Just Under the Surface

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19 (NLT)

I can remember watching my Dad watch the news or speeches on television. He would always look at the t.v., and start yelling at whoever was on the screen. I thought this was a bit overkill, as the only people who heard what he was saying were in the house, and if it was summer and the windows were open, those in the neighborhood.

I couldn’t understand this until a few years ago. I then realized that a part of my Dad lived on in me. I actually try not to listen to much news. I know that is terrible, but I listen to know what is going on and I read, but I cannot sit and listen and be still. I usually stand up and walk towards the t.v., yelling as I go. I then turn to Dale and express my outrage. Every. Single. Time.

For the most part, I am a sane human being. Some would call me gentle, kind, funny. They have never seen me watch the news. I have a comment for everything, and sometimes that’s not good. I do repent, but then I feel compelled to explain my position to the Lord. I’m sure it’s like watching the cartoons with the tasmanian devil, you don’t know whether to laugh or slap him. I do picture the Lord on His throne looking over to the Father and commenting that eventually I will wear myself out and then I will be quiet.

Needless to say, I have not come to the point of living like the above scripture suggests. Even when I do succeed in being quiet, my facial expressions are screaming.

Sometimes I just have to let you know how I truly am.

Not Perfect, yet

“I make a way for people to access that Kingdom. But in this world, bones will still break, hearts will still break, but in the end the light will overcome darkness.”  – from the Chosen, season 2

The above quote was from the writers of the series The Chosen for the character of Christ. I love this quote (one of many that I love). It speaks to people now. I am certain the Lord would have said this also. Not a doubt in my mind about that.

When people accept Jesus as their Savior, too often they expect perfection immediately. Not so. We are in this world. We are impacted by what we experience in this world. That is why that quote hits me so hard. We will experience everything in this world. Our hearts will be broken. Bones will still break (I know that one personally, ha!). We will have hard times. Illness will come, diseases might attack us. We will be in this world.

Does being born again save us from any of this? No. Do we conquer it all? Maybe, maybe not.

This I do know though, we have a person who knows what it is like to be here on earth. Jesus the Christ. Because He was here on earth, He understands. He’s walked this land, He’s experienced what it’s like here. He knows.

“He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity.” John 1:4 (Names of God Bible)

Jesus is God. We can come before Him and make our requests known to Him. I do this daily. Sometimes I actually have an answer to prayer that I prayed. Most of the time the answer is not exactly what I prayed for, but in time I see the wisdom of the answer. Yes, my heart has been broken several times. I yelled at God, I screamed at Him, I begged Him. Was there an immediate answer? No, actually I had a season to walk through each time. Many times it was not easy. Now, in hindsight, I can see reasons why I experienced things in my life. I learned. I actually learned from the best in leaning on the Lord.

We each have a time here on earth. This is not our home. We are just here for a moment in eternity. But, we can access that kingdom with our broken areas of our life. We can turn to the Light of the world and in Him we can persevere.

Memories of Maine

The other day my oldest daughter and I started to reminisce about Maine. We were stationed there in the early 80’s. Our oldest was five months old when we reported to our duty station in Winter Harbor. We left Maine when she was three.

Since that time, we have gone back just a few times. The last time we visited, our oldest was going into sixth grade. I was surprised at how many sights she remembered from Maine. I smiled to myself to hear her talk about Downeast Maine.

I mentioned a few more sights and with each mention, she got a bit more excited. After talking with her, I have not stopped thinking about our time there. It was a special place to live. The Navy community was small, and close knit. Friendships were formed that still last to this day. I often say I left a big part of my heart there.

This morning I woke up early. Usually when I awake that early I fall back to sleep easily. This morning was not so. I turned over and my eyes popped open and my brain was racing with clarity. In my mind, I walked through the little town where we lived. I could picture things that I am sure are no longer there. The Donut Hole, a building that looked like a fishing shack that overlooked the water. On the wall hung many mugs belonging to the regulars. There was always some group of fishermen, lobstermen, or locals sitting around tables, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Across the street was a grocery store, where you were greeted warmly whenever you went in.

I often walked into town with our daughter. We would visit the Five and Dime store and I would glance across the street to the drug store that had a soda counter in it. The town still calls to me. My heart still yearns to be back there.

The Navy has long since left the area. The housing for military personnel are now privately owned or rented out to tourists.

I can still hear the waves crashing onto the rocks and the shore. Having been a Navy family, we were always around a body of water, but the coast of Maine remains the most beautiful coast to me. The water is grey. The air is brisk. It churns with energy unlike the lapping water of many of the coasts I have been around. I can still feel the smell of the water, it filled your senses and made me feel alive. In winter it was especially angry, always turbulent, like it was trying not to freeze over in the frigid temperature. I love the coast of Downeast Maine.

Yes, a large piece of my heart is in Maine, as it became a part of me. The experience of living there, meeting the people there is woven into me. It has been forty years since we left, yet I can return there rapidly in my mind.

It’s easy to yearn for places you have been. To recall the sights, the sounds, the smells and long to return. It’s a known place to you.

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2-4 (NKJV)

Jesus promised us a place with Him. The Master Carpenter is preparing a mansion for us. He is coming back for us.

Although I have never been there, have never lived there, there is a place deep within me that yearns for Heaven a little more than I yearn for Winter Harbor. My heart lies in Heaven, and it waits to be there with my Lord.

But Never Have to Say Good-bye

As we grow, we realize that at some point we will have to say good-bye to our folks. Dale and I lost our parents early. We were in our late thirties when we had lost all of our parents. So, the thought of saying good bye to parents was something we accepted.

We have remarked several times through the years that we were approaching, or had hit the age our parents were when they died. It is a strange feeling to be the age your folks were when they passed. You sort of do a victory jig when you pass the age they were.

Yes, this sounds very morbid. But, it was something that has rumbled around my brain today. Actually, these thoughts began when I started to think of my daughters. Both have families of their own and both are busy raising their children and working. I admire my daughters greatly. They seem to be far ahead of myself at their ages. They never cease to surprise me.

I have a friend who lost her daughter about a year ago, and another friend I have known since high school lost a daughter last week. I cannot begin to imagine how they are coping. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children. It breaks my heart thinking of them.

This all reminds me that it is important to keep in touch with family. Texts, phone calls, visits when possible, these are imperative things to do. To keep that bond secure.

I never felt a panic or gave much thought to my mortality, I figured when it was time to move to heaven, I was ready. I had had a family, I saw my daughters grow, get married, have children and become settled in their lives. I felt a measure of success.

I am gifted in that my daughters do many things I did when they were little. This is a true blessing to Dale and I. It’s like we made a difference in their lives. No one could ask for more.

When our first grandchild was born, I spent time with our youngest to help her out in recovering from birth. As she napped one day, I held my grandson and began to sing to him. I started to sing the songs that I sang to his mother. A part of a song goes, “In His name I say good-night, but never have to say good-bye”. I got the first part out and my mortality hit me. I would have to say good-bye to this precious boy. I held onto him and cried.

A couple of years later, our Little Miss was born. I knew that song would get to me, and somehow I managed to squeak it out. I felt a twinge of victory. The thing is, though, she loves that song sung each time she goes down for the night. She will choose who is putting her to bed whenever we are together. Each time I put her down, that song is sung (well, a whole lot of songs are sung). Each time I come to that last part and choke up.

Each time I choke up, I remind myself to make more memories with my grands. I desire to give them memories for a life time. Memories that will follow them throughout their lives.

When Jesus was on earth, He watched His Father. “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19 (NKJV) Much of what I see my daughters doing, I recognize that I did similar things. Likewise I have caught myself doing what I saw my mother-in-law doing. Jesus gave us the example to follow the Father. I try to follow that example, but I cannot help but see how that example bleeds into every facet of our lives.

Thoughts and Prayer

During my quiet time today I read several scriptures that spoke to my heart in a deep way. The words incited me to pray for our country. I often do pray for our country, but today I felt such a need to really pray.

We are living in times where we sometimes wonder where this world is going. We are confused as to what is going on and why it is. As Christians, we know this looks like the end times. I then realize that many times in my Christian walk, I have felt that way. Then the season passes and we are still here.

I know only God the Father knows when the end times are. I do question Him at times and ask how it could ever get worse. Yet, we may recognize the seasons, but God… God knows the time.

The prompting to pray has followed me throughout today. I have tried to be obedient.

It’s not like I am frightened by the world. That is not it. I guess I am looking at the current season.

Psalm 27:13-14 says, “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. 14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (NKJV)

Lord, help me to wait on You. Strengthen and encourage me to be of good courage. Let me lean into You, knowing the times and the seasons are Yours and Yours alone. For our country, Lord, I ask that You cover this land, open eyes that are blinded and ears that are dull. Reveal Yourself to this land. Let us look up, recognize You as Lord and live for You. Amen.

What’s Your Point of View?

Today as I was walking there was a pleasant breeze and the temperature was actually mild. There was low humidity and it felt so great just to be outside and not stifled by the temperature.

As I got to the end of our driveway, I looked down our road, eyes to the sky. The sky was a brilliant blue with white puffy clouds. It was a beautiful sight, one that was hopeful for the weather and doing things outdoors.

As I did my circle to go the other way my eyes looked up our road and into the sky. There the clouds were dark and ominous. The grays were dark gray and there was no blue to see in that direction. Coming back down the driveway, the woods looked like it was late evening, with very little light passing through the trees.

Obviously, I noticed the difference and began to reflect on it. The breeze was stiff, but not to the point of being blustery, just a nice breeze to walk in. The breeze could just be an August breeze, or could it be the introduction of a storm about to hit?

So often in life we see and experience situations that are like the stiff breeze and the dark skies. Our first inclination when seeing these outdoors is to go inside. Go in before you are caught in a torrent of rain. Remove yourself from in-climate weather. Storms in life sometimes warrant us heading to safety and security. Other times storms make us withdraw from everyone, leaving us isolated and alone. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)

Likewise, when times for us are beautiful, with lots of blue skies, white clouds and promise we tend to think most others are feeling the same way. We feel at peace with God, with our lives and with our future. It is during those bright times in our lives where, I think, we need to be mindful of others. It is during those high points in our lives where we could look to others, being the encouraging word, or hug they may need. “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 (NLT)

Sometimes we just need to decide which point of view we are in. One way may weigh us down and isolate us, but the other we may be able to see the hope that is before us.

Taking Things Literally

Most of the time, I am a literal person. I take people at their word. I make jokes of street signs, such as “Slow Children at play”. Why would anyone call a child slow and then point out that slow children are playing?

Another is the lack of correct punctuation, which I know I am horribly guilty of. An example, “let’s eat Mom” instead of “let’s eat, Mom.” I am thankful my daughters did not say the first, I know I would be a gristly piece to eat.

I say the above in jest, except for being horrible at punctuation. There is one area that I truly am literal. I am literal when reading my Bible. I know what I am reading is truth. I know the words are from God given through Holy Spirit to men.

I have no qualms believing the words I read daily.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV) These words have helped me through the years, given me strength, encouragement, and set me on right paths when I was straying in a different direction.

One of my favorite scriptures that I believe and am waiting to see more proof of in my life is John 13:12 ““I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (NLT)

Jesus has gone to the Father. With faith and courage we can do greater things now. I know there are countless promises of God in His Word. Each one is for us. God does not deceive. He does not waver. What He says He will do, He will do. He is not like man who will say something, forget about it, let it slip our mind and not do something. God is a great God. He will do as He promises in His word.

Today, let’s be literal. Let’s look at the Bible and believe what it says.

How did Mom know?

I have a memory of my Mom mentioning to me that someday you would have to check your appearance when you talked on the phone because you would be able to see the person you were talking to. I don’t know what precipitated the conversation or how it came about. I just remember her saying it. Someday you will see the person you are talking to.

At the time I thought it was a bizarre thought. Phones were on the wall (or table) and at the time you had to make certain the other party wasn’t talking on the party line. How in the world could you see a person on the phone?

My Mom died in 1966, and I often wonder what she would think of the technology of today. So much has changed and yes, now we can see the person we are talking to. Who would have thought?

Yesterday we had an impromptu conversation with our youngest daughter and our Little Man. It was delightful and made my day. We were able to see his new books he received for his birthday along with a new keyboard. He played us several songs and we all laughed and joked and talked. The time together did my heart good.

As we hung up I once more thought of the conversation with my Mom so many years ago. I smiled and said to myself, “Yes, Mom, we can see the people in a call. But, no, I didn’t change my clothes or even comb my hair. I was just me.”

Family loves you as you are and although technology can be frustrating and burdensome, yesterday it gave me a visit from my baby and her baby.

God in a Box

“The God of the Bible cannot be contained” Max Lucado ~ Before Amen

How often do we put God in a box? We conveniently package Him as we currently see Him. Like He is our own personal genie in a lamp, we pray for one thing and immediately think He is going to grant our wish. God is not a genie. God is God.

I think one reason we put limits on our God is that in our human mind we cannot fathom a Being who has created this universe, our world, our home, us. And yet, everyone who acknowledges God has the same thought. The magnitude of God is confounding.

Often when my daughters were in high school, they would come to me with what was earth shattering to them. I would remind them that during that time in their lives the Lord was not sitting on His throne of grace wringing His hands. He was not worried about how He would work it all out for them. Their situations did not take Him by surprise. Then I would remind them that since He had it all under control, we could then believe that He would provide answers to the situations.

After such conversations with them, I would then leave their rooms reminding myself to listen to what I had just said.

Frequently, we see the problem before us and although we know we can turn to God, often we do not acknowledge the scope of His reach. Our God cannot be contained.

This all reminds me of one of my favorite book series, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. In the first book we are introduced to Aslan, an example of Jesus. The children in the book meet Aslan and are told that he will come and go, and that he is not a tame lion, that he cannot be tied down.

How often do we try to ‘tame’ and ‘tie down’ our God? We see limits to our God, because we are people with limits on us. We can see and feel what is in front of us, and can only speculate on what’s out of our sight.

“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

“So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6 (NKJV)

I write this as a reminder to myself, to reinforce what I read in my devotions this morning. Our God cannot be contained. How awesome it would be if we could grasp that idea, have faith the size of a mustard seed, and watch what our God could do in our lives.

Our God is an awesome God He reigns from heaven above With wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God

Mountain Retreat, 1977

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 12:1-2 (NKJV)

This verse was part of my devotions today. I always smile when I read this verse. Then I remember my first retreat in the mountains south of Tokyo so long ago.

We went with our Friday night fellowship group and traveled by car. The night before we left Dale was working on the car, prepping it for the long trip. It was growing dark and supper was ready to eat. I walked out of our home and went to where he was. He had a pair of pliers in his hand and I startled him. The result was that the pliers swung around and shorted out the battery. It being 1977, and in a foreign country, there was no where to find a replacement battery and we were leaving early in the morning. But, we were young, and I was strong and the car was light, so we pushed the car, Dale jumped in and hit the clutch and away we went. We did get several looks whenever we stopped as these crazy Americans pushing a car to get it to go. Eventually we arrived at the retreat center.

The lodge was settled amongst the mountains. We all arrived at the same time. Our friend Pam jumped out of their car and we both talked of the beauty of this place. That was the first time I heard the above scripture. I had never heard it before then, and I will always connect it with that time and place.

In fact, I really cannot remember any of the messages, I know I took notes. The scripture in Psalm 121 was my lesson. I lift up my eyes to the hills. I know where my help comes from. I have never looked at another mountain the same way. Each time that scripture resonates in my mind and envelopes me with sweet memories.

The retreat was Japanese style. No beds, just futons. Layers of comfy quilts piled on top of another. Sleep was probably some of the best sleep I have had. Each night we pulled out the futons and slept and each morning, they were put away in the closet. Futons had their own space for storage.

The meals all had mushrooms in them. It was a bit overpowering and it did turn me off of mushrooms for a long time. The other staple were eggs. From quail eggs to huge eggs that one could feed a family.

The showers were in a different building, an ofuro, a building for men and the other for women. It was a public bath. You would wash off in what looked like a locker room and then take your clean body to soak in this huge shallow pool filled with steaming water and lots of strangers. It was something I never adjusted to that week, but, I admit that once sitting in the pool every muscle relaxed and renewed.

I have thought of that week today. I never imagined that I would have had these experiences. When I think on them, it is like a dream that was real Moments in life have a way of etching themselves in you. Memories tattoo themselves in your mind. Sometimes a reading of a devotional can once more transport you back to a time and place you never could have imagined.

I am thankful daily for the life the Lord has given me. It has been filled to overflowing with adventure and surprise. Thank You, Jesus.