Thursday, June 28, 2012

MtR: +/-

And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms,administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. Hebrews 11:32-34
I so enjoyed the end of my day today...much more than the beginning.  God topped it off with His Word speaking to my heart and reminding me through the faith chapter, Hebrews 11, that He changes negatives to positives in my life just like He did in the lives of those named in verse 32.    
In verse 34, the focus is on the positive aspect of gaining strength instead of the negative of being weak.
I so needed this tonight.
God is good...no matter what.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

praying through doubt

Many things going through my mind tonight...much of which is a mental battle against my biggest enemy...doubt.  I fight doubt often.  Doubt about what to do, how to do, when to do, if to do...things.  Any and all kinds of things.  This may surprise some.  Those who know me best, not so much.
As I was praying tonight about a certain doubt I have right now, I was reminded of a recent conversation, like just days ago recent.  A friend retold a story that she had heard and the gist of the story was that often when something needs to be done we are quick to say, "Someone should get on that."  or the infamous, "We need to do something about that,"  but meaning someone else besides us.  Sometimes it is us that God wants to use in situations.  It is time to start thinking about whether or not I am that someone this time.
Many a doubt would keep me from doing what there is to do.  But my God is bigger than my doubt and I am to fear Him, not my doubts.
After a time of prayer, I read some passages in Matthew and 1 Chronicles that hit home with me.
When we seek Him, we find Him...and it's awesome.
Matthew 8:23-27...
As He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. Suddenly, a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But He was sleeping. So the disciples came and woke Him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to die!”
But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this?—even the winds and the sea obey Him!”
The disciples were with Jesus on the boat.  Jesus was there.  Everything that was going to happen to them was going to happen to Him.  If they were going to drown then He who was asleep would have too.  They did not have to doubt about their saftely.  Jesus was there.  
They doubted His power, His knowledge, His identity. 
Often I do the same.
I was reminded in times of my little faith there is a big God waiting to make things calm for me.
The next passage I read was 1 Chronicles 14...verses 2, 10-11 leapt off the pages at me. 
Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been exalted for the sake of His people Israel...so David inquired of God, “Should I go to war against the Philistines? Will You hand them over to me?”
The Lord replied, “Go, and I will hand them over to you.”
So the Israelites went up to Baal-perazim, and David defeated the Philistines there. Then David said, “Like a bursting flood, God has used me to burst out against my enemies.” Therefore, they named that place the Lord Bursts Out.
First off was the confidence that David has in verse 2.  He knew that he knew that He knew he was right where God wanted Him.  But, He still went to God in prayer and requested direction from his God.  He had at this moment a nice balance of confidence without know-it-all arrogance.
I am inspired.
I am convinced.
I will continue to seek God's will.
I will obey.

Monday, June 25, 2012

MtR: drawn to Him

Two things that God did this past week in one team were so awesome it had to be His work in the hearts of the people.  One was during chapel on Friday.  Scott K. leads us in Communion on Friday's this summer.  After chapel, I was told by one of their leaders that she saw her father-in-law take Communion for the first time in like 30 years.  His excuse was that He just did not feel worthy or good enough to take that step anymore.  God moved in His heart and He was freely accepting of what Jesus had done for Him and remembered it by sharing in the Lord's Supper.  In that moment, he was drawn to Him in a way unlike years gone by.  One just never knows when what we say or what we do will give room for God to move someone's heart and be drawn to Him like never before.
Today, I saw something that has never happened before during my weeks of mission work in Alaska.  This TX team had been inviting the boys in their park to church all week.  They wanted to make sure that they had a ride to that church this morning, so that the boys would see them there.  I know I wanted to tell them not to get their hopes up in seeing them...people have said they would come before and never shown up...but  myself and others kept quiet and waited to see what would happen.
Still this morning as they were already there prior to us getting there, I was hoping they wouldn't be too disappointed if they didn't show up.
Right at the moment the clock struck the hour for church to begin, the two teenaged boys were spotted coming in the door.  The entire TX team left their seats and surrounded them with hugs as they made their way into the sanctuary.  The boys sat with that team and looked so a part of them.  Something, or someone, in this group said/did something this week and these boys saw God and He drew these boys to Himself.  Tears came to my eyes as I sat there watching it all unfold.  God used a team in a mighty way and their faith was such an encouragement and a reminder to me that the ordinary doesn't always happen.  God works in extraordinary ways.  No matter the reason they came (there were some beautiful teenaged girls on the team that had a little influence on them :) ), they came and heard songs of praise and adoration.  They came and heard a powerful message from God's Word on distancing oneself from God.  They were there and were drawn to Him by the power of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
God is in the business of drawing people to Himself.  I am humbled to be a part of it all!  He is so good!    

Saturday, June 23, 2012

week one wrap-up

One entire week has absolutely flown by in spite of having the summer solstice with a long day of sunshine in the middle of it! It has been a great week of ministry here in Anchorage...teams from all over the lower 48 arrived on Sunday with ministry beginning on Monday, lasting until Friday evening.
One team gave testimony to how God used a little girl's bicycle accident for His glory this week. She was riding her bike and and fell, hitting her head and requiring a trip in the ambulance to the hospital to be checked out and given a few stitches. The team's concern over her and her family, prayers, and God's love in their hearts all led this girl's mother...a Muslim woman...to sit and talk with the team's host for an hour the day after the accident. God is at work!Another team saw God spreading about finances to provide food for hungry people...all the while providing for the team's expenses, too.
Our team in a new park location met a man whose adult daughter is needing brain surgery soon. One team member's daughter had recently had a similar surgery and was able to bridge a gap by ministering to the man, his daughter, and her children through prayer, counseling, and God's Word. The women on the team gave her a gift bag of traveling goodies, too.
And, our other team saw God give a second chance for ministry when they needed it. During a prayer walk, a couple met a man who appeared to have physical problems. The spoke with him and he seemed standoffish. After the gentleman left, the team member remembered that he had forgotten to ask if there was a work project or a need they could help him fulfill this week. Feeling sorry about forgetting, the team member prayed about it and told God he was sorry for forgetting. Some two hours later, when in Walmart picking up supplies, the team member turned into an aisle and there was the exact gentleman he had spoken to in the park a couple of hours ago. They recognized each other and the team member was then able to ask him about any needs. Our God is all about second chances!
On a personal note, I saw God's hand in a lot of little things...
Allowing rain to fall only during the evening hours.
Puttng the right people at the right places at the right time.
Seeing how a helping hand can make someone's day a little better.
Placing a team of people together and seeing them thrive as they work off of each others' strengths.
Having a car break down in a convenient location.
Providing a moment of rejuvenation at the end of a busy week.
Sharing stories together and bringing forth laughter that was much needed between friends.
Giving one person a niche in which she feels very welcome and needed and appreciated.
Bringing teams many miles to bless them as they bless others.
Changing hearts of stone into hearts of love.
There were just a few of the things I know my God did this week...He is good at what He does!
"Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."  John 21:25

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

the view from here

A few scenes I've taken in since leaving Atlanta on Friday...
View of Anchorage from Point Woronzof 

snow covered mountains coming into Seattle

Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, I do believe, on approach into SEA-TAC

the beauty of untouched land just before initial descent into ANC

spring time in AK...

day at the beach...a great reminder that the tide comes in fast here

Point Woronzof is right by the airport, so you have plans taking off directly over your head.

Mt. Susitna...The Sleeping Lady...love seeing her with snow!

I had just said I had never seen black sand before...but I was mistaken. :)

downtown Anchorage

around the bend at PW

dandelions with a view

Chugach Mountain range has been entirely visible for the 4 days I've been here...unheard of great weather this week!

I will never tire of this view...

simple beauty

Monday, June 18, 2012

MtR: a willing sacrifice

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
Mark 14:38

Months ago I sat and looked at the little diagrams of the airplanes on Delta's website intently taking into consideration the seats available, their numbering, side of the plane, and the all important window option.  I took into consideration the time of day, direction of flight, sleeping possibilities, bathroom break accessibility...all the little details that make a long flight to Alaska (or in my case several long, consecutive flights) more comfortable and enjoyable.
I had them all figured out and made my selections.  Even double checked their positioning later on before checking in to make sure I had not overlooked anything.  I was pleased and was looking forward to the wonderful sights that were out there just awaiting my arrival to see their beauty and awesomeness.
First flight of the day to Detroit was good.  Window seat on right side of plane.  Quiet flight during which I slept.  I awoke just in time to begin the initial descent.  Bonus:  Flying over Lake Erie.  I've flown to Detroit from Atlanta before several times and had never taken this particular flight path before...that I was aware of anyway.  I'm not always at a window seat on the way to Detroit.  It was a great reminder of last summer's spontaneous stop at Lake Erie on the way home from camp.  We had a wonderful evening of walking by the water and enjoying the sunset...and swimming in the hotel pool. :)  Alex got in the Lake the next morning.  I waded, but it was too cold for my liking even if it was a hot summer.
Next flight, which happened to take off from the very gate our plane docked at when landing...awesomeness...was from Detroit to Seattle.  Window seat on the left side of the plane.  Nice senior couple sitting in my row.  We chatted off and on during the flight.  They were taking their grandsons on an Alaskan cruise that sailed from Seattle the next day.  The had just returned from a mission trip in Moldova a few weeks prior.  The lady asked about my trip to AK and so I shared a little about GraceWorks with her.  Bonus:  Flying over Lake Michigan soon after take off, and seeing what I do believe was Mt. Rainier on the approach into SEA-TAC airport.  There was another mountain off in the distance...could have been Mt. Adams according to my reasearch.  Both standing out with their covering of white snow from the clear blue sky, it was a sight to behold, indeed.  
Wow! moments that made me smile and thank God for over and over again.
Third and final flight was from Seattle to Anchorage.  This I knew was going to be awesome.  I had seen the sights down below from the sky.  Aisle 19, seat A.  Left side of the plane, window seat.  I made my way back...settled in...buckled my seatbelt.
Not two minutes later a dad and two kids come down the aisle and stop at row 19.  The dad looking at me and holding tickets in his hand.  I knew that look.  I did not like that look.  I was all too familiar with that look because I have two boys of my own whom fly with me often.  And then he proceeded to say something...I had the conversation already going on in my head, so I'm not for sure all of what he was saying, but I heard will you switch with me so I can sit with my kids.  I sat there for a split second in disbelief.  Then I asked which seat was his.  22D.  Other side of the plane, further back on the plane...not a window seat.
The last flight I was on flashed in my mind and I remembered how generous a gentleman was to move backward in the plane for me to sit with Tim who was about to cry because we were separated.  
I remembered what he had done for me and my spirit knew I had to do it.  
But my flesh was weak and did not want to give up that window seat.  
I gave up my window seat...and wanted to cry.
Gone was my view, my well thought out, planned ahead of time window seat.  I sat back in my 22D and wanted to ask him why he didn't go online ahead of time and fix his problem which was now my problem.  Really?  What kind of dad doesn't make sure the seats are together?  He wasn't a standby passenger...they hadn't cleared them yet.  He had a choice from way back when, but no, he was in my seat.  My window-with-a-view seat.  
So I sat there and told myself not to let this ruin the last flight of the day for me.  Getting to Anchorage was the important thing.  I held onto a twinge of hurt for a little...okay more than a little...while.  No one wanted an aisle seat around me...I asked.  They knew what I knew.  There was a view to behold a few hours from that moment that wasn't worth trading in for more leg room.  
I did get over my pity party after awhile into the flight.  But it wasn't easy.  I prayed a lot.  I wanted to be happy and carefree in 22D like I had been for a brief 1.5 minutes in 19A.  I wanted to have the right heart and attitude at the same time.  I prayed some more.  Finally, I gave in and began intentionally talking with the young guy in 22F...he had tried starting a conversation with me a few times earlier.  I wasn't that chatty then. I wanted to make it up to him so that he would see I could move through disappoinment into contentment as Jesus would want me to do.  The world was watching.  
As we chatted off and on, he would catch me looking past him out the window.  He'd smile and say, "Cloudy out today...nothing to see out there yet."  The gentleman inbetween us probably thought we were crazy.  He was quiet.  I was kind of soaking it in that the window seat didn't matter anyway because of the clouds and asked for forgiveness of my brief hesitation on moving earlier.  God knew that the clouds were going to be there hindering the view.  What mattered is that I did what was right and sacrificed my desires for the betterment of someone else.  I sacrificed my window seat, but it wasn't a willing sacrifice.  I hesitated.  I pouted.  I was disappointed longer than I should have been.  I did not have a RainX moment where it just slid right off and didn't bother me.  I was at peace again.  God knew...I should have known He was in it all from the very beginning.
Bonus:  Clouds cleared...only on the right hand side of the plane...on the side where I was now located.  I did not have a window seat view, but I could see the snow capped mountains below.  And, the young guy by the window did not mind taking a couple of pics for me with my camera.  Tears came to my eyes.  God not only knew about the clouds, He knew on which side of the plane I would have the best view of the mountains when He cleared them away!  The clouds lifted a little on the other side, but only after the most dynamic views were behind us.  
God got me right where I needed to be to enjoy the very things that I thought He was asking me to sacrifice. He was not asking me to give up what I loved, He was all about giving it to me.  
Had I not sacrificed my seat for that man, I would have missed out on everything.  Especially a well deserved lesson.  
It is not surprising that my verse of the following day was Isaiah 55:9...

"For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways,
and My thoughts than your thoughts."

This is how my God rolls!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

MtR: He's that good!

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, 
my God, in whom I trust.” 
Psalm 91:1-2

Yesterday was difficult.  
Today is a new day.
God spoke His awesomeness into my life this morning through Psalm 91...

If you make the Most High your dwelling-
even the Lord, who is my refuge- 
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you

to guard you in all your ways;

they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble,

I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:9-16
 God is that good!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Birthday Season Wrap-Up

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Looking back at my birthday season during the month of May, only one thing comes to mind...I am blessed beyond measure.  Everything that we do during the month of May is part of my birthday celebration...no matter how big or little.  
As the final week of May rolled around, I found myself getting really excited...like a kid in a candy store, one could say.  Birthday's just make me happy...even when facing my 40th one.
On Wednesday evening, the boys were discussing what they were going to make me for breakfast the next day.  They kept it a secret right up until breakfast time the next day.  Although they had wanted to give me breakfast in bed (but I had gotten up early to go to the Y), they enjoyed working together in the kitchen and surprising me with a tray of goodies at the table.  They made me walk to the table with my eyes closed so I wouldn't see anything.

After my breakfast of frozen strawberries, sliced apples served up in Alex's favorite glass, my choice of granola bars, milk, and lemonade...we enjoyed a morning of shopping together.  It worked out well, then, to stop by the Dwarf House for lunch. :)  My goal of not cooking on my birthday was working out nicely.
Our afternoon was filled with Monopoly, reading, and just having fun together with my boys.  
Dinner was my choice...and I chose to go out for Japanese.  Not the raw stuff, but the good hibachi grilled stuff.  Yum!
my favorite part...the flaming onion volcano

choo-choo!


Oh, how my tastes have changed over the past ten years!  It was a toss up between Japanese and Thai this year, but Japanese won out because the fam loves it just as much as I do.
I had a wonderful birthday!  But...it didn't stop there!  My birthday season had an extra day!  On Friday, June 1st, Scott had arranged for people to come over to our lake property in order to celebrate my birthday.  I didn't have to do a thing except enjoy an evening with friends and delicious food that they were so gracious to bring along with them.  Grilled hamburgers, hotdogs, baked beans, chips, and all the delicious desserts one could possibly want...I have wonderful friends and family!
So, until May rolls around again and brings another Birthday Season with it, I have wonderful memories of this 40th one that makes me so loved and blessed.  It was a great one, filled with messages, phone calls, presents, and time with family and friends.  
We should live everyday as if it is someone's birthday.