Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sudden Opportunity.....

I have much in my head that I still have yet to put words to on my keyboard. But for the moment, I really want to share the opportunity we had yesterday.

My husband was blessed with a day off of work. It is not often that he is able to take time off so he and I planned to enjoy fully. We decided to spend the day together doing  our favorite hobby: hiking and enjoying the amazing Columbia Gorge. A treasured place we like to hike is Eagle Creek Trail just outside of Cascade Locks.  It is a slightly more advanced hiking trail as the elevation really climbs in a couple of areas. Also there are 2 spots where the path is cut into a cliff face and there are cables anchored into the wall to hold to for safety. (If you scroll through this old post, you can see a picture of such an area) It turned out to be beautiful mild weather. With food and water in out pack, we spent a handful of hours breathing in the beauty of the area.

Late in the afternoon as we were headed back down, we met a woman hiking up with her 2 large dogs. I can't be positive but as I look back on the events I want to say we met up at that very same spot I had taken a picture of so many years ago. As always, I had fun petting the 'fuzzy children' and making quick friends. Then we said our farewells and continued on. Not more than 25 paces into our decent, we heard the woman scream and yell for her husky dog. Bohdee was gone! I heard the horrid crashing of her malamute falling 150 feet to the bottom of the cliff and then there was no sound at all. The woman was panicked. We locked eyes and she begged for help. She passed me the lead of her other dog and then threw off her pack and looked around to see if there was a way she could scale down the rock face. My husband convinced her to head down towards the river to look for a path while he headed back up top to see if there was an alternate way down. I followed her to make sure she kept safe.

After rounding a few corners we came upon our first person and he was a God-send. His name was Josiah and at a quick glance I could tell he was a level headed MacGyver sort of person that God had put in that spot for a special purpose. Josiah instantly gave up his camping hike and broke off the path into the forest with Amanda while I ran a good mile and a half to find a phone number for the forestry department. Everyone I spoke with was so wonderfully understanding and within 90 minutes a volunteer search and rescue team called Crag Rats was activated and on site.

It did not take long for Bohdee to be found and he was alive! Isn't that amazing? He appeared to have several broken bones in his hips and ribs but his eyes were alert. The forest was too dense to carry him out from the river floor so the rescue team set together a belay system and brought him back up to the path while strapped to an immobilizing cage board. 6 hours after Bohdee's fall everyone was safely in the parking lot.

My husband and I were worn out but spent the drive home talking about all the things God did through the whole event. After washing with tecnu to break off any hints of poison oak, we crashed into our bed and slept solid.

God is so amazing how He plans and provides!
*We were the only ones in that particular area on the path when Bohdee fell. Had Amanda been completely alone what would have happened?
*Bohdee was not on a lead at that moment. If he had been, would his 105 pound frame have pulled Amanda over as well?
*My husband was incredible in his calm thinking and action.
*As I was headed down the path for help, I came upon friends. 30 miles from home and I run into people I know? They activated a phone prayer chain for everyone's safety.
*The Crag Rat volunteers were so amazing to come even though it was getting dark. Their compassion was so vital. I knew no matter how Amanda found Bohdee, she was not going to leave the forest without he dog.

Tired and sore but so grateful for the way everything ended up.

Post note: Here is the news feed about the event. (The guy in the yellow shirt is my hubby.)  We have recently heard that Bohdee had 5 hours of surgery last night to repair a broken pelvis and punctured lung and might be able to be home this weekend.

Thank You God for Your presence always being around us.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Artistic Creativity.....

Today, the thoughts filling my mind and heart are ones of God's amazing creativity. His ways of doing things are so complex and unable to be completely replicated by even the greatest. God loves creativity and originality. He makes each sunrise and sunset different with a unique paintbrush and a wave of His hand. Each snowflake has its own shape that mirrors no other. And from the dawn of time, no two human beings have had the exact same DNA string because of His creative expertise. Even identical twins have different fingerprints.

Art blesses God and celebrates Him. There is no doubt in my mind that God loves art. I have always had the thought that He blessed people with the ability to dream up things and be creative. So He must have a vested interest in art. But only recently have I really started putting together in my mind just what that means to us as His children. I am realizing that art is more than a creative outflow that some people display more than others. It is a form of celebrated worship that we all partake of every single day. It also is a form of medicine that impacts our own lives.

We are all touched by something that moves us. No matter where you are at this very moment, your senses are being affected by someone's creativity. It is in the radio music you hear, the art on the wall, the writings that line your bookshelf or fill data space on your e-reader. Art decorates the cut of your clothing style with color and texture. Art is in the billboards, magazines and even the competitive designs of the architectural buildings that line city streets and suburbs. The sleek contour of automobiles take into account the personal artistic preferences of the buyer. Art is the hub and purpose of everything Hollywood. Who hasn't been touched by the adrenaline action of a movie or moved to laughing tears at a comedy scene? When we feel like sitting down to a heart drama film it is because that form of art is touching us and changing us.

Now there is a thought: Art changes us. It is true. Art does change us. We celebrate it, protect it and desire more of it. I am learning that we do that because artistic creativity is part of God. Anything that is part of God, we actively and subconsciously pursue in our daily lives because we feel and know the difference it makes.

A thought has begun to grow in me that says artistic creativity not only touches our hearts but can also bring real physical healing to our bodies.

I have seen it happen and it makes me in awe. A few months ago, a friend of mine was healed of a broken foot simply because he obeyed when he heard God tell him to....stand on a paper drawing of a foot. Does that statement seem far fetched like something more out of a fiction story? I understand. It has taken time for me to wrap my brain around it as well. But real x-rays prove that his foot was broken and then it simply wasn't. Truth be told; it wasn't even an amazing Michelangelo type of drawing. It was a quick sharpie pen stick figure drawing.

The how and the why must be filling your head right now. The answer to both of those questions is because God celebrates creativity and He likes to do things that bring us surprise. When Jesus caused the two small loaves of bread and 5 fish to feed 5,000 men and their families; He did it that way to give us something to remember and cause our faith to grow. He could have made food appear out of thin air. He could have made their stomachs instantly full without eating a bite. But He didn't. He chose instead to give us a visual that would be equated with the word "impossible" and then change our limited perspective.  

For myself, impossible is a word fading from my personal frame of mind. Back in February I hurt my shoulder and it has been a most constant reminder to me ever since. My precious massage friend worked on it several times and that would gain me a few days of relief but nothing that made real and lasting progress. One of the biggest frustrations for me has been not being able to dance with banners to show God my love. (It is a form of artistic creativity that I have discussed before here.) With my shoulder damaged, any movement would make tendons and muscle fibers swell and ache as strength and stamina ebbed away. Spinning yards of material in high arcs through the air was most definitely out of the question.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the worship part of our church service. I had a banner in my good hand but was growing in frustration with not being able to do what I truly wanted. I grumbled to God, "Papa God I am tired of this. I am grateful to be able to have a flag in my hand but it just isn't the same. I want so much to dance with You. Please encourage me." He answered me by saying I could use two flags as long as I held the orange flag in my left hand.....the damaged side.

Colors have universal meaning. We all know that green means life. Blue signifies coolness and refreshing. Red is always attributed to heat as well as love. And no matter where you are in the world, white is known for bringing peace and surrender. For me, orange is a sign of courage, fiery strength and pushing through in victory.

I grabbed my orange flag with delight and partnered it with a rainbow flag which symbolized God's promises fulfilled. All of a sudden moving around was so easy! The huge arcing circles didn't hurt. My muscles didn't cry out from lack of use. I giggled and danced with God and got totally lost in the time. Eventually the song changed and I thought I should use a different significant color appropriate with the song. But when I went to raise the different flag, my arm fell limp at my side. I was shocked. I heard God tenderly say, "My love, it is not the action I seek in your creative expression but the obedient heart behind it. Let Me teach you. Use the orange flag."
I picked up the orange flag again. It was light as a feather and cut through the air with ease as I danced once more.

Since that day, my shoulder is becoming whole. I have not had the pleasure pampering of a massage nor the aid of any medication. Not even ibuprofen has passed my lips. As each day passes and I give mental and audible thanks for my working shoulder; I am able to move it in ways that I have not been able to do in months.  My strength is returning and I can hold well more than a coffee cup now. I don't go pale from the pain of bumping my arm into something as I pass by. My range of motion is becoming equal as I do my morning exercises.

Did God make my shoulder defective in the first place? Absolutely not. Things happen because we live in a broken world. Could God have instantly healed my shoulder the first day it became hurt? Yes, He could have. Instead, He is creatively teaching me through my artistic passions. He is chiseling away at the word 'impossible' for me and creating a new pattern of thankful joy.

I am so grateful for His creativity. I love how God loves on us and touches us in our own unique and individual ways.

I pray in all you do today that you feel His amazing joy bubbling over from the core of your being. I pray that you know you are loved with a fiery passion and you are a wonderful treasure.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Heavenly Feet.......

Here is the second part of my installment.......

#2 God loves to love on us in different ways.
It is such a joy and treasure to be able to recognize God in the many facets of our lives. To say that I see Him in the creation around me is humbling. To voice that I see His love in the lives of my loved ones is inspiring. To hear Him in my deepest thoughts and desires big and small.....well that is a treasure without compare.
My eyes and my heart have witnessed all of these things and I must write them down so time does not misplace them.

The story that comes to mind today has to do with my feet. Odd I know but hear me out.
I have always been sort of uncomfortable about feet. Why?.....I am clueless. For most of my life, having my feet touched for any reason has been simply nerve wracking.  I can count on one hand being brave enough to muster the courage to try out a pedicure. I wrote about one of those liberating experiences here. Less than a month after that post, I can remember sitting in a spa chair with my sister-in-law and daughters at my side. We were having a de-stress day and getting ourselves ready for Daddy's funeral. It was one of those times when I was strong for so long and then.....then I just broke.

That soft gentle touch at my feet was somehow connected to my heart. I sat in that chair and let go. I cried softly as the foot massage seemed to work in tandem with the emotions running up and down my body and out my toes. It was tender medicine. That last week before Daddy passed, I had completely neglected myself as I stayed by his side. I had eaten scarcely a thing and pushed away liquids because I wanted and needed to be by him at all times. Consequently, when Daddy was gone and it was time to care for myself, my body was in sore need of repair. My ankles and feet were so swollen that there was hardly a difference between them and my calves. I had to hold the people around me to walk and could only wear over-sized house shoes until the swelling went down. So that foot massage was very much the perfect picture of God tenderly rubbing new life and love into my heart after pouring out for so long.

I had not had my feet touched since. It had seemed so sacred a time; a time so woven with the complexity of emotions that I dared not re-visit. But recently I have felt God talking to me about change, about going places in my heart less traveled. I began asking Him in private thoughts if I could once again have that experience. Once I casually asked and noted that it would be fun to have spring colors adorned on my feet. A second time I asked; that time with a bit more pondering of what it would mean. A third time I asked and confessed that I was truly ready to trust and be guided by Him.

All of my asking was done in secret, but oh how He loves those secrets of confession.
On that 3rd morning of asking, a dear treasured friend came over to give me a massage. (How spoiled I am to have a friend that comes complete with licensed smarts and a real massage table in her van!) She erected  her table in my dining room and set the soft music playing. But before I could climb up on the table she said, "God says we have to do something else first. I don't know what He has planned but when I was unpacking a few minutes ago He told me that you get to have a foot massage today." Then she set about doing what she does best which is selflessly demonstrating God's love with complete humility.

What was designed to be a 30 minute pampering session turned out to be 90 minutes of time so special that it far exceeded my previous encounter from 2 years ago. The combination of soft aromatic scented lotions and essential oils along with the gentle touch of warm water, massage and steamed towels made me melt and ignore the world around me. Not even the bark of my over protective dogs alerting me that a leaf blew by the window could distract me from the attention of God's loving peace. I felt so safe, so protected, so very cherished. I couldn't hear the music or feel the couch beneath me. I tried to open my mouth and share how I felt but not a single muscle would respond......I could do nothing but BE.......

It was a time where time stopped. In that span, God hugged me, celebrated His design and gave me a peek at tomorrow. For the first time I can ever consciously remember, I have no fear of who I am or how I measure up. I had always held myself to a rule of standard and a hat to wear.....a hat for every occasion and responsibility.  I have been WIFE, DAUGHTER, MOTHER, SISTER, GRAND DAUGHTER, NIECE, COUSIN, AUNTIE, FRIEND, NEIGHBOR, ROLE MODEL, etc.

But how do I do ME? The time is changing and that dusty ME hat in the corner isn't to be ignored anymore. My fears had been: What if I don't do it right? What if I fail? What if I get it wrong? Those questions had always over powered my ME hat. It was way easier to hide under all the other hats that had uniformity and guidelines to them than to wear a hat so uniquely individual that it looks like no other.  

Logically, mentally, intellectually.......I have known the answers to those questions. But my heart never owned them.....until that day; until that time; until that encounter.

Now I feel an indescribable ease and newness. There is excitement in the air that is pulsing all around me. I wake up in the morning with a feeling that no longer says, "You are so good God. I am sorry I hold You back." 

Instead, I hear my heart resound,  
"What is Your desire today God and I will celebrate it all with You and through You because I trust You!"