Our New Home

Our New Home
Fall is in the air!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Work Bench

Among other things, I have been spending my afternoons lately building some simple shelves for my work bench in the garage.  At times it has been a little frustrating as I know I have certain tools to do some of the more precise cuts and work on the wood, but can’t as yet find them among the still unpacked boxes that fill the guest room.  But never-the-less, I have made due with the tools that I have found and completed the job yesterday.  Now all I have to do is concentrate on unpacking those boxes so I can fill up the new shelves!

In the midst of building the shelves I was reminded of the various homes we lived in with our family over the years, the different work benches I had in those houses, the numerable projects I worked on as well as many other family events that Piper and I experienced together with our kids.  All those memories brought about good thoughts and feelings, but also saddened me as I recalled the vibrancy and passion that Piper always exhibited with our family.  She was always game for a new challenge and was usually the first in line to attempt it… except for the time we took a group of youth to Great America in Santa Clara California in the late 1970's.  It took a friend and I ALL day to convince her to get on a roller coaster!  Then it was almost impossible to get her off it during the last hour before the park closed for the day.

When I had completed the shelves and put away my tools, I took a long look at my work and drifted a bit as I thought about our journey over the last nine years beginning with our move to Oklahoma for Bible School back in 2007.  I pictured all we had done, the trials and tribulations, the good times, the many lessons learned, of those who encouraged us along the way and those who didn’t.  I guess it is not unusual to question if everything you’ve done over the years was right on or not!

But throughout my walk down memory lane, I kept hearing the words that I believed the Lord spoke to me during my Bible Study time earlier that day.  I had read a statement in the “Be Joyful” commentary on the book of Philippians where the author stated one of Paul’s underlying purposes for writing to this church.  He commented that “We should be a people that practice what we believe.”  That sentence flipped a switch in me and that’s when I heard from somewhere deep inside the Lord’s encouragement to me saying that “The bottom line for Piper and I is that we’ve always tried to practice what we believe… just like we are doing now in our stand for her healing.”

I have to believe that this is why the Lord has continued to guide and bless us.  Sure, we’ve made our share of mistakes along the way, but I think that He is more concerned with our hearts and how we grow through those mistakes, than the mistakes themselves.  It goes back to the way that Paul concluded his letter to the people of the Philippian church in Philippians 4:23, praying that they “Receive and EXPERIENCE the amazing GRACE of the Master, Jesus Christ, DEEP, DEEP, within yourselves.” (The Message Bible)

I needed that encouragement yesterday morning… and then throughout the day!  I needed a shot in the arm with the GRACE of God!  Do you every feel the need for a shot of His GRACE?  Then take a moment or two today and think about ALL the times that He has come through for you.  All the times that He has answered your specific prayers.  All the times that He has turned a negative into a positive for you.

I couldn’t help but shake my head and think, as I looked upon my finished shelves, that “It really doesn’t matter what others DO or DON’T – What matters most, as I seek, listen and obey the Master, is what I DO and DON’T!”  (and believe me… there are plenty of ‘em out there that will be more than happy to tell you that your do’s and don’ts are wrong!)  The bottom line is what HE thinks about your daily progress!  That is the only opinion that counts.

So, with that thought, have a great day today.  And as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose GRACE am I expecting to EXPERIENCE deep, deep within me today?”

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Refreshing

I hope all of you had a great and meaningful celebration of Easter yesterday.  Our day was wet and wonderful!  I have talked about and displayed pictures of the large and beautiful Dogwood tree that has been in full bloom to the right of our driveway.  If you stand on our front porch and look in either direction you will quickly notice that they also dot the neighborhood from the beginning of the road to the end.  It is always an awe inspiring sight when I open the blinds each morning.

There is one downside to their beauty though.  Over the last week or so, EVERYTHING in the neighborhood has taken on a yellow film from the pollen floating through the air from these trees.  I even noticed that our Mustang kept warm and cozy in the garage had a shimmer of yellow to it.  Come to think about it… so did the piano in the living room as I have been enjoying the spring weather and opening the windows throughout the house.
Well, the rain, that wonderful sensation of water falling from the heavens refreshed the neighborhood as it washed away the pollen from everything outside… off the deck, off the Buick in the driveway, the patio, the plants and even the dog after she was out back for a prolonged period of time!

The refreshment of the rain reminded me of the whole reason for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on what we call Easter Sunday.  When He stepped out of that grave He brought with Him a fresh start, a refreshing for mankind.  From that moment on, every man, women and child had the opportunity to be refreshed, to be washed of their old sinful, pointless lives and be renewed to live a life of purpose for the kingdom of God through their new eternal existence as living epistles of Jesus and His Word.

After service yesterday, I found myself walking through the house singing the words to the Bill Gather hymn “Because He Lives” although I noticed after a while that I was singing the wrong words.  Instead of the chorus of “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” I was singing in line with it being Easter: “Because He arose, I can see tomorrow.”

At that realization I had to laugh and called out to my wife sitting in the dining room, that “because He arose, because He lives, I CAN now SEE and FACE tomorrow… because I see it through the truth and promises in His Word.”  I can be happy, I can be strong, I can be hopeful, I can have peace in the midst of ANY adverse circumstances because I can look at the situations of my life in the same way that The Almighty God does!  I CAN see His answers.  I CAN see and I CAN have the VICTORIES that He says are ours within the pages of His Book!

NOW THAT’S A REFRESHING THAT I CAN GET INTO!  How about you?  I was a little saddened last night as I heard a Fox News anchor signing off from her program as she wished “Those who celebrate Easter” a happy Easter.  I felt sad for those who don’t celebrate and take advantage of the most wonderful and powerful opportunity given to mankind.  But on the other hand, it also encouraged me to want to tell those folks about the amazing grace of Christ, and of their opportunity to see their tomorrows in a different light!  How about you?   

Maybe today is a good time to tell others why it is that you really celebrate Easter.  Maybe… just maybe… you could be a refreshing rain in their pollen covered lives.

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to REFRESH today?”

Friday, March 25, 2016

Failure or Victory?

As my wife and I were sitting on our deck late yesterday afternoon, I leaned back in my chair and asked her, “Do you hear that?”  For it sounded just like the wind as it blew through the tops of the trees in the Plumas National Forest were we had vacationed many times before, during and after our kids grew up and moved out into their own lives, with family adventures of their own!  It was almost like a surreal experience as we were enjoying the warmth of the early spring weather after a busy day of mowing the back forty, removing the pile of branches I had clipped after the winter ice storm a few months back, and washing Piper’s hair!

We have taken to sitting out on the deck on many occasions as a reprieve before I need to go in and start up the dinner activities.  Last night I sat with notebook and pen in hand and sketched our first planting plan for our backyard.  I had begun the process a few days earlier when I ordered a Brown Turkey Fig tree along with a dwarf Colette Everbearing Pear as well.  Both these trees are different than any I had heard of in California and are better suited for our weather out here.  Our future plantings also  include a Braeburn Apple, a Santa Rosa Plum and the possibility of a peach for the front yard.  

It is interesting as I discovered that the online nursery I ordered the first two trees from, which is based in Missouri, worked closely with Luther Burbank at the turn of the 20th century.  In fact Burbank gave this particular nursery his patents for hundreds of his varietals before his passing.  And if you know your horticultural history, Luther Burbank lived in our old home town of Santa Rosa, California with test farms in both Santa Rosa and the neighboring town of Sebastopol. 

So… what does this have to do with today’s post?  Well… nothing really except, as we sat on the deck yesterday we also talked about the celebration of Easter coming up in a day or two.  It had dawned on me that I hadn’t even remembered that it was almost here!  We had made no plans and took a few moments right then and there asking Papa God to show us how He wanted us to celebrate the remembrance of the greatest event in history.

During my bible study this morning I was reading from Philippians in combination with the new commentary on the book I had purchased a few days ago, when something caught my attention.  The author of the commentary was talking about all the physical trials and tribulations that Paul went through in order to get to Rome.  He wrote that “To many, all this would have looked like a failure, but not to this man with a ‘single mind’ concerned with sharing Christ and the gospel.” (Be Joyful, chapter 3 by Warren Wiersbe) 

That statement brought back many similar memories of us being chastised for some of the things that we went through as we followed the Lord’s directions for us.  But to us these things that others considered as dismal “failures” we saw as opportunities to share the many victories that the Father brought our way as we pushed through the tough times, learned our lessons and moved on.

Then it dawned on me concerning our celebration of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection this year that what some saw as His “defeat” at Calvary was actually man’s greatest “victory!”  I literally got goose bumps this morning as I flipped over to the book of Revelation and read what Jesus told the Apostle John at the beginning of his vision on the isle of Patmos… which to many looked to be another place of failure for John’s ministry! – but look at the wealth of revelation and insight that this ‘failure’ has given the world!  In Revelation 1:18 John relates of how Jesus “laid his right hand on me and said, ‘Don’t be afraid!  I am the first and the last, the living one.  I was dead, but now I am alive forever.  I have the keys of death and hell.” (God’s Word ©)

Jesus’ experience at Calvary changed the course of life as it was known up to that point in time!  Suddenly all mankind had a path to heaven and a chance for eternal life… if they accept and confess Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  Now that is something to celebrate this Easter weekend… wouldn’t you agree!  That is definitely something to shout from the mountain tops!  For Jesus now holds the keys to life and death in the palm of His hand.

The Chief priest and religious leaders of His day thought that they had finally silenced Jesus, but little did they realize how wrong they were!  That day, on that hilltop where many only saw failure, the hosts of Heaven were rejoicing for Papa God’s plan of the salvation for the world was finally coming to a glorious conclusion… and the world would never be the same again!

So… maybe this year’s celebration of Easter is to be a focus on how what some may have termed as “failures” in your life can instead be the cause for some of the greatest “victories” that you will experience as you walk daily for Him.  I believe that in His love and overwhelming grace for us, that this is exactly how Papa God looks at our lives.  Therefore don’t be so fast to term things as failures, but quick to turn to Him and ask what you can learn from these events and boldly move on to the next assignment He has for you.

So… take some time this weekend to celebrate Jesus’ victory, your victories in and through Him, and in sharing His possibilities with others!  And as you do, keep asking yourself… “What Victories am I expecting to celebrate and share today?”

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Discerning Love and Loving Discernment

My wife and I drove up to our former neighborhood yesterday for her follow up appointment with her primary doctor.  Each time we got into and out of the car I was visually reminded of a funny little mishap that we experienced last week.  

In truth… at the time, it was neither funny nor little!  If you read my St Patrick’s Day blog on that particular day (March 17 – “Whose Way”) then you’ll recall that I was not having a very good day to begin with!  I was supposed to go back to the Oral Surgeon for the follow up but did not really want to drive for 45 minutes each way only to have the doctor tell me in 5 minutes or less that everything was fine!  But the voices of most people I know who keep telling me that I need to take care of myself kept bouncing around in my head, so I thought I’d “Man Up!” and go anyway… even though I was not happy about it!

Well, like I mentioned in that post last week, Piper was very weak at that point in the morning so it took quite a bit of physical energy on my part to get her ready and out to the car.  Once at the door of the Mustang, I helped her to her feet, turned her and prepared to slide my hand under her and to lift her gently into the seat, only she was not real steady and I had to move fairly quickly so that she wouldn’t miss the seat and end up on the driveway! 
I did manage to get her in the seat and set the seat belt.   

The only problem was that she was sitting at a weird angle and even though I was dealing with a noticeable lack of patience, I did not want her to be uncomfortable during the trip.  So… without much thought I reached for the button on the seat belt but couldn’t get to it because of the little tube pillow I keep in both cars to help support her was in the way.  That’s when the problems began as I grabbed at the pillow and attempted to tug it free… BUT… it wouldn’t budge… so… with the steam beginning to rise from my ears and without any discernment at all I quickly pulled… with all my strength… and you guessed it!

POOF!  The pillow tore in half and Piper and the passenger side of the car were suddenly covered in a mountain of teeny little white foam rubber pellets that seemed to stick to everything!  YIKES!  I could not believe my eyes!  My wife and the cleanest interior of any car in the world was lost under an avalanche of white!  And you know?  I wanted to scream, but for some reason I didn’t!  I quickly assessed the situation, took a look at my wife covered in the sticky white balls and over at Buick in the driveway which was covered in sticky yellow pollen from the Dogwood tree next to it, and I knew that we were not going to make it to the doctor!

Once I got calmed down, I called the doctor’s office and pulled out the vacuum which got clogged within about 2 minutes, overheated and shut off!  But at least I was able to uncover my wife… although I am still finding little white pellets in her hair!  Anyway… to make a LONG story short, after lunch and multiple times of cleaning out the filter on the vacuum, I was able to get most of the pellets out of the car!

The funny part of yesterday’s trip was that the pellets just sort of kept reappearing and repopulating themselves in the car.  Every time I looked around I would find piles of the white stuff in the cab.  And every time we got in or out of the car we had to brush them off of our clothes… and Piper’s hair!  (It was really funny when the trash pickup truck dumped our can on Monday.  It looked like a snow storm was coming from the inside of the truck when he turned the can upside down… and again when the truck drove off!)

Like I said, while it might be funny now… it assuredly wasn’t back then.  If I had taken the time to swallow, take a breath and think about what I was doing back on that day, I am sure that I would have operated with a little discernment and realized that the pillow was caught into the seat belt lock!

I was reading from my new book “Be Joyful” this morning and was captivated by a thought the author expressed about Paul’s prayer addressed to the church in Philippi.  (See: Philippians 1:9-11)  He stated that Paul prayed that the people would have abounding love and discerning love, for Christian love is not blind.  “After all, if our Christian love is what it ought to be, everything else should follow.  The heart and mind (should) work together so that we have discerning love and loving discernment in being able to ‘distinguish the things that differ.’” (Philippians 1:10 NIV)

That really spoke to my heart this morning.  That is the kind of standard operating procedure that I want in my life!  I’ve been on the reciprocal side of words and actions taken without much to any discernment and it still smart at times!  What are your thoughts or experiences with this course of action?  The author concluded his statement on this subject by saying that “The ability to distinguish is a mark of maturity.”

Is that a mark of maturity that you carry with you?  I am making the effort to develop that maturity in me!  How about you?  Have a great day, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What is the mark of maturity that I am expecting others to see in my daily words and actions?”