My Father, My Mountain Guide

October 3, 2010

It has been my experience that faith gets easier as I get older.

Since I am a visual person, I can picture traveling through life as traveling up a winding road on a densely wooded mountain.

When I was young and at the bottom looking up, I could only see a little of the curvy road ahead and I had lots of anxiety and concern because I couldn’t see what was coming and this was an unfamiliar road.  And, even though I would ask for God’s help, it was hard to recognize how His hand was in the outcome of events.

But now that I’m older and closer to the top, it’s as if there are look-out points where I can look back and see the twists and turns in the road I’ve traveled.  And from this perspective it is so apparent how God guided, corrected and saved me on that road again and again.  In fact, I believe that sometimes when He not only answered a prayer but answered it in a far better or different way than I would have even thought to pray for, He was clearly demonstrating to me that it was Him, not me, who made that decision or solved that problem.

I still can’t see what awaits me beyond the next curve, but I’ve come to realize that whatever it is, I don’t have to worry because He is already there, waiting for me, ready to help me deal with whatever comes next.

May you be able to recognize God working in your life and may your faith be strengthened when you see the pattern of His loving guidance.


It’s THAT Personal!

August 22, 2010

A pastor said something one time that makes my salvation feel very personal.  He said, “Christ would have died on the cross if you were the only one who was saved by His sacrifice.”

Because God’s mind is infinite, and can do anything, in any amount of time, Christ could have thought of each person who ever did or ever will live on Earth in the time He was on the cross, and maybe even said a prayer for each of us!  That’s kind of awesome to think about, isn’t it?  To think that He might have thought of you personally, by name, while He was making that sacrifice?

That is how personal I believe God wants our relationship to be with Him.


Death of a Witness

July 23, 2010

About four years ago I ran into a woman I knew but didn’t see very often. Her husband had been the chaplain at the jail for a few years.  They were such a neat couple, and great witnesses to their faith.  (He told the story many times about his conversion to Christianity beginning in a jail cell in California when he was a troubled young man, and he happened to find a Christian tract on the floor.)

Anyway, when I saw this wonderful woman in the grocery store, it was impossible to miss the fact that instead of her trademark long brown hair, she was bald.  She had always been a beautiful woman and she was still beautiful with her huge, expressive blue eyes all the more emphasized by her baldness.

She told me she had had cancer for five years and had just finished a round of chemo that appeared to be successful.

But as we stood there, she told me in words and through those huge, sincere eyes that she knew the chance the cancer would return, but  whatever tomorrow brought, she wasn’t afraid because she knew when the end came she would be in Heaven with Christ.  We parted ways with a hug and my thanks for such inspiring words.

Fast forward to a few days ago.  I heard that she is now at death’s door.  She has battled cancer for almost 10 years, but the end is finally near.  But, you know, this wonderful witness for Christ will never be totally gone because her witness to her faith will linger in the hearts and minds of many with whom she has had contact.

And when she arrives at Heaven’s door, I picture Christ opening the door Himself, smiling when He sees His faithful servant Marilyn, and then taking her hand in welcome and saying, “Well done, O good and faithful servant.”  Then I picture Him leading her by the hand into Eternity.

Well done, my friend.  I look forward to seeing you again in Eternity.


You can ruin today by worrying about tomorrow …

July 20, 2010

An update from Elise, the wonderful inspiring mommy of Cooper who will be three in a few days and who is fighting so hard for his life because of a brain tumor.  May this help us all to put our own worries and concerns in perspective.

Hello all,

I just wanted to send a quick update on Cooper. He is doing ok this week and slowly recovering from last week’s shunt. We are anxiously awaiting his scan and LP this week not only for the results but with angst that we have to put him through more tests and pain and recovery from more anesthesia. I had a moment today that was very humbling when my baby caught me shedding tears. I had read news about some new research on ependymomas that looked promising but was likely several years out before it would be something useful in humans. It brought tears to my eyes as I prayed that my little man could just keep fighting and holding on. Cooper caught me crying and quickly whipped me into shape when he yelled to me “Mommy, you stop crying, you not cry Mom!” Now it’s time for Mommy to toughen up as my brave little boy continues to show me the way. A mom from our time in Boston recently sent a message on the Ependymoma website I frequent that this was her new motto – I cannot change the past but I can ruin the present by worrying about the future. How true is that and something I must learn to consider every day as we take on each new step in this journey.

I found this poem in a card that I gave my Mother before she passed away. I have always loved this poem and believe it to be true.

Love to all,

Elise

Footsteps In the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.

Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.

Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,

other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed

that during the low periods of my life,

when I was suffering from

anguish, sorrow or defeat,

I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,

that if I followed you,

you would walk with me always.

But I have noticed that during

the most trying periods of my life

there have only been one

set of footprints in the sand.

Why, when I needed you most,

you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,

“The times when you have

seen only one set of footprints,

is when I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson



I believe …

July 18, 2010

I believe … that everything God causes or allows to happen is directed toward one goal — for every person possible to be with Him in Heaven when we die.

I believe … that when bad things happen to His people, it is because He wants others to observe how those of faith are sustained and even grow during hard times.  And it is His desire that when those others  see the difference, it will fan the embers of faith in their own hearts.

I believe … God loves every person on this earth and that He weeps equally when a tortured soul commits a heinous  act and when a Christian acts in an un-Christian way.  But that He uses each of those acts in any way possible, to lead people to Him and the home he has prepared for them in Heaven.

I believe … I am a poor miserable sinner, saved by grace alone.  I am an imperfect person who sins daily and is constantly in need of His forgiveness.  But because I have put my faith in Him and know that Jesus died in my place for my sins, I also know that when I ask for forgiveness for my sins, He forgives me.

I believe … that when I die I will live for eternity in Heaven with Him.

I believe … that believing is the most important part of who I am.

I believe.


Peace

June 27, 2010

Peace is seeing a sunrise and knowing who to thank.  — Anon


Just a Dog

May 16, 2010

I received the following in an e-mail yesterday and I was so touched by what Catherine Moore had written that I wanted to share it with you.  At the bottom of the e-mail it said to share it with four of your friends, so I don’t think that she will mind that I share it here.

May this touch your heart as it touched mine:

CHEYENNE

By Catherine Moore

‘Watch out! You nearly broadsided that car!’ My father yelled at me. ‘Can’t you do anything right?’ Those words hurt worse than blows. I turned my head toward the elderly man in the seat beside me, daring me to challenge him. A lump rose in my throat as I averted my eyes. I wasn’t prepared for another battle.

‘I saw the car, Dad.. Please don’t yell at me when I’m driving.’ My voice was measured and steady, sounding far calmer than I really felt.

Dad glared at me, then, turned away and settled back. At home, I left Dad in front of the television and went outside to collect my thoughts. Dark, heavy clouds hung in the air with a promise of rain. The rumble of distant thunder seemed to echo my inner turmoil.

What could I do about him?

Dad had been a lumberjack in Washington and Oregon . He had enjoyed being outdoors and had reveled in pitting his strength against the forces of nature. He had entered grueling lumberjack competitions and had placed often. The shelves in his house were filled with trophies that attested to his prowess.

The years marched on relentlessly. The first time he couldn’t lift a heavy log, he joked about it; but later that same day, I saw him outside alone, straining to lift it. He became irritable whenever anyone teased him about his advancing age or when he couldn’t do something he had done as a younger man.

Four days after his sixty-seventh birthday, he had a heart attack. At the hospital, Dad was rushed into an operating room. He was lucky; he survived.

But something inside Dad died. His zest for life was gone. He obstinately refused to follow doctor’s orders. Suggestions and offers of help were turned aside with sarcasm and insults. The number of visitors thinned and then finally stopped altogether. Dad was left alone.

My husband, Dick, and I asked Dad to come live with us on our small farm. We hoped the fresh air and rustic atmosphere would help him adjust. Within a week after he moved in, I regretted the invitation. It seemed nothing was satisfactory. He criticized everything I did. I became frustrated and moody. Soon, I was taking my pent-up anger out on Dick. We began to bicker and argue. Alarmed, Dick sought out our pastor and explained the situation. The clergyman set up weekly counseling appointments for us. At the close of each session, he prayed, asking God to soothe Dad’s troubled mind. But the months wore on and God was silent. Something had to be done and it was up to me to do it.

The next day, I sat down with the phone book and methodically called each of the mental health clinics listed in the Yellow Pages. I explained my problem to each of the sympathetic voices that answered. In vain. Just when I was giving up hope, one of the voices suddenly exclaimed, ‘I just read something that might help you! Let me go get the article.’ I listened as she read. The article described a remarkable study done at a nursing home. All of the patients were under treatment for chronic depression. Yet their attitudes had improved dramatically when they were given responsibility for a dog.

I drove to the animal shelter that afternoon. After I filled out a questionnaire, a uniformed officer led me to the kennels. The odor of disinfectant stung my nostrils as I moved down the row of pens. Each contained five to seven dogs. Long-haired dogs, curly-haired dogs, black dogs, spotted dogs all jumped up, trying to reach me. I studied each one, but rejected one after the other for various reasons, too big, too small, too much hair. As I neared the last pen, a dog in the shadows of the far corner struggled to his feet, walked to the front of the run and sat down. It was a pointer, one of the dog world’s aristocrats. But this was a caricature of the breed. Years had etched his face and muzzle with shades of gray. His hipbones jutted out in lopsided triangles. But it was his eyes that caught and held my attention. Calm and clear, they beheld me unwaveringly.

I pointed to the dog. ‘Can you tell me about him?’ The officer looked, then shook his head in puzzlement..

‘He’s a funny one. Appeared out of nowhere and sat in front of the gate. We brought him in, figuring someone would be right down to claim him; that was two weeks ago and we’ve heard nothing. His time is up tomorrow.’ He gestured helplessly.

As the words sank in, I turned to the man in horror. ‘You mean you’re going to kill him?’

‘Ma’am,’ he said gently, ‘that’s our policy. We don’t have room for every unclaimed dog.’

I looked at the pointer again. The calm brown eyes awaited my decision. ‘I’ll take him,’ I said.

I drove home with the dog on the front seat beside me. When I reached the house, I honked the horn twice. I was helping my prize out of the car when Dad shuffled onto the front porch.

‘Ta-da! Look what I got for you, Dad!’ I said excitedly.

Dad looked, then wrinkled his face in disgust. ‘If I had wanted a dog, I would have gotten one. And I would have picked out a better specimen than that bag of bones. Keep it! I don’t want it’ Dad waved his arm scornfully and turned back toward the house.

Anger rose inside me. It squeezed together my throat muscles and pounded into my temples.

‘You’d better get used to him, Dad. He’s staying!’ Dad ignored me.. ‘Did you hear me, Dad?’ I screamed. At those words, Dad whirled angrily, his hands clenched at his sides, his eyes narrowed and blazing with hate.

We stood glaring at each other like duelists, when, suddenly, the pointer pulled free from my grasp. He wobbled toward my dad and sat down in front of him.. Then slowly, carefully, he raised his paw.

Dad’s lower jaw trembled as he stared at the uplifted paw. Confusion replaced the anger in his eyes. The pointer waited patiently.. Then, Dad was on his knees, hugging the animal.

It was the beginning of a warm and intimate friendship. Dad named the pointer Cheyenne . Together, he and Cheyenne explored the community. They spent long hours walking down dusty lanes. They spent reflective moments on the banks of streams, angling for tasty trout. They even started to attend Sunday services together, Dad sitting in a pew and Cheyenne lying quietly at his feet.

Dad and Cheyenne were inseparable throughout the next three years. Dad’s bitterness faded and he and Cheyenne made many friends. Then, late one night, I was startled to feel Cheyenne ‘s cold nose burrowing through our bed covers. He had never before come into our bedroom at night. I woke Dick, put on my robe, and ran into my father’s room. Dad lay in his bed, his face serene. But his spirit had left quietly sometime during the night.

Two days later, my shock and grief deepened when I discovered Cheyenne lying dead beside Dad’s bed. I wrapped his still form in the rag rug he had slept on. As Dick and I buried him near a favorite fishing hole, I silently thanked the dog for the help he had given me in restoring Dad’s peace of mind.

The morning of Dad’s funeral dawned, overcast and dreary. This day looks like the way I feel, I thought, as I walked down the aisle to the pews reserved for family. I was surprised to see the many friends Dad and Cheyenne had made filling the church. The pastor began his eulogy. It was a tribute to both Dad and the dog who had changed his life. And, then, the pastor turned to Hebrews 13:2. ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.’

‘I’ve often thanked God for sending that angel,’ he said.

For me, the past dropped into place, completing a puzzle that I had not seen before: the sympathetic voice that had just read the right article.

Cheyenne’s unexpected appearance at the animal shelter, his calm acceptance and complete devotion to my father, and the proximity of their deaths. And, suddenly, I understood. I knew that God had answered my prayers after all.

Life is too short for drama & petty things, so laugh hard, love truly, and forgive quickly. Live While You Are Alive. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity. Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second time.

May your Sunday be blessed.  Sandra