Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back At The Beach.....

Last weekend we took the youth group to visit Pippin at the coast. We had such a great time. The weather was perfect with a bit of clouds and breeze. There were only a few sprinkles throughout the day so everyone enjoyed the sand, beach combing, and shop browsing.

As soon as we got there and set up camp, everyone ran to the shoreline to get full of sand. A couple of people in the group are avid sand sculptors so they showed off their talents with these creations......



What day at the beach would be complete without burying your friends in the sand? These two guys were in a hole deep enough that they were standing in it! Then they had a race to see who could get out first....unassisted!


It was a group effort to dig this hole. These 6 people are sitting down in a hole that was shaped like the seating of a hot tub. See the cutie second in from the left? That is my Puddin'.

We were able to spend a full day with Pippin because she had the fortune of being off work that day. How perfect! When it was time to leave, it was so hard to say goodbye. Up until that point her stay there had felt not real because she knew we would be visiting with the youth group. But now, I don't have a projected return visit on the calendar.

Praise God we live in the 21st century with cell phone technology. I talk to her at least twice a day (usually she initiates the call) and we text back and forth throughout the day with comments and pictures of stuff in general.

*******

What else has been keeping me busy?

Well, it is that time of year where I am preparing all of the lesson plans for children's ministry. I just went to the copy store day before yesterday and ran off some 704 copies of things needed for my faithful teachers. That covers all the lesson between now and the end of December. Now everything is organized and filed, schedule assignments are ready for the next two months and I will pass out all of the new lesson plans this weekend.

I am desperately trying to really think things through and make sure all is in place because this time next week I will be returning home from a surgery and I am told it will take me a while to recuperate. It is not that no one else can do what I do. It is just that I tend to multi-task quite a bit and I wouldn't dare ask any one person to take over all of those things single handed. (I know...not very fair the way I threw the surgery thing in there. Sorry about that.)

Is it major surgery....yes. Is it life threatening.......no. Will I be better off once I have re-couped....definitely.

I am told that I will be in the hospital overnight and then I will want to sleep a lot the first couple of weeks. Re-coup time is projected to be 4-6 weeks. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around that because I am not one for sitting still or letting others do things that I am capable of doing myself.

So I wanted you to know that because....
a) your prayers are always coveted
b) if I am not in the writing world for a bit you know why


*********

There has been tons of boy stuff going on here lately and I am getting quite skilled at sitting these young men down and firmly saying, "What are your intentions for my daughter?"
But after sharing that little tidbit, I will have to save the details for another time. Again not fair I know.


**********


I just had to share these with you.
Usually when I return from the grocery store, I come bearing some sort of toy for little Kekoa.....because he obviously doesn't have enough toys.
The quality of the videos are not great because it is just my cell phone but I think you will get the idea of how this goofy little fuzz ball keeps me smiling.




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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pippin Is Set Up and Kekoa Loves the Beach.....

Puddin' and I got home from the beach last night after getting Pippin all set up. It felt very strange and not real to leave her there. We will be taking the youth group out this weekend to play in the sand so it only feels like I have left her for a few days of friendly visiting.

Our friends have set up a wonderful place for her to live in their home. She has been lavished with so much care and affection in their preparations. I know it will be a memorable summer for her. Pippin's orientation begins today and then she is on the work schedule after that. I think she is looking forward to getting busy.

While Pippin was getting introduced to some of her co-workers, I decided to introduce Kekoa to the sand and surf of the Oregon coast. Oh my goodness that little boy got busy. He chased the sand that his paws kicked up, tormented the seagulls, and made friends with every dog and person on the beach. The waves were slightly intimidating to him but he went nuts running around in the waters of the inlet.


He was so covered in sand and seaweed by the time I said we needed to take a rest. I washed him down in our friend's front yard with the water hose and he loved every second of that too.
As if I don't spoil him enough, he loved walking around town and visiting with everyone we met. Cannon Beach is one of the most dog friendly places I have ever been to. Just about every store owner has a special water dish or doggie treat set up for the furry visitors. Children tackle dogs on the sidewalk in big bear hugs and grown ups ooh and aah at one another's fuzzy friends.
I guess he likes the beach as much as I do now.

Before we left, Hubby surprised me with buying a 24' retractable leash for Kekoa. I was so grateful for it. I think Kekoa was too. Once he felt that strange new feeling of sand in between his toes he just couldn't help himself.



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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Moments In My Day.....


Little baby Kekoa is running out of his dog food and my membership at Costco is currently expired. So I thought, "Lord what should I do? I don't want to change his food." In my head I heard, "Call Rose".
So I sent my friend a text message 'r u going 2 b going 2 costco in the next few days?'
She called me a minute later. "I am here right now. What can I get you?"

That is called a God kiss. It is those little moments that we can so easily chalk up to coincidence.

******

I went up to the big town hospital today to visit a dear friend. We went to high school together and were such chummy friends that people were shocked when we happily married other people.
He phoned last week. We touch base every 6 months to 2 years. "Hey Julie. It's me. I just wanted to let you know I have cancer."
Wow that was a shock. For a second I thought it was his fun quirky sense of humor. But no he was serious.

But things are going great! His doctor is amazed at his rapid recovery after an 8 hour procedure to take out the right side of his jaw bone and replace it with part of his fibula.

How in the world could he be talking and walking so quickly? It is all because of God.

*****

ok this is not a testimony but it happened to me none the less and I am in shock.

Living in Portland is an interesting thing. I love the beauty, the mountain range, the green all around, the elbow room....because I don't live downtown. Downtown has its unique flair and I usually purpose to avoid it whenever possible. But going to the big hospital meant that I came face to face with it today.

As I was leaving the hospital and pulled out onto the main road (at 3pm with the daylight as bright as can be) my car became surrounded by no less than 50 bicyclists. Portland is know for being progressive about outdoor recreation but these bikers were different.

I looked in my mirror at the leader and thought, "He doesn't have a shirt on.....wait I don't think he has pants on. Oh Lord please tell me that is a speedo!"

As if he could hear my thoughts.......that biker stood up on his pedals.......giving me the revelation to me that he AND his 50 friends were stark naked!
Men and women were clustered together casually riding their bikes and enjoying the group bike ride.

Where were the police?
Isn't that against the law?
Good golly I have no idea. I was in shock.....and I think I still am.
I don't think I am going down town anymore.

Friday, June 12, 2009

In The Land of Growing Up.....


Pippin got her license yesterday!
Look at that smile.
She just got back from her first "alone" drive.
I was completely fine and calm until she left....and then all those motherly fears and dramatic scenarios went through my mind.
We have a busy weekend of packing to do and then she heads out Monday for a summer job at the beach. Good golly don't we all wish we could say, "I worked at the beach all summer."?
She will be staying with our dear friends that live in Cannon Beach and CBCC keeps their young adult summer staff busy with tasks so she will be pretty occupied most of the time.
We have plans for her to come home once in July and once in August for a couple of days. Aside from that......she will be living her own life and seeking what God has in store for her.
Am I okay with it? I will miss her like crazy but I know that this is the next step for her.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thank You....


Your comments to my last post brought such a smile to my face and heart. I thought about answering you in the comment area but then wasn't sure as to who goes back to read the replies.

Thank you for your support and encouragement as I bared my heart. It is always an interesting thing for me to step out like that in written form because.....well here is how it is.

In our travels and tours of duty over the years with the military, we have had the privilege of embracing so many brothers and sisters in the Lord. In so doing we have gotten a huge open door glimpse to the truth that even though there are different denominations within the body of Christ, the fundamental truth remains that we are all a part of that body. Side issues like: is dancing a sin, are drums horrid to God's ears, is speaking in tongues a today gift, how should one dress for church, tattoos or no tattoos, piercings or not, prophetic words and spiritual manifestations......should have no bearing on the fact that we all believe in this.......Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose from the grave to redeem us for an eternity for those who accept and surrender to Him.

But sometimes, because people are people and no one is perfect, we can get hitched up in the side issues. Five years ago, I myself would not have even understood a story like I just shared yesterday. It would have been too "out of my box" to accept and wrap my mind around. In turn, I sometimes hesitate in sharing because I would hate for someone to walk away in confusion without me being able to explain things face to face.
I am so grateful and blessed that each of you were touched and encouraged. It solidifies even more to me the importance of sharing experiences big and small. One of our purposes here on earth is to lift one another up and encourage each other. Sharing experiences does just that.
Have a blessed and wonderful day today as you seek all that God has in store for you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Experience.....

(Warning: this post is filled with things that you may or may not believe concerning your faith. I have vacillated back in forth in my decision to write out my experience below out of the simple fear of worrying I may offend someone who believes different from me.
My final decision however has been the idea that this blog is a place for my personal thoughts and its purpose fits me as an online journal of sorts. I choose to write out my experience so that I may not lose sight and forget pieces of it.
In no way is this post meant to challenge the readers faith foundation......unless of course that challenge ends up broadening the reader's spiritual personal horizon.
I will undoubtedly bounce and rabbit trail a bit as I figure out how to put my heart and thoughts into words and will no doubt write a post of sizable length.
If you decide to read on then I thank you for your patience.)




A couple of weeks ago; actually it was the day of that fateful and entirely uneventful tire blow out, I had spent the day with my fellow peers at a church seminar. The discussions and teachings of the day centered around how we as church leaders can help people in letting go of the things that haunt them and cripple them from being all that they can be.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day as well as all of the knowledge I received. It is always a good thing to learn more on how to be able to help and encourage people. And don't we all know that that sometimes the best of information needs to be applied to ourselves first before we can help others?

It turns out that this was such a day for me.

Towards the end of the day, the hosting church that was facilitating the event, had said that they wanted to have a time of sharing words of encouragement that God gave to them.
Now before I go on, I'd like to preface what exactly I mean by this.

In historical times of old, God would speak to others through certain people called prophets. Biblically, it was always a valuable and important time for the people to listen and embrace the words given to them so that they could move forward in life. I believe that when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, the ability to hear personally from God became something that each and every person could embrace.

There have been so many times in my life where someone has given me a word of encouragement that has completely lined up with something I was thinking in my head and keeping to myself. There have been also so many other times when I have been praying with someone and I have shared a picture or a thought from my mind and asked if it meant anything to them and they have been amazed and encouraged for whatever was shared to be so right on in what they were thinking and needing to hear. It is not magic or trickery of any sort. It is simply God validating what we already know in our hearts.

I'd also like to point out that no one at that seminar knew me or my background but my team. There are times when you can look at a person and read how they feel about themselves by how they carry themselves. I have always been told however that I am a hard person to read. Because I am quiet, and administrative in demeanor, and smile a lot........people say I appear to be without faults and full of confidence. They are shocked when I share that I struggle with this or that. I just wanted to clarify that so that you know what I will be sharing was totally from God.

So, there we were sitting in a group of some 70 people and God began to give words to the team up front to share with others. They were all words of encouragement because that is the way of God. He is a gentleman and He is never going to air out some one's dirty laundry in public.

Honestly, as I sat there being happy for those being encouraged, I began to feel down on myself. I thought, "Lord I am so glad that these people are being encouraged by you. You used to have words like that for me but that was a long time ago. These days I do wrong things and don't spend time in prayer like I know I should. So I understand that I am unworthy of you now."

Okay....that was a major red flag lie that I was letting swim around my head and just didn't recognize it for the lie that it was. See, we don't EARN God's love and time. He FREELY gives it.
How easy it is for anyone to listen to subtle lies that distracts us from being with God.

God didn't let me sit on that lie and keep it company for very long. What happened next was so amazing that it is hard to describe. I have had times in my life when I have been praying and could feel/sense something different around me. But this was unlike anything I had every experienced before. I felt the presence of God swirl around me like a a drapery of fabric. I have always thought the term "the feeling washed over me" an interesting literary description that was pretty but couldn't really picture or relate to. Now I know and understand. That is exactly what it was like. I felt covered and protected, safe and secure, nothing else around me mattered anymore. The air was different and time was different.

I heard, "I love you and I am still here. I never left you at all."
I broke and cried.

But then another thought came into my head and it was covered in another disguise of shame. "I said, "Lord how do you stay so patient with me when I fail so many times? I read the stories of the Israelites traveling through the desert, so quick to grumble and complain even though they were witness to your presence and miracles for 40 years straight. I think of them and wonder how they were so quick to give up and yet I am just like them. I know you are here but I give up so easily. Shame on me."

When I opened my eyes, there was a young girl in front of me that I had never met before. She introduced herself and said that she had a word for me if I would give her permission to share it. I hesitated but she smiled and said, "Don't worry this is really good."

Her smiled increased like that of a child getting ready to share a juicy secret as she said, "When I saw you sitting in your chair I was drawn to you. I couldn't look away from your eyes and God spoke to me. He said, 'Do you see that woman? She is my delight. I love her with an everlasting love. Do you see the beautiful garments I have placed on her, her crown, her radiance? It is because she is mine. She is mine I tell you. I could never and would never leave her. She is my joy.'"

Can you imagine my reaction? It was exactly what I needed. All my defenses broke. All my shame evaporated away. By nature, I compete and I strive.....with no one else but myself. I mentally beat myself up for things imagined and real and hold a high standard against my own flaws. In my own way of punishing myself, I put up a wall and say I don't deserve to be close to God. But that wall is of my own making and God delighted in tearing it down.

Yes I cried until there were no more tears to cry. I hugged her and thanked her for being brave enough to share.

Not long after that we drove home, had the uneventful accident, and then went about our daily routines. Even still, the experience kept its roost in the forefront on my mind. I felt joy and peace but I knew there was something more to unearth.
I found it a couple of days later. I was reading and doing my devotions when I stumbled across a passage that I had seen before. This time however it jumped out at me in a new meaning. God does that you know. We can read things over and over again and then all of a sudden it makes sense and we wonder, "Wow why didn't I see that before?" It is because we weren't ready for it before.

I read in John 12:47
"If anyone hears my teachings and fails to observe them [does not keep them but disregards them], it is not I who judges him. For I have not come to judge and condemn and to pass sentence and to inflict penalty on the world, but to save the world."

Now, I know that if I read that in context with the text of the chapter there is a different meaning to be had. But when my eyes hit on that sentence I clearly heard in my head, "See I even told you here. I do not condemn you....so don't you condemn you. I am in your life to save you and delight in you."

My perspective on God .... on me .....is changing.
I knew He felt that way about others but I wouldn't accept it for me.

I have been struggling for days on how to put all of this into words. I don't know how to wrap it all up except to say this....

Our experiences big and small are meant to help us grow individually and help one another grow in encouragement. If there is something here that created a spark in you, please take hold of it and fan it into a flame. God loves YOU with an everlasting love and he delights in being with YOU.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Alligator In The Road......

Last Saturday we were with a group of friends coming back from an out of town day trip. It was a church event so we were driving one of the church vehicles and my hubby was tagged to be driver for the large passenger suburban.
That was completely a God guided decision because I don't think that anyone else would have been as fast in the reflexes as he was when the passenger drive tire blew on the freeway while we were going 65mph.


Thankfully, after driving semi-trucks for the last 15 years, Hubby has had lots of experience with tires blowing and how to handle large vehicles.

When the tire blew, it riped off the running board and tore out a secondary hose from the radiator. It could have been a horrible event but it wasn't. All six of us inside were completely unharmed and no other cars were involved as we pulled over on the shoulder.


There was even godly provision in cleaning up. Just the day before, our pastor had decided to buy a couple of gallons of antifreeze to keep in the back of the car for any emergencies that might come up. Also purchased was a container of that orange hand goop for easy grease cleaning as well as a roll of those industrial blue grease towels.
Hubby was able to change the tire, re-attach the hose with a clamp, and fill the radiator. Then we drove home safe and sound. Amazing huh? The suburban was even in good enough shape to do the Sunday morning trailer haul (we rent a building for church and keep all of our things in a huge trailer so that we can set up every Sunday morning).
Goodness, when I think of all the things that could have happened with our non-accident it sets me in awe. The mighty god of the universe that is so big that He can be in all places at all times.....placed His hands around our vehicle and guided us to safety.