Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Be Dumb!


When I went outside with the dog first thing this morning something was different.  The sky was bright blue and cloudless, the weather was a little cooler than normal, the humidity was way less than over the last week or so, and there was a slightly cool breeze flowing through the yard… But that wasn’t it!  As I stepped off the deck onto the patio I suddenly realized that it was soooo quiet!  The only sound that came to my ears was the familiar and melodic notes of a Cardinal singing somewhere in the trees.  IT WAS SO PEACEFUL!  And you know?  I needed that…

Piper had been less than receptive to swallowing her breakfast this morning.  So after an extended period of time, trying every trick in the book in order to coax her along, she finally partook of a good amount of food.  But me… Well, by the time I was satisfied with the amount she had consumed, I was physically and emotionally spent!  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again!  I’ve worked many different jobs in my life, many times holding down two and sometimes three jobs at once…  But NOTHING compares to the extended homecare of a loved one… especially when that loved one is the most special thing in your life!

Not that I am complaining, because I am honored for the responsibility to care for my sweetie, but there are times like this morning when the body and the mind are screaming at you and a variety of negative thoughts are pounding at your brain! 

I had placed one of the extra chairs for our dining room set near the sliding window quite a few months ago.  At the time it just seemed like a convenient spot for the chair, but I soon came to realize that it is actually nice to have the chair in that place, so that on days like today, I can sit there while I catch my breath and re-center my resolve, as I put the lease on the dog before taking him out in the mornings!

On this day I took a little extra time as I fought to keep my mouth shut from complaining or saying something that my faith walk would later regret!  And the whole time I sat there, my faithful four footed companion simply stood in front of the slider looking at me with his big brown eyes seemingly saying that he was feeling my pain!  Finally with a purposeful push, I stood myself up, opened up the door and led the dog outside.

So it was in the midst of all that personal drama in which I stepped into the quiet solitude of our beautiful, tree and vine lined yard.  The quiet of the morning just seemed to suck out the pain, the questioning and the pressure that I had just endured!  It felt… RESTFUL!

When we went back into the house a few moments later, I fed the dog, poured myself a nice hot thermos cup of Starbuck’s Carmel coffee, and plopped down in front of my computer and my Bible study program.  The word “rest” had struck a chord in my mind so I did a word search and soon found myself absorbing the truths behind a section of Psalm 37:7 where the Psalmist declares: “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him:  fret not thyself because of ________…”

When I read that much of the verse I simply thought, “…because of… WHATEVER!  That is whatever negative thing that is giving you trouble at any particular moment in time!  For me that whatever right then and there was my morning experience with my bride.  Following a hunch, I looked up the original Hebrew for the word “rest” and discovered that the very first meaning is, “To be dumb!” 

Well, I was a little taken back with that definition, but once I looked up what a modern dictionary has to say about that word, I couldn’t help but agree with Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.  One of the meanings in the Oxford online dictionary describes the action of being “dumb” as “to simplify or reduce the intellectual content of something so as to make it accessible to a larger number of people.”  So in my case this morning… as well as in this entire chapter of our lives as we face the threat of disease in my wife’s body, to be “dumb” is to simplify, reduce or just not allow all the intellectual, worldly arguments concerning Alzheimer’s to confuse our childlike faith in the Word of our God!

I had to laugh at this point as I recalled that an individual had once implied to our son that I was being “dumb” in the early care of my wife, for they thought that I wasn’t doing anything to help her… when in reality I had many different irons in the fire researching the disease, looking for the best medical care we could get, and applying for financial benefits… while all the while attempting to handle her increasing physical needs… They just didn’t know all that I was doing behind the scenes!  Looking back now, with this current information, I guess I should call them up and thank them for the compliment!

So… that extreme quiet outside of the house this morning was just what the doctor ordered!  Have you ever had one of those stressful times when the good Lord just seemed to intervene and give you exactly what you were needing… even if you didn’t know what you needed at the time? 

This morning I needed rest… I needed to “dumb” down all those tired, stressed out negatives that wanted to scream out and simply “REST” in the Lord.  At that moment I needed the comfort of His Words, the comfort of His love, and comfort of His peace, “which goes beyond anything we can imagine, (and) will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 God’s Word ©)

Well, I feel better… How about you?  Got a need that is stressing you out today?  Then I encourage you to seek His REST!  You might even want to write down Psalm 37:7 on a strip of paper inserting your own WHATEVER in the verse and carry it around with you this weekend!

So with that…Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose REST am I expecting to experience today?” … or with the new information I’ve given you… “How “DUMB” am I expecting to be today?”

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What's in the News?


I got a little frustrated first thing this morning after taking the pooch out.  While Fiver checked out the neighbor’s yard for the squirrel he usually chases down the fence line, I noticed that my zucchini plant had a beautiful yellow bloom.  So I ran back into the house and grabbed my camera, only to be denied a sharp picture as my lens fogged under the pressure of all the humidity that filled the air!  Therefore, instead of having a clear, bright print, I ended up with a photo that looks like it was taken on a typically foggy morning on the Sonoma County, California coastline!  On the positive side though, it did remind me of the many enjoyable times my wife, family and I experienced on those wonderful, rugged beaches!

The fogging of my camera lenses as well as my glasses has been happening a lot with the recent surge of muggy mornings out here.  I have also noticed that there seems to be a lot of fogged lenses in the minds of many of the mainstream news agencies!  A quick look over the Yahoo news site recently showed about six negative articles concerning our president, numerous articles criticizing the Fox News organization, and a couple of stories explaining why Christians are biased, racist and out of touch with modern society!  Quite a way to start one’s morning off, wouldn’t you say! 

I often wonder if there are areas in my own life where I am predetermined to see things through a fog because of past experiences or incorrect teaching.  With everything that we have gone through in dealing with the various aspects of the disease that has attacked my wife’s body, I have had to take a long and hard look at most everything I have believed and stood for.  I think that is why I am so sensitive to what is going on in our society.  How certain sides of the political spectrum tend to see things through a predetermined set of filters that fog their understanding of someone who has a conflicting viewpoint.

As I consider all of this from my Christian perspective, I am drawn back to Acts 13:41 where the Apostle Paul writes, “Look you people who make fun of God!  Be amazed and disappear.  I will do something today that you won’t believe, even if someone tells you about it.” (CEV)  Through this verse I see the folks that write the derogatory articles about my beliefs and realize that they really aren’t making fun of me, but of God!  And then I get excited because the Lord promises us that our generation will see some other things that He is going to do that will literally blow the critics away!

Or as The Message Bible puts it, “Watch out you cynics; Look hard --- watch your world fall to pieces.  I’m doing something right before your eyes that you won’t believe, though it’s staring you in the face.”  God in His glory and might is doing something right now that many are clearly missing!  It is happening all around us, but just about none of it is being reported by the media.

My Christian brothers and sisters are walking in joy and peace in the midst of the turmoil that is being stirred up by those who just don’t have a clue!  But as Believers, we do have a clue!  When I get frustrated over what I keep reading in the mainstream news, I have to turn off the computer, the TV or the radio and look to scriptures like 2 Corinthians 2:14 and declare the Lord’s promise, NOW thanks be to God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (KJV)

Whew!  Take a moment and say the verse out loud a few times… Ah… isn’t that better!  I’ll take God’s Word on any subject, on any situation or any current news event over anything recorded in the news.  How about you?

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, take a deep breath and ask yourself… “Whose Word am I expecting to believe today?”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Birthday & Expect the Extraordinary!


As far as I am concerned… today is a miracle day!  It’s Piper’s birthday!  Now let me explain a little bit here… Back in January of this year, after a worrisome couple of days at the hospital, I wasn’t real sure that my lovely wife was going to make it to her next birthday.  That’s why we asked our four kids to fly in to spend a long weekend alone with her back in February.  It is also why we enlisted the assistance of the Liberty Homecare and Hospice Services.  These folks have been great and have become like a second family to Piper and I.

But through all the ups and downs… mostly downs for a few months there, we kept on believing, kept on saturating Piper with God’s Word on healing and kept on expecting the extraordinary.  Then after a while, she began to stabilize and hold her own… and that’s where we continue to be today!  And here it is some eight months later and she is celebrating her 64th birthday!  The Nurse Practitioner was here earlier this morning to do her second 6 month evaluation on Piper who gave us a little smile as the nurse wished her a happy birthday with her wonderfully friendly thick southern accent!

I find it difficult to believe that my favorite gal is 64 years old!  I have known her since she was sixteen (Hummm… maybe even 15!)  and we started dating a month after her 17th birthday.  So this makes the 46th birthday that we have celebrated together!  And I am continuing to believe that we will spend many more together... not just in eternity, but on this earth as well.

Wow!  You talk about growing up together… I’ve noticed that one of the common themes of many of the Hallmark movies is the couple that dated in High School, broke up and then get together many years later.  When they discussed “what happened?” the common reason is that “We were so young… just kids.”  And that’s when I look at Piper and burst out laughing.  Now, I’m not saying that this isn’t a real scenario for some folks… but it sure wasn’t for us!

When I think back upon the early days of our marriage, I can only remember good times with lots of fun experiences, lessons learned, and the beginnings of a faith-filled life together!  You might ask… “Would you do it again?” and without hesitation I’d give a resounding “YES!”  And I am SURE that Piper would reply the same.  I always tell my wife that she started out as a real “cutie” and grew into a beautiful women who just seemed to get better looking and sweeter as time went on!  I also let her know, in no uncertain terms, how blessed and honored I am to have been chosen (by God) to be her husband.

Yesterday the Pastor was talking to the parents during “Back to School Sunday” and spoke of an anonymous quote that he had heard that said in effect, “As parents our actions have a more lasting effect on our children than our words.  That if there is judgement, criticism and complaining coming from the parents, the kids will have it in their personal lives.  Likewise, if there is lots of love, encouragement and joy, then the kids will also demonstrate those characteristics in their adult lives.”

I felt that the second part of that quote accurately described my Piper.  I told her the other night of how blessed and fortunate I thought our kids are to have had a Mom like her!  Like I’ve said before, Piper made family life fun!  She turned every opportunity into a learning experience, always spoke encouraging words and loved to turn a frown into a praiseful smile!  I can now see those same traits in each of our four children.  And you know… I believe that the best is yet to come!

In the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, chapter one, verse five, the Lord speaking through the Prophet declares without hesitation: “Be amazed and astonished.  (for) I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if it were reported to you.” (God’s Word ©)  In the New Testament, Paul brings that same verse into the modern church age and repeats it almost word for word in Acts 13:41.  And when you think about it, he makes similar claims throughout his writings including his faith bolstering encouragement to us believers in Ephesians 3:20 where he states, “God can do anything, you know, far more than you could ever imagine, or request in your wildest dreams!” (The Message)

So yeah, I believe that Papa God still has many more works that He wants to accomplish through us and in us… as well as in and through each of you!  Remember, physical circumstances don’t necessarily mean a thing, when you place your trust, your faith and your lives in the hands of the Lord by walking hand in hand with Him by the truth of His unfallible Word!

So HAPPY-BLESSED Birthday Honey!  You’ve been a blessing to just about anyone who has been fortunate enough to cross paths with you! – If you read this today, and have had a funny or encouraging encounter with Piper, please leave a reply to share with all of us!

You know dear readers…  I am sooooo looking forward to the SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY that the Lord is promising to do in our day… How about you?

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose EXTRAORDINARY WORKS am I expecting to SEE today?”

Friday, August 11, 2017

Kingdom Sounds


When I walked into the kitchen first thing this morning to brew a pot of fresh coffee and prepare Piper’s morning medications, I could hear the joyful songs of birds singing outside the window over the sink.  For a moment or two I was kind of mesmerized by the melodic sounds while I stood looking out the window across our backyard.  Then a few minutes later as I re-entered our bedroom and began to softly sing a morning praise song that I had made up long ago and sing to her every day, I slid up the blinds on the window and was greeted with the sights and sounds of our side yard that borders a forested neighborhood commons area.

Before my eyes the leaves on the trees shimmered under a slight breeze and a bright blue sky, fallen leaves bespeckled the lawn, and a beautiful red Cardinal flew from the backyard and disappeared into the protective cover under the canopy of trees.  When I finished Piper’s morning song, my heart swelled as the hidden Cardinal sang his song that seemed to be a continuance of the melody that I had sung to my wife!  I had to stand there for just a few more moments and continue to soak in the beauty of the sight before my eyes and enjoy the sounds that seemed to enrapture my entire being!

Do you ever take the time to enjoy the sounds around you in morning?  Earlier in the week I had been texting back and forth with our oldest son whose family had just spent a few days in the Plumas National Forest in northeastern California, at one of my most favorite places on this whole earth!  As we reminisced about our many family camping adventures there, we wholeheartedly agreed that there is nothing more enjoyable than rising early in the morning and sitting at the camp table with a fresh brewed, steaming hot cup of coffee while enjoying the natural sights and sounds of the still quiet campground in the middle of the forest with the birds singing, the critters skirting around, the sound of the morning breeze fluttering the tops of the tall trees, and the sight of light smoke still rising from the previous night’s campfires around the campground.

Ah… all those memories as well as my experiences this morning can’t help but remind me of the sights and sounds of God’s kingdom!  I heard a song leader on the radio yesterday talking about how the move of the Spirit of God amongst His people is always predicated by sounds… sounds of the kingdom.  I don’t remember if I had ever heard that before, but as I began to think about it, I recalled many examples throughout both the Old and New Testaments where the sounds and/or shouts of praise did come before the move of the Lord. 

Take for example the story of Paul and Silas as they sat shackled in the jail at Philippi.  Acts 16:25-26 states that, “around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening to them.  (when) Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. (and) All the doors immediately flew open, and all the prisoners' chains came loose.” (God’s Word ©) 

Acts 2 tells the story of the coming of the Holy Ghost and details the event as a “sound like a violently blowing wind.”  I Corinthians 15:52, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelations 1:15 and Revelation 14:2 tell of last days events and speak of that which will be heard describing it as “the sounds of the last trumpet, a roaring sound” and “the sound of raging waters.”  (God’s Word ©)

The Old Testament is filled with examples with my personal favorite being when Joshua commanded his army to quietly march around the walls of the imposing and impenetrable city of Jericho seven times.  Then they were told that when they heard the sound of the priests blowing the rams horns to “shout because the Lord had given them the city.”  And when they did shout “the wall collapsed and the troops charged straight ahead and captured the city” (Joshua 6:8,16, 20 God’s Word ©)

Let me ask you a question that you can ponder this weekend.  Is your life, your home, your relationships with others and the events of your daily activities filled with kingdom sounds?  When things don’t go as you thought they would, do you fill the atmosphere with kingdom sounds or do other noises flow from your mouth.

I had just begun to help my wife with her protein breakfast drink this morning when she suddenly seemed to lose interest in swallowing the liquid in her mouth.  After I tried all the regular tricks that I use to motivate her, to no avail… I began to get a bit frustrated, but you know… I wasn’t about to give in, so instead of voicing the noise of my frustrations, I instead opted to voice the sounds of praises unto our God!

Well… she didn’t respond right away, but I persisted.  At one point I glanced over to the dog sitting sentinel at the front window as he turned back toward me with a look on his face that was almost daring me to say something that I might regret!  But again, I didn’t give in but smiled and continued to sing when FINALLY she began to swallow again… and actually consumed a good portion of her breakfast! 

So… needless to say, the sounds of the kingdom in our house tend to prevail over other noises… Why?  BECAUSE THEY WORK!  How about you?  What sounds prevails in your home?

Have a great and PRAISEFUL weekend as you fill the atmosphere of your life with the kingdom sounds of praise… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What sounds am I expecting my neighbors to hear coming from my house today?”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

DIY


We have an area off our back deck between the deck and the lawn that I’ve been wanting to do something with ever since we moved in a couple of years ago.  The center piece of the area is a small pond that the former owners put in.  Other than that, it is filled with grass infested rubber ground cover. 

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day thinking about and praying over a multitude of ideas that began to flow through my head for the design of the area.  First I dusted off my mechanical drawing skills learned in Jr High, and drew out the shape of the area with accurate measurements of its dimensions and placement of the pond.  Then I began to dream about potential themes, plants, river rock and other décor.

Over the weekend I had ordered an 8’ decorative windmill which will be the anchor for one side of the project with the pond on the other side.  So with that in mind I spent a few hours on the web looking at a variety of ideas and garden décor possibilities.  At the end of the day I had settled on a type of coastal scene around the pond surrounded by river rock, some coastal grasses and a 36’ light house that will blend into some small mounds around the windmill with more grasses interspersed with summer color plants.

After trying to find small decorative furniture that would fit into the area, I got a little frustrated and then had the revelation that “Hey!  I can make the other decorative items with my new saw and wood working tools!”  Any you know… that idea felt good!  We not only can design the area but also make some of the décor for it!  Talk about making it personal!  Then I spend the hour before dinner looking up blueprints for small garden benches, bird houses and other ideas… and my excitement grew in leaps and bounds!

As I thought about my adventures yesterday while helping my wife with her breakfast today, the idea of Doing It Yourself projects popped up in my mind.  And then, for some reason, the picture of someone being deceived into thinking that they are doing something on their own, or for a particular reason while in truth… they are not, followed suit.  I thought about how many things in today’s society seem to be turned totally upside down when compared to the Biblical standards that were the norm for our society not too many years ago!

For example… I caught an interview on the Tucker Carlson show last night where he was talking with an individual around the topic of Global Warming.  At first I thought it was kind of funny and then I straightened up on the couch and sat with my mouth wide open as the man being interviewed went on and on… and didn’t make any sense the whole time!  He seemed to be talking in circles, had no substance of proof for his outlandish statements of doom and gloom and then got angry when the host attempted to qualify his ramblings of the truth.

Then there are the leaders within certain political groups that are pressing their ideals of equal rights by presenting laws that make all kinds of immoral and what would normally be seen as unsafe and hazardous situations abound for our country’s women and children and their families alike.  And these politicians have the nerve to stand in front of a public audience with a straight face while they intellectually argue their points… while many of us in the country look at them and say “What are they talking about?  Have they totally lost it?”

Well, I don’t think that they have lost it… I believe that they are just being deceived.  Revelation 12:9 brings some clarity to the situation by telling us who is behind these twisted interpretations of the truth.  The Apostle John tells us about “That ancient snake, named Devil and Satan, the DECEIVER OF THE WHOLE WORLD…”  In the original Greek the word translated “deceiver” means “to cause to roam from safety, the truth, or virtue; to lead aside from the right way.” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)

Like I said, many folks in the world are simply being deceived into thinking that what was once right is now wrong… That what was once considered an unsafe situation is now okay as long as no one gets offended!

After all my research and deliberations yesterday, I am confident that our garden project will be the culmination of ideas that I prayed over and worked through and will be a part of the personalization of our property.  It will be an honest to goodness DIY project!

In our society today, I see many that are fooled by “the deceiver of the whole world” into wrongly believing and proliferating ideas that are not theirs and are not ones that they most likely, in their right minds, wouldn’t even agree with!  Now, granted, in the context of the scripture, our verse is talking about those who have not made Jesus Christ the Lord and savior of their souls.  As Christian’s we are not under the authority of the evil one, but all of us probably have areas in our lives that haven’t yet been totally surrendered to the Lord… and it is in those areas where deception can pop up!

So what’s my point?  First of all, know that all is not lost in our modern society.  Revelation chapter twelve tells all about the final failure of the Devil and his lies of deception.  In the end, God’s righteousness triumphs over evil!  But in the meantime… It might be a good time to look over the things you stand for, the things you say and the thoughts you have and look for signs of deception.  If you find some, just turn them over to the Lordship of Jesus and those lies will have to go!

And when the accuser of the brethren attempts to bring accusations against you to the Father, (See: Revelation 12:10) you can simply look to the throne of God and knowingly  say: “You got it wrong again Devil!”

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What and/or Whose truths am I expecting to be living today?”

Monday, August 7, 2017

Who Are You?


With the current situation with my wife’s health, I have to be watchful that I do not spend very much time walking down memory lane!  Living in our past tends to obstruct the view we are painting, by our faith in God’s Word concerning her healing.  After a while, those memories also begin to hurt… and I’m talking about a deep heart-ache when I think too much on how my wife used to be, contrary to what I’m currently seeing before my eyes.  Once again though, I am thankful for the amount of Word that we have been pumping into ourselves, for time and time again I find that the emotional and at times very physical pain in me dissolves as my concentration changes from the thoughts of the natural to that of the supernatural realm.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14 the Apostle Paul tells us, “But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ.  Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ.  It’s like a fragrance that fills the air.” (God’s Word ©)  Once I yield my attention to the spiritual realm I catch a glimpse of our upcoming victory that the Word declares ALWAYS happens!

And you know… that’s the attitude that I like to carry with me throughout the day, whether I am in the house or out in public!  Over the years in ministry as well as in the secular jobs I have held, I have come across many folks who tend to live one way in their private lives, and a totally different one in public.  One of the many things I have learned in this war for Piper’s health that we are engaged in, is that how I live my private life, alone with her in the confines of our home and property, has to be the basis for everything else I do.  I strive on a daily bases to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10 ESV)

It is at home when I need to be strong for her and for me!  I do my best to take care of myself, but the greatest life style exercise that I have built into my daily routine is to get lots and lots of doses of the Word of life!  It keeps me going when things get a little rough, when there is no one around to encourage me or to lend me a hand! 

When we go out, I don’t have time to think about how I am acting in public.  To consider if the folks I pass in the store are hearing kind and Godly words emanating from me.  When we go out in the neighborhood, to the store or anywhere else… what you see is what you get!  What comes out of me in action, word or deed is who I am… The man that takes the time to get into the Word each and every day of my life.

I like how Paul put it in our verse from 2 Corinthians 2:14 where he says, “…Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ.  It’s like a fragrance that fills the air.”  The word translated “KNOW” comes from that word “ginosko” which describes a very intimate and personal knowing of Christ, as a husband and wife intimately “know” each other. 

This is a clear rendition of the young Piper I began to get to know in High School.  She didn’t necessarily use the name of Jesus very much in our increasingly longer and longer conversations, she just lived Him!  His nature just sort of oozed out of her.  You could see it in her bright, joyful eyes, in that killer smile of hers, in the carefree bounce in her step and even in the way she enunciated her words.  They just seemed to come across void of any judgement or criticism and encouraged anyone blessed enough to be within the sound of her voice!

What’s interesting is that to me, she seemed to be somewhat unique in the way she carried herself.  I didn’t necessarily see a lot of that “intimate knowing of Christ” in other’s that were close to her back then.  Over time I came to know that these folks were also strong Christians and loved the Lord, but yet seemed to not have the freedoms and joy that was the Piper I was coming to know and love.  For the others, their public life seemed to play out as if it was a scripted part of the movie of their lives.  It just wasn’t natural like my girl’s.  And over the years, as I have grown up in the Lord, I have come to realize that her life style is exactly the type of example that Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 2:14.

And back to Memory Lane… This came up as I was talking with Piper about this exact subject while preparing dinner last night.  I think Piper’s disposition was and continues to be all about the close and intimate relationship that she has always seemed to have with Jesus.  Like I said, it was never something she tried to be or actit’s just who she is… Whether she knew it or not.

Even as the grips of Alzheimer’s began to take over, she still exuded the nature of the Son of God.  For instance, there was the time while we were back in California at one of her quarterly appointments with her Neurologist at the Brain Health Center in San Francisco.  When her named was called I helped her up to her feet, as she was still able to walk with assistance, but was talking less and less frequently.  As we began to walk across the waiting room, one of the other patients in the room stopped us and said to me, “You’re wife has a very sweet spirit about her!”

Well, of course, that blessed the socks off of me, and it goes to show that Piper didn’t even have to say or do a thing, but simply allow His nature to shine through her!  Again, I believe that this is what Paul was eluding to in the above scripture.  Would that describe you?

Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or whose nature am I expecting to exemplify through my life today?”

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Winning Team!


As I was helping my wife get ready for bed last night, I found that I could hardly keep my eyes off the TV in our bedroom.  Being as I am a San Francisco Giants baseball club fan living on the east coast, I have to watch the live broadcasts from the west beginning at ten in the evening our time!  To be honest, that was the entire reason that we purchased a little TV for the bedroom a couple of years ago!  Now I can lie in bed and watch the games before turning off the light for the night.

But I noticed that something was different last night.  After I had spoken the Word of God over Piper, prayed with her and then tucked her in, I realized that I was in a really good mood.  As I stepped into the bathroom to get myself ready for bed with my MLB app live streaming the game on my phone so I wouldn’t miss one play, it dawned on me… I was happy because the Giants were not only winning… but were winning big time! (the final score was 11-2, Giants over the A’s!)

You must understand that this has been a terribly disappointing season for my team.  I have continued to watch their games, but after a while losing gets a little old… you know what I mean?  I guess that I am just a bit spoiled as they have had a championship contending team for many years and this year’s efforts were quite opposite to what I have grown to expect!  So, their hitting on all cylinders last night was quite pleasurable.

Once I finally laid down on top of the bed to really get into the game, I had the sudden thought that it is a lot more fun to be part of a team that is winning than it is to be with one that is losing.  Now I know… most of you are probably saying “Well, Duh!”  But think about it for a moment in the context of your daily life…  As a Christian you and I are part of a winning team… and I can’t think of a better association to have… can you?

That thought immediately brought to mind a very familiar scripture found in 2 Corinthians 2:14.  The Message Bible renders this verse of Paul’s bold proclamation “Thank God!  In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.  (And) through us, he brings knowledge of Christ.  Everywhere we go people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.”

I mean, just think about it for a moment… The Bible, the written Word and will of God for us, His children, declares unapologetically that IN CHRIST we have the ability to walk in victory anywhere we go!  Well, my Giants may not be having a Victory Parade through downtown San Francisco this year… but the infallible Word of God tells us that as members of the Christian team, we will march from one place to another in one perpetual VICTORY parade!

And you know… when I watched the Giants World Series Victory Parade in 2014, there was lots of noise in the streets, lots of happy, exuberant on-lookers and a whole world of baseball fans around the country that KNEW that the San Francisco Giants were the undisputed champions that year!

2 Corinthians 2:14 also infers that this is a similar reaction that the people around us will have when they see our victories IN CHRIST.  We most likely won’t be in an actual parade, but the amazement of our victories over the things that come against us each day in our lives, and our attitudes of joyful but yet humble adoration of the One who has led us in these victories will be seen and heard and be like a sweet fragrance to them!  According to Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, the word translated “victory” or “triumph” depending on the translation, means “to make an acclamatory procession,” which the Oxford Online Dictionary defines as “a loud and enthusiastic approval, typically to welcome or honor someone or something.”

In other words, those who know you through daily interactions, will take note of the victories that you keep having and come to see, hear and smell them as loud, very vivid and fragrant demonstrations of Jesus Christ… and thereby draw them to Him… through you!

So yea… I like being associated with a winning team… Don’t you?  What colors will you be wearing this weekend?  For me, it will most likely be my new black and orange SF Giants hat along with a smile and an encouraging word that will show forth the goodness of the victories that I have IN CHRIST!

Have a victorious weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose victorious team am I expecting to be actively participating with today?”

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Writing the Text...


Whew!  I finally finished phase one of my raised bed vegetable garden project with the addition of the side fencing and access gates.  This plan actually began last summer when I purchased a 2’ X 8” raised bed kit through Home Depot, but with all the company we had last summer and everything else we had going during the first summer in our new residence, the kit never made it out of the box!  So, by the time spring came around this year, I was eager to get started!

Everything seemed to be progressing well as I got the kit assembled, purchased some hardware netting for the underside in order to keep the burrowing critters out and then got it attached.  But that’s when the affairs of our daily life began to pull me away from the project.  Piper’s needs, rainy weather, a lack of energy and a whole bunch of unexpected interruptions continued to take me away from my gardening plans!

Through it all I never gave up… well, almost never as I seriously considered waiting until next year a few weeks ago!  One of the big things that the Lord has been trying to get through to me in the context of the unique circumstances and lifestyle that we are living with Piper’s daily health needs and concerns, is to be content working on all the various dreams and visions that I have for our home and property, a little bit at a time!  So… slowly… and sometimes not too happily, I am learning to be satisfied with any steps that I am able to complete each day… no matter if they are baby steps or giant leaps!

Since my wife is my main focus right now, I have to plan accordingly when working on home projects and make sure that I have the energy, strength and peace of mind and spirit left over to be able to assist her with any need she has… 24/7.  Now that may sound simple to some of you, but I have always driven myself to complete tasks on my preplanned schedules.  I just do not like seeing unfinished projects around the home!  Thinking about it now… that is most likely why I tended to come in the house at the end of a day off with cuts and scrapes on my arms and legs.  You know… when that happens today… I can see hear my lovely and caring wife saying (in a frustrated tone…) “Jim, you’ve got to stop hurting yourself!”

So… what started as a spring project finally ended yesterday when I planted the one and only scrawny looking zucchini plant that I could find after searching multiple stores (I mean, who plants veggies in August!)  To me though, this was a great victory!  I had told Piper that I didn’t care if it was the end of summer or not, but that I was going to plant something when I finally finished this project!  And although it may not be much, at least I have a couple of tomatoes and the zucchini in the ground!  Besides, the weather actually stays pretty warm out here through October… so… there might still be a chance that we get some fruits from our labors!

I was reading this morning from 2 Samuel 22:25 in the Message paraphrase Bible where it states that “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.”  That statement got me to thinking about how I had to continually rewrite the original plan I had for my raised bed project.  As the circumstances of life got in the way, I needed to regularly make adjustments to the plan that I was adamant about finishing THIS summer!  And in reality, many of those “adjustments” made the project work easier and more efficiently than my original ideas!

I think I could say without reserve, that this is exactly what is happening in my wife’s and my life as we continually allow the Lord to make “adjustments” in the book of our lives!  When I read that verse this morning, I immediately had a footnote to add to it saying: “and then gave Him the red pen to edit the text wherever He wants and to write the ensuing chapters!”

With everything going on in my life right now, I have to continually fight off discouragement.  I no longer have the freedom with my time to do whatever I want… whenever I want to do it!  I may plan to mow the lawn one day, only to have that plan be pushed out due to Piper’s changing needs.  So, do I get upset?  Well… I get tempted… but eventually remember that the daily text of our lives is being written by Him and not me!  If I truly have given Him control of the pen, then I must yield my desires to Him… would you agree?  I guess you could sort of say that He is the author while I am the actor in the play of our lives!  And sure, I can improvise along the way, but I have found out that this is not always the best plan!  His lines are far better than mine!

To say that life is different for us right now would be a great understatement… so I am glad that He is the one writing this chapter and not me!  It gives me great comfort and peace in knowing that even though things are totally upside down from where I thought that they would be in this time of our lives, that He still has the final chapters clearly in mind… and just like a great action novel, the gripping excitement keeps me going on and flipping the pages until the final conclusion!’

Have a great rest of the week and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Who am I expecting to write the text of my life today?”


Monday, July 31, 2017

Let the Light Shine!


One of the many things that drew my wife and I to our home was the amount of light that poured in through the many windows in the front living section.  The very first time we walked into the home, we entered through the door in the garage that leads into the kitchen.  As soon as we stepped through the doorway I was amazed at how bright the kitchen, living and dining rooms were.  The sellers had the front door open so that the glass storm door was like a giant window in itself along with the two long windows that look out on the covered front porch and expansive lawn that lines both sides of the long driveway.

While I looked around the house I deduced that the owners must have had a thing for brown as all the window decorations, save one room and the carpet were brown!  And on top of that they had dark wood furniture in the living room and a black table in the dining room.  But you know, even with all the dark accoutrements, the inside of the house still retained a light an airy disposition!

Once we purchased the property we replaced the worn brown carpet in the bedrooms with pretty bluish-gray carpeting and then began to slowly replace all the brown curtains with those of Piper’s favorite color red!  Then to top it off, we purchased a new red leather love seat for the living room that looks good with the window coverings and our light furniture!

I am not too sure why, but this affection for light goes back to the beginning of our marriage for Piper and I.  While others who lived in our first apartment complex on the ground floor level as we did, usually kept their curtains drawn or barely open, we liked to keep our front rooms bright and cheery and therefore didn’t mind having the heavy curtains open!  The same is true when we rented my Grandmother’s home from my folks beginning in 1980.  My Grandmother had put up beautiful sheer curtains on all the windows, but we immediately removed them so that the light could come into the house unimpeded by the thin layer of cloth.

Maybe our desire for the physical light of the sun shining in our home is a reflection of our lifelong desire to have the spiritual light of the Son brightly shining in the home of our hearts.  The author of 2 Samuel 22:29 tells of a similar personal inclination declaring that “thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.” (KJV) I really like the thought of the Lord lightening up any darkness of indecision, danger, sickness or even false accusations that I may face in my life.  How about you?

The Message Bible paints a descriptive picture of 2 Samuel 22:29 saying: “Suddenly, GOD, your light floods my path, GOD drives out the darkness.”  It is kind of like when the sun first peeks over our neighbor’s two tall Long Leaf Pines that stand guard over our property line in the morning.  It is fun to watch the changing color of the sun that is reflected through the branches of the trees until it finally pops over the top in the fullness of its strength, beauty and clear light. 

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve also experienced a similar transition of His light coming into the midst of troubling situations that you are involved in.  When the difficulties arise, we grab His Word and begin to seek His guidance.  Then as we stand on the Word that He reveals to our hearts, His light slowly begins to fill up the situation until its brightness, strength and warmth take over!

Then again… on many occasions… once I have taken the time to reach out to Him, He simply floods the need with His light and rapidly drives out the effects of the darkness that has temporarily over-shadowed our lives.

Isn’t God good!  I encourage you to take the time to make the clarity of His light to shine brightly in you, on you and through you this week!  Open up the curtains of your heart and let the SON shine in!  Have a super week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose LIGHT am I expecting to shine in on my life today?”

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Road-Tested!


In 1983 my wife and I purchased a brand new Pontiac station wagon as her 1979 3rd Generation Dodge Challenger was getting a little too small for our family’s growing needs.  It was a deep red, mid-sized Bonneville wagon… and of course, as per my wife’s pleasure, we eventually had it fitted with mags and wide, raised white lettered tires!  It was a sharp looking vehicle and except for a problem near the beginning our ownership, it gave us very good service for fifteen years when we purchased our new Suburban. 

During the first year though, we began to notice a problem.  To be honest, I really don’t remember all the details except that it had to do with the transmission and that it didn’t happen all the time, but was regular enough that it gave us great concern.  Since it was still under warranty, we brought the car in for service.  After a test drive and examination the mechanic reported that he could find nothing wrong with the vehicle.  Well, you guessed it… a few days after that we began to notice the problem again, so we brought it back to the dealership… again and again… with the same conclusion.

By this time our frustration was growing exponentially and we spoke directly to the dealership’s Service Manager.  We finally agreed to wait a few weeks until the regional service supervisor was scheduled to come to the Pontiac/Cadillac dealership. At that time we brought the car back in and went on another road test with him… and you know, within about five minutes into the drive he figured out what it was, had the service department replace the part and we never had the problem again!

I hadn’t thought about that experience for a long time until I read from 2 Samuel 22:31 in the Message Bible yesterday where it states, “What a God!  His road stretches straight and smooth.  Every God-direction is road-tested.  Everyone who runs toward him makes it.”  After reading this paraphrase of the verse, I thought about how our personal example shows what it is like to seek and then follow through with a plan or direction that Papa God gives you.  His ways are road-tested, but you have to travel His road with the right expert.  Not according to the way you or someone else may think is best.

We could have saved ourselves a lot of frustration and time if we had known about the regional service technician’s expertise in the first place!  Because the transmission’s problem tended to occur when the car was driving up a slight grade, they road-tested the car on the same stretch of country road (Petaluma Hill Road, for those of you who may know the area) with its twisting and turning and rolling hills every time.  That’s kind of like taking a leap of faith, hearing the Lord’s directions and then stepping out on your own to accomplish it… and having to do it over and over again until you get it right!

I can compare this to our journey over these last ten years.  We prayed and sought the Lord’s guidance, took His hand and held on tight while we ventured out on the path we believe He set before us.  And sure we've hit lots of twisting turns and rolling hills along the way… but we  have never allowed ourselves to be deterred from His process.  We discovered that it was like having the expert technician with us in the car the whole time!

2 Samuel 22:35 informs us of the results of this process saying, “He shows me how to fight; I can bend a bronze bow.” In other words, when you stay in touch with Him, on His path, you’ll end up getting stronger (instead of weaker) in the midst of the battle while fighting the good fight of faith and win!

When my wife and I got in the car with the regional service supervisor that day, our expectations were immediately boosted due to his confidence and knowledge of the internal workings of our new car.  At one point we glanced over at each other and nodded our heads in silent agreement thinking, “Finally… someone who knows what they’re talking about!”

I believe that this is how it is when you take God’s road-test with Him at the wheel of your life!  Along the way of your journey, in the midst of the winding twists and turns of the road, you’ll find yourself encouraged and strengthened in order to steadfastly face whatever is over the next hill in the road!

So… what am I saying?  It’s simple!  After seeking Him and getting His plan, don’t leave home without Him!  His directions are road-tested and He is the expert guide that will get you to your final destination in healthy, prosperous, peace and joy!

Have a great weekend.  With Piper’s various morning appointments this week, I’ve gotten off schedule with my blog posts, but we should be back to our normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule next week… unless the Lord has another side trip for us to travel on!  I encourage you to think about His expertise on the road-trip of your life, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting God’s expertise while on my road-trip today?”

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Perfect and Correct


Our backyard was teeming with life this morning!  When I was about to take Fiver out after helping Piper with her breakfast, I paused and glanced over our large yard.  There were little birds flying around, black birds pulling unknown delicacies out of the grass and three bunnies munching on the leafy weeds that spring up when the lawn gets a little high.  When we stepped out onto the deck, Fiver paused to look over the neighbor’s yard to our left and immediately made a dash down the stairs to the lawn… dragging me behind him!

At the same moment he took off, two squirrels literally flew down one of the pine trees next to the property line and quickly scampered off in the opposite direction.  Then off to my left I heard the familiar “Plop, Plop!” as two of the three little green frogs that call our pond home, leaped from the the sunny rocks into the water in response to our sudden appearance!

I couldn’t help but smile after we returned to the house and I stood once more at the screen door simply soaking in the views and sounds that encapsulated my eyes and ears.  Again and again I am reminded of the goodness of the Lord as I view our surroundings here in North Carolina.  He knows just what we need… when we need it!  I may have had a difficult time getting Piper ready for the day an hour before that moment at the window, but the trauma and concern that it produced suddenly disappeared in the midst of the peaceful beauty that is our home and property here in the northeast quarter of the Hector’s Creek Township within Harnett County.

But not all the critters that are out and about are as fun to be near as those that came into our yard this morning…  As I was talking to Piper’s nurse yesterday afternoon as she gave Piper her weekly checkup (all her vitals’ continue to look steady and strong…), she mentioned that she was a little anxious about her next appointment as the patient had mentioned to her that they had spotted a snake in their house… again!  I guess this has happened before!

She, like me, is not a fan of snakes!  I told her that Piper would probably enjoy seeing the critter… Piper was always braver than me when it came to slithering reptiles!  In trying to comfort her, I told her that the good news was that according to the description of the snake, it was most likely a rat snake which are common in the area.  I have heard that they are good to have around as they control the rat and mouse population… AND that they are harmless to humans!  I had actually seen a program on North Carolina woodlands where the Naturalist being interviewed was handling a rat snake while telling of their virtues!

But you know… my encouragement to her didn’t do me a bit of good last night as I tip-toed through the dark house on the way to the kitchen.  As soon as I stepped from the lighted bedroom into the darkened hall way, I immediately started thinking about black snakes in the house!  By the time I got to the kitchen though, I had begun to have a different view on things.  With each careful step I took, I started thinking about the protection scriptures that Piper and I claim over ourselves, our property and our family every day.  So, just as quick as the potentially fearful thoughts came upon me, the vision of God’s protection – that we actively claim – outshined any ridiculous lie of the enemy of our souls!

The same thing happened to me over the last weekend.  While I was preparing dinner one night, I glanced over to Piper and thought: “She just doesn’t look that good tonight!”  At that particular moment in time she was weak, pale and quite lethargic.  But as I considered the view before my eyes and began to pray for the Lord’s directions, I rapidly changed my perspective while the view of the truth of His Word began to fill my soul.  So, before I uttered any words that mimicked what she looked like, I began to speak out how the scriptures like Psalm 91:16, 103:3, 107:20, Matthew 8:17, I Peter 2:24 and 3 John 1:2 view my wife!

As I think about all this this morning, I am reminded of the many lighthouses that dot the North Carolina shoreline.  We have a large poster of the six famous lights that have protected ships for hundreds of years.  While there are hundreds of ship wrecks in the waters off our coast, there are thousands of others that were saved over the years by those beacons of light that shone through the night skies to guide them through, the dangerous shoals that line the entrance to our rivers, the storms at sea, the canon fire that rained down from the earthworks forts that doted the coastline during wars including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War.  And then there are the confusing and ever-changing currents, obstructions, winds and other dangers that come with navigating around the barrier islands and through the Outer Banks areas that soon became known as “The graveyard of the Atlantic.”

The Psalmist speaks to my heart in Psalm 119:105 when he prays “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path,” (God’s Word ©) or as The Message paraphrase puts it, “By your words, I can see where I’m going; They throw a beam of light on my dark path.”

Not to sound like a broken record… but I don’t know how I could have made it through all the traumatic events of the last ten years with our battle for my wife’s health… or for what the future may hold for us… without a constant vision or view of the Word of God ever before my eyes.  2 Samuel 22:30-31 also tells of the goodness of the Lord and His Word declaring: “You help me defeat armies and capture cities.  Your way is perfect, Lord and your word is correct.  You are a shield for those who run to you for help.” (CEV)

I love the peace, comfort and strength that the words “perfect” and “correct” bring to me in the midst of trying times.  PERFECT and CORRECT… would you agree?  Is that your view when trouble arises?

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Whose PERFECT and CORRECT ways am I expecting to fill my view today?”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Boomerang!


Do you ever stop and think about the consequences of the words you speak?  After everything that my wife and I have been told over the last ten years… I sure do!  Now I tend to listen very carefully to what I hear being spoken around me, by our leaders being covered in the daily news, as well as by those in our circle of friends and family.

I have to be careful when I hear folks from a certain political party speaking so that I don’t get angry or frustrated!  It continues to amaze me how the leaders - that we have elected into office - can completely disregard the will of the people they serve and tell mis-truths by continually coming up with false accusations and obstructing the policies that our president is attempting to put into motion….and then have the nerve to say – on camera – that they know what the American people want! 

I guess that I am pretty sensitive to all of this because I have had similar things happen to me and my wife.  But you know... lately I have begun to see things changing just a bit!  Deep down I have always believed that all the wrong words and actions would eventually come back to haunt those spewing such mis-truths! 

Then as I was studying the Bible along these lines the other day, I suddenly realized why I had been thinking that way.  While writing down some notes from Philippians 3:12-14, I suddenly felt the urge to turn to Matthew 7:1-2.  After quickly clicking my Bible study program to the epistle of Matthew, I found the spot where Jesus told us to “Judge not, that you may not be judged.  For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (MKJV/ESV) 

Those words got me to thinking about some of the recent events with main stream media reporters being fired for making up false news stories, and some Democratic politicians voicing their disappointment with the direction that their party has taken.  Then it hit me like a brick – OUCH!  In looking back over the last few years, I suddenly realized that most of the things that I had been accused of in the care of my wife had actually been acted out by or happened to the individuals who voiced the false narratives!  YIKES!

I have to admit that the reality of those thoughts were shocking to me… This may sound funny or simple minded but… God means what He says!  That truth forced me to my knees as I began to pray for those involved in our lives as well as for the guilty parties in our political system today.  What really came upon me in a strong manner was the understanding of what those folks must have felt like in the midst of the trials and tribulations that they were going through.

And I also realized that I didn’t want any part of negative words and thoughts that I might be tempted to say or think come back on me!  Once again I like how the Message Bible puts it into everyday lingo declaring: “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures (or what you may think are their failures), or criticize their faults – unless, of course you want the same treatment.  That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging! (Matthew 7:1-2 The Message)

I definitely don’t want negative criticisms boomeranging back onto me… and I would bet that you don’t either!  Once again I go back to the truth of just keeping one’s mouth shut… as someone wise once said: “If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all!” (I know my wife said that a lot – and she’s always been pretty wise!)  From now on I am going to put forth more effort to live the truth “That it is always better to bless than to curse!”

So what do you think?  Have a great last full week of July, and as you do keep asking yourself… “What kind of words and actions am I expecting to boomerang back to me today?”