Category Archives: Flashlight

Difficult Week

 

Sights, sounds, images. I’ve spent 20 hours watching the PBS documentary, “The Vietnam War.” The horrors of war are now forever embedded in my mind. I lived during this time, in fact, if I had been a man, I would probably have been drafted. But I missed it. All of it. And I’m sorry I was so oblivious to what was going on.

My manicurist is from Vietnam. Her dad served in the ARVN and was relegated to a re-education camp for five years. She is one of 8 children in a family that made their way to Tucson after the war when she was 12. Through guts and hard work…education, a home, and a business are part of her family today. I have great admiration for this family, the struggles they encountered, the closeness they share, and the hope they have for their future as American citizens.

For those of you who served and endured, thank you. The heartache on both sides continues to this day. We lost many but I hope we learned much. I put my head in the sand — not intentionally — but the results were the same. No one talks much about the war that served in it but forgetting is hard. Now we have a new generation of GI’s who have seen and heard much more than they ever expected. May we treat them better, offer them thanks, and see that they get needed services as they return to civilian life.

We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Division threatens us today as much as it did 40 years ago. We have choices to make. Do we want another Kent State? Do we want our children and grandchildren to ask why football players are kneeling during the National Anthem? Are the police going to be worried that a gunshot will forever take them from their families? Are blacks and whites going to find peace and harmony? The Vietnam War may have started this disintegration of our society but we don’t have to let it continue.

Only God can heal our land and make a difference. As we kneel before Him, confess our sins individually and as a nation, then we can begin to see each other as brother and sister and heal the broken bonds in our land.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

God Alone

Yes, he alone is my Rock, my rescuer, defense, and fortress—why then should I be tense with fear when troubles come?

My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me.

Psalm 62:-6-7 (TLB)

A few weeks ago I was fretting about how boring life was. It was the end of a long, very hot summer, and I could hardly wait for Fall to arrive. I decorated the house early, with the hope that pumpkins, in every form, would hasten the arrival of cooler weather and a new schedule of activities.

I was grateful when our women’s Bible study began. We are studying Beth Moore’s, David, Seeking a Heart Like His. One thing I really like about the Bible is that God pulls no punches when he tells David’s story. We read about the good, the bad, and the ugly. This young man, who would be king, is first ignored and then pulled out of the fields, while tending sheep, and anointed for a job he didn’t even know he wanted.

But God knew David’s heart because they had spent many an hour together while he was alone with those sheep on the hillside. The lessons he learned there would eventually become very useful as he led men and troops as King of Israel. But David had more waiting to do. It was not yet his time.

His entry on the world stage occurred when with only courage and a slingshot, a giant was taken down who had taunted the army of King Saul. He didn’t need the king’s armor because God alone was his defense. He had already wrestled with a bear and a lion while protecting the sheep. What could this one man do to him?

That boring life? It quickly changed as we’ve spent the last three weeks dealing with hospitals, doctors, surgeries, and recovery as Mark had a Deep Brain Stimulator implanted in his brain to control essential tremors in his right hand. The process complete, we now have some fine-tuning to do but the good news is that it works.

I didn’t realize, until we sat at a favorite restaurant after the doctor’s appointment to turn it on, how tense I had been. The unbidden tears of relief started to flow down my cheeks. I’d been updating friends and family through emails and I received a note from a friend that summed up exactly how I was feeling:

I so understand your tears. I’ve been there too many times, and you just don’t forget what that feels like. I’m glad you are able to let those tears fall. They are very healing, and as Mark is healing, so will you. What you have been through is exhausting physically, mentally and spiritually. It’s difficult to believe what that stress, especially trying to be the “strong” one, will exact on you. Now you can “let down” a bit, and rest.

God has sustained me each step of the way, whether sitting in the waiting room for many hours, watching over Mark as he recovered in his room, or driving almost an hour back and forth at night. He brought me encouragement through a bottle of water and pumpkin muffin brought by a friend who greeted me in the waiting room one morning. Emails, cards, and Facebook posts reminded me how much people care about both of us. And there is something about a note from someone who has been there that is so encouraging.

I can let fear and discouragement take me down, or I can choose to see that it is God alone who brings me through tough times and gives me the will and courage to make it through another day. My inclination is to wrestle in this type of situation and see if I can control the outcome. But I’m learning that the little word in the middle of wrestle – rest – is what God wants me to do. He is my refuge and rock. He will take care of me…and I can rest in His success.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

What a week!

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

I’m usually one of those girls that has a glass-half-full attitude. But this has been quite a week and if I choose, I can do a great job of whining and complaining.

The news that blares out of the TV, on the radio, or over the Internet has been all bad news. In my 70 years on this earth, I have never seen anything like it. I’m sure my grandparents said the same but the speed of the disintegration of our society is breath-taking. Charlottesville. Barcelona. The White House. And my house.

I thought this week was gong to be a time of relaxation for Mark and me. We planned to celebrate our birthdays by going to Scottsdale for a couple of nights and enjoy the big city. But as we were packed and headed out the door, I noticed that the freezer temperature light read 16° not 0°. Uh oh. This has occurred twice in the past and the options are not good. I called for service and was offered the next day or next week.

We transferred the food from both the refrigerator and freezer to our kind neighbor’s  garage refrigerator and decided to head to Scottsdale and return early the next morning to meet the serviceman. At least we would get one day. We enjoyed a movie, complete with recliners, pillow, blanket, food, and wine. It was great!

Early, (I mean early…4:00) we headed back, stopping for a donut and latte as we got gas. The serviceman arrived on time but after inspecting and determining our problem, he didn’t have the part on his truck. Sigh. But, he could have it at the end of the day and would install it then. Good thing we had decided to not go back to Scottsdale for our second night (Groupon.)

With no food in the house, we headed to the club for pizza and a glass of wine. On the way home, we dropped off leftover pizza at a friend’s house and while backing out of her driveway, I had a fender bender with the neighbor across the street from her. My car’s park assist had failed me. By the time I walked into my house after exchanging all the info, I was spent.

Over those 36 hours of stress, I continually asked God for peace and comfort. Sleep was elusive but the 23rd Psalm came to my rescue. I am so thankful that I noticed the increased temp before leaving for 3 days. I am grateful that no one was hurt in the accident. I am relieved that the serviceman could come the next day and not the next week. Oh, and throw in a broken garbage disposal that was covered by the manufacturer and installed by my faithful handyman in the middle of the chaos.

However, I can report to you today that the refrigerator is working fine and food has been restocked. The insurance company is handling the accident. (Isn’t that why we have insurance?) However, I continue to pray for God’s guidance and protection for this country. He alone is in control.

I definitely don’t always like the circumstances of my life, but I have the choice how to view them. Whining and complaining only adds to my stress. Being thankful and trusting that God has my back and will give me all I need fills me with peace.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

The Hardest Part

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalms 27:14 (NLT)

For a news junkie like me, this week has left me exhausted. I like order and control and from what I have observed, the politics in Washington, D.C. have neither. The fact is that none of us knows what any given day will bring. We have our plans but a phone call, a diagnosis, a fall, a letter, an accident can turn our world upside down.

Trying to sell our house and move closer to town presents a perfect test for waiting with no control of the outcome. In my morning quiet time, I journal my prayers and have started thanking God for the sale of the house.

I’m reminded of the story of Daniel who prayed, pleading for his people and their deliverance. But God, seemingly failed to hear or answer. Twenty-one days later, an angel appeared to Daniel and basically told him he had been busy but he had heard him. He had been in battle in another part of the world but was now ready to give an answer to his prayer.

God knows our heart’s desires and He knows the timing of this sale. Rather than have the stress of a “must sell date,” we are not even looking at future homes. I know that God is in this move and He will take care of us. He’s got the perfect place picked out. But it may take “twenty-one days” to get it ready.

I read that “Waiting is the hardest work of hope.” Calling us to be brave and courageous, in our verse, makes sense because waiting may result in fear, anxiety, boredom, disappointment, frustration, or even anger. Hope has been my watchword since 2013 — a year that seemed hopeless in so many ways. But God. Because I know that God loves me, has a plan for my life that is good and a purpose even better than I could imagine, I hope…and I wait.

I don’t know what the next step entails — where it will lead or when it will happen — but I do know Who lights my way…one step at a time.

#alwayshope

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

We the People

Christ has set us free! This means we are really free. Now hold on to your freedom and don’t ever become slaves of the Law again.

Galatians 5:1 (CEV)

The July 4th weekend is longer this year since it falls on a Tuesday. Talk show hosts and even our sermon have shared tidbits and snippets of history from that long ago weekend of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams wrote a letter to his wife on July 3rd and penned many thoughts on the process of developing this historic document. The last couple of paragraphs reminded of the significance of this date:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

The sacrifice and dedication of the signers is summed up in his cautionary tone – You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States.

I am tired of division, hypocrisy, finger-pointing, and failure to get anything done by the Washington elected officials — both parties. This country has been blessed by God with so much wealth and happiness but we seem to be throwing it all away in an effort to be right. Our forefathers spilled blood and treasure to ensure our freedom. What will our grandchildren’s children say of our generation?

We live in a different world than the signers, yet, we must celebrate this historic day. Why? Because freedom is God’s gift to us — one not to be taken lightly. We must continue with that sacred trust to preserve and protect this land.

So, pull out that red, white, and blue shirt to wear tomorrow. Enjoy a meal with family and friends. Watch the fireworks light up the sky and know that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

God Bless America.

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Share

Water?

I look up to the mountains—

    does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth!

Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT)

One of my favorite things is to take my latte and breakfast to my screened porch and survey the world in and outside of my yard as I eat. Deer, coyotes, bunnies, roadrunners, quail, and an array of birds wander in and out of my line of sight and sound. I have a fountain, but early in the morning, it has not yet begun its tinkling melody. I recently replaced it and wondered if my feathered friends would come back and visit the new one.

The other morning, I watched one bird venture out and stand on the edge of the lower bowl. I know he knew there was water in it but he couldn’t figure out how to get to it. The water level was too low for his beak to reach. So, he hopped all around the rim, even losing his footing at one point but catching himself before he landed in the water.

I wondered if he would ever look up and notice the upper bowl that would have more than met his needs. Silently, I urged him to look up. It’s right there. Instead, he just hopped, first one way, then another, and eventually gave up and flew off. He never got his drink of water.

I couldn’t help but think of the many times I’ve tried every which way I know to solve a problem. I think I can figure it out so I check the Internet, talk to friends, go shopping, even just read a book—anything to distract me from my problem and the real source for the answer. The enemy has a field day while I stumble around and I’ve been known to take the wrong turn.

I have a majestic view from my office window and every time I look out, I think of our verse. Where does my help come from? I need to look up because my help comes from the Lord. He has the answers to whatever my situation calls for. If He can make those magnificent mountains and all the creatures in my yard, it’s a snap for Him to solve my problems.

But He won’t force me to come to Him, just as I couldn’t direct that little bird. When I choose to seek Him, He offers me all the thirst-quenching water that I need. Those problems? They don’t seem impossible any more because I know He takes care of me and will give me direction.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

Rescued

For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91:3-4 (NLT)

Where did the month go? The last post was written the day before we drove to Mesa to check out a rescue dog to see if he was a good fit for us. We had been researching various rescue sites but finally found him on Craig’s list. As we drove to meet him, we tossed around several names but decided to wait until we actually met him. It took about two seconds and he was Rusty, a Havanese with a cream-colored coat and rust accents. We took him home.

In some ways, I feel the blur, like that of a new mother only with a toddler. He raced through the house creating chaos in the wake. He had been abused, likely by a man, because he was very hesitant around Mark. The foster mom found him in the pound, all matted and dirty but longing to get out of the cage. He literally crawled to her once out, fearful and cowering. But after six weeks of care, he was ready for a forever home.

For the record, I am not the dog person — Mark is — but because of his background, Rusty took to me. It’s been a challenge to transfer the affection and devotion to Mark but after 30 days, we are well along that road.

What have I learned from Rusty?

Patience.

Endurance.

Forgiveness.

Acceptance.

Trust.

Exhaustion.

Love.

I wonder what my heavenly Father would say about me? Probably, many of the same words would fit the scenario of my life. He was there in those moments when I was cranky, willful, disobedient, and tempted to give up because it was so hard. God persevered, grabbed my hand,  and returned me to the right path. He offered help and hope.

We discovered that a gentle voice, small hand gestures, enticement with treats, and a bunch of toys helped to gain Rusty’s trust. He learned that we were not going to leave him but would be there as his family. It didn’t happen overnight but patience helped all of us to keep going.

Doesn’t our Heavenly Father offer the same to us? He speaks to us in a still, small voice, opens his hand and satisfies our desires, and promises to never leave us. We are safe and secure in his love. And, oh, how patient He is with us. His love never fails.

A dog is GOD spelled backwards. What a great example of the relationship of complete trust and love that God offers His children when we turn to Him.

 

Share

May I help you?

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.

Colossians 3:23 (HCSB)

I grabbed my number from the dispenser on the counter and lingered near to be sure I heard it when it was called. This wasn’t the first time I had stopped by for the same problem. I was at Costco attempting to get my glasses adjusted. You would think it was a simple process.

The woman called my number and as I handed her my slip to confirm that I was next, she told me to wait a minute. I followed her around the counter where I noticed she was waiting on someone else at the same time. I think she thought it would only take a minute, but those minutes stretched on. She finally handed the problem to another employee and I gave her my glasses for adjustment.

She did a couple of tweaks, had me try them on, took them back and cleaned them and said, “Thank you very much.” I left because I can’t always tell if it is right until I wear them a bit. IT WAS NOT RIGHT.

A couple of days later, I decided to try again but I did NOT want that same woman. I pulled my number and waited. Thankfully, she was busy and when it was my turn, a young man, named Christopher, turned to me and asked, “May I help you?”

After briefly explaining my problem, he took the glasses and immediately offered to change out the nose pads. “I always do this for my customers because these are much more comfortable.” Great! The time and effort that he took to adjust my glasses so that they were just right was the exact opposite of my previous experience. He really did “help me.”

Certain businesses are known for their great service — Apple, Disney, Nordstrom, Ritz Carlton, and Costco (minus this one woman who I think was having a bad day) — to name a few. Rather than just being a number, you are a person and their aim is to please you and meet your needs with respect and accommodation.

Years ago, I was a discussion leader in Bible Study Fellowship and I remember the teaching leader admonishing us to not grow weary as we headed into the final stretch of the year. She said, “Don’t just finish somehow. Finish it will all that you have.”

As believers, our impact for Christ on those around us will happen in the small circumstances of life — standing in line at the grocery, walking the dog and passing others on the street, taking a moment to say thank you to the barista, opening the door for a mom loaded with children and stroller, opening the door for the older gentleman who is a bit unsteady, dropping a hand-written note in the mail “just because,” remembering birthdays and special occasions. Smile. Eye contact. A hug. Simple expressions of love.

Jesus loved people and they loved Him back. They wanted to be in His presence…near Him…touch Him. He had a reputation of care and concern and because of that connection, they listened to His message of salvation and accepted His gift of love.

What better way to represent Him and be His public relations people than to say, “May I help you?”

Share

Battle Armor

 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

I Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

Raytheon has been in the news this week since they are manufacturers of the Tomahawk Cruise Missile. One of their sites for production is in Tucson. I’ve had a few of my MOPS moms whose husbands worked for Raytheon but never really knew what they did. They couldn’t call them at the office or stop by for lunch. Some of our nation’s secrets are housed on those acres and in those buildings.

The nature and capability of these latest missiles caught my attention. The Raytheon website describes them as Today’s Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile can circle for hours, shift course instantly on command and beam a picture of its target to controllers halfway around the world before striking with pinpoint accuracy.

Amazing! Technology has increased both safety and accuracy which is so vital in today’s war on terror. The enemy sneaks up on us in the homeland with lone wolf shooters and killing sprees in nightclubs and Christmas parties. He drives beer trucks into department stores and runs over pedestrians on bridges. He sprays sarin gas on children and adults, resulting in horrible and painful deaths. And that is just lately.

Our military uses the most sophisticated weapons that can be produced to fight these atrocities. Did you know that we have specific armor to fight our enemy, the devil? He is just as cunning and ruthless as ISIS and his goal is to take us out. He knows our weaknesses and vulnerabilities and designs entrapments just for us.

However, we are not left helpless in our daily fight. The apostle, Paul, wrote a letter to the church in Ephesus and gave them the battle plan:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.

The daily uniform: belt, breastplate, shoes. Weapons of defense and offense: shield, helmet, sword. And to activate them all — prayer.

The sailors that fired off those missiles had the best equipment and training and were ready for any complication or counter attack. They had been practicing for two days before the “Go” signal was given.

As warriors in God’s army, we, too, need to be ready for the fiery darts used to distract and disarm. He’s out to seek and destroy by any means necessary. But we can and will overcome because God is right there with us. He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world.

Gear up.

Share

Refining

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer various trials, so that the authenticity of your faith —more precious than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I Peter 1:6-7 (Berean)

While scrolling through my email, I found a Groupon for a facial located at a distance not too far away. I love massages but I treat facials more like going to see the dentist — every now and then it’s a good idea to check in. The selling pitch was that an arm and shoulder massage were included.

Sans make-up, when I arrived the esthetician gave me a form to fill out. One of the questions was what did I want to get out of the facial. I thought a few moments and then wrote down that I wanted her to take off 20 years.

An hour later, I left after tolerating many layers — cleanser, scrub, mask, serum, moisturizer — interspersed with hot towels, cold towels, and steam. Sensations of stinging, pain, massage, and finally, soothing lotion, alternately applied, reminded me why this is not my favorite beauty treatment.

But, but, but — my face is now so smooth and soft. It was worth it; I may even go more often.

God’s refining often comes in the form of many layers, too. We do our best to hide the imperfections on our faces with make-up, highlighters, and concealers, to name a few. We may try to cover up our sin and hopelessness with busyness, indifference, and addictions.

The trials we endure are like the scrubs and masks that rid my face of all the dead skin cells and clogged pores, finally,  getting down to the bare, clean skin. God wants to give us life — abundant life — and it won’t happen if it’s hidden by sin and selfishness. It may take the sting and pain of God’s cleansing to remove the old to reveal the new.

Yet, He doesn’t leave us bare with no covering, an easy target for the enemy. No, He blankets us with the blood of Jesus bringing life. He gives us the Holy Spirit who fills us with love. And above all — when we have endured to the end — HOPE is our reward.

 But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.

Romans 5:3-5 (CEV)

Share