Friday, September 2, 2011

Breezy Evening at Portage Riverwalk

While Stevie & I were with some friends for dinner we all just didn't want the beautiful evening to end. We decided to take in the view and fresh breezes off lake Michigan at the Portage Riverwalk by the US Steel Midwest plant, Portage, In.

Sun reflecting off of Chicago skyline
lighthouse at Burns Ditch entrance, at US Steel Midwest plant, Portage, In.

                                                                       Pat, Linda, Linda

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Will I Ever Fully Trust God?

Not until I'm perfect and in Heaven, because then I'll have shed everything that hinders REALLY knowing Him.
When I think things go wrong, my spiritual immaturity causes me to fear - be angry - confused - (insert other distrust here). Even though we grow in trust by learning more about God and experiencing His hand in our lives, we aren't going to ever "arrive" at the end of spiritual maturity. The Holy Spirit enlightens my understanding enough to see things only through a dark glass until the day I get to understand how HE sees, and experience that perfect trust.
Sometimes I will get impatient with the slow growth of trust in some area of another believer's life and have to think that God must get impatient with the laziness of my pilgrimage. Am I sincere in my rate of growth? Sometimes I forget that He wants me to become like Him, but more often than not I, just avoiding the fight that requires. It means letting go of the importance of my own concerns. Maybe I think God won't take care of them the way that I like, so again, not trusting enough to accept HIS outcome.

When God allows those hard things into my life it takes real focus to know He is totally in control even when He allows things to remain "bad", or even possibly lead to death, which we usually think of as "bad" also. If He wasn't in complete control of everything He wouldn't be ALL powerful and worthy of our trust. Therefore these hard things have to be meant for my good, in some way that I may not know while I'm alive. Probably mostly for concreting my trust, and for bringing me to a place where utter helplessness forces me to accept His control. Sometimes the way in which I handle devastation may be for the sake of those who are on the sidelines. When we come through the end of a trial we say "God is so good", but He is also good when He sees fit NOT to bring us through it here on earth and the ending is when He brings us home. Even if for many people that end is after a whole lifetime down the road. Should we think He is not good when He allows people to live their lives in awful circumstances? Does He have to explain Himself? Am I more worthy than Job? Where were you when He spoke creation into existence?

I hope someday my life might finally show a little more trust & growth than hindrances to those who need to see Christ through me. It is what our Father created us for, to glorify Him, and to learn how He wants us to do that.

Here are some good songs on the subject of trusitng God through trials.

Blessings by Laura Story

He's Always Been Faithful To Me by Sara Groves

Friday, June 24, 2011

Living Out Your Salvation

"Holy living is not only the refraining from doing the wrong and the doing of the right, but an insatiable desire for God's will that can only be put in the heart by the Holy Spirit, manifesting our true sincerity by glorifying Him through obedience." Chas. E. Orr - Ps 42:1, Php 2:12, 1Thes 1:7, 1Jn 2:4, Num 15:30

I wish I would ask myself more often "does my life read as a letter from God or merely as a memo of my intentions?" When I hear people say that God doesn't make us His puppets I always wish He WOULD make me one so that the cares of this world wouldn't effect my decisions, making so many of them hypocritical. If I want to be "so heavenly minded that I'm MORE earthly good" why don't I?

I once heard that ALL sin is based in self-centeredness. so I started thinking about all the kinds of sin (even seemingly benign character flaws) and I couldn't find one that didn't have it's root cause in "self". In the garden satan appealed to Eve's ego ("you will be like God"), and then second-guessing God ("did He say...?) is really our way of getting around His authority so we can do what WE want. ME! That's the only desire of a newborn baby, to learn how to get what he wants. His parents have to gradually tame his selfishness throughout his childhood. Training his will to submit to whats right not only prepares him to avoid horrible consequences in a lawful society, in the workforce, in a marriage..., but prepares his heart to submit to the Holy Spirit when He convicts him to repent, and when He continues to convict him to live out his salvation, thus avoiding more horrible consequences.

I definitely don't have enough "fear and trembling" when living out my salvation, or as the amplified version says "...reverence and awe" Php 2:12. We all have a human nature, that tendency to quench what we know is right in favor of our own desires. For some it is a harder personal trial than it is for others. In chapter 7 of Romans Paul tells of his battle with "self will", even though he was a very determined and courageous warrior. As impossible as it seems God wants us to set Himself as our goal (1Pet 1:15-16), not so we'll feel defeated and overwhelmed, but that in our desire to please Him we'd feel exhorted and have direction to reach that goal (1 Cor 9:24).

God doesn't give us what we can't handle, so a lot of times my failures are because I don't want to step out of my comfort zone or to quench my tendency for self-pity, in order to decrease ME and show God's power in my life. -Jn 3:30-31. When Paul asked "who will set me free from this body of death?", I feel so connected to that expression of shame (wish I would feel as connected to his zeal and holiness also). He knew the answer to his question though. That the battles with our own will won't be there in eternity, and that realizing our inadequacies teach us to rely more on a loving Father's daily grace. He gave us a gift when He captured us. A shared hatred for the sin in those He loves. Hatred for sin stirs our heart for obedience, and at least some level of growth, in spite of our numerous shortcomings. So, if a thirst for obedience is not manifest in your know what scripture says about a faith without works (the obedience from the heart)? The book of James has a lot to say about that.
If we would resist more of ourself and let more of Jesus take over we could live like this earth, and the "stuff" in it, truly is not our home! As much as I want to be His puppet I know He would rather I gave Him my efforts, those struggling pushes toward Himself that reinforces my love. I wish I would give Him that more often, much, much more often. Since we know our purpose here is to be His ambassadors why is it so hard for us to keep all these personal ties in perspective. When we return to our forever home, this life we have built for ourselves will be like a blink. Will we even care to remember it? What really mattered will be what is there with Him.

Monday, February 14, 2011

We're Still Valentines

People might think that Steve and I are a little delusional but after all these years we're still in love with each other. Well, I think Steve is lupie anyway, he still tells me I'm pretty, haha. Along with all the years of happy and loving memories we've had our share of fights and sometimes long periods of distancing. But it seems each time we've make the choice to tough it through taught us to prove the amount of love that was there to make a vow on, and seemed to produce some kind of a glue. I know that toughing it through doesn't guarantee to make your love and gratitude for the other spouse grow, in some cases it can cause repressed bitterness. That requires a hard think, a changed mindset. Paul said he had come to a point where he could do all things in Christ. Through God's strength he could adjust to any situation he found himself in. I've heard of tortured Christians adjusting their mindset to where they could thank God for their situation and serve Him there joyfully. That is really putting to the test "In everything give thanks", but it also shows it is possible. I don't know why our Father even bothers to be so merciful with our marriage. There is no promise of having good without taking the bad as long as we're in this ol' world.

Along with those romantic candlelight meals we also have to learn to eat crow and swallow pride and unfairness. Sometimes marriage can be a battle ground (battle of the wills anyway) and making the decision to stay and care about the person God chose for you has brought us a closer friendship and a comforting assurance of our love, knowing what we can expect and hope in each other's commitment. Marriage is more than giving your word to someone, which doesn't seem to be as highly honored as it used to. It is more importantly a vow made to your Father (who wants to help you keep it, and Who will hold you to it) and trusting the outcome to Him. I know, easier said than done. Like I said I don't know why He let's our marriage slip on through.

My heart goes out to those who have a lot more hardship in their marriage than we've had. My previous words don't imply that God won't tolerate divorce within His described guidelines because we are imperfect people, but there are consequences for rebellion, and blessings for obedience. Although we like to give God a deadline for receiving those blessings, He brings them in His timing, which is more perfect than whatever time we are expecting. He created time and He created what He wants time to bring with it. The ultimate end and blessing? Our time of eternity with Him.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

True Happiness

"God cares more about your obedience than your happiness" Warren Wiersbe

A lot of people say God just wants us to be happy. He does of course but it's not His priority for our life.I think He expects us to attain it through a different route than is commonly thought. True happiness and peace is the result of being in fellowship with Him. So I guess that means our obedience is His main concern since we can't achieve (true) happiness without it. After all, would you be experiencing the true meaning of happiness if you hadn't obeyed His call to repentance? And that was only the beginning of the "obedience = happiness" blessings.

I remember this song being popular back when I first became a follower of Christ, and I still love the words, maybe if just for the sake of reminiscing.

Friday, January 21, 2011

37 - And Counting

For my Steve - always in my corner, assuring me that you'll be here no matter what. Thanks for being my #1 fan, my comforter, encourager, buffer, my leader and "hang-out" buddy - and just whatever I need for whatever I/we are going through. You've made me your #1 fan, too! Another happy anniversary Honey.

And of course I have to add OUR song.
I guess we relate to this so much because being immature (and against counsel not to), we got married after only knowing each other for 4 1/2 months. I'm sure people thought we wouldn't last, statistics really are against it so we are against doing what we did, except for some situations. Shouldn't that be our view for all our mistakes? But in spite of ourselves, with determination and with the Lord's grace, for His own reason He kept us together.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

God Has Blessed Our Love

As with many couples there's been a few times that we haven't always thought that we were there for each other, who hasn't had those rough waters, but when the fog clears it proves if we really are still willing to be there, and still willing learn how to hang on through God's grace.
His mercy has been the only thing that has kept us as the only ones for each other ever since we were 18 (37yrs). Never throwing in the towel on each other is indeed difficult without the help He has for some reason bestowed on us, and is a whole lot to be humbly thankful for. Having a life partner who is also a soul mate is no small blessing. We spent a lot of years figuring out compromises and tolerating quirks to make it work, so thanks for staying the course with me Steve, and thank you Lord for the gift of our marriage.

I like thinking about all the good stuff.

Well, me and my lady had our first big fight So I drove around till I saw the neon light
The corner bar. it just seemed right so I pulled up.
Not a soul around but the old bar keep down at the end lookin' half asleep
But he walked up and said, what'll it be? I said the good stuff.
He didn't reach around for the whiskey. he didn't pour me a beer.
His blue eyes kinda went misty. He said you can't find that here.
'Cause its the first long kiss on a second date, Momma's all worried when you get home late
And droppin' the ring in the spaghetti plate 'cause you're hands are shakin' so much
And its the way that she looks with her eyes and her hair.
Eatin' burnt suppers the whole first year and askin' for seconds to keep her from tearin' up
Yeah man that's the good stuff.

He grabbed a carton of milk and he poured a glass, I smiled and said I'll have some of that.
We sat there and talked as the hour passed like old friends.
I saw a black and white picture and it caught my stare. It was a pretty girl with bu-font hair
He said that's my Bonnie, taken 'bout a year after we wed.
He said I spent five years in the bar when the cancer took her from me.
But I've been sober three years now 'cause the one things stronger than the whiskey
Was the sight of her holdin' my baby girl
The way she adored that string of pearls I gave her the day that our youngest boy Earl married his high school love.
Its a new t-shirt sayin' I'm a grandpa, bein' right there as our time got small
And holdin' her hand when good lord called her up
Yeah man that's the good stuff.

He said, when you get home she'll start to cry.  When she says, I'm sorry, say so am I.
Look into those eyes so deep in love and drink it up 'cause that's the good stuff.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Eating / Testing Snow

I got a snow ice cream recipe from Sharleen, right when I was about to look into if it is okay to eat snow, in large quantities that is.

We all probably ate snow as a child (and a lot worse things than that) and were told to watch out for the yellow stuff. nowadays there is more pollution in the air but it is still fun to catch the flakes on your tongue or even grab a handful to melt in your mouth.

Most sites I visited said just be careful if you live around large cities or industrial sights. We live near the bottom curve of Lake Michigan, outside Chicago and a few nearby steel mills. So I tested the snow according to instructions on one site.

Fill a large bowl with freshly fallen snow, let melt, strain though a coffee filter fitted over a glass.
If you can't see any debris on the filter, check with a magnifying glass. In my case I could clearly some see tiny dark, and lighter, specs.
It may not be a good idea for folks in my area to eat more than small amounts of fresh snow at a time. But you can make your own judgement. After all, our immune system takes care of some amount of pollution every day, in our foods & water, breathing, etc... The FDA allows a certain amount of rat droppings/hair, as well as other items to be in our food when tested because they cannot keep it all out of our food supply, so I don't think a little pollution is any worse. I once watched a medical show describing all the yucky stuff we live with every second of every day, yet we have no idea because our immune system either gets rid of it or helps our body accommodate it. We need to be exposed to a certain amount of it in order to build resistance. Depending on your age, health, the amount of pollution in your area and your portion size, it's up to you. I think I will make the snow ice cream recipe as a fun thing to do. There are recipes all over the internet.

SNOW ICE CREAM made with fresh milk
1 gallon fresh clean snow
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups milk

When it starts to snow, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the flakes. When full, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste, then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve at once. Serves 4.

SNOW ICE CREAM made with evaporated milk
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 gallon fresh clean snow.  - Slowly combine first 4 ingredients in large bowl until smooth. Gradually stir in snow until mixture reaches desired consistency. Serve at once.

Homemade Bread

Butter sandwiches for lunch.
That's like a ham sandwich without the ham.

Deliverance gave us some yummy wheat bread she made with crunchy bits of millet all through (it made the house smell heavenly).

I decided to make sandwiches for lunch so I could have 2 slices. Then I thought, "forget the meat, it might take away from the bread".

Stevie, my bread-lover, was happy to discover the warm "butter sandwiches" I invented, open face, with a cup of hot chocolate.