Wednesday, August 31, 2016

An Everlasting Love



I am not very mechanical and whenever possible, I let someone else do anything that involves the use of tools. However, after my recent bike mishap and broken ribs, I decided I needed a cell phone mount on my bicycle so that I don't need to fiddle with it in and out of my bike pack.

There are plenty of excellent bicycle handlebar phone mounts but I had an unusual problem. The bicycle I use the most is a folding bike. It is lightweight, highly maneuverable, and while a little silly looking with its downsized wheels, I really love riding it. All the phone mounts I looked at would impede the bike's ability to fold up when not in use. Since I store it folded in my car, this is a game-changer.

Well, yesterday, I stopped by a bike store and found a phone mount that actually looked promising. The mechanic at the store informed me they would install the mount if I wanted them to. I assured them I would return on the morrow with my bike to let them do just that.

Then something strange came over me. It felt a little like 'self-reliance.' I got home and opened the package and neatly smoothed the instructions. They did not look terribly difficult.

I gathered my single needed tool - a Phillips-head screwdriver, and began assembling my phone mount.

Two hours and gallons of sweat later, I was ready to throw in the towel. I had successfully assembled the mount. The problem was because of the unique configuration of a folding bike handlebar, there just was no way to get the clearance needed for the mount to slide open as it had to for the phone to be secured. I tried every permutation of the angle of the mount to the handlebar, and the angle of the holder to the handlebar mount. It just was not going to work.

In frustration, I rested my hand on the mount, and because I had just loosened the screw, it clicked to a new position. Pausing, I peered at the new angle. I looked at the back where the sliding mechanism had been impossibly stuck due to hitting the unusual handlebar folding lever.

Could it be? It appeared to now clear the lever. Barely daring to breathe, I tightened the screw at the new accidental angle. Then, I took a deep breath, and tried to open the mount enough to slide my phone into position.

I could NOT believe it. It worked. Perfectly.

If you waterboarded me and drove splinters under my nails, I could not tell you how the accidental angle worked. I am chalking it up to a miracle. I had spent two hours trying every conceivable combination of the two angles that could be adjusted. How had I by accident leaned on the mount and achieved the single perfect angle?

Thank you God. Lots of lessons here are obvious.
1. Don't give up - victory is just around the corner from defeat.
2. God is with you, even when you aren't specifically asking Him to be.
3. You depend on others sometimes to do things you really could, and should do yourself.

However, none of those seemed to be exactly what God was saying to me. I pondered what His point was in this frustrating and then successful adventure.

I think He was showing me how beloved I am. There are probably a bazillion more important and more Godly ways to have spent those two hours. But I REALLY wanted a phone mount on my favorite bicycle. I think God was just being gentle and blessing me just because HE CAN. And He loves YOU just as much as He loves ME. Awesome, isn't it?

Maybe that isn't what He was saying. But it resonates with me.
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PS- I think some of you must have been praying. My ribs are feeling a little better. Thank you.
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Jeremiah 31:3 

The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Baby Lizards and Human Babies Proclaim the Beautiful Hope of God



Shortly after I arrived on the sidewalks of the busy abortion center where we encourage women to choose life, I spied a little baby lizard running in circles in the middle of the road. I tried to shoo him across the road so he wouldn't be killed by the speeding cars of abortion–minded mamas. He jumped onto my shoe and began to climb up my leg. I took this as an omen or message from God. So I scooped him up instantly, took his photograph, and carried him safely to the other side of the road, away from that terrible evil place.

"They are God's creatures too," I said to my sidewalk cohort, Sherry.
Out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man. The man gave names to all. Genesis 2:19,20
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Luke 12:6

After my volunteer work, I went for my radiation session where I complained to everyone who would listen about the pain in my rib. The rib is a casualty of a close encounter with my bicycle handlebar. The radiation is from a close encounter with cancer.

After the doctor examined me, he agreed it was probably broken. There's nothing they can do but if it doesn't improve pain-wise in the next few days they will switch around how they do the radiation to give it a chance to heal. He told me if it is not feeling better, they will need to take a closer look to see if there's maybe something else going on.
"Like what?" I asked
"Oh scarring, fat tissue necrosis."
Lovely.
I thought of the verse about God remembering even the sparrows.


As I closed my eyes during radiation, I envisioned the baby lizard scooped up by a giant hand and carried to safety. A beautiful picture filled my heart of how God performs the same supernatural rescue of me.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2



All in all, a good day-- one human baby was saved and one baby lizard. In the midst of my sidewalk volunteer time, one of the moms I work with who chose life several months ago texted me. She is due in a few weeks. She wanted me to choose her baby's middle name! I told her I would be honored and I would think about a special name. The baby's first name is Bella. That means beautiful. So I decided her middle name should be Esperanza which is Spanish for hope. Bella Esperanza. Beautiful hope.

I texted the mama. "How about Bella Esperanza? Beautiful Hope. That is what your baby means to me."
"That is lovely! That will be her name!" the mama said.

That was my message from God for the day.

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

Proverbs 23:18

Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Psalm 43:5 

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Lamentations 3:24

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”


Monday, August 29, 2016

Can The Bible Guide Me in This Decision?



Do we sell our home of twenty years? Do we downsize so the kids don't have to do it when they are grieving our demise? (IF they are grieving our demise....) Do we move to the lake where we sit on the deck overlooking the water, sipping our morning coffee while the osprey float on the wings of the wind?

Or do we stay here... sit in our sunroom, looking out on the forested backyard with squirrels cavorting and trees whispering in the breeze?



I have been culling and cleaning, selling, and donating. We called the realtor to come look. She says it is ready to go on the market. Decision time.

Old memories vs. new adventures?
Beloved nearby bike trails and wonderful shady greenway vs. lake and kayaking off my doorstep?
Much more space to live vs. much less space to clean?

And here is what makes the decision-making even harder. All picked up, decluttered, and cleaned...it is such a lovely home. It is so hard to keep it like this, and probably hasn't been so clean since the day we bought it.

I cleaned all the walls and door moldings...except the pencil marks of the kids' height as they grew over the past twenty years.


How can I EVER erase that????

So I am conflicted. Will God guide me in this decision? Is there a Bible verse that will help me choose the path that most glorifies and honors Him?

Well, Hebrews 3:4 says: For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
and 2 Corinthians 5:1 says: For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
And Psalm 23:6 says: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Bottom line: my earthly home really doesn't matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of eternity. All things are built by God, the home we have on earth will vanish but God has a home for us already prepared where we will dwell for all eternity in His presence.

This gives me great comfort! It doesn't solve my dilemma, but it reminds me that this decision is probably not the most critical of decisions in life. The most critical decision is where will I spend eternity? I sealed that when I believed Jesus was who He claimed to be, and put my trust in Him.

I wonder if He has a molding alongside a heavenly door where He has marked my spiritual growth. Have the markings moved upward? I hope so.

Meanwhile, hubby and I visited the condo at night to see if the lake spoke to us. It did.


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

Matthew 7:24-27 

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Do Not Be Silent in the Face of Evil

This little guy was born yesterday. His mama almost aborted him, but instead, she came on board the HELP Crisis Pregnancy Center mobile ultrasound unit, and chose life. She and her two friends also chose to ask Jesus into their lives that day. It was a momentous day, and I will always treasure the privilege of leading those women to the Lord with the able partnership of my nurse cohort, Sherry. Such a beautiful choice that mama made, with eternal implications.

Look at this child!!! This is a baby that would not be here, except for the presence of Cities4Life volunteers speaking up on the sidewalks of the southeast's busiest abortion center. Folks -- you CAN make a difference!

At least once every couple of weeks, this mama texts me to thank me again for talking her out of abortion. She is so grateful someone was willing to stop her from  "making the biggest mistake of my life."

This is key, and I want you all to hear this. I AM NOT special in any way. I am shy, tongue-tied, scared, and often stupid. (For proof of that last characteristic, look at this photo of my knees following my latest feat of stupidity on a bike.) Note the bruises, blood, and swelling. Smart people don't do this.


Anyway, what I AM is determined to follow God. I often fail, I often sin, and I often balk...but God can use the most fumbling of spirits if they are at least somewhat willing and desirous of being used. Now look at this baby again:


Can you think of anything more satisfying than knowing you played a part in his entrance to this world? The fields are ripe, but the workers are few. 715,944.4 babies have been aborted this year as of yesterday at 6 pm. The numbers rise so quickly that it was hard to select and hit copy on my computer before the number changed. This little boy in the bassinet above was almost one of those staggering statistics. God will hold us responsible if we are silent in the wake of the horror of abortion.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said:
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” 

God implores us to speak, and to act. 


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Acts 18:9 

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent....  

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Stay Alert Friends! A Narrow Escape, a Pro-life Ministry

There is a VERY good reason NOT to fiddle with your phone while riding your bike. Especially a bike with really good brakes. Two skinned knees, a few pulled muscles, and bruised ribs speak this advice loudly.

I was riding along on my bike with its finely tuned brakes, and was zipping my phone into my bike bag when I spied an elderly man biking towards me on my side of the path. Well, okay, it was technically ME who was on HIS side of the path, but why quibble over details?

I braked with one hand since the other hand was fiddling with the phone. Unfortunately, I gripped the front wheel brake as hard as I could, and it was very responsive. It slammed the front of my bike to a sudden stop, hurling me onto the handlebars, and then the pavement. I haven't crashed on a bike in 35 years!

I was lucky, if you believe in luck. It could have been MUCH worse. My knees were bruised and skinned, but my hands, and head escaped unscathed. My rib just under the mastectomied breast took a pounding, and it hurt quite a bit. I don't think I broke it...but I sure bruised it. The poor man kept trying to blame himself as he helped me up and righted my bicycle. (For the record, I didn't even try to stand up for several minutes.)

"No, please don't blame yourself," I told him, rising shakily to my feet, "This is completely my fault. I should not have been focused on putting my phone in the bag. I should have been watching the road."

Gasping with pain, I called my radiation nurse after pedaling to a nearby bench.
"Kitty, I did something really stupid and am wondering if I am able to radiate a badly bruised rib? Possibly a broken one." I was due for my daily radiation dose in two hours.
She told me to come in early and the doc would assess. She also urged me to be gentle on myself. I guess she saw no good purpose in berating myself for foolishness.

But it was foolish and I learned a lesson. Keep my hands on the wheel (handlebars) and my attention on the task at hand. No texting while biking. No doing anything while biking except enjoying the scenery and being alert. Unlike in the photo below where I took a selfie of me on my wonderful folding bike.


However, no more selfies on my bike unless I am standing still, no matter how well they make important adjunct illustrations to my blog. Stay focused and keep the main event the main event.

I am lucky I didn't blow out my new breast implant. The poor breast has had enough problems with cancer and two operations. It sure didn't need a bruising bike crash as well. One inch higher where I smashed into the handlebar, and I am pretty sure the new breast would have exploded. The doc agreed. I was saved by an inch, and didn't deserve God's mercy at all. Yet, there it was.

God was warning me, as I have gotten lax about fiddling with my phone while biking. After all, what could happen? I am only two feet from the ground on a bike, and I never go fast. Well, I saw what could happen. I was spared the most dire consequences, but it could have been very terrible. Imagine me sprawled on the Greenway, pieces of my new breast scattered all about me.

The Bible is full of warnings to be alert. We are not to let our guard down, and we are to be prepared always. Jesus will return at any time, and He should find us doing what we should be doing, with expectant and purposeful living for Him. We should not be distracted by the things of this world. We should be watchful. He could return at any moment and we should think about what He will find us doing...or not doing.

In other words, pay attention! Focus on doing the right thing, always prepared for whatever may come your way. Be actively seeking righteousness, and flee from evil.

While resting from my injuries, and groaning, I got a text from my friend about a mama I work with who was struggling to make ends meet. The mama had chosen life over abortion, but often needed help from Cities4Life supporters. This particular friend who texted is helping to get the mama to her doctor appointments. With her new baby, she can't yet work, and food for her family is in short supply. I hadn't known the mama was struggling with the matter of food. She had never told me that.

"What can we do?" asked my friend. "My heart hurts for her!"

Praise God, I have a contact with one of the most amazing ministries in the area - Common Cupboard. They provide a full month of food each month to families that demonstrate need. The only problem with reaching families in need is they have a shortage of volunteer drivers. My volunteer instantly told me she would drive the food to my mama each month. I set it up, and within ten minutes, we had an emergency month of food set to be delivered by my volunteer to this mama today! I almost forgot how much my ribs hurt, since my heart was bursting with praise and joy over this wonderful volunteer, this incredible ministry, and a very dire need completely met!

Back to my ribs. The nurse looked over my injury. Since there was little visible bruising, she told me it probably was not broken, I could do radiation as scheduled, and take Aleve all weekend to reduce swelling and pain. I took a pill right after my appointment, and it worked instantly. I was tempted to text everyone while driving about the miracle of Aleve. We all know how stupid that would be.

Stay alert, friends! Jesus is coming soon. Are we busy doing what He would have us do without losing focus?
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We are often in need of drivers to deliver food to these brave mamas. It is a once a month commitment, and results in wonderful opportunities not only to serve the poor as Jesus commands us, but to become a mentor and change a young family's destiny spiritually and practically.
http://commonheart.org/

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Ephesians 6:18 

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. ...

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.




Thursday, August 25, 2016

Realigning Perspective in the Face of Others' Suffering



It is very easy to become caught up in the poor, pitiful me syndrome, and think your world is the worst place on earth. I have been there. We all have, where we know others may possibly somehow have a worse time than we do, but it doesn't matter. Our worst time belongs to US, and we are suffering.

I had a small rash from the radiation. No real big deal, but it itched a little. And there was a funny looking spot at the edge of my reconstructed breast that looked like under-skin scar tissue may be forming. I was feeling a little worried, and sorry for myself.

I sat down with two other women waiting for radiation. I am getting to slowly know these women since we all have the same designated daily time to show up for radiation. One lady was sparkling, with the inner light that any believer recognizes as being from someone who loves the Lord. We struck up a conversation, and she began sharing what she had been through thus far on her cancer journey.

Unlike me, she had heart complications and heart surgery. Unlike me, she had chemo. Unlike me, she had developed 'cording' - thick scars that limited her range of motion right after her surgery. She showed me pictures of her legs swollen three times their size from chemo, toenails that had fallen off, and a countertop of hair that had come out in huge clumps till she was bald in three days.

"But I'm blessed," she told me, "My doctors were wonderful. I prayed God would send me just the right doctors for me, and He did."

The radiation technician called her away, and another lady sat down. We struck up a conversation. Unlike me, she also had received several months of chemo. Nine out of ten women do fine with the chemo drugs, but not her. She was taken to the ER after the first round of chemo, discovering the drug had permanently damaged her heart.

"My birthday is this week," she told me, and then she choked up. "Forgive me...I didn't think I would make it to this birthday."
Also unlike me, though she has had as many radiation treatments as I have, she was in excruciating pain. "My skin looks like it's been burned to a crisp. It's black! I can't hardly stand the pain."

Kind of realigns your perspective, doesn't it?
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Psalm 118:24 

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,

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.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Under God's Grace



Yesterday, they finished with the 'bolus' in radiation.  It had done its job and was being retired. The next month of radiation will not involve the 'bolus' so they asked if I wanted to keep it.
"Why?" I asked.
"Well most women do keep them to show their loved ones. No one at home really understands what goes on in radiation, so they bring it home to their husbands or family."

This floored me. I had absolutely NO interest in bringing home my 'bolus'. Let me explain what it is. Maybe I am just weird in not wanting it. The bolus is a plastic piece that fits over the reconstructed breast. They radiate with the bolus in place, and then they take it off and radiate some more. I have no idea why, nor do I know why the bolus is only used the first two weeks.

I do know that they all commented on how perfectly the bolus fit. They seemed surprised by this, since every time a new technician put the bolus on me, they remarked on the perfect fit.

Perhaps that is why they seemed surprised when I told them, "No thank you."

What does one do with a 'bolus', even if one is not downsizing in preparation of cutting their living space in half? Use it for a Halloween costume? A wall decoration? A pot holder? A soup bowl? I just could not envision any good reason to keep my 'bolus', though I felt bad that this seemed to upset the radiologist technician who I really like. Maybe not all 'boluses' fit as perfectly as mine.

So far, radiation is having no ill effects on me. There is a slight 'sunburn' on the radiated area, but otherwise, I feel nothing out of the ordinary. While it disrupts my afternoon, it is mostly thus far a non-issue. In fact, I was working on an illustration job and totally lost track of time. I almost missed my radiation session because I was transported to the 18th century by my drawing. It was a rude awakening to glance at my watch and realize I was in the 21st century and about to be late for my high tech cancer treatment.

Unfortunately, from this point forward symptoms are supposed to get worse. Skin issues, and fatigue are the most likely concerns. I may be one of the lucky ones that get by with nothing more severe than the mild sunburn I already have. That is my prayer.

I lay in bed last night and thanked God for how gently He has treated me through this whole ordeal. It could have been so much worse, and is much worse for many women. I don't take enough time to thank God for His gentleness with me. What I deserve is Hell, and what I get is Grace. This is true of all of us.

The older I get, the more I regard sin with horror. I cannot believe how blind I was to the terrible effects of selfishness, pride, arrogance, envy, anger...to name a few of my failings. I still fall prey to all of them, but am usually quicker to despair and repent. Before I became a Christ-follower, I never gave those traits a moment's thought.

No, I don't deserve Grace...but I am grateful.
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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.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Salamander's Tail - A Lesson in Following God


I think this is a marbled salamander. My friend Carol and I saw him on our long walk yesterday on the greenway. We don't know why he has a muddy tail. However, we did muse about the possible reasons.

Here are our guesses:
1. He is a she and she used the tail to dig a hole for her eggs. (Do salamanders do that?)
2. He used his tail for salamander pole vaulting.

Otherwise, I'm out of ideas. Any herpetologists out there that can help me here?

There is one interesting fact about salamander tails I did discover later while recuperating from my 9-mile walk.  The tail can break off, and grow back! It is a tricky way to avoid predators. The predator gets side-tracked eating the tail while the rest of the salamander skedaddles. Sure the salamander loses a tail in the process, but he has the long-term perspective. Lose a tail, save a life. It will grow back in a few weeks.

The salamander we saw on the path had a pretty short tail. I am wondering if it was dirty because someone tried to eat him, so he let his tail fly off to distract the predator, and then escaped. Maybe the dirt was from the scuffle.

The more I thought about the salamander's tail, the more I realized what God wanted me to ponder. There is a Bible verse that says, "And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It's better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." Matthew 18:9

I do not think God is telling us to literally pluck out our eye. I think He is telling us that we need to turn our eyes away instantly from anything that might entice us to sin. That is how dangerous sin is, how reprehensible it is in the sight of our holy, righteous God. It would be preferable to go through life with one eye than to endure the eternal consequence of separation from God through our sin.

I stopped a car leaving the abortion center yesterday driven by a young man with two toddlers in the back seat. He had just dropped his wife off to kill their third child. He was gentle, soft-spoken, intelligent, and said he was a new Christian.

"Sir," I told him, "If you had not told me that, our discussion would be a little different. But if you claim Christ, then I am going to speak to you as I would any fellow Christian. You cannot claim Christ and then blatantly defy what He clearly commands."

The amazing thing is the young man did not just drive away. There was a fierce battle going on in his soul. He knew (and admitted) that he should get out of the car, go back in there and demand to see his wife. Then he should do everything in his power to convince her that he would stand with her through the birth and raising of their third child. The truly sad part was that his wife was conflicted just as the young man was. Both knew abortion was wrong, and both knew God would not have them do it.

But their eyes were not on God. Their eyes were on the struggle the new baby would cause, and they would rather deny God's blessing and power than sacrifice the security and comfort they felt the abortion would provide.

I spoke to him for at least half an hour along with one of our new counselors,  but then felt I needed to return to speaking to other women from the sidewalk. (Two chose life!) I sent Dwight over to speak with him. Dwight is an ex-pro NFL player and his 'star' power along with his strong Christian faith is compelling. Nonetheless, the man never got out of his car, and as far as we know, his wife went through with the abortion.

If any part of us leads us to destruction, better to get rid of that part! The salamander gets this. Do we?
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Matthew 19:21 

Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Saving the Lost: The Story of a Lost Bunny Points Me to Jesus



I was biking along the local greenway when I saw a woman stopped looking down at a little furry creature on the path. It was a bunny. It had the coloring of a wild bunny, but it was clearly not running away from the woman. I stopped my bike and asked her if the bunny was injured. She said she didn't know but she didn't think so. For whatever reason it was not running away.


"Maybe it's a pet that has escaped," I said. I didn't know if that was true but something told me this bunny needed help and would not hurt me. So, I knelt, and poured water from my water bottle into my cupped palm holding it out to the bunny. Instantly, the little bunny began lapping the water out of my hand. I kept pouring more water into my cupped palm and he kept drinking until my water bottle was half empty.

"I can't take him," said the woman who had first stopped. I couldn't either, but that didn't matter. If we left the poor bunny, a coyote would eat him for sure. What choice did I have?  I picked the little bunny up and put him in my bike basket. He did not squirm or seem the slightest bit afraid.


The woman said, "You're my hero!"
Tell that to my husband, I thought. My guess is those wouldn't be the first words on his lips when I showed up with the bunny.

I waved and began to bike away wondering how on earth I was going to bike five-miles along a busy road with all the traffic and get this bunny safely to my house. I hadn't really had time to consider what I would do if I safely reached my house. I didn't suspect Hubby would be thrilled to see me arriving with yet another lost pet. But first, what would the bunny think of riding in a bumpy bicycle basket?

With complete astonishment I watched the bunny settle calmly into my basket, looking forward,  twitching his nose, and laying his ears back.
"All right," he seemed to say, "I am ready now. Let's go."
(click on arrow in photo below for video of Bunny's wild ride.)
video



I rode slowly just in case he tried to jump out but he never even attempted to do so. Even when we hit the heaviest traffic and the roaring sounds of cars whizzing right beside us, he lay quietly in my basket. He seemed to know that wherever he was going was better than where he had been.


On the way home, I passed a pet store. It was only 9 A.M. on a Sunday morning. They couldn't possibly be open. Nonetheless, I prayed for a miracle that they would be. They were. The pet store had just opened. I went inside with my little bunny cuddled against my heart.  I had already named him Honeybunny.

I explained the situation to the very kind sales people. They could not take him, but they gave him a bowl of water and gave me a free bag of food for him.

Honeybunny and I returned to my bicycle, and he nestled calmly again in the basket. We made it safely home.

My husband, after the initial shock of opening the door to his wife holding a bunny with a pleading look on her face, helped me prepare our dog crate for Honeybunny. We got him water and put his food in a bowl. I brought him carrots and lettuce which he loved, instantly crunching with apparent delight.


Then he washed his face, lay down, and closed his eyes.

We went to church, where we sang a song about Jesus saving the lost.
My eyes welled with tears as I thought about Honeybunny, lost and frightened for who knows how long on that greenway, alone and afraid in a hostile world  that he was not familiar with.
He had to have been terrified. Somehow, he knew that he could trust me and that I would take him to a place where he would be safe.

video

What a wonderful symbol God had sent me of what happens to all of us when we put our trust in Jesus. We are alone in a dangerous world where evil and darkness forever threaten to harm and consume us. We thirst terribly for righteousness and a place of safety, but are powerless to help ourselves. And then, Jesus lifts us out of the abyss, quenches our thirst with everlasting water, and carries us tenderly to a place of refuge.

After church, a friend helped me find a wildlife refuge (Carolina Waterfowl Rescue - CWR) that takes not only birds in need of rescue, but other animals as well. I sent them a picture of Honeybunny and they quickly told me the bunny was not wild, but clearly domestic. The CWR director said that Honeybunny would've died if I had not rescued him. In all likelihood, he had been dumped by a family who realized bunnies are not as neat and clean as they had hoped, so ditched him on the greenway.

"Thank you for rescuing him," she said, "These guys don't fare very well in the wild."

She told me to bring him to their rescue home right away and they would care for him and find him a new home.

I have to admit, I felt sad giving up my little bunny. I had bonded with him in the short time I'd known him. After all, I was a fellow wanderer, once lost, but now found.


Psalm 28:6 

Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.

Luke 19:10 

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Envy Destroys Today's Tranquility


My kayak is inexpensive and little. It has none of the fancy doodads that the bigger, expensive kayaks have, like feet braces, dry locking compartment, or storage area behind the seat. It is 8-feet long, weighs 24 pounds, and is a no-frill kayak that fits easily in my van and I can carry myself. It is tippy (I am told) as far as kayaks go, though I have never felt unstable in it. It doesn't 'track' well - that is each oar stroke makes it zig and zag a little. Thus I don't kayak in a straight line, and it cannot cover nearly the mileage as quickly as a bigger kayak.

It is a humble little kayak that no one would look twice at or comment upon.

Except once.

Yesterday, I was easily and single-handedly unloading it from my van when a man who had just carried his kayak to shore offered to help me.
"Oh thank you," I said, "But it isn't necessary. I have no trouble with this little kayak."

I dragged it to the shore.

"That's just an 8-footer?" he said. "That's nice. Easy to deal with when you are alone."
"Yes. Nothing fancy, and slow, but I can handle it by myself and don't have to put it on the roof of my van to transport it. It is lightweight...perfect for me."
"I see that," he said. "I made the mistake of trying out a carbon fiber kayak yesterday. 16-foot kayak and weighs 32 pounds. I am waiting for the off-season sales." He paddled away, leaving me with thoughts of carbon-fiber kayaks.

I didn't know they made carbon fiber kayaks. If they made an 8-foot carbon fiber kayak, I bet it weighs only sixteen pounds! I began to wonder if this heretofore unknown kayak also had feet braces, and a locking dry well in the hull. Soon, as I set out on my kayak, I was in full lust after the unseen carbon fiber kayak.

How easily the beauty of what we have is marred by the longing and envy of what we don't have. All I want to say about this is forgive me, Lord.
***************

James 3:16 

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

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

One Day, Our Faith Will Be Sight ... But Not Yet




I finished the second week of radiation! One third of the way through! So far, I feel great but I do notice a slight redness in the radiated area. It is a little early to be seeing skin change, so I hope that is not a bad omen of what is to come.

In the attempt to avoid radiation from the sun, I washed my shirts in a special product that adds SPF protection to clothing. My new invention, my "Son-Cape" went in the special wash load to be sun-proofed as well.

However...how will I know if it really works? There is no visible change to the sun-proofed clothing. I just have to take the manufacturer's word for it. See, faith is required in so many areas of life. Faith that the products we buy really will do what they say they do, that the food we eat isn't filled with all kinds of harmful, undetectable chemicals or hormones, that the treatments doctors prescribe don't do more harm inside us than good. I have faith that the radiation is killing bad cells and letting good cells live, but I cannot see its invisible work in my body.

Life is one big faith-fest.

The question is not whether we have faith or not...all of us have faith. The question is what is our faith IN? Is it in something worth trusting, and what will be the repercussions if our faith is in the wrong things?

If our faith is in self, or other people, I guarantee we will be disappointed. Others fail us almost as often as we fail ourselves. And all you young, nubile studs and studdesses out there, your lovely body will fail you too. Just wait. If your faith is in good health, good looks, or even your good bank account that stretches into more zeros before the decimal than I will ever see, it will end in disillusionment and despair. Faith in those things will not sustain you in life.

The Bible says that "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1


If this were all the Bible said about faith, we would be misled. I hope for many things that are not necessarily in my best interests, or in the best interests of others. There are also many things I don't see that I hope for, like a million dollars. True sustaining faith must be more than hoping for unseen things.


The verse in Hebrews continues on:
For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 

This clarifies matters a bit. It is by faith we are commended by God. Our faith is not in trivial matters but in the very one who created the entire universe. Furthermore, it is by this faith that we understand the source of all things. A very important point is made here. The universe was created out of unseen things, and became seen.


There will be a day when our faith will be rewarded. All will be revealed unequivocally. For those who put their faith in Jesus, they will see Him face to face, for all eternity. Those who chose to put their faith elsewhere will be more than disappointed!

Even more importantly, what is the outcome of faith in the right thing?
Here is a key verse:

The outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:9 

The only faith worth having does not guarantee earthly health, wealth, or happiness. It guarantees eternity with God, the salvation of our souls. Right now, we don't see it, but we have the assurance of the unseen. One day what we hope for will be revealed, and we will be so glad we put our faith where it belongs.

It will be as though my Son-Cape suddenly visibly sparkled with sun-protectant angels  holding shields that reflected the harmful UV rays. The blind will see. The light will have permanently penetrated the darkness. All will be made whole and perfect as it was intended from the beginning when God's first reported words to creation were: Let there be light.


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Lord's Handiwork

I went kayaking on a section of Lake Wylie I have never explored, launching from the condo site that we hope to downsize to if all goes as planned selling our house. It is a very large open section of the lake and I was completely alone. Not a soul in sight. No one out on their balconies in the homes along the lake, no one dipping in the cool water, no one on a boat except me.

What is wrong with people? All this spectacular beauty and no one is out enjoying it! Maybe everyone is working to afford these incredible lake mansions. I loved the one behind me in the photo. It has three wood crosses just under the roofline. As I kayaked by, those three crosses evoked thoughts of Calvary, Jesus dying on the cross, and the thief crucified beside Him who with one sentence of faith is in Paradise with Jesus. The other man crucified on Jesus' other side made no such statement and presumably is eternally Hell-bound. Everywhere I go, God beckons me with the simple truth of the Gospel.

Lest you think I was not working, I was very hard at work. My doctors all tell me that an optimistic outlook is crucial in my healing from breast cancer. Reducing stress and exercise are also key. So I am very busy working on healing just like the doctor ordered.

And, I was wearing my new creation  for women undergoing radiation for breast cancer like me. The sun is NOT our friend...so I made this Son-Cape out of a t-shirt. (See yesterday's blog for details.)



And more importantly, God made this beautiful world for me! It is a sacrilege not to be out in His glorious creation, filling my eyes with the beauty of the Lord's handiwork.



****************
Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cut Off From the Source of All Power


I hate Time Warner Cable (TWC). They are the only game in town here, though Google Fiber is laying cables in our neighborhood. They are coming soon! But I digress. TWC was busy in our yard all day before yesterday, and so I was without internet all day. Then when they were done, and left, the internet still didn't work! In dismay, I called TWC who would not send a technician out till yesterday evening.

The tech guy arrived, and was a God-send. He discovered that TWC workers themselves had cut my cable while doing whatever it is they were doing out there all day. I found that disturbing. You would think that the folks responsible for laying the cable would know if they had cut their own cable thus obliterating the very service they were supposed to be upgrading.

It seemed there must be a message here from God. It's a favorite exercise of mine, seeking the commonplace symbols of the spiritual world.

I went to radiation therapy, as usual in the afternoon. This is my routine every single day for the next five weeks. There are a lot of nurses, technicians, receptionists, and patients that know me now. Every one of them asked if I got my hair cut.

I did. It was hard not to notice, even if you aren't obsessed with hair like I am. I told my hairdresser NOT to cut it as short as last time as it was shocking, and too short. She understood...she said. However, I think she cut it even shorter this time. I was not very happy, but she is a great hairdresser...and in two weeks (or so) it will be the length I want. At least it is cool in the blistering hot weather we are having.

"It is too short," I told my radiation buddies, in case they couldn't tell.


Cut cables, cut hair....I was beginning to see a theme for the day. In both cases something was cut that was intended to make something better but instead caused some dismay. To try to help me discern if there was an important message I was missing, I did a Bible word search: 'cutting hair.' There are a lot of verses about cutting hair, but this passage spoke to me:

27 “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. 28 And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips. 29 “‘Cut off your hair and cast it away; raise a lamentation on the bare heights, for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath.’ 
Jeremiah 7: 27-29

God's people had ignored the prophet Jeremiah's call to repentance. Truth was cut from their lips. Here is God's laundry list of their infractions:
Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations?  

So why does God tell them to cut off their hair in His anger and dismay over their disobedience? God is speaking to them as though they were His specially sanctified servants, the Nazirites. In those times, the Nazirite vow of strict obedience to God included the edict that no razor should ever touch their head. As a result, their hair was long and symbolically, their strength was in their hair - reflective of their obedience to God. (Think Samson- whose strength was literally in his hair.)  

In the passage in Jeremiah, God's people are spoken of as the Nazirite who has disobeyed God's commands, and thus his vow is null and void. They may as well now cut off their hair to expose the hypocrisy of their actions. They have paraded as God's obedient people, but their actions clearly show they are not.

I don't think the message of my too short haircut was God specifically branding me as a hypocrite, but this passage and these thoughts do indeed give me pause. I certainly claim to have a strong connection to God. TWC claims to have a strong internet connection. Yet they cut their own source of their strength and were useless as internet providers! 

This is the lament in Jeremiah as well. God's people cut off the very source of their strength when they disobeyed God. They may as well cut off their hair, and divorce themselves entirely of any claim to Him or to His deliverance.

Here's the bottom line. If we want the power and strength of the Lord, His deliverance through the trials of life, we cannot cut ourselves off from the source (God) through our foolish and willful behavior. We must follow Him in word and in deed or our claims that we love Him and believe Him are self-deluding lies.

In contrast, as long as we are discussing hair, the Bible also tells us that every hair on our head is numbered. God cares for us to the tiniest detail, to the very hairs on our head. He loves us beyond comprehension, despite knowing what stumbling, fumbling, wayward hypocrites we are. That's why He sent Jesus. We cannot save ourselves, but God desires that we MUST be saved.

Once the technician fixed the cut cable, our internet was restored. 
"You're a genius!" I said, tugging at my short hair.
He smiled, but shrugged humbly and told me he had brought my garbage can in from the curb. He hoped I didn't mind. Now this was someone whose actions matched his promise to serve.
*********************

Numbers 6:5 

“All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair, for the children of your delight; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they shall go from you into exile.

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.








Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Choose Life! And invent a million dollar idea along the way....




I had a problem. My radiologist told me I must be sure the area that will be radiated for the next six weeks not be exposed to the sun. I cannot use suntan lotion either or the radiated area will be REALLY TICKED OFF. The area extends from just above my clavicle, across and down my chest, and on to portions of my back and underarm. The only thing that covers it fully is a high neck t-shirt.

My problem is I love to kayak, and have been given the go-ahead from my surgeon to kayak. However, kayaking in a high neck t-shirt with sleeves is hot. I ideally want to wear my bathing suit…but would need some sort of sun protection over the areas that are in the radiation zone which my bathing suit doesn’t cover.

I needed a sun cape. A lightweight sun cape that could get wet.

You would think with the huge number of women who have breast cancer that someone would have designed such a thing. NO. I looked everywhere. Nowhere on the entire internet is there a sun cape. The closest thing I could find was a cassock for priests…around $350 on sale. And they are not water friendly. Nor cool. (At least not temperature cool. They are the other kind of cool, if you ask me.)

I also found costume superhero capes, but they were too long, and not appropriate for water sports. Note: superheroes are Batman, or Spiderman, or Superman...never Fishman. (However, I did like the idea of kayaking in a batman cape made for children, impracticable as it was….)Besides, I needed 360 degree coverage. Superhero capes don't usually cover the clavicle and upper chest. I suspect superheroes don't get breast cancer or require radiation therapy.

I contacted my clever daughter who suggested I sew one. It would be easy, she said. Since it was so easy, I was hoping she would offer to do it, but no offer was forthcoming.

I mused over the problem, and had a brainstorm. I took an old t-shirt and cut off the bottom half. Then I cut open the armhole seams. I sewed it so that the open arm seams attached to the sides and voila, the t-shirt became a cape! Then I hemmed it with a nice zigzag stitch in contrasting thread. I now had a chic, cost-free sun cape. 

However, it was originally a t-shirt with an ugly design I had never liked. It was for a team I had managed years ago, and the design printed on the back was of a skeleton. I didn’t want my new sun-cape to have something so depressing as a skeleton on it.

So I found fabric paint from who-knows-when-or-where, and began drawing over and altering the skeleton design. I had thought I would just spend a few minutes, but soon, the design took on a life of its own and I worked for an hour or so.

The result is pictured here.



Choose Life.  

Choose life when I have cancer, remembering cancer doesn’t have me. Choose life when abortion seems to be the only way out. Choose life when God sets before us blessing or curse, life or death. Choose eternal life in Jesus. 



I was so happy. Not only did I have a sun cape that would slip easily over my head, was washable, and made of cool cotton, but the design was creative and unique and said just what I wanted to say while kayaking across the peaceful waters of my beloved lake.



I will call it my Son-Cape. I think I may wear it as part of my cities4life uniform when I go each Monday to the abortion center sidewalks to counsel the abortion-minded mamas. I am not a superhero, but I believe my cape is anointed by the One who created those babies, and me, and yearns for us to choose life. Choose Him.
*************************

Deuteronomy 30:19 

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

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