Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Vacation in Pictures: Niagara Falls


The rapids leading up to Niagara Falls.
The upper level, heading toward the falls.
Canada in the background.  This mist rises from the falls.
75,000 gallons of water a SECOND goes over the falls!

Canada.
The Horseshoe Falls.  The mist covers most of the middle so it is hard to see.

The Maid of the Mist.
The American Falls



American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Canada.
Cave of the Winds
The Hurricane Deck.  Standing on it is similar to being in a category 1 hurricane!

Lights on the falls.
Fireworks over the falls.
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 3:5. ESV.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Making the Best Use of the Time

The engines roar and the vessel rumbles as it makes its way down the runway and is propelled off the ground. I watch the land seemingly float away as the tires leave the surface and retreat into their bays. The angle of the plane makes carry on items shimmy from their storage space. Items threaten to break free and glide over the blue officesque carpet. The faux leather seats vibrate and then there is a drastic dip to the left revealing the ant like civilization below. I have visions of the 1970's/1980's starship "Enterprise" crew leaning in their seats as their ship lists after being hit.

Though we are hardly Star Fleet on a mission to explore bold new worlds, we are in fact on our way back home from quite an adventure in the Northeastern United States. Five stops over the course of five states, in fourteen days.

Crisp soda (water, juice, or alcoholic beverages), salty sweet honey roasted peanuts, and zesty veggie crackers or semisweet cookies are the only in flight food/drinks served this stretch. Gone are the days of leafy greens, half hearted deli sandwiches, or hot t.v. dinners with red potatoes.

Being we checked in late, our seats are scattered about three different rows. At least the young ones are old enough now I do not worry much (as long as they are not too far away from me). The independence gives them a streak of confidence and feeling of maturity. The tired infant in front of me fusses, the mortified young girl two seats over cries silently, and the puppy under the seat next to me whines deeply in staccato breaths.

I reach over to my phone, which is hugging the upper part of my arm in an exercise band, and flick on my music. I drown in its waves over the next three hours or so of the five hour flight. Choreography leaps with each note, every beat, in counts of eight. I see the mouths of those around me moving...but hear only the soul of each singer/band...breathlessly going on about being young, giving advice, proclaiming heartache, boasting of a love of rock and roll, etc.

Today will melt away into tomorrow and the rejoining of life as it exists in our everyday. Vacation is over. Carry on.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5, 6 ESV)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Thy Sea, O God, So Great, My Boat So Small

Thy sea, O God, so great,
My boat so small,
It cannot be that any happy fate,
Will me befall,
Save as Thy goodness opens paths for me,
Through the consuming vastness of the sea.

Thy winds, O God, so strong,
So slight my sail.
How could I cub and bit them on the long
and salty trail,
Unless Thy love were mightier than the wrath
Of all the tempests that beset my path?

Thy world, O God, so fierce,
And I so frail.
Yet, though its arrows threaten oft to pierce
My fragile mail,
Cities of refuge rise where dangers cease,
Sweet silences abound, and all is peace.
(Author Unknown)

Let the Summer Games Begin

I thank you, God, for the beautiful blue sky, relationships, fun, family, friends, food, laughter, the sun, a light breeze, Your hedge of protection around us, sparkling water, provisions, clean air to breath, sweat, sunscreen, freedom, music, and everything else I forgot to mention.  Truly, I am blessed.

Psalm 68:4-6 Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts;
his name is the Lord;
exult before him! 
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation. 
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (ESV)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sister

It means "toilet water".  Just kidding!  I believe it says, "Sister".

All to the Glory of God


31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31. ESV.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

God of the Untrusting

I suppose we are skeptical by nature. Perhaps just wired that way to help us discern the truth from false teaching...or not. Maybe it is a pride thing...a "no one is going to get one over on me" mentality. I have to be honest, I find myself doing it. Doubting.

The other day hubs was watching a documentary (and an interview) with scientists who believe they have found proof of mermaids. They had recovered remains from the digestive system of a Great White shark (I believe it was) and based on the fragments, theorized what the creature would like in its entirety. Further, a second man of Science showed video he had obtained from the deep ocean and played recordings of sounds (like those of whales).

I found myself filing this "evidence" along with that of "Big Foot", the "Lock Ness Monster", and (dare I say) aliens from other planets. To say I am not convinced is an understatement. However, I have never been thousands of miles below the surface of the sea, and I have no reservations in thinking there are a multitude of animals, plants, etc. down there I could hardly even imagine them.

For example, God's word speaks of Leviathan. What is that?! Is it a physical creature or a symbol?

In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1 ESV)

"Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
Will you play with him as with a bird,
or will you put him on a leash for your girls?
Behold, the hope of a man is false;
he is laid low even at the sight of him.
No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up.
Who then is he who can stand before me?
Who can strip off his outer garment?
Who would come near him with a bridle?
Who can open the doors of his face?
Around his teeth is terror.
His back is made of rows of shields,
shut up closely as with a seal.
One is so near to another
that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another;
they clasp each other and cannot be separated.
His sneezings flash forth light,
and his eyes are like the eyelids of the dawn.
Out of his mouth go flaming torches;
sparks of fire leap forth.
Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke,
as from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
and a flame comes forth from his mouth.
In his neck abides strength,
and terror dances before him.
The folds of his flesh stick together,
firmly cast on him and immovable.
His heart is hard as a stone,
hard as the lower millstone.
When he raises himself up the mighty are afraid;
at the crashing they are beside themselves.
Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail,
nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin.
He counts iron as straw,
and bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
for him sling stones are turned to stubble.
Clubs are counted as stubble;
he laughs at the rattle of javelins.
His underparts are like sharp potsherds;
he spreads himself like a threshing sledge on the mire.
He makes the deep boil like a pot;
he makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
Behind him he leaves a shining wake;
one would think the deep to be white-haired.
On earth there is not his like,a creature without fear.
He sees everything that is high;he is king over all the sons of pride."
(Job 41:1, 5, 9, 10, 13-34 ESV)

Believing without seeing (or smelling, hearing, or touching) is difficult. I get it. When I talk about Jesus (and God) it may fall on deaf ears. The one to whom I am speaking might say to himself/herself, "She has no idea what she is talking about!" Some might even find it offensive and hate me because of it...I have been told as much but I still love those individuals...very much.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

If Given the Truth, They Can be Depended Upon

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.

- Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Did You Know...

I-80 is one of four freeways that runs from coast to coast in the United States?  I have not driven this one all the way across, yet, but I did drive I-10 West to East (then back again) in 2008.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Found the Rain

The forecast reported rain but we were not seeing any.  Found it.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

God of the Unforgiven

I sin.  I hurt those around me at times.  God knows my heart, whether it is intentional or not...but the bottom line is, I have and I do.  Further, there are occasions when I just CANNOT forgive myself!  Even after many years.

Notice I called this, "The Unforgiven," not "The Unforgivable."  EVERY sin (but one) is forgivable (especially by God).  So, why is it so hard for me to give myself a break, sometimes?  Why can't I just let it go?  I beg for forgiveness from who or what I injured and from God, Himself.  And, of course, He grants Me His grace!  So, why can't I shake the feeling of blame and regret.  At times it brings tears to my eyes.

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love....

He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:8, 10-13 ESV)

There are two main ways I think about God: 1) God the Father and 2. God my King.  This helps me grasp His character...the very one that is demonstrated in both the Old and New Testament.  To me, He is never changing yesterday, today, and forever.  He is the same God in the Old and of New Testament time (in which we are still).  Reading the Old Testament assists me in remembering my King's reign, His laws, and the "no tolerance policy" of the old covenant.  The New Testament echoes His unwavering grace through His Son, Christ Jesus, and lets me know I may approach His throne any moment of any day because when I stand before Him, I believe He sees His Son, instead of me.  And, that makes me smile...to be loved as by a father and to be protected and cared for as by a King.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

His Eye is On the Sparrow

For you, T. Happy Birthday!

So Busy...

Running on close to empty.  Maybe things will slow down a little when summer gets into full swing.


Monday, June 03, 2013

God, I Need You Now

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
(Plumb. "How Many Times (Need You Now)".)

Do you ever feel this way...that no matter how hard you pray, "God, please take this," He allows it to remain, yet grants strength to continue taking one day at a time...confessing to Him, "God I need you now!"? Though, I have to be honest...sometimes His grace does not feel sufficient. (Lord, please forgive me for saying such a thing!)

What must have Job felt as he went through those moments following losing his children, livestock, everything? What about Sampson, when he discovered he had been betrayed by Delilah? Or David, knowing Saul wanted to kill him? I imagine each of them must have been heartbroken.

Sarah was barren and desired children. Did she cry some nights in the arms of her husband, or alone? Did she call out to God and beg Him to grant her a baby? Jesus DEFINITELY requested His cup be taken from Him (if it was God's will, not His own). Abel was hated by his own brother (talk about a dysfunctional family). Abigail was married to a "badly behaved" man. The bible is chock full of sorrowful human beings. (Jesus was so distraught in His "time of need", He sweat drops of blood.) Are we any different, today?

All this to say, God is the Father and King of the "crushed in spirit".
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18 ESV)

To anyone in doubt, I say,
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
(Psalm 34:15-22 ESV)

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