Tag Archive | treasure

Afterglow

Now it has been 7 months since my “reboot”.  God has been amazing! I’m sure you’re thinking, “she writes that every time!” It seems to me that I know God is omnipotent and omnipresent. My human brain cannot fathom some of the miracles I have seen! It could be a cultural concept – keeping God in a box. I am as normal as I ever have been, whatever that means! I am determined not to forget what miracle God has done for my family. This weekend, we celebrated community and life with our wonderful friends who happen to be neighbors, about 35 of them! One of the neighborhood contact points for September’s traumatic event told us how he wanted news, but knew that was NOT our priority. He was patient, but had to respond every few hours to emails and texts from others inquiring if there was any update. This was my first time to hear his side.  He was talking about how amazing my healing has been. I went from critical with not much chance, to I will live but what brain function will be lost, to walking, to leaving the hospital and flying home the next day. A rare outcome for someone with all the medical issues I had. God is faithful and I know He has more planned. I heard song lyrics: “the best is not done, the best is yet to come.” That is how life is with Abba, Jehovah Rapha, Elohim, our Heavenly Father. When it seems you are in a dry place, remember God has a “waiting room” for you while He is getting things prepared for His plan.

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Scripture: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” John 12:24

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Houston, She Has a Problem!

 

We interrupt this story to bring you a little perspective from the man who loves me.
B is my constant support in life. Even when he thinks the idea is a little “out there”, he stands with me. It is only fitting to include him in my story – which really is OUR story.
When we first discussed the possibility of me hiking Half Dome, B was clear he wasn’t into that kind of adventure. He enjoys the outdoors and the mountains, especially sitting out with a mocha along a creek. (I think he’d rather jump out of an airplane than hike up a mountain!) He supported my desire to hike in Yosemite. Decision made. I’m going!
B encouraged me to research and get “whatever I need” for the trip. After researching equipment options, he strongly urged me to get the hiking boots first to break-in before the trip. Hiking pants, hydration type backpack, socks, rain jacket, hiking poles, hat and gloves filled the list. Considering neither one of us likes to shop, we hoped to get it done in one trip. We went to an outdoorsy type store to hit the list head-on. We found most items on the list in one store. The other items could be borrowed or purchased on the Internet.
B tells me “you turned into a training animal”! He wouldn’t even try to keep up with me. He saw I was preparing physically, nutritionally, and mentally. He had absolute confidence in my ability. He told me that this was a great trip to do with my brother K. As the date grew near, he was excited with me.
Saturday he took me to the airport and we said our “good-byes”. He didn’t know that I had hidden sticky notes and cards for him in various places and with a couple of neighbors. He would get a hand-written message from me nearly everyday while I was gone. With the last one to be delivered Thursday, September 17th. It said “see you soon”. Thankfully, he didn’t get that one until later.
We spoke each day leading up to that fateful Wednesday. We used FaceTime Monday evening; on Tuesday, we spoke briefly. I was already in Yosemite. I told him about the short hike I took, about the handful of deer that crossed the trail about 4′ in front of me, and about the rain catching me without my jacket.

 

Wednesday morning, he was on the way to his vanpool when we spoke briefly. He says that I sounded excited and happy.
During the morning, I sent texts and photos. When I called him, he told me I looked really happy in the photos. Since Texas is 2 hours ahead of California, his lunchtime came while it was mid-morning for the hike. He showed the photos to his coworkers, happy about my progress.

He told me “Right after lunch, things started going south.” That’s when he got my call, “I won’t make it to the top.” I was crying and greatly disappointed. I told him that I was dizzy and nauseous.  Thinking it was only altitude sickness, he felt I had made a good decision and I agreed. It was better to stop than to continue and have an injury result from continuing. Neither of us knew what would happen next…

 

The Hike of My Life!

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Fast forward 3.5 months…those of you following this blog may be thinking: “Did she fall off Half Dome?” “Did she break her hand and she can’t type?” or, like my gym fan club “She met her goal and is done working out.”

Thank God none of the above! I should start at the beginning…

After 3 months of training, I traveled to California. I met my brother K and his wife J, and N, my brother’s friend, in Mariposa, CA. I had been in Yosemite that day and hiked about an hour to see how I would feel. That altitude was around 4300 ft. I was feeling good about the whole trip.

We went to dinner and then off to bed early. In the morning, I posted “hike of my life today, prayers appreciated” on my Facebook page. I had no idea how prophetic that was. The weather forecast was great hiking weather – not too hot or cold, no rain. K, N and I left the hotel at 4:30 a.m. and drove the 1.5 hours to the parking lot near the trailhead. I parked my rental car. We did the obligatory last bathroom stop before donning our gear. It was around 6:10 a.m. when we started on our 18 mile (approx) round-trip hike. Off we went into the darkness, with our headlamps glowing. The temperature was cool enough for a light jacket, but it didn’t take long for my muscles to warm up.

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Early morning selfie

 

I told K and N that I would take my time, pace myself and take lots of photos.

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As the sun rose, it illuminated the mountains surrounding Yosemite Valley. (I took photos) Our backpacks had hydration packs and we drank as we trekked. We stopped about once an hour to snack. Overall, I was feeling great and enjoying the breath-taking beauty of God’s handiwork. N was in the lead, K in the middle, and I was the “caboose”. At one point, I heard K singing “It is Well with My Soul”. We used to sing together in church. So, I came in for the chorus echo. We harmonized well. It seemed we were singing for an audience of One! (Later, K told me that was his favorite part of the trip.)

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Hiking Half Dome is so popular, that the park has a lottery system set-up for the permits to hike the cable way – that is the last 400 vertical feet. It is common to see other hiking groups along the trail. There was one group of four that we passed, or vice versa, several times along the way. We would encourage each other and get going again.

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We had some fun pictures and laughing along the way.

Directional signs with mileage are posted at trail intersections. We came to the one that said “Half Dome 4.5 miles”. We were more than half-way to the summit! We can do it! We had been on the trail around 3 hours.

It must have started in the next hour or so. I began to feel dizzy, light-headed, out of breath. I attributed it to the altitude, slowed my pace, drank cold water, ate some trail mix and continued up the trail. Around 5.5 hours on the trail, just under 2 miles from the summit, I decided I needed to sit and rest for a while. I sent K and N on to the summit, telling them that I would rest and possibly start down-trail. This is when it gets interesting…

(stay tuned – more to follow)

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“O HOLY NIGHT” written by Placide Cappeau; composed by Adolphe Charles Adams

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Have you ever thought “God won’t use me because I’m nothing special?” I have, and I think most humans with a faith in God have thought and felt that! I’ll come back to this…

This season can bring me blues, but I love Christmas time! My parents and one of my siblings are no longer on earth. Those siblings who are on earth live far away from me in opposite directions! Being the last of eight children, I was accustomed to large holiday gatherings (not just at Christmas). At Christmas, Mom would make tons of treats: divinity, fudge, frosted cookies, gingerbread men. You get the idea. Then, on Christmas Eve around 9 p.m., we would gather in the living room. Dad would read about the birth of Christ from one of the Gospels. We would sing songs like “Away in a Manager” and “Silent Night”.  After this devotional time, we would munch on goodies and open our gifts. That was our family tradition.

As my family changes, tradition changes too. As I struggle with conflicted emotion over adult children and lost family, I desire God’s peace and joy daily.  And, I wonder how God can use me in this season? I am an average person. Does God use the average?

Let’s look at the history of the  song: “O Holy Night”.

Placide Cappeau was born in France 1808. Around age 8, he had a hand amputated. I am sure the other kids called him names and ostracized him. He grew up in spite of that hardship. He became a merchant of wine and spirits.  He was known for his poetry, not his church attendance, although he did attend church irregularly. In 1847, the parish priest asked Placide to write a poem for Christmas mass. He agreed and using Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth he wrote “Cantique de Noel”.  Placide felt it would make a wonderful song. So, he approached his friend (and well-known composer) Adolphe Charles  Adams to compose the music. Adolphe didn’t celebrate Christmas or Jesus as Messiah. But he accepted and three weeks later, at Christmas Eve mass, the song was performed. Knowing how popular the song is now, it is easy to imagine how well-received it was by the church. It became a staple of Catholic Christmas masses.

Then, two things happen: Placide left the church to become part of the socialist movement; and church leaders found out that Adophe was Jewish! Although the song was still popular, the Catholic Church decided not to sing it anymore.

Fast forward ten years: American Abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight made a personal connection with the lyrics. He translated it into English: “truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall break free for the slave is our brother and in His Name all oppression shall cease”. The song was embraced by Americans, especially The North during the Civil War.

You might think that’s three ordinary people that God used to bring a beautiful song into so many lives; THE END. Wrong! A violin-playing chemist and professor, Reginald Fessenden, designed a more efficient way to broadcast using radio waves. On December 24, 1906, he played “O Holy Night” on his violin during a radio broadcast for many to hear.

Now to recap: a purveyor of wine and spirits, a Jewish man, and a chemist-professor (no this isn’t a poorly written joke) were used by God to bring the story of Jesus’ birth to millions of people! Sometimes I need the iron skillet to the head for something to sink into my brain. God will use anyone who is obedient! I want to be obedient! Do you?

As you ponder that this Christmas season, ask God to reveal how He is using you – an ordinary person!

God’s blessing and peace to you and  your family!

lg

 

 

God Trumps our Limitations

ImageToday I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s adult son.   Aside from the obvious sorrow attendant upon losing a close family member, what made this particular situation especially thought-provoking is the fact that this particular man wrestled with physical and mental limitations all his life that most of us have not had to face.  As a result, he was quite a remarkable man.

Although I have many memories of my friend’s son that make me smile, God used one situation to teach me a foundational lesson about His Presence and power.   One day several years ago, I had dragged myself to church after an extremely trying week.   I felt heavy-hearted and full of despair, in spite of my best efforts to resist falling into an emotional tailspin.  It turned out that my friend’s son was serving as a back-up greeter to his parents that day at the service.   I greeted my friend and her husband and proceeded to stop by the bench where their son was seated and said hello to him.   He looked back at me in response, and I literally saw the eyes and heart of Jesus for me reflected in his eyes and face.   I recognized the Presence of the Lord in him, and the heaviness that had weighed me down simply evaporated!

Clearly, the power of God’s Presence in us is NOT hindered by our limitations (real or imagined).  I believe this truth is part of the mystery Paul was describing in Colossians 1:27, the mystery of “Christ in us, the hope of glory.”  God’s power is unfettered — it is not something that depends on US!  That is certainly good news for those of us who find ourselves continually striving to hear God, to please Him, and to speak on His behalf the right way at the right time to others. While those goals are certainly noble, all we really need to do is trust that His Presence in us will shine through us and touch the hearts of those around us.

Although my friend’s son was confined to a physical body that limited his activities, and he never was able to read a Bible, he had the TREASURE, for he knew Jesus, the Lover of His soul.   Jesus used him in countless situations and allowed him to leave a profoundly rich legacy in the hearts of those who knew him.  Thank you, Steven, for the rich deposit you made in my heart!

Hypothetical Sacrifice

A song by Jeremy Riddle entitled “What Can I Bring” has been on my mind all week.  For me, the most riveting part of the song is the little bridge section.  The words are as follows:  “Had I riches, I would bring them.  Had I kingdoms, I would lose them.  Had I the world, too small a gift would it be for You.” Years ago, when I first heard this song, that refrain gripped my heart and has continued to grip my heart ever since.   I viewed it as a promise to God that I would be willing to give Him everything of value that I have, IF I ever were to have those things.   The mere consideration of  the impact of that declaration would bring me to tears as I sang the song.   I was certain I would be willing to give God everything, absolutely everything, if only I had it.

Suddenly, this week, as I was preparing to use that song in a worship set for a meeting, a bit of incisive revelation dropped into my soul:   I DO have riches; I DO have kingdoms; I already have far more of this world in me than is healthy.   Am I willing to completely surrender those precious things to Jesus?   If I am honest with myself, I already have an abundance of riches:  I have a jewel of a husband, five children who are treasures to me, an extended family I cherish, and friends I hold dear — not to mention books to read, a home, a clean bed, food in the pantry, and innumerable material goods that have no real eternal value but which make life pleasant.  I get concerned about the people I love and occasionally allow my thoughts to follow pit-in-the-stomach kind of thinking that borders on unholy worry.  Although I prefer not to admit it, I DO have “kingdoms” over which I attempt to rule:  my overloaded schedule, my authority to make decisions for myself in certain areas of my life, and my own abilities in specific realms I regard as “my” areas of expertise.  Regarding “the world,”  I am probably more steeped in the trappings of this world than I am willing to recognize. 

The truth is, Jesus wants us to give him the riches we already have!   He is not asking us to give Him something we do NOT have.   He wants me to yield to Him every concern about my children, my husband, and all the people I hold close to my heart.  He longs for me to offer Him my schedule, my plans, my dreams, and every area I think I “rule.”   He desires to continue to purge me of the baggage of this world that profits nothing.  Revelation 2:4 states that He wants to be our FIRST love:  “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.”

Father, I do bring You my riches, my kingdoms, and the pieces of the world I cling to, and I choose to offer them to You.   However, I need YOU to empower me to actually release them to You, as sometimes I grip them too tightly!  You are eminently faithful to work Your purposes in me; help me to trust You with all “my” riches, kingdoms, and all the things of this world, and help me to make them Yours!  “But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)  God is a far better steward of riches, kingdoms, and the world than we could ever be!

Father, I have riches; I will bring them!  I have kingdoms, I will lose them!  I have the world — too small a gift even THAT is for You!