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What Are You Waiting For?

WAIT!!!  I don’t know about you but I do not like this four letter word.  I’ve been told to “WAIT” a lot lately.  So I decided to look up it’s definition:
1) to remain inactive or in state of repose, as until something expected happens
2) to be available or in readiness
3 )to remain neglected for a time
4) to postpone or delay something or to be postponed for delayed
5) to look forward eagerly

Certain things we wait for with eager anticipation: the birth of a child, Christmas, birthdays, vacations and retirement.  Other things are not so fun to be waiting for: dental appointments, surgeries and serious test results.  Some things we wait for are significant life changers.  Terry and I have been praying for a precious man who was on the top of the waitlist for a set of lungs.  For him, waiting meant either life or death.

We sold our home in Washington and made a huge move to Florida, where our oldest daughter, Katie her husband Jason and five children live.  Our goal and intention was to stay with them for a short time while we get settled and find a home to buy. We found a couple of homes we like and are going through the process of getting preapproved for a mortgage loan. We have excellent credit and plan on putting over 60% toward a down payment.  We were not expecting to hear, “You will have to wait for two years because Terry is self-employed with Lyft and Uber.”

Really?  Wait?  Since then, we connected with another mortgage company and are now “waiting” for the house to close.  We were given April 12 as the original date to close.  Had a phone call from the lender and said it would be the 16th, then the 23rd and now the 30th.  WAIT!

God keeps reminding me in His Word I have a choice what my attitude will be while I wait.  “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31. Yikes– I still have a lot to learn. I desire that quiet confidence and faith.

Doesn’t waiting feel like a waste of time?  I don’t want to waste my time while waiting.   Like the definition #3 says, it feels like being neglected.  I don’t know your situation you may be waiting for, but in the meantime what are we to do while waiting?  The temptation for me is to be anxious while waiting — as if that changes anything at all.  Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious abut anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’m learning to trust the Lord in the waiting room of life.  In our situation, Terry’s applying for new jobs while still driving for Lyft and Uber.  I’m praying for the Lord to open doors and shut doors, leaning in on Him as I begin a new Bible study, meeting new people and focusing to get to know God and trust His purposes for me one day at a time.

Here is some Truth To Chew On:
Psalm 27:14 says, ” Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

What are you waiting for in life?  What is your focus while you wait?
Do you know that Lord Jesus Christ loves you and desires for you to receive Him personally as Lord and Savior?  Have you turned to Christ and decided to become a Christian and follow Him?
If not, why not?  What are you waiting for?

CHEWS JESUS…TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!!!

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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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It’s Easier To Give Than To Receive…Just Ask Me.

Esther and Grandpa

It’s easier to give than to receive.  I know this all too well from personal experience.  You see, I am a giver.  I’ve always enjoyed giving gifts.  Over the years, I have volunteered to coach my brother’s baseball teams, then my nephew’s, my son’s, both my daughter’s, and now my grandson’s basketball teams.  I have refereed and umped numerous youth league basketball and baseball games.   I’ve taught Sunday School, led different Bible studies, and helped my wife as we traveled around the Pacific Northwest talking to churches about the Mother’s of Preschooler’s program.  Karen and I have financially given to our local church and to missionaries…both short and long term.

Please don’t misunderstand why I’m telling you this.  I’m not seeking your praise or a pat on the back.  I personally know many people who give far more of their time, talents and money than I ever will.  I enjoy giving.

The opposite side of the coin to giving is receiving and I find that to receive is far more difficult than to give.  I’m not talking about receiving birthday or Christmas gifts…I’m talking about receiving from the reality of experiencing a great need.  I hate feeling needy.

You see, I suffered a stroke on September 26, 2016 which began a long chain reaction of events which drained Karen and I physically, emotionally and financially.  (For more detail on this, please read my blog post… Job, You And I Have A Lot In Common.  http://desiretoinspire.life/dear-job-we-have-a-few-things-in-common-suffering/

Karen in the meantime had needs of her own.   In March of 2017 we got a refinance loan to pay for implants in her lower jaw.  The procedure was a success.  The bone in her jaw grew around and cemented itself securely to the implants.  Several bone grafts from her lower jaw were placed in her upper jaw were bone was insufficient for future  implants.

As August approached, the time arrived to plan for the return trip to Utah to have the ceramic posts inserted and to pay for the $17,000 procedure.  I hadn’t received a paycheck from the school district since June 1st and had used up all our savings.  We couldn’t borrow any more money and were wondering if we were even going to be able to complete the final stage of Karen’s dental journey.

Our three adult children, Katie, Jaymi and Michael asked us if they could start a Go Fund Me website to help pay for the completion of Karen’s need for dental implants in her upper jaw.  We thankfully agreed but inside we both struggled.  Our needs and perceived weaknesses would now be on public display like wild animals in a zoo.

The website started on August 13th and over $600 was raised within the first two weeks.  It was a very humbling experience to watch as $25, $50, $100 and $150 donations from family, friends, acquaintances, strangers and anonymous givers pour in.  Every day we prayed for God’s blessings on those who were giving so generously.

Miraculously, $9,785 was raised by September 3rd.  On faith, Karen made an appointment with the dentist in Utah on September 5th to have the ceramic posts embedded in her upper jaw.  We didn’t know where the additional $7,215 would come from but on September 4th we drove to Bountiful, Utah.

After the surgery, the dentist had both good and bad news.  Dr. Baker was planning to place six or seven post in Karen’s upper jaw.  Some of the bone grafts hadn’t taken so he was only able to insert five.  He told us four is the minimum he would do for dentures to securely attach so five is at least one over the minimum.

We spent that night in our hotel and prayed for the money to come in because the next day we had to pay the piper.  The next morning we checked our Go Fund Me account….$9,785…it hadn’t changed.  We arrived at the dental office and Karen was whisked away to the one of the back rooms to have a follow-up to the surgery while I was told my financial options by a woman at the front desk.  Really there was only one option…we had to finance the bill.  It was interest free if we could pay it off in two-years.  I swallowed hard as I signed for the loan.

The refinance loan we took out in March of 2017 raised our house payment an additional $150 per month, was now paying close to $200 per month for medical insurance,  was required to purchase  a newer car to drive for Lyft which was $280 a month and now we had just taken on another loan of $256 per month.

I was so happy for Karen and hopeful that her long road of dental pain would soon be over.  I was so thankful for all the donations which came in.  To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t expected that much.  I thanked God for these two answers to my prayers but felt disappointed in myself for now feeling the tremendous weight of debt pressing down on me.

I was working an average of six days a week driving for Lyft and still had to drain our remaining savings over the course of the summer just to make ends meet.  Our savings was now gone.  I wouldn’t start driving school bus for another couple of months and even then, I figured I would have to work three or four nights a week and all day on Saturdays just to break even.

Where would I find time to blog and finish the book I’m writing?  Would I have the time to help coach my grandson’s basketball team again this winter?  Where would the time come from to take the long walks with Karen that I enjoy and need so much?  I felt burdened and helpless and I hated feeling this way; where was my faith in God in light of the financial blessings I had just witnessed?

Karen had a follow-up appointment the first of October back in Utah.  In the middle of the fourteen-hour drive, we received a phone call from our daughter Katie.  A couple from their church had just donated over $7,000 to our fund.  That was enough and more to pay off the dental loan.  Relief poured over my parched soul like a thunderstorm in a thirsty desert.

Then it hit me.  All the people who gave so generously were just like me.  They loved to give.  It made them feel good to help meet a need.  But to be able to give, there had to be a receiver.  Without a receiver there would be no one to give to.

Then an old realization hit me in a new way.  We are all in need…why?  Oh, we all have our earthly needs but they are all different and temporary. No, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We have a need for a Savior who will pay the debt of sin for us.  You see, God is the ultimate giver.  While the world was in opposition to God, he sent his only son to die for us.

Are you in opposition to God?  Financial debt leaves one in bondage to a creditor.  Sin leaves us in bondage to Satan.  Every breath you take is a gift from God but do you take that same breath and exhale your acknowledgment that Jesus is not only your savior but also Lord of your life?  Jesus gave his life for you.  He’s looking for people to accept that gift just like Karen and I accepted the financial gifts of so many people.   Their gifts removed some of the weight of financial debt from my shoulders.  Jesus can remove a debt we as humans can never remove ourselves.

I want to publicly thank all of those people who sacrificially gave to help Karen and I.  Now please consider turning your lives over to the One who sacrificially gave His life for you.  As Karen would say, 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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It’s Been A Remarkable 40 Years!!!

1977….Wow!  A lot of things happened 40 years ago:

  1. Elvis Presley performed in his last concert in June and died in his home in Memphis, two months later.
  2. Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President.
  3. Fleetwood Mac released their Rumours album.
  4. Led Zeppelin played in their last USA concert.
  5. Rocky won an Oscar for best picture.
  6. Karen Lund and Terry Carlson got married.

Many more things happened over the next 40 years:

  1. In 1980, not only did Mt. Saint Helens erupt but my beautiful bride also erupted, giving birth to our first child…Katie Lee.
  2. Dianna wasn’t the only princess to capture the hearts of millions around the world when she married Prince Charles in 1981.  Jaymi Marie was born capturing the hearts of both her parents.
  3. In 1982 the Epcot theme park opens in Disney World and Karen and I open our heart to receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
  4. M*A*S*H* the T.V. series ends in 1983 after 11 seasons and 251 episodes.  Karen is instrumental in bringing the MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) program to Camano Chapel which has successfully lasted for 34 years & counting.  MOPS has encouraged and inspired tens of thousands of mothers around the world with Godly insight.
  5. In 1984, Michael Jackson moonwalked for the first time at the MTV music awards.  That was nothing compared to the entrance our son, Michael Keith, made as he burst onto the scene in September of that year.
  6. March 18, 1990 – The largest art theft in U.S. history occurs in Boston, Massachusetts, when two thieves posing as policemen abscond twelve paintings worth an estimated $100-200 million from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  In November of 1990 a hundred-year flood swallowed up our home.  We didn’t return to our home until December of 1991.  Our kids thought it was a big adventure and still, to this day, remember that year as having the best memories of their childhood.
  7. Bill Clinton became President in 1992 and Karen became very sick.  After many tests, a dentist discovers she has mercury poisoning.  She has to quit her ministry with MOPS and begins a long and painful journey down the road of dental procedures and chronic pain.
  8. Between 1989 and 2002, Nintendo begins selling the Gameboy, U.S. retail giant Montgomery Ward announces it is going out of business after 128 years and Charles M. Schultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip passed away.  Also during that time, Karen and I coach and attend many basketball, baseball, volleyball, tennis games and matches and school plays; participate in and plan many field trips, birthday parties, sleep-overs and Camano Chapel youth group functions.  We cry as we  watch Katie, Jaymi and Michael graduate from High School and begin college.
  9. Between 2002 and 2017, the final episode of Friends appears on NBC, BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Disaster in the gulf of Mexico leaves gulf beaches / fishing and the shellfish industry reeling, and Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States.  Also, Katie, Jaymi and Michael marry Jason, Matt and Signe.  Our grandkids: Logan, Caleb, Jacob, Maya, Jonathan, Brooklyn, Joshua, Esther, Hannah and Daniel are born.  Karen and I both publish two books and today Karen and I celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.

Thank you Karen for 40 wonderful years of marriage.  Your the best!

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