America and Beautiful – a road trip {9.6.16}

We have had the blessing of opportunity in the past to take some road trips. Our first was when our “baby” graduated high school. That was a while back. We took another a couple of weeks ago from our home in Indiana to Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. It was a wonderful trip. I kept thinking about the song “America the Beautiful” during our travels. We really do live in a beautiful country. The more I visit different areas the more in awe of our Creator I become. Yes. I said Creator. I see His Hand all around me and nature cries out His Glory. No big bang could have done any of what we see (our own bodies testify to that). But, I got off track. Back to the road trip…

I must admit that lately I’ve been discouraged by the number of farm fields I see being sold to housing developers (one of them out our back door). Sometimes I wonder if we are going to sell and buy ourselves out of food sources. But, as we started on our trip and drove through Indiana and Illinois, we saw farm after farm. The flat land showcased all the crop fields which looked like beautiful quilts to me and grazing cattle with homes and barns. It was a beautiful site and encouraging. We saw many windmill farms and some windmills seemingly all by themselves (would love to hear the story behind those). I didn’t get photos of any of this as I was looking through a car window but close your eyes and you can imagine the scenery.

As we drove into and through Iowa, we made some fun stops. We spent some time in Winterset, Iowa with John Wayne (one of our favorite actors oimg_2441f all time) as we visited his birthplace museum. We even had a photo shoot with him. Then an unexpected blessing happened as we were there, I saw the Iowa Quilt Museum and took a tour. While in there, I met Marianne Fons (those of you who quilt know who I’m talking about). That was fun (side note: she is very nice and down to earth). Then, as we drove through Franklin, Iowa we saw a gorgeous lake from the highway that was filled with blooming lily pads. What a sight. We visited the Lewis & Clark museum and saw recreations of boats, etc. and even walked out on a keelboat.

In Iowa and South Dakota we drove through beautiful prairies. The strange thing is that in South Dakota especially, we didn’t see any farms (homes or barns), just cattle. Lots of cattle, mostly black cattle. I kept thinking of the scripture about the cattle on a thousand hills so I looked it up. Psalm 50:10 “for every animal is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” (The Lord speaking) Another unexpected blessing came in the form of sunflower fields. I had never seen a sunflower field before and there were many of them in South Dakota right off the interstate. It made me smile just to look at them. I couldn’t take a photo but did take a video. However, with an 8OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA0 mph speed limit, it just looks like a yellow blur. We drove through the Badlands.

That was really something. A big horn sheep stopped traffic as he walked across the road. That was fun.

We visited Lead, Deadwood, Hill City, Keystone and Custer, SD. Each of these towns has a little different feel and look. (Side note: Be prepared – No sweet tea in South Dakota.)

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Mt. Rushmore was even more inspiring and humbling in person, especially when we heard the stories and facts the park ranger shared with us. Of course, there is the “pinecone story” I wrote about earlier. That is crazy! Another “crazy” was the Crazy Horse monument. It is still under construction but we were told they had made great progress this summer. Still a long way to go– maybe in our great grandchildren’s lifetime it will be done. They do have a nice museum there but it was quite pricey compared with Mt. Rushmore (no federal or state funding).

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Pete even fulfilled a lifelong dream of panning for gold in a creek near Keystone, SD. I don’t know how he did it but that man was squatted down (not a nice word but couldn’t think of a better way to describe it) for about 2 ½ hours. He amazes me. I enjoyed watching him and taking many pictures of the beautiful creek and surrounding area. Custer State Park was another highlight of our trip. We saw antelope, deer, buffalo, and a prairie dog. We drove through one afternoon and saw wildlife right alongside the road but the morning we left, we drove through again and saw a herd of buffalo. Now I had simply prayed to myself that it sure would be cool if we could see a buffalo herd in the distance. We just didn’t see them from a distance, they were on both sides and in the middle of the road. When God answers a prayer – HE ANSWERS BIG TIME!

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I could go on and on but I promised myself I would keep this post as short as I could. We had a wonderful time. We prayed that God would give us opportunities to bless others and He did. But, we were blessed many times by the wonderful people we met, the beautiful weather, and most importantly, God’s presence. I encourage all of you to visit our great country, meet the nice people, and enjoy God’s creation.

Acts 2:28 “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.”

It’s a War – Prepare for Battle {8.31.16}

If you remember 9/11, you know that many people sought God after those horrible attacks on our soil. Sadly though, many turned away as it seemed our nation was “back to normal” so to speak. Well, it’s not back to normal. Look around. Turn on the news. Read the paper. We don’t have to look far to realize that we are in the middle of a war. There are battles all around us – in our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities. Though the fighting is much fiercer in our nation than ever before, war is nothing new. It’s been going on since the Garden of Eden. What we often fail to realize is the war is not between ethnic groups. It is not between classes. It is not a fight between the law makers, law breakers, law enforcers or law abiders. It is not between special interest groups. The war is between good and evil, God and Satan. We know that in the end, GOD WINS and Satan loses. But, we must still fight the daily battle here on earth. Satan is a liar and deceiver. He wants us to believe that our enemy is flesh and blood (our neighbor). We are all so worried about “self” sometimes that our vision is clouded and we don’t really see or care about others. Satan tempts us to evil and then by our own fleshly desires, we head down that path of us versus them, our way is the only right way. Don’t give in to that temptation.

Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

God created us all equal, all formed in His likeness, wonderfully made and perfectly formed for His glory and purposes. It is a spiritual battle. It is here and it is fierce. We must prepare to fight and win!

The thing about war is – we must choose sides.

We are either for God or against Him. We can’t sit on the fence or bury our heads in the sand any longer. The “silent majority” in America has been silent too long!  We woke up from our slumber and realized things were not what they had been, not what we wanted. It’s time to take a stand and kneel in prayer.

In war we must also prepare for battle.

We can’t just jump in and do something. We can’t just start shouting ideas that we have not thought completely through, let alone prayed about. We must prepare. God has provided the weapons we need (the armor of God) in Ephesians 6:10-18. He tells us to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.the whole armor of god.png It’s not us against them, it is good against evil. It’s not the people we are fighting, it is the spirit behind their words and actions.

If you have seen the movie “War Room”, you have seen a battle fought and won by the power of prayer. Prayer isn’t just a way to change a circumstance, it changes us in the process. Whether we know it or not, sometimes our attitudes need a little adjusting. God can help us with that as we seek a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus, prayer, and reading His Word. There is a reason God tells us to pray for each other (friends and enemies). Prayer is powerful. In prayer, we invite God into the situation and surrender to His will and His way. Be persistent in prayer. I’ve seen prayers answered that frankly I had almost given up hope on – you just never know when or how God will answer but He Always Does! It’s been my experience that’s it’s usually just in the nick of time.

Mark 14:38 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

So…whose team are you on? Are you preparing for battle? Are you fighting the war on your knees?

Romans 2:6-11 “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.”

Bible Bite – Singing {7.29.16}

Singing – Music brings such joy, doesn’t it? Especially if it’s coming from someone who can sing or play. Me, I can’t carry tune in a bucket and my piano playing is less than beginner level. However, I still do both – mostly when I’m alone. My family and friends like it better that way (smile). I love to sing along to the radio, especially in the car. Sometimes I just can’t help myself if we’re out in public and some good “sing along songs” like the 60’s come on – it’s just an automatic reaction (at least that’s my excuse).  Now, church…that’s a great place to sing. After all, the Bible says you should make a joyful noise unto the Lord. It doesn’t say anything about being on key. I don’t even sound that bad when the people who can sing drown me out.singing girl.jpg

I read the scripture below a long time ago and it just overwhelmed me. I just read it again and had the same feeling. There are several messages in this one verse but the one that just jumps out at me is the last phrase. Can you imagine? God rejoices over us with singing. And we know HE CAN SING BEAUTIFULLY! That just blows my mind.

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Music is important to God and a gift to us. When we get to heaven we will be singing praises and I’m just sure that I will sound good then. I can’t wait to sing in that choir! It will be my first and last choir so I’m practicing now.

take me out to ballgameWell, tonight I will once again sing in public as we are going to a baseball game. You know everyone has to sing “Take me out to the ballgame”! It might be a rule. I apologize now to those who will be sitting in front of me. But, I will be singing loudly anyway and thinking of this verse. The next time you sing, consider that God is rejoicing over you with singing. I think the music will seem even sweeter.

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – I consider scriptures “Bible bites” as we read them. There is nourishment for our soul in each bite. Have you eaten any lately?

 

The Blame Game {6.30.16}

“He started it.” – “No I didn’t. She did.” blame road signs

“He touched me.” – “She looked at me.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“It’s not my fault.”

 “I couldn’t help it.”

The Blame Game. We have all played it, haven’t we? We blame other people, circumstances, surroundings – anything but taking responsibility ourselves. We often times blame other people for the decisions we make in life. Mostly we blame others when we make bad decisions, or at least not the best decisions. Strange, isn’t it? When good things happen, we love toblame pointing finger take credit. But, when things go south, we are looking to shift blame. I remember the saying that when we point a finger at someone or something, there are several fingers pointing back to us. The truth eventually shows itself.

I was thinking this morning about trash. I’m not sure why that came to mind but it’s just one example of not taking responsibility. I bag up trash each week and set it out to be picked up. Then, my house looks clean and I don’t have to think about what happens to it after it leaves my driveway. The fact is, the trash I put out does make a difference. It makes a difference to the environment. It’s going someplace and making an impact there and beyond. Trash is only one example of how we can ignore our actions and push them off on someone else. But, those decisions always impact us as well as others.

Not accepting responsibility is nothing new. People have been shifting blame forever. It started in the Garden of Eden. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the Serpent. The Israelites blamed Moses. On and on it goes – The Blame Game. It’s time to move on to another game and leave this Blame Game behind us. We know that there will come a day when we will be forced to accept responsibility. “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37) blame cartoon

We might as well admit our mistakes and accept responsibility for our actions, attitudes and words. God already knows everything about us and is ready to forgive us. We only need to admit and ask. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus prayed for us. In Luke 23:34 “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…”

Don’t we all appreciate it when someone admits their mistakes and takes responsibility instead of passing the buck? Let’s be that person. Humble and Honest (with ourselves and others and most importantly, with God). We are all in this game of life together but at the end of this age, we will all stand alone before God. I don’t know about you but I shudder to think of all the careless words I’ve spoken and the number of times I have played the Blame Game. Let’s live responsibly and make a positive difference this day. People are watching.

Patience Please {6.25.16}

Well, once again I was made plainfully and painfully aware that I lack patience. Sometimes I think I have patience. I do seem to be a patient driver – that counts, right? Well, that’s the only thing that comes to mind where I have acted patiently. Unfortunately, when I decide to do something, I want to do it NOW. Which is ok unless it’s something I need help with. Sometimes I wait for help, when I simply realize after trying that I can’t possibly do it myself. However, yesterday was not one of those days. I was cleaning and rearranging furniture in our guest room. No surprise – I rearrange furniture often. Well, I decided to move a book shelf. I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted it. Again, no surprise but I’m sure a frustration for those involved when I do need help. I am usually not really sure where I want things until I get them there and take a look. Can anyone relate? patience Anyway, back to my story of yesterday. I was just going to move it a couple of inches and see how that would work. So, rather than unload everything, I just pushed. Evidently I was only pushing from the top. I heard something pop and walked to the other end and realized something broke loose. So, I unloaded the shelves. Then I proceeded to push again – this time determined to move it out of the room. Wrong move – another series of sounds let me know that I had made matters worse. Before I was done, I had a couple of boards pulling away from the shelves and had torn a piece off the corner. Now my dilemma got worse. I pulled up on one end and it came loose from the bottom. Now I had a book case that swayed one way and the other. I couldn’t turn it over on its side because the bottom was staying put. YIKES. I hate when that happens. So, I finally got it out into the hallway (still now sure how) and propped up both ends with small furniture pieces so I could finish my rearrangement and cleaning. Realizing that all of this could have/would have been avoided if I had simply waited until my husband got home to help me. But, that would have been a few hours. Who can wait that long? Evidently, not me. Patience Please.

Patience: The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset:

I have very carefully avoided praying for patience because of that old saying “be careful what you pray for”. But, God can find a way to teach us even when we don’t ask for it. Maybe even more so when we don’t ask for it.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Now I was praying that I could avoid a lecture from my husband that he would have helped me if I had only waited. You see, I have a track record of this type behavior. When returning from the grocery store I hang as many plastic bags on my arms as I possibly can and still hold my arms up – just to shorten the number of trips so I can get done and move onto something else. Not good habits, not proud of them, but the truth.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Well, he was forgiving and I did not receive a lecture. He simply took the furniture apart, carried it to the garage and tore it down to be reused in something else. He was certainly patient with me. Maybe he’s gotten used to it after almost 40 years of marriage – think that’s it? Regardless, it was a lesson learned – again. Hopefully it sticks with me longer this time. By the way, the room looks nice. All’s well that ends well.

Addicted to Love {6.20.16}

Do any of you remember the song “Addicted to Love”? For some strange reason it’s been in my head for about a week. I’ve been thinking about addictions and it popped up. Like a song you hear and can’t get it out of your head until another one takes its place. This verse is what I keep thinking about:

“You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

Addiction: The act of devoting or giving up in practice, the state of being devoted. To devote or surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively.

We can find ourselves addicted to many things. It can be fame, money, certain foods or drinks, alcohol, drugs, exercise, hobbies, television, internet, Facebook, pleasing people (fill in the blank for your life). addictive behavior

We want to feel like we control our lives. And, we do have control over some things. We have control over the choices we make. We have control over our attitudes. Maybe that’s why we are so easily tempted to the bondage of addictions. It’s our self-satisfaction we desire and sometimes think we deserve. I believe we all have tendencies to addictive behavior. Whether it is having to have a cup of coffee, soft drink, or tea before we think we can begin our day, an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or not letting anything or anyone disrupt our exercise or TV schedule, they are all types of addiction. I mean, the fact that I can’t open a bag of chips and stop at 1 or 5 or 10, but can keep eating long after the hunger is gone, that’s addiction. The fact that I will stop at McDonalds to get a tea even if I’m not thirsty, that’s a habit turned to addiction.

When we realize we have an addiction that is starting to control our lives instead of us controlling it, we need to take action. We all have a void in our lives that only God can fill! He is the only person who can really help us and fill void. After all, He knows our struggles already. He knows everything about us (Psalm 139:1-16). He created us to love and worship Him. And, NOTHING is too hard for God. He is creator! (Jeremiah 32:17) He loves us with a love that we can’t even comprehend. And, God’s power in us is strong enough to demolish any stronghold (2 Corinthians 10:4-7). The Spirit of God gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

God’s Word tells us that no temptation has seized us except what is common to man and God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. And, when we are tempted (and we will be), He will provide a way out from under the temptation. We just need to be willing to take that escape route. Sometimes I’m willing and sometimes I’m not. I do like to get my way, even if I know it’s not in my best interest. Maybe that’s another definition of insanity. It’s like doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

1 John 4:8, 16 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE.” “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. GOD IS LOVE. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

1 John 5:3 “This is love for God: to obey his commands.”

I don’t know about you but…I need GOD and I need His help to put Him first in all things and only be addicted to love – Love for God and others. After all, GOD IS LOVE. Only through God’s power in me will I be able to truly love Him and all others. Because, like me, not everyone is always loveable.

addicted to love I want to be addicted to God to the point that being with Him and following His lead are both a habit and obsession. In order to truly love others, I must love GOD FIRST and MOST – all the time. Only then will the light of God shine in my life for others to see.

I pray that one day people will say to me, “You might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”

Bible Bite – gray hair

Gray Hair – to color or not to color, that is the question.

If we live long enough we all will have some gray hair. Some get it earlier than others but still…it comes. I have to admit – it does tend to make us look older. But, then again, we are older (older thagray hair cartoon 2n yesterday, older than yesteryears). I am not totally gray but when I get out in the sunshine or see photos, I realize that it’s gaining on the other colors in there.  To date, I have decided not to color my hair. Many reasons figure into my decision. My hair grows fast and I can’t imagine having to touch up every couple of weeks. You can’t find my “before gray” color in any bottle. That means, any color I choose would not look natural. Of course at this point in time, anyone who saw me would know that I had colored my hair so I guess it wouldn’t matter what color I chose. I could go red or black if I wanted. Probably the main reason though is that coloring my hair on a regular basis is just plain more “high maintenance” than I am willing to commit to at this point in my life. Maybe it just boils down to laziness. Whatever the reason, until my husband, daughter or hairdresser tell me – “It’s Time!” I’ll let nature take it’s course.  After all, look at this “Bible bite” I found…

Proverbs 16:31 “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.” gray hair cartoon

That sounds pretty regal, doesn’t it? Thanks to Jesus and my belief in Him, I was made righteous through Christ. Certainly not on my own merit. But, I’m going to hang onto that verse for now. No matter what stage or season of life we are in, there are blessings specific to it. Let’s count those blessings and rest in them.

Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – I consider scriptures “Bible bites” as we read them. Proverbs 16:31 is my “Bible Bite” for today. What’s yours?