Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thankful Thursday #8

1.  I was dozing on the sofa on Friday night after a long and tiring week when the phone suddenly rang.  When my husband answered, it was our number one son and his wife calling to ask if we wanted to join them for dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.  When we arrived we discovered he had called both his siblings as well.  After dinner everyone came back to the house for a couple of hours of just hanging out and having conversation.  It's such a blessing when your children want to be,  not just your kids, but your friends as well.

2.  Finding time to start crocheting a new baby afghan for my niece's first baby expected in a few months.   Amateur that I am, it may take me that long to get it done!

3.  Enjoying spring weather in January.  Normally this would be the rainy season and some years we even get some snow but this year we have been basking in some lovely sunshine and April temperatures.

4.  A wonderful husband who does laundry.  So nice to come home from work to find it all done.

5. The comfort of a pet sleeping on your lap.  There is something really relaxing about having a kitty quietly purring on your lap. I don't really own a pet of my own anymore.  My son brought his cat when he returned home  and I take care of my mother's cat Molly whenever she is out of town.  Molly isn't what you would call a "lap cat"and whenever you reach for her she is gone in a flash, but at the end of the day when we are beginning to settle back in our easy chairs for the evening she will jump onto my lap for long snooze.  It's nice.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

My soul follows hard after thee; Thy right hand upholds me.
San Luis Ray Mission

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thankful Thursday #7

1.  My thoughts seem to be running towards the personal comfort of morning hot showers.  There is something so soothing about getting up on a cool morning and being able to just turn on a faucet then stand under a waterfall of steamy hot water and letting it just warm you to the bones.

2.  Follow that with a nice cup of tea.  I used to be a major coffee drinker and I do still enjoy a cup of decaf coffee at times ( gourmet of course)  However, since I no longer do the whole caffeine thing I have discovered there is an endless selection of different herbal and decaf teas to suit any mood I am in.  My daughter gave me a lovely little teapot for Christmas this year.  A cup of tea in a pretty little cup from a pretty little teapot is another one of those soothing morning comforts. 

3. One of the best things of the mornings though is standing at the dining room windows with a warm cup in my hand watching the day wake up.  Some mornings the sky is still dark and I can see the last morning star going over the horizon.  There are the lights of the places below where other people are just waking up to start the day.  Sometimes I can see the occasional lights of a car belonging to some early morning commuter heading to the city.

Then the sky begins to lighten and I can see the outlines of the mountains.  Some mornings they just look like shadows barely seen in the mist.  Other days they rise up starkly black outlined by a sky of red and orange.  Then suddenly the sun rises up over the tops and the morning has come.  It might be a day of clouds and rain or golden sunshine.  It might be a day that brings sorrow or joy or something in between.  I only know that God is on his throne and with the gift of this day he will be with me.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lessons from the Mountain

 I have hiked up two mountains in my adulthood, three if you count a hike in Idyllwild, CA when I was in college.  They weren’t very big mountains but to an inexperienced climber like me they seemed huge.  The trails were steep and often rocky and I had to climb over some pretty big boulders to get to the top of one of them. 

One of those experiences happened on a day when we drove out into the mountains with a car load of youth group teenagers for a day of hiking up the mountainside.  I was going more as a chaperone than a serious hiker. There were others much more qualified who were leading the way.  When we got to the trail head and stepped out of the car there was the mountain rising in front of us with a long winding path leading across the valley and up the mountainside.  At first the path seemed easy.  The walk was fairly level and there was lots of shade and trees. 

 Then, we started to climb.  Within a few minutes, my heart was beginning to pound.  I became dizzy and breathless and suddenly I had to sink to the ground.  I couldn’t do it.  Everyone gathered around me in concern and as I began to catch my breath again, I decided that everyone should go on without me and I would just return to the car and wait for them there.  So, the investigator and I turned around and began walking back.  I felt defeated.  I had failed.  And as I slowly made my way down the trail I felt a deep sense in disappointment not only for myself but for all the others.  What was wrong with me that I couldn’t do this? Other people made this hike every day.   The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to return to the car.  Suddenly, I just stopped, turned around and slowly, carefully I began to make my way back up the hillside.  


It was a long slow climb and I had to stop and catch my breath many times along the way. Sometimes it was just putting one foot in front of the other trying to make to the next switchback.  Every couple of turns I would have to stop and rest and each time I stopped, all the kids above me would call down encouragements to keep coming.  Once I crossed paths with an old gentleman with his walking stick on his way back down from the top.  He told me he  was 90 years old and he often made the climb several times a week.  That did it for me.  If he could do it, then so could I.  And so I continued on step by step by step.

Finally, I made it to the top where I met up with the others who were waiting for me.  As I rounded the curved and looked  out over the top I stopped and gazed out in wonder at an absolutely glorious view, mountain top upon mountain top spreading out across the Cascade Mountain Range.  It was breathtaking, a sight and experience that was more than worth every step it had taken to get there.   I felt blessed beyond measure and so thankful that I had persevered to the top.


Isn't this a metaphor of the Christian Walk?

 Each of us has our mountains to climb in this world and paths to walk.  We can try to bypass the mountains by avoiding pain as much as possible and taking the freeway of life around to the other side.  But if we want to get to the peaks we have to do some climbing.  And so we choose to leave the highway and take the narrow path that leads up the side of the mountain.  Sometimes, we get cut and bruised a bit in the daily grind of work and relationships but hopefully we keep going. 

Our lives are  often filled with switchbacks.  Maybe we didn’t get into the college of our choice or we were passed over for a job or our spouse is laid off and we have to move to another town.  We lose loved ones too soon.  At times, we’re scared, or weary or angry with ourselves or with our lives.  It doesn’t seem as if life is fair or we didn’t get what we wanted or expected out of life.  We face a choice.  We can choose to go back down to the valley below and try to catch the highway around our troubles and where life seems easy and safe,  living with the bitterness and disappointment that goes with it, blaming others and God for the failures of our life.  Or we can get up and continue on the path.  


As we turn around and begin to climb again we suddenly discover that each switchback has been taking us closer to the top.  What we thought was intended for evil, God was using for good.  He has been there all along walking beside us and even as the rocks of life get sharper he gives us the strength to carry on.  We look at the good things all around us and we start to notice that while this path might be narrow and steep there is joy along the way.  We can stop and rest in the Lord.  We are not alone in our struggles. 

 Not only are there those who are climbing the trail with us right now but there is a “great cloud of witnesses” who have walked the trail before us, loved ones who  are already at the top waiting for us and encouraging us to keep coming until finally our Lord Jesus helps us up over that last final boulder and over the ridge into a new life, eternal life.  And the view is going to be more than we had ever hoped or imagined. 

 We have finally come home.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thankful Thursday #6

Between Christmas, New Year's Day, and an out-of-state trip there has been much to be thankful for over the past few weeks.

1. I am grateful for people who remain professional and courteous in airports when passengers are anxious and frustrated.  When our plane wasn't able to fly due to mechanical problems there were people ready to help get us booked onto another plane, provide hotel accommodations so we wouldn't have to spend the night in an airport and see that our luggage arrived at it's final destination and all with a friendly smile.  When you think that there were over a hundred people to be accommodated my hat is off to them all for their patience.

2.I am grateful for northwest sunshine and temperatures in the 30's and 40's.  After spending a week in the mid-west where a day with a high of 20 degrees seemed positively balmy compared to the below 0 temps of the day before I will never complain about Northwest winters again.

Here is the Investigator shivering in 3 degree temperatures in front of my brother's house.

3. I am grateful for being able to spend some really quality time with my brother and his family.

We ate lots of holiday goodies

Played games

Watched football games and just generally hung out together

As my niece said, it was a time of bliss.

I have always enjoyed spending time with my brother and his family but this trip will hold a special place in my heart.  Remembering the goodness of God in allowing us this time together.   Thanks be to God.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beginning a New Year.

Here we are and this new year has already gotten away from me just a little bit.  What kind of a year is it going to be?  I really don't know.  I know there is going to be some sorrow.  The foreshadowing of that is already upon us.  Will there be some joy as well?   Most likely.  God is always good at giving us balance when we look for it.  One of the bloggers I follow picks a word for the year.  I think if I were to pick a word for this year it would be that word "Balance", remembering that "To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1)  There will be tears this year but that doesn't mean I shouldn't take time for laughter. Nor should I feel guilty when laughter comes because it is a gift from God.  So, my prayer for this year is that God will help me to maintain His balance for my life, facing those things that need to be faced without running away and yet resting in His peace and looking forward to those good things he has for me with anticipation.