I hate snakes…

I have this terrible fear of snakes. It isn’t just a casual fear of snakes…it is more like a life and death fear.

When I was a little girl, I would have nightmares about snakes…if I would leave my arm dangling over the side of the bed, I would trigger a dream that a snake bit me and was holding onto my arm…or leg, depending on which limb wasn’t safely tucked under the blankets.

As I got older, my fear did not subside. I had never even seen a snake, except at the zoo. And worms didn’t bother me at all. Neither did spiders, bugs, mice, rats…Nothing but those evil, slithering reptiles.

My parents sent me to Southern California to attend college. I saw NO snakes.

I met my husband in college, we got married and then moved to the desert. Still no snakes.

Then we moved to the rainforest in Ecuador. We lived in the heart of the jungle…I saw no snakes. I was always on my guard, though. And other people saw them…but I never did, in all the four years we lived in that country. I admit that I was a reluctant river swimmer. When I swam in the ocean and was stung by jelly fish…no problem.

I remember when the movie, Anaconda, was released. I never saw it. When we watched Indiana Jones…I closed my eyes…No educational special features on snakes. Never.

In our previous home…I was confronted by two snakes. Of course, when I was home alone…I managed to sever their heads and defend my territory. You might think that I had, therefore, conquered my fear and moved on…HA!!!

Imagine my dismay when we moved out of the house and my husband informed me that he had found a snake IN MY SEWING THINGS INSIDE MY SEWING ROOM and never told me…How close had I come to grabbing a snake out of the box of fabric???

Those dreams are always just at the edge of my consciousness when I go to bed. And my house is at the edge of a creek with tall grasses and overgrowth…you know, perfect for all sorts of creepy crawlers. But in the six years we have lived here, I have been able to avoid the snakes…maybe it’s the dogs, or the many other types of wildlife we have living around us…

But yesterday, I saw a video of an amazingly horrifying LARGE snake…and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I wanted to, desperately, but I just couldn’t do it.

As I watched the short clip, many different thoughts came and went. The Bible talks about snakes…even right off the bat in Genesis 3 when Satan deceives Eve and she eats of the forbidden tree then shares it with Adam. Part of the story is well-known and commonly referenced…the bad apple, forbidden fruit…but there is also a reference to Jesus Christ in what God says to the serpent as he is cursed…

“Because you have done this,
Cursed are you more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you will go,
And dust you will eat
All the days of your life;
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Jesus is the descendant of the woman’s seed. This prophetic verse says that Jesus will bruise (fatally) the serpent on the head…and the serpent would bruise Jesus on the heel.

My dad used to tell a true story about an older woman who lived in the country alone. There were a lot of snakes on the property, so when she left her house, she carried a metal pipe with her. Often, she would return home to find a poisonous snake sunning himself on her concrete step. She would use her pipe and crush the snake’s head, killing it. Unless she crushed or severed its head, it would live and cause problems in its own defense. Even after it was dead, it took awhile for the snake to quit moving and twisting.

Jesus has already dealt Satan’s death blow…the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was the beginning of the end of Satan…yet still that serpent writhes and twists…Another metaphor for Satan is as a toothless lion…roaring and trying to devour, yet with limited power.

The image of a writhing, headless snake has been almost like a caricature of biblical truth for me…and then a friend posted a video…beware…it is graphic but a wonderful picture of what the Bible states about the wounded serpent–

That snake in the video is dead. But it is still writhing, and it is still deadly. There will soon be an end to its ability to destroy life.

In the same way, there will also come a day when Satan will also stop writhing and no longer be able to destroy life.

Jesus, in His death brought life. He came to slay the destroyer.

I Peter 5:8
Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

 

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 3:16-18, 36

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God… The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.

I still hate snakes. Dead or alive, I hate them. BUT I now have a pretty clear visual of what effect Satan has now, and what his power will become. I am so thankful that Jesus was victorious over the wound in His heel, and that my hope is now secured for eternity.

What are YOU afraid of?

Being Afraid…

I joke that I am old. It drives my middle child (who is 30) nuts. She says I want to look like I am fifty. I respond by saying I am 54, so what’s the big deal?

She hates that I don’t cover up my gray hair. I laugh and tell her it’s my glitter! My silver hairs were mostly earned because of her, and she knows it. And when I look at those streaks of silver, I am reminded of the lessons I have learned earning those stripes. Like military badges of honor, that is how I look at those graying hairs.

But the truth is that I am getting older and have arrived at that stage called middle age—and I wonder how did I get here? I can tell by some of my scars that it has been a rocky road at times. There are broken bones that didn’t heal well…stitches that left their marks…and there are eyes needing ever-increasing corrective lenses. My ears are not as good as they once were. All the aches and pains of life’s wear and tear…I feel them acutely. Predicting weather changes because of the pain in the joints or even headaches that come in advance of the storms are new skills that I would happily trade for a body that does not betray. And I think the reality of my visible evidence of aging is frightening for my daughter. She sees and understands the temporal lives we live. She knows that death is a very real part of life, and that makes her afraid.

Confronting our frailty is just one of the realities of life. We somehow float through decades of life, often unscathed. Then BAM. Age smacks you right between the eyes. But isn’t it funny that on the inside, I still feel like a kid. Young, running and swinging and jumping without a care. But that inward me is in conflict with the outward me. I think that is why I feel so betrayed by my body. To do all the silly things I did as a child without ever breaking ANYTHING…and now, walking down a hill slowly is a frightening exercise…will I fall? What’s going to break this time? I can tell you I do NOT like living in fear of breaking something. I don’t like living in fear of any kind at all. Fear robs me of strength and peace.

Yesterday, I had the special opportunity to visit with a dear friend I had not seen in over 10 years. In that time she became a mother to four little boys and I became a grandmother to 4, going on 5, grandchildren. As we caught up on our lives over the years since we last saw each other, it was interesting to realize what a place fear had held in each of our lives as we walked through some very dark periods.

The source of our fear was different, but how interesting that the solution to the fear was the same. During those times of overwhelming darkness, we found our solace in the word of God. She shared that with her second pregnancy (twins) and then with her fourth child, she struggled with pre-term contractions throughout the pregnancies. Her fear of premature labor was very real. And she did not like the effect fear was having in her life. To try to combat her fear, she looked up every passage she could find on fear. Many verses she committed to memory.

Then, when she was eight months pregnant, she and her husband were involved in a serious car accident. She suffered many broken bones and a punctured lung. She did not feel her baby move for hours. During those hours, she was comforted by the verses she had already studied on fear. She had a ready refuge of peace. She was in the hospital for a week then in a rehab facility for another week. When the time came to deliver her son, her leg was in a cast. (Can you imagine giving birth with a cast on your leg?) But she had all those verses treasured in her heart, bound to her memory and ready to draw on any time she needed their reassuring encouragement.

I told her about my own period of darkness. How my husband and I waited for a miracle. Or braced ourselves for devastating news. So many months of sleepless nights. I would awaken at 2 or 3 AM and all I could do was read my Bible…for hours…soaking in the peace and comfort written over and over. Seeing God’s faithfulness revealed time after time.  Those hours spent in the Word got me through each day, and then I  would repeat cycle again. Every day for many, many months.

My friend and I agreed that it was in those darkest hours, days, weeks and months that we experienced the greatest spiritual growth. Our problems were bigger than we were and we did not have the solution in our own strength. But God did, and true to His promises, He brought each of us a peace that passed our understanding. We didn’t pretend that we didn’t have fear. We acknowledged the fear and put it in its rightful place. Underneath the perfect love Christ freely gives us.

Today, she has four healthy boys. And she knows real peace.

Today I have the evidence of God’s hand at work in creating the miracle for which we prayed. And peace has replaced my fear.

Tell me, are you afraid? Can I offer you the Source of Peace?

I Peter 3:13-15

Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubledbut sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

 

Ephesians 2:13-16

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity… so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…

 

Please Stand By…

Don’t you hate it when you experience technical difficulties? I do. Probably more because it reveals how easily annoyed I can be…by the most insignificant things.

Like…cleaning the bathroom thoroughly on a Saturday morning as a kid, only to have your dad come in and wash his hands after mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the car…Can you imagine? All the hard work, literally down the drain. You think I jest? Oh no, just ask my dad…

Or what about mopping your floors, getting a mirror-like shine and then have your dearly beloved children or grandchildren or most loved husband walk through with mucky shoes? No? Never happened? I believe you lie…

For me, the bigger annoyances are sitting down to write my post, that my readers are truly panting to read, only to be kicked off the internet. Over. And over. And over…

My need to save money is pretty deep. But my need for consistent internet access is deeper. So I fired my provider, and switched to a new provider. And you know what? I haven’t been kicked off all week. And I have been able to upload pictures SUPER FAST…So I am giving my blog a new try.

I had to make a sacrifice, though. Because I still had to save some money. So…I got rid of cable tv…No more extra channels. No more tv shopping…(yeah, never did those anyway)…no more DIY channels…Somehow, I think I will survive. Maybe.

Now I have a Roku device…Netflix, HuluPlus, Pandora…and a bunch of “channels” I have yet to explore. And you know what? I didn’t turn on the tv for viewing at all for a few days…I chose to just to listen to my purely customized radio stations on Pandora. I missed watching the FIFA World Cup, but…honestly I think we will manage JUST FINE without those channels. After all, I can catch up on Monarch of the Glen…or the English version of Sherlock…all those old movies…

But all those internet problems did get me thinking about technical difficulties, bad connections and other things that can frustrate us, and it made me think about what happens when I don’t have a clear connection in my relationships. If you have ever experienced technical problems, you probably checked the cables to assure that they were properly connected. You also probably checked the batteries, or the power button or a host of other possibilities. And then you checked the manual or called customer service to speak with an “expert” to “troubleshoot.” (I always like the “check to make sure the power is on” tip.)

So if my relationship with God is not what it should be, where do I turn? Interesting that there is an expert and a manual to address the problems I  experience. I can almost always connect my problems in my spiritual life to a common source…Me. I may ignore the relationship, perhaps I do not feed it a healthy diet, or maybe I have covered up sin rather than confess it…Basically, I disconnect myself from the Source.

It’s not that God abandons ME, but rather I abandon Him. I live my life unplugged (NOT like music) and do things on my own power rather than relying on His power. He offers me a static-free, always ON connection to an endless and abundant source. So why do I fail to use that Source? Why, after so many examples and assurances of His presence and faithfulness do I so easily forget? I do not have an answer to the question that is revolutionary. But, when I am withdrawn and cold, I know that it is worth checking on how secure my connection is to avoid more connectivity issues. And that means getting in an uncomfortable position…on my knees.

Tell me, are YOU plugged in securely to the true Source of life?

I Peter 1:3-9 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

When your heart is broken in a million pieces…

I write about life, usually from a variety of different angles, because that is how I view life. Life is not flat…it is dimensional in every way. Nothing is truly just superficial.

There are close family members and friends who are just like family who have gone through some of life’s most anguishing struggles.

I have grieved as I have watched drugs assault and destroy the hope and promise of a much loved young man. A young man who “seems” to have so much to live for, yet who has found his drug of choice to reduce his own mental anguish. It isn’t just this young man who is suffering from his addiction, but his parents, siblings, extended family and friends. That addiction has been a never-ending, runaway roller coaster ride for a very long time…The “answers” man offers up just don’t address what is truly an issue of the heart…

Depression and suicide have recently devastated the lives of two different families…tell me, what words would you offer to the grieving parents? Brothers and sisters? Sons and daughters? Would you know what to say to someone whose heart just burst into a million, tiny, jagged pieces?

I am full of words, but I had none to offer.

A friend, who is more like a daughter, has been struggling through her father’s cancers…not just one, but two different kinds, simultaneously. And now, she finds that her husband has a brain tumor…At some point, I think we just silently lift our longing eyes to heaven because we no longer can find the words we need to pray effectively. That is when the Spirit takes our heart’s groanings and translates them into prayers…

Then there are those things that we cannot talk about…those hurts that we have in common with others, but are not ours to share. The “confidential” ones…you know, when we put on that brave face and cover up our pain because…well just because we can’t talk about it.

We tend to be masters of disguise…burying things so deeply because we want to be “strong”. Ha. We are not strong. Our very breath is a gift of that moment…we have no promises of a future breath.

How often do we TRULY look at life within the understanding of the scope of its temporal and temporary confines? And then, do we step back and simply gaze at the unfathomable eternity and still stand amazed in spite of the anguish of these earthly lives filled with earthly struggles?

That is what I am doing today…trying to see beyond the temporal and the temporary…for that glimpse of future Glory…

Psalm 73:1-2, 21-28

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped…

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Leaps and Bounds

NanaDoll:

My dear friend, on an incredible journey, shares the most recent update on her husband. It is amazing to see the way God moves in and through our lives. So thankful!

Originally posted on chittykittybangbang:

Our days continue to get better in increments. Sometimes the increments are very big. Sometimes very small. But the trend is an upward one and for that, we are thankful.  Heath starts occupational therapy today and he actually wondered aloud this morning if he really needs it. His clarity of thought has improved tremendously, but there are still some deficits, especially with language processing. He’s also struggling a bit with critical thinking, so these will be areas that the therapist will work with him…I hope.  

 

His medication schedule is also getting a whole lot easier to manage. He’s off of pain medicine completely. I’m astonished by this. Being free from pain and the medications to address it mean he’s been able to stop a couple other medicines, too, which were prescribed to counteract the side effects of the pain meds. Those of who who have taken narcotics for…

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Not just another anxious parent

NanaDoll:

Excellent letter. Can you relate?

Originally posted on Colour the moment:

 

Dear Swim School Supervisor,

I wanted to take this opportunity to say a few of the things that you did not allow me to say this morning. It wouldn’t have taken me long to tell you face to face but you had obviously decided as soon as you saw me, that you already knew what I was going to say.

My intention was to have a quick word with my son’s instructor before the lesson started. The employee at the Swim School reception desk assured me that this would be neither inconvenient, nor inappropriate.

After you had directed my son to his designated area and physically placed yourself between him and I, you looked at me questioningly, your knowing expression and raised eyebrows telling me that I had already been sized up and judged. You saw an anxious parent. Someone who didn’t trust you to do your job. You…

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Shhhhhhhh…they’re sleeping

We are in the throes of Winter. And I LOVE it! We live in the part of the Midwest that is usually just too far South for the real snows but too far North for the icy weather.

Most of the time. But this year, we are enjoying what I like to call Real Winter.

You know, cold temps, frozen precip, MEASURABLE snowfall???

And I really do love it. Being a girl from the North (Wisconsin and North Dakota) married to a guy from Alaska, somehow our variable weather here in Missouri does not generate much of a Winter.

Generally speaking.

But this year is looking a whole lot better for those of us who are partial to the white, fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, we enjoyed a single snowfall of over 12 inches. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

My sweet husband, who has a modified version of shoveling (let’s just say I am a bit more thorough and particular), agreed that since we were expecting so much snowfall, it might actually be worth shoveling the ENTIRE driveway and front porch midway through the storm, as opposed to merely removing a walking path to the street…

I know. Seriously. Why would anyone need more than a single, narrow path to the street when your driveway slopes 45º toward the house…

Maybe to GET THE CAR  OUT OF THE GARAGE and UP THE HILL???

But I digress…he had to fully shovel twice, and still the snow came down. The weight of the snow would not have been safe to shovel for people like him who are blessed with a tiny, metal screen-like straw inserted to hold the major coronary artery open…you know, shoveling and heart attacks and all that.

Midway through the snowfall,  after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

Midway through the snowfall,
after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

A greater portion of the day was spent cooking and watching the snow fall and hearing absolutely nothing.

Our massive Newfoundland/Lab/Chow mix dog, Joe Bear, did not want to come inside. Or STAY inside. Between the snow and the smells from the kitchen, he made numerous trips in and out to check on the progress.

Joe Bear: Why'd you make me come inside???

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

But the next morning, the beauty of the fallen snow was an amazing sight. And the winds that followed the snowfall made the landscape look as though a sculptor had been at work. A divine Sculptor, indeed.

Wind carved drifting

Wind carved drifting

Ripples in the snow

Ripples in the snow

Our entire world was covered in a very thick blanket of white. St. Louis was totally shut down. Most schools did not reopen until Friday, using many snow days with that single snowfall. Buses could not make it through the streets and most side streets in many municipalities went without benefit of a snowplow for days.

But I was very nearly entranced by the beauty of the snow.

And the ice crystals on the windows.

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

More crystal formations on the glass

More crystal formations on the glass

It had been so long since I had seen that kind of beauty. I just stood at my door and looked out the window. Little Froglegs came and stood with me. Just looking silently.

Then he said softly, “Nana, I am so sorry all your flowers died.”

I was surprised. Here I was, reveling in the beauty of my covered yard, under that fluffy blanket of snow, and my little tender hearted guy was sad about my dead flowers.

“Oh, it’s all right, buddy. It’s like a picture. You know how Jesus died for us on the cross, but then He came back to life and now He lives in heaven? My garden will come back to life in the Spring,” I explained.

Froglegs was quiet for several minutes, just looking out the door with me. Then he said, “I understand, Nana. I really do! I get it!”

In spite of the frigid temperature outside, my heart was warm standing there with my Froglegs. It was a beautiful moment to share. And the reminder of the Spring yet to come. My garden will enjoy the benefit of that blanket of snow, and Froglegs will have a memory of that important lesson learned from that big snowstorm of 2014.

My Winter Paradise

My Winter Paradise