Ho! Ho! Boo!

My sister is moving to Amsterdam before Christmas. Since this may be our last opportunity to have a family Christmas for a few years, we thought we would celebrate on Halloween.

I think God loves her a lot. Because this weekend we had a HISTORIC  Halloween snow storm.

I shoveled a foot of snow Saturday night. Then Sunday morning I had another foot to shovel!

 

So today is Christmas and Halloween. We have decided to greet all our trick-or-treaters with a mixed greeting “Ho! Ho! Boo!”

Have you been effected by our HISTORIC world weather? What do you think it is?

Autumn Drive

A few weeks ago my sister my daughters and I went leaf peeping. I wanted you to be able to peep in with us on God’s glory!

     We started with lunch at the Flipside Grille In Fitzwilliam NH

This is Brenda and Melanie at the Flipside

Afterwards we took a skip over to the town common which was a great place to grab a few family photos and enjoy the colonial feel the town added to the autumn air.

 

 

     We jaunted north into Troy to show the girls the house my grandmother grew up in during World War I.

This is the view from Gram’s childhood front porch.

Mt. Monadnock is beautiful year round but in the fall the air seems to crystallize around her!

The crab apples were ripe!

 I love country roads!

Autumn moonrise!

I hope you enjoyed leaf peeping with us!

Autumn Trek Pt.7: Long Journey Home

      Since seven is the number of completion I end the tale of my autumn trek with this post.

Monday morning I awoke and took breakfast with my son in the dining commons at VFCC. Aftrewards Joe invited me to his Isaiah class. Since I had his professor 23 years ago I thought it would be fun to see how things had changed. Professor Brubaker did not disappoint! I had an awesome time learning about the OAN’s (oracles against the nations). Then my son and I went to chapel together.

     God has brought Psalm 23 to me over and over again for the last three months. Just before I left on my trek an old friend sent me an e-mail detailing a portion of the Psalm. In the chapel service a message in tongues and an interpretation reminded us that “we were not to fear evil because God was with us. His rod and staff would comfort us on the journey!”

     I learned many years ago that there are no coincidences. God is teaching me something through this Psalm.

      As I drove out of the parking lot at Valley Forge Christian College I thought about all the things I learned in my autumn trek:

1. I learned that life is supposed to follow a rhythm a slow, constant, and intentional rhythm.

2. I learned that when you follow the rhythm other people may not appreciate it. It will go against their rushing spirit.

3. I learned that slow, constant, and intentional can make you just as tired as fast, intermittent, and unplanned but that the satisfaction level of slow and constant is far greater.

4. I learned that God is in charge of the schedule. Not me!

     So following the leading of the Spirit I stopped at Valley Forge National Park on my way out of PA for pictures:          The George Washington Chapel

The Chapel Inside

George Washington’s Headquarters

I also made one more stop on the way home in Sleepy Hollow, New York:

 And of course I had to walk out a creepy path which the town calls its public park.

Can you feel the Headless Horseman on this path. Of course only in Sleepy Hollow would a walk in the public park lead you to a cemetery! No kidding!

Needless to say, I didn’t stay very long in Sleepy Hollow. My long journey home ended at eight and by ten P.M. I was in bed getting my Zz’s for staff meeting the next morning.

What did you discover from my autumn trek?

Autumn Trek Pt. 6: The Ren Fest

     When I asked my son what he wanted to do when I visited him in PA I really expected him to say “Let’s go to Philly” or “Let’s see a movie.”

     I wasn’t prepared for him to suggest a Renaissance Festival; But he had seen the ad for a family friendly fair down in Manheim. So we made the plan for Sunday after church.  I prayed in the morning because the sky was threatening rain. For a while I thought we actually might ditch our plans and head to the art museum in Philadelphia instead; But when we got out of service the sky was clear; So we set to the drive an hour across country.

    Joe slept most of the trip because he was skyping until four A.M., with a missionary from the other side of the international date line he’s planning to intern with next summer .

     Once in Manheim though there was no sleeping. Only picture-taking. 

and eating

and more eating!

This was followed by fire eating.

And of course Shakespeare in the park.

Now slow, constant, and intentional as it was, by the end of this day I was ready for a nap. So I learned slow, constant and intentional does not necessarily mean non-tiring.

Have you ever been to a Ren Fest? Did you like it?

Autumn Trek Pt.5: The Audubon Loop

     My son saved me hundreds of dollars in hotel costs by letting me sleep in his dorm room. He let me have the bed while he took the floor, because I’m old (according to him) and he’s going to be a missionary; So he needs to practice. I, of course, was entirely compliant not wanting to rob him of his missionary training. 🙂

     We slept well and by next morning we were both ready for action. After donuts and coffee we decided to head out to Mill Grove to walk the trails before Joe had to be back to work at 1 P.M. 

       When the kids were little Tina and I went camping at Lamb City in Phillipston MA. They had a loop trail there too! It was a beautiful trail around the lake, but poorly marked.

    Tina had gone shopping in town. Joe and Amanda were really needing something to do. So leaving Melanie with my brother and sister-in-law I headed out with my three and four-year olds for what was supposed to be a short jaunt around the lake. I knew we were in trouble when I wandered into an apple orchard an hour or so later some two miles from the camp ground. By the time a van loaded with strangers offered us a ride, two hours further into our walk, I really didn’t care if they were axe-murderers the kids and I needed rescuing.

      I share that little story because history has a way of repeating itself. At first Joe and I were only going to walk half the trail and turn back the way we came. Half way in we changed the plan and decided to do the whole loop which was a four and a half mile walk. I thought “I can do this. Let’s impress the whippersnapper!”

The forest trail was beautiful. We found the remnants of an old lead mine and stopped for pictures.

     Of course, being part of the Audubon estate the trail was dotted with bird houses and duck blinds like this one.

      It was all going so well until about here. Then we lost the trail. Oh, we were on a trail all right. We just didn’t know it was the wrong one until we came to a dog park where we asked some friendly dog owners where the Audubon Loop picked back up.

    To which they replied “You walked here from the Audubon loop? Bummer!”

    So…Yeah…Four miles turned into more like eight or ten. The biggest difference between getting lost with my son at four and getting lost with my son at twenty-two is that this time I didn’t have to carry him. Oh, and this time I had a camera. 

Long story short. We lived. We made it back. Joe was only a half hour late for work. But, I’m thinking  maybe that look he gave me when I first arrived was prophetic.

Irene and the Seven-Fold Hedge

     Let me start by thanking all of you who prayed: for me, my family, and the church here in New England through Hurricane Irene. God was merciful to us! 

    Y’know, I believe that when we pray, our starting place is not requesting but abiding. For Jesus said,  “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.John 15:7

    For this reason I seldom ask God for something, until I have what I sense is His mind on the situation. I must first spend time in His presence and get His command for the particular situation that concerns me. Then and only then can I pray in faith believing.

    When I knew Irene was coming up the East Coast I was mindful of the fact that perhaps our turn had come to experience the wrath of God. I don’t mean to sound bleak but I do believe our nation, as disobedient as it has been, is beginning to experience God’s judgment.  Massachusetts certainly has no ground to stand on to say we should be exempt from what the rest of the country is experiencing. So as the storm approached I knew we could really be in for it.

     I began by asking God what He wanted for me out of this situation. Was He saying this was it? Was He saying to me “Head for the hills?”

     I didn’t get the sense that this was going to bring about destruction for me or my household. I felt the Spirit telling me to pray around the borders of my house seven times in the Spirit, a seven-fold hedge. On Friday I did just that. I started by the blackberry hedge and began to sing around my mother’s property in tongues. The first time around I sensed I was praying for the trees to stand. The second, I was praying for the ground to drink deeply of the rising waters. I prayed over a dead tree that if it fell it would fall straight down and not come near the house. I prayed that no flood would come to destroy. I asked that the gardens would be spared. I prayed over the transformer at the corner of our property. I prayed a shield of Holy Ghost protection over the walls of the house and the vehicles. I asked God to use the storm to cleanse the land of pestilence. I asked God to prosper us. On Saturday a group of us prayed over the church.

      Early Sunday morning the storm arrived. The rains fell thick and heavy as I walked the dogs at 6 A.M.. We were soaked to the skin in under a minute. The vernal brook that wraps around our house quickly swelled . Debris washed down from the upper pond. By 7 A.M. the brook had swollen to the top of its banks.  By 8 it had risen out of its borders and had taken command of the woods and back yard. It poured over the culvert below our house and into the street flooding our basement and those of our neighbors around the corner. By 9 we had eight inches of water in our cellar and could swim in our backyard. My mother, my sister and I headed to the cellar and began to bail in order to keep the furnace from being submerged. We bailed for a while and then called the town barn to ask them to come clean the culvert.

       A  beech tree loosened by the swelling waters fell over directly between the apple and plum-tree and didn’t break either! 

    The storm winds blew through the night and knocked over one more tree by the brook. The waters receded quickly once the town came and cleared the debris out of the culvert.

    As I watched the news this morning, I realized how blessed we truly were here in Winchendon. God chose to spare us and answer our prayers. Not one of our fruit trees was damaged. The waters are gone and left no sign of the flood.  We now have wood down for next winter and all we have to do is cut it up! And my mother has decided after a decade of haggling with her it is time to get a sump pump! As I see the footage of New York, New Jersey, and Carolina I realize His answer to me when I sought Him could have been far different. The pathway of protection was mine to walk in this instance. For that I am grateful. But I am also mindful that should my pathway have been different God would still have been with me and He would still have provided even if it had been through loss.

You Choose the View Pt.5

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.James 4:14 NLT

      At some point we all tumble to the truth that Keith Ward Wrote about in his famous hymn, “The Solid Rock”,

      “On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.”

      Nothing in this life, except Jesus, is exempt from change…NOTHING and NO ONE!  I used to think differently. I used to believe that there were some things some relationships which would remain unchanged forever. I was wrong.

      I think change is most painful when it affects our intimacies. We were made for community and fellowship, but that created purpose is hard to achieve when all around us the people we know and love are going through life-change just like we are. Circumstance takes the ability to control our relationships out of our hands. The happenings of life take our connections and turn them into fluid things that run in and out of existence like rushing waterfalls: children grow up and move away, jobs change, friends get busy, people die, passions cool,divorce breaks up, babies are born, relationships blossom, new co-workers edge their way into our lives, people marry and the process starts all over!

      So what do we do? Give up on relationship? Hide in our closet for the rest of our mortal lives? Well that’s a choice…one I sometimes make; But it’s not the best choice; It’s not the God choice!

     The way to live successfully in a world where everything and everyone can change by tomorrow morning is not to hide; It is to find solid ground in a relationship with Jesus and address the rest of your changing relationships from that stand point. So many of us have pinned our hope, our joy and our faithfulness on a fallible person rather than on Jesus. Unfortunately, when that person falters in the process of their own changes we are blown to psychological bits. I can promise you no man woman or child will ever be able to meet all your personal needs. At some point people are going to come up short and turn into the “sinking sand” that Keith Ward talked about.

       This isn’t a blog about ending relationships; It’s a blog about keeping your relationships in proper perspective: Trust Jesus and love people! 

Maybe just maybe that is the point of some change you are going through right now. Maybe Jesus wants you to make Him the solid rock so that you can love someone else through their difficulty!

What do you think?

Accepted Not Accomplished

    I am convinced that certain pass times were invented by God for the sole purpose of helping to inspire men to speak truthfully to one another about life’s deeper matters. Fishing, for instance, is a good way to get me to talk about more than the weather.

     Not that I fish mind you. I tend to be a little dangerous with a rod and reel. But I like to watch; So when my brother-in-law and I walked up to the little pond behind the farm in Maine I knew we were in for a good conversation.

     As he fished we talked about a lot of things: dogs, kids, fish, jobs, family, all the stuff you have to get out of the way so that you can actually talk about what’s on the inside. Then we went deeper.

     When the bugs overwhelmed us we returned home and continued our conversation over a game of chess.  I knew I was going to lose as soon as I sacrificed my king’s right to castle.

      As more of my men tumbled into the dungeons of Cliff’s queen our conversation turned to things spiritual.

      Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend only to have the Holy Spirit hi-jack the thread in order to reveal His truth to everyone in the room? That’s what happened to Cliff and me. There we were between the death of pawns and rooks, discussing our personal walks with God, when suddenly Holy Spirit began to teach us both about how sanctification works.

     We were talking about things we were going through and how hard we were both trying in different areas of our Christianity when suddenly this word just  tumbled out between us.

 “Christianity is meant to be accepted not accomplished.”

     We both stopped, realizing that the words weren’t ours. I went for my notepad while we both kind of reeled in the shock of how God had just butted in with this thought.

    It’s true though isn’t it? We started our Christian lives simply by accepting Jesus’ atoning death. We have to finish it up the same way. We can no more sanctify ourselves than we could redeem ourselves. Sure we need to be obedient to what the Spirit tells us, but in the end it’s all His work…all His power that makes us perfect.

After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?Gal. 3:3

Retirement…Vacation…Sabbath!

     Yesterday I wrote, “celebration is a necessity not an option.”  That may not seem like much of a lesson to you. But I grew up in a family where the protestant work ethic was king and most celebration was considered frivolous. I highly doubt we would have attended “moxie day”.

     If the truth is told, we probably would have worked “moxie day”. Dad would have cooked for the crowds; Mom would have driven the moxiemobile; My sister and I would have been dressed up in costumes throwing cans of moxie at the cheering crowds.

     I guess there is nothing wrong with that. I love to work and to serve. In fact, growing up as I did I learned that it is truly more blessed to give than to receive.  The satisfaction from a job well done has proven to be one of life’s greatest joys. But admittedly it has made me a little unbalanced when it comes to life and work.

    So last weekend I learned that celebration is not an option for me it is a necessity. But I learned something beyond that. I was reminded that not only is celebration necessary, so is rest. 

     Here in the nation of 24/7 we generally make light of rest. We say things like: “No rest for the weary!”; “I’ll rest when I’m dead!”; or one of my personal favorites “Time to coffee up and get back to it!”

     Yet for a culture that really doesn’t value rest we certainly have a lot terms for it: chilling out, kicking back, retirement, vacation, holiday, respite, nap-snacking, long-weekending, beaching it, hittin’ the hay, taking a break, taking a breather, pacing ourselves,mental health day, sick day… sabbath…. Oh wait! that’s right we don’t actually use the word sabbath in our country anymore do we? Do you find it odd that the biblical word for rest is the only word we don’t use for taking a break?

      Now don’t get me wrong, I like the concept of retirement…and I really like the concept of vacation. Should the church suddenly decide to take away my 28 days I would be really….really….REALLY sad. 😥 Still I have to admit, I really don’t see “vacation” in the Bible. I like it. I just don’t see it.

       I do see sabbath as a concept everywhere in the Bible. I don’t see it in our culture. I like vacation. I like retirement. But they cannot replace sabbath.

I was reminded of this truth as I rested along the rocky coastline of Maine last weekend. God showed me I was there to rest, not to do, to listen not to speak.

     My brother-in-law spoke to his pastor about me before I went. Cliff told him who I was but also told him I was there to rest not to minister. I really appreciated that.

     We were built to work…just not all the time. Our lives require rhythm. We were meant to live according to a theme:  work… then rest…work…then rest. Six…then one…six… then one.

     I’m not religious about sabbath but I am beginning to realize that the pattern cannot be done away with without consequences. The sabbath routine might stand up to some stretching, but only so far before our lives begin to short-circuit. We cannot go 351 days of work then 14 days off and hope to remain healthy.

     We also cannot replace rest with celebration. I discovered as I lounged at Cliff and Andrea’s that I needed to recuperate far more than I needed to celebrate. I needed sabbath more than I needed “Moxie Day”.

    I came away from the weekend feeling I was going to change some of my vacationing routines.

    I am going to break my vacation up into sabbaths for rest. I think I am going to take a few days more frequently rather than a lot of days all at once.

Tell me how do you view sabbath?