Fear Not

I guess every family culture is different, but growing up in my family, we kids liked to scare each other.

Nothing gory. It was more of the psychological stuff.

Like discussing the possibility of giant ants that hide under the house and only come out at night. Of course, they’re able to squeeze through a minuscule hole at the back of my bedroom closet, and the only victims are kids younger than seven.

That story, told by by older sister, had me going for several years.

All my older siblings had to do was suggest a possible what-if scenario, then wait for me to imagine the rest.

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(My older sisters on either side of me: the two that filled my head with scary stories!)

Because I had a lively imagination, I came up with doozies that kept me in a constant state of heightened awareness…especially at night.

As an adult, I’ve simply replaced these irrational fears for more realistic fears: Are my kids (grandkids) okay? Will my husband keep his job in this challenging economy? Will we be able to retire in a few years? etc.

God understands that we have lots of things to be afraid of in this world. And we can build up our fears to the point where we fail to acknowledge that none of this is beyond God’s control.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV Bible)

Those who trust in Him have a wise, loving and vigilant Father.

Walk close to Him, listen to Him, worship Him.

Fear not.

 

 

 

What I Didn’t Do

During my senior year at Oberlin College, a friend had just gotten back from her summer job working at a national park in the west.

She said that she’d been able to rehearse with other singers and actors to perform skits and songs for park campers. The young employees all lived in cabins, and in their free time they were allowed to ride horses, go hiking, and play sports.

Wow!

My summer had been spent working at a self-serve gas station as a cashier.

Boring!

I so regretted that I hadn’t checked out other summer job opportunities, like my friend.

I was afraid of unfamiliar thing so I chose to do the safe thing and go home to live with my parents for the summer.

There aren’t too many activities that I regret taking part in.

The things I regret are what I never did. Usually because of fear or insecurity in my own abilities.

Or God’s ability to sustain me.

  • Opportunities
  • Invitations
  • Auditions
  • Risky Ventures
  • Relationships
  • Ministries

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve jumped into more and more life challenges that I might have shrunk from when I was younger.

My biggest fear is looking back with regret at what could have been.

Are you like me?

Are you taking more risks now when God calls you?

Are you willing to trust God when He calls?

Are you determined not to look back with regret?

Can you shake your fist at fear?

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes.” (Jer. 17: 7,8 NIV Bible)

 

 

How’s Your Belt Size?

This morning I decided to clear out my closet. I have tons of belts that have been hanging in there for at least two decades

But as I pulled them out to try them on, I noticed something interesting. The old ones marked “medium” felt just right for my small frame. But in the stores nowadays, that same medium would be marked extra small.

Somehow, as our belt sizes have increased, fashion designers have decided to opt for not insulting us by having us all buy Large or Extra Large belts….or jeans, or skirts, too.

So, what is now called a “medium” is now an “extra small.”

When I was married, I weighed in at just a few pounds over 100. I wore a size 5. By today’s standard, that size 5 would probably be a size 0 now.

It got me to thinking about other standards, as well.

What we now think is acceptable behavior would have been frowned on forty years ago.

Like fashion, I think we’ve simply moved the boundaries outward to include formerly taboo actions.

Courtesy is rare on the roads. Now, it seems okay to lots of people to cut others off, give them the finger, harass slow drivers.

Drug use in some states is just fine.

Abortion is a “woman’s right to choose.” (I wish they’d finished that sentence! “Choose” what?)

If I don’t want to work, no problem, the government will hand out food stamps to support my lifestyle.

We may not have been church-goers years ago, but we all had heard of David and his Goliath and Daniel in the lion’s den. We respected the Ten Commandments as Judeo-Christian standards for moral behavior.

How’s our cultural “waist size” now?

Have we simply moved the boundaries for morality outward to fit our changing sense of what is right and wrong?

Older people remember when.

But I feel for younger individuals. They don’t know a time when these wicked things occurring in our society were not the norm.

God doesn’t change. Check out what he says about morality. You may be surprised to find your “waist size” has expanded even if your belt size has stayed the same!

“I the Lord do not change. (Malachi 3:6  NIV Bible)

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Tall, Dark, and Handsome… Moose!

Bruce and I did another hike last week. We hadn’t been to the Indian Peaks Wilderness since last summer.

We figured, if we don’t go now the weather will change and prevent us from hiking our favorite trail around Long Lake for another year.

The place is about ten thousand feet above sea level.

We got there just before seven AM to ensure a parking space. It was cold—about 34 degrees—but after the sun rose above the mountains the temperature promised to rise into the sixties.

On the trail, we saw a man standing very still, shading his eyes. We greeted him as we passed and he whispered that a bull moose was just then moving across a field on the other side of the river.

Sure enough, there he was, walking nonchalantly through the tall grasses and shrubs, tall, dark brown, and magnificent.

Moose are not beautiful. But their sheer size and rarity make them a prized sighting.

After the moose disappeared from our sight, Bruce and I continued on our hike, hoping we’d sight the animal again. Or even see another moose.

Just a couple of years earlier we’d nearly run into four young bulls on this trail. They’d been as startled as we were and had moved off quickly.

But our hopes of more moose sightings were dashed when several parties of noisy hikers came through and passed us. Most of them were college age, more interested in talking than seeing. More interested in getting there fast.

They were talking so noisily that I’m sure they missed the stellar jay up in the spruce, the squirrel chattering a warning at our presence, the sound of the wind through the trees, and the distant roar of the river before it emptied into Long Lake.

Perhaps to the college hikers, the purpose of hiking is simply aerobic exercise.

But to me, a hike surrounded by such unparalleled beauty demands quiet. Awestruck reverence.

Not reverence for the creation. But for the One Who created it.

For the One Who can make an enormous moose, fit it with dense fir to withstand the bone-freezing winters, give it a funny mouth able to dredge out succulent plants at the bottom of shallow lakes, give it long, long legs able to carry the beast over the mountains and into ever new territories in the Rocky Mountains.

This magnificent creature, and the land that supports it demands our quiet admiration.

Hike softly, people. Stop often to admire the little things and the big things. Keep your eyes peeled for birds and animals. Take a deep breath and try to identify all the plants that constitute the aggregate of mountain scent.

Hush! Save your talking for the coffee bars and the mall.

“Who let the wild donkey go free? Who untied his ropes? I gave him the wasteland as his home, the salt flats as his habitat. He laughs at the commotion in the town; he does not hear a driver’s shout. He ranges the hills for his pasture, and searches for any green thing.” (Job 39: 5-8 NIV Bible)

 

Are There Any Good Chain Letters?

Yep, I hate ‘em.

Don’t ever consider sending me one.

Even the ones that seem really nice.

Like the ones with beautiful pictures of nature or cute puppies or kittens.

The fact that:

  1. I’m being taken away from my work to do something I don’t believe in.
  2. I’m being coerced by virtue of my friendship with the sender of the letter.
  3. I’m being threatened—bad things might happen—in a nice way.
  4. And that, if I send to other friends,  it’s a tacit agreement that these chain letter tactics are all right with me.

Don’t send me one. EVER!

There are  different types of chain letters that I do appreciate.

When the Christian faith was just getting started, the Apostles wrote letters that were intended for churches—most of them in Asia Minor. These letters were passed around so that smaller groups of people could read and be educated about Christ’s instructions (doctrine) for the church and for individuals.

Ancient chain letters. Filled with instructions, admonishments, encouragements, and yes, even warnings. But the words in these chain letters were essential. Of utmost value. Not esoteric, but meant for all people to read and digest.

How I appreciate the Sender of these letters! It wasn’t for His own amusement or His sense of importance that He sent them out.

No. Jesus cared—and cares—for each of us with an immense Fatherly love. He leaves us in a dangerous, hostile and deceived world so that He can bring about the working of God’s eternal plan.

Shouldn’t we have Words that help us negotiate this kind of world?

Roman, Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, and the others: Thanks be to God for sending these chain letters.

“After this letter has been read to you, see to it that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.” (Col. 4:16 NIV Bible)

The Joys of Fall

I know it’s not Fall yet. But when the sun begins to slant and there’s a crispness in the air, I start thinking about all the things that make fall so exciting. How many of the following are also on your list?

  1. The scent of plants going to sleep
  2. The crunch of fallen leaves
  3. The crispness in the air
  4. Pulling on sweaters and boots
  5. A hearty soup simmering all day in the crockpot
  6. Carving a pumpkin.
  7. A mug of hot cider with a cinnamon stick
  8. Kids and parents walking to school
  9. More time to snuggle under a blanket with a good book
  10. Searching for the perfect Thanksgiving recipes
  11. Having friends over
  12. Taking long walks and not getting overheated.
  13. Orange, red, and yellow trees.
  14. Early Christmas shopping
  15. frosty morning air

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These are just a few of my joys of fall.

Each year, I’m grateful that God has given me another season to enjoy my husband, children and grandchildren, to write more stories, practice the piano, hang out with good friends, read more books.

What are your fondest fall joys?

 

 

 

Vow of Silence

We get up and turn on the TV.

We multi task as we fix breakfast for our kids, fix lunches, get ready for work, get everybody out the door.

The car is filled with noise: the children’s voices, the radio, traffic sounds.

We get back home. Or we get to work.

Phones ring, associates request this or that, emails need attending to.

We work through lunch. Or we sit in a lunch room filled with people’s voices.

On our way home, we stop off at the mall to pick up that perfect gift. Loud music fills the stores.

Same thing at the grocery store where we make our last stop for a few ingredients for supper.

We talk on our cell phones on the way home.

We pick up our kids and chauffeur them to their after- school activities.

Then home to make dinner.

We talk on the cell phone to our girlfriend as we throw dinner into the microwave. We try to shut out the voices of our children as they squabble about which program they’ll watch on TV. The radio is on. The TV is on.

Noise.

Just writing this post has made my blood pressure go up. My children are grown now, but I remember well how my house felt like Grand Central Station during the day. 

Noisy.

Unless we deliberately turn off the noise, it will continue.

Too much noise makes us sick. Because we can’t hear God. We shut out his voice.

We talk to God…or more accurately, we talk at God. Because it’s to noisy to hear Him when He talks back.

We shut out our own thoughts, too. Those thoughts nudge us to self-examine, or to examine the direction of our lives.

Can you turn everything off for one hour each day? No cell phones, no texting, no IPad, no radio, no ear-phones, no TV.

Just quiet. Not just for you, but for everyone in the house.

A vow of silence. While you rest your ears and refresh your soul.Spring 2010 064

 All by yourself. For just one hour.

You’ll feel better.

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside BY HIMSELF to pray.” (Matt. 14: 22, 23 NIV Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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