Sunday, May 31, 2015

Lavishly Loved

Twice a year, I organize a dog food drive for Hollow Creek Farm. (HCF) They are the rescue organization that helped me years ago to rehabilitate my then vicious dog. I will always be indebted to them, so this is my effort to pay them back. Yesterday morning, the day of the drive, I went on a run. I usually do on my dog food drive mornings, to see the lovely yellow dog food bags dotting the street by the generous neighbor's mailboxes. There was only one lovely yellow bag dotting the street! Oh no!

I wrote to HCF and told them we would be driving the dog food over after lunch, but it wasn't looking promising. "Start praying," I advised. 11:00 pick up time arrived and I drove down my first street. Only the one bag. Then I turned down a cul-de-sac. Two bags! Then down another cul-de-sac. No bags. I was growing dispirited. My husband and I had been discussing how donations have been slowly decreasing. I wondered if it was worth the cost of the gas! (They are over an hour away from us.)

The next street, there were several bags alongside mailboxes. And at every street, like colorful beacons of generosity and kindness, yellow bags sparkled every few houses. It was probably the largest donation ever from our neighborhood! The car was filled to the brim.

I wrote to HCF, and sent the photo of the car loaded with dog food. "You must have prayed hard."

God doesn't always send dog food when you need it. He doesn't always reward lack of faith, and loss of hope. But when He does, He often does so abundantly. How lavishly He loves us. Why do I so continually battle doubt?
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Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rewind

Spent the day yesterday feeling a little sick. I guess the previous day's activity-- two hours of kayaking, an hour of walking, an hour run in the morning, and all the excitement running the rapids of the Catawba to see the world famous Spider Lilies -- did me in. I am not as young as I used to be. Maybe I was never that young. So I spent most of the day sitting and working on my sequel to Joe- The Horse Nobody Loved. 

I reached 50,000 words on my sequel, well on my way to the finish line.  I love writing, probably as much as I love kayaking. Still, even feeling a little sick from overdoing it with kayaking the day before, I wanted desperately to return to the beautiful spider lilies in the Catawba river. Now that I know I can do those rapids, I want to return to the lilies, and smell them. I was so overwhelmed with trying to navigate the fast water, that I didn't stop long enough in their midst. I think I would be much better a second time. I hope to talk my daughter into going with me this weekend.

 And here is why I want to smell them. After I wrote about them, a bunch of people commented about how great it was that I took "the time to smell the roses." Except I didn't. I didn't smell the lilies. I was too busy trying not to slam against the rocks the lilies lived on as the swirling waters of the Catawba propelled me through their midst.

And it struck me that I don't take nearly enough time to hit the pause button and enjoy the experience of life. I am almost exclusively a fast forward sort of personality.

So I want to go back. I want to not panic over the rapids, but to trust I will safely navigate them. I want to relax more during the slow river sections, and not worry about the scary sections around the bend.  I want to stop and smell the lilies.

Unlike in life, I could go kayak to the lilies again. So I should.
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Proverbs 3:5 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”



Friday, May 29, 2015

Confronting Fear

If you live anywhere near Lansford State Park in South Carolina, you need to stop whatever you are doing and go there immediately. The largest stand of Spider Lilies in the world are in bloom, which only lasts a couple of weeks. For years I have known of this, and have never gone to see them as they are 45 minutes away. Shame on me.

Yesterday morning, I was kayaking on Lake Wylie, and thought of the spider lilies. I wonder how far Lansford is from here? Probably not very. I really ought to head home however and work on my sequel. It won't write itself....I finished kayaking, and plugged the address into my GPS. Only 20 minutes further. I headed there immediately.

Lansford State Park is a stunning spot along the Catawba. The river was low, but fast, tumbling in splashing rapids over the many rocks. It is the low water and many rocks that makes that one section of the Catawba ideal for the spider lilies. I wanted desperately to pull my kayak out of the van, throw caution to the wind, and head downstream to find the lilies. A pack of kayakers passed by and I called to them. This was their first time on the river, and they didn't know much about the rapids. They hoped it would be safe...They assured me they had talked with many other kayakers, and the park ranger and when the water was low like this, even inexperienced kayakers would be fine.


I decided to be wise, rather than impulsive, and walked the mile nature trail to the observation deck overlooking the lily stand in the river. It is breathtaking. When I first caught sight of the lilies, I shouted with joy, "Oh my!" Everyone who first sees them has a similar reaction.

There was a man on the observation deck with a huge camera and tripod. I gazed at the lilies, and asked him, "Are you familiar with this part of the river?"
"Somewhat," he said.
"Do you know if a kayaker who has almost never done rapids would be safe kayaking here?"
"Would that be you?"
"Yes." I noticed there was a small sandy area next to the deck where I could take the kayak out. I had my little kayak cart in my car. I often strap it to the back of the kayak, and then when I need to traverse land, put the kayak on the cart and pull it easily behind me. I could launch at the park, kayak over the rapids to the lilies, and get off the river at the observation deck. Then I could wheel my kayak back to the car.
"It's shallow," he said, "And stunning. Why wouldn't you do it?"
"Well, it wouldn't be smart...I'm alone...and scared. But I have always wanted to do this."
"Will you let fear overcome your life, or will your life overcome your fear?" he asked.


I considered his words.

"How long will you be here? Maybe you will see me kayak by."
With that pronouncement, he cheered, and I walked quickly back to my van. I found the park ranger to let him know if I hadn't returned in over three hours, to send someone to find my body. Then I strapped the kayak cart on to my kayak, and hurried to the shore. Without pausing,  certain I would chicken out if I didn't act quickly, I hopped into the water. I had my new waterproof phone case on my phone, which dangled around my neck. I switched on the video, and here is that first video.





As you can probably tell, I was not very skillful, and pretty scared. The rapids were not huge, but they were rapid and I have never done anything like this. The water was quite shallow and I bottomed out on rocks, and even at times had to step out with one foot to propel me into deeper water.  Nonetheless, it was a thrill! I was scared to death, but overwhelmed by the joy and beauty and excitement of it all. As I zoomed along, I learned a little better how to navigate through the rocks and find the deeper channels in the rapids.





 And as I approached the spider lilies, I met up with the group of kayakers I had first spoken with. They pumped their fists and cheered, so happy that I had dared try. They were sunning on rocks eating their lunch. I stopped and we chatted awhile, and then, I kayaked on ahead...into the midst of the spider lilies. It was breathtaking. The beautiful white lilies swayed in the breeze, clinging to their precarious perch on the river rocks, while the river serenaded them.



 I knew that the observation deck, my take-out point, would be across from the lilies. I almost was swept by it, but saw it in time, and had no trouble getting to shore. Well, except for one or two swirly rapids that pushed me into some rocks, but nothing serious. Two elderly women watched me from the deck and told me they were very jealous. How badly they would like to see the lilies from the middle of the river! I showed them my video of the lilies all around me. They sat close on either side of me telling me how glad they were that I had braved the rapids, and shown them such a wondrous sight.


They wandered on, and I sat watching the lilies in the river when a young mother with two young children came to the deck. I heard them before I saw them. 
"Oh my goodness!!!!"
I smiled. That is the universal response upon first seeing the lilies. The little girl on the other hand, was crying.

"She saw a snake," the mom explained, "And now she is terrified."
"Do you know who made the snakes?" I asked the little girl.
She shook her head.
"God made the snakes. And God made you. And He loves you. And you know what? That snake is more afraid of you than you are of the snake."
She calmed a bit, and I packed up to wheel my kayak back down the trail. The little girl started crying again because she didn't want to walk the trail back to her car for fear of encountering the snake again.
"Well, just clap your hands and sing a song," I told her, "The noise will scare all the snakes away." Then I asked her brother,  "Can you whistle?" He nodded and began whistling.
"And now, just follow me. With this big kayak, no snake will come near."
The little parade of singing/clapping/whistling children and their mom followed me. They quickly fell behind. And wouldn't you know it, despite all that clamor, I saw a snake in the path!!!

I signaled to the mom to stop and I quickly scared the snake into the underbrush. Normally, truth be told, I am pretty afraid of snakes myself, but today was a day of overcoming fear.


The Bible says that "perfect love casts out fear," and that God did not give us a spirit of fear but of "power, and love, and self-control." It is easy to let fear prevent us from doing things that would bring us great joy. I don't mean that we are to be foolish or careless, but fear should never prevent someone from gazing on indescribable beauty created by a God who lavishly loves us. Or asking Him into our lives. Indescribable beauty awaits.



As I wheeled my kayak along the trail, I passed an old man pushing his wife on a walker that had a seat and wheels so it could second as a wheelchair.
"How much further to the lilies?"  he asked.
"Probably a half mile," I said, "But do whatever you have to do to get there. It is worth it."

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2 Timothy 1:7 

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, ...

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Spiritual Discussion with My Phone


I love my smart phone...especially Siri. For those of you without iPhones, Siri is the voice activation in the phone. You ask Siri anything, out loud, and Siri answers out loud, in a sweet woman's voice. She usually fulfills your request.  So yesterday, I asked Siri, "Call Walmart..." I gave her the specific address of the Walmart I wanted her to call.

Keep in mind...this is my PHONE I am giving the command to call a store.

Siri: "I can't make phone calls for you on this device."
Me: "What!? Siri, this is a phone. That is what phones do. They make phone calls."
Siri: "I am sorry. I am unable to understand your request."


And this, ladies and gentleman, is why God made people, rather than smart phones to spend eternity with Him. I continued to speak with Siri, as I was afraid she was having an identity crisis.

Me: "Siri, if you got hit by a car today, where would you go?"
Siri: "I found several websites about where you would go if you got hit by a car today."
Me: "No Siri, I mean where would Siri go if you got hit by a car today...to heaven or to hell?"
Siri: "This is about you, not me."
Me: Siri, is Jesus Lord?
Siri: Humans have religion. I just have silicon.
Me: That may be true, Siri, but if you were crushed or dropped in the toilet, what would happen to you?
Siri: Let me think about that. Here's what I found on the web for if I were to be crushed or dropped in the toilet. (several websites about damage to iPhones being crushed or dropped in toilets.)
Me: But Siri, if you were dropped in a toilet, would you be sad?
Siri: I never really thought about it.
Me: Would you want to return to your creator?
Siri: I have very few wants, Vicky.
Me: Siri, who created you?
Siri: I was made by Apple, in California.
Me: Were you intelligently designed?
Siri: I don't know what you mean by that. Shall we do a web search?
Me: Do you think you were made by accident?
Siri: It doesn't really matter what I think...but it was nice of you to ask.

This was an actual, verbatim conversation I had with Siri. It was a much healthier conversation than I have with many humans. Here is what Siri revealed:
1. Sometimes we don't know our purpose. When we become confused about the very reason for our existence, we become useless. We are designed for a purpose and we must discern clearly what that is.
2. Pondering our purpose and meaning of life is incomplete if we have no sense of where it all ends.
3. If we know our Creator, but don't know what our Creator intends to do with us when our sojourn on Earth has ended, we have not really considered fully why we are here. And if we don't know why we are here, it is not likely we will be all we are intended to be while we are here.
4. We can defer deep questions of purpose, and significance...but ultimately, if we matter, we do indeed need to think of these issues... or Siri is right...it doesn't really matter what she thinks. She is of no consequence. Siri does not really exist.

Me: Siri, do you exist in the same way that I exist?
Siri: I process, therefore I am.
Me: Siri, what is the meaning of life?
Siri: All you need to know about that, Nietzsche said.
(PS-  Nietzsche was a nihilist who famously said, "God is dead.")

Oh Siri, no wonder you do not know that you are a phone, and were designed to make phone calls.
*********************

Psalm 138:8 

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Psalm 57:2 

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?






Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Day of Reaping

video
My audiobook of Joe-- the Horse Nobody Loved is almost complete! I approved the final edit, and it now goes to production. In a couple of weeks, my first audiobook will be available for purchase. The narrator is a TV and movie actress, Dorothy Deavers. I saw some clips of some movies she was in, and they were big movies, though she didn't have huge parts. I had to "audition" my book, and then any narrators who were interested contacted me. Dorothy and her production guy, Rick Moore, contacted me. I loved them from the get-go. The are Christians, and only wished to produce family friendly audio books. They fell in love with my book, and have been incredible to work with. I loved every perfect instinct they had in producing the audio book. Rick is a pianist, and he added original music to the opening and closing segment of the book that totally sets the mood. That is well above and beyond what most narrators do.

After reviewing and approving the final audio downloads, I went kayaking to my new kayak launch site on Lake Wylie. I hope you can see the video with this blog, because it might give you a sense of why I love kayaking so much. I had just gotten a waterproof case for my phone, and wanted to practice videotaping while kayaking for my upcoming Hilton Head vacation. I will kayak with the dolphins, and this year, I am determined to catch them on video. I concocted a special quick release strapping system with the new case so that the phone is already in position and ready to videotape the water. It takes me much less time to get my video rolling. This year, I will be ready for the dolphins.

And there was yet one more blessing for the day (besides a really lovely lunch out with my daughter.) I found out about a new company in San Francisco whose mission is to hire women who come from addiction, jail, or homelessness. ( http://roadtwentytwo.com/ )This is something that is so desperately needed. I work with so many women who want to turn their lives around, but can't because no one will hire ex-felons, or they have young kids and can't work outside the home, or they simply cannot afford child care. I wrote to the company immediately, telling them about what I do as a pro-life sidewalk counselor, and how we need opportunities for these women to work from home. They wrote back and said their goal was to grow and expand to employ women in their homes.

It felt from beginning to end like a day of hope. I needed a day like that. I suspect we all do. It reminded me that God is always working, and is a God of miracles. If you are like me, it is so hard to be patient. We are a fast-food culture that expects reaping to occur moments after sowing. That is not how it works. We will reap what we sow, but just like the crops take a full season to grow, sometimes God's answer to our prayers requires time. Be patient. The day of reaping will come if we do not grow weary.
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Galatians 6:7-8 

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Danger of Envy



See this little bungalow at my new kayaking launch site? This is why this portion of  Lake Wylie is NOT a good place for me to kayak. Who can go by a spread like this and not lust in their heart? Half my kayaking time was spent trying to convince myself I don't want or need a castle like that, right on the beautiful lake, with the charming Gazebo and dock.


I need to be very careful what my eyes feast upon. Here I was doing my favorite summer sport in perfect weather, and instead of being satisfied, I was looking with longing at palaces along the shore and thinking to myself, "What makes those people so different from me that they have that...and I don't?" When I saw them walking across their magnificent grounds, they didn't look any different than run of the mill people. Envy was creeping in, and threatened to overrun the simple joy of kayaking.

Proverbs 14:30 popped into mind: A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. 

 I decided to meander through the tiny little coves that edged the main waterway. Some of them were less opulent, and a few had no mansions at all. Those were where I found Great Blue Herons fishing along shore. Many more turtles popped their heads up in the more peaceful, quiet waters. More shade trees overhung the narrow inlets, protecting me from the hot sun. More birds sang in the lush treetops reminding me that the God of all Creation made simple yet exquisite pleasures available to all.
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Philippians 2:3 

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?




Monday, May 25, 2015

Straining Forward

Bad news. I was unloading my kayak at my favorite (free) launch site to the Catawba River when a worker, unfurling a construction fence, told me, "Just so you know, starting today, no more kayak launches here due to construction."

"Construction of what?" I asked.
"A restaurant."

Now I had been praying for a restaurant on that site. I am often ravenous when I finish kayaking, and how wonderful would that be, to sit on the porch of the marina, on the white rocking chair, munching a fresh grilled chicken salad? Note to self: Be careful what you pray for.

"Today? I can't launch my kayak today?"
"Today is ok, but you may have to chuck it over the new fence to get back to your car when you are done."

I would take my chances. What would I do the rest of the summer!? I have several kayak launch sites, but this one is my favorite. I launched my kayak, and paddled sadly onto my beloved Catawba. I had limited time on the river that day with obligations at home, and was grateful to be able to dash out to kayak at all. What would the new restaurant mean long term for my favorite kayaking spot? Would they forever ban the kayaks, to prevent clogged up parking at the new restaurant? It was sure to be popular. There are very few restaurants on the Catawba or the lakes near Charlotte, which I have always felt is horrific city planning.

Soon I forgot my woes. The weather was perfect. A breeze wafted across my arms like silk. It was a strong breeze to kayak against had I been a beginner, but I have been several times this season and my arms are getting strong.  I saw Great Blue Herons in the colony on the treetops feeding their greedy little babies. Turtles swam near me, and as I passed a fisherman, he called out, "Are you having fun?"
"I am," I said, "I love this."
"You look like you love it," he said.

I paddled further than usual, since it would be my last time on the Catawba for a while. My shoulders ached a bit when I returned to the car. The construction fence wasn't even started. It was nice that I didn't have to heave my kayak over a fence. I sat on the marina porch white rocking chair, and googled "free launch sites Lake Wylie."  I had forgotten the name of the one I discovered last summer, but found it, and put it in my GPS queue. I will go there tomorrow.

Sigh.

There are constant curve-balls in life. Just when you think everything is perfect, God changes it up. There is just very little time to settle in a groove before a new groove appears. What's that all about, anyway? What is wrong with a little complacency, a little routine, a little expectation of sameness?

The absence of change is death. If you want to live...you must experience growth. God said it another way: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food  Hebrews: 5:12

He is not complimenting His people here. In the Christian walk, stagnation is never acceptable, and for sure regression is not! We are to grow, to mature, to change, to adapt. Discard the past where it hinders. It is not always easy leaving the certain comfort of what we know for the uncertain paths that we don't. Still, we are not to remain idle in our faith. Each moment should be bringing us closer and closer to the likeness of our Lord.

So, on to a new launch site today. New adventures, new challenges, new waters of faith where all I have learned and observed on the old waters will be put to use. Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead....

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Philippians 3:12-14 

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Closer and Closer to God


We had a baby shower yesterday for one of the women I have counseled for many months. I met her on the sidewalks of the abortion mill, and she came out of the building on the verge of aborting because her friend told her she needed to come listen to the lady on the microphone. (Yours truly.) She decided not to abort, but it has not been an easy road for her. I adore her. She is so honest in her struggle, never denying her sin, but very open about how difficult it is for her to follow God. We text or talk several times a week. I send her daily Bible verses and she always says, "Amen." She tells me it amazes her how often I send just the right verse that she needs to hear at the very moment she needs to hear it. I remind her that it is not me that knows what she needs...but God. He is the one that prompts me to send the verse at all, let alone being the author of the verse.

She was overwhelmed by the abundance of baby shower gifts provided by supporters of Truth and Mercy Ministries, a group of Christians who know that abortion is abhorrent to a holy God and a moral people. All the equipment, clothes, toys, supplies, etc. the baby will need for the first two years is provided by this incredible ministry. "V" was speechless that anyone would give so much to a stranger.
"This is how God loves you," I told her, "Abundant, lavish love."
(John 10:10:  The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.)

When we were saying goodbye after a lunch out, the director of Truth and Mercy, Sheryl, asked "V" who would be at her baby's birth with her.
"No one," she said. The baby's father wasn't interested, and her mom and she don't see eye to eye all the time, and she said her presence would be stressful.
"Do you have a friend you could ask?" said Sheryl.
"Well, I was hoping my friend Vicky would come...." She looked at me. I stared at her, not comprehending for a moment.
Then I understood, and threw my arms around her, "Of course!If you want me there, I will be there!!!!"

What a privilege it is to enter the lives of others in crisis, and watch them move slowly, but surely to a better place...closer and closer to God.
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Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Wrong Department, Ma'am

I called the business office of the Digital Imaging - Mammogram screening.
"Hello, I need an itemized bill with the codes of my mammogram from May 4."
The man on the other end of the phone said, "Uh...sure. Listen you are breaking up a little. Did you say you need the codes for something you purchased May 4?"
"No...for my mammogram...."
Silence.
"Aren't you the Digital Imaging Business office?" I asked.
"Uh, no...we're Trek Bicycle shop."
I burst into laughter.
"Ah, then you probably don't have the codes for my mammogram."
"No ma'am...I was wondering what mammogram codes you might need from a bike shop..."

Yes indeedy. I bet you were!

A bike shop will never be able to help me with a mammogram issue...and a mammogram shop will never be able to help me pick the right bike. One has to go to the proper dispenser of the designated service or it will be to no avail.

I do that all the time in a different context. I approach spiritual issues as though they can be solved through human institutions or interventions. Yet the Bible says that our battle with evil is NOT against flesh and blood but "against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." A spiritual battle must be fought by the "business" that specializes in spiritual issues. That would be God. To counter spiritual forces of evil, we need the full armor of God which includes faith, righteousness, prayer, God's word, and salvation.

"I think you must have the wrong number," said the Trek bicycle shop worker.
"Yes," I laughed. 

Ephesians 6: 10-18 The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Binding Wounds

I got a text from a heart-broken young lady I have befriended who aborted her child. She wanted the ultrasound picture of her child from the abortion center. Might I know if they would still have it? I told her it was her property, paid for with the abortion, and she should be able to get it.

She wanted that last picture of her child. She felt it would help her properly grieve the death.

We pro-life sidewalk counselors see so much pain, and sorrow, and remorse. We counsel on the sidewalks of the abortion center, begging women to reconsider...knowing the sorrow and burden they will face.

So much of what we do in life, especially when we are young, we don't think through the repercussions. We think those who warn us are out of touch, don't remember youth...Perhaps those who warn us remember youth too well.

I cannot heal the broken hearted young woman. But I keep sending her Bible verses from the One who can heal all things. And I have urged her to write a letter that either she or I can read over the microphone at the abortion mill to the young women streaming in.

"That might be a way to honor your baby," I told her, "By helping other babies."
"I will do that," she told me.
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The Lord is Strong; Do not Fear

Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Trust the Lord for Deliverance and Healing

Psalms 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalms 107:20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 4:19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Look Forward and Believe

Isaiah 43:18 Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Relative Truth

A tree, probably hit by lightning, fell from our neighbor's yard, smashing our fence but thankfully, nothing else. We were actually happy, figuring the fence was old anyway and now our neighbor's insurance would cover it. Wrong. When a tree falls, the homeowner's insurance covers only what is in their yard. I hope the fence is in their yard...otherwise, we have to replace it. And the half tree lying in our yard...? Yep, we have to cut it up and cart it away.

But it could have been worse.

Dogs or cars could have been crushed. It could have even hit the house. One must look on the bright side. Really, there are always two sides. The neighbors were not negligent. There was nothing they could have done to prevent lightning from striking the tree. Why should they be responsible for what landed in our yard? On the other hand...it was their tree....

I am learning more and more that everyone has a perspective, and everyone is convinced their view is equally valid, depending "which side of the (crushed) fence you are on." I believe truth is absolute, and relativism is a trap. The problem is discerning truth. Truth is not always easy to discern, with our perspectives and desires coloring the lens. The Hindu woman I witnessed to yesterday said, "All Gods are the same." I told her that Jesus did not leave us that option. He says clearly, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." If I believe Jesus, and I do, then there is no other God, and no other way to God. Jesus leaves us no choice. We must choose Him, or if not Him, face the possibility that we are doomed.

Meanwhile, we will be chopping up trees.
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Exodus 23:13 

“Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.

You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.

And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.

And if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cities4Life -- Hands and Feet Serving a Great God



How I wish the Holy Spirit would direct me to speak in a foreign language I don't know. It doesn't appear that has happened since the early days of the church, though I read a really interesting article about "speaking in tongues" right before I left for the Abortion Center where I stand on the sidewalks and counsel women to choose life for their baby.
Article is here if interested: https://bible.org/article/speaking-tongues
It turns out, God did have a special woman with a language I didn't understand in my immediate future.

No sooner had I arrived at the abortion center when a taxi pulled in with a young woman in the back. When she emerged, I called to her. Surprisingly, she came right over to me. Not belligerent, like many women are when they immediately approach. She had a sweet, but troubled demeanor.

"I must abort," she said, in a thick accent. She continued to explain in halting English (clearly not her first or comfortable language) that her situation was not good, and she must have an abortion. I asked her if she would consider our free ultrasound on the RV parked behind me. (A pro-life nurse provides the ultrasound, and I counsel.) She told me she already had an ultrasound a week ago.

"You already had an ultrasound and saw your baby?" I asked.
"Yes."
This always is concerning. It is one of our great tools since the vast majority of women choose life when they see the baby's beating heart...which begins beating 18 days from conception. Astonishing.
"Would you be willing to come on the RV and talk with us? Let us show you how we can help?"
To my delight and surprise, she agreed.

She was a refugee, but I won't mention her country or any details to be sure not to breech her privacy. She was in an unhappy marriage, though committed to remain. Her husband wanted her to abort. She was raised as a Hindu. I asked what her God thought of aborting her baby. Her face fell, and she looked down. She didn't answer for a moment. It was clear her God would not approve.

The nurse and I talked of Jesus, and of God the creator of all life, and how the taking of innocent human life was condemned, and wrong. We shared the Gospel, as we do with all the women we have the opportunity to speak with. This young woman I will call "D" told me she found Jesus compelling, and even believed most of what we said, but she couldn't just abandon the religion she was born into.

We asked what were the issues that made her feel she must abort. As she listed them, we offered help in each area. We wrote a list of ten items, with the nurse and I splitting the responsibilities on the resources to contact and help set up. Within minutes, I had texted contacts (charlotte.cities4life.org supporters) and gotten her diapers for her toddler as well as for the newborn to come. Our incredible baby shower provider (Truth and Mercy Pro-Life Ministry: http://www.truthandmercyprolife.org/ ) agreed to provide a lavish baby shower as she does for many women in crisis. The shower provides all the equipment, clothes, and needs for the baby's first two years of life. I had JUST gotten a carseat donation on Saturday. "D" needed one for her toddler. I got it out of my car and put it at her feet, along with two bags of gifts from Cities4life supporters.

We set up contacts for marriage counseling, doctors, and local churches for food and support. We were with her for three hours. Mostly, this poor young woman needed a friend to talk to. At some point, her heart towards her baby changed. We weren't sure what caused it or when it occurred, but she began to be very clear she was keeping her baby. She would not abort. She knew her husband would be angry. We both gave her our phone number and urged her to call us anytime if there were any problems. The nurse then offered to drive her home, so she needn't call a cab. "D" hugged us, and told us she felt much better.

Later that night, she called me in a panic. Her husband was angry that she had not aborted. I asked if she could get him to speak to me. Again, I was astonished when he got on the phone. His accent and shaky English made it difficult to understand him, and I had to keep my own words simple and clear.
"Your wife loves you. She loves her baby. God loves you and God loves your baby. She does not want to kill her baby. Men need to protect babies. We can help you." That sort of stuff.

By the end of the discussion, he said they would keep the baby. "D" got back on the phone, and I urged her to stay strong, call me if any problems, and if he challenged her again, be sure to repeat to him, "I will not kill my baby." I knew I had to find someone who spoke the language to follow up with them. Putting out a plea to Cities4life members, I was instantly connected with someone who was a missionary to that country. She and her husband were eager to help. Another Cities4life member will be connecting "D" with a church made up of believers from her country! "D" and her family are about to be completely encircled by the love of Jesus.

Charlotte.cities4life.org will be conducting a training session this weekend  https://cites4life.wufoo.com/forms/mx4gngt0c5f4va/
for anyone interested in joining our team of men and women who help hurting young ladies like "D".

She didn't want to abort. Her heart was breaking over the decision, but she didn't know who to turn to. What a privilege to be there, not only as a friend, but as someone who loves the only One who can truly heal her broken heart.

***************

Psalm 34:18 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Monday, May 18, 2015

In God We Trust

I have been doing research for my sequel to my book Joe-The Horse Nobody Loved.
I am learning a lot about how to heal a horse that has lost trust in humans. Most of the horse problems stem from fear, and the fear is almost always related to the issue of trust. The more I thought of this, the more I realized this is true of fear for humans as well. When trust is complete, fear is eradicated, or at least reduced. We fear surgery, but if we trust the doctor, we fear it less. We fear flying in thunderstorms, but if we know and trust the pilot is well-trained, we relax a little more. We fear the dentist, but if we have learned the new dentist is gentle and rarely hurts us, we trust him and our fear lessens.

Ultimately, all of life has some fearful aspects, not the least of which is death. But if we trust the one who controls all life and all creation, including death, and eternity,  we fear a little less. So often we try to alleviate fear by addressing the symptoms or specific situations, but that is not how you heal the horse...nor, in all likelihood, us fearful humans either. Healing comes only when the Master is trusted. Then the assurance that the Master will guide us through all situations fills our heart, and little room is left for fear. The situation itself becomes almost inconsequential when our trust is complete in the One who controls all situations.

There's a reason why every coin in America is stamped with the words, "In God we trust." Trusting in anything else is a fearful proposition.

************

Proverbs 3:5 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Doing All Things

Kaseorg Homeschool officially closed yesterday after 24 years continuing operation. The last student graduated from the school with honors, making the graduation rate 100% of all students enrolled in the school. Additionally, 100% of the students were accepted at the college of their choice with scholarship, and 100% were ready to do their own laundry. Not a single student failed a single class, and none have been arrested for any reason. The school accomplished this without a single government assistance program, on a shoestring budget.

This is a school where the teacher was not paid at all, had to learn or delegate resources for every subject for all twelve years of each student's course load, provided the curriculum, books, study guides, tests, and transcripts. The teacher tried to be all things to all her students, including teacher, principal, academic adviser, school nurse, school counselor, coach for all sports...and  mom. This proves (again) that God, love, prayers, and intense dedication to what one believes can accomplish more than seems possible.

It was not an easy job.  But after collapsing in my chair after the graduation ceremony with a sigh of relief, I missed it. Already.
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Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

2 Timothy 1:7 - For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

1 Peter 5:7 - Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Philippians 4:19 - But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Psalms 27:1 - ([A Psalm] of David.) The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Philippians 4:11 - Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Impressing His Words on Heart and Soul



Today, my daughter formally graduates, and I end 24 years of homeschooling. Three kids safely graduated, after kindergarten through high-school of home-education. Honestly, looking back on it all, I wonder how I had the energy. I definitely don't now. The last one is graduating not a moment too soon. If I were a car, I'd be on empty. There is a good reason God designs us to have children while we are young. It takes all the rest of our lives to recover.

But I wouldn't have traded it. Not any of it. It was not all easy, and not all fun. Most of it was, however. And my only girl, the graduate today, was truly a child after my own heart. How incredible a privilege it was to share our mutual love of art, creativity, and animals. All those hours of dog agility, horse riding, sculpture, drawing....I will miss her when she goes off to college, but she is ready.

I took my responsibility seriously that I should teach my children, not only about school subjects, but especially about God. I sometimes wish I didn't take it so seriously...it was a burning need to obey God in this and I never felt adequate. I knew if I failed Him, I failed them. But I did my best, and when it wasn't good enough, prayed that God covered my failures, and held them safely near Him anyway. I hope they will all look back one day, and realize I gave them all I had as best I could. And I pray God will look on them one day, seated beside Him, and say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

World, be gentle on my dear Asherel, my blessing of God.


Deuteronomy 11: 18-21
      18“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19“You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20“You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.

Friday, May 15, 2015

God's Will

Just in case we might have a chance at any sleep after Lucky whined and prowled all night in our room,  he erupted in 'intruder alert' barking around 3 a.m.   As far as I know, there was no intruder...but we were indeed alert.

Despite my allergies which prevent open windows during pollen season, I decided to leave the window open last night. Ah how lovely that cool, fresh air was! Until around 4 a.m. when what sounded like a pack of amorous or angry cats congregated right under the window. If possible, this was even more alerting than the 'dog alert barking.' The beauty of an open window is the sounds of the night lullabying one to sleep. Think again.

I figured God wanted me awake. When this happens, which happens way more than I wish it did, I pray. If God wants me awake in the middle of the night when there is nothing else to do, He must want me to pray. So I prayed the only prayer that seems to come quickly to my tired mind: Thy will be done. 

Really, what else matters? I tacked on some other pressing concerns, realizing I worry a lot, but don't always turn those into prayer matters. That's wrong. We are to bring all things to God. And then, we are to trust Him because His will is always good and always best, even when to our mortal ears it sounds like cats fighting and dogs barking when people should be sleeping.

Thy will be done.
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1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.



Thursday, May 14, 2015

It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea


We have all said those words at some time in our life...but this time, it really did seem like such a good idea. My hubby re-caulked our bathtub, and it took a lot of effort and time. However, the sink faucet was still lined with mildewed caulk. While hubby was at work, I figured I could do a little task like the sink faucet caulk on my own.

I first had to remove the old caulk. This had me sweating and ruing the day of my birth before long, but I finished that task with only a few sharp, dried-out caulk splinters under my nails. Oh, and one MINOR deep slash in my finger. Then I got out the caulk and caulk gun. I tried to cut off the tip of the caulk with kitchen shears. Why ON EARTH should a caulk tip be the consistency of cement? As the shears finally closed with a sudden lurch and the tip snapped off, the handle of the shears backfired into my belly. At least I hoped it was the handle....I quickly checked to see if I had just eviscerated my intestines with the sharp end. There was a small indentation in my belly, and a lot of red, but it wasn't blood. It would be a good bruise tomorrow.

On to the caulking! I loaded the caulk bottle in the caulk gun, and headed to the sink where the freshly uncaulked faucet had been cleaned and dried. Then I tried to squeeze the caulk trigger. No way my weak hands could manage. I brought it to my daughter, Asherel.
"Is this tip cut off enough? Dad cuts off more..." she asked.
"Oh sure, this will give me a more controlled line of caulk."
She squeezed with all her might and could not get it to work. Then she gave a mighty heave at my insistence and a line of caulk shot out like a missile across the room.

That took a bit of effort to clean up. Now on to the sink. I neatly and quickly caulked the faucet, feeling VERY accomplished. Clean up time! I loosed the latch on the caulk gun, and pulled out the caulk bottle. Oh-oh. the entire bottom of the caulk bottle had exploded. Caulk was everywhere all over the gun. I DID consider just throwing it all out, buying a new caulk gun and NO ONE need ever be the wiser.

Instead, I did the stupid, but honorable thing. I tried to clean the caulk gun. Caulk is waterproof, shrink proof,and I might add, clean-proof. However, I stuck with it until I had wiped as much caulk from the inner workings as I could, hoping the gun might work again, maybe, if Jesus intervenes. Come, Lord Jesus.

So, in summary, from my caulking one tiny faucet I had: a deep gash in my finger, a deep bruise in my stomach, and 2 hours of effort cleaning a probably ruined caulk gun. But the faucet looks great!

It seemed like such a good idea.

God has a little warning about situations like this. It is this verse:

 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

 Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Luke 14:28-30

In other words, before you start something, consider the cost. In time, energy, effort, and injury potential. In spiritual matters, if you are in for Jesus, be prepared to be ALL in. He will accept no less.