Thursday, March 29, 2012

hope revisited

“Hope is the thing with feathers 
That perches in the soul 
And sings the tune without the words 
And never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson

God taught me an amazing lesson on hope a few years ago.
Each spring He blesses me with another reminder of this hope.
This year it's bigger and better than ever.

You answer us in righteousness, 
with awe-inspiring works, 
God of our salvation, 
the hope of all the ends of the earth 
and of the distant seas.
Psalm 65:5

Friday, March 23, 2012

dream come true...√

"Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true." ~Anonymous

On March 1st, my first journey overseas began around 1:30 pm in the Atlanta airport. (It almost ended just a couple of hours later in Houston, but I'm getting ahead of myself...) The plane we were going to board for Houston came in about 20 minutes late. Nothing new...pretty much expected it would happen. It did put us really close to get to our connecting flight, but boarding began and things were progressing along. A lady, who apparently missed all of the carry-on luggage size charts and checkpoints, boarded the plane at the last minute with a bag that was very obviously oversized and not going to fit in the overhead compartment on our plane. More precious minutes of our few remaining to catch our connecting flight in Houston were very quickly passing. Nothing to do but hope and pray...
Landing in Houston would have been more exciting had I had a minute to enjoy my first, very brief, visit to Texas. Asking for directions to our connecting flight, catching the tram which took us to our concourse, and then running at full speed to our gate is about all I remember of Texas. The boarding area was totally empty, save the few attendants behind the counter. It was a tense few moments when they were showing some confusion as to why we were before them...they didn't know we were coming, but were waiting on one other gentleman (Thank God!). We had flown on Delta and were to check in at the gate desk when arriving to get our boarding passes for our KLM flight, so we weren't checked in at the time of our arrival. There were no problems finding us in the system once they had our ticket info and we were gratefully and thankfully walking toward our seats in the plane to Amsterdam for our next connection. It still gives me chills to think that we were only a couple of minutes from being stranded in Houston.
I was now officially headed overseas for my first time ever once the plane took to the air. The projected flight plan they would show on the monitors gave me butterflies of excitement. In a short 9 hours and 20 minutes, give or take a few, I'd be on a new continent...and in a time zone 6 hours ahead of EST. The only thing that would have made it better would have been to have had a window seat. This flight topped my longest flight time, 7.5 hours to Anchorage from Atlanta, by almost two hours.
Let me take a minute to just say how much I was impressed with KLM's crew and amenities on our flight. There were more crew members than I have ever seen on a flight before...and more free food and beverages than I could have imagined possible...and free headphones (if one did not his/her own) to watch free tv, movies, games, etc. Very impressive, indeed.

Landing in Amsterdam, it was an easy transfer over to our next flight, with only a little over an hour layover. However, a rookie mistake was made. We went through the boarding line prior to visiting the restroom. Once you made it through the security station for our flight, you were in a glass-walled room with no exiting allowed (except "in an emergency", to quote a gate attendant). We made it with no emergencies. Like I said, it was a rookie noted so that it wouldn't occur again on the way home.
At some time of my morning/afternoon/evening...whenever it was...the final leg of my journey to Cape Town began, again topping my longest flight record with an 11 hour flight ahead.
It was again a well staffed, filled with provisions, KLM flight. I slept through several hours of this flight, several cat naps off and on inbetween reading a really good book, but was still tired when we landed around 10:30 local time in Cape Town. We saw Candace and Murray in the waiting area as we walked to Customs and Immigration through a glass-lined hallway above them. It was so exciting to be there finally and to see my cousin and meet her fiance for the first time!
C&I was must less stressful than I could have ever imagined. We had a bit of a line for customs, but they got us through in good fashion. I held my breath as the agent stamped my passport for the first time. Dream come true...√
Murray showed us the way to get our rental car and then we followed him and Candace to our hotel. It was a nice way to end a very long, but good, 27+ hours to Cape Town, South Africa.
Horizontal sleeping was greatly calling my name...and it was sweet to answer its call.

Monday, March 19, 2012


"As a rock on the seashore he standeth firm, and the dashing of the waves disturbeth him not. He raiseth his head like a tower on a hill, and the arrows of fortune drop at his feet. In the instant of danger, the courage of his heart sustaineth him; and the steadiness of his mind beareth him out.”   Akhenaton, Egyptian Pharoah

Friday, March 16, 2012

from routine to revival

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, 
according to his power that is at work within us, 
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."  
Ephesians 3:21-22

As I listened to our guest speaker on Sunday morning preach the first of five revival messages on going from routine to revival, two images crossed my mind that summed up the topic perfectly in my mind.

Nothing is more routine to me than my very own backyard...especially in wintertime.  Natural color scheme, nothing new growing, not one thing more outstanding than the other.  Ordinary.  Same day after day.  A true definition of routine, if there ever was one.  Nothing much to speak of with others.

Warm sunshine beaming down from a clear blue sky; cool waves crashing upon the rocks on the shore.  A perfect mix of temperatures, colors, and fresh air to revive a winter blues attitude.  No two waves alike.  Anticipation of what may might be spotted in those waters brings about excitement.  Special attention to the details is given so that the memories of the moment would be captured and remembered for a lifetime.  A keen awareness that this is special...something that is worth sharing with others.

The reality of it all is that more of my days are going to be spent in my backyard than on the shores of Cape Town, South Africa.  However, those backyard moments are just as ordained by God as those spent somewhere else.  God is still God and totally awesome in my yard.  That's where my disciple-making calling takes root as I try my best at sharing Christ and living out life as God directs first and foremost with my family.      I am not to take for granted the moments spent in the routine of my days.
I am to look for the extraordinary in the ordinary.
The reality of it all is that there is a struggle between wills of flesh and spirit because the darts start flying when I try to live intentionally; a life free from the distractions stealing my attention away from what God has for me...wants from me...calls me to do.
The reality of it all is that God is good enough, powerful enough, and gracious enough to equip me for His calling on my life.
The reality of it all is that there is no vacation time from God's direction to go and make disciples.

It was that good, y'all.  Really good.  It has been a long time since I've been in a service inside a church building that has opened up to the Spirit's leading such as on Wednesday night.  God answered our pre-revival prayers in ways, perhaps, unexpectedly.  The Spirit was not quenched by the hands on the clock.  God's Word was preached with amazing simplicity, clarity, but most definite certainty.  People gave testimony after testimony.  Healing began.  Hearts were opened.  God was praised.    

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Irish Blessings

An Irish Prayer 
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

An Old Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A Wish for a Friend
Wishing you a rainbow
For sunlight after showers-
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours-
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through! 


Friday, March 9, 2012

Scenic South Africa

Sunset over Camps Bay

Strand Beach

I don't remember...

Penguins @ Boulders, Simon's Town

Driving through Chapman's Peak

Seal Island

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lessons Overseas

Ten things I learned traveling overseas to and around Cape Town, South Africa, with a layover in Amsterdam...

10.  Customs & Immigration aren't all that bad.
The only thing that made me nervous about this trip was facing the unknowns of C & I...I have heard of many dreadful experiences.  Praise God for safety and clear communication on this, my first journey overseas by plane!  Made it through all of the countries, in and out, just fine.  Atlanta was even smooth sailing...landed at 8 something PM and walked out in under an hour.  Probably took longer to get off the plane than anything else.  Very thankful for the short lines and courteous agents.

9.  Always make room for closed toe shoes.
An extended layover in Amsterdam called for a few hours of touring Amsterdam Central.  Not checking a bag on this journey overseas, there was limited room in my carry on luggage.  I only took sandals since that's what I needed for Cape Town.  I knew I was risking it with it still being winter and all in Amsterdam,  but it was one I was willing to take.  Epic fail!  My feet were so cold in the rainy, cold weather walking around the city!  And, needless to say, it was obvious I was a tourist!

8.  KLM offers an impressive amount of food and beverages on their overseas flights.
If one would take advantage of every meal/snack/beverage offered on a 9+ hour flight, the calorie intake would be incredible compared to the amount of exercise one can do inbetween meals.  Never once offered peanuts, though, which is such a difference from Delta flights in the US.

7.  South Africa has the best orange juice ever! 
I consumed more OJ in the few days I was in Cape Town and traveling around the peninsula than I have had in months at home.  It was deliciously sweet, apparently from "picked just right" oranges.  Actually, all of the juices I tried while over there were awesomely tasty.  I am a huge fan of granadilla (passion fruit) juice, now, too!

6.  Scarves and "Murses" (man bags) are alive and well in ZA and Amsterdam!
Everywhere were women and several men wearing Amsterdam it made sense to me with the bone chilling wind and rain.  Not so much in South Africa.  I had to chuckle as I saw many a man carrying a man bag in South Africa.  Scott and I were out of fashion since neither he nor I had a scarf...and he would probably do many a thing but carry a murse in public.  I began knitting a scarf for myself on one of the long flights to Africa...yesterday I really wished I had finished it instead of reading my books.

5,  Word of mouth travel suggestions pay off double fold!
A huge thank you goes out to the people who willingly offered suggestions of places to see and things to do in South Africa!  At my cousin's wedding on Sunday afternoon, locals of Cape Town gave wonderful travel info for the remaining two days in South Africa.  Several travel sites were browsed prior to arriving in SA, but none of them ever suggested the places that ended up being the highlights of the entire visit to Cape Town.  It makes me shudder to think about all the things almost missed...praise God for His blessing through others! 

4.  All outlets are not created equal.
Never dreamt that American cords would not fit into the outlets in Europe/South Africa.  Somewhere along the line of prep work, I missed this important thing to know.  The City Lodge room in Cape Town had one outlet that had a space for one thing to be plugged in...I owe the photos of my trip to that one outlet!

3.  Bird poo = a blessing
On Monday afternoon, while at a street market in Simon's Town,  I was talking with a lady who had some of her beaded crafts for sale.  All of a sudden, I see something fall from above me and feel it land on my arm.  Warm and gooey bird poo splatted on my arm!  The lady smiles big and repeats over and over again, "You blessed!  You blessed!"  She continued on to say, "It a good thing when that happen!  You blessed!"  I will give the bird credit for being apparently enjoys a menu of colorful/seeded fruit and berries that are in the area.

2.  Simple is beautiful! 
My cousin and her new husband had a beautiful garden wedding on Sunday afternoon.  The combination of the simple decor, the natural surroundings, and the friendly people who gathered there made for the most beautiful wedding I have been to and involved with in a very long time.  It was an honor to be a guest!

(and, now, for my favorite)

1.  God shows Himself real in all places for all people.
Having never been overseas before, and really not in poverty stricken/third world condition areas like one sees in books or from missionaries, driving through the countryside of the Cape Peninsula gave my heartstrings a tug.   Outside of the town of Macassar, on the way toward Muizenberg, was indeed an area with poverty stricken conditions.  Scrap wood and metal nailed together, or seemingly layered upon each other, formed a "house" (yet they had electricity/satellite available).  As far as one's eyes could see, a shanty town made up the landscape on the right hand side of the road...on the left is False Bay, part of the Atlantic Ocean.  Driving by, tears swelled up in my eyes and in my heart I asked, "Do these people know about God?  Who will be willing to bring the Good News here?"  A minute or two later, I had my answer.  Turning left on a side road toward the bay, a truck was visible parked on the sand near the water's edge.  A little below and beyond the truck was a group of people at the water's edge.  Some in the water.  It took a minute and then I realized what was going on.  A group of kids, teens, and adults were gathered there for baptism!  A small group, but a group nonetheless.  Someone had taken the Gospel to where the people are.  Some believed.  They followed up their belief with baptism.  God is good...all the time in all matter what!