Sunday, August 31, 2008

Flashback - Isle of Sinclair

Funny how random remembrances replay in one's
thoughts. Today I've been visiting Sinclair Island,
though I had no intention of going there.

Sinclair is one of the incredible land masses (minuscule though it is) among the San Juan Islands, just off the north-westernmost shores of Washington State. It's also one of the San Juan islands not
serviced by ferry, so to get there you need to have a boat of your own, or fly
in (more on THAT later).
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Along with islands Orcas, Cypress, Sucia and others, it dots the coastal waters with incredible beauty. You eye simply cannot find a focus that isn't picturesque.
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It was here that many a summer vacation delighted us. My husband's stepfather, Max, had owned property on this island for many, many years. He'd married my mother-in-law in the mid-1960s after both had lost spouses - widower and widow. Their cabin (and I DO mean "cabin") was their favorite retreat, and until their own deaths it was their summer home. It often became ours, too, though only in one or two week increments during summer months. The aforementioned cabin had, at one time, been home to a fur trapper. That alone provided untold hours of musing for the children as they wondered both silently and aloud if there were bears on the island (there weren't)!
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To accommodate the combined clans, a trailer had been added. Then, later, a newer and more modern (?) cabin was built. My husband, children and I actually had a hand in that project, as did any and all visitors. No work, no food. My... Grandpa sure knew how to get a job done!
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Most islanders kept boats in Anacortes for their trips back-and-forth to Sinclair. Others, like us, had to fly in. That meant chartering a small plane - which was no typical endeavor, I can assure you! In order to land on the airstrip (dubbed such, though in reality it was a pasture), the pilot had to first buzz the ground to scatter the grazing cattle. Sometimes a second buzz was required when a particularly stubborn grazer held fast to the turf it had layed claim to. When the coast was clear (it never looked clear to me), the pilot would line up the little plane just over the tree tops and drop down (literally) onto the landing strip. It was a bush pilot maneuver, and one my children enjoyed immensely. I think I did to. There, in a rusty old jalopy that had been on the island since fire was first discovered, Grandma and Grandpa would greet us with great joy, and then load us up for the 1 mile ride along rutted dirt roads to their waterside perch.
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Year-after-year, summer-after-summer, we looked forward to our getaways on Sinclair. It afforded adventures for the children, and complete eradication of stress for Terry and me. By the hour the children would play in the woods, or collect wild blackberries so Grandma Hope could cobble up something scrumptious. Or they'd meander the beach and tide pools as if Sir Edmund Hillary himself were leading them on expedition. Sometimes we'd all whack our way through the thick island underbrush to re-discover (every time) the little school house that was, at one time the source of higher learning for a modest few.
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At night Grandpa ran the generator on a timer. Throughout the evening hours we'd take long walks on the beach or in the woods; or we'd play board games, or read. Come 9:00 PM it was light's out; like it or not. I've never known dark to be so dark! Yet no one ever complained as sleep was always welcome as it came to claim the day's fatigue.
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Only the brave showered on Sinclair. Grandpa heated just enough water with the generator to allow for some dish-washing and a 30 second soaker for anyone fast enough to beat the clock.
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There was something other-worldly about Sinclair Island, like Alice's Wonderland or Narnia or Terebithia. It wasn't more than 4 miles in diameter, and there really wasn't much to do there. No stores. No movies. No Malls. No computers. No phones. No toys. No microwaves. No permanent residents. Yet somehow the days we spent among the Fir trees and Oregon Grape vines was magical.
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When we were finally all nestled in our beds at night, and when at last quiet overtook the bathroom runs and drink requests (all by flashlight), we were rewarded with God's lullaby - the rhythmic motion of the sea as it lapped upon the shore. This mother, on so many occasions, found the equally precious breathing rhythms of sleeping children to be nights' crowning glory.
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The island retreat was sold when once the grandparents were both gone. But sometimes, just like today, its random remembrance is so richly compelling I can almost hear the seagulls, and sleeping children.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Prevailing Winds

Here I am again on the subject of nature. It's not accidental, I can assure you. Truly nature has been a temple and an academic center for me; some of my most compelling lessons have been as a student of God's glory in His creation.

Today I am reviewing His chapter on prevailing winds. They're strong, tough, relentless harbingers of both good and not-so-good things. I love it when they're powerful enough to soften summer's intensity, or to scent the indoors as though it were outdoors, or to bring otherwise gentle seas crashing upon the shore with thunderous rhapsodies. I'm not, however, very fond of the prevailing winds that stir up trouble like hurricanes and tornadoes, or that cause my Sweet Acacia trees to break and topple.

I like even less the prevailing winds that toss we mortals to-and-fro in terms of worldview.

It occurs to me that because something is legal, that doesn't make it right. Or because something looks good, or even amazing, that doesn't make it worthy of embracing. Or if someone is able to captivate us with sweet sounding words and an incredible persona, that doesn't make that person deserving of an audience, much less acclaim. Hype does not equal good. In fact, it can more closely align itself with evil.

From politics to pews there are a great many prevailing winds today that have yet to make landfall. But the truly good news is that even prevailing winds don't prevail in the end.

Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil, who put darkness for light
and light for darkness, who put bitter for
sweet and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own
eyes and clever in their own sight.
Isaiah 5:20-21

Soapbox Sassy Out.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Proof of Life

I watched a movie some years ago wherein one of the characters had been taken hostage for ransom. Before the family would pay up to gain their release & return, they wanted proof of life. No sense paying for a dead man. Seemed perfect logical in the movie (doesn't everything?).

I guess that's common terminology in such hostage-taking scenarios, but the term is such a vivid one, and I don't want to hurry past it.

Who would pay up without proof of life? And what might consititute a life to be paid for? Mmmm

The dead, dry bones of Israel we read about in Ezekiel 37 is what first comes to my mind - and these with a promise: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

I can't help but think about those little African frogs, too. You know, the ones that go dormant when drought comes. For years they rest in a sort of suspended animation deep within dry, dusty, lifeless river beds. When rain finally arrives, they come to life. But to look at them in their drought condition, one would have to give up on any proof of life and pronounce them dead. Deader than dead.

Then there's my Creeping Jasmine. It's the most luscious, profuse and powerfully scented vine in my yard. But when the crush of winter falls (yes, we have winter in Arizona!), it looks like it's gone for good. Proof of life could not be given at this stage.

Another sort of dead comes to mind as well. It has to do with all those seemingly vigorous bodies meandering about the planet, the ones that are completely oblivious to the fact that they are, in truth, spiritual zombies! It probably comes off a bit macabre, or harsh, but it's how they are viewed from God's sights. Dead. No matter how energetic they are. No matter how many wonderful things they do. No matter the great, swelling proclamations of faith and/or proofs they herald by pointing to the miraculous. Good things and supernatural folderol are not proof of life.

I think about old Job sitting in his ashes, all the while thinking he's about to die. Hoping he'll die, totally unconvinced that anything in his life contained a proof of life.

What about those dead, dry bones we read about in Ezekiel - the ones that represent the nation of Israel. No life there. And to all lookers on, there would be no proof of life ever again, so dead were these people.

So let me connect some dots here. There's only one means by which to live and be proven alive. It has nothing to do with me, or even the fabulous things I might do with or in my life. It has everything to do with an amazing, daring and highly effective hostage-rescuer. And even when I was as dead as the dry bones of Israel or the sin-laden lost soul, it bothered Him not one bit to pay for my ransom.


And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10

The proof of life for me is, literally, in His hands. Fact is, He is my proof of life. No ... He is my life. Rescued - once and for all time.

That leaves me in His debt. Then again, He paid that too.
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scorpion Wars

Here in the sunny southwest our natural wonders include some not-so-wonderful creepy critters. Certainly there are rattlesnakes, coyotes, vulchers, Havoline and the like. But my personal least favorite is the scorpion. And it's not just any scorpion, either. The virulent Bark Scorpion that creeps around these here parts is about as hideous a looking critter you ever did see. It's not bad enough that they are downright ugly, but they pack a powerful wallop as well.

Needless to say, every smart Arizonan employs pest control services to ensure they aren't inundated with these unwanted visitors. After all, this is their natural habitat. We humans are the intruders.

All said, I've actually learned some valuable lessons from these hideous little prehistoric predators. How like sin are they! In fact, if sin had a form I'm thinking it would look and behave exactly like these things. No wonder the scorpion features so prominently in the dramas of the Tribulation period!

... next to impossible to eradicate.

... pack a painful, life-threatening sting

... are most active at night, in the dark

... most stings occur by accident, when
people step on one by walking barefoot
(unsuspecting, vulnerable)

... even when they appear to be dead they may not be;
they are easily rejuvenated

... live in colonies, clusters

When the pest control service was last at my home we chatted some. I haven't seen a scorpion in a long, long time so we were talking about effective methods for remaining free of them and their potential harm.

... make sure they have no food source (i.e., other bugs)

... plug up any access crevice (even the tiniest opening can be breached)

... treat perimeter fences & walls (thus they never reach
and/or build nests on your property or near your dwelling)

... when navigating in the darkness, be sure your feet are covered

... get immediate help if stung

... never, never, never stop looking for ways to eradicate them

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In the Moment

We know it. We believe it. We even sometimes relish it. But oh how we struggle to accept the truth of it.

Life is lived in moments!

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Tiny seconds, infinitesimal fractions of time, ultra time bites all comprise the context of our living. Yet how many of us insist (sometimes by default; sometimes on purpose) on living in the next moment, or the next hour, or the next day? Worse, how many of us live in yesterday's or last year's experience? How many of us live in recycled grace, forgetting that it's new every morning?
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In the moment all is well with my soul. In the moment nothing is out of control. In the moment I can see everything so clearly.
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We look long at the big hand and ignore the little hand. Life's big sweeps swoop us in; the little sweeps are lost as we scoff at their insignificance or underestimate their value.
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I'm so glad God has no clock, no calendar. I'm incredulous to think He never changes - that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I'm dumbfounded that He would ask me to live in day-tight compartments; moment-tight compartments, actually.
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In this moment - the very one in which I now inhale, then exhale - life is profound beyond my ability to tell of it.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wind in the Willows

Have you ever been out-of-doors when a gust a wind comes along and, with its gripping swirl, takes you straight away to yesteryear? Wind is such an incredible element, like clouds. It captivates us with its ferocity or its gentleness. It comes unnoticed at times; but at other times it insists upon recognition. Its both refreshing and threatening; fierce and pleasant.

This morninig the wind brings with it a fleeting view of my youth. It carried with it the scent of pencils and LePage's glue. It harbored the aroma of old wood flooring; the staleness of a school house shut up long against the summer's heat and the absence of feet. It urged me to starch my shirts and polish my shoes. It made me laugh.

There was an old Willow Tree just outside my bedroom window as a youth. It was cut down some years later, but I still recall its magic. It could capture the wind in a bow and cause it to remain there until at last a song was born.

Wind often takes me home.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Detoured and Deterred


Ever had to take a detour? Ever had to take one you later regretted?

Life's like that. It's going along ever so smoothly when, all of a sudden, here comes an unexpected detour. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Fact is, it can be a fairly good thing. You get to see stuff or scenary you might otherwise have missed.

But the other kind ... the less desirable detours are an altogether different matter. Our dear friend Gary had one such this week.

While riding the bike path alongside a fairly well traveled road, he and two buddies were just getting started on their early morning trek. From behind them - unseen and unanticipated - came a truck traveling at fairly high speeds. The driver didn't see the bikers.
In a flash and a blur, two of the three bikers were hit and thrown from their bikes flying high and the air and landing hard on the asphalt, unconscious. Their life detour had just caught them, literally, without notice.

The third biker was missed altogether, but he's having a detour of a different sort. What began as a leisurely morning with buddies soon became a flurry of medics, helicopters and mayhem.

While I'm grateful to report that Gary and the other biker survived their ordeal, both men ended up detoured to the ICU in a local hospital where they are now deterred from all that we'd deem to be "routine". It's been a tough experience for them and their families given injuries that range from a broken pelvis to missing teeth, from fractured vertebrae to missing skin. Thank God they are past the life-threatening stage. Yes, thank God.

I've had a few detours myself that deterred me too. Most aren't quite so troublesome as the one I describe here. Some came and went before I even realized I'd HAD a detour. Thank God I've thus far made it past anything life threatening. Yes, thank God.
Life doesn't always give us warnings.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Make Me Like Who?

How many of us wouldn't want to have the tenderness of the apostle John, or the conviction of Paul? There's no doubt that I would gladly wear Deborah's mantle, or even Esther's ... perhaps that of Dorcus. I might relish the amazing wonders of a life like Elijah's, or David's. And who wouldn't want to open blind eyes or raise the dead like Peter?

We love to soar the heights of glory.
Miracles are the beck and call.
Yet wonders form in hidden vessels,
When oft our backs are to the wall.

Mournful longings aren't compelling,
Nor the times of utter loss.
But what is good and richly filling,
May sometimes place us on a cross.

I'm trying to think how often I've prayed for a life like Job's...

I wade through chapter-after-chapter in the saga of his life - that forlorn, miserable, bereft, depleted era that seemed to take him hostage to a fate I can scarcely imagine. There is many a commentary of how Job this, and Job that; and wonderful analogies about how Job rose victorious over his circumstances. I like them.

Yet when I sit for awhile with Job there in his ashes and sorrow, I am struck by how significant is his life and his life journey - even amidst the death, destruction, and loss. Because of it, actually. I'm further struck by the fact that Job didn't and couldn't comprehend something so infinitely remarkable until he'd sat in the rubble and ashes, even with miserably unhelpful friends looking on.

In the last chapter of Job's life, in the midst of trouble and rubble we hear his final report:
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Then Job replied to the LORD :
"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours
can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that
obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes." (42:1-6)

I'm always a wee bit suspicious of those that would have us believe the life of the believer ought to be free of trouble, sickness, loss or sorrow. Were I to pray for a life like Job's I would be sorely disappointed with the seeming lack. Yet Job's lack actually became his gain, and a testimony that far surpasses most - - handed down through the ages for a reason.

I'm not sure I'm ready to pray for a life like Job's. Even so ...
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But whatever was to my profit I now consider
loss
for the sake of Christ. What is more,
I consider
everything a loss compared to
the surpassing greatness of knowing
Christ Jesusmy Lord,
for whose sake I have lost all things.
I consider them rubbish, that I may
gain Christ and be found in him,
not having a righteousness of my own
that comes from the law, but that which
is through faith in Christ—
the righteousness that comes from God
and is by faith.
(Phil 3:7-9)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Confessions of Careless Carmelizing


Oops, I did it again ...

Some years ago while enjoying the domestic dithers associated with ironing, I burnt my arm quite severely. I bumped the ironing board as I reached across it, and the iron fell across my soft fleshy (aka chubby) forearm. OUCH! Before I could get out from under the iron, I had sustained one ugly and painful burn. I still have a nasty scar to show for it.


Well, last week I embarked upon the making of homemade Flan. You know, that custard stuff they serve at Mexican restaurants? The recipe called for caramelized sugar, which sounded absolutely yummy and quite easy.

I had never cooked plain old sugar before so I was a bit quizzical when the instructions said to "melt it slowly over the burner". Mmmm ... Can sugar melt all by itself? Doesn't it need water, or butter?

Somewhat skeptically I began the slow melt. Voila! It really worked.

As I was "swishing" the melted sugar in the pan (in obedience to the recipe) it occurred to me I may have melted it too long. It looked sort of burnt (I guess that's why the call it "burnt sugar") so I thought I'd best test it (which at my house means "taste" it). I dipped my index finger into the mixture and proceeded to nearly pass out.

The caramelized, liquid, BURNT sugar became instantly rock hard on the tip of my finger. As I turned to grab ice I attempted to break free of the singeing
substance with my thumb. Not smart. I only managed to transfer some of the hot stuff to my thumb. Now two fingers were flaming red just before turning white.

I don't know anyone that can yell as loud as me.

Slowly I recover, but let me tell you ... my fingers STILL hurt.

Oh well ... the flan was fabulous!



Don't Miss the Glory!

Gordon Mote is the artist performing this beautiful song. He is a well known, highly respected songwriter in Nashville, crafting music for the likes of Martina McBride, Brad Paisley and other notables. He is also a Christian known for his amazing faith, and great sense of humor.

Gordon is also blind.

Thus this song stirs me deeper still, knowing that Gordon sees more clearly than most ever have with 20/20 sight.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Brad's Day

Nearly four decades have passed since that momentous afternoon at Tacoma General Hospital - 1:07 PM on August 15, 1969 to be exact.
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Bradley James Flanagan began his grand entry at 4:00 AM as the laboring process began in earnest. I woke with a damp start - the first clue in what would become the day that changed my life forever. I was about to be a mother.
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The process of delivery for me would be
relatively swift and painless. Contractions didn't actually begin until mid-morning, and by early afternoon the world welcomed its newest citizen - at least MY world did. As long as I live - and perhaps into eternity - I will not forget the experience or my feelings on that day.
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When alone at last with my newborn - doctors, nurses, hubby, and guests now all gone - I sat in captivated wonder as I scanned his tiny body. In the macro sense I acknowledged his completeness and health. In the micro sense I studied his tiny fingernails, the little wisps of hair that curled atop his perfectly shaped head. I looked deep into his newly seeing eyes, smelled his breath and was swept away with incredulity.
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How long this gazing took place I cannot say.
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At some point my heart threatened to break through my chest wall. It actually hurt to be so filled with joy as it was, and love. I was overcome. I wept.
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So, with tiny lad clutched near to that swollen heart and nestled just beneath my chin, I said aloud to no one in particular: I now know how much my mother loves me! It startled me a bit, this proclomation. Why that particular comment? The fact of my mother's love for me had never been in doubt. But at this particular instant a new understanding had been born along with this son. Motherhood was simply the delivery system.
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Brad would grow to be a deep, curious, studious, sensitive child. Always exploring; forever with his nose in a book. Bored with the mundane and intrigued by adventure, he continues a quest and zest for life that began with his first steps and shows no sign of diminishing.
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I could weep anew as I recall that day ... and that son. He is a joy to me still and such an incredible gift. When I consider him as so often I do, I sometimes hear myself saying aloud: I now know how much God loves me!
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I love you!

Happy Birthday, Brad

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Profound

"This would be the first step in apostasy;
men first forget the true,
and then adore the false."
C.H. Spurgeon
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I don't think I can expound on Spurgeon's thoughts that would, in any way, make them better or clearer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Traveling Life's Highways

That life is a journey is undeniable! Each of us travels different courses along various and often different routes. For many it's an excursion and joy. For others, it's tedious or troublesome. For most it's a bit of both.

A bend in the road might well means tough going, or unexpected trouble ahead, or put on your brakes. But for others a bend in the road can be rather exciting, if not altogether portentous. It's an invitation to open wide the eyes and prepare for some new vista.

Come upon a Y in the road and you just might discern trouble, especially if you're a hesitant sojourner. Bad enough a bend slows you down, but a Y ... well, that could stymie you for a long, long time. Been there; done that!

Yet others might approach that same Y with great anticipation, as though invited to engage in some amazing adventure. Their imagination kicks into gear as they eagerly weigh this way versus that way.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Funny how something as simple as perspective can make all the difference in the world. One man's worry is another man's calm. One man's hesitancy is another man's impetus.

As I've been known to say: When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moving Out, Moving On

Since reading his biography a number of years ago, Oswald Chambers has been one of my favorite teachers. He'd have been one prolific blogger!

In the book penned by his widow following his death, "My Utmost for His Highest", is a daily collection of thought arranged carefully for pondering. It's called a devotional for good reason.

In today's reading, I am struck by the wisdom we're asked to consider ...

This Experience Must Come
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"And he saw him no more." 2 Kings 2:12

It is not wrong to depend upon Elijah as long as God gives him to you, but remember the time will come when he will have to go; when he stands no more to you as your guide and leader, because God does not intend he should. You say - "I cannot go on without Elijah." God says you must.

Alone at your Jordan. v.14. Jordan is the type of separation where there is no fellowship with anyone else, and where no one can take the responsibility for you. You have to put to the test now what you learned when you were with your Elijah. You have been to Jordan over and over again with Elijah, but now you are up against it alone. It is no use saying you cannot go; this experience has come, and you must go. If you want to know whether God is the God you have faith to believe Him to be, then go through your Jordan alone.


Alone at your Jericho. v.15. Jericho is the place where you have seen your Elijah do great things. When you come to your Jericho you have a strong disinclination to take the initiative and trust in God, you want someone else to take it for you. If you remain true to what you learned with Elijah, you will get the sign that God is with you.

Alone at your Bethel. v.23. At your Bethel you will find yourself at your wits' end and at the beginning of God's wisdom. When you get to your wits' end and feel inclined to succumb to panic, don't; stand true to God and He will bring His truth out in a way that will make your life a sacrament. Put into practice what you learned with your Elijah, use his cloak and pray.

Determine to trust in God and do not look for Elijah any more.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blogger Birthday

Hey ... yesterday - 080808 - was my first blogger birthday!
Now that's somethin' ... (both the one year thing AND the date).

Let me share with you a little bit about my early bloggerdom. .

First, it began with an awareness. I had heard the term "blog" nearly everywhere. I was too embarrassed to ask what it meant at first, and I must admit I was a little disappointed to learn that it is a contraction for Weblog. Why couldn't we just say that? This all came about the same time I figured out that dubyadubyadubya actually meant "worldwide web". Who knew? Who thinks this stuff up, anyway?

But I digress ....

I visited a few blog-sites over the course of some months to see what all the hype was about. Initially I thought it all to be largely narcissistic, often thinking to myself how much I really didn't care about what people had for dinner, or what their rationale was for picketing their local teacher's union, blah, blah, blah ... So let's just say my first take on this stuff was skeptical at best.
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It then became a notion. Golly ... if the great commission says to go into the outermost parts of the world, then surely cyberspace was (and is) the uttermost of the outermost. I might be able to do something with that.

From notion to clandestine trial I took my first baby steps, posting my inaugural entry - Virtual Arrival - just one year ago. Funny thing is, I took those baby steps, and then a few more, and eventually some rather long strides way before I ever told anyone that I was blogging. What if someone actually read something I posted and didn't like it, or thought I was a fruitcake?

So for nearly three months I blogged away until finally one day I got up enough courage to tell someone at my office what I was up to. Once they got over the hilarity of my Sassy Granny handle (which they thought infinitely perfect even though I tried to explain that I really wanted "Savvy" and not "Sassy", but it wasn't available ... ), they were very encouraging.

So the clandestine trial period became the launch pad for going public. The rest is history.

What I've learned about blogging (and I'm not going to charge you for any of this):
  • It's fun.
  • It's not as time-consuming as one might think.
  • There's so much to ponder & share (without being narcissistic or using it as a platform for bragging, making political statements, etc.).
  • There's tremendous personal enjoyment & satisfaction in capturing the aforementioned ponderings. No one has to read it, or like it if they do read it.
  • It's a virtual legacy; a snapshot in time that grants people a peak
    into your mind and heart (scary and fun).
  • Much more ...
Anyway, 129 posts later I'll celebrate by blogger birthday in relative obscurity, much like the blog itself. Whoo Hoo!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sassy Sisters

I've made it no secret that my birth year is 1948. I've also spoken often of the fact that I was born into an already established home scene when my mother was 42 and my father 46. My sisters were 15, 13 and 6 1/2 at that time. It's hard to imagine how they viewed this new "bundle of joy" but I've never doubted the bonds of love that unite us still.
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Since you already know a wee bit about my Mom and Dad, let me color in more of the family portrait with a tale or two of the sassy sisters. They moved over to make room for me. Sometimes they still do ...
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We can begin with Dolores, the oldest - my childhood "Lolly". Her name derives from the old Spanish, MarĂ­a de los Dolores, and means Mary of Sorrows (after the mother of Jesus). But let me tell you, she is anything but sorrowful. No ... this sister is full of sass and merriment. I like to think of her as the picture adjacent to the word extraordinary in Merriam's dictionary. She is that, and more. Mother to five; grandmother to umpty-umpty, she has left all of us a legacy of domesticity and faithfulness. For a kind word, Dolores' word pantry is never empty. Her dark features and sparkling eyes speak of youth - for even in her aging Dolores remains timeless & ageless. As a child I imagined that Nancy Drew must look something like her but, in truth, no one compares. This sister's heart has loved the Lord long, and gentle, and well - often rallying kith and kin to stand on higher ground.
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Next we have Barbara - named (most likely) after the legendary Roman patron of architects, geologists, stonemasons and artillerymen. BONG - Wrong! Had they included Master Bakers in that list I might agree, for Barbara is Queen of the Kitchen! That said, I must include the fact that she was the daughter most likely to pad along with Dad on fishing and hunting forays. To this day, Barb is always up for an adventure. She's ready to go at the drop of a pin or the whisper of an invitation. Strawberry blond, lean and agile, Barb inherited a frame quite unlike my own or the other two sister's (we three tend to be shorter of leg, broader of beam and, in my case, bosomyer). She was born for athletics, and a good thing too. She out-runs all of us still, packing her days with a whallop of living. It is this sister that has been, most often, a sort of hovering angel in my own life. That aspect of her heart - and what a huge heart it is - extends well beyond family to the imprisoned women she ministers to today.
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We've advanced to sister #3 - Carol. By the time I came along Carol had been the "baby" long enough to have firmly established her place in the family's bosom. What a rude interruption this usurper must have been for her - more so than the others. Upon my grand, if not tardy entrance, she quickly had to bid farewell to the coveted spot as the baby, and to blankies and baby talk whether she wanted to or not. She also had to literally move over to make room for my crib, then my cot, then ultimately my sharing (and sometimes wetting) her bed. Her name is short for Caroline and means song or hymn (interesting - but more on that later ...). It was Carol that I watched and emulated (and tormented) as I grew up. She was, in my wee eyes, all that was sophisticated and growed up. When Carol cried, I cried. When Carol was in trouble, I lobbied for a reprieve. When Carol was dating, I fell in love with her beaus right along with her. She often called me "Bunky", an endearment that was typically spoken through grins (what is a bunky, anyway?) Dark, fiery eyes open the door to Carol's heart - a view that reveals a depth soul, of feeling. What a rare blend of the gentle and fierce is she. And about that name ... the one so closely aligned with singing and hymns; it's her favorite realm, the glorious Kingdom of God! Leave her alone 5 minutes and she'll be humming a song of praise. I wish space and time permitted to tell of her arduous and precious journey from the fields of routine to the fields of glory as a missionary in Mexico.
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With so many gaps in our ages, it comes as no surprise that we were not always close. Our interests were varied and diverse, growing up during entirely different eras and, at times, by seemingly different parents. Dolores and Barb were jivin' to the likes of Duke Ellington and Les Brown - a fairly tame genre as compared to what was coming when Carol first donned dancing duds to the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and The Drifters in the 50s. Nothing compared, though, to the 60s in which I joined the American Band Standers to work it out with Chubby Checker, the Beattles, The Supremes, and The Beach Boys.
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While I was playing dolls the older girls were entering the workforce. When I began dating, they were married and managing homes and families. When they were coming, I was going. When they were yinging, I was yanging.
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Even so, the years have never been successful at wedging themselves between us. Fact is, we have grown closer with the passing of those years - so much so that I believe we would all agree that we are today each other's best friends. The mawing gap has closed. They make me proud. Whether near or far, my heart tells me we share a home still. We will share it throughout eternity.
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Thank you for making room for me, my sassy comrades - today as much as yesterday.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Drafting

It's a multi-faceted term, drafting. If you check with Merriam you'll see that the word is associated with any number of things - from beer to horses; from architecture to a military or sports summons. But it's definition number 13 on Merriam's list that I'm pondering, and it reads like this:
A pocket of reduced air pressure behind a
moving object; also : the use of such a draft
to save energy.
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At first glance it probably doesn't mean much. Perhaps Environmental Ergonomics can help me de-shroud it a bit more:

In scaled wind-tunnel tests, driving 100 feet behind
a semi at 55 mph will reduce drag on your car
by 40%. The drag reduction increases as you
approach the bumper of the truck until you
get a 93% drag reduction at a distance of 2 feet.
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Here's a modern day parable if ever there was one!

As I was driving home on the freeway recently, I noticed a smaller truck drafting behind a larger one. This is common for the reasons noted. It was then that it occurred to me that I do that ... I draft behind the larger vessel, and in so doing there's less drag on my life, more energy, better economy of resources, and a plethora of other benefits. I'm actually quite safe in the drafting zone; the vessel ahead of me is larger, sees farther, and is bucking the head winds that might impede my progress. In fact, unlike cars, the closer I draft the safer I become.

I like drafting.

Atttitude Adjustments

Ever had one of those, an attitude adjustment? I know I have. In fact, my first recollection of one dates back to my youth when my dad helped me out with the experience. I'd "borrowed" my mothers grapefruit spoons (a gift from her own mother which were wee little spoons with a serated edge for cutting grapefruit sections out of the sliced fruit).

Anyway, I decided the spoons would make wonderful sandbox utensils so off I went with them. Trouble is, I didn't return with them. When mother discovered her missing spoons the matter was quickly brought to my father's attention. Oh dear ...

So my dad, with his unique forensics skill came looking for me straight-away. How could he? Seems I was the usual suspect from the git-go.

After several minutes of interrogation during which time I held fast to my innocence, dad marched me to the park where I'd been playing the day prior. He had a suspicion about where the missing spoons might be found, so off we went. During our brief walk to the sandbox I had one of those defining moments: fess up! I knew if he found even one of those spoons in the sandbox I'd be toast. So I confessed through tears and sobs.

The spoons were not to be found. No doubt some other child considered them a great discovery and packed them home as the spoils of play. My heart sank as the look of disapointment on my dad's face revealed itself.

It was then that my attitude adjustment took place. I didn't receive a spanking, but what I got was far worse. Dad explained to me the origin of those spoons, the sadness of my mother to lose her own mother's gift, and then a rather stern lecture on the subject of lying and how it breaks trust. I received a punishment of being confined to my yard for a period of time - a horrible fate for this park-loving kid.

I never lied to my father again. I never "borrowed" my mother's things again either (I graduated to borrowing my sister Carol's things instead). In a matter of moments I'd had an attitude adjustment I shall never forget.

Small matter? Not on your life! To steal (no matter what you label it) and to lie (no matter how you defend it) not only incurs trouble for the moment, but a breakdown in trust that can last for hours or days, if not a lifetime.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Those Darn Sugar Babies

It comes as no great surprise to me that from the age of 38 onward my body has been in a state of rebellion. The rebellion has taken a number of forms, some of which I fight fiercely, and others I abide in acquiescence. After all, what can one do but accept menopause or shrinking skin (how else to describe wrinkles?) or funny little hairs that crop up in the strangest places?

It's what's happening to my once lithe & lean frame that continually annoys me. I struggle with whether the lack of lithe contributes to the lack of lean; or if the lack of lean makes it difficult to maintain the lithe. What's even more annoying are those darn Sugar Babies! They're at war with both the lithe and the lean.


I keep a box on hand just in case. In case of what, you ask? In case my sweet tooth acts up. In case I need a munchie in order to watch a movie. In case I can't sleep. In case it's too cold. In case it's too hot. Need I say more?

Either I better get used to these 15 extra pounds or part company with my Sugar Babies.

I'm thinking I look just fine... So much for disciplined, intentional living where Sugar Babies are concerned.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What's in a Name?

I love Bible study - be it heavy-duty Theological digging, or simple meditations on a particular passage of scripture. When I ran across this piece by Chuck Missler I was immediately intrigued. What he offers here isn't really new thought, nor is it an unraveling of some great mystery. What it is, though, is a fabulous reminder of how vital is the Good News from Genesis onward. Chuck tells it best, and if you read nothing else in this commentary, by all means scroll down and read "The Composit List" ...

The Gospel in Genesis
We frequently use the familiar term, gospel, or good news. Where is the first place it appears in the Bible? The answer may surprise you.
(Emphasis Mine)

An Integrated Message

The great discovery is that the Bible is a message system: it's not simply 66 books penned by 40 authors over thousands of years. The Bible is an integrated whole which bears evidence of supernatural engineering in every detail.

The Jewish rabbis have a quaint way of expressing this very idea: they say that they will not understand the Scriptures until the Messiah comes. But when He comes, He will not only interpret each of the passages for us, He will interpret the very words; He will even interpret the very letters themselves; in fact, He will even interpret the spaces between the letters!
When I first heard this, I simply dismissed this as a colorful exaggeration. Until I reread
Matthew 5:17 and 18:

"Think not that I have come to destroy the Torah and the prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfill.For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (A jot and tittle are the Hebrew equivalent of our dotting an i and the crossing of a t.)

An Example

A remarkable example of this can be glimpsed in Genesis Chapter 5, where we have the genealogy of Adam through Noah. This is one of those chapters which we often tend to skim over quickly as we pass through Genesis it's simply a genealogy from Adam to Noah. But God always rewards the diligent student. Let's examine this chapter more closely.

In our Bible, we read the Hebrew names. What do these names mean in English?

A Study of Original Roots

The meaning of proper names can be a difficult pursuit since a direct translation is often not readily available. Even a conventional Hebrew lexicon can prove disappointing. A study of the original roots, however, can yield some fascinating insights.

(A caveat: many study aids, such as a conventional lexicon, can prove rather superficial when dealing with proper nouns. Furthermore, views concerning the meanings of original roots are not free of controversy and variant readings.) Let's take an example.

The Flood Judgment

Methuselah comes from muth, a root that means "death";
and from shalach, which means to bring, or to send forth. The name Methuselah means, "his death shall bring". Methuselah's father was given a prophecy of the coming Great Flood, and was apparently told that as long as his son was alive, the judgment of the flood would be withheld; but as soon as he died, the flood would be brought or sent forth.

(Can you imagine raising a kid like that? Every time the boy caught a cold, the entire neighborhood must have panicked!) And, indeed, the year that Methuselah died, the flood came.


It is interesting that Methuselah's life, in effect, was a symbol of God's mercy in forestalling the coming judgment of the flood. Therefore, it is fitting that his lifetime is the oldest in the Bible, speaking of the extensiveness of God's mercy.

The Other Names

If there is such significance in Methuselah's name, let's examine the other names to see what may lie behind them.

Adam's name means man. As the first man, that seems straight forward enough.

Seth: Adam's son was named Seth, which means appointed. Eve said, "For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."
4

Enosh: Seth's son was called Enosh, which means mortal, frail, or miserable. It is from the root anash, to be incurable, used of a wound, grief, woe, sickness, or wickedness. It was in the days of Enosh that men began to defile the name of the Living God.5

Kenan: Enosh's son was named Kenan, which can mean sorrow, dirge, or elegy. (The precise denotation is somewhat elusive; some study aids unfortunately presume that Kenan is synonymous with Cainan.) Balaam, looking down from the heights of Moab, uses a pun upon the name of the Kenites when he prophesies their destruction.
6

We have no real idea as to why these names were chosen for their children. Often they may have referred to circumstances at birth, and so on.

Mahalalel: Kenan's son was Mahalalel, from Mahalal which means blessed or praise; and El, the name for God. Thus, Mahalalel means the Blessed God. Often Hebrew names include El, the name of God, as Dan-i-el, "God is my Judge", etc.

Jared: Mahalalel's son was named Jared, from the verb yaradh, meaning shall come down.7

Enoch: Jared's son was named Enoch, which means teaching, or commencement. He was the first of four generations of preachers. In fact, the earliest recorded prophecy was by Enoch, which amazingly enough deals with the Second Coming of Christ (although it is quoted in the Book of Jude in the New Testament):
Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against." Jude 14, 15

Methuselah: Enoch was the father of Methuselah, who we have already mentioned. Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah.8 Apparently, Enoch received the prophecy of the Great Flood, and was told that as long as his son was alive, the judgment of the flood would be withheld. The year that Methuselah died, the flood came.

Enoch, of course, never died: he was translated
9 (or, if you'll excuse the expression, raptured ). That's how Methuselah can be the oldest man in the Bible, yet he died before his father!

Lamech: Methuselah's son was named Lamech, a root still evident today in our own English word, lament or lamentation. Lamech suggests despairing. (This name is also linked to the Lamech in Cain's line who inadvertently killed his son Tubal-Cain in a hunting incident.
10)

Noah: Lamech, of course, is the father of Noah, which is derived from nacham, to bring relief or comfort, as Lamech himself explains in Genesis 5:29.

The Composite List

Now let's put it all together:

Hebrew....................English
Adam ......................Man
Seth ........................ Appointed
Enosh.......................Mortal
Kenan..................... Sorrow
Mahalalel............... The blessed God
Jared...................... Shall come down
Enoch .................... Teaching
Methuselah........... His death shall bring
Lamech ..................The Despairing
Noah ...................... Rest, or comfort.


Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.

Here's the Gospel hidden within a genealogy in Genesis!

(You will never convince me that a group of Jewish rabbis conspired to hide the Christian Gospel right here in a genealogy within their venerated Torah!)

Evidence of Design

The implications of this discovery are more wide spread than is evident at first glance. It demonstrates that in the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis, God had already laid out His plan of redemption for the predicament of mankind. It is a love story, written in blood on a wooden cross which was erected in Judea almost 2,000 years ago.

The Bible is an integrated message system, the product of supernatural engineering. Every number, every place name, every detail every jot and tittle is there for our learning, our discovery, and our amazement. Truly, our God is an awesome God.

SOURCE: http://www.khouse.org/articles/1996/44/

So much for all those debates about: so what did people believe before someone actually penned the New Testament?


Friday, August 1, 2008

Whiffing Fall

It may just be wishful thinking given the long hot summer here in Arizona, but I actually think I got a whiff of fall this week. It's a promise I do not take lightly, for it holds out equal doses of anticipation and hope.

Darkness lingers a bit longer ...

Light fades a bit earlier ...

An earthy scent - mostly of moist grass, mulched soil and rusting plant life rallies the senses ...

Night air has been given a voice to sing ...

As I said, I may be premature or diluded, but one thing's certain: fall is on its way!

I love promises, especially the absolutely certain ones.

" ... where morning dawns and evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy." Psalm 65:8