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)


-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

-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 

-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

-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

-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

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

-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,


  1. Such a good analogy, Elizabeth. My concern is not so much the "threat to Biblical marriage" but - as what you pointed out - the legitimation of SIN. Isaiah 5:20: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

    1. I agree. And aside from Biblical concerns is the concern of how our constitution is not being followed.

  2. Excellent post, Elizabeth!!
    Mary Alice

  3. This post is of huge importance. Thank you for it. Thank the Lord for Romans 8:37--Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

  4. I keep thinking about the part you said concerning Christians, believers. We are the ones God is talking to in that verse 2 Chronicles 7:14. That is so important for making a change for good. If Christians are unclean and sloppy at the job of being a Christian how ineffective we will be to make change for good. How sad the we let evil overcome good when God says to overcome evil with good.

    1. Yes, we have got to take the mandates of Christ for how we should live seriously!

  5. Good post. We need to come together and pray like we've never prayed before - and show the love of Jesus while we stand true to the Word of God.

  6. Whew! What a heart felt post!
    Thank you for your hard words, that are covered with love.

    1. I'm thankful you were able to sense my heart in my writer words.

  7. Hi Elizabeth! What a sobering post, both from the view of Mt. St. Helens, and the the news about the Supreme Court. Living in faith is NEVER easy. Jesus told us that, and I guess this week, we can really see it.
    Thank you for your open heart and loving way of thinking through His words in the light of the news.

    1. Thank you, too, Ceil. Your encouragement is a blessing to me.

  8. Yes, we must all pray for what is happening in OUR country. Everyday a little bit more slips away. The soda bottle is really being shook!!!! I am sick to think about the world my grandchildren will endure. Excellent post, Elizabeth.

  9. I'm thankful that God is bigger than any circumstances. Have no fear that he will always take care of his own. Jesus told us we would have trouble in this world but his peace is greater than our trouble. We can always trust him for that. Thanks for sharing your heart, Elizabeth.

    1. Thank you, too, Lisa. I know we don't see eye to eye on this issue but I appreciate your spirit so much.

  10. Love your words here so much. Glad you were not afraid to give a voice to what is "heavy."

  11. So many thoughts have been going through my mind since everything took place last week. One truth that rings clearly for me is that God's word is the same today as it was over 2,000 years ago & it will continue to be the same forevermore. No president, no judge, no one can ever take that away. Yes, there are many people in this world that want to. I just keep reminding myself as Christians, we know who wins in the end. We just have to continue to pray without ceasing & have faith & hope in our Savior & Redeemer!

  12. My head continues to swirl with thoughts about this issue - it's one that hits close to home for me. My only brother was married at the end of May to his long time partner. Our relationship is rocky because of my views of this issue and I chose to stand firm and not attend the wedding so it's even rockier now. I do fear for all the legal actions that will inevitably take place for churches, pastors, adoption agencies, colleges and so on that continue to stand firm on their religious convictions.


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