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Heartbreak

We all experience heartbreak. No one is exempt from it.

It could be that I have watched too many period series with my daughter this past week that has caused me to think about heartbreak.  It is rumbling in my thoughts, so I am going to consider the topic today.

Heartbreak comes in many ways. No one who is alive remains unscathed by this dilemma. Once it happens, it consumes us. No one can heal someone with a broken heart. Only time will begin to diminish it’s hold on us. Days will eventually begin to brighten. Memory starts to function again. I went through a long season of heartbreak. I could not remember the date, the year, the season. All was a blur to me. I felt devastated, alone and empty. It will rip through your mind, your health and your emotions.

In time, life was restored to me. I began to see the beauty of a day. I began to smile and eventually laughter reappeared. 

Through it all, the Lord was close to me. I know He was although I didn’t spend much time with Him. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

May your hearts today begin a healing if you are in a season of  heartbreak. May your days begin to brighten. May our Lord walk with you and hold you up.

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Pam’s Spaghetti

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

We attended a group while in Japan. We were the Friday Night Fellowship and we met in the chapel of the base hospital. We were all young and enthusiastic about our love of Jesus. Yes, we were a bunch of Jesus freaks, after all, it was the 70’s. It seemed that everyone was freakish about something in the mid 70’s.

Our little fellowship tried once a month to meet in homes and we shared a community meal. We all took turns doing this. Those of us who didn’t live in government quarters squeezed everyone into the small Japanese apartments.

One Saturday we went to the home of friends. It was a small apartment and somehow about 20 of us fit into the place with spillover onto their little patio. Pam made spaghetti. Her sauce smelled wonderful and being young adults, we all arrived starving.

I remember making my way to the kitchen to see if I could help. What greeted me was a very frustrated Pam. Her blonde hair starting to curl because of the steam coming off the pans of boiling spaghetti. Her eyes told the story of her frustration. I went to her and looked into the pan of scalding water. There in the center of the pan was a big ball of spaghetti. No strands, just one big ball. The other pan held the same. Our eyes met and I half-believing said, “We can fix this”. Ahh! youth and inexperience.

We grabbed forks and for the next few minutes we separated the strands of pasta. Of course, the pans were much too small for the amount of pasta that was put in. That was one of the lessons learned that afternoon. But eventually we got enough strands to feed the crowd. Pam and I each had the remaining ball of pasta to cut our way through as we ate.

No one was the wiser of what our kitchen drama had been. They ate and were filled and happy. Lesson two of that day was, if no one is aware of the drama, they don’t think about it.

I confess that I have never made spaghetti since without thinking of that day. I don’t think I have had a ‘ball’ of spaghetti, but I have had strands stick together. I often ask the Lord what the parable of the ball was. What was the analogy?

I have had several thoughts about that ball of food. We can hold tightly to one another, keeping a hedge of protection around us. We can join forces to be a stronghold where we are a force to be reckoned with. We sometimes intertwine ourselves with others and we miss what the Lord has for us. We need a support system to keep us propped up.

There are several lessons we could learn from a ball of spaghetti. When I remember it, I think of the laughter from this woman. I think of the times we spent together, in Japan and in San Diego. We encouraged one another, we taught one another, we prayed for each other. We were bound like that ball of soaking pasta.

Ecclesiastes 4:12, “ A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT)

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Resident Aliens

“We are strangers, we are aliens, we are not of this world” Petra

In early June of 1976 we boarded a plane at San Francisco International airport. We were heading to Japan. I had never taken an international trip before and had no idea what was in store for me. I was scared and apprehensive of what the next three years held for me. I was also excited for a new adventure with my husband of of 17 months. Together we found our seats, and buckled up for our trip.

Several hours later I looked out to see brilliant blue waters below me. We were descending to land. I looked over to Dale (my husband) and asked if we were there already. He smiled and said, “No dear, we are in Honolulu” . I had no idea that the flight would be so long. We had a 45 minute layover there and I said I wanted to breathe Hawaiian air. At that time we could get off the plane and go outside, no security checks, no TSA, just a terminal with doors to go through. We walked outside and smelled the fresh Hawaiian air. Something I thought I would never do. We came back inside and bought an ice cream bar from a vending machine. Vending machines were the only thing that was available, no restaurants like we have now. We got back to our seats ready for the next leg of our journey. That has been my only Hawaiian adventure.

The plane itself was filled mostly with military folks going to a new duty station. We were all young, early twenties and some ‘older folks’ who were in their thirties. There was a party atmosphere on the plane as one of the wineries in California had provided wine for the second leg of the trip. As we drew near to Japan airspace the crowd in the plane was in full tilt party mode. We had all had wine, we had a buffet, we were becoming friends.

It was a rainy evening when we touched down at Haneda airport in Tokyo. We taxied to a stop and the plane grew silent. We had landed and reality hit us all. We had filled out the forms for what we were bringing into the country, and we were ready to head to customs. At the door of the plane, I hesitated, afraid of the next step. Dale gave me a gentle nudge and I started down the stairs. We stood on the tarmac and looked at the signs. Both were in Kanji with English translation below. The first sign said ‘residents’ the second ‘aliens’. Everyone hesitated. Here we were aliens. We did not belong to this country. This was not our home. I will never forget that feeling. I knew I would be there for three years. The bottom line was I wanted to go home. I wanted to see my sisters. I needed to see them. I needed reassurance and hugs. Instead, my husband held out his hand and guided me into the terminal. The first step, done.

Obviously, we made it through customs and met our sponsor from the base who greeted us and got us to our final destination, Yokosuka. Our sponsor became a dear friend who got us settled and ready for what would become one of the greatest adventure of my life.

It was in Japan that I would become a born-again Christian. It was there that I began to realize that we are all aliens on this earth. Our true home for those of us who trust our Lord with our lives, is in Heaven. We are just passing through. We are resident aliens.

II Corinthians 5:1-5 says, “For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.” (the Message)

A Memorable 4th

Beginning of the year 1976, there was a build-up to a celebration of the 4th of July. It was the bicentennial of our nation. I was so excited for this celebration and imagined where we would spend the day, knowing that the fireworks would be special and the day would be incredible.

Also, at the beginning of the year of 1976, we knew we were due for orders. This would involve a move, most likely overseas. I hoped that we would somehow still be in the states for the fourth. As the time drew nearer for orders, places like Rota, Spain; Cuba; Scotland; Iceland; were all mentioned. Some of the places I could readily picture myself, others I couldn’t. Our orders came in and they were for Yokosuka, Japan. I never ever thought of going to Japan. I showed Dale my support, but inside I was questioning such a move. My thoughts of celebrating the bi-centennial in the states were dashed.

We arrived in Japan in early June. We were settled in our little Japanese apartment by the first of July. We experienced our first typhoon July 2nd through the 6th. A typhoon was lingering off the coast of Japan, dumping rain, wind and lots of water on Yokosuka and the immediate area.

On the fourth, we headed onto the base. We waded through ankle deep water to get to our car, and then we half floated/half drove to the base where there was going to be a parade.

That soggy fourth of July will always live in my memories as one of the very best celebrations I have experienced. Passing through the main gate of the base, we were home on the 4th of July. America was present on foreign soil. The spirit of our country paraded itself with the sailors and marines stationed on the base. The host country graciously honored this celebration. I stood in deep water that fourth of July, 1976, with a winter coat on while a parade passed in front of us. The base was alive with the indomitable spirit of America.

Through the rain the 6th Fleet Navy band led the parade carrying our flag, the host country flag and the military flags.

Although the rain and time has produced fuzzy photos, the memories are crisp in my mind. I stood in a country, once at war with my homeland, and together we celebrated the bi-centennial. The celebration I had envisioned at the beginning of the year was far different than the incredible time I had that day while standing in water and straining to remain upright in the heavy wind.

We once were told that our love for America would grow living overseas.  I did not think that possible, but it was.  The pride and honor I felt that day in 1976 has only grown for this country that has been my homeland.  My heart beats red, white and blue.  I am a patriot.  I stand with tears in my eyes for our flag. 

As much as I love this country, my heart yearns for more.  Hebrews 11:16 says, “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” (NKJV)   I cannot wait to be in my forever home, standing with my Creator.

Life

This weekend is a long one. A weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, or our Independence Day here in the states.

The days will be crowded with activities for many people here. Each family cramming enough time to celebrate with friends and family.

Since learning that I can go sling-less while at home, I once more had to come to a realization that I cannot do everything that I wish. I spent the last couple of days doing things, and planning a full weekend. I got as far as this morning and concluded that I am still not up to full speed yet. This was disappointing for me.

We had a wonderful dinner with friends last night. We sat and talked around the table and had dessert in their screened in porch and talked some more. We got home and knew we had a delightful time. Life is such a blessing when you have friends who are gifts to you.

The rest of the weekend reminded me of what life is. This afternoon is a wedding, a new beginning for a couple. The start of a lifetime of memories, joys, heartbreak, and laughter. I have been so excited for this couple and have been looking forward with them to this date. While I am thrilled for this day for them, we decided to stay home this afternoon and allow myself to regain some of the energy that seems to have departed.

Tomorrow is church and then we will be going to a funeral. A precious woman has moved to heaven. She was a high-spirited woman who enlivened any group she walked into. A gracious woman who lived her life with enthusiasm, love of our Lord and joy. We will go (Lord willing) to say our final good-bye to her after church.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” (NLT) This weekend, to me, shows that to be true. A couple beginning life together and a family saying good-bye to a loved one. In the midst of all of this is a celebration of a holiday. Families joining together, friends gathering, and observing the anniversary of a country being born.

Life is filled with many precious moments. Some life changing and some that pass with little notice. My hope is that your weekend will be filled with moments that nourish your soul.

Ezekiel 16:60-63

Today in my quiet time, I read the 16th chapter of Ezekiel. As I have been reading the Old Testament prophets, I have thought of our country.

246 years ago our country declared it’s Independence. We stood strong and held closely to our beliefs. We wanted freedom of religion. We wanted to be able to worship our Lord without the dictates of how we should do that. We wanted freedom from taxation without representation. We wanted to be a sovereign country of our own.

There were many other reasons, and I cannot list them all as I am afraid I would not correctly list them. But, this I do know, our country was founded on God. Our forefathers depended upon Him. Their writings reflected Him. God was an integral part of the birth of this nation. The men who signed the Declaration of Independence did so knowing that their lives were on the line. Signing this document, could have meant signing their death warrants. The battle that followed also put men in direct path of death. They fought for what they believed in and held as truth in their hearts.

Now, 246 years later it is my belief that this country is like a petulant toddler. Generations have passed since the founding fathers put their life on the line. Our young country has grown, it has become powerful and yet our dependence on God has grown cold.

People often quote II Chronicles 7:14, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (NLT) when they request prayer for our country. This is an excellent quote, but too often the phrase “and turn from their wicked ways” is not part of the prayer.

Our country is young. When children are young, they act out. Sometimes, toddlers are outright bad, hence the term ‘terrible twos’ or my favorite, ‘torturous threes’. Personally, I think our country needs more than a ‘time-out’, we need to receive direction and be accountable for our actions.

The sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel talks about the sin of Jerusalem. They had played the harlot and God was not pleased. He was angry. As I read the chapter I could see a similarity to our country. I prayed for our country for a return to God. To see a revival in this country.

The last part of the 16th chapter talks of God’s covenant with His people. His forgiveness. The shame of His people. “Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. 61 Then you will remember with shame all the evil you have done. I will make your sisters, Samaria and Sodom, to be your daughters, even though they are not part of our covenant. 62 And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. 63 You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

May we, this long weekend leading up to the celebration of our country turn to God and away from the shame of our sins.

Yes, this is different from what I normally post, but, this is close to my heart. I love my country with an unending love. I am a proud American. I long for the day to come when, once more, we live by what our Founding Fathers lived by.

Clutter

Clutter. We all have it. Our houses show that someone is truly living there when there is clutter. Mail on the table, receipts on a counter, throw blanket askew. It is our life and sometimes the bane of our existence.

Many times we don’t see clutter. It’s always been there and so it’s normal. I can vary, at times clutter is part of my life and other times I want it completely gone.

After going for my check up yesterday, the doctor said that I can go without my sling while I am at home. When I go out, it has to be on. I asked what I could do, as I do need boundaries. I am allowed to begin to function as normal, do not over do and watch the amount of weight I lift. I really like this doctor because when I asked about vacuuming, he said it would be at least two years. Yes, he was kidding.

This morning, I awoke and was excited to begin getting back to normal. I gave my day to the Lord and asked what I should do, where should I begin. The answer was clutter.

Although Dale has taken wonderful care of me and the house, we did have a small pile of mail on the table. Knowing this, I thought to myself, well, that’s just a small start.

As I sorted through the mail, I understood that clearing clutter does not only mean the physical stuff we have laying around in piles. Clutter can be anything we let pile up around us. Attitudes, moods, thoughts, frustrations we don’t let go of, all of this can be clutter too.

So, as I began to clear the physical clutter, I asked the Lord to help me clear my personal clutter.

Psalm 51:7, “Purify me from my sins,and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (NLT)

Cleanse me, oh Lord, from the clutter that I pick up and for that which attaches itself to me when I am careless. Let me not become accustomed to the piles of little things that draw me away from You. Amen.

Downcast

“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?” Psalm 42:5a (NKJV)

Today is just one of ‘those’ days. Nothing major is going on, things are well, actually. I just feel anxious and down today.

I know that this is not a permanent feeling. I know that my Lord is here beside me. I know all of this.

So, why is it when we have ‘those’ days do we think it is always going to be like it is currently.

The rest of Psalm 42 talks about remembering God and the His deliverance. He talks of hope in God. He talks about pouring out his heart to God. His hunger for God in his life.

So, as this day is winding down for me (it is early evening as I write this), I will turn my eyes toward God. He is my help, my deliverer and my healer. I will put my hope in God.

Discovering you’re a Control Freak over Scalloped Potatoes

Confession time…again.

With all the noise in the country and the world, what do I decide to focus on? How onions are being sliced to put into a casserole of scalloped potatoes with ham.

I know each person on this planet has a tipping point. A point where frustration begins. A point where thoughts of graciousness and kindness start to drift out of the open window or door. Unfortunately, I held the door open and let my kindness and gratefulness blow out the door with a great gust.

In my mind I would have loved to have had a day with my girls like we shared many times when they were growing up. A day of fast food, popcorn and TCM movies. A day with Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. A day of mindless entertainment. It’s been well over a decade since I have had a day like that. Yet, that is where I went in my mind after discovering what a control freak I can be. Onion slices or onion pieces, it truly does not make a difference, does it? Still, somehow it hit me the wrong way.

I reminded myself of the children of Israel when they left Egypt. Exodus 16:3, “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” (NLT)

During those days I remembered with my girls I was longing for other things. Although I was having a time with my daughters, I know my full attention wasn’t in enjoying the moments with them. I was most likely preoccupied with other things. Today, while my husband graciously was making dinner for us, I was complaining about onions and the way he was making dinner.

How ludicrous is it when you allow yourself to be so short-sighted you miss the blessings in front of you. Forgive me Lord.

Recognition

 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)

This morning as I walked and prayed I recognized that I had nothing standing out in my mind of what to write today. This is usually the time where I plan my day, plan my week of writing and get some exercise.

I love my walking time. Since I really had nothing in my thoughts, I enjoyed the walk. Since being in a sling, I have become cautious of my steps, watching the driveway for any dips or stones that may make me slide. I am even more cognizant of what I am doing.

The breeze in the trees picked up and the temperature dropped just a bit. It was refreshing. The sky was trying to make up it’s mind if it wanted to sunny or cloudy, the sun shining brightly and then disappearing behind clouds. It was a perfect day for a walk.

Sometimes, in the midst of schedules and planning, we are redirected. This was me today. Instead of planning words and phrases, I was filled with a peace and thankfulness.

This verse describes my day. I was rejoicing in the little things around me. The breeze, the trees, the sky. Far too often I do not stop and think of these things, let alone rejoice in them. Far too often I do not have the attitude of rejoicing.

I do try to pray without ceasing. It is a daily conversation with our Lord, but I find also that, although I am talking non-stop, I do not always wait to listen to what He has to say. A one sided conversation is not a conversation. Conversations involve two people.

I try to be thankful, but, that too is difficult to do each and every day.

The feeling I have had today is one of thankfulness. The little things have caught my eye today and have filled my heart with peace. It’s been a quiet and cloudy day today, but I have felt the presence of God surrounding me.

I struggled how to convey this day in words. Sometimes words are inadequate. If I could try to explain today, it was like a day in comfy pajamas, wrapped in a soft quilt and leaning on someone you love. Today I have been wrapped in the Lord and listening to His heart beat knowing all is well with me.

The Fig Tree

“But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” Micah 4:4 (NKJV)

About three years ago Dale bought a fig tree. It was just a small branch, really, but he was excited to have it. He planted it in a planter and we set it on the outside deck. The next morning it was strewn all over the deck. A cat, or a raccoon, something got into it.

The fig tree was then moved onto our screen porch where it flourished. It grew so large that we had to prune it or prepare to cut a tree shaped hole in the roof of our screen porch.

The tree was babied for the next couple of years, covered to protect it in the cold months and watered in the warmer months. A raccoon broke into our screen porch this winter and once more the tree was dumped over. We discovered it on it’s side and most of the dirt spread across the porch.

This spring, the tree left the porch to it’s permanent home in the yard. Dale dug the hole, placed the tree lovingly in the ground and then he prayed for it to flourish. Yes, my husband is dear like that, loving anything God gives us to grow.

We have checked on the tree daily and have been thrilled to see little figs appearing on the tree. I have had dreams of making fig jam and fig bars.

Last week as I was walking, I checked our elderberry bushes, our grapevines, our blueberry bushes, the one or two berries were actually starting to turn blue. I then looked into the lower yard at the fig tree. Something was off. I walked in the yard to see half of the leaves gone. I looked on the ground to see if it was a bug or disease, but there were no leaf debris to see. I knew then, that it was our neighborhood herd of deer that had feasted on those precious leaves.

In a few minutes, Dale and I were outside providing a protection for the tree and a deterrent to the deer. Dale was grumbling at the deer, and I knew the feeling as our deer love our roses and I cannot keep them growing at all.

We also talked of how the deer probably enjoyed the tender leaves from the tree. We figured the leaves were a treat for them, but, looking into our woods we know they have plenty of other things to feed on.

Once more our little fig tree is safe and growing. Protected from hungry deer and able to continue it’s life in the ground.

Fig trees are mentioned often in the Bible. Jesus even cursed a fig tree when He was hungry and there were no figs on the tree He passed. Another parable talks about giving a fig tree an extra year to be cared for before cutting it down.

I see lessons in our fig tree. It has been nourished and loved. It has the encouragement to grow and produce fruit. It has been given a home where it’s roots will reach deep into the earth. This, too, is our lives. We have been planted, nourished and loved. Will we produce fruit or will we be given just one more year to see if there is a difference?

“For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.  Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.” Hebrews 3:14-15 (NLT)

Let us stretch our roots deep into our Lord, allowing the softening of our hearts so that we can produce fruit, in season and out of season, for our Lord. For our God is our protection and covering as we grow.

Prayer for My Country

“God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.” Proverbs 14:34 (MSG)

Dear Father, You led people here to establish a country for themselves. It has been a country that has given a safe haven for many. People see in the foundations of my country a place to worship freely without fear or fear of harm. People see this place as a place of opportunity, to pursue their God-given rights.

Father, lead this country back to You. May we drop to our knees and beg forgiveness of what we have allowed our homes to become. Forgive us for taking for granted what You alone have provided here. Turn us back, and lead us.

As we approach our Independence Day celebrations, let us remember what this country was founded and built on. Let us recall how many put their lives on the line to provide us with safety and security and freedom.

Let us truly be free in You, let us turn to You and You alone. Restore this country and restore this people. Amen

Guarding Relationships

 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” I Peter 5:8 (NLT)

I had a conversation today that was long overdue. As we talked, this scripture came to mind.

Relationships have always been precious. Family, friends, acquaintances, church family, whoever is in your life and is a part of your life, these people are precious. They may be people who you talk with and share intimate details with, or they can be casual conversation type people, either make you who you are.

The enemy of our souls does roam around, looking to destroy and devour relationships. The love of family, the harmony of friendship, these things are in satan’s sight-line. If a family can be destroyed, he is at the ready.

I am not giving glory to him. He deserves no glory at all. But as homes are protected from wild animals, wild individuals, we need to protect and be aware of the damage that can be done in relationships. We must guard relationships.

This week I, once more, had to deal with someone from long ago. There were accusations made and things dredged up from thirty years ago. I allowed myself to become angry and let them know of my anger, but fortunately, I did not unleash my anger. I simply said, I am angry right now.

Everyone can get angry. It is what you do when you are angry that counts. Praise God, I was able to distance myself a bit. But, the the words I read and the accusations hurled in my direction affected me. I am better, but, confess there is still hurt about them. Questions have become my conversation with our Lord. Am I what I was accused of? Am I full of attitude? Am I completely wrong?

I have struggled with this old relationship for years. Every few years it resurrects and I hope that this time it will be different. So far, it is like an old 33 album with a scratch on it. It stops at a point and just repeats and repeats, not moving forward.

It is times like these that make me realize how precious our true relationships are, like the conversation I had today. The devil would like to divide, distance and destroy families and friends. We cannot allow that to happen. Relationships are a gift from God. The people He places in our lives are there to support and encourage us, not bring us down.

It is our blessed calling to love one another, just as Christ loves us. We are called to care for our family and friends. We are called to encourage and lift up our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

I am thankful for this past week, filled with a dichotomy. The remains of a one time friendship built on a weak foundation, and the true friendship, that has withstood the test of time. Guard those precious relationships in your life. We need one another for support, guidance and love.

“Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep rustlers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” John 10:6-10 (MSG)