“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Monday, December 8, 2014

Finding My Glasses

What if you were to lose one "sense" out of the five?  You could keep the other four, but had to give up one?  Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.  I cannot imagine life without any of these, but if I had to choose I would definitely not want to lose my sight.  As a life-long lover of books and the written word, being unable to read would be a sword to my heart.  (audible books aside...I want to see what I am reading)  As well, I am a visual person.  Seeing beauty and color awakens something in my soul.  I am a basket case if I misplace my glasses.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness a light has dawned."  Isaiah 9:2

I cannot get this Scripture out of my mind today.  As I focus on the coming birth of Christ in these days of December this sense of "seeing" is utmost in my thoughts.  

walking.....they were moving forward albeit in darkness
darkness - unable to see, didn't realize they couldn't see clearly or "were used to the darkness"
seen a great light - they had to open their eyes to see the light
LIGHT - a great light has dawned on them

All of us, at some point, were/are walking in darkness.  Moving along at the pace of life.  Perhaps not even realizing how dark it was because we had become accustomed to habits and what seemed normal - it is all we had ever known. Painful, discouraging, ugly, but we know nothing else.  Trying to look forward because there is no other way to look. Somehow our eyes open and we SEE a light....a GREAT LIGHT.   Suddenly, a brightness dawns in our darkness.  Nothing else matters but that light and we move towards it.  We realize what we thought was "normal" was really darkness and there is a beauty of life ahead of us which we were meant to live.  It is like having lost your glasses and now you found them and can see clearly.  We learn to live all over again, because now we can SEE.

As we move deeper into the weeks of December I pray we will SEE what God wants us to see.  The Light that came into the world.  I am pretty sure we will all agree, believers and unbelievers alike, we live in a pretty DARK world.  The chaos, war, protests, disease, death, selfishness, and brokenness all around is pretty hard to ignore.  Where can we possibly turn for hope and something to "light our way" ? LORD, open our eyes to SEE what you want us to see.  For those of us who already believe in your Son, Jesus, open our eyes to see where you want us to be a light for you.  Where Your light can make a difference through our lives as we rub shoulders with those who are struggling to see.  For those who do see, but are aching for an answer to their pain and sorrow, allow the warmth of your Light to ease the pain and help them to see the way on the road ahead. For those who are in darkness, and cannot see where to turn, open their eyes to see what perhaps they didn't realize they were searching for.  The real Hope and Answer to their despair and longing.  The Light dawning in their darkness.  Help us all to find our glasses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Holy Pause

“How are you?”   “Great, busy.”  How many times are we asked that question, “How are you?”  And we reply the same....”good, but busy.”  So often I have said those words and then in the back of my mind think...”just what am I so busy with?”  

We are all busy.   Our days are filled with work and our careers, taking care of family, organizing our homes, grocery shopping, making meals, appointments and volunteer work, to name a few of the jobs that keep us running from one minute to the next.   On top of the normal survival mode we find ourselves in, we volunteer outside of the home for numerous tasks that help and aid others.  All these are good and necessary for the most part.  But when did we take a pause from that which is good, to perhaps experience a bit of the best?

On a side note, I am doing a Bible study with some wonderful women on the Biblical concept of the Sabbath.  It is amazing and opening my mind (as well as my heart) to learning to build margins in my life for a Sabbath when to say no. Also, to say no to what keeps us on the "treadmill of life" and respond with a yes to what is really important for this season in our lives, and let go of the rest.

Philip in the book of Acts chapter 8 was also busy.  God had allowed the first disciples to be scattered beyond the borders of Jerusalem.  This happened shortly after Stephen was stoned in that great city.  Philip ended up in a city in Samaria.  Not a place where the Jewish people normally socialized.  The Samaritans were a people they avoided and disdained, due to historical conflict. For some unknown, but probably Spirit-led reason, Philip finds himself there preaching the Gospel.  The middle portions of chapter 8 reveal Philip busy proclaiming the Messiah, performing miracles, casting out demons and impure spirits, and healing the lame and paralyzed.  Yes, I’d say he was a busy boy.  Busy with good.  Busy with God’s work.  A good busy.

Now right in the middle of this busy-ness, an angel of the Lord whispers to Philip (verse 26), to go to a desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.  He goes.  But I wonder if he didn’t think “Excuse me, I am busy here.  People are being healed and hearing about the Messiah. Good things are happening. I don’t have time to go down south.”  At any rate, he went.  

The story goes on to tell us he met an Ethiopian.  He listened to the angel and went up to a chariot where the Ethiopian was sitting and reading Scripture.  The man didn’t understand what he was reading so Philip explained it to him.  They rode together in the chariot discussing what the words meant.  As they came near water, the Ethiopian wanted to be baptized, so they took the time to stop and Philip baptized this spiritual hungry man.  When they emerged from the water, Philip was “taken away” by the Spirit of the Lord and later was seen in Azotus where he continued preaching.  The Ethiopian, I am sure was a little more than surprised, but went on his way rejoicing, probably all the way back to Africa.  The Gospel found its way south.

Philip was busy.  Doing good things.  Doing Godly things.  But the Spirit spoke to him to “stop” and do something else.  Go somewhere else.  Talk to someone in another place.  Take the time to stop and listen.  And subsequently, the Gospel went to Africa.

I heard this phrase recently  “a holy pause”.  This says volumes to me.  Do we (I) take a holy pause in the middle of my busy-ness of doing His work, when a still small voice asks me to do something different?  Do I recognize the pauses the Lord might be asking me to take?  

A few years back, I was rushing to the grocery store to pick up some much needed items.  I had a small amount of time to get it done before I had to pick up my kids from school.  No sooner had I walked in the door and headed down the first aisle than I saw a woman I knew but hadn’t seen for some time.  She was a lovely woman, but a talker and I knew if I stopped, I would be stuck.  I had a schedule I needed to keep to.  However, I felt that nudging and still small voice told me to stop.  (I confess there are times in the past, where I have walked down a different aisle to just get the job done and not take time for others when I was in a hurry).  This time I stopped.  

We took a few moments to greet each other and catch up.  I asked how her family was.  The door opened, or rather the floodgates opened very wide, and she began to share some heartache about her son.   We moved over to the side of the aisle so others could pass.  I listened.  And I listened some more.  A good fifteen minutes passed when she realized she needed to get going.  I assured her I would be praying for her son and her family.  I took a further few minutes to do the unthinkable....and perhaps a tad embarrassing to her....I stopped and prayed for her right there, in the side aisle of the grocery store.  We hugged and went our separate ways.   Thank the Lord, my children went to a school where if you were late for whatever reason, they were watched and taken care of until you arrived.  All was well.

About a week later, I received a thank you note in the mail.  This dear lady thanked me for taking the time.  Who stops in the middle of the store and the busy-ness, and listens?  Who stops and prays in the most unorthodox places for a troubled soul?  She was so grateful for the time and was deeply encouraged to keep believing for her son.  She felt she could go on.

I was humbled and so glad I had stopped.  The Gospel touched a hurting woman in the middle of Safeway.  A son was prayed for.  A mother’s heart was encouraged and strengthened.  Because a holy pause took place and lives were touched.

Photo Credit: visual photos

Philip took a holy pause.  So many of us need to.  Miracles can happen when we do.  Otherwise, we could miss out on God and something He wants to do in a very special moment in the life of a very special person.  If we pause and listen..  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Fruit

OCTOBER....many reasons why I love this month and time of year.  It could be due to the fact the month begins with the same letter as orange, or the last three letters seem to sound like what I say each morning as the temperature begins to drop.  The vibrancy of reds, yellows, greens and orange against a brilliant blue sky make the tenth month of the year the absolute best when it comes to color! An artist’s palette just waiting for a new masterpiece to be born.

There’s something spiritual about this month in seasonal changes.  It is harvest time.  A vine is sagging under the weight of its fruit and each piece of fruit will display the life it received from the vine.  The fruit reveals what took place in the spring and summer months.  The condition of the soil, the amount of water, air and sunshine the fruit received, the actual care of the planting and pruning during the spring months.

John 15:5 tells us, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”   Did we stay just close enough to the Vine to survive?  If so, our fruit will be pale, lacking color, wrinkly and the lack of freshness will be obvious. If we remained strongly connected to the Vine (John 15:4), our fruit will be healthy, ripe, rich and luscious and our lives reaping the benefit of the previous seasons growth and care.

Harvest is a time of reaping.  In spiritual terms, we are involved in ministry.  Our lives are touching other lives.  We share our fruitfulness, even when we are tired.  The harvest lasts but a short season as the year progresses.   We have a choice to harvest our fruit.  We choose to be involved in ministry to others and in doing so our growth on the Vine grows deeper, our opportunities to love and give increase and the harvest is bountiful.  To keep our lives fruitful, ministry time during the harvest is not an option.  If we are not allowing the fruit to be used for the reason it was planted in the first place, it will fall to the ground and rot.  It must be harvested, given away and used for the purpose it was cultivated.  Above all though, God (the Vine) is the One who makes the harvest happen, not us.  We simply obey what He is telling us to do.  We make a choice to be available for the harvest.  And watch as He glorifies Himself through His fruit.

“God, open my eyes to the harvest around me.  What are YOU doing and how do I fit in?”

October...harvest....rich, tasty, firm, healthy fruit and vegetables, how can I feed those around me with the fruit you have cultivated in my life?  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Galatians 5:23,23     Practically, where has God been loving in my life?  Where has He given me joy?  Where has He been faithful?  How has He taught me self-control?   All fruit I can pick and pass onto others.

October...harvest....time to pick and give away.  A great month of reaping the cultivation of spring and summer.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

40 Years....

Yesterday I received a priceless gift although I did not realize it at the time.  I was given a small packet of notes from a prayer group in Canada.  These were notes taken during a time of prayer in which the people involved prayed for specific nations and needs.  My husband and I serve in missions and they included us in their prayers.  The notes were Scriptures they felt God impress upon them for us and our ministry, especially the current trip my husband is on at this very moment.  One particular page was addressed to me.  On it was written  the first four verses of Psalm 40.  Unbeknownst to the sender, this is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, highlighted and underlined many times in the various Bibles I have owned over the course of my life.  I tucked the precious note into the pages of my Bible to meditate on today.

Last night I couldn’t sleep. I lay in bed praying and reminiscing of all the ways God the Father has spoken to me in the past.  Reliving the circumstances and seasons of His goodness, His guidance and leading in my life. These days I have been praying and asking God for a renewed and refreshing of my relationship with Him.  The cry of my heart has been...”more of YOU and less of me”.  I want His PRESENCE more than I want His plan for my life.  Each day I am sitting, silent, for an extended period of time, soaking in what I can of whatever He can share with me of His presence.  This is not easy for me, as I don’t like to sit still.  But for “some reason” this desire is stronger in me now than in the recent past.  I don’t want a day to go by without some measure of sensing His presence.  My current circumstances allow me this luxury right now of having the time to be silent.  

Today, after getting my morning cup of coffee, lighting a scented candle and settling myself in a quiet place, I opened my Bible and out fell the page with Psalm 40.  I cannot explain it, but with a flash of understanding, some part of my life fell into place.

Today is September 25th, 2014.  Forty years ago today, I knelt before God and gave all my disappointments, my failures, my despair, my whole life such as it was at 18 years of age, to HIM.  I bent my knee and said “I cannot do my life like this any more.  I need You.”  I had been suicidal for some time.  Disappointments in my life had led me to despair and chronic stomach problems.  I had tried to end my life three times, only to fail in the attempt.  (That’s a story in itself)  I knew deep within my being that unless God took over, I would not be around on this earth for long.  

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust and confidence in Him.”
Psalm 40:1-4

He heard me
He rescued me
He lifted me
He gave me a firm place to put my unsteady feet
He gave me new words and a song to sing
He gave me reason to live
My life counts for something
My life will count for eternity

September 25, 1974
September 25, 2014
40 years
My spiritual birthday

40 years of not wandering in a desert
but 40 years (and lots of stories!) of His goodness,
His love, His faithfulness, His direction and leading, 
His mercy.  
40 years of relationship with the Lover of my soul
40 years of knowing a God who loves me more than I can say
and 40 years of the most incredible adventures and friendships I could have 
ever dreamed of knowing
40 years of BLESSING

Oh yes, there have been seasons of disappointment, times of failure, incredible hardships and pain.  I haven’t lived immune to the world and what life can throw at us.  But through it all, HE has always been there for me and come through when I needed Him.  He has given me the companionship my heart ached for.  

In the words of my favorite Bible man, David,
“The Lord is (has been) my Shepherd, I have everything I need.”
Psalm 23:1

I would not be here today if He had not intervened 40 years ago.

I have to say it over and over again...I love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength.  Do I want another 40 years with Him?  Hmm..that will make me nearly 98 years old...If the next 40 years means “more of Him and less of me”, then YES!  I do!  I bend my knee and my heart over to Him, as I did 40 years ago....I do!

The KING has put his signature on my life...His signet ring has claimed me for Himself.  I belong to Him.  And I never want it any different.

Happy Birthday to me
The Greatest Gift is His presence
It is all I want

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Not Ready to Give Up Summer :)

Ah, my favorite season of the year....as warm days of summer give way to the crisp cool mornings and evenings of autumn, I submit to my senses of smell, sight and taste.  I was determined this year though to not give in until the day fall actually does arrive, which is a couple of weeks away.  I told myself, "No pumpkin spice latte until September 23rd...I mean it!".  (I have succeeded thus far, by the way).  I want to savor the summer until the last sausage is grilled and the last corn on the cob is chewed away.  My summer sped by with the wedding being all-consuming, so each minute that ticks away on the clock until the first leaf falls I will be enjoying what I can squeeze from the days left.  It helps that here in the Pacific Northwest, we are experiencing amazingly warm (and a few HOT) days yet.  

I went to two farmer's markets in the last week to stock up on fresh garden vegetables.  I try to make a big batch of ratatouille (French vegetable dish) and have it on hand to nibble on when I want something quick, easy and healthy.  What a sensory treat...the vibrant reds, sunny yellows and deep greens drew me in like a magnet. 

 I think I bought too many vegetables :)  The flower vendors displayed the most exquisite bouquets of autumn hues and for the first time in a long time, I bought myself a bouquet.  I yearned for a market I could wander through each week of the coming months.  There is something about home-grown and outdoor vendors that brings meaning to shopping and cooking that we lose at Safeway.

Once I had my ratatouille simmering, I tackled the task of putting away all the stuff that has accumulated around the house during the months of busy-ness.  Returning things borrowed, finding places for items that somehow found their way into my home and figuring out what to do with what had been left behind by a now-married daughter.  So naturally, a day of dusting and cleaning awaits me.  But oh no, that means putting away "summer" and getting out "fall".  I am a visual person and love to display the seasons in my home.  Candles, leaves and orange find their way onto the shelves and mantles of our abode.  The lure of autumn is already beckoning me.  I may have to light a pumpkin spice candle, but I draw the line at the latte!

What I really love about this approaching season beyond the colors, smell and falling leaves, is the new beginnings that surround us.  For the last 27 years, the fall has signaled the beginning of school and new activities in the family.  For the first time in nearly 3 decades, there is no school bus, or child running out the door (for high school or college).  Last year, I still had a college-bound son at home.  This year, silence.  Alas, it is still a time of new beginnings...usually churches begin their new Bible studies for women as children are back at school. I am looking forward with anticipation to beginning a new study, digging into God's Word and being challenged as I step into this next phase of life.  I LOVE that this journey as a parent, a wife and a child of God continues to keep us growing and is not meant to be stagnant.  I found a study I would like to do...http://www.lifeway.com/Product/breathe-making-room-for-sabbath-member-book-p005644896

This seems like a great season to learn to do just that....breathe.  Breathe in God, breathe in rest, breathe in love and His purposes for my life.

As summer winds down and berry cobbler gives way to apple cake with rum sauce http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-nut-cake-with-rum-sauce

I encourage you to breathe in these last days of summer and dream new big dreams for this next season.  I know I will...perhaps with that latte and a bit of cake :)  but first I'm firing up the grill and husking some corn for a last bbq and soaking up a few sun-drenched days left to enjoy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Circus Has Left Town

Yes, it’s been months since I blogged.  Life took over and I’m looking out my window realizing that the leaves are about to change color and we will be putting away the bbq and deck chairs before the month is out.  Time certainly didn’t pass me by, it just kept running beside me until I suddenly stopped to breathe and slow the pace of 2014.  

We gave away our beautiful and youngest daughter in marriage a few weeks ago. I knew this day would come and life would change.  It seems we just announced her engagement to Jordan and before we knew it, they were all smiles and leaving on their honeymoon.  The months in between are a bit of a blur now - a happy content “glad they are over” kind of blur.  Lots of work ending in an incredible awesome celebration and adventure ahead for a couple who are deeply in love.  

Our youngest son moved out in July as he continues his studies and internship in becoming a fireman.  Our hearts swelled with pride (the good kind) as he was sworn in and badged two days after our daughter’s wedding.  Life is good and bittersweet at the same time....why does the heart ache when they try their wings and fly - especially when you realize it is your youngest and life will never be quite the same.

I wrote on this blog a while back about my “circus”.   My Family Circus   Our Russian/Ukrainian name translated into English means “wild family”.  Years ago, when we lived in Russia as missionaries, we lived in a hotel that housed the Moscow circus when they came through town.  How appropriate...our wild family in the circus hotel.  Pondering our empty nest as the dust settles from the last months, this took on a whole new meaning.  The air is no longer filled with the roaring of tigers jumping through hoops or elephants balancing on a ball.   The rhythmic music of dancing bears across the floors is silenced.   Trapeze artists flying through the air or walking a tight wire are no longer a safety issue :)  Silence prevails and as I stand in the dust and look around at empty tents, discarded peanut bags and cotton candy wrappers, I am struck with the realization....the circus has left town. 

My heart is trying to absorb all of this in our new season.  I always thought I liked change.  I’m not so sure now.  Although change with purpose is promising.  Change with vision is exhilarating.  Change means the old is passing away and  the new is born.  Wait, the circus may have left but the Ringmaster and his beautifully clad sidekick are still here :)  Slightly older, less elegant, but still with lots of “circusy-wild-family” life just waiting to get the show on the road once again.   And those cute tutu-ed bears, those roaring tigers, and flying trapeze will definitely still come around with an act all their own :)  Probably a bit hungry, maybe a load or two of laundry to be done, perhaps a need to be met or a word of advice wanting to be dispensed.  Wonderful....I seriously can’t wait! 

As I head into the cool, crisp days of autumn, I look forward to pondering and remembering His goodness.  As days of “thankfulness” come upon us, I anticipate many God-stories welling up in my heart.  Yes, time to write those down....stories not forgotten.  A new season full of promise, life and fresh memories waiting to be made!  I don’t honestly know what the next season looks like, but if I know anything about God, it will be full of surprises and His faithfulness!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is Thy Faithfulness!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Survival Vs. Living

Are you surviving today?  Or are you living?  It's not a question of semantics but a deep down heart-felt question.  This weekend we went to see the Academy Award Best Picture "Twelve Years A Slave".  Heavy movie.  Be ready for heartache, deep issues of evil in the heart of man and ending with tears mixed with joy and sadness.  A statement made by the lead actor left an impression on my mind.  Solomon, a free man in the north (of USA) is kidnapped and sold into slavery (human trafficking is not new).  Early into this horrific journey he is about to face, he is challenged by another slave to be tough, keep his head down and "survive".  Solomon, in a state of bewilderment and shock at what has happened to him lifts his head and says, "I don't want to survive, I want to live."  Profound.

Egypt was a place of survival and death.  Egypt was where baby Moses was found floating in the Nile, placed there to escape the death sentence of all the male babies.  God then uses this same land as a place where baby Jesus and his parents found refuge the first years of Jesus' life.  A place of death became a place of survival, which led to life.   Interestingly, life changing ministries came out of this place from the lives of these two men.

Scholars differ but the general thinking is Jesus spent around two or three years of his early childhood in Egypt, before returning home after King Herod died (around 4 B.C.).  He and his family were surviving in Egypt.

During this period of "survival" Jesus most likely....

**learned how to walk
**learned to eat with a spoon by himself
**learned to talk
**began to recognize his earthly father and mother
**became attached to his earthy family and developed relationships with them....his early "community"

Places of survival can be places of learning and preparation.  And, they can be transformed into places of life.  Places meant for death can be transformed into life. 

Today, whatever season you or I are in, let's ask God to birth life out of it.  If you feel you are just surviving, barely able to keep your head above water, wondering how you got here in the first place when all you did was take steps of obedience,  let's trust God to bring life out of our Egypt.  Open our eyes to what God is doing in our Egypt - perhaps teaching us something valuable to use later on down the road.  We don't want to survive, we WANT TO LIVE! 

"Lord, in places that once meant death, or seem like death to us, we trust You to bring forth life.  Today, increase my faith in a place that seems to be dying, YOU will cause life to spring forth." 
(prayer from the devotional below)

(Some of my thoughts came from my devotional reading today; a wonderful Lent devotional that is free to download.  Even though Lent is the time period 40 days before Easter, this devotional has 17 days of devotions, so if you begin now or even miss a day or two, there is plenty of time to catch up before Easter.  Enjoy because this is powerful stuff!  Thanks to Ann Voskamp!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where Do The Birds Go?

Firstly, where did I go?  I'm still here, just my energies concentrating on other areas as winter winds down.

catching up on month-long paperwork
paying bills
sending out newsletter
getting over illnesses from travel
catching up with family


shopping for a wedding dress
finding a caterer
reviewing options for decorations
looking at flowers
invitation decisions

Yes, I am a mother of the bride!  Since returning the beginning of February, the realization has set in that the bulk of the months of 2014 will be wedding preparation (for my daughter and I, at least).  So, if I only write once in a while, you will know why and where I am, more or less.

And I hope to be "where the birds go".  This morning I woke up to pounding rain and a windstorm that threatens to be an all day long event. I enjoyed my morning ritual of Bible, coffee and watching the birds at our birdhouse out our window

Okay, not my birdhouse, I just can't find my photo of mine...lost in my files :)

Only today, there were no birds to be seen.  Rain pelting the window and wind whipping the trees, I wondered "where do the birds go when it rains and is so windy?"  

"How priceless (exquisite) is your love, O God. How eager we are to run under your wings."
Psalm 36:7

"Be good to me, O God; I run to you for dear life. I'm hiding out under your wings until the hurricane blows over."  Psalm 57:1  (The Message Bible)

Birds, like us, know when to run for shelter.  To a momma or daddy bird to cover them; to the cleft of a rock for protection or the branch of a tree for shelter 

We, like our fine feathered friends, also run for shelter in the storms or the seasons of ultra-busyness.  Like birds, doesn't mean we are weak, just shows we are smart.  Hopefully, we know the best place to go to be protected and to receive strength.  So when the rain and wind passes, and the sun comes out again (which is always does), we are replenished and rested to continue.  Take heart, we will see the sun again.  This winter and season will soon be over.  The birds know this to be true.  I know where the birds go...and where I plan to go when things get tough.

"And those who wait upon God will get fresh strength.  They spread their wings and soar like eagles."  Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pausing, Pondering and the Past

I am holding my favorite coffee cup, the steam rising, watching the snow gently fall with a sense of peace enveloping my moment.  I am resting.  Recouping my strength after a four-week, four-country ministry trip.  Internet access was sketchy which is why I dropped off the radar.  In the quiet, I am reminded....

A couple of weeks ago I spent two and a half hours walking through 6,000 years of history - Armenian history.  Looking at ancient maps, walking amongst broken pottery, rudimentary tools & weapons formed 12 millennia before Christ tends to make you feel just a little bit small in this universe.  I kept thinking, “These were lives lived and died; struggling just to survive; souls created by God living thousands of years ago.”  My mind was whirling as I imagined  them discovering how they could dig out rocks, stones and metals and make a weapon...or a shovel...or even a spoon. When did they realize they needed a lid for a pot?  Even to view the progression of tools, jewelry, eating utensils and dishes over the millenniums was astounding. Their first cart with a wooden wheel made transporting so much easier.   A display held the “first shoe” ever discovered in the world....animal skins/leather formed to fit a foot to protect it from the rocky soil.

 Walking through the halls, we edged further into history, rounding the corner of the ages to when Christ was born.  That first century.  Looking at history being lived out while Jesus walked in Palestine.  The same type of crude dish he may have eaten from; the jewelry worn by women of the day, and yes, again, the weapons used to further man’s struggle for power and their kingdoms.  Over and over again, men fighting for their beliefs, their people.  So many wars, battles and conquests of ancient lands.

Our journey took us from viewing “idols” and ritual altars to the first churches.  The buildings housed for new beliefs. Thaddeus and Bartholomew were the apostles who came to Armenia in that first century after Christ. Christianity being declared the official religion of Armenia in 301 AD.   (St.) Gregory having been imprisoned for years, shared his faith with King Tiradates III and officially introduced Christianity to Armenia.  The alphabet for the Armenian language was written around 387 AD, so the Bible could be written in a language uniting the regions, culture and people of Armenia.

Kings and queens evolving into the presidents and prime ministers of current history.  Deciding what to do with “the Armenians” ? The horrific genocide of the Armenian peoples in 1915 - 1918 from the hands of the Ottoman Empire.  Boundaries shifted, peoples displaced and exterminated.  A quote from someone in the Ottoman leadership “No Armenian people, No Armenian question.”  A black tragedy in the history of this incredible nation and still very much remembered today.  A friend told me “it is the identity of the Armenians...this genocide...it is who they are...their history.”

 Rounding the last corner into more recent days....World War II,  Stalin, the “liberation” of Armenia by the Russians, Armenia the Republic, the Iron Curtain and communism.  Culminating in the nineties, the fall of the curtain and the independence of the “republics” and Eastern Europe.

My mind was reeling from 6,000 years of history and a people I have grown to love. I felt like I was in a time warp.  Walking the snow covered streets passing adults and children enjoying the afternoon in an ice skating rink, I was transported back to 2014.  Grabbing some Armenian “fast food” (schwarma - similar to a Greek gyro) we hurried to get to a meeting on time where we were privileged to be teaching God’s Word to young, hungry hearts.

I sat and listened to the testimony of a young Armenian woman whom three years ago discovered how much this God of creation loves her.  Her past struggles of survival and rejection in a world that did not recognize her beautiful life and soul.  I was reminded in the vast expanse of thousands of years preceding my own existence...all those lives and history I just walked through, God has never changed.  He has always loved mankind - through the struggles, wars, genocides and our constant turning away.  I looked at stone idols set up through the centuries.  No wonder God got angry in the Old Testament with idols.  His beautiful creation, His awesome world, the stones He created being made into something to worship when HE and HE alone should be the “worshipped One”.  He isn’t sitting in a museum somewhere, cold, grey and forgotten.

As Alisa shared her story of God’s love and forgiveness, her own heart and life being set free when she discovered His fatherheart towards her, my heart rested in knowing that in thousands and thousands of years of history what still matters most is God loving us. Jesus coming for us. Forgiveness. Redemption.  Reconciliation.  Relationship. Freedom.  HE was there in the beginning and HE will be there at the end.

Proverbs 8: 22-31 puts this into perspective :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grace, Thankfulness, Day by Day

New Year, new week, new word....living day by day.  I started a new devotional which is based off a best seller.  I have wanted to read this book for some time, and came across her devotional.  Day to day suits me right now.

I have a birdhouse right out my bedroom window and as I am having my devotions each morning, I see the tiny sparrows alighting and eating.  Yes, this is for me right now :)  It's all about grace and thankfulness in each day.  In every moment.  Day by day.

Just a few thoughts...and I am quoting Ann Voskamp :

"Eve's thanklessness for all God does give and her resentfulness of the one fruit He doesn't give, this is the catalyst of the fall."  In typing this, I realized I read it wrong the first time; I read her 'restlessness of the one fruit'.  Still rather fits, I think.

"Our fall is always a failure to give thanks."

"All the wickedness in the world begins with an act of forgetting."  (Mark Buchanan)

In the proverbial nutshell - When we FORGET, we don't THANK GOD.  Paul begins his letter to the Romans with "First, I thank my God..."  Romans 1:8


Day by Day.

Not forgetting.  God tells the Israelites OFTEN to write it down, write it down, write it down, lest they FORGET.  This is why.

I love journaling.  Going to do it even more this year.  Day by day.  Lest I forget.  Not a difficult thing.  I can do this. Not just in November.  Day by day.

In the mess of the day....in the busyness of getting ready for a month of intense ministry....in the joys and in the struggles.

"First, I thank my God...."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 One Day At A Time

2014...Wow!  Not sure how this year snuck up on me but here it is staring me in the face and I am expected to "welcome" it.  I do welcome the year, with open arms, but I kind of feel like when you open your door to a guest, knowing they were coming, but they showed up an hour early.  "Hi, come on in; I'm not quite ready, but have a seat, I'll only be a minute."  So, as soon as I wipe the shocked look off my face and gather my thoughts, those arms will open wide and 'come on in 2014'

I always look forward to a new year.  New beginnings.  New goals.  New ideas, plans and visions.  A fresh page to write on.  Leaving the past behind and moving on to the new.  But when that clock struck 12:00 a.m. January 1, 2014, my book hadn't opened to that first page....yet.

Closing off 2013 was not as easy as past years for me.  Disappointments, unfulfilled expectations, and the realization that I did not accomplish all I had set out to do in these last 12 months. Some things I could control and others totally out of my hands.  Not a terrible year, but one I would like to let go of and move on.   And yet, in the middle of each and every moment of those 365 days, God was right there, holding, supporting, encouraging and making his presence known when I stopped long enough to acknowledge Him and His truth in my life.

Sometimes the "big picture" and the "visions and plans for the year" can overshadow the moment of each day and we, or I, can get overwhelmed.  I love plans, goals and writing down those resolutions for the new year.  However, when you look back and see what you didn't do, the to-do list for the coming months can become disheartening.  Not necessarily fresh to-do, but the same things which hadn't yet quite reached completion.

But in the early hours of a brand new year, God shows up and reminds me not of what I DIDN'T DO in 2013, but WHAT HE DID.  He reminds me of His goodness and faithfulness.  His constant companionship, even when we don't "feel" it.  His plans according to His timetable.  His day-to-day friendship, which by the way, is the life source of which all my/our plans should flow.

Day-to-day.  One day at a time.  One dream at a time.  One moment at a time of His goodness being revealed to me, so that when I look back, my days are literally overflowing with dreams, plans and desires being fulfilled....one day at a time.  Seriously, friends, if I look at the year in total, it kind of scares me.  But if I take today, and then tomorrow, and the next day, life gets done.

A month-long ministry trip ahead, continued support-raising for the life He has called us into, one still in college, and one returning; one living her life thousands of miles away,  And our newest exciting news of the year, our youngest daughter getting married in August!  Just the wedding plans can intimidate me :)  Heart dreams....writing...teaching....photography....big deep breath.

Jesus is calling me to...

One   Day   At   A   Time

One day at a time....to rest in Him; enjoy Him; walk, talk, dream with Him; feed on His Word...one day at a time.  One day at a time.....to enjoy family.  One day at a time....to give to others....feed others....give time, energy, resources, life to others.  

One day at a time....BEGINNING and ENDING WITH HIM.  I can't go wrong with that.  I won't wear myself out.   I won't become overwhelmed.  One day at a time...to dream. I can still plan, still write down ideas and visions....but the tackling of them is.....one day at a time.

This post is probably not 'practical' with a lot of how-to's in setting up your year; yeah!  I don't need practical right now, I need breathing room, space to dream and think through ideas, time to process and take on only today.

JOY awaits us in 2014.....that I firmly believe is my WORD for the year from the heart of GOD.  

My friends, let's not just "do" 2014, let's plan, dream, hope, rest and live

one  day  at  a  time