Tag: God

Alphabet of thanks: “M”

Today I’m thankful for MAGICAL MOMENTS.

Moments that interrupt our routine and cause us to catch our breath. I’ve been lucky in that I can immediately think of two.

My husband traveled extensively for about ten years and I was fortunate to tag along a few times each year due to his seemingly infinite number of frequent flyer miles. One such trip was to Bar Harbor, Maine.

bar harbor 1

bar harbor 1

We walked around the town, browsing in the shops.  We stopped for lunch. The weather was sunny and warm. Pretty much a perfect day all around.

In the afternoon, we heard music coming from somewhere so we followed the sound. Our journey took us to the harbor where we sat down on the grass, munching some goodies and enjoying the free concert. There were a few small boats in the water.

Suddenly a fog enveloped us. We could barely see even a few feet ahead of us. We lingered because the band kept playing despite the drifting waves of fog. The music was soft and kind of haunting. Beautifully eerie.

Eventually, the fog evaporated. As we looked out over the bay, it was as if a curtain was being drawn back ever so slowly and what emerged was nothing short of magical. Moving shapes, barely discernible, came into view.

It was a caravan of “tall” sailing ships.

All this time the music was playing and just as the music reached its crescendo, the fog completely lifted and all the ships came into view, gliding across the water, sails billowing softly.

tall ships

tall ships

One followed another until they filled the bay. It couldn’t have been better orchestrated had it been a movie. It was surreal.

No one moved.

No one talked.

We were all spellbound.  I will never forget it.

The second magical moment

The next magical scene was in Amsterdam.

It was my first trip to the Netherlands and I was looking forward to seeing the massive collection of spring tulips lining the streets. However, we landed in Amsterdam during a very rare snowstorm. There hadn’t been one in over forty years and never this far into the spring.

We sat on the field for quite a while as the plane was de-iced. Finally, we departed the plane and headed into town via taxi. It was dark and so we didn’t see too much. I was aware of the snow on the ground but was more concerned that I didn’t have any warm clothes.

We checked into our hotel, a very weird designed room, but it was right on a canal so that made it perfect. Exhausted but hungry, we decided to brave the weather and find a restaurant.  We layered on extra clothes and headed out. We followed a narrow brick road winding between the old, tall, lopsided buildings.

We turned a corner and it was as if we’d stepped back in time.

What we saw took our breath away.

People riding bikes were everywhere even though the snow was fairly deep and heavy. Bikes are the common mode of transportation in the Netherlands but who expects people to bike in deep snow? How is it even possible? But there they were. That might have been enough to mesmerize us but it was more than that.

It was how the riders were dressed. Fur hats, long wool coats, colorful scarves, leather boots. Many of the female riders wore dresses. No jeans, no name brand outerwear. The clothing looked vintage.

I thought I’d stepped into a Hans Christian Anderson book.

The scene had a soft, hazy glow interrupted only by the huge lazy flakes dusting the riders. Once again, we were spellbound and speechless. We looked at each other as if to say, is this for real?

When we got back to our weirdly designed hotel room with its sloped ceiling leading down to a two-foot wall so we had to sit on the floor to see outside.

It was breathtaking. The canal, the centuries old houses, the old barges, the snow-covered bridges, we could have been looking at another era.

I probably haven’t come close to describing these two experiences. Words truly do fall short.

My husband and I still get breathless when we think about those two experiences.  There have been others but these two immediately came to mind.

I wish this for all of you.

Magical moments.

And magical moments don’t have to be big. They can be so small as be almost unnoticed.

They happen anywhere and at any time. I think God might call them “grace” moments. Those moments He allows us to experience something beyond ourselves and reminds us Who is the Creator.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

roadmarks, and guideposts

Why having guideposts is a really good idea

I love Jeremiah 31:21

Set up for yourself road marks, Place for yourself guideposts,

Direct your mind to the highway……..

So often we expect God and everyone else to do this for us. But most verses of instruction in Scripture, if not all, always put the responsibility clearly on our shoulders.

Let me just ask, have any of you even thought about setting up road marks and guideposts for yourself? Much else directing your own mind?

Most of don’t even believe it’s something we should do, much less that over and over in scripture we are commanded to take control of ourselves and our lives.

For example, “Be still, oh, my soul”. Again, we are the ones to do the “stilling”. The Psalms are full of like instruction. King David address his soul in many of the Psalms.

Instead, we prefer to be pushed in every direction by the standards of other people and they don’t even have to be people we know. We naively believe that if it’s in print, it must be so.

How foolish.

Like the post I recently wrote about the Target ad. Really? Everybody should wear this blouse? Why? Because someone somewhere has decided this is the latest and greatest fashion trend?

Or we hear something on the news and all our good sense goes out the window. Why? Because this person is on TV? That makes them an expert?

I am not suggesting that we can’t listen to others and shouldn’t listen to others. But it depends on who the “others” are, doesn’t it?

I won’t mention the author or the book by name but years ago this author wrote a book about marriages and what makes good marriages work. I read the book jacket to learn that this author had been married and divorced three times! Now, why in the world would anyone take his advice his beyond me. And yet the book sold millions. I can see the value in reading about his mistakes and what he should have done differently but if I want marriage advice, I’m going to listen to someone who’s been happily married for many years.

It’s like taking advice about money management from a compulsive gambler. Makes about as much sense.

Yes, we can learn from other’s mistakes but I think it makes a lot more sense to learn from people who’ve gotten “it” right, whatever “it” is. Because even those who do have “it” right have made mistakes but they’ve stuck with it and come out on the other side.

It’s the same with our road marks and our guideposts.  We need them in all aspects of our life, our marriages, our faith, our time, our relationships, etc. Without them, we have no way of knowing if we’re on track or not.

Road marks and guideposts are NOT plans. They are not goals. They are not a schedule. They are more general than that and they work no matter what your plans, your goals, and your schedules.

For example, one of mine is “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I steer clear of drama that isn’t mine. I leave that up to the players involved. Too many times we allow ourselves to get caught up in someone else’s’ drama when we clearly have no stake nor responsibility for the outcome.

Another one is my daily time with God.  I more clearly see the deviations along my personal roadway when that is intact.

“Road marks”, however, are kind of like traffic signs. I’m going too fast. I need to stop. Watch out for the curve in the road!

When I have my road marks and my guideposts in place, it’s so much easier for me to direct my mind to the highway. Otherwise, I’m just driving along, paying no attention and then find myself on a path I didn’t mean to take.

Even this morning, the road marks and guideposts I’ve set for myself got a little askew which is why I’m late with this post. I don’t get upset about it as I know “life just happens” sometimes.

But an occasional detour is never a problem.

It’s when we get lost along the way because we haven’t been following after the path that we know is good for us that gets us in trouble.

Have you ever thought about setting up some road marks and guideposts for yourself? It takes some thought and they will evolve during the different stages of your life.

Mine were very different when my children were living at home. They were very different as recently as last year when almost all my attention needed to be directed towards my mom. Now that she is gone, I have found that I’ve felt quite “directionless” for a few months as my life is very different now. But I am slowly adjusting and thinking it through. I will be establishing different guideposts for myself. There will be different road marks. The point is to examine your life and make sure you have some personal guides in your life. The parameters with which you surround yourself and keep you headed where you want to go.

God bless and have a “detour-free” day.

 

 

Jesus on the big screen

Why Jesus shouldn’t be on the big screen

(I wrote this post a few years ago when the movie “Son of God” was playing. I was scroslling through some old posts and after I read it, I still felt the same way. I like what I wrote so I decided to post it again.)

Majesty

Majesty

Long post warning!

OK, here’s where I get into trouble. A lot of you are not going to like what I say.  But I promised to be honest. This is about as honest as it gets. It is not my intent to discourage anyone from seeing the movie, the Son of God,  but just to get people to think before they jump on board. If you’ve seen the movie, then please read no further. I don’t want to rain on your parade.  Continue reading “Why Jesus shouldn’t be on the big screen”

decision-making

How to make good decisions?-part two

(This post today was a follow-up to yesterday’s post. This happened four years ago and I had kind of forgotten about it. That’s what is so great about blogging. I have a record of past events.

I was very vague when I wrote this but now with the recent death of my mom, I can tell you this post was about her. I loved her very much. I still do. But we had some difficult times. I tried really hard to make her happy. Sometimes I know I did but I often felt inadequate because I didn’t know what else to do. 

I can tell you now that this was about a trip to Florida. My husband and I love our two weeks away. He loves fishing there. I love the beach. To cancel our trip would’ve been a big deal. We had already reserved our usual place, stopped the mail, were packed etc.

The day before we were to leave, my mother told me she felt really sick.. I saw her every day and she had not mentioned it the day before.  It seemed she only had a cold with a slight cough.  When I asked her how long she had felt “really bad,” she said “days”.  I was not happy that she had sprung this on me at the last-minute knowing we had been planning this trip for months. I told her she was going to the doctor the very next morning then if she was that sick. She balked but I insisted.

I took her to the doctor the very next day and she was diagnosed with bronchitis. This was the day we were to have left for our trip. We cancelled it. And while I didn’t like it, I knew I couldn’t just go off and leave her.  Before you say, “Well, of course not,” I need to tell you my brother lived with her. He had lived with her about four years and lived with her until her death.  But let’s just say I was the one who kept on top of her health. I wasn’t sure he would take proper care of her. 

I look back and am very happy with that decision. God knew there was no way I could go off with a clear conscience and so he made it clear what I should do. Yes, my husband was fully supportive. I didn’t mope or carry-on or any such thing. I had a real peace.

The following post is all about that process of decision-making.)

 

 I just want you to know that my decision-making process has begun all over again because of new developments.  Developments that took me by surprise and threaten to completely mess everything up.

Remember I said in the last post that I was counting on God to make it clear if I am to change course. I should’ve added that it’s sometimes hard to know if God is telling us to change course or if it’s the enemy’s (you can call him what you want) way of causing us to doubt what God has revealed.  This can be very difficult to figure out.

There are some who would say otherwise, that God always makes things crystal clear, but I try to avoid contact with these people because it has been my experience that those people generally live with their heads in the clouds.) It would be wonderful if life were easy to figure out. Maybe for some people it is. Their life is easy; things just fall into place. My life is not like that right now-not at all.  It’s complicated. Very. And just a few hours ago, it got a lot more complicated.

So how will I know now what to do? I have a very narrow window to make a decision.  I’m honestly not trying to be vague. But the details of what’s happening in my life or yours are not as important as discussing this whole business of decision-making overall. I need to be general enough to help everyone. But if I’m aware of that, you ask, why can’t I just move on? Well, this same person is very elderly and not emotionally stable having suffered severe depressive episodes their entire life. Our decision is whether we leave on a trip tomorrow or not. If I had days to write and you had days to read, I still wouldn’t be able to explain it all to you. It’s that involved.

You can know that this is an elderly person who is not emotionally stable and has suffered severe depressive episodes their entire life.  Consequently, sometimes it’s hard to know if there is a valid crisis or not. Our decision is whether we leave on a trip tomorrow or not. If I had days to write and you had days to read, I still wouldn’t be able to explain it all to you. The history with this person is that complicated.

So once again I’m on my knees, if only figuratively. This morning the decision was made to go. We’ve rented the car. We’ve stopped the mail. We’re packed. Are you getting the picture? Now I’m having to reconsider. But I’m very proud of the fact that once again wisdom has been provided and once again I’m on the right track in my thinking. Tomorrow’s doctor’s appointment will seal the deal one way or the other.

I am hoping this will now be an easy decision to make but considering this person’s history, it won’t be. This is leading me to make an important point about decision-making.

A decision that is right for us may not feel that way to someone else. As long as God is behind our decision, it’s ok.

What do we do if our decision is going to cause someone some degree of discomfort? It depends on the degree and who’s going to feel it, doesn’t it?

Whose discomfort is going to be greater? I didn’t realize until I started to post tonight that this is what this decision is all about. Their discomfort or mine? I can handle a lot. I have a track record that proves it.

So here I am tonight. Not looking forward to tomorrow. Knowing there’s no way, no matter what decision I make, that I’m going to come out on top. Finally, God knew all this was going to happen so he must have a plan. Tomorrow it will unfold. I am trusting God will once again put a stumbling block in the way if going ahead with our trip is wrong. If he doesn’t I’m going to assume it’s still a go.

But God knew all this was going to happen so he must have a plan. Tomorrow it will unfold. I am trusting God will once again put a stumbling block in the way if going ahead with our trip is wrong. If he doesn’t I’m going to assume it’s still a go.

God is not a God of confusion. Scripture is clear about that. If I’m confused tomorrow about what to do, it will be my own confusion that I must muddle through.

God bless and I hope you have an non-confused day.

stones

Why rocks “rock” for me.

I love rocks. Or maybe they’re stones.

If you really want to know the difference, you can look it up here. The upshot is this: All rocks are stones but not all stones are rocks.”  Hmmm.

For me, rocks have hard and rough surfaces while stones are smooth.

I love collecting “stones” of all sizes. I’m trying to make a border around the bunkhouse and the cabin.

bunkhouse

I like to write on stones and have them placed where I can see them.

stones

I love this big one in the middle. It’s almost perfectly round. I’m thinking of writing a verse reference on each one and then one word on the other side that captures the meaning. 

Sometimes I write a reference to a special Bible verse but mostly I write, “Remember”.

This is based on the Bible story where Joshua tells the Israelites to gather stones from the Jordan River for a remembrance of God’s faithfulness. It’s from Joshua, chapter four.

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.  Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.

Sometimes, especially when I’ve been praying hard about something and it doesn’t turn out the way I want, I get discouraged. I need to remind myself that for whatever prayers haven’t been answered, there have been more that are.

So if you need to have a visual, try it. It really works.

Another thought. I have read that some people carry around a small stone in their pocket, purse, etc, and rub it between their fingers when they need to remind themselves of all God has done for them. I’ve done this as well.

Now some of you may not need a reminder. But I’m just honest enough to admit that sometimes I do.

God bless and have a good day.

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