Thursday, September 25, 2014

H2O Lessons



I grew up with webbed feet, having lived most all of my days in the drizzly Pacific Northwest.  As children we learned to play in the rain.  Rubber boots and a rain slicker made possible all manner of H2O adventures; and even my walk to school was a charmed & charming experience.  The rough-and-tumble sort didn't bother to cover their heads.

Yesterday the wind picked up and something in the air clearly spelled change.  The organic scent of recently fallen & now decaying fruit laced the air.  Dirt & dried grass competed for olefactory supremacy ~ all of it carried here-and-there upon an Autumn breeze.  Rain drops eventually joined the convention, becoming torrential with each passing hour.  At once I was a child again, remembering the-rain play of yesteryear as well as the inspiration unique to the changing seasons.

At one point I donned my rubber boots & hooded jacket. I leashed up the furball in residence and away we went. She seemed to enjoy the kicking of leaves as much as I did, though I did not share her enchantment with worms ~ those slimy, squirmy Lumbricina summoned to the surface by a too much saturated earth.  Just beyond the fenced orchard in which we reside we encountered deer, three of them.  We must have been up-wind because they paid us no heed, continuing as they did to rob the neighbor's deer-proof, fenced orchard of as-yet unpicked apples.  I giggled a bit before "shoo'ing" them away.

The return trip brought a lump to my throat.  I was saddened to think that so many unsung, rainy days have long since passed from my life; my childhood but a fading chapter in my story.  How much of the rainy realm have I disdained as an inconvenience, or as an ugly substitute for the glories of summer?  How often have I missed an opportunity to kick leaves or watch grazing animals, even naughty ones through the mist?  How many years has it been since I owned, much less wore rubber boots & a slicker?  

"Too long!", I concluded; "too long".

So now I'm gathering up my rain gear once again to see what I might discover in today's downpour.  I hope it won't include worms.



" ... rejoice in the wisdom of a Father's heart 
and richly enjoy what is handed you day-by-day; 
that is the secret of life." 
~ Ray Stedman





What was a torrent only 
moments ago is now passed.
~ Me

Friday, September 12, 2014

Life at the Lodge

While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, 
and cold and heat, and summer and winter, 
and day and night shall not cease.
~ Genesis 8:22


Life in our little corner of the world couldn't be richer or more diverse.  The sweltering days of summer have suddenly morphed into the organically scented & cool air of Fall.  Temperatures have plummeted from 85/65 to 75/35.  My choices of attire have made an equally decided change as well.  Flannel shirts, sweaters & clogs occupy the space where once capris, sleeveless shirts & Flip Flops resided. 

The newest aspect of our lives is Maizie, the Labrador, Border Collie puppy that took up residence with us four weeks ago.  Nine weeks old when I picked her from the litter, she is definitely a treasure; & a smart treasure at that!  I probably needn't outline the work associated with having and raising a puppy (think toddler), but suffice it to say she is rarely out of sight.  I thought long & hard about having a dog since I'm allergic to them; cats are worse. However, I've yet to have an allergic reaction thanks to Zyrtec.    

What's more, we've found a Church home and have begun to sink roots.  Little-by-little we're meeting people, checking out Home Groups (aka cell, life or small group) & making our way around to determine where best to serve.  It's bound to be a bit of culture shock for us, going from a large body (2,000+) to one that's 250 people.  But that's what we signed on for given our choice to live rural.

It's also been a summer of company & more company.  We've thoroughly enjoyed the many opportunities to share our home & hearth almost every weekend since we moved here.  

Right now the valley is abuzz with all things harvest.  Huge trucks
filled with apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, apricots and assorted vegetables are making their way to the local processing plants.  Just yesterday the last of the pears in the orchard below us were picked.  Did you know that Bartlett pears are picked early, in late July (rock hard & green); while D'anjou pears are picked late?  Me neither.


Indeed, the Lord will give what is good, 
and our land will yield its produce. 
~ Psalm 85:12

We've even got our very own mystery to solve.  Deer aren't welcome on the property due to the orchard environs we call home. Thus a 12' high fence borders not only our 1.5 acres, but the 10 around us. Even so, deer tracks have been spotted (thanks to Maizie), and a newly planted Cedar is absent a few boughs. Hmmmmm


And then there's the county fair ~ a truly Norman Rockwellish event free of all things commercial. Sheep, goats, chickens, bunnies, cows, pigs & ponies were either decked out or displayed in festive finery.  





The same is true of locally grown vegetables & fruit.  The only commercial venue was allotted to tractors & harvesters (with hubby secretly wishing he could have one).  We took a thorough sweep and were done within two hours.  From our home on the ridge above the city & fairgrounds we could hear the Gospel & Country Western singers late into the evening.  What an oddly beautiful juxtaposition.


And the seed whose fruit is righteousness 
is sown in peace by those who make peace.
~ James 3:18

I'm not fond of long blog posts, & I'm way past my own, personally established boundary lines.  Time to offer a farewell. But I'll be back; and for sure I'll be dropping in on you.

May each aspect of Fall serve to bless you as they have me; and may those blessings inspire both of us to bless others.




Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Pros & Cons of Camouflage

It happened so fast it was a near miss.  

Me:                Oh, oh ... Slow down.  Look over there.

Husband:       Which there?

Me.                There, in that jumble of bushes. 

Husband.       What jumble?

Me.                The one that HAD the deer in it.

Husband:       What deer?





It was rather funny, actually.  I so wanted my husband to see what I was seeing, but to no avail.  Either I was not clear in the way I communicated, or he was blind to it, or the opportunity to comprehend the event had passed.  By the time he computed that jumble was synonymous with thicket, the deer was nowhere to be seen.

That got me thinking.

Isn't sin like that?  Doesn't it cleverly camouflage itself against the backdrop of all that is normal, as if blending into the landscape of life, or in an attempt to evade detection?  Isn't it hard to get people to see what's hurting them (or others, because of them) sometimes, even when we do our level best to describe what and where it is (without being critical, of course)?  Isn't that same stuff hard to see in ourselves at other times?  

If anyone had asked my husband if there was a deer in the bush during our park visit, he'd have said "no".  But whether I described it well enough or not, or whether he saw it or not, that camo-wearing Odocoileus Hemionus was alive & well in the jumble.  

Just thinking ...


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Who's Gonna Fix This?



RANT WARNING

Even though I'm somewhat sequestered from the more worrisome aspects of life: heavy traffic, violent crime, financial woes, etc., the television (and my own flesh) ensures I not become entirely immune.   Emblazoned in cinematic detail (under the often mis-guided notion of news) are troubles beyond comprehension.  I find myself chewing rocks & throwing stones, only to retreat in facile frustration.  

Horrific natural disasters and their aftermath make for much work among FEMA and Red Cross organizations.  Wars and rumors of wars call for no little wringing of hands.  Epidemics and plagues seize lives with no apology, and the CDC works overtime to ensure nothing truly hideous takes root in America. On some continents we see or hear of starving children; and, what's worse, the beheading of those children.  We cry because there's no way to get food or aid to them; no way to stop the hideous slaughter.  We ponder the implications of nations surrounding Israel with a bent towards total annihilation.  

It all conspires ~ rightly or wrongly ~ to give the impression of perilous times.  

Surely someone's to blame for all this?

Surely someone needs to and/or can fix it?

Such questions and their ilk bring out the pointing, wagging fingers. Regretfully I confess that, at times, my own are among them.

Not long ago I listened as several of our more robust talking heads ascribed escapism to Christians ~ as though the Christian worldview were a panacea for that which I highlight above and more.  Even so, I balked at the dumbing down of the biblical worldview in favor of what:  government?  guesswork?  green thumbism?  

  • This one thinks the government ought to fix things (more power; more control; go to war; exercise diplomacy; retreat; etc.).
  • That one thinks I ought to fix things (higher taxes). 
  • Another believes that that other nation (fill in the blank) ought to do something (employ democracy, kill/oust their leader, feed their own people, etc.)
  • Still others look to Hollywood or sports figures for advice.

The list goes on and on.  Talk about escapism ...

I need this reminder today for myself.  Man does not have man's answer.  Never did.  Never will.

Still ... we labor while it is yet day; we do what we can as good stewards; and we wait while night descends even as we wait for the return of Jesus.  We look up. 


"Teacher", they asked, 
"when will these things happen?  
And what will be the sign that they are 
about to take place?"

He replied:  
"Watch out that you are not deceived.  
For many will come in my name, 
claiming, 'I am he,' and, 'The time is near.'  
Do not follow them.  
When you hear of wars and uprisings, 
do not be frightened.  
THESE THINGS MUST HAPPEN first, 
but the end will not come right away.

Then He said to them:  
"Nation will rise against nation, 
and kingdom against kingdom.  
There will be great earthquakes, famines 
and pestilences in various places, 
and fearful events and great signs from heaven.  
BUT before all this, they will seize you 
and persecute you ... 
and you will bear testimony of Me.  

BUT make up your mind not to worry 
beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  
For I will give you words and wisdom that 
none of your adversairies will be able 
to resist or contradict.

STAND FIRM, and you will win life.

Be careful, or your hearts will be 
weighed down with carousing, drunkenness 
and the anxieties of life, and that day will close 
on you suddenly like a trap.  

Be always on the watch.

~ Luke 21:7-15, 19, 34, 36


If being alert and looking up is escapist, I am guilty as charged.  If remaining at peace while the nations rage and leaders run to-and-fro is escapist, then bring out the tar & feathers.  I'll wear them gladly.

One man's definition of escapism is another man's hope.





I lift up my eyes to the mountains ~
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Make of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1




Monday, July 21, 2014

A Morning's Hush

O'er thy spirit gently stealing,
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling,
All through the night.

There's a hush in my house this morning.  In the background is a light, barely audible enhancement of classical music playing. Somewhere nearby I can hear the coffee pot as it sputters into existence a new morning's brew.  Beyond these minimally invasive sounds is the timelessness of the hush.  Here it is easy to be still and know.

Just down the hall from me sleeps my daughter, much as she did all the years she harbored in our home.  She and her family came for the weekend, leaving her behind when they departed yesterday. Her stay has been extended an extra three days, which means her Dad and I have her all to ourselves.  We giggle, ever-so selfishly & equally unapologetically.

I've not had the need to manufacture a hush for many years.  Oh, I manage to sequester the early morning hours because they have long been my daily launching pad; and some mornings bring with it a hush of its own.  But the hush I experience today is a different thing altogether.  It's where breathing the pure & holy negates the need for air.  It can arrive as anticipated, it can fall, or it can be manufactured.  All three forms are pregnant with anticipation, even as the soul cozies up to the reverie it generates.  For me, hushes are often prayerful ~ and prayerful in such a way that words aren't necessary.  I couldn't utter or offer words if even I had them.

Today my mother's heart guards this hush while my beloved daughter sleeps.  There's no need to disturb her.  There's no need to start the laundry, turn on the T.V., clean to the foot-stopping motivation of the Beach Boys, or chat on the phone.  Hear I sit, no work important enough for my hands to do, grateful that our Molly survived so hideous an ordeal as a battle with Ovarian Cancer, that she sleeps beneath my roof, and that she lives on ~ if for no other reason than to allow for this hush.  With tears, I know in all reality it's a hush God has created just for us; and for just such a time as this.

Sleep my child.





(Molly, Tom, Rylie & Beagle Pup Dexter.  
Megan & Ava are missing, having gone 
camping with the other grandparents).


Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night.
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night.

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping;
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping;
I my loved ones' watch am keeping
All through the night.

Angels watching, e-er around thee,
All through the night.
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night.

While the moon her watch is keeping,
All through the night.
While the weary world is sleeping,
All through the night.

O'er they spirit gently stealing,
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling,
All through the night.



Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fire ~ Devastation & Refinement

Most of you have heard or seen the devastation sweeping, literally, across the face of eastern Washington State.  Wild fires are burning, many 0% contained, in a vast expanse of land mass.  The raging flames have come within a few miles of us, and every day for the past four we have been socked in by smoke-filled, ash-laden skies. Any semblance of view or normalcy is obliterated by it.

High temperatures, tinder dry fuel (sagebrush, Pine trees and miscellaneous scrub), dry storms with lightning coupled with high winds have conspired against thousands of acres and an equal number of people.  

These are definitely not a controlled burn.

It's hard to envision anything good coming from the fires raging here when there are people who've lost homes, farms, barns, livestock and every semblance of personal possessions.  Many have been impacted in just such a way, while others rush about in bold and heroic attempts to stem the blaze's aggression or to offer comfort to those afflicted.  All around is the juxtaposition of devastation against benevolence.


People don't really understand that fire
regenerates, and it's a natural process
that the earth needs.
~ Grace Stanley
Montana Conservative Corps



(Photo:  I captured this last evening, 
when the haze lifted ever-so-briefly
 to reveal smoke-plumes
bathed in light.)

Today I am keenly aware that there is a God ~ Only One, a Father ~ Who judiciously and wisely understands & applies the outworking of a controlled burn; the Refiner's Fire.  While I would have it avoided at all costs, He is not so inclined to indulge.  Fire, even a wildfire, can produce amazing things.  Old dead things are consumed.  New things, good things, are given opportunity to take root.  

Before my very eyes is this object-lesson.  It brings me no joy, in and of itself.  Even so, I can see the day when even these scorched lands and burdened souls will be made new.  

Please join me in praying for those affected by fire ~ be it the literal flames of nature's fury, or those meant for spiritual refinement.  As a community we can offer support and comfort ~ hope ~ for the coming new day and clear skies.  



For everyone will be salted with fire.
Mark 9:49

Behold, I have refined you, but not
as silver; I have tried you in the 
furnace of affliction.
Isaiah 48:10

But He knows the way I take;
when He has tried me, I shall
come out as gold.
Job 23:10

I counsel you to buy from Me gold
refined by fire, so that you may be
rich, and white garments so that you
may clothe yourself and the shame
of your nakedness may not be seen,
and salve to anoint your eyes, 
so that you may see.
~ Revelation 3:18

Bless be the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His
great mercy, He has caused us to be
born again to a living hope through 
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from 
the dead, to an inheritance that is 
imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you, who by God's
power are being guarded through faith
for a salvation ready to be revealed
in the last time.  In this you rejoice,
though now for a little while, if 
necessary, you have been grieved by
various trials, so that the tested
genuineness of your faith ~ more 
precious than gold that perishes 
though it is test by fire ~ may be 
found to result in praise and glory 
and honor at the revelation 
of Jesus Christ.
~ 1 Peter 1:3-7 




(Photo: Taken by local newscasters
just down the road from us about 30 miles,
SPEAKS VOLUMES)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

They Had Me at "Ya'all"

There's been a virtual beehive of activity at our house since landing here a mere six weeks ago.  I doubt I've ever enjoyed the settling process more or worked harder at so doing. 



It's a foregone conclusion that we delight in our family here, the home we've claimed as our own, & the memories that come-and-go throughout each countrified day.  I spent many a childhood moment in these environs, having traveled from the prissy, girly realms of my mother's house to the barefooted, bug hunting, night-crawler digging home of my mostly boy cousins.  

Moreover, this is where my father grew up, attended high school, helped on the family farm & the raising of his younger siblings (his father having died prematurely), and furthered his education in fishing and hunting.   A man's man, he actually handled our prissy girl world quite well.  But make no mistake, this is where he grew his grit.


This is cowboy country.  Far & wide are pastures and corals, barns and rails, & amber waves of grain ~ as well as the ever-meandering Okanogan River.  The folk here are ... well ... folks. Whether a Walmart clerk, a gas station attendant, a shop keeper, a pastor or a waitress, people are engaged and engaging.  Making eye-contact is easy.  It's hardly Texas, where one would expect a drawl, but "ya'll" pretty much describes the tenor and tone of this tucked away turf I now call home.   


I pause today to give thanks.  I do it quite often these days, but today it overtakes me like a fresh & refreshing wind.  


It is, after all, a good day ya'll.



He lead them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord
for His unfailing love.
and His wonderful deeds for mankind,
for He satisfies the thirsty and fills
the hungry with good things.
~ Psalm 107:7-9

Friday, July 11, 2014

Living the Blessable



Today I'm spending some time & sharing some thoughts over at Lisa Shaw's place.  Won't you join me there?






Sunday, July 6, 2014

Moving On

I will instruct you and teach you in 
the way you should go; I will counsel
you with My eye upon you.
~ Psalm 32:8 ESV


There are times in my life when I've lingered long in or at one place: locations, jobs, friendships, homes, attitudes, beliefs, hairstyles, etc. That inclination to linger is fueled by any number of good & not-so-good things:  the need for stability, vanity, curiosity, the joy associated with that particular person/place/thing, the fear of change, orneryness, etc.  

Then there comes a season when I know it's time to move on.  Most often it's a conscious decision ~ a choice on my part ~ born of need and/or vision.  At other times, it's a gradual, sometimes imperceptible distancing, as if I had somehow wandered through the process unawares.  

Good or bad, happy or sad, frightening or joy-filled, moving on requires the letting go of one thing in order to grasp the new, often better thing.  Then, sometime hence you look back to realize how far you've traveled, or how much you've gained or lost, or have let go of.  It can entail a sense of awe & gratitude, or it can entail sorrow; sometimes remorse.  The choice of how to look at such things often resides in that space between my ears.

Regardless, moving on is the built in chronology of living.  We go forward willingly & joyfully; we go kicking & screaming; we go in a state of oblivion.  But we go.  

The good news about the Good News is that we can know, whichever way or however we move on, it is for our own good and His glory, ultimately.

In Him, moving on is always moving up.





Not that I have already obtained this (knowing
& becoming like Christ) or am 
already perfect, but I press on to make it
my own, because Christ Jesus has made me
His own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I
made it on my own.  But one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and straining
forward to what lies ahead, I press on 
toward the goal for the prize of the upward
call of God in Christ Jesus. 
~ Philippians 3:12-14 ESV

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sustaining Strength by Veronica Scurry



Today Veronica Scurry provides valuable insight on the power of Christian community.  Her post, Sustaining Strength, is the newest at the Women Walking with Jesus ministry site of Lisa Shaw. I invite you to meander there for some heartfelt transparency.





  

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Women Walking with Jesus ~ A Collection



In recent months it has been my privilege & pleasure getting to know the collection of women penning for the ministry of Lisa Shaw by way of Women Walking with Jesus.  I am blessed to join them; twice-blessed to learn from them myself; & thrice blessed to call them friends.

Today I share the most recent of their thoughts ~ devotionals, encouragements, testimonies & more.  From assorted walks of life, various denominational (& non-denominational) ties, & different cultural backgrounds, we have this in common: Christ, and Him crucified.  There is no better common denominator.

Grab your Bible and a quiet spot.  Sit a spell.  Then join us as Women Walking with Jesus (men, too).

Trust in the Lord, by Bernadine McIntosh
Living confidently, knowing our faith is tethered to the God Who can be trusted. 

I Have Two, No Three by Tammy Rude
Living beyond the shame of abortion in God's tender mercies.

Rescued from Another Nasty Habit by Mary Zatkalik
Finding the resolve & support necessary to overcome bad habits.

A Father's Integrity by Adriana Shaw (Lisa's own daughter)
A wise & loving Father's Day tribute to the power of a father's integrity & love.

For God So Loved the World by Belinda Bullard
The beauty of learning to live from the platform of love that God does.  


************

You'll find even more wisdom if you page through the additional posts.  

One thing's certain, walking with Jesus is no dull or dire effort. Every step takes us exactly where we want to go ~ if not in the moment, then ultimately.  Every step takes us where He leads.

Come on along ...



The Lord makes firm the steps of the 
one who delights in Him ...
~ Psalm 37:23

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; 
and lean not on your own understanding.  
In all your ways acknowledge Him, 
and He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

I will instruct you and teach you
in the way you should go.
I will guide you with My eye.
Psalm 32:8


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hidden in Plain Sight


Indeed, the Lord will give what is good, 
and our land will yield its produce.
~ Psalm 85:12


Little did I know when relocating right, smack-dab in the middle of an orchard ~ two orchards to be exact ~ that they'd provide daily lessons in living.  This is orchard country, and even beyond the fields that border us are are stand-after-stand of fruit trees ~ apples & cherries in wide variety, apricots & plums.  They provide much to consider, even when it would appear that nothing's changed from one day to the next. 

To the front of us is a smallish crop of pears that are, just this morning, basking in the summer sun.  They're still quite small and won't be ready for harvesting until much later in the summer.  For the time-being, they are quietly going about their pear business, growing intentionally, albeit slowly before the observant eye that takes the time to see (which is vastly different from a mere look).  They are also playing host to a rather large contingent of finch, which means we have a regular symphony of trills ~ a delight to the listening ear that hears them.  




To the back & side of us are cherry orchards where a large stand of Royal Ann cherries are taking their sweet time navigating the color spectrum.  They've gone from tiny little moss green nubs to yellow, and now to reddish green orbs.  They're not quite ready for harvest, but you wouldn't know that by a mere glance.  Take one bite & all doubt is erased.  Taste is a powerful index. 





Years ago I discovered a lovely collection of organic thought called "Secrets of the Vine" by Bruce Wilkinson.  It remains among my favorite reads which is why, I'm sure, I am keenly aware of principles associated with farming.  Even so, I am aware of so much more when I take the time to consider what is right in front of me.

Many of God's best secrets are hidden in plain sight. 



For there will be peace for the seed; 
the vine will yield its fruit, 
the land will yield its produce and 
the heavens will give their dew; 
and I will cause the remnant of this 
people to inherit these things.
~ Zechariah 8:12

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Purple Sage, Pickles & Pears



God waits to win back His own flowers
as gifts from man's hands.
~ Rabindranath Tagore


Here we are, living our dream.  

Over the past several months we've known more snarls & snags to home buying than ever we cared to know, much less experience.  Funny how dim that all seems now that we're home. And never has that word, home, resonated so deeply.  

I'm especially fond of the pear & cherry orchards that surround us, as well as the purple sage growing on our side hill.  (Photo: This morning's squall brewing over the pear orchards & valley below.)

Many are the moments I glance through a window and am struck anew by the beauty surrounding us. What's more, I look across the valley to that long ago place of my father's childhood, Jackass Butte; from whence he walked to & from school every day, & where his parents homesteaded at the turn of the century.  I know I will have many moments ~ planned & unplanned ~ when I consider the deep things of family from this vantage.  My pen is already eager.

But now to finish unpacking.  I'm nearly done emptying & breaking down boxes, which means each room of the house is looking more and more intentional.  In the past few days I've organized closets & drawers; the fine-tuning stuff.  Just today I hung a couple of pictures and made a basket of purple, silk Hydrangeas for my bedroom.  

Interspersed with settling is family time.  My father's sister's children & their children reside here ~ a rather large contingent who are well acquainted with the rural, farming/ranching life.  To my great delight, they re-acquainted me with sliced dill pickles on a ham sandwich last week.  It's my new go-too food for lunch!  Our shared history and many co-mingled childhood memories make for marvelous jabber-jawing.

I'll be back in earnest soon.  But for now I've got my work cut out for me, and I like that just fine.



God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame.
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mini-Church: Home Fellowship


"A new commandment I give you, 
that you love one another: 
just as I have loved you, 
you also are to love one another.  
By this all people will know that 
you are my disciples, if you 
have love for one another."  
~ John 13:34-35

What a blessing it's been to be one among several Home Group members for the past 14 years ~ first in Arizona and now in Washington.  As much as I look forward to finding a new Church home for us in the Okanogan Valley, I am equally eager to find (or host) yet another home fellowship.  



ARIZONA HOME GROUP


We (the girls) gather for special occasions, like Valentine's Day.








We meet for breakfast after Church 


The beauty of such groups is that they make the doing of life together a very powerful thing, especially if the specific church body itself is large.  In both of our affiliations, Arizona as well as Washington, our churches have been well over 3,000 people, which is to say that our Home Group has provided a much more personal context in which to study & discuss the scriptures, serve the body & be accountable.  

Many have been the occasions to provide meals to an incapacitated member; or to gather & pray (sometimes throughout the night) for someone facing peril (in one case, brain surgery; in another, a biking accident that looked fatal at first and involved ICU; in yet another, a cancer battle that was eventually lost).  

What's more, in both places we have served the local community by supporting food banks, joining the larger body when community work-projects are underway, and adopting a women's shelter to provide clothing, Christmas gifts & other support.  

My favorite project is one in which we invited a specific neighborhood to an under-the-stars-movie night.  We then we borrowed the church's video equipment & screen, set up in a park on the specified evening, & served hot dogs, popcorn & soda for a night of great fun & inspiration (the movie being "Fireproof").  At least 30 guests showed up & lingered long after dark simply to visit & get to know one another (and eat one more hot dog). 



We (the guys) meet beforehand when serving the community.



We (the girls) get together for no good reason.


We sit together at Church, &
often serve there together as well.


We (the girls) meet & pray at the flagpole.




We gather when out-of-towners return for a visit.


Thus a smaller group of 16-26 has many advantages. Where we're headed, there isn't a church that numbers over 300 so our experience is likely to be vastly different.  

It is worth the telling that we have been blessed by the teaching ministries of several godly pastors, Greg, Ryan, Darius, Art, Paul & others ~ men who are committed to the flock, who shepherd honorably, teach from a biblical/truth-telling perspective, and live out their personal lives with authenticity and honor unto the Lord.  Our Home Group connections have never been meant to circumnavigate them or the larger body, but to supplement it.  With leaders of their own ~ Eloy, Darrel, Gary, Mike ~ our Home Groups have taken their lead from these noble pastors ~ ordained, as well as lay.  

The bonus by-product of our by-gone days in a Home Group is that we have made forever friends.  The bonds we've formed span the distance, even eternity.  I love it when we visit Arizona (& soon to include Puyallup) and, as if no time had lapsed, join in a study or activity as though we've never left.  Modern technology makes it easy to remain tightly bonded by way of email, texts, Facebook and phone calls. 

I thank God for the unity we've experienced with our brothers and sisters through the years.  We are the richer for it, and bound to grow richer still as we look to His plan for our future connections.   




WASHINGTON HOME GROUP



We have summer picnics.



We get together with other Home Groups to play Bunco.



We have Bible studies outdoors.



We share a prayer retreat at the ocean.


But if we walk in the light s He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus His Son 
cleanses us from all sin.  
~ 1 John 1:7


Monday, May 19, 2014

Braxton Hicks Isn't for Sissies (or Sassies)

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, 
for to wait is often harder than to work. 
~ Peter Marshall


Some things take a long, long time ~ like pregnancy.  Nine months, especially during the final days, can seem like an eternity.  I recall it vividly, even though all three of my children arrived early, and even though 40+ years have lapsed since last I was in the business of birthing babies. 

It's not as if gestation, labor and delivery were an accidental process.  It's designed to take nine months ~ 280 days to be exact. The experience is much the same for every woman, and nearly all of us are amazed at how quickly it went by AFTER it's over.  

I feel that way about our long-distance move.  

It all began last August when we found & fell in love with the habitat that's occupied our dreams ever since. We actually purchased a home in September, but due to many snags & snarls beyond our control didn't finalize the purchase until this year; late March to be exact.  Due to a lingering snag*, we've yet to make the actual move.

I'm feeling a lot like a woman who's well-beyond her due date; a woman whose feet are swollen, whose back aches, who waddles, who can rarely find a position of comfort, and who is utterly convinced she'll never, ever be un-pregnant.  Worse, I feel like the women who's endured some measure of pain, thinking it was full on labor; only to be told (as she scowls), "It's not REAL.  It's only Braxton Hicks ~ false labor."  

False labor is NOT synonymous with false pain.  The latter is quite real, no matter how unproductive it might be.

The fact is:  our moving delays are by design, too.  There's a reason behind the roadblocks that hinder us.  Eventually, with 20/20 hindsight, I'll see more clearly ... maybe.  Sometimes God doesn't reveal the "Why?" of His ways with us.  Regardless, there will come a time when I'll be amazed how swiftly the time flew.  

But not today.  

Today I'm up to my eyeballs in frustration and impatience waiting for the Braxton Hicks pains to turn into genuine labor.  I live in a sea of boxes and can't find the Q-tips.  I've arranged movers & services that I'm dangling mid-air.  I'd serve myself a bit of cheese with my whine, but I can't find the cheese either.  

Waiting.  It's designed to be a process. 



Why do you complain ...
Why do you say ...
'My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God'?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak...
those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:27-31




*  Without the tedium of offering ad nauseam details, our delay is due to the tenant's delay in closing on the purchase of their home.  It's a long story that will soon read The End.  That "soon" looks like June 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5 ...).