No Connection

>> Friday, July 27, 2012

Brand new computer … check. New wireless mouse … check. New monitor … check. New wireless keyboard … check. Everything plugged in and ready to do great things. And then the words came up on the screen.

No connection.

I had returned home from a weekend in Seaside, ready to send out my blog. But Sunday afternoon … car unpacked and clothes in the washer … I sat at my desk and discovered I had no Internet connection.

Still none on Sunday evening … nor on Monday morning. Finally, when I came home from work on Monday evening my Internet was connected.

How frustrating … and time lost for what I wanted to accomplish.

I’ve seen beautiful churches … with wonderful sound systems … awesome video productions … energetic worship teams … and a pastor that speaks words to tickle the ears. People gather in the building week after week to fulfill their duty of attending church … and they leave with a good feeling.

Without a connection … a relationship with Jesus … they have no power. Others do not see a great God living through their lives. Yet they exist that way day after day … week after week … month after month … and year after year.

How frustrating … and time lost for what could be accomplished if they just had that connection. 

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (MSG)


Pattern Interrupt

>> Saturday, July 21, 2012

My bucket of life was full to the brim … and still the drops continued falling. I felt like one more drop and my bucket would break open … spilling me all over the floor. Good stuff … exciting stuff … learning stuff … and an unexpected diagnosis.

A weekend camping trip with 600 motorcycle riders … sleeping in a tent at the Grant County Fairgrounds in John Day … and the discovery that my husband’s motorcycle wouldn’t start … made for a unique time.

Teaching the Experiencing God Bible Study through the summer was a stretch for me … having never done that before. But the daily lessons focused me on God and my relationship with Him … drawing me deeper into His love. The women in my group had become more than names on a piece of paper … they were my sisters.

A weeklong trip to Tahoe to spend time with two of my daughters was exciting and full of activity … complete with bonding time over jigsaw puzzles and watching Doc Martin videos. Our relationships deepened.

I have a slow learning curve when anything new is introduced into my life. Thus a new car suddenly becoming my property threw me for a slight loop … and then to climb in it and drive to Seattle only heightened the stress. Since the Seattle trip was mandatory, the purchase of a new computer at the Apple Store was inserted into the trip. (Remember the Crash Dump?)

And the unexpected diagnosis was the reason for the trip to Seattle … where we were facing an unknown. My bucket was straining at the joints.

Time for a pattern interrupt.

But before we could leave for our escape to the coast there was one more drop for my bucket. Saying goodbye to my daughter, Lorri, who had taken a teaching position on the other side of the world … well only Georgia … but it felt the same. Tears fell as we hugged, prayed and said, “I love you”. When we returned from the coast … she would be gone.

Just as my husband and I needed a time away to rest … relax … and spend time with just each other … as a Christ-follower … life is just like that. Busyness can cause a break in our relationship with Him. Even if the activities are worthy causes and have wonderful results … if they cause a break in our relationship with Christ they are detrimental. It becomes imperative that we step out of the busy cycle and take time to be alone with Him.

When was your last pattern interrupt? 

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength. Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)


Gathering Storm

>> Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We watched the clouds building. They darkened and pushed their way into the sky. We sat on our patio … designed with an overhanging roof and walls on three sides … for just such an occasion as this. If it blew and rained we would still be dry. The sun was setting … and the clouds above us slowly tinted pink. Still no rain or wind, but lightning flashed in the wall of dark clouds.

But we had a solid house … 12-inch thick walls … layers of concrete, Styrofoam and more concrete … built to withstand storms. We could go inside for safety … and felt no cause for fear.

My mind returned to my growing up years in Kansas. No way would we have lingered on the porch awaiting the storm. Clouds that looked like that meant danger … hail … tornadoes. And for my family we had no shelter from that raging weather. We lived in two rooms upstairs and the closest shelter was a basement two houses down the street.

So a gathering storm caused a high level of stress and fear.

Life is like that. Sometimes we can see the storm building … and it’s coming our way. Where can we go to feel safe? Do we turn to another person … a different job … move to a new town? Our stress level increases as we consider our puny options.

Or do we turn to the safe and secure shelter under God’s wings. Protected by His mighty power, we feel no fear.

He is greater … stronger … more powerful than any storm life can throw at us.

“How precious is your unfailing love, O God! 
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Psalms 36:7 (NLT)


What a Surprise

>> Sunday, July 15, 2012

It was a lovely evening. Our small group had gathered for a social in the back yard of the leader’s home. The invite had included “bring your swimming suits, the pool is ready”. After a time of cooling off in the water (for some of us that meant only dangling our feet at the edge of the pool), it was time to eat.
Tables were set up in the grass … each with its own umbrella … to protect us from the sun. We filled our plates and moved to the tables with our food and drinks. Conversations filled the air as each table had a different topic they were discussing. Laughter and joking … stories about kids and trips … and then …
The sprinklers came on.
Shrieks filled the air as we made a mad dash to the concrete poolside. As we stood there, wet clothes and sodden food, the shock began to wear off. That wasn’t exactly how we planned to end the meal. But all was good. No one was injured … there was plenty of food to re-fill the plates … and none of us melted.

But life can be like that. We are enjoying each day … taking time for friends and playtime. Then out of the blue … the sprinklers come on. Oh, not literally, but suddenly our life is wet and sodden. We make a mental dash to safety … complete with complaining … or maybe discouragement.

That wasn’t how we planned it.

Sometimes it’s as simple as turning off the sprinkler. But many times it takes a process of sorting … counseling … support of friends … or maybe laughter … to come to the understanding that we didn’t melt. Tomorrow … or next week … or next month life would go on and we could laugh again.

One day he and his disciples got in a boat. "Let's cross the lake," he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
Getting to his feet, he told the wind, "Silence!" and the waves, "Quiet down!" They did it. The lake became smooth as glass. Then he said to his disciples, "Why can't you trust me?" Luke 8:22-25 (MSG)


View Point

>> Thursday, July 12, 2012

Last weekend, as I drove to Seattle, I crossed two ridges that have an elevation of over 2,000 feet above sea level. My home in the Tri-Cities is only 400 feet. So that area is proud of their view from the top of one of the ridges. Here’s what the Internet has to say about it.  

“The landscape is barren (this is a desert / steppe climate region), but a scenic viewpoint on Manashtash Ridge and a rest area at the Selah Creek Bridge provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.”  

Breathtaking? Not hardly. But you see I’m comparing it to the views I saw two weeks ago when I was in the Lake Tahoe area. Here’s what the Internet says about the Rose Point view … where I stood and surveyed God’s beauty.  

“Drive less than four miles outside of Incline Village located in North Lake Tahoe for one of the best panoramic views of Lake Tahoe. This scenic overlook on Nevada Highway 431 at 7,562 feet provides one of the best photo opportunities of this striking alpine lake located in the Sierra Nevada.”

Huge difference.  

To get to the Manashtash Ridge, you drive through some boring country with brown hills and sagebrush. Unless you are traveling through to some place else, it would not be worth the time and effort to go there. To get to the view point above Lake Tahoe, you wind through forests and pass gorgeous scenery … taking a few hairpin curves and having some drop offs by the side of the road. But it is worth every minute and energy expended to arrive at the top.  

Isn’t life like that? We travel along on our boring journey, doing what is expected of us and nothing more. Our time and energy is spent watching television … sitting on the deck with a drink in hand … or maybe spending an inordinate amount of time with cooking and cleaning. There is no breathtaking view in that life … just drudgery and marking time.  

Or we can live life to the fullest … learn exciting new things … travel … meet new friends … plumb the depths of ourselves and discover we love to write or take photos. There may be a steep learning curve or some potential failure, but it’s not boring.  

The journey is rewarding … and the view is spectacular.  

“In your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise to you.” Psalm 63:3-4 (MSG)


It's All About Me

>> Saturday, July 7, 2012

Before my recent trip to Lake Tahoe, a friend told me to be sure and take the scenic drive around the south end of the lake and up to the viewpoint overlooking Emerald Bay. So the very first day of vacation that’s exactly what we did.  We enjoyed the absolutely beautiful view … with an island in the middle of the bay … and a house at the top.  

It was just as he told me it would be.  

A few days later we took a two-hour cruise on the lake. One of the highlights of the trip was Emerald Bay. As we drew closer to the bay, I could see the island … and watched as the house on the top grew larger.  

I decided I would take pictures up close and personal for my friend. He had only seen it from high above. I grabbed my iPhone from my pocket and clicked away. As we circled the island, our tour guide explained the house was built as a tea house … complete with steps climbing the steep hillside to the top.  

I was so pleased I could show the pictures and tell the story to my friend.  

A side note here: iPhones are hard to take pictures with in the bright sunlight. You can’t really see what your photos will look like.  

Imagine my surprise when I returned to the shade and pulled out my phone to view my pictures … and saw 12 pictures of ME! The phone has a button you can push to take a self portrait. I had somehow made the switch. I had close ups of my eyes, nose and mouth … 12 of them.  

It was all about me.  

Life can be like that. We have good intentions. We are busy doing something we say is for someone else. Yet when we take a moment to stand back and look at the whole picture, all that activity has been to show others how good … how self-sacrificing … how benevolent … how wonderful we are.  

It’s all about us.  

What kind of pictures are you taking?

“This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.” Romans 9:10b-11a (NLT)


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