We laugh sometimes, we share the joy and the tears of it all.

It’s not always fun. There are some dark roads here and there and I get a little scared or worried about it, but He listens when I need to get something off my mind.

All in all, it’s a good journey, and I wouldn’t want to take the trip with anyone else.
Here’s a great song written and sung by my sister, about the road of life. I know you will love it!

Wheel of My Life – written & sung by Debbie Skinner

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(Photos – publicdomainpictures.net)

Faith, family, Uncategorized

Provision of Love

Provision of Love

If you are a dog lover or have a furry, four-legged friend like I do, you know their appetite is insatiable.

It doesn’t matter if they’ve finished off an entire dish of dog food, if you offer them a morsel, they will take it. They would love nothing more than to snack on people food all day long.

I’ve gotten into the habit of saving a tiny bite of my dinner for them, which they don’t get until I’m finished. Bubba will sit nearby watching me, never taking his eyes off of me, occasionally uttering an ever-so-quiet ‘whomph’, just in case I’ve forgotten that he is there.

Chloe, on the other hand, will lay on the couch, half-sleeping, acting like she isn’t paying attention, but her eyes aren’t completely closed. She is waiting patiently, not expending any unnecessary energy like Bubba does. But as soon as I make the anticipated move to offer the snack, she is there in a split second! img_2464

Their little faces are filled with such joy and anticipation! They have to sit still before I give it to them, but their muscles are twitching with delight.

My husband accuses me of spoiling our little ones. (Says the one the dogs pester every single morning until they get the doggie treat he tucks inside his shirt pocket!) What?! How can he look in their little, deep, black eyes and think they are spoiled? They are just so cute! Oh well, I tell him that’s why they love me more.

They give me such love and devotion, how can I withhold such joy from my little ones?

How much more will my Heavenly Father lavish on me! Because I am His child. And I give Him my devotion and look towards Him with delight and adoration, not because of what He gives me, but because of His love for me, and my love for Him.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!

 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:22-31

“Consider the Lilies” written by Joel Hemphill-1977, sung by Heartstrings

(This is a video from a concert my sisters and I did several years ago. I hope it blesses you!)

(Photos- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)”Consider the Lilies” sung by Heartstrings

via Daily Prompt: Snack

Faith, Uncategorized

Yet Will I Praise

leafy-vine

I was visiting an older, dear friend today who recently suffered a stroke and is experiencing significant physical effects, as well as having to leave her home and she is in the middle of trying to adjust to this huge change in her circumstances.

She expressed her unhappiness at her situation, understandably. Who would ever plan for something like that? Who would ever wake up in the morning and think that by the end of the day, life was going to look entirely different?  Nobody, of course.

As several women today gathered around her to offer encouragement and prayer, even in the midst of confusion, uncertainty, and unanswered whys, she firmly proclaimed her trust in the God she serves. Her body is not cooperating in the things she wants to do, but her voice is giving her Lord Jesus sacrifices of praise!

Being unsure or apprehensive isn’t a lack of faith. It affords an opportunity to face the circumstance, and then look up to the heavens and confirm who God says He is. When we are at our weakest, He is at His strongest! That’s when we lean on His strength, and we persevere and trust in His steadfastness! That’s not always easy to do!  Seeing that resolve in this dear woman is truly encouraging!

So all I could think of was this assuring passage in my favorite chapter in God’s Word.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you. 

Psalm 139:7-12

My sweet friend, while in the center of this chaos, though the fight ahead is daunting and unsure, is finding strength and hope in this truth, that the God she loves will never leave her side.

That is the hope that every human life needs. In God, there is hope.

leafy-vine

PenguinPrompt-Persevere

(Photo- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)