Monday, April 29, 2013

A Weekend in Bloomington

I was a little unsure how the weekend would go.
We drove the 4 hours to get to our destination early Saturday morning.
We hadn't seen our son for almost a month. 
He moved to Bloomington, Indiana in February and seemed to be doing pretty well.
He has a new job and lives with a friend in an apartment.
It all seems too good, though.
Along with that, I'm not sure how I am feeling.
I've missed him so much! But I'm not really sure how much he's missed us. Not sure how this time will go, seeing him after this little time apart.  
But, when we arrive, he is so happy to see us!
We walk around town and find this beautiful botanical garden,
right in the middle of the city. 
We enjoy the walk and I take lots of pictures (I really am enjoying having a nice camera!).

It turns out to be a really good day.
The weather is a little cool and rainy, but we enjoy seeing the sights...
...and just spending quality time together.
Along with beautiful flowers and greenery, are displays of art, like the flower my son is standing next to(above) and the butterfly wall art (below), completely made of cork.
This is a college town (Indiana University) with lots of creative residents.
There are also lots of cultural restaurants to choose from also, like this Thai restaraunt.
We decide to try it, since none of us had eaten Thai food before.
Tyler had the curry and rice.
We tried the stir-fried vegetables and Pad Thai.
We stopped at a park and waterfall. (Called Cascades Park) There are so many flowers blooming, everywhere. So much color and new life!!
The waterfall in the park is amazing!!

We walked some trails, one which was quite overgrown with low-hanging trees and brush.

This creek runs through the park, with limestone walls on each side.
Some Canadian geese were enjoying the rainy weather.

All, in all, it turned out to be a very nice visit.
I miss my son very much, but am happy he is doing well, here in this college town. (He plans on attending college here, this coming fall.)
God is truly good!!
What did you do this past weekend?

Continuing to list all the blessings(gifts) Christ has shown me and rejoicing in Him alone!!!   at  "Multitude on Mondays"

1,322 - Quality time with my son.
1,323 - All the beautiful colors, as spring comes to life in flora.
1,324 - Trying new and unique foods from other countries/cultures.
1,325 - The calm and enjoyment we get out of observing nature.
1,326 - The sound of a waterfall.
1,327 - A sweet-tasting banana split for dessert, on a cold, dreary day.
1,328 - The opportunity to have some good conversation about some deeper issues with my son.
1,329 - Hugs from my son!!!
1,330 - Safe travels, to and from our weekend trip.
1,331 - God, giving me wisdom to not react to a negative situation that could have turned really bad.
1,332 - Last minute schedule opened up, to meet with my best friend, whom I haven't seen in a few weeks.
1,333 - In the midst of some(unspoken) hurt and heartache here at home, God still works in my heart.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"WATCH" and Pray!!

In our day, the term "watch" has lost much of its original power. Is there anything more passive than watching television? We live in a spectator nation. We watch movies, news, the markets, and sporting events. Watching has become an activity that puts us on the sidelines and not on the field of battle, an idea foreign to the original meaning of the word. At the time of the King James translators, "watch" emphasized the carefulness, attention, and vigilance in the way a soldier kept alert for any sign of enemy movement.

Many Bible verses raise the flag of being watchful, along with prayer. God reminds us to always be watching  and discerning. These are the last days before Christ's return and we are to look for the signs and be cautious.

 Romans 16:17
I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

1 Thessalonians 5: 2-11 

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief:
for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness;
so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.
For they that sleep sleep in the night: and they that are drunken are drunken in the night.
But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God appointed us not into wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do.

Mark 13:32, 33, 35

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’


Luke 21:25-36

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
 Watch What?
To "watch" in Luke 21:36 is all about being spiritually awake...not physically. Human nature is lazy and takes the easy road at every opportunity. It will rely on human reasoning, the word of others, or tradition rather than do the hard work of studying the Bible and believing what it actually says. Just because it is easy and comfortable, having been saying it for decades, does not justify clinging to an old notion unless we have a solid foundation in the Bible for that belief.  I Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us to "test [prove, KJV] all things," which would include our old notions, and then "hold fast" to the good ones—the ones that pass the test. We have to test our beliefs continually and rigorously against the only standard that counts—the Bible (Acts 5:29).

Luke 21:36 suggests that those who alertly overcome and pray always are those that may be counted worthy to escape and stand before Christ in God's Kingdom. In verse 36, Christ ties together all He has said throughout the chapter. If we do not neglect the spiritual (verses 34-35), and instead watch and pray always, we can "escape all these things" (verses 7-33) and enter God's Kingdom.  

We are certainly living in times very like those of the days of Noah, so the return of Christ could come anytime soon.

Christ reveals that the roles of watching—or paying careful attention to overcoming—and praying always are vital to our Christian lives, especially at this time.

We are also called to be thankful, as we watch and pray.
 Colossians 4:2
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
Why is thankfulness included, along with being watchful?  
All might, power, and life come from God; His creatures are continually dependent upon him for all these: to earnest, persevering prayer, He has promised every supply. As every situation in life has its peculiar duties, trials, so to every situation there is peculiar grace appointed. "Be always grateful to God, who has called you into such a state of salvation, and affords you such abundant means and opportunities to glorify Him. Let thanks for mercies given ascend as you ask for new mercies."
Sharing today all the blessings Christ has shown me and rejoicing in Him alone!!!   at  "Multitude on Mondays".
1,313 - God's protection upon me and my family.
1,314 - In the daily grind, knowing that He still watches over me.
1,315 - In the aftermath of a sad week (Boston bombings), knowing that we do have hope ~ a day when there will be no more pain, tears, and suffering.
1,316 - Even though my memory fails me so many times, having the grace and forgiveness from other believers and from the Lord!
1,317 - So thankful for worship music! Thankful for Third Day!
 "Your Love Oh Lord (Psalm 36)"

1,318 - Getting a text/picture from my friend, who is visiting her daughter in California.
1,319 - New spring outfits. One I got to wear today, because it got up to 65 degrees out!
1,320 -  Another amazing song by Third Day.
"Your Love is Like a River."

1,321 - My hubby getting 1/2 a day off work. Getting to spend a few extra hours with him.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Endurance in Pain and Suffering

The past few days have me once again writhing in  pain...not continuously, but off and on. Enough, though, to keep me crunched down on the couch, not wanting to be productive in any way. 

I have suffered these painful days each month for many, many years, now. I'm used to them...almost am sure they will always be a part of my life, even though I am guaranteed that this phase of my life will soon pass. Many women can relate to the suffering I speak about. I have been to numerous doctors and none have been able to fully help me.

There are some days I wonder what it is all about...
         Why me?
                   How much more will I have to endure?
                                                        What am I to learn from this? 

The most well-known book in the Bible that talks about suffering is the book of Job. If you have ever read it, you might have found it less than inspiring, as I did, especially if you read it while experiencing suffering in your own life. This man lost everything in his life and even suffered physical pain. He did come to a point where he even questioned his life on earth. His wife and friends even questioned Job and God's ways.

But God is not in need of the approval of man. (It is only the reader of the book who learns of God's conversations with Satan; Job himself remains unaware of the reason or source of his sufferings.

Job wrestles, not only with all questions thrown at him by others, but God's rebuke of him questioning his Creator. God demands  Job to be brave and to respond to his questions. God’s questions are rhetorical, intending to show how little Job knows about creation and how much power God alone has.  (38:1-42:6)
I'm reminded of these questions and the answer in this song by Nicole Mullen.

Overwhelmed by the encounter, Job acknowledges God’s unlimited power and admits the limitations of his human knowledge.

In the end of the book, Job is restored to health, gaining double the riches he possessed before and having new children. He lives a long and prosperous life after that.

When good people (those who "fear God and shun evil," 1:1) suffer, the human spirit struggles to understand. Throughout recorded history people have asked: How can this be? If God is almighty and "holds the whole world in his hands" and if he is truly good, how can he allow such an outrage?
Righteous sufferers must trust in, acknowledge, serve and submit to the omniscient and omnipotent Sovereign, realizing that some suffering is the result of unseen, spiritual conflicts between the kindgom of God and the kingdom of Satan -- between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness (cf. Eph 6:10-18).

"We never know how much real faith we have until it is put to the test in some fierce storm; and that is the reason why the Saviour is on board. If you are ever to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might, your strength will be born in some storm." - Anonymous

"This hard place in which you perhaps find yourself is the very place in which God is giving you opportunity to look only to Him, to spend time in prayer, and to learn long-suffering, gentleness, meekness – in short, to learn the depths of the love that Christ Himself has poured out on all of us." - Elisabeth Elliot

Endurance, faithfulness, steadfastness as you can see are synonymous with perseverance. They all mean that God will test us at times, cause us to use our faith to be strengthened, and that we will go through hard times. However there is a promise for us if we persevere. There is a reward. Not only is the reward in heaven when we get there, but God will learn that He can trust us with the hard things. He can trust us with the important things. He can trust us with the things He holds most dear to His heart.

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Psalm 119:71
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls." 1 Peter 1:6-9.
 "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Romans 8:18
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." Romans 5:3-4

Sharing today all the blessings Christ has shown me and rejoicing in Him alone!!!  
at  "Multitude on Mondays".
1,301 - Getting some much needed rain.(even though I am getting tired of all this rain!)
1,302 - A relaxing, long walk...taking pictures with my new camera!
1,303 - Being able to visit with my niece in the hospital, even though little "Ellie Joy" was not getting visitors, as she was in the neo-natal unit.(weighed only 4 lbs., 12 oz.)
1,304 - Ellie Joy's health improving slowly each day.
1,305 - Internet/bloggy many who have written words that encouraged me when I was struggling.
1,306 - Another encouraging sermon (on friendships) at church this Sunday.
1,307 - A warm day, with no rain!
1,308 - Getting closer to finishing remodel work on our upstairs.
1,309 - The Lord reminds me that even though I may be in pain, He will comfort me.
1,310 - Having something sweet for dessert) (pecan pie), after a delicious dinner (Chicken Enchiladas)
1,311 - Seeking God's presence, praying for Him to comfort those who have friends/family who were injured or died in the Boston bombing...again, reminded that He sees and knows all that is happening.
1,312 - Thankful that my family is safe and well.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When You Finally Feel Understood.

Wow! Is it really Tuesday, already? The last week seems like just a blurr to me! Ever have weeks like that? I'm so thankful that we at least have been having some warmer (though windy) weather the past several days, plus some rain here and there! 

It's been a week of long work hours, emotional ups and downs, extra time with friends, and shopping for a long-awaited new camera.

It's also been a week of feeling frustrated. Have you ever tried to tell someone how you were feeling and didn't really feel like your were being heard or understood?

I am so grateful to have Christian friends who are great listeners and know me well enough to give me support, helpful criticism, and yet let me feel understood.  I also felt encouraged by our pastor, who gave a sermon on Sunday on the very subject that I was struggling with

God's timing is amazing!

It's not easy to trust God's timing, though. I know my first reaction to not feeling understood was to withdraw and be resentful. I knew, though, I needed to pray that He would let me know that He especially understood what I was feeling(as He always does). And then He later provided me with others to support me along the way.

I'm also grateful that I didn't get to post on my blog till today, because that allowed me to have time to read Ann Voskamp's post first (HERE). These words she wrote touched my heart, 

"...there’s not one of us who hasn’t lost something, who doesn’t fear something, who doesn’t ache with something. I wanted us to turn to the hurting, to each other, and promise it till we’re hoarse:
We won’t give you some cliche –  but something to cling to — and that will mean our hands.
We won’t give you some platitudes — but someplace for your pain — and that will mean our time.
We won’t give you some excuses — but we’ll be some example — and that will mean bending down and washing your wounds. Wounds that we don’t understand, wounds that keep festering, that don’t heal, that down right stink — wounds that can never make us turn away.
Because we are the Body of the Wounded Healer and we are the people who believe the impossible — that wounds can be openings to the beauty in us."

In the midst of my frustrating and emotional week, I felt the touch of caring hands, a caring heart that made time for me, the washing of my wounds!

 What a renewed and refreshed experience to feel understood!

 "Since then we have a Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Giving thanks today, as I continue to count my blessings, and joining others at  "Multitude onMondays".
1,292 - A loving God who understands me, when I feel misunderstood!
1,293 - A special friend, who also showed her love and compassion!
1,294 - Warm, spring days.
1,295 - A timely and encouraging sermon.
1,296 - Getting a new camera! I've patiently waited till we could find time and had money available. (I will be posting lots of pictures, as soon as I get the hang of this new toy!)
1,297 - Another loving text from my son, plus a brief phone call.
1,298 - Having lunch with an old college friend: sharing, laughing, and encouraging one another!
1,299 - My niece, who had a healthy baby girl yesterday, April 8! I mentioned her baby shower a few weeks ago, HERE. Little Ellie Joy weighed in at 4 lbs, 12 oz. 17 and a half inches long. She came early (was due May 6). Mom and baby are doing well.
1,300 My brother(read his story here and here), who was near death, just 2-4 months ago, is able to hold his first grandchild today! Thank you, Lord, for healing him!!!