Are You Afraid Of What’s Behind The Door?

Joshua

Karen recently watched all five of Katie’s kids by herself (whew!!!!)  She has no idea how Katie does it.  Karen felt like a mama dog with fourteen hungry pups and only eight nipples.

In the midst of juggling the needs of the kids, Joshua, the youngest boy pleaded with his grandma to wait in the bathroom with him while he did his thing.  Now he has no problem going at his own home without supervision, so she asked why his reluctance to fly solo at our house.

“When I shut the door, there’s a lady looking at me,” was his reply.  Karen shut the door and Joshy pointed to the plaque I have hanging on the wall, behind the open door.  Staring down at him is an early 20th century young woman advertising Coca Cola.  I guess he really values his privacy and doesn’t want anyone observing his business.

Aren’t we all a little like Joshua?  He’s embarrassed to leave the door open, but also afraid to shut the door and expose himself to that creepy Coca Cola lady.  We leave the door to our life open just enough to let others see what we want them to see.  Eventually we shut that door to the outside world and hope no one will find out who we really are.  But behind all our doors is someone far more dangerous than an ill-advised placement of a Coca Cola plaque.

Satan is behind the door you close to the outside world.  He resides in darkness and is behind every evil thought, every evil action and is always all too willing to help you condemn  yourself.   “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:10

God on the other hand never hides behind doors and He doesn’t want you to either.  He carefully and lovingly created you, not for you to hide from Him and others because you make a few mistakes.  God wants you to be real with Him.    King David longed for this kind of relationship with God and wrote about it in Psalm 139: 1-18.

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.  You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.  Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”

For now Karen and I are going to leave up the picture of the Coca Cola lady in our guest bathroom.  Karen was able to share truth with him and he felt better.  This situation was just one of many opportunities we will have with our grandchildren to share the love of God.  If you haven’t already, open the door to your heart to God today.  He’s waiting with open arms.

 

 

“Love Intentionally”

Papa (Terry) and I had the privilege of having our five grandchildren (ages 2-11) over for a couple of nights this last weekend.  I’m still recovering! Whew…it was fun and crazy…it kind of reminded me of going down a waterslide…at times a little overwhelming (thoughts were–yikes, why are we doing this?) but fun at the same time.

We played a lot of games: Old Maid, What’s Yours Like, Life, The Train Game, and Quick Cups to name a few.  Terry made his famous Papa’s Pancakes.   I made some yummy smoothies, molasses muffins, and popcorn.   We went to a country store and saw bunnies,  piglets, baby chicks, and a baby goat.   We bought a plant to begin a fairy garden.  But mainly we made memories.

I pray for and desire to intentionally love all of my grandchildren.   It  may be a phone call to just say “hello, I love you” to the ones who sadly live far away.  Sometimes it’s a surprise package to them in the mail or  spontaneous face time on the phone or computer.

This week, I called  my granddaughter, Brooklyn, who just graduated from kindergarten.  She lives in Washington so I wasn’t able to be there to cheer her on.  My daughter sent a video of her graduation, though.  The teacher asks each student as they graduate, what they want to be when they grow up.  Brooklyn stated “a hairdresser”.   I told her she could fix my hair when she became a hairdresser.  She said, “Ok!  Ama, what color do you want your hair?” I said hesitantly, “maybe white”?   She declared, ” I think pink, Ama!”.   Oh boy, I’m in trouble!!!!!

What memories are you making with your children or grandchildren?  Do they know you love them and actually delight in them?  What do you do to show them love?

ISV  Zephaniah 3:17  “The Lord your God among you is powerful.  He will save and will take joyful delight in you.  In His love He will renew you with His love, He will celebrate with singing because of you.

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Does Your Belief Necessarily Make It True?

We had a wonderful week when our daughter Jaymi, son in law Matt  and three grandchildren, Logan, Maya and Brooklyn, came to visit us in Florida on Spring Break.  Katie, our oldest daughter, and Jaymi are great planners and had the whole week scheduled with fun activities.  My Ama heart was full!!

The day before they flew back to  Washington, Terry wanted to go out to lunch with them at his favorite restaurant, Cheddars.  The food is yummy and tastes homemade.  Their croissants  are worth going off a gluten free diet for.  Terry was most excited to share his favorite fudge cake with them at the end of our meal.  So when the waiter brought out the dessert, including seven spoons, everyone was eager to dive in.  Logan took the first bite and surprisingly said, “Yuck.” Brooklyn took the cherry on top and was happy.  Matt took the next bite and shockingly said “There’s something wrong with the sauce.” Terry  was enjoying every bite totally ignoring their negative reactions.

I decided to listen to their dismay and stuck my finger in the sauce…it tasted like barbecue sauce.  I  motioned for the waiter to come over and told him, there was something very wrong with the dessert.  The  chocolate sauce tasted more like barbecue sauce.  He politely corrected us and proudly said, “That’s our special caramel sauce.”  We all disagreed (except maybe Terry) but our waiter skeptically took it back to the kitchen and had it checked out.  We looked at the menu and the fudge cake pictured didn’t seem to show caramel sauce on it …. just chocolate.  Moments later the manager of the restaurant came to our table and apologized for the mistake.  The truth was the barbecue sauce was placed along side of the dessert toppings and the fudge cake was mistakenly doused with it instead.  The saddest part was, that the barbecued flavored slice was their last piece.  So the Lee’s are going to have to wait until their next visit to enjoy a piece of Terry’s favorite dessert.

Just because our waiter didn’t believe it was barbecue sauce, didn’t change the truth that it was.  Truth…What is truth?  The dictionary says it’s the quality or state of being true.  The waiter believed us once he and the chef tasted it for themselves.   That was a minor mistake (well, maybe not so minor to Terry) but it is a reminder to me, just because I don’t believe something, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

The Bible is the Word of God and is TRUTH.  Whether we believe it or not, doesn’t change the Truth.  Jesus says “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  And John 3:16-18 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.   For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because He has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son”.

Matthew 24:35-42 ” Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

I for one, am looking forward to Christ’s return.  I pray for and  am burdened for  friends and family who haven’t put their trust in Jesus, yet.

If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, may I encourage you today to seek the Truth, to CHEWS JESUS…Taste and See That the Lord is Good!

 

 

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Esther and Grandpa

It’s easy to become confused by appearances.  For example:  Instead of flying to Florida, Karen, Molly and I drove our 2014 silver Hybrid Toyota Camry 3,668 miles to Leesburg where our daughter, her husband and their five children live.  Fresno, California was one of our pit stops on the way.

We spent the night in a nice hotel and the next morning we checked out and brought the luggage to our car.  We both stopped abruptly.   A large dent and ugly scratch extended from the rear panel of our car up to the passenger door.  We stared at each other dumbfounded.   Karen ran her hand across the damaged surface of our car.

“Do you think a car sideswiped it while backing out?”  She asked me.

“It was a tree,” a voice answered from behind us.  We turned to see a short, middle-aged man walking toward us.  “Yes, it was a tree.  I saw the whole thing happen right before my eyes.”

Both Karen and quickly surveyed our surroundings.  We were in a paved parking lot without a single tree in sight.  He must have noticed the confused expression on our faces because he quickly added.  “Oh, it wasn’t the entire tree.  Just one it’s large branches hit it, so I suppose it could have been a whole lot worse.”

Neither one of us knew what to say.  We just stood there exchanging glances between each other, the car and the little man.  The air was thick with awkwardness so he added, “Yea, the damage to my car was bad enough but then I had to deal with my stupid insurance company….what a hassle.”

I quickly took a closer look at his car.  It was identical to our car except for the Toyota emblem on the trunk.  Mine is silver with a blue background identifying it as a hybrid; his didn’t have the blue background….ooops!!!

Karen and I let out a huge sigh of relief.  A large mini-van was parked between his car and ours blocking the view of our Camry.  We both told him how sorry we were about his car and then scampered over to ours.

Looks can be deceiving.  I worked for Seafirst National Bank when Karen and I were first married.  We had weekly meetings and at one of these meetings, a man brought some counterfeit money.  He passed out the fake bills so we could examine them.  They looked real to me.  I asked him if our bank could keep some of the bogus bills so the tellers had more time to study them.  Then we could better tell the difference between them and the originals.

He laughed and shook his head.  “You don’t study the counterfeit to recognize the original; you study the original to expose the counterfeit.”

“Why’s that,” another teller asked.

“Because counterfeit bills will often change slightly in appearance or texture depending on who is making them.  The originals stay consistent in both appearance and texture.”

The same principle applies to Jesus.  He is the original; the only true son of God.  Many have come or will come proclaiming to be Jesus, God, or a prophet who has the answers to life’s many questions concerning the afterlife, morality, good vs evil, what is truth and how to attain happiness.  But there is only one who was born of a virgin, performed miracles, was crucified to take all of humanities sins on His shoulders.   But He rose from the grave, defeating death so that we can have salvation if we believe He is who He says He is: He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

But there is a being in this world who is just like those counterfeit bills.    He hates us so he lies to us.  His aim is to deceive us from the truth and keep us from knowing Jesus.  He is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing looking to devour the flock…which is us.

So what can we do to keep us from being deceived?  We must study the original.  By reading the Bible, we can get to know Jesus.  By prayer we can communicate to the creator of the universe.  By attending a good church we can worship our Creator and have fellowship and be encouraged by other believers.  This is the only way to keep from being deceived.

On our travels, Karen and I stopped to eat at Cracker Barrel.  After a yummy dinner we paid for our meal, walked across the parking lot and climbed into our 2014 silver, Hybrid Toyota Camry.  Once inside, I noticed that the windshield mounted GPS holder was gone.  Then I noticed that the car seemed a lot messier than when left it to go eat.  Then I noticed the Honda emblem on the steering wheel.  We’d gotten into the wrong car!!!!

Either old age is taking its toll on Karen and I or we need to do a better job of studying the original.

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What Have You Been Learning Lately?

Have you ever prayed, Lord if you want us to move, please move us swiftly? I don’t recommend it unless you are up for the challenge. Wowza! These last four months have been a whirlwind. When Terry and I thought about selling our house I prayed that very prayer. I regretted praying it a few times but mostly I am thankful for the journey God has us on.

Sorry I have not blogged for quite a while, but we are living out of our suitcases, temporarily residing at our daughter and son-in-law’s home in Florida with our five precious grandchildren. As I’m typing this, the house is filled with five loud, competing voices and numerous interruptions…I’m not used to this level of chaos any more. Oh my goodness, I never thought I would forget how busy a mother of preschoolers is. It’s non-stop. It’s all good, but exhausting. Thankful to be making memories with the grandkids but we are looking forward to moving into our own home and having more control over the noise level.

I thought I would write this blog and update you on the journey this far…if I can concentrate long enough between the interruptions…

December 22 was the closing date on our home. Our house needed to be cleaned out and cleaned up by that date. The weeks before were crazy and surreal. We had a moving/garage sale, Terry put our Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving and celebrated Christmas early with our son and daughter-in-law and grandkids from Arizona. We then helped put on a surprise party for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday on Thanksgiving, celebrated Christmas again with our daughter Jaymi and her family by preparing another turkey dinner and all of the trimmings. I sold items on Buy, Sell & Swap, said goodbye to lifetime friends, cousins and family…and the list goes on and on. We couldn’t have done it without help: some of our sweet church ladies, my sister and brother-in -law, who helped pack up my kitchen, the day of the move, Terry’s brother, Garry, came over and helped him take a mountain of unwanted items to the dump. My mother-in-law helped me do one final mopping of a bedroom and living room that I hadn’t had time to get to. Jaymi, our daughter was a life saver and helped me organize my creative chaos. I purged 39 years of living into one moving POD. We stuffed our suitcases and personal items into our Camry, leaving only enough room for our sweet senior golden retriever, Molly…and said goodbye to Stanwood.
When I had some alone time, I took a few minutes the day of the move and reflected back on some of the memories and life we had experienced in our home. I think I was too exhausted to cry. I mostly reflected back on God’s faithfulness to us and I walked throughout each room singing Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Praising God for all of the life and blessings He bestowed upon us in the past 39 years and looking forward to what He had in store for us.

The first night of our journey began by staying with Terry’s sister and brother-in-law in the Castle Rock area. We loved visiting with them and seeing their beautiful, newly built
home. We were loved on and spoiled with their hospitality. Medford, Oregon was our destination for the next day. Fresno, California was next and we stayed two nights there because of Christmas. Our next stop: Surprise, Arizona where our dear friends, Marilu and Norm, invited us to stay with them. They also spoiled us with yummy homecooked meals and fun fellowship. Terry came down with a bad sinus infection and needed more rest more before driving on, so we stayed three nights at their home. I felt bad Terry was sick, but I sure enjoyed the extra time with Norm & Marilu.

Next we drove to Fort Stockton, Texas. When we arrived, I felt feverish, achy and had a sore throat. The next day, I felt sicker and went to a walk-in. My diagnosis—type A influenza. The doctor told me to go home and stay in bed. We drove to San Antonio and stayed a few days because influenza was not something I wanted to share with Katie, Jason and their family. The rest of the road trip was sort of a blur–Terry listened to a book on tape and I tried to ignore it–it was about lobotomies, of all things. My head felt like it just went through a lobotomy.

We arrived at Katie’s on Jason’s birthday on January 4. We were greeted with five happy grandkids throwing indoor snowballs at us.

So, what have I learned since leaving our home in Stanwood, Washington? Let me name a few very random things…

Our possessions are just temporary things. I dare you to purge your possessions into one 8 X 16 foot storage pod. It’s quite fun…NOT!!!

When, our golden retriever, Molly was intensely panting in the backseat of our car–she wasn’t going to die–it’s her way of calming her body down.

When driving in Florida, if your husband suddenly pulls in front of a large truck, do not wind down your window to listen to what the truck driver has to say.

When you have lived all of your life in one place and you are directionally challenged–do not expect to know North from South and East from West when you move.

I’ve also learned that when Terry gets too hot, he gets crabby. When I get too hot, I get easily annoyed. Not a great combo…And this is only winter time in Florida. The best is yet to come.

I’m learning that God never ceases to amaze me…the first Sunday we were in Florida, we attended our son-in-law’s church he is the pastor of, one of first hymns we sung was Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Mostly, I’m thankful to God for this journey we are on. Thankful for family. Everyday we learn something new. I’m learning more of God’s Word and His love and grace for me.

What are you learning these days?

Until Next Time—I’m Chewsing To Trust the Lord!!! Hope you are too!

CHEWS JESUS–Taste and see that the Lord is good!.

When Our Best Laid Plans Are Not God’s Plans

Papa with Daniel and Maya

Do you ever make plans only to see them blown to smithereens before your very eyes?  Of course you have; everyone has unless you’re Jesus, which you’re not because you can’t walk on water, raise the dead and aren’t preparing for you own crucifixion.  Best laid plans have a tendency to go up in smoke faster than a book of matches in the hands of a curious five-year-old boy.

Case in point:  For a long time, Karen and I have wanted to put our house, which has been our home for 39 years, up for sale.  Oh, we tried selling  our home twice before, but it  garnered as much interest as a leper selling  hour-long massages for $5.00.   You see, we live in a flood plain.  The Stillaguamish River slithers through our neighborhood like a thirsty snake.  When el Nino decides to visit the Pacific Ocean, his jet stream carries a warm, atmospheric river of rain from Hawaii toward Washington.  The Stillaguamish gorges herself on all the melting snow until her sides burst open and flood the land with the contents of her swollen belly.

So over the years whenever we tried to sell our home, potential buyers would look at the snake coiled around three sides of our neighborhood and say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Twice, plans to sell our home were dampened by the specter of a snake with a leaky belly.  The list of reasons Karen and I wanted to move grew longer with each passing winter.  At first, Karen and I were mostly concerned about what would happen if the “Big One” shook our vulnerable house built on sand.  As we both have gone through physical affliction the past few years, we realize how much more difficult it’s going to get to take care of our home and continually walk up and down the two-flights of stairs.

Then this past year many of our friends are beginning to retire.  Over the years, I cashed in two 401 K’s to pay for medical and dental expenses and to pay the bills during three separate job loses.  Retirement for me was not going to happen any time soon.

Then our son-in-law Jason, half-jokingly suggested we move to Florida.  He pastors a church in a town called Leesburg, about 40 miles north of Orlando…home of the happiest place on earth.  He said the cost of living was much less than that of Washington, especially the housing.

So on a whim, Karen and I began to look on the internet for retirement communities in and around Leesburg.  Our jaws dropped when we saw beautiful  1,500 square foot homes selling for $110 to $140,000.  The 55 and over communities looked like vacation resorts sporting swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts and too many other amenities to mention here.

Wow!!!!  There were more retirement communities in Florida than Starbucks stores in Seattle.

What began as a fun way to pass time soon became a spark igniting a flame of passion for the idea of moving to Florida.  The passion grew every time we bundled up to take our Golden Retriever Molly for a walk in rain and 40 degree weather.  But just as the dreary gloom of a winter in Washington can drain the life out of many, the thought of leaving our family,  friends and the only town we’ve ever known would dampen our enthusiasm.  It was especially hard to think about leaving my aging mother and our Daughter Jaymi, her husband Matt and their three kids who we are very close to.

Like a  roller coaster, our emotions took us on a wild ride.  I’ve heard it said that the hardest part about making a decision is indecision.  Finally, Karen prayed that if we would put our house up for sale, we would know it was God’s will if it would sell in a week.  From past experience, I figured it would take a miracle for her prayer to be answered.  We called a real estate agent, put our home up for sale one morning and had six showings that day and had four offers the next morning.

Thank you God for your patience.  We sold our home for $270,000…$101,000 more than what we previously had asked for it twice before.  God knew to hold off the sale until the housing market was red hot in Western Washington.

I am writing this blog from a hotel room in Tallahassee, Florida.  Karen and I are on our last pit stop before arriving in Leesburg, Florida tomorrow afternoon where we will be greeted by our oldest Daughter Katie, her husband Jason and their 5 children.  It will be a bittersweet reunion because while we now will be able to enjoy the company of this family, we know the sadness of leaving other family members behind.

The journey leading up to today is worthy of a blog post all unto itself which I will write at a later time.  Until then remember this:  If God seems to be throwing a monkey wrench into some of your best laid out plans don’t get frustrated…He may just be saving you from a $100,000 mistake.

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This Dog With A Blog Needs Your Help

Molly here.  For those who don’t know, I’m a Golden Retriever and Terry & Karen’s only furry child.  Don’t get me confused with Kuma, that handsome, four-legged actor who played the part of Stan, that adorable canine who could talk,  in Dog With A Blog.  Everyone knows that dog’s can’t talk….but type out a blog on my Dad’s laptop–you know it baby!

I’m reaching out to all my parent’s friends for a little insight.  Something big is going on here at the old homestead.  Mom and Dad are trying to hide something from me.  How do I know?  I’m getting the same vibes I usually get when they haul out their suitcases, pay more attention to me than usual for a few days but then leave me with my dog-sitter Tasha for what seems like forever.

This is different though.  The suitcases are still tucked away in the upstairs closet but a bunch of weird stuff is happening which I can’t quite put my paw on it.  For example:  The other day, all these strangers came to our home and took away a lot of our things.  I didn’t mind the people.  Dad brushed me so I was looking adorable.  I got a lot of attention and received a ton of compliments but I couldn’t believe it when Mom just stood there while someone took my favorite couch.  What’s up with that?  I gave her the cold shoulder by not looking at her for a few hours and tried to make her feel guilty by constantly sniffing the sacred ground where my couch used to be, but in the end my favorite place to sleep is long gone….Grrrrrrr!

Now my parent’s are running around like a bunch of chickens with their heads chopped off, which is a very gruesome  and troubling word picture if you ask me but one I’ve heard them use from time to time.  Dad put together a bunch of boxes and stacked them up in the living room (where my favorite couch used to be….Grrrrrr……calm down Molly, take a deep breath.

Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah….boxes are everywhere and my parents are fighting more than usual.  Anger makes me nervous, so when I sense their frustration levels rising, I can usually diffuse the situation by smothering them with kisses and pretending to be very needy.  That usually does the trick but sometimes I have to resort to ringing the bell on the front door which I normally use for letting them know I have to go potty.  One of them has to stop arguing to open the door for me but instead of going outside, I just look up them with my big, brown puppy dog eyes, wag my tail and smile.  If nothing else works, that usually does.

Then there are all the phone calls to their oldest daughter in a place called Florida.  I can’t understand everything their talking about (remember, I’m only a dog) but they seem very excited when they talk.  And what’s up with this huge metal box sitting in our driveway with the letters….PODS written on the side of it.  I don’t get it.

Well, I hear my parent’s waking up so I’d better get off Dad’s laptop. For those of you who read my blog, please fill me in on what’s going on.   I’d really appreciate it.

Thanks.    Love Molly.

 

 

 

Have You Ever Said, “Never?”

Have you ever vowed you would “Never” do something again?  The “never say never” expression was first recorded in Charles Dicken’s Pickwick Papers (1837).  “Never say never” because you truly don’t know what might happen.

Terry and I wanted to go somewhere tropical for our 25th wedding anniversary.  We saved up for 2 years and on our 27th anniversary we made plans to go to Cocoa Beach and Disney World.   We were beyond excited.  During this time, I worked as a marketing director for a retirement community.  I trained an assistant to be in charge while we were on our 10 day vacation.  During the stressful days of training, I coped with thoughts of arriving at Cocoa Beach in the warm sunshine and laying on the sandy beach.  Even as a little girl I dreamed about going to Florida and swimming in the warm water and enjoying the sunshine.  I remembered a game show that aired on the beaches of Florida and I dreamed about going there one day.

The day came to fly to Florida and we were ready to V A C A T I O N!!!  We arrived in Orlando and got in line for our rental car.  The atmosphere felt strange while we were in line–we weren’t sure why, but when we told the rental car clerk we were going to Cocoa Beach.  He retorted, “No, you aren’t”.  “Hurricane Frances is about to arrive and everyone is being evacuated from Cocoa Beach.  Your best bet would be to drive to Georgia to see if you could get a hotel”.  Being disappointed was an understatement.  I immediately called all three of our kids and asked them to please pray.  Next we called the hotel in Orlando where we  were going to stay  when we left Cocoa Beach to see if they had any rooms available.  They had one opening and we took it.

As we were returning home from this much anticipated vacation, I vowed to Terry, “I’m never going to Florida again!”

Never say never–I’ve been there 4 times since.  Our oldest daughter, Katie and her husband Jason and family moved to Florida.  Jason took a pastoral call at a sweet community church north of Orlando.  Terry and I drove the Penske moving  truck across the United States to deliver their belongings.  Katie and I have close birthdays and one year for my birthday, I had the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays and fly to spend time with them.    Two more grandbabies arrived and I had the privilege of staying with them during the first couple of weeks of Joshua’s and Hannah’s arrival.

Terry and I sold our house this week. We are 3rd generation Stanwoododians.  We have lived in this house for 39 years.  If all goes as planned, guess where we are moving?

Florida!

Never Say Never!!!!

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9

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BE STILL AND KNOW….EVEN WHEN IT’S HARD!

Don’t you love it when the Lord gives you a special verse from the Bible over and over again, at different times and in different places? Lately, God has been speaking to me through Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  That promise is soothing to my soul.  It makes me want to say “Ahhhhhhh” and relax.

You see, I’m not naturally a “be still” kind of girl.  I tend to think I need to strive to help God, in my own self reliant kind of way. (As if He needs my help).  I constantly need to remind myself,  I am a human being–not a human doing.  I am learning to rest in Him and trust Him, especially when circumstances all around me seem overwhelming and out of my control.

A couple of months ago I had phase II of oral surgery to put implants in my upper jaw.  The surgery took 4 hours for 5 implants and a bone graft.  For healing purposes, I couldn’t put my dentures in for a month.  Pureed food, pureed soups, smoothies, and juicing only were on my list of what I could eat for the first month of healing.

The first week after surgery was the toughest for me:  Throbbing pain from the bone graft, hungry for real food, grieving my temporary loss of comfort food, still too fluffy to fit into my fall clothes, walking by the mirror and wondering who is this old lady–it wasn’t the best of times. It’s been a very long season of dental suffering for me–I actually may write a book about it one day.  Usually, healing is with pain and it HURTS!  I hate pain.

I acknowledged all of my emotions before the Lord: the good, bad and the ugly.  But then I knew I had a choice to make.  I had to chews…what my attitude would be for the rest of the month? Would this suffering draw me closer to the Lord or would I blame Him for my pain?  Would I constantly be grumpy and bite Terry’s head off, even without my teeth?  I knew I wanted to chews thankfulness.  As hard as it was to slurp my soup down while Terry was crunching on real food–I began to thank God for what I was able to drink and swallow.

What am I learning in my suffering?  I am learning:

  • This world really sucks at times and I need Jesus to help me through each day.
  • God loves me and I can be honest with Him.
  • To wait on God and to listen for Him.
  • To trust Him, especially when it’s hard.
  • To surrender my selfish will to His purposes for me.
  • To receive His comfort He offers through the Holy Spirit.
  • That I will never quit learning.

Food is a necessity for life.  I think that’s why the enemy used food to deceive Eve and Adam.  Satan also used food to tempt Jesus when He was fasting for 40 days!  It’s true we need food to physically live.  Spiritually, we need Jesus.  Satan does His best to deceive us to see our biggest need–The need for a personal Savior, Jesus Christ.

CHEWS JESUS…Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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Honey, I’m Home. By The Way…I Invited A “Divine Appointment” To Spend The Night With Us.

Papa and Hannah

Divine Appointments…I pray for them every day as I drive my Camry down the streets of Seattle, waiting for my smart phone to ping announcing a person in need of a ride.  A few weeks ago I was driving down I-5 heading toward Seattle when Gloria (an affectionate name I’ve given my cell phone) informed me I had a customer waiting for me on Hwy 99, west of Lynnwood.

Gloria’s temperamental and sometimes unreliable GPS system (which I have recently dubbed Don Quixote) led me to a run down motel.  A sharply dressed young man shuffled out from the bowels of the lobby, dragging two black garbage bags stuffed with what I hoped wasn’t a couple weeks worth of dinner scraps.  I pulled the lever to open the trunk to my car and got out. He moved slowly toward me with what seemed like the weight of the world thrust upon his hunched shoulders.

With a deep sigh, he slung a black leather duffle bag from around his neck and let it drop to the sidewalk.  He was dressed in slacks and a form fitted, button down shirt revealing a physic I was envious of…yet when I opened the trunk he gazed at his belongings as though the thought of having to pick them up was beyond what he could bear.  I quickly put his bags in the trunk and welcomed him to sit in the front passenger seat next to me.

He gingerly climbed in and let out another long sigh.  I asked him if he was okay and he turned his head toward me.  He looked exhausted.

“I don’t feel very well,” he said with a slight accent I couldn’t quite place.

I told him to close his eyes and relax while I drove him to his destination.  In a few minutes, we arrived at a public storage facility.  While I helped carry his things inside, he asked if I would be so kind as to wait for him.  Shortly, the front door of the business opened and the young man began slowly dragging his belongings back toward the car.  I met him half-way and once again put his bags in the trunk.

He slumped into the front seat and put his hands over his face.  “They want $50 more than what I was quoted over the phone.  I can’t afford that.”

“Listen,” I said.  “I’ll take you free-of-charge anywhere you want to go…within reason of course.”

With his head still in his hands he replied, “My girlfriend kicked me out of her apartment and I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

“What about your family or friends?” I asked.

“They aren’t in a position to help me.  I gave up my job and college to follow my girlfriend out here from Houston.  I’ve only been here a few weeks and now I’m homeless.  I never thought I’d be homeless living in America.”

Earlier that day in church, the sermon included the message of the Good Samaritan.  In Luke 10:25-37 an “expert in the law” asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  It’s a rhetorical question because he already knows the answer and only wants to test Jesus: He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” When Jesus acknowledges that he answered correctly, the Jewish lawyer tries to justify himself by asking Jesus another question:  “Who is my neighbor?

Jesus then tells the story of a man who is mugged by robbers and left to die along the side of the road.  A priest and a Levite, both highly respected religious leaders of the time, ignored the dying man by moving to the opposite side of the road while walking past him.  Then a Samaritan came upon the injured Jew and took pity on him.  He cleaned his wounds, put him on his donkey, brought him to an inn and paid for the innkeeper to take care of him.

Jesus asked the lawyer who he thought the neighbor was to the injured man.  The expert in the law replied, “The man who showed mercy.” 

Jesus then told the lawyer to, “Go and do likewise.”

As I sat silently with the heavy-hearted stranger beside me, the lawyer’s question echoed in my ears: “Who is my neighbor?”

God gently answered, “This young man is.”

A moment of panic welled up inside of me.  “God, I don’t know him.”

“Show him mercy,” God replied.

“Karen won’t understand.”  (It never hurts to try to pass the buck onto someone else.)

“Show him mercy.”

I turned to the dark-skinned stranger.  “How long has it been since you’ve eaten?”

“Two days ago.”

At that moment, my heart melted.  “I want you to come home with me.  My wife will make you some dinner, you can spend the night and we can come up with a plan.”

His eyes brightened.  “Really?  Thank you,” he said.  “Thank you.”

He slept all the way home while I fervently prayed he wasn’t a serial killer or a terrorist.

Karen stood on the deck to greet me when I pulled into our driveway.  Her eyes grew wide as she saw the young stranger get out of the passenger side of the car.  “We need to talk,” was my only words to her as I pulled the young man’s belongings from the trunk of the car.

While the young man got settled in the upstairs guest room, I explained the situation to Karen.  She was surprised but agreed this was the right thing to do.  When he joined us downstairs, we began to get to know him.  For example…While preparing  a ham dinner for our guest, we found out he was Muslim and politely told us he couldn’t eat pork.  While momentarily awkward, this revelation actually allowed us to have an in depth conversation with him about our beliefs.

When it was time to go to bed, I grabbed a hammer and put it on my nightstand.

Karen looked at me like I was crazy.  “What’s that for?”

“I’ve been praying that he’s not a serial killer…but you never know.”  I pointed out to the kitchen.  “Do you want me to get the butcher knife to keep under your pillow?”

“No!!!!” She replied.

The next morning I woke our guest up at 9:30.  He told us that was the best nights sleep he’d had since arriving to Washington.  We fixed him bacon for breakfast (Just Kidding) and had another fascinating conversation with him.  He said he was born in the Congo during that countries civil war and escaped with some of his family to America when he was eight-years-old.  He then told us that he talked to his girlfriend and she agreed to let him stay with her until he began his new job and could pay for a place to stay.

I dropped him off at his girlfriend’s apartment later on that morning.  After saying our goodbyes, we hugged and he pulled out his bags from my trunk.   While I drove away I thanked God for this divine appointment and prayed for others as I turned on my Lyft App to start another work day.

Right away I got a ping.  I picked up two African-American women.  The first woman seemed to have some sort of social impairment but we had a fun conversation before dropping her off at a home in Everett.  The second woman was dressed for work.  While driving her to the Everett train station she asked if I was a Christian.  I told her I was, and asked why.  She told me that she could tell by the conversation I had with her socially awkward friend.  I then proceeded to tell her about my prayer every day for divine appointments and about my new friend from the Congo.

“I don’t believe it!” she exclaimed.  “You just gave a ride to a young man from the Congo?  I grew up in the Congo.  What a coincidence.”

It’s no coincidence…It’s another divine appointment.

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