Friday, July 3, 2015

If My people...



We sing the words, "God bless America", but God cannot bless a country that has turned its back on Him.
The change doesn't start with those "especially wicked sinners" that we tend to point our fingers at.
It starts with us, those of us who wear the label "Christian", those who claim to follow Him.
He showed us clearly what we must do-
now it's up to us.




still following,




Scripture and Snapshot


SUNDAY STILLNESS


Also happily linking up with the lovely Lisha Epperson 








Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When my heart is overwhelmed...


"Oh, that I had wings like a dove, 
I would fly away and be at rest." Psalm 55:6


That verse comes to mind when life gets overwhelming,
when the counseling load is heavy,
when people I care about are struggling,
when violence and hatred and strife and lawlessness seem to be winning,
when good is called evil and evil is called good,
when all the voices out there seem so loud,
when I wonder what the future holds,
it's at times like these that flying away is tempting.


When I get that feeling that seems to come from somewhere between my stomach and heart,
a feeling of restlessness and anxiety,
sometimes I do actually "fly" away, 
or drive, as the case may be, since we only live 80 miles from the beach.
I walk by the sea, 
walking for miles, literally.
While I walk
 I sing,
pray, 
think, 
beseech,
repent,
surrender,
praise,
give thanks,
and breathe.


I'm thankful that we were able to "fly away and be at rest" for two days this week.
Tomorrow morning we go home and get back to work.
But, how do I cope when life gets overwhelming and I can't get away?


Read the Word and journal.
I'm reading through the Bible this year with She Reads Truth.
Currently, their reading plan has me in Luke and 2 Chronicles.
It's amazing that God seems to speak to me about something pertinent to my current circumstances
 no matter where I'm reading.
I also journal what stands out to me in the Word, things God is speaking to my heart, 
prayers, and things that I need to process by writing them down.


Do something active.
I may not be able to get away, but I can at least open my front door and go for a walk or a run.
In the past, I've had a grumpy, "I'm going to blow up" feeling totally dissipate just by getting some good exercise.
For a change of pace and to let the beauty of nature minister to my spirit,
there are local fitness and hiking trails and walkways beside the river that I can go to.
Sometimes, it's tempting to cope with feeling stressed or overwhelmed by eating.
In the end, that just makes me feel worse.


Laugh.
There's a whole lot going on in this world that is no laughing matter.
Laughter is good medicine that we all need.
Getting together with friends that make me laugh is always a good idea.


Do something for someone else.
Pray for someone else, write an encouraging note, visit someone lonely.
There have been times that I've been at my personal wit's end, 
but as a pastor's wife I've still had to pray for or minister to someone else anyway,
and almost always, God blesses me when I bless others.


Pray and obey, letting God have your day.
I get overwhelmed when life gets too busy, there's a lot of change happening around me,
or several big events happening in a short amount of time.
At times like that, it helps me to write down everything I can think of that I will need to do,
a master overview type list,
otherwise I worry that there are things I should be doing that I'm forgetting.
Then, I make a daily list, asking God to help me and bring His order into my day.
Whenever I do that, I find my day going much more smoothly.


Take time for the hobbies that nourish your soul.
I actually think human beings were made in the image of the Creator with an innate need to create.
I love photography, writing, crafting, doodling and painting, decorating and cooking.
I often find myself humming, singing or whistling when I'm doing these things,
a sure sign that it really is good for what ails me.


Worship.
There's nothing that the devil likes more than to get us all riled up and overwhelmed
 so we'll shut up and stop worshipping.
I like to turn off all the other noise of this world, 
put some of my favorite worship music on,
and sing along.


Watch what you say.
I'm a firm believer in speaking the Word of God aloud.
I have a list of life verses that I like to pray aloud frequently.
I don't want to add to my own troubles by speaking doom and gloom, unbelief and faithlessness.


Do what I can and leave the rest to God.
Sometimes, social media can be a big guilt producer.
I've probably been guilty of using it in that way, too.
This post says to do something about racism.
That post says do something about sex trafficking.
Another post says, help the martyrs and the persecuted Christians.
Another reminds us that we should be feeding the poor.
I wish I really could change the world and make all the wrong things right singlehandedly.
The truth is, it can get so overwhelming, that we end up doing nothing about anything.
I also think that we can get so "big picture" cause focused,
that we neglect to do the things God has for us to do right under our nose.
Instead, I try to follow God's leading about what things I am to focus on,
then I ask God what is on His heart for me to say, to raise awareness,
and what is in His heart for me to do, to get involved.
There are other things I have to simply pray about and leave in God's hands.


These are some of the ways that I cope when I'm feeling overwhelmed but I can't escape.
But when I can getaway?
Well, there's not much that a walk by the sea can't make better.
It may not bring world peace,
but it brings peace to me.



still following,

  


Darling Downs Diaries

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Monday, June 29, 2015

He loves me, he loves me not...

(Kim's elevate texture, lighten, 30% opacity)
 It's been unusually hot and dry here in Portland, Oregon.
Everything is ripening and blooming a bit earlier than it normally does, my daisies included.
(Kim's avery texture, hardlight, 40% opacity)
What's not to love about daisies?
They are so cheery, and so easy to grow!
For a person like me with non-existent gardening skills, that's a wonderful reason to plant them.
(Kim's hughes texture, hardlight, 40% opacity)
What young lady hasn't chanted, "He loves me.  He loves me not." while plucking the petals off of a freshly picked daisy, hoping against hope that the last petal indicates that he loves her.
(Kim's 2303 texture, screen mode, 50% opacity)
I love using interesting jars and bottles as vases, more than an actual vase.
I think limonata bottles are almost as cheery as daisies!
(Kim's day texture, hard light, 40% opacity)
I'll end with this photo of my kitchen windowsill on this hot summer day.

still following,
Kim Klassen {dot com}





Sunday, June 28, 2015

A rather "heavy" gratitude post...

The topless mountain looks relatively serene as you look at it from the west.
It's when you take the drive around to Mt. St. Helen's north side that you are faced with the reality of  the devastation caused by the volcanic lateral blast that occurred on May 18th, 1980.
The closer you get, the more ominous it looks.  Then you realize you are standing on the ridge where geologist David Johnson, via radio transmission, uttered his last words, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" before he was killed by the debris and gases from the lateral blast. Fifty seven people perished in that volcanic eruption. In just three minutes 3.3 billion cubic yards of fiery rock and dust covered 230 square miles of forest landscape, killing countless wildlife and millions of trees.
My husband and I are taking an extra day off here and there this summer.  Last week we chose to drive up to Mt. St. Helens.  I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, which is where we now live.  My husband grew up in Washington state closer to the mountain.  When he was young, he inner tubed down the Toutle River and hung out at Spirit Lake, both forever changed since the 1980 eruption.  

What stuck me from our trip to the mountain was the fact that lateral eruptions are relatively rare.  Though geologists had been warning since 1978 that the mountain was going to erupt, no one knew the exact way or all of the consequences of that eruption.  On the morning of May 18th an earthquake occurred under the mountain while the largest debris avalanche in recorded history occurred on the north side of the mountain. This, in essence, was like removing the cap from a shaken bottle of soda.  The lateral blast occurred seconds after the avalanche but the velocity of the blast overtook the avalanche debris reaching speeds of approximately 670 miles an hour.

Much like the geologists predictions of the imminent eruption of Mt. St. Helens in the years previous to 1980, people who read and study and believe God's Word, people who love God and are in tune with His heart and His Spirit, have seen the warning signs of the moral and cultural decline of our nation.  They've grieved as our country has wandered far from its foundation as a Christian nation, and away from adhering to the laws of its governing document, the Constitution. But, like Mt. St. Helens, none can predict exactly what's going to happen, exactly when, or exactly how.  No one can predict the collateral damage.

Whether we are talking about an individual or a nation, we too often make decisions based on what we want, what feels good to us at the moment, assuming that we are the only ones being affected.  Unfortunately, rarely are our decisions without consequences, consequences not just to us, but to others.  This past week, decisions were made in our nation, that, like the avalanche that unleashed the lateral blast of Mt. St. Helens, are going to uncork massive unforeseen, unexpected consequences.  If you believe the Bible, than you know that there are satanic and demonic influences that thrive where darkness dwells.  All sin is darkness, from lying to stealing to murder to adultery to homosexuality.  Repentance lets the light of God into those areas of darkness. When nations legalize sin,  such as abortion and same sex marriage, and make laws against righteousness, such as removing prayer from schools and religious symbols like crosses or the ten commandments from public buildings, they are basically opening the floodgates to darkness.  Violence fills the streets, the economy suffers, division, strife and hatred increases.  I am overwhelmingly concerned for our children and our grandchildren, who are going to be facing the blast of consequences we have caused by removing the Biblical moral guidelines that were keeping the tide of evil in check.  We've shaken the soda bottle friends, we've loosened the lid, God have mercy on us.

This is an unusual thing for me to write on my weekly gratitude post.  But, this blog is titled, just following Jesus in my real life, and it would be unreal of me not to be honest about how this Jesus follower is coping right now.  I am heavy hearted. This afternoon my husband and I went and visited with an elderly couple from our church. They are from Romania.  When they were children, communism took over their country. When they were a young married couple, he was imprisoned for his faith.  While he was in prison, she was approached at her job and told she would be fired if she didn't sign papers renouncing her faith.  With her husband in prison and two little ones to support, she had a horrendous decision to make.  She refused to sign the papers.  For the next two years, God miraculously provided for her and her children through His people until her husband was released from prison and they were able to come to the U.S.  Today, they told us that they see this place that they fled to for refuge going down the same awful path that they escaped from.  Our religious freedom is precarious, friends.  Pastors, like my husband, like my son-in-law, may actually have to choose between obeying the Bible, or obeying the law of the land.  

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Amplified Bible

What am I giving thanks for in the midst of these current circumstances?  I'm giving thanks that God is always with us, no matter what we face, He will never, ever leave us or forsake us.  I'm also thankful that He doesn't leave us clueless about what to do.  

If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 Amplified Bible

Notice that this verse says, My people.  It's not those who don't know Him that He's telling to humble themselves, to pray, to seek His face, to turn from their wicked ways, it's us, His people, His church!  If we will wake up, quit being sleepy and passive, humble ourselves, (This means realizing that sinners are going to sin, lost people act lost!  We must quit pointing fingers at them and realize that it's the passive, compromising church that is responsible.), pray, crave God as our vital necessity, repent from our sins and turn from our wicked ways, God will hear us, forgive us and heal our land!
I'm thankful that it's not too late!  God, help us to do our part and watch with wonder and gratitude as You do yours!

***********
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little green journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

#6265-#6288

6-22-15-
-God working when I turn things over to Him and pray instead of trying to change them myself
-sweet red cherries
-strong legs and a healthy body that can still walk/run
-watching God bring healing and freedom in people's lives

6-23-15-
-on an earlier than usual run, seeing my neighbor out watering her flowers wearing her cheery striped robe
-lunch by the river and a good visit with my friend
-our two youngest granddaughters-a walk to Dairy Queens for ice cream cones, a bubble bath, 
snuggling them in their clean pjs while watching a movie 


6-24-15-
-our son-in-law's birthday (middle daughter's hubs)
-a trip to Mt. St. Helens
-sitting out on the patio in the cool of the evening writing
-ending the day with time in God's Word

6-25-15-
-reminders in God's Word to trust Him with all of our needs
-the beauty of God's plan of redemption, seen from Genesis through Revelation
-renting a movie to watch together after a long day, and dozing off in the middle of it

6-26-15-
-my favorite breakfast
-a Friday date day full of interruptions, (oh, the life of a pastor!),
but still managing to have a nice dinner out by the river
-visiting with our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids after dinner-
lots of fun watching youngest grandson play in his tiny kiddie pool

6-27-15-
-fresh berries on my yogurt and granola
-getting Saturday chores done before the heat of the day

6-28-15-
-our son-in-law's birthday, (youngest daughter's hubs)
-still being free to gather together, worship, pray, and preach the truth of the Word
-new workers in children's ministry
-an afternoon visit with our heroes in the faith

still following,

Friday, June 26, 2015

Psalm 89:14...


God is perfect in all that He is,
all of His ways,
and in His leadership in our lives.
Yet, if we had our way, 
we'd want Him to be full of mercy and loving-kindness,
but ease up a bit on all that righteousness stuff,
and maybe not be so dog gone unbending about the truth.
Justice sounds like a good thing,
until my idea of what is just differs from His.
It sounds ludicrous doesn't it,
us thinking we can tell the Creator of heaven and earth how He should rule
and just what His rules should and shouldn't be.
But, mankind has been accusing God of withholding good things from them since the garden of Eden.
In reality, anything God withholds from us is because it's not in our best interest,
in fact, what we want is sometimes downright deadly to us.
Just ask Adam and Eve.

still following,




Scripture and Snapshot


SUNDAY STILLNESS


Also happily linking up with the lovely Lisha Epperson