Walking and Talking

“And [in reverent fear and obedience] Enoch walked with God; and he was not [found among men], because God took him [away to be home with Him].” Genesis 5:24 (AMP)

Today I have been thinking of Enoch. This man has always fascinated me. Here is scripture that describes him,“When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he became the father of Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God three hundred years after the birth of Methuselah and had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.” Genesis 5:21-23 (AMP)

Enoch walked and talked with God. It was his habit. It was a friendship. I imagine that as Enoch went out for his walks he met God waiting for him. The two would walk and talk about everything. Then Enoch would leave and go home.

That in itself sounds wonderful. A friendship like we all desire. A friend with whom you can be yourself, you can talk if you want or you can be quiet and still know you are having a wonderful time together. A kindred spirit. Those friendships are few and far between. A friendship where your heart recognizes in another the same way of beating, your conversations come easily and end too soon. Where you part and wait excitedly for the next time you are together.

This is what Enoch shared with God. Until that one day where as they were parting company, God looked at Enoch and said, “Why don’t you just come home with Me?” And Enoch was no more.

Can you imagine? Enoch’s home was in sight. He knew what was inside the house. His wife, his family, his possessions. The comforts he knew, the familiar, his home. Yet, he accepted the invitation. He went to be with the Lord.

Enoch fascinates me. He was here, earth-bound, gravity holding him in place until it wasn’t.

Jeremiah 32:17 says, “ ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.” (NKJV)

Nothing is too difficult for God. He is greater than gravity and possessions here. In Him we can trust, because nothing, absolutely nothing, nothing is too difficult for Him.

Shaky

A few years ago I started to shake. At first it was once in a while. It grew to almost daily. Soon the shakes were affecting my arms and hands and my head felt like there was someone using my head as a rattle. Then my husband started asking why I was moving my mouth while he was talking. I personally thought he was imagining things.

Eventually I mentioned this to my primary care physician and she found a neurologist for me to see. For the past year I have been seeing him every few months.

Today I had an appointment with this man. He is an incredible doctor, one that exudes confidence, comfort and understanding. He listened as we talked with him. He did several tests and came to the conclusion that I have essential tremors. I told him I was glad they were essential as I would not like to have non-essential ones.

What are they, you ask? Think of Katherine Hepburn in the movie On Golden Pond. I have what she had only without her millions. I had asked if they were part of the deal, but, alas, they are not.

Even though I have total trust in this physician, I always go to the Great Physician first. So, this morning as I walked, I asked the Lord to go ahead of me. I asked that my weight be good, my blood pressure be good and that I would get a good report. I weighed myself before going to the doctor, my scale is my friend. I think it goes on the heavy side, but at least it is consistent.

I walked into the office and stopped to be weighed. The weight was almost the exact number as it was at home. It was .8 lbs. more, but, I will take it. Having bested the scale I sat down and the dreaded cuff came out. I hate that cuff. It is not my friend. It makes people on the other end take a breath and shake their head. Today, the cuff loved me, and the feeling was almost returned.

So far, everything was great. I was thrilled. The doctor came in, did the usual tests, like have me draw circles in the air, and walk and stand up from sitting, and have my eyes follow his finger. Nothing painful. His conclusion? I am holding steady. Praise God!

The best part of today, besides going for lunch with Dale afterwards, was that my next appointment is in a year.

As I type this, I am relieved. Is there an answer for this? No, it will be my companion until I see Jesus. But, I am at peace with it all. Yes, I may dribble water from my glass, and drop things off of my fork. I may move my lips while others talk, but I am okay with this.

I know that my Lord has a purpose in my life. There is a purpose for these tremors. He will see me through this all. I just won’t ask for sharp knives as a gift, I will keep to my dull ones, they are safer in my hands.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Signals

It is raining again today. The temperature is still in the mid-80’s so it is warm.

Dale and I ate our lunch outdoors again. We sat on the screen porch and listened to the gentle rain falling on the other side of the screen. It was a quiet rain, a soothing rain. The type where you want to make soup for dinner or just curl up with a blanket and rest.

The falling rain reminded me of being in our hometown of Oil City, PA. I thought of times past when we were getting ready to head back to school. When you could feel in the air that summer was winding down and soon books would be what was focused on.

A rain that signals the beginning of the end of summer. Now, I am not a summer person. I much prefer the cooler seasons. But, there is something melancholy about the end of summer. The rain starts and although you know there are still a few weeks left of heat and humidity, the late summer rains carry a signal that soon the leaves will fall and the wind will hold a chill.

The days will grow shorter, nights longer and long sleeves will be part of the wardrobe. This year I feel the end of summer more than most other years. Although I am not a summer person, this time heralds the end of carefree vacations and days at the beach for so many. The days of fresh produce and summer fruit. The lightness of the season. Summer is laughter and playfulness.

Soon, as the stores are all displaying, school will start. Each package of new crayons with sharp points, highlighters that are crisp in color, notebooks that are new and not tattered, pens still in their package waiting to be opened forecast a more somber time. A time to sit still and listen. A time to learn and read. A return to the rote, the have-to’s.

Yes, that all hit me while munching on a sandwich and talking with Dale. Sometimes that which is not spoken carries the most weight in the mind. But, for now, it is only the beginning of August and yes, I am retired.

“And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings;
He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding.” Daniel 2:21 (NKJV)

Ouch! In a good way

When we lived in San Diego I became involved in prayer ministry. A group of us would meet an hour before church each Sunday and pray for the service, the pastor, the city, and any pressing needs we may have.

A lot was crammed into those hour prayer times. It formed a bond with many who were part of the team. Some of my favorite memories happened during the hour before church.

When we moved to South Carolina, I attempted a couple of times to pray before church. Some time while living in the low country and then once we moved upstate, here.

I became discouraged here as I truly didn’t know people of the church well. I could see the faces of those who sat in each seat, but I didn’t know the people. I prayed for the service, which I could figure out, and then I wasn’t familiar with the city to pray for the community.

San Diego was easy to pray. I knew that to the west was the Pacific, and I knew what suburbs were against the water. North was towards Los Angeles and so I could pray for the north county, for the marines on Camp Pendelton , and for the communities north of the church. East was the mountain towns that eventually lead to the desert. South were the communities close to the border of Mexico. I knew the direction to face and how to pray. I was confident in those times. I knew the city, I knew the people, I knew the church.

Change in location shifts your confidence. At least it did mine. I have always had the desire to pray and to lead prayer. I have been to prayer conferences where I have learned so much. Nothing in my desire has changed, nothing in my knowledge has shifted, yet, moving cross country disoriented my focus and confidence.

This morning at church our Pastor preached an incredible sermon. It was titled “When God’s People Pray”. The message was encouraging, and yet at the same time it produced an OUCH in me. I knew everything he was saying and in fact, I have said a lot of what he said at different times in my life. Prayer is important.

I felt it was time for me to return to what I had been doing long ago. That was the ouch part. But, it was a good ouch. More like a jab to the heart of me to prod me to do what I know how to.

The message was so encouraging also. For years I doubted why I liked to pray. Was I really called to lead and teach in this area? Or, was it vanity on my part for being asked to teach and lead so many years ago? Those two questions have plagued my thought process for a very long time.

I have not stopped praying. I wouldn’t know how to do that. Part of that stems from my Catholic roots and the prayers I learned as a child. I continue to pray for my Pastors, for my church, for the city we live in (although I still have no clue which direction is which)

Today our pastor talked about what the prayers of the saints are. They are incense to our Lord. The tears we cry while praying are put in a bottle with our name on it and written in the Lord’s book. God keeps track of our prayers. As I sat in my chair, I remembered all the tearful prayers I have prayed over the years. They have been perfume to the Lord and He takes notice of what we pray.

I have not relayed as well what was spoken today, but this is one sermon that will not leave me. It struck a chord deep within and something shifted back to me. The prodding that took place realigned what had shifted in the move across this country. I felt my confidence start to return in this area. I left church full. I received fresh bread in the words spoken. I was renewed.

I don’t know how I will put into practice what I relearned today, but I hope in the Lord to guide and direct me in His perfect way. We serve a great and mighty God. He cares for us. He listens to us. He hears our prayers.

“In those days when you pray, I will listen.” Jeremiah 29:12 (NLT)

Echoes and Treasures

I always hesitate to clean up after my grandchildren visit. I will leave toys right where they left them and walk around them for days. I know when I put them away, the visit is over. I do the same with the beds my grands and kids have slept in. When I have that perfect guest room, it signals that family is indeed gone.

Today I look at the pile of toys and puzzles on my living room chair. There is a stuffed tiger that was hugged and kissed by our Little Miss so that we could hug tiger and actually be getting a hug and kiss from her.

I did put away her art things on the screen porch. Emptying the paint water and putting the watercolors away. I carefully piled the artwork and put it in my treasure drawer in my dresser.

The echoes of laughter and play resound in the home of grandparents. It is what keeps us going. It is a blessing of our lives.

Today Dale and I had lunch on our screen porch. There are ledges on each screen of the porch. Beside Dale were the treasures collected by our Little Man, a twisty grapevine that is hardening to become a walking stick. Many pieces of granite and broken concrete taken from our woods.

On the other side of the porch lay Little Miss’ treasures. A pine cone on a little limb. Some pyrite from the driveway, and other little rocks gathered from outside. A seashell from where the previous owners dumped their aquarium. All special and unique to her.

I don’t know when we decided to store their ‘treasures’, but it is now part of our decor. They are reminders of great adventures in the woods and yard. Adventures that are seen through the eyes of children.

I never knew my grandparents, they had all passed before I was old enough to remember. Grand-parenting is a privilege. I am honored to be called Grammy. I love the echoes and the treasures. They remind me of memories in the making. My grands may not remember a whole lot of us, but they will remember that they were allowed to keep their treasures in a certain place just for them.

As parents and grandparents, we store up in our heart memories of our children. They are dear to us. They bring us joy. I imagine our heavenly Father does the same. Looking at us and in us, He smiles and gently places our “treasures” in His heart.

Another Confession, (sigh…)

I am a human. I am learning. Most of the time, I am relearning because I didn’t learn the first time. I have often said that the Lord has a sledge hammer with my name on it beside His throne of grace. I often picture Him sighing, and leaning over and picking it up once more to whap me upside the head so that I will get the message. It is a well worn hammer, I picture it worn on both sides from use.

For years, I have opened my eyes in the morning and thanked the Lord for the new day. Often I will remember to put on the armor of God. I always say, ‘I give this day to You, Lord, it is Yours.’ That sounds so lovely, doesn’t it? I almost sound like I am in tune with God.

And then… (There is always that statement.) I begin to tell the Lord what I am going to do with my day. I like to be organized and fit as much as I can in each day. The same is true in walking. Each lap, I pray for particular people. I am regimented. There has to be order.

This morning I started my walk, one lap, two laps, and on the third lap I heard it. “STOP! You are doing it again. ” It took a few seconds for the message to get to my brain. Again, I am making certain that I am doing everything I THINK I need to do. I overcompensate in almost every area. I confess it.

Once more my Lord leaned over about to grab that sledge hammer. Like a dog learning obedience I stopped and gave a sad puppy look to heaven.

I often tell others that they are enough, just like they are. They don’t need to strive because our Lord loves them, knows the number of hairs on their head, and even those in the hairbrush, that our Lord sings for joy over them each morning. I can believe that for others.

After realizing that I was once more trying to ‘do’ what I felt was right. What I was doing was rote, I heard, “Just walk. You are missing Me in trying to accomplish your list.”

I spent the rest of the walk silently walking. I remembered how I have had conversations with so many where I couldn’t get a word in edgewise and yet, here I have been doing that with our Lord. Prayer is a conversation.

So, I end with this. Lord, forgive me. Forgive me for not listening. Forgive me for not allowing You to move in my day the way You desire. Forgive me for not seeing my worth in You. I love you Lord.

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118: 24 (NLT)

Nuance

Having been raised in NW Pennsylvania, I love seasons. I love the budding of crocus in the spring. Seeing the bright green shoots coming up through the last of the snow, a promise of warmer weather with the crusty black layer on the white snow. Crunching through dead leaves in the fall was a joy I looked forward to. Slipping and sliding down the hills of our town, while trying to navigate walking in the winter. And, summer, that glorious season that was filled with activities and cook-outs. I will always cherish the memories of growing up in Oil City, PA.

We lived in San Diego for almost 28 years. Being in Southern California the seasons passed, almost without a thought. Only rarely did we see real weather there. Instead of the noticeable change of seasons, there was a nuance of change there. I learned to look for that nuance, to feel it as it came. It usually was a fleeting feeling, a breeze that smelled just a bit different, or a lone leaf waiting to be crunched under foot.

Today as I walked, I experienced a nuance. The weather is still the gates of hell hot, but a small breeze hit me and it smelled like fall. Granted here in the south, we still have August and part of September to go through before there is any real sign of fall, but today I received a promise. Cooler weather is coming.

I looked at the bunting on my front porch, knowing in the next week or so I will take it down, wash it and put it away for another year. The red, white, and blue wreaths and door hangings will be put away. My patriotic flags will be replaced by fall flags. Then, with a blink of an eye, I will be decorating for Christmas.

The years pass quickly. Each year seems to shorten in length to me. I once heard a pastor say, “Our life is but a burp in eternity” I laughed at that statement. I was in my late twenties at the time and felt like I had time to do so much. Lately, I have thought of that statement. A burp is small. We don’t even think of the time it takes to burp. Such is life.

If I am recognizing that seasons pass quickly, years are flying by and my life is a burp in eternity, the question hovers in me, what am I doing in the span of a burp?

“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” I Corinthians 15:52 (NKJV)

Clear the View

Last week Dale and our son-in-law cleared 150 feet into the woods surrounding our home. They cut down several dead trees, branches that were hanging down, shrubs that were growing and had no where to go. Our home is surrounded on three sides by trees and brush, so with our acreage we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

As they finished this process last week you could see the difference immediately. Our views into the woods was remarkable.

When you go through your daily life little things escape your attention. It is like seeing a child after a long time. You comment on their growth, and the parent sometimes replies, “have they really grown?” To the parent the difference is unnoticeable unless it is a major growth spurt.

In our case, we saw branches hanging down and saw the shrubs appearing in the woods. It became our view and we enjoyed it. As we began the process of clearing in June we became aware that we hadn’t truly seen into the woods the past couple of years. It was unhealthy for our woods. The brush and shrubs could not flourish, and the trees were vying for the sunlight and nourishment from the ground.

Of course, as I always do, I saw the relation of the woods to my spiritual walk. I can profess my Christianity, pray, read my Bible, and do all the “things” I am supposed to do. I can do this forever.

The question remains though, how many dead limbs am I carrying around? How many ‘shrubs’ are sprouting out of me that are not being nourished? What do I need to do to clear the view and truly see the Lord in my life?

Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.” (NKJV) How can I seek my Lord when I have dead limbs hindering my view?

Lord, today, let me clear my view to You. Remove the stubble and weeds in my life. I ask for clarity of thought, mind and purpose. Let me search for You and find You. Amen.

The Gathering Storm

“He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.” Matthew 16:2-3 (NKJV)

As I walked this morning, the wind picked up a bit. I noticed that the leaves of the trees were turning upside down. Looking up I saw ominous clouds beginning to form in the sky. This transpires often in the summer months here. Thunder resounded in the distance and I expected to be caught in a downpour.

Today’s storm clouds are still hanging around, but so far there is no rain or storm to notice.

We look at weather apps and news to find what the weather holds for us during the day. Most of the time, for our location, the apps are anything but accurate. Our best bet is to look outside and see what is happening.

The same can be true of our world today. We hear of wars, rumors of wars, famine, earthquakes, volcanoes, murders and so on and so forth. The news heralds doom and gloom. If we were to focus solely on what we hear and watch, there would be no joy for anyone.

Matthew 24:32-34 says, ““Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 33 In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.” (NLT)

“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Matthew 24:6 (NKJV)

I often wonder when we will see the appearing of the Lord. Each decade brings more turbulence in the world. Each decade I wonder if the Lord can wait any longer. What season are we in? Yes, summer is here, but in the season of our God, what season is this?

I wish I could discern and say with authority what it is, but, no I can’t. We can look at the sky and know when it is going to storm or snow or be hot, and we can look at the news and talk of all that is happening in the world. But only our heavenly Father knows when our Lord is going to return.

A year ago, a dear friend shared with Dale and I a vision he had had. He said that the horses in heaven were out of their stables, pawing the ground and ready to be mounted and go. This still sends chills through me, as the time is drawing near, hopefully.

“The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses.” Revelation 19:14 (NLT)

So, as I close I listen to the thunder rolling in the distance and await to hear the thunder of hooves on the day of our Lord reappearing.

Yearning

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NLT)

The past two weeks have been filled with much activity. In the middle of the weeks I had my final appointment with my orthopedist. My elbow is healing nicely and I can resume slowly getting back to normal. This is great news.

The only drawback is that I am weakened in my right arm. My wrist still hurts and my shoulder does also. I find I don’t have dexterity in my arm and that can be frustrating for me.

These minor frustrations lead me to the Lord in prayer. I know movement will return, as will strength. It will just take a few more weeks.

As I have thought about this, I realize that in the busy-ness of the past two weeks, I haven’t devoted as much time to prayer or reading my bible.

Today as I began my normal schedule the word “yearning” came to mind. According to Mirriam-Webster, yearning is defined as a tender or urgent longing.

I long to draw near to my God. It is an urgency within me. For the past two weeks, each morning, I had a seven year old grab a blanket from the back of the couch, wrap herself up in it and climb onto my lap. For the next few minutes there would be a cozy, intimate conversation between us. She would lay her head on my shoulder and tell me she loved me. This is what I yearn to do with my heavenly Father.