Monday, February 27, 2017

Thank you for your service!






































He served our country with honor.  
Forty-two years ago today his term of service ended.  
He became my Beloved which has included protecting all my scissors.

Thank you for being my protector in all things!


He surrounds me with deliverance!

Psalm 32:7, 10-11

"You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. 

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones;
And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart."


Sunday, February 26, 2017

His eye is upon His child

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you."
Psalm 32:8

"The school of life offers some difficult courses, 
but it is in the difficult classes that one learns the most --- 
especially when your teacher is the lord Jesus Himself."
--- Corrie Ten Boom

from her book "Tramp for the Lord"



Saturday, February 25, 2017

God said, Let there be light, and there was light.






































The Northern Lights 

Genesis1:14-19
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens 
to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons 
and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens 
to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 
God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, 
and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.
God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 
and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; 
and God saw that it was good.
There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The birds lift their voices among the branches











Birds.  God's creation is magnificent.  Birds come in all sizes, from miniature to huge, each one intricate. 

We have been blessed to see so many kinds of birds where we live.  All winter the Bald Eagles fly around our area.  Until you observe one of these birds close up, you do not realize how big they really are.  

Incredible!

Psalm 104
"Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak,
Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain.
He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters;
He makes the clouds His chariot;
He walks upon the wings of the wind;
He makes the winds His messengers,
Flaming fire His ministers.

He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter forever and ever.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
The waters were standing above the mountains.
At Your rebuke they fled,
At the sound of Your thunder they hurried away.
The mountains rose; the valleys sank down
To the place which You established for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass over,
So that they will not return to cover the earth.

He sends forth springs in the valleys;
They flow between the mountains;
They give drink to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.

Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
They lift up their voices among the branches.

He waters the mountains from His upper chambers;
The earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
And vegetation for the labor of man,
So that he may bring forth food from the earth,
And wine which makes man’s heart glad,
So that he may make his face glisten with oil,
And food which sustains man’s heart.
The trees of the Lord drink their fill,
The cedars of Lebanon which He planted,
Where the birds build their nests,
And the stork, whose home is the fir trees.

The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
He made the moon for the seasons;
The sun knows the place of its setting.
You appoint darkness and it becomes night,
In which all the beasts of the forest prowl about.
The young lions roar after their prey
And seek their food from God.
When the sun rises they withdraw
And lie down in their dens.
Man goes forth to his work
And to his labor until evening.

O Lord, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.
There is the sea, great and broad,
In which are swarms without number,
Animals both small and great.
There the ships move along,
And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it.

They all wait for You
To give them their food in due season.
You give to them, they gather it up;
You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.
You hide Your face, they are dismayed;
You take away their spirit, they expire
And return to their dust.
You send forth Your Spirit, they are created;
And You renew the face of the ground.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever;
Let the Lord be glad in His works;
He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
He touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
Let my meditation be pleasing to Him;
As for me, I shall be glad in the Lord.

Let sinners be consumed from the earth
And let the wicked be no more.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!"


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Grieving #2: Pain is Pain

Compassion

I have been told so many times that I have the gift of compassion.

This very well might be true, but I do not dwell on what my gifts are - I just continue to do what is front of me, and praise the LORD for the energy and desire to do whatever these things are that I do.

I do know that I understand what it is like to have chronic pain because I have struggled with it.   I can completely understand when I interact with a person who struggles with physical pain, especially chronic pain. 

Likewise, I can say that I do understand what it is like to have personal agonies because I have dealt with agonies.  I know how isolating it is.  I know how it feels when no one acknowledges you "because you might cry", and I know how it feels when someone does acknowledge my pain, and yes, I might cry - or not.

When well meaning people tend to point out that they feel I have the gift of compassion and it is important for them to do this, while they show me no compassion - I begin to think, "why don't you just begin to show some kind of care for others?" 

(I suppose I sometimes think in kind of a sassy way.  Thankfully, I do not say these things out loud.)

A reason some people may not take time to show compassion:  Caring about other people does "cost" something.  Mostly it costs time.  It takes time to stop and realize someone is hurting.  It takes time to listen to what they have to say.  It takes time to console them.  It takes time to remember them in prayer.

In the past a sweet friend pored out her great sadnesses to me every time we spoke. I always listened, grieved with her, cried with her, prayed with her.  She new all about my agonies so one day I called her to see if we could meet.  I asked her if she wouldn't mind if I cried out to God about my agonies with her.  I said I just needed a friend to sit with me.  I wanted to give my beloved husband a break from always being the one with whom I cried.

Unfortunately, she took no time in answering, but immediately said succinctly, "no".  I was crushed.

Compassion costs.  We should be willing even though there is a cost.

I understand it is a scary thing to reach out in compassion.  That person might cry.  That person who needs compassion might have something that is scary to talk about, scary to think about, something scary that might happen to you sometime.  But you should reach out with compassion anyway.  That person who is suffering in anguish for whatever reason needs a kind word, a smile, or prayer.  They aren't waiting for that certain someone who has "the gift of compassion" to stop by.  Those people with the gift of compassion are too busy to reach everyone!

You know, I can be bad at reaching out to others also - even with just a smile which I withhold.  I did this one day when I was being particularly grumpy on the inside, and I have regretted it ever since. 

I can say the wrong thing to people who are struggling. I mess up all the time, and I understand all about suffering!  No matter what, these mess-ups don't stop me. I live in the LORD's strength and He keeps me going. He is always there with me so I can try again and again the next times.

When I have had well meaning people say things which shock me concerning my agonies, I can give them great grace, because I mess up too.

I have had well meaning people say to me, 

"I am so glad that isn't happening to me".

"I could never handle this if it were happening to me."

"You should get a hobby." (okay, a real mean person said this one to me)

"We use your situation as a teaching example in our family."

"God chose you because you can handle it."

"You should just forget about [your people] and move on."

"At least [your people] aren't dead."

At other times there are friends who speak with me and they express their own sufferings.  They go on and on as I listen (FYI: this is showing compassion to listen).  After a while they realize they have shared all their pain, but to me, the one with the HUGE agonies.  They are now completely mortified and apologize because they say, 

"Your pain is worse than my pain."

One thing that I have learned all these years is that pain is pain.  My agonies HURT and they never go away, only God softens them somehow so I can continue.  But your agonies hurt also.  Pain is pain.  You are allowed to share them, and to share them with me.  I can understand your pain and then I can point you to the One who can help you through it.

One very beautiful thing is how God uses our pain; it is not wasted. 

Romans 8:28
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  

First, He uses it in us.  We learn to draw closer to Him, to trust Him with our impossible agonies.  I have said it before in another post how I have allowed my sufferings to draw me closer to the LORD God Almighty.  They have been agonizing years, but they have been the best years as I have learned the LORD loves me so.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore we do not lose heart, 
but though our outer man is decaying, 
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us 
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 
while we look not at the things which are seen, 
but at the things which are not seen; 
for the things which are seen are temporal, 
but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Second, He uses our pain in others.  Other people (Saved by God's grace and the unsaved) see we who are trusting God completely, and they wonder how we can do what we do - if only smile.  Sometimes they realize it is the LORD, rarely they ask why, and other times they just wonder and perhaps the LORD works in them.

Grief is a strange thing.  It is long.  It is isolating.  It is emotional.  It comes out in private.  It comes out in public. It sneaks up on you.  It is painful.  It hurts.  It is confusing.  It is fearful.  It is exhausting.  It opens your eyes to the LORD.  It gives you a new way to think and to live.  It is cleansing.  It is not a bad thing.  It is just a thing that happens.  It is a normal thing in this fallen world.

Contemplate this:


Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
"There is an appointed time for everything. 
And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;

A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal;

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;

A time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.

A time to search and a time to give up as lost;

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;

A time to be silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;

A time for war and a time for peace.

What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? 
I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men 
with which to occupy themselves.
He has made everything appropriate in its time. 
He has also set eternity in their heart, 
yet so that man will not find out the work which God 
has done from the beginning even to the end.

I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice 
and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man 
who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor 

—it is the gift of God. 

I know that everything God does will remain forever; 
there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, 
for God has so worked that men should fear Him. 
That which is has been already 
and that which will be has already been, 
for God seeks what has passed by."
*

So many of these verses can be spoken of, and thought of in the complicatedness of grief.

The LORD is with us. He is with us when we rejoice, and He is with us in our grief.  He is our strength, and He is our comfort.  

Cry out to Him with me.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Winter in the Mid-West


February 2017, sunny days, no snow, flocks of robins, and 60s in the day time.

After 34 years of use, chasing after little ones in the snow, practically no tread, it is time to retire my Sorels. I have hiked many a mile in these great boots!

They get the honor of being porch decor now.  What better way than tulips on a mild day in February!

Call out the old and bring in the new Sorels!  No snow, but on sale!


"There  is an appointed time for everything.  
And there is a time for every event under heaven -

A time to keep and a time to throw away."
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 6b
*

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why did I begin all this? Grief #1

Sometimes I find myself contemplating, what am I doing?

I mean, really, what on earth am I doing?!

This season when these thoughts came to me once again, I began to think of the act of grieving

What it is, what is it like, what does it look like, and how can I actually explain it?

Difficult.  

When you begin to think about the act of grieving you must begin to articulate in your mind what makes you, yourself grieve and all that goes with it.

Life is tough enough without bringing all these feelings out in the open.   

So I decided it will become a process for me to write about grief, mainly, because I have no time to sit and write it all out at one time.  Also, It certainly seems too huge an emotional roller coaster for me, so I will write more than once on this subject.

For me:  

Less stressful and less taxing.

I began Blogging sometime after the Watchman's Bagpipes began. There were two reasons: 

The first reason was to help my husband by the further interaction with the women who had their apologetic questions answered by him, but they still desired to communicate.

The second reason was that I have always felt the "church" body - sometimes - doesn't know how to come alongside each other in life's traumas.  Somehow we have forgotten how to do this, or perhaps, it has always been this way.  I am a "nobody", but I have lived in agony with the LORD's strength, and so I began to write to encourage other sisters in Christ.

In general, I have lived a wonderful life.  I have had sorrows, and I have had great joys. I have also experienced such great joys, even through the tears, and amid the worst of agonies.  

How do I explain to a sister in Christ (or a "wanna be*") how I have done this?  How do I explain how you can live, continue in life, and then even more than survive with just trusting the LORD among the chaos?

It seems impossible. 

It can even sound "callous" to a sister living in agony.

How can they ever understand His peace which He freely gives us, unless they have actually experienced His peace?

I know that for me, before my great agony way over a decade ago, I didn't understand it.  I loved the LORD with all my heart, but I didn't understand His peace.  I now know that I had never actually given my troubles to Him.  I suppose I always "held" them tightly to myself as if I could handle it.  I had never truly felt His marvelous peace in life's troubles.

Praise God! 

I am thankful the LORD wove into my life two separate, precious women who were going through their own great agonies almost 2 decades ago.  I lived and prayed for them in their situations.  I "watched from the outside" as they would be completely frantic for prayers in the morning, and hours later they would be as calm as could be even though nothing had changed in their situations.

At the time I thought, that their behavior was so strange. The LORD was teaching me, but I didn't understand.

This was my first experience at seeing a sister in Christ living in His marvelous peace among their life's chaos, but I still did not understand until that one day when I had "nothing" in my agonies, and this is when I realized it was only the LORD who could help.

So when I am counseling a sister, I begin by saying, 

"you may not understand this until you truly give your agony over to the LORD, and then continue to give it to Him over and over. This is when you will begin to experience the LORD's precious peace which passes all understanding amid your agonies."  

At this time I know that they are most probably thinking, "what??"

Philippians 4:4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord always; 
again I will say, rejoice! 
Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. 
The Lord is near. 
Be anxious for nothing, 
but in everything by prayer and supplication 
with thanksgiving 
let your requests be made known to God. 
And the peace of God, 
which surpasses all comprehension, 
will guard your hearts 
and your minds in Christ Jesus."

This scripture was the first one I clung to as I first really, truly gave my agonies to the LORD God Almighty, in 2001. :o) 

I would say it, and I would explain it verse by verse to myself as I would say it.  

I would walk around our little town's outskirts saying this for the hour it took to walk all the way home. 

I would then say it in my own words and explain to myself 

why I will rejoice

how I could let my gentle spirit be known

why I knew the LORD was near 

and what that really meant to me! 

I would tell myself 

not to be anxious

even though chaos reigned in my situation.

I would tell myself how to do this by trusting Him, 

talking with Him, 

and thanking Him for never ever leaving me!

I spent this time preaching to myself and realizing that this precious peace of God which I had never relied on, I had never counted on, I had never known I could have, was now mine.  It was a beautiful new beginning of loving the LORD more and more!

My testimony continues to be "written" as time marches on, but I always end it with: 

"This has been the worst 'more-than-a-decade' of my life, but it has been the best 'more-than-a-decade' because I have drawn closer and closer to the LORD than I ever have been before, and isn't this what we desire most of all?" 

My agonies have only become worse, but the LORD has held me tight.  I have only drawn closer and closer to Him all these years now, trusting Him more and more.

You can have this, too.  The LORD freely gives!  

* A "wanna be Christian" is a person who is curious about our faith in Jesus our Savior, but they just don't really get it yet.  They see it in you, they desire it for themselves, but they don't understand at that point yet.  So I call them "wanna bees" and pray for them. :o)






Valentine Cake


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Happiness is a sleeping kitty in a sunny window


















Nothing like a sunny window in the winter to lure a kitty
to nap all day.  

I little piece of God's beautiful creation in our own home.


















The dark valley is a place to go through, not a place to stay in.

The Twenty-Third Psalm

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4
  
What one of us hasn't faced fright and fear head-on by softly quoting the twenty-third Psalm? We repeat those old familiar verses time and again to soothe our souls and break the suffocating grip of fear.
  
I'm particularly fond of the fourth verse. 

"Even though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." 

The psalmist doesn't focus his attention on the dark valley, and he's not distracted by the shadows. 

He sees through the valley, past the darkness, and looks with confidence toward the other side.
  
The dark valley is a place to go through, not a place to stay in.
  
Are you in the middle of a dark valley? It could be a bad financial report. Perhaps you just discovered drug abuse in your family. Your son is to be sent overseas. You are facing two weeks of bed rest. Your reputation has been stained by gossip.
  
It may look dark and gloomy right now, but please remember that God does not intend for you to stay in those shadows. 

The valley He has led you into is the same valley out of which He will lead you. 

You will, by His grace, go through it. 

There is, thanks to our Shepherd, a smile on the other side.
  
Lead me, Shepherd, through the dark times. I promise to follow You closely and to stay on the path, to remember that Your rod is with me and Your staff is there to comfort and guide. 

Thank You for that little word, "through" in this beautiful psalm... I trust that You will lead me to the other side of the dark times to safety, rest, peace, and joy.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Diamonds in the Dust, February 7
By Joni Eareckson Tada


Monday, February 6, 2017

Thankfulness in a world gone crazy










ROSE is ROSE


I need no other argument


MY FAITH HAS FOUND A RESTING PLACE

My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed.
I trust the ever-living One;
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

Enough for me that Jesus saves,
This ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul, I come to Him;
He'll never cast me out.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

My heart is leaning on the Word-
The written Word of God;
Salvation by my Savior's Name;
Salvation through His blood.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

My Great Physician heals the sick,
The lost He came to save.
For me His precious blood He shed;
For me His life He gave.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.
*

See "My Faith has found a resting place 2" devotional.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

We always have to blame someone- why not God?

Who is behind suffering?

"The Lord said to him, 

'Who gave man his mouth? 

Who makes him deaf or mute? 

Who gives him sight or makes him blind? 

Is it not I, the Lord?'"    
Exodus 4:11
  
Does God cause blindness or does He allow it? 

Does He plan for a person to be born deaf or does He permit it? 

In short, does God want disease? 

The key here is how we use the word "want." 

God doesn't want disease to exist in the sense that He enjoys it. He hates disease just as He hates all the other results of sin -- death, guilt, and sorrow, for example. 

But God must want disease to exist in the sense that He wills or chooses for it to exist, for if He didn't He would wipe it out immediately.
  
God chooses to allow sickness for many reasons. One of those reasons is to mold Christian character. In this way God uses one form of evil, that is, sickness, to help remove another form of evil -- personal sin.
  
But most important, God is delaying closing the curtain on suffering until more of the world can have the chance to hear the Gospel. For if God erased all disease today, He would also have to erase sin, the general cause of disease, and that would mean the destruction of all people. It is God's mercy that delays His judgment!
  
"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men” 
Lamentations 3:32-33
  
Does God ordain? Permit? Plan? Allow? The verb is not so much the important thing as the noun: God. And God is love.
  
Your ways are higher than mine, Lord, and Your thoughts are unsearchable. 

I praise You that one day You will give us the key that will unlock sense out of seemingly senseless suffering.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

Taken from Diamonds in the Dust, February 5
Copyright © 1993 
By Joni Eareckson Tada


This is the Piper's Wife













MUTTS