Saturday, January 31, 2009

Afraid to Go Up !

“But if you are afraid to go down……….” (Jdg 7:10 )
I love how God recognized the struggle in Gideon’s fearful heart and reached down to give him a reassuring sign that he need not fear because God was with him!

I think this verse could also read… “But if you are afraid to go UP!”

Several weeks ago my husband, Vic, had a dream.
He dreamed that he was confined in a very tight place, barely able to move at all. He was uncomfortable in so tight a place and wished himself out – asking God to please help him. He looked up to see glass close to his face , but when he looked through he saw ‘light’ and had a ‘knowing recognition it was the glory of God!

He told me the dream in the morning and then offered what it could mean… “I think it might have been my coffin …. I’m going to die soon. “

I am quite used to my husband’s periodic predictions of his soon-to-come departure from this earth… so I did not react except to calmly note… “Coffins don’t have glass covers!”

My husband does quite often have what he calls ‘night-visions’ that are from God and have meaning, so he tucked this one away for future reference.

A short time after the dream, he was invited by a friend to go for a flight with him in his little aircraft. Bill had fairly recently got his pilot’s license and had been asking Vic to go up with him, but Vic is nervous in airplanes . This time Vic decided to accept the invitation. It was a beautiful day with blue sky and Vic was eager to get some good aerial shots.

Vic watched Bill do the preliminary inspection of the airplane and when Bill was satisfied all the checks were good, he belted Vic into his seat – tight! The plane was a two seater with no wasted space and being soo tightly belted and the GPS right up in front of him , Vic said he could not move. He could barely raise the camera to take photos.

They took off the runway and reached altitude – but then the flight got very bumpy – the turbulence was much greater than they could have guessed !

Vic began to feel his nervousness turn to fear as the airplane was tossed and rocked and dropped ! … then he looked up focusing on the windshield in front of him.. As he looked through the glass, his dream flashed before him !! Of course!! The dream fit .. and the message ?? He would be safe.. God was right on the other side of the window. The fear left him just when Bill said, “I’m turning back, this is too turbulent.. we’ll go another time!”

I love how God is so tender toward His children.. so ready to reassure us through what ever way He can…. His Word, other people, books, and yes, even dreams !!!
Let us listen.... Our Father is speaking the very words we need to hear!
(Isa 52:6) "Therefore My people shall know My name; Therefore they shall know in that day That I am He who speaks: 'Behold, it is I.' "

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"The Glory of the Latter House"

We were building our dream home!

We had lived on the property for sixteen years in a mobile home - fifteen years longer than our original plan !

I had designed the house myself and my dad (a retired builder/carpenter) and my husband were building the house from the ground up.

How eagerly I watched the house slowly progress, the excavation , the cementing of the footings and the basement walls... the delivery of the lumber . I watched the first floor laid down, the second and the third - the house was begining to take shape !

How thankful I was and how humbled by the blessing of the Lord in orchestrating the events of our life and our business that allowed the unexpected privilege of building a new home.

Then when the house was at lock up stage, disaster struck !

When we excavated for our home , the excavator was thrilled that none of the soil had to be trucked out.... the nearby ravine was so convenient to push the excess soil over the bank.
That year -in 1989 - it rained, and rained and rained some more !! There was a great deal of flooding in low areas, and houses near the rivers were washed away.

One day the soil we had pushed over the edge into the ravine became too heavy and started to slide taking the whole side of the ravine with it !
It was a major land slide ! Sixty feet across and three hundred feet down to the creek , which was rerouted by the slide.

Vic was outside when it happened .. he watched in shock ... as silently the tall treed forest just slid away.

When I came running in response to his cries , I couldn't believe my eyes. Where a few minutes ago had been a forest, there was now a sheer wall of bare clay a few feet from our house.

The outpouring of concern was overwhelming .
But what were we to do ? A soil engineer from Vancouver came to see if anything could be done.... but he just shook his head when he saw it. He said it was the biggest landslide he had ever seen and expressed surprise that it had not made the news. The only thing that could be done to stabalize the bank was pile driving but that would cost in excess of a hundred thousand dollars , last perhaps two years and then add to the problem . He said there was only one thing to do ... move the house before it went down as well.

Reluctantly, we hired a moving company and had a date set for the moving. But I could not feel at peace about moving the house. I did not believe it was what God wanted us to do . Vic and I disagreed and I gave in ...but I prayed that God would change his mind if we were not to move the house.
One Sunday after church he suddenly said .. "I think we are not supposed to move the house!" He called to cancel the movers that were coming that week. On the day they would have moved our house, one of their jacks broke and an employee was killed ! How thankful I was it wasn't our home that caused a man to lose his life.

But still we did not know what to do . Just walk away, empty handed? Stay living in the mobile home and let the new house sit, unfinished?

I remember the day soo well.. I was in my little kitchen cooking. Vic was sitting at the table with his bible - praying about our situation and looking very troubled.
I heard him gasp, and I glanced over at him to see his face suddenly turn white. He looked at me unable to speak. I asked, "What's the matter ?
He only pointed to the page of his open bible. I looked down at the words that he pointed at. He had been praying that God would give us some direction as to what we were supposed to do ! He had opened his eyes and the verse his eyes fell on was...

"Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts. "
(Hag1:8, 2:9)

We had our answer and we never looked back. We brought wood and continued building.

Sometimes fear would come over me... the temptation to worry ... and I would go out and stand looking down the clay bank ..... and a quiet assuring peace would wash over me !!

We knew we needed to secure the bank somehow and asked everywhere and anyone ... from Government departments to landscapers to reference books to garden shops .... but no one had any advice that worked. Everything we tried just washed down with the next rain.
Then one day Vic said .. "You know , I think I'm going to plant clover!" And he did.

It came up and thrived on the bare clay !
Once the clover took hold, other growth began to come back and 15 years later the trees were once again tall and strong ! At one point we were watching a program on TV and the announcer said, "Oh, by the way, if you ever want to secure a bank, plant clover!" God knew !

The promise of God was that the "glory of the latter house would be greater than the former".
And so it was !! Everyone knew about the slide and people were soo concerned for us. Whenever it would rain ... Christians and non-Christians ... would call to say they were praying for us .. were we OK ? Years later, people still asked about the slide !

And the most often made remark when people visited... even our non-Christian sales reps ... was "There is such PEACE here!" Yes.. there was ... God's peace !!

We had so many opportunities to witness of God's grace because of that slide.
So many times I was reminded of God's promise !

We loved that home and lived there for 16 years. When we decided the time had come to sell... even though we told the buyer about the slide .... it was a non-issue! We sold for a profit of 400%.

But just this week ...... I had yet another blessing come out of that 'disaster' - almost 20 years after the slide!

I was going to sew some drapes for my aunt. The cost of the fabric from a retail drapery shop was quite expensive. I recognized the supplier as a Vancouver company we had dealt with when we had our business and I wondered if they would let me purchase the fabric wholesale from them.
I doubted that they would, since it had been 10 years since we had had an account with them.

But I called and explained my request. The reply was that I would have to open another account with them , which I couldn't do because we were not in business anymore. Our old account was no longer in the computer.

Then suddenly, Mike, the man I was speaking with asked... "Where are you from ? and then he said... "What was the name of that man that used to come in?" I answered, "Vic?" and he said , "YES, I remember him !! He was worried about your land slide. Whatever happened to it ?" We talked for a few minutes and he said, "Sure , I'll sell the fabric to you! I'll leave instructions at the order desk !"

He told me he had left the company, but had recently come back. What were the chances of Mike answering the phone out of all the employees? Only God could have orchestrated it!

Yes... indeed.. the glory of the latter house was much greater than the former could ever have been !!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"For the Tough Times" - book review

An accomplished chef in a fancy restaurant serves up a plate that satisfies through artistry what it lacks in quantity.
Such is the offering of the little book “For the Tough Times” – in fact, the ‘size’ of the offering enhances Lucado’s artistic gift in communicating his message.

Just as the chef’s skilful arrangement on the plate draws you to view with awe something that unadorned would be ordinary fare, so also Lucado draws you away from a mundane human perspective into an awed position before God.
Earthly disappointments, sorrow, hardship, mire our feet into the clay but Lucado draws our eyes up to the over riding glory truth “The Lord is in His Holy Temple”.
We are comforted, yet also challenged! Do you know the price of unforgiveness?
We are encouraged by God’s love, yet taught about God’s discipline.
Marked out clearly is the difference between justice and revenge as well as Satan’s role in our lives.
The book ends with a prayer ..reminding us of what God has done in the past …and the cry “Do it again, Lord ! Do it again!”

I would recommend this book as a great gift book for anyone going through a difficult or sorrowful time. Its brevity allows even a burdened mind to take hold of its ‘food for thought’ message and be encouraged to stand strong in their faith in God.

I just recently signed up to be a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson publishers. So I will be periodically posting a review (positive or negative) of one of their books. The first book I received to review is this one by Max Lucado. Watch for more to come !!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Pieces of the Same Puzzle

I love when unexpected pieces of a puzzles snap into place. Especially when it is God’s puzzle.

Three years ago we moved to a new community, an hour away from the city we had lived in for almost 60 years.
For the first time in my life, I started over. New home, new community, new shopping, and new church!

We joined a bible study/care group shortly after we found our new church home, because that is the quickest way to feel connected.
Like the other small groups we were assigned a church-supported missionary to pray for.
We listened to our missionaries being talked about and we prayed for them, but they seemed like strangers to us.

Then yesterday when we were visiting my parents, my Mom gave me a newspaper page covering the story of a girl I knew well. Karen, who had been one of my girls in the Pioneer Girls Club that I taught, was my daughter’s friend growing up. My daughter and Karen went to the same church, same elementary school and we knew her parents as well, since they lived not far from us.

As I was reading her inspiring story which can be found here I began to suspect what I found too incredulous to believe.
But, it was true.. Karen and her husband were our small group’s missionaries !!

Karen had moved to the USA for her higher education and had married there. I would ask about her occasionally and did know that she was a missionary, but when I would ask about her , I would use her maiden name and so her married name never rang a bell !

Sometimes, ‘co-incidences’ catch us completely by surprise .. but I don’t believe they are co-incidences .. I believe they are God-orchestrated for His purposes ! Each piece of God’s puzzle needs to fit the piece that it is meant to fit beside so that when it is all finished the picture is complete.

Of course.. I immediately e-mailed Karen … and I can’t wait to tell our group that Karen Sanchez, our missionary , is MY Karen !!

Rom 11:33 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Story in a Hospital Operating Room

Our church care group leader stepped down from leadership a few months ago for health reasons , but continued to attend our meetings.
Just before Christmas he finally had the operation he had been waiting for… double bypass and valve repair – a five hour surgery.

Last Sunday morning in church he told us his story !

In his hospital room, he asked the nurse prepping him for surgery, how many people would be involved in the operation. The nurse replied that there would be a team of six doctors plus the support staff.
When he was wheeled into the operating room, he looked around and saw that the room was full. From his prone position he wasn’t sure he could see them all but he counted at least 12 people.
In no time there were four IV trees set up and a nurse stood by ready with a needle in her hand.
Looking up at the anaesthetist, he asked, “Can we slow things down a little? May I say something?”
“Sure!” she agreed.
Bill said, “I want to tell you a story … In India there was a guru who was highly respected because he could answer any question put to him. Any young person aspiring to be a guru himself.. had to come up with a question that the old guru could not answer .
One young man , in conversing with a friend, spoke about his desire to be a guru. The friend asked.. “Have you thought of a question the guru could not answer?”
“Not yet,” replied the young man.
Some time later he came to his friend to say, “I have thought of a question.”
“What is it?” his friend inquired.
“No, no.. I can’t tell you what it is or you will tell someone else and the old guru could hear of it and then know the answer.”

The next day the young man climbed the mountain to see the old guru. When he had found him he said, “I have a question."
The guru indicated he was ready to hear it.
The young man held out his hand closed into a fist and asked, “What do I have in my hand?”
The guru though a minute and answered .. “A bird!”
“Right, “ answered the young man .. “but the question is, is it alive or dead?”
The guru replied thoughtfully, “If I say it is dead , you will open your hand and it will fly away… If I say it is alive you will squeeze your hand and then open it to show that it is dead.”

By this time several of the surgical staff had drawn closer to Bill's bed , listening to his story.

Pausing in his story, he looked up into the faces of the group of people around him and asked… “So…. do you know the answer to the question?”
The anaesthetist said .. “Aren’t you going to tell us the answer?”
Bill said.. “Yes.. Ok.. I will tell you the answer to the question.”
The answer is .. “It is all in your hand!"
Bill continued... "Just as it is now. I am a man of faith.. I believe in prayer.. and now all is in YOUR hands just as we all are in God’s hand."
The anaesthetist said, . “I have never heard a story like that !”

Bill told us the reason that it was important to him to speak of his faith , even in the operating room,
He is now in his eighties and his life long guiding verse has been I Peter 3:15
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”

All his life he has tried to be faithful to this verse… seizing every opportunity that presents itself for him to share the reason for his faith, in weakness and in strength.

I would really like to know what the conversation about that heart patient was when the surgery was over .. or even if the atmosphere in the operating room was different … We’ll probably never know.

I was blessed by Bill’s story, and it reminded me to be more careful to watch for those , sometimes fleeting moments that present themselves with opportunity to say something to point people to the God in whom I trust !

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guilty of Folly ?? Me ??

I must be .... if I am to be judged by the verse in Pro 18:13

"He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him."

Curious ?? OK.. .. .I'll confess.

I was in the produce department of our grocery store yesterday late afternoon. I looked up from examining the apples to see a father, a few feet away, peeling an orange. His little son was waiting patiently watching the peel come off.
The father seemed totally unconcerned with anyone watching and though I did try to catch his eyes to let him know I WAS watching.. he didn't so much as look up.

I did try to reason out if there was some way perhaps that he could take the orange and still pay for it. Like a cookie taken out of a package in your buggy to give to a restless child will still be paid for . But I could not justify him taking the orange.

He handed the peeled orange to his son and said... "There you go .. now come , lets go!" The father and son moved away to another section and my eyes followed them wondering what kind of values he was teaching his son !!

I glanced back to the spot where he had been standing peeling the orange and realized to my chagrin ... that there had been a sign behind his back saying .. "Free... please try one!"

I was suddenly very glad that he had not seen the look at my face revealing my accusation of him being a thief !!

It was a very good reminder to me to realize how quickly we judge what we do not know. How often we judge without knowing what is behind someone's back. We judge on the surface and don't take the time to wait until we know the whole story!

I think just turning a blind eye or saying "It's none of my business!" is not always the best answer either. There is a world full of hurting, lonely people who need someone in their life to care enough to find out the whole story and then lend a helping hand, an encouraging word, a warm smile, a listening ear, or at times even caring enough to warn them of danger!

May we be those kind of people -- loving our neighbour enough to 'listen' before we judge and be ready to freely give to those around us what God has so freely given to us.