Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mercy on Mt. Rainier

The day dawned perfect for hiking to waterfalls and enjoying the beauty of creation.  It was one of those rare days in the Pacific Northwest where Mt. Rainier could be seen in all its glory!  So we took off, in the morning, and headed for the trails.  
We were not disappointed.  We walked beneath the towering pines, traversed a log hewn bridge across a swollen creek and drank from the pristine water of the falls.  By late afternoon we had worked up an appetite.  We drove on to the lodge for dinner.

We arrived early, so we set off on a nearby, paved pathway to pass the time.  There were many other people milling about as well.  It was one of those days you just have to take advantage of.  We found ourselves, along with others, on a quaint wooden bridge.  It stood over a creek, where water sought to find a path between the boulders, coming down from the mountain in the distance.  We stopped as I tried to capture the beauty with my camera and take the obligatory selfie.  

As we turned to leave the bridge, two brothers, perhaps 3 and 5 years old, walked toward us.  The older one accidently bumped into the younger one, knocking him over.  As he fell, he rolled toward the edge of the bridge.  I can still see the scene replay, in slow motion, in my mind.  I lunged for the boy, but just as my hand was about to take hold of his leg, he disappeared over the edge.  An involuntary, guttural cry came forth from my body.  I was sure the child was dashed upon the rocks below.  I got up, looked at my husband in shock and all I could say between cries was, “I tried, I tried”.

As the father came rushing over, I followed him around the end of the bridge.  There lay the boy, perfectly fit between two boulders, crying but alive.  The father grabbed him up and hurried up to the bridge.  An EMT was also enjoying the day with his family and came over to offer his assistance.  After giving the boy a thorough exam, he said the boy appeared to be fine.  No blood.  No broken bones.  The parents took him on to the lodge to be further examined.  I simply stood there sobbing and thanking God for a miracle!

I had never experienced anything like that before.  I grew up babysitting and had planned heroic rescues many times in my thoughts, but I never had to put one into action.  I spent the rest of the day and night replaying the scene over and over again.  I was horrified that I couldn’t save him.  I kept thinking, “if only I had…I should have done… What must people think of me, that I could not stop him?  Did I really do all I could?”  I truly wasn’t sure, until the next day when I felt the bruise upon my knee.  The bridge was about 6-8 feet above the ground.  I saw where he went over the edge and where he was found.  I still can’t figure out how he ended up where he was, other than an angel.

I began to wonder if Satan had tried to destroy the boy and me, or if God had a lesson for me, or both.  I have no doubt the enemy is always looking for a way to destroy us, but it was indeed a lesson that God is Sovereign.   “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

 We often forget that we are part of a bigger story God has written.  When we begin with our smaller story, we think it is all about us.  This leads us to believe we are responsible for the outcome, as if the plot resolution is up to us.  We must secure a happy ending.  Our life must go well.  So, in my case, I had to be the hero and save the boy; failure being my greatest fear.  The truth is, neither my success, nor my failure determined the outcome.  God did.  It was not my action that saved the boy, but God’s mercy.  
The morning after the incident, I read what Paul says in Romans 8:37, “We are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us”.  Christ overcame through His death and resurrection, not by triumphing over His circumstances.  We too overcome by the way of the cross, the way of love.  When we relinquish our lives to the will of God, we find true life.  Life does not consist in living well, but loving well.  “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.”  (Philippians 3:8-9)  So whether we receive a “happy ending” in our current circumstance or not, we can trust in both God’s sovereignty and His goodness.  We can trust in His love.  It is only then that we overcome the enemy of our souls.

Monday, March 26, 2018

100 X

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Matthew 19:29 NIV

Recently I had a friend ask me why I never adopted any kids.  I don't talk much about our decision not to adopt, mostly because I fear people won't understand.  I's what you do when you can't have kids, right? Only it wasn't just about us.
Of course we thought about it, but ultimately it wasn't what God had planned.  This is the part I fear sounds a little odd.  Many years I dreamed of being offered a child, I distinctly heard the Spirit in me say, "give it to Sara (name changed)".  What?!  She too was struggling with infertility.  A few short weeks later, I did, indeed, receive a call about a baby needing adopted.  Was I interested?  Oh, the agony of that moment!  How I went over and over this with God, "what if this is my only shot?".  And yet, I submitted and made the offer to my friend. 
The road between there and here, was a long one, with many ups and downs.  However, I am now fully content.  I trust in God's plan for my life, because it really isn't my life any way.  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) 
Please don't feel bad for us, because God is faithful and has His own way of gathering a family.  Almost 22 years ago I left my home and family to come to a distant land (hey from Oregon to Indiana seemed like it).  And then I gave up having my own children.   But, I am living the reality of Matthew 19:29.  I met my husband here, I was given great in-laws, I have friends who have become family, my brother now lives here, we support children through Compassion International, and I am blessed with so many kids in my life to love on and be loved by.  I am truly blessed and  God is faithful to His Word.  I have no doubt I will reach 100 X and then... I will be welcomed home.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

I Got Out

This morning, as I went to my Facebook page to share a video in remembrance of Billy Graham's passing, I saw this photo and the message struck me.  The photo is from a game, but the truth rings loud and clear of another escape.

"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14

Yes, I got out!!  I have been set free from slavery to Satan and now walk in light.  The proof of  my innocence is Jesus.  In Christ I am clothed with His righteousness (Galatians 3:27) and He is my mediator, interceding on my behalf (Hebrews 9:15).  

The difference between the game I played and true freedom, is that the game I played was undertaken on my own merit and ability.  Salvation is based on faith in Jesus' blood alone.  It is He who sets us free.  Release comes from our surrender to Him, not our own effort.  

Praise to the One who sets us free and says, "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)

Monday, January 1, 2018

The Full Jar

 If you go back to my post from last February, you will find this.

I am recording the ways God is evident in my life; the good that He brings me.  We sometimes wonder if He is there, especially in the hard times.  So, I want to record reminders of all the ways He shows up.  He can be seen in the simple and the complex; the small and the big things of life.

This is my jar one year later: 

I tried my best to remember to write down each thing as it happened and today it is full.

I poured them all out.  What a beautiful pile of color and blessing!  It was a delight to reread each one and remember all that God has been and done for me.  Some contained a hint of sadness, but it was overcome by the joy of seeing God's hand working all things for my good.  It was a moment of thanksgiving, joy, peace and faith.  I highly recommend it!

May your 2018 be filled with all the fullness of God!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Missing Gift

If you read my post "Will My Kitten Go To Heaven?", then you recognize the cutie in this photo.  Gracie Lou.  She has now been missing for 6 days.

She had been with us a mere 6 months, but in that short time, I had become smitten.  I even gave up on perfectly clean floors and a hairless rug.  I have dozens of pictures of her sleeping in the funniest positions.  I miss waking up and giving her a morning "rub down", then watching her play with her toys.  I miss her popping up in the window to let us know she wants in.  I even miss her immediately wanting back out to go chase some unsuspecting bird or mouse.  But mostly, I miss stroking her soft fur and hearing that purr, while she tolerated me holding her like a baby. Ha!

Yes, I know she is just a cat.  I am, after all, the last person I thought would be crying over losing a pet.  But here I am.  I have cried tears over my Gracie.  I have asked God the why question (why did He give me the kitten as a gift and then take her away or allow her to be taken, depending on your theology).  And I have landed solidly on:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job 1:20-22

Whether it be a very special kitten, parent, spouse, child or friend...loss beckons to know why.  Why would a loving God allow such pain and sorrow?  Why love at all, if it only ends in loss?  Why follow God, if this is the way He treats His servants/friends?  WHY?!

I can't give you a satisfactory answer, other than we live in a fallen world.  Any attempt falls short, of comfort, in the moment of pain.  In the here and now, so much doesn't make sense and never will.  What allows me to align with Job is faith and hope.  Faith in a faithful God.  A God who IS love and works for our eternal good. (1 John 4:8, Romans 8:28)  Hope in the promise of perfection to come.  A time when pain and sorrow are no more. (Revelation 21:4)  I believe that God's Word is true and His ways higher than mine.  I believe that He rewards those who seek Him.  I believe because of Jesus, who came, died and rose again to redeem and restore. (Isaiah 61) 

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
Romans 8:18-21

I don't know what eternity with God will be like, but I know it will be great.  David declared "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." (Psalm 16:11)  Amen!

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Empty Jar

My friend Penny posted this on her Facebook page.  I liked the idea, so I found an empty jar.  Then I cut colored paper into slips on which to write the good things, because who doesn't want a little color in life?   I put a little twist on it though. 

I am recording the ways God is evident in my life; the good that He brings me.  We sometimes wonder if He is there, especially in the hard times.  So, I want to record reminders of all the ways He shows up.  He can be seen in the simple and the complex; the small and the big things of life.

A few of the things I have included are:  Finding a parakeet nest at the beach (it was really cool!), sending a note to a friend and having her reply that it was perfect timing and content, an opportunity to use my gifts in women's ministry and reading the right Bible study lesson on the right day.

The last one needs more explanation.  It was January 9th.  It would have been my mother-in-love's 70th birthday.  I was missing her and on the edge with my emotions.  When I opened the lesson for that day, the selected scripture was 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, "13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus."  God knew I would need some encouragement that day.  HOPE!

There is more; the story does not end here.  But that will have to wait for another day, another post.  My question to you is:

  What's in your jar?

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Journey to Healing - The Next Chapter

2016 found me once again asking for a doctors help.  This time at the Cleveland Clinic.  Due to my husbands surgery, earlier in the year, our deductible was met.  So, it seemed a good time for a colonoscopy.  Okay, is there ever a good time for a colonoscopy?  Not really.  I did, however, want to find out if there was a physical reason for the pain in my lower right abdomen.  And, as no local doctor would do it, to Cleveland I went.

I had three different tests run.  They all came back normal.  Great!  Wait a minute...what about the redundant colon and colonic inertia Mayo diagnosed me with?  According to Dr. Shen there was no sign of them.  Halleluiah!  The first of October I was prayed over during a healing service and God healed me!  That is good news.

The not so good news, depending how you look at it, is that my bacterial overgrowth is still a problem.  So, God left me a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7).  I am okay with that.  He, indeed, will give me the grace I need to manage.  There is a diet that works and I will be healthier because of it. 

So, I enter 2017 with a goal to do the hard work necessary for my health.  A new chapter of living well, maybe not perfectly but intentionally.  I pray that this year will find you living well too.  Happy New Year!!