Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Day of Broken Connections

I thought yesterday was going to be an ordinary day ! In fact, I was looking forward to it because I had no commitments or appointments. It was a free-day!

By morning, I knew I had come down with a miserable cold… my throat hurt, I had a hacking cough, my sinuses were stuffed, and my nose was running !

I got up, slipped into my comfy chair to enjoy the pleasurable distraction of my computer.
What greeted me was a black screen. Nothing I did would entice it be anything but unresponsive !

I could not turn on the TV instead. We are in the process of switching our TV signal from satellite back to cable….as a result do not at present have access to TV programming.

Radio signals here are blocked by the mountains so the static crackling reception of the few stations we get is far too aggravating to listen to.

I wanted to make some phone calls .. and was told that the numbers could not be reached. This has never happened before, but I learned that the private company with which we have our long distance plan was having problems with its systems and consequently I could make only local calls. Most of my calls are long distance.

Hmmmm… mix the above ingredients and stew for five minutes and you come up with a miserable day !! Right ?? Wrong !!

I have learned in my years of walking with the Lord that if I look into my cup and see that it is at best only half full… I know the Lord just isn’t finished pouring yet !!!

I placed an SOS phone call to my tech friends in Mississippi and Benji said it was most probably the video card that had failed.

My dear husband was quite willing to go buy me another one and came home with a high end graphics card that was marked down from $235.00 to $69.00. We really needed a better video card than we had because we wanted to connect our TV to our computer. I was thrilled with the ‘deal’ !! But alas it was a faulty card and kept shutting my computer down. So back it went and Vic bought an even better card !! By this afternoon, a day and a half later, my computer was up and running again, better than it was before !

I have found that I don’t really miss the TV, or the radio too much and I could probably live with restricted phone lines but I cannot live without my computer! So being able to get back online today more than delighted me.

And my cold ? Oh yes… it is miserable and I had to postpone an anticipated visit today with a dear friend … but when you have a chronic disease that you will have for the rest of your life.. having a cold that lasts a few days and is gone, is hardly worth griping about !!

But something really grabbed me when I stood in my kitchen yesterday and realized that I had no computer, no TV, no radio and no phone. I felt so totally disconnected. I thought back to what it was like before we had all these technical resouces connecting us with the whole world. If we had to go back to only snail mail... how limited we would be .. how totally cut off !!

Our world has become very small and we have more options to stay connected to one another today than at any other time in history !

I thought about how eager I was to get everything fixed. It was, in fact, the most consuming focus of my day.

Then I wondered …………

We are immediately distraught when we lose our connection with each other.
But do we feel the same about losing our connection with God?
There are several ways God provided for us to be 'connected' - if any one of them is broken do we immediately notice and focus on 'fixing' it?

Are we careful to keep our Christian fellowships strong?
Heb 10:25 "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

Do we keep our heart in a constant prayer mode ??
1Th 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."

Do we remember to be thankful in everything??
Th 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Do we love to read God’s Words to us as eagerly as we read our e-mails?
Jos 1:8 "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success."

Do we feel that we are in ‘peril’ when we realize our communication with God is interrupted ? Do we panic and immediately make every effort to reconnect as quickly as possible ?
Jud 1:21 "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."

Let's remind ourselves today how important it is to take every care to keep our 'Eternal Kingdom' connections strong and secure.
God created us to be in fellowship with each other… but first of all to be in close fellowship with Him !

Monday, May 26, 2008

God's Links of Purpose

Two fathers were walking through a park, that was filled with the things that delight a child’s eyes …..brightly painted rides, games and play stations. As the fathers walked through the park, each was followed by a child. One child was easily distracted , his eyes big at the sights and sounds around him. He was pulled to the right and the left. The other child was blind.
Which child do you think would still be following closely at his father’s heals when the father reached the other end of the park?
The blind child, of course, right?

In a very real sense we are blind as we follow our Shepherd Guide through the mazes of this life. We cannot see into the future and often cannot make sense of the past. But I believe God hinders us for our own good. It is easier to follow when we do not know where we are going. But how quickly we sometimes become discouraged wondering if there is a purpose to the things we experience.
Once in a while God parts the curtains and gives us a glimpse ….and sometimes lets us see more than just bits and pieces…He lets us see the connecting links of our experiences and how the thread of them weaves into His story, His purpose and plan.

I have such a story to tell. I tell it because it is through sharing our experiences that we encourage one another….. and I LOVE to encourage YOU !!!

My story’s first link ….. or perhaps I should rephrase that - I doubt there is a first link in God’s woven masterpiece that covers all of time.
The first link in my story as God has allowed me to see it - revealed itself in the fall of 2006.
I got a surprise phone call from a cousin I had not spoken to in several years. Even though we grew up knowing each other because our mothers were sisters, she was much younger than I and that of course meant we never ‘played together’ and had never developed a relationship as adults.
Lovella had a purpose in her call. Not only did she want to inform me of her newly found passion – blogging – but she was quite convinced that I should start a blog too. The thought scared me… open myself up to the big bad world in outer space? I tried to put her off , but she was rather insistent. Finally, just to satisfy her I said I would think about it and maybe start one at the end of the year. She seemed satisfied with that and I hung up thinking that was the end of it.
The thought did intrigue me though, since I was missing teaching ….and needed an outlet for my thoughts. An idea of doing a devotional blog began to grow but I was too nervous about the technical aspects about it to seriously consider it.
Lovella called me again around Christmas time . She wasted no time in getting to the point. “Well, it’s the end of the year. Have you started your blog yet?”
I was caught. I couldn’t go back on my word. I said I didn’t know how to start it. She very quickly told her she would help me.
So… she did and I did and I managed to publish one post a couple of days before 2006 closed.

How much I enjoyed the opportunity of having an outlet for my thoughts and my blog quickly became my passion.

The next link clicked into place in July of 2007. We had gone on vacation to Jasper and I left a little note on my blog invited my blog friends to make themselves at home while I was away to help themselves to the tea I had left. I apologized that it was cold. There was a little comment left on that post about how being from the deep south, cold tea was her forte. I smiled and immediately felt drawn to the commenter… Tammie. She somehow had stumbled on my blog – how exactly we have never been able to determine.

Another link clicked into place a month later when Carolanne in Australia decided to have a contest for her readers, a post on a place we would like to take her. Carolanne awarded me one of the prizes – the choice of one of her professional quality photos, enlarged and mailed to me.
As I pondered over the difficult decision of which photo to choose, my choice was focused on which one I could tie into a devotional post. As I prayerfully considered, one photo suddenly jumped out at me and the devotional thought with it. Without hesitation I choose the photo of a bridge.

The resulting post connected to the next link … Tammie was struggling with something in her life that that post gave an answer too and she left me a very sweet comment. That comment in turn so encouraged me … because I had been wondering if my humble words had any worth attached to them. Isn’t it neat that when you are doing what God wants you to do, He will not let you get too discouraged? Always He brings something across your path that gives you strength to continue !!
Because her comment so encouraged me I followed her to her blog and her e-mail address and left her a personal note.

From the very first we felt a strong out-of-the-ordinary drawing one to the other . We began an e-mail correspondence that quickly revealed to us how much we had in common even though we came from very different worlds. I was so disappointed when I found that she lived in the far south eastern corner of the USA in Mississippi and I lived in the south western corner of BC--- we were 3000 miles apart.
We quickly discovered that we both loved to study the scriptures and that began many hours of studying it together on line .. first by e-mail then by live chat. When we discovered that Tammie could call for free.. we also added the telephone to our lines of communication.
To our ongoing surprise we found that we thought and felt the same about many things and shared many life experiences. Early on in our budding friendship, we both suspected the other of playing copycat in her responses.
Then, we began to talk about wishing we could meet in person . At first it was only an impossible dream …. But then one day Tammie said… “I think I know a way !”
It was their 25th wedding anniversary year and she decided that instead of the cruise her husband offered her , she would rather come to Canada, a place they had never visited.
To make a long story short …. That is what happened … The pieces miraculously fell into place and we began to look forward to May, which was the only time that all necessary pieces fit. So we took it God had His hand on those two weeks !!

Then…. the links continued ….. We joyfully accepted the two weeks shared vacation as an usual gift from our Father’s hand .. but very quickly the ‘links’ continued far beyond our personal interest.

Benji and Tammie have had a ministry for some time – working in revivals with Benji both speaking and providing special music.
I ..began to wonder if Benji would be willing to sing in our church the first Sunday they would be in Canada. I contacted our home church and told them we had friends visiting from Mississippi and directed them to their ministry web page .
I received a very favourable affirmative reply and the details were worked out.

For some God-reason (smile) Tammie was struck with the idea that perhaps there might be some outreach missions work in our area that they could connect with while they were here.
To our great surprise Tammie discovered that indeed there is a work in Vancouver supported financially and hands-on by the Southern Baptist churches in her home area. The outreach director in Mississippi put her in contact with Janet , the contact person in Vancouver. In speaking with Tammie , Janet immediately put her in touch with Pastor Rick in Surrey. Pastor Rick responded by inviting Benji to minister in his church by leading the music part of the service and singing the second Sunday of their time in BC.

We had many excited conversations about our impending time together… I remember the day I off handed asked Tammie what Rick’s last name was.
When she told me, I almost fell off my chair… Stunned, I realized that we knew Rick personally. We knew him as a friend of my then not-yet son-in-law, before Rick was even a Christian . Years and a wife and children later, Rick was ordained as the pastor of Gateway Baptist Church . We were there at his ordination, but had not seen him since.

Now years later , we were being connected again.
How we enjoyed the Sunday in his church. We were so blessed and so enjoyed the multi-cultural diversity of his flock. And yet we were so connected by one Spirit. The Lord was so present that morning.

There was also a day arranged by Janet to tour the work going on in Vancouver. Benji and Tammie both were moved and feel that God is opening doors for them that they never would have dreamed of !! There are decisions to make and a time of waiting to see what God has in mind but definitely God is calling them to broaden their ministry.

There were sooo many indications the two weeks we were together that this was not just a vacation, but a time planned by God for things we do not yet fully see.

What is abundantly clear is that God had far reaching thoughts and plans when Lovella made that phone call to a cousin she had not spoken to in years. We are all watching … God certainly has our awed attention !!
There were sooo many indications the two weeks we were together that this was not just a vacation, but a time planned by God for things we do not yet fully see.

One thing that I love about how God’s kingdom works is that every person who supplies a link in His plan or purposes has an equal reward. How that knowledge should motivate us toward being diligent and faithful to be the link that God has need of .. be it ever so seemingly insignificant at the time.

“ And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps. “
(John 4:26,27)

Friday, May 23, 2008

What's Important?

While I was working on my next planned post …. I thought of an analogy that I must share !! So come back tomorrow for the beginning of my ‘story’.

When we approached the border at 1:00 am. with our Mississippi friends, we were all rather nervous. They had never left their country before. Would they be allowed into Canada with a minimal of difficulty?
We did not know.
How long would it take to check their baggage which was light because the airlines had lost everything except their carry on bags.
We stopped at the customs officer window and Vic rolled down his , waiting for the officer’s instructions.
We all had our identification papers in hand….birth certificates and driver’s licences . No visas since none of us needed them to cross on land between the USA and Canada.

The officer looked into our vehicle and asked for our ID.
Then instead of asking us to go inside to declare luggage or belongings, instead of asking whether we were carrying any weapons or prohibited substances or even what we were planning to do in Canada --- he was interested in only one thing.
How did we know each other.
We tried to avoid admitting that we had not met in person until less than an hour earlier. We told the officer we were friends….but that did not satisfy him and we were forced into admitting we had met on line.
That brought fresh questions of how long ago….and why….. what had linked us ? common hobbies? Interests?
In the end, nothing else was important and when he was satisfied that our relationship was honourable he waved us through.

I realized that this is a perfect picture of what it will be like on judgment day .. when each of us must appear before the Great Judge -- God Himself. He is the one who will determine whether or not we will be allowed to cross the border into His eternal kingdom.

Will He be interested in our baggage? No ! In fact most of it will be lost in our earthly travels. We will appear before His judgement throne with only what we have in our hand.

On that Day, He will be interested in only one thing. Our relationship with Jesus !
How did we meet? And why ? What have we done together? Did we share common interests?
Nothing we have focused our attention on in this earthly life will prepare us for entry into the eternal City – Nothing! except how we know Jesus.

Do you know Him? Will your explanation satisfy God when the question is asked of you how and when you met Jesus?

Joh 10:14 "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own."

1Jn 5:20 "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Few Photos of Our Vacation Time

It was a sad, teary moment as I watched the plane turn on the runway ready for take off carrying our friends back to far away Mississippi. Two short weeks earlier we had not yet met in person... now we were family. Benji, Tammie and their daughter McKenzie had spent two perfect weeks with us. The weather was wonderful, both the week we spent in Whistler and the week we were at our home.

What a whirlwind two weeks we enjoyed together .... yet at the same time the most relaxed enjoyable vacation I have ever had.

What a privilege it was to show off our beautiful province of British Columbia to people who were in Canada for the first time in their lives.

We showed them the contrasts in our backyard.. ...... snowy peaks......

pleasant green forest trails.....
and the ocean viewed from the ferry to Victoria.
Of course we ate together.... We celebrated Mother's day lunch after church .....

Tammie's birthday.........
and loved the Gelato Ice-cream at a Vancouver shop..... only 218 flavors.
We saw lots of wild life...... including 5 bears.... we photographed the baby bear below, hoping his mother wasn't lurking near by.

and we laughed .... and laughed.......

Benji realized his life long dream of meeting the Sasquatch !!

We laughed at the man carrying a whole pig down a Vancouver street ....
and we saw this white dog in a white convertible when we came out of a Whistler Market Place. He was a beautiful dog but ohhh... how he made us laugh. He refused to acknowledge that we were even there ... his whole demeanor communicated his wish that we simply be gone. "If I don't look at you , I can convince myself that you don't exist!"

This Sniffle Station made us laugh... but what a thoughtful idea !! Strategically placed to accommodate that unavoidable runny nose in cold weather.....

We also made time to serve. After Benji and Tammie planned their 25th Wedding Anniversary year with a trip to BC, doors opened for ministry. I will tell more in the story I am saving for my next post .... but here are a couple of photos depicting opportunities God gave them.
Benjy singing in our church.

and in Gateway church the next Sunday. (I was thrilled to hold this little Sudanese baby. The girl standing beside me is the baby's mother's cousin. She arrived in Canada only two or three weeks ago. )

Everywhere we went we were surrounded by the beauty created by God's hand. We were thrilled looking up to see the awesome mountain views but didn't miss the little things we had to bend down to enjoy. Tammie was especially impressed by the buttons and the huge tulips.

We enjoyed the wild beauty of the Othello Tunnels. We did not know until we spoke with a Chinese tourist looking for the Tunnels that Rambo was filmed there.

We also saw amazing architecture built by man. The Parliament Buildings in Victoria, the famous Empress Hotel as well as innovative designs of homes in Whistler.

We loved the water falls.

Bridal Falls.

Shannon Falls

Brandywine Falls

Nairn Falls

On the last Saturday we wanted to take them boating on Lightning Lake in Manning Park. To our surprise that was hardly possible. The lake was still frozen solid and snow patches still on the ground. The ground squirrels were out but must have been surprised that many of their tunnel entrances were still covered by snow. McKenzie enjoyed feeding them... they were sooo hungry!

The day was warm, (26' at the Lake and 34' a short distance away) warm enough to be out in shorts and t-shirts and to get a burn. We all did something new ..... had a picnic beside a frozen lake and snow a couple of feet from our picnic table.

The memories we have .... depicted by some 1,300 photos between us ..... will be processing for some time. We are all so aware of God having orchestrated every detail of our time together and we are so thankful for the gift He gave us.
It is hard to come back down to our normal day to day routine. Our two weeks were an experience we could easily have become accustomed to !
But mountain peaks are not places you can live .... we can only enjoy the high for a time and let the deposit of the experience give strength for the ordinary days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Divine Protection

Greetings to you my blog friends !! Thank you for your sweet comments, I appreciated every one of them ...... and yes, I do recognize you, Anonymous! Your voice gave you away ! smile

I am back from my vacation time ! I had a wonderful time and am sorting out the things I am eager to share with you. I have a busy day today but I will post some photos in the next couple of days and tell a story of God’s thread of plan and purpose.
The past two weeks we have spent holidaying with our Mississippi friends, Benji and Tammie and their daughter McKenzie. God was sooo present in and among us every day.

Today, I want to give God glory for His protective Hand. Truly He gives His angels power to protect His own.
Psa 91:11 "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone."

We experienced the practical truth of this scripture last week two days in a row.

On Thursday we were driving speed limit along the highway when the car behind us pulled out to pass. The young man at the wheel was holding a cell phone to his ear.
There was an oncoming car approaching fast – and we slowed seeing the collision about to happen!
At the last possible second the passing car pulled back into our lane. The oncoming car was struggling to maintain control from having slammed on his brakes to avoid a head on crash. We were all shaken ….but the cell phone driver didn’t miss a beat – it was like he was oblivious to how close he came to having his life suspended.

Then on Friday morning we were once again on route to enjoy our day’s planned activities. Our granddaughters had a day off school so they were with us.
We had switched vehicles with my daughter – their van for our car so that we could all ride together. Vic was driving with Benji in the front passenger seat. Tammie and I were sitting in the middle seats, in front of our three girls.
Tammie and I were looking back, listening to my granddaughter tell a story.

The two lane freeway traffic in front of us suddenly slowed to a stop with bumper to bumper stalled vehicles as far as we could see.
Tammie and I were still listening to my granddaughter’s story when I was startled by a sudden blue flash up against my granddaughter’s head and I screamed. I am not a screamer but the sudden shock of the moment unnerved me.

When the moment had passed we pieced together the details.
The car behind us was not paying attention to the road but the elderly driver and his wife were either looking to see if they could exit the free way to avoid the traffic stall or were just focused on the scenery. By the time the driver looked back there was no time to stop – he was travelling way too fast.
Vic watched him in his rear view mirror …. He said he SAW the accident happen .. there was simply no way to avoid it.
Tammie was sitting in such a way that she too saw it coming and knew he was going to hit us.
The flash of blue I saw ( probably the car’s windows , since the car color was maroon) was him swerving past our van with maybe a thread’s width to spare. I screamed, and then heard Tammie repeat… “thank you , Jesus !”

Facilitating the miracle was that for some unknown reason there was a car length space beside us. We were the last car to stop in our lane but the lane beside us stretched a few cars behind us. Bumper to bumper traffic and a space beside us? The maroon car swerved into that space and them swung back in front of us. I think an angel had hold of the wheel because in hind sight it seems impossible for him to do what he did. There just wasn’t enough space …and he would have had to be some kind of expert behind the wheel.
As long as we followed the maroon car, the driver’s wife sat with her head in her hands obviously suffering from shock.
May God speak into their hearts convicting them of their need to know Him - life is too fragile to risk living without God.

After we knew we had escaped a serious accident, my granddaughter,Elise, lightened the moment by her remark. “I wondered what I had said that suddenly had everyone soo excited!” Even there we saw the tender heart of God – He thought to hold His hand over the girls’ emotions that they were spared any memory of fear.

It took all of us a long time to settle down…. Over and over we thanked God for His protection – for putting His hand in between us and imminent danger.

We serve a great God and to be His child is a great privilege. Our deep appreciation and gratitude to Him covered our day …. And the memory is tucked into all of our hearts as a reminder of the love and protection God exercises over us everyday, whether we are aware of it or not !

I share this experience because I believe it can also strengthen your faith to KNOW how real God’s protection is over you. What God does for one of His children… He does for all ! He is no respecter of persons. What a perfect, loving Father He is !!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Sorry !

I am sorry, my dear friends, but I will be away from my computer for the next two weeks. We are on vacation and having house guests. When I come back I think I will have a story to tell!

I pray that every one whose eyes fall upon this note will be specially blessed !
May the duties of your day bring you joy and may the Lord's peace fill your heart as you walk in His love!

Aren't you glad that God doesn't go on vacation ? I am soo thankful that He is the "I AM" - the ever present God.
I am also thankful that He is never silent, His words continually go out seeking the heart that is listening.

"The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth purified seven times. " Psalm 12:6