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?

Politics and My Mom

My mom is a very funny lady. I don’t mean a comic…she tells jokes, but sometimes forgets part of the joke…and that is pretty funny all by itself.

My mom used to be addicted to politics. She knew everyone, good and bad, including which reporters could be trusted and which ones were hacks. I think televisions with the picture in a picture were invented for her…C-Span 1 on one channel with C-Span 2 in the little box…

Back when she was a political junkie, she had the radio playing a political program, the tv had something else on, and if I am not mistaken, she also had a transistor radio playing another program…that was back when politics were a little more humorous than they have been in recent years. She has since been rehabilitated and has been released from the “half-way” house for recovering political addiction.

We had dinner together tonight. Just my parents and me. It was great. No little people to talk over, no sports discussions (except the physics behind certain putts  that my dad was describing…scientists…). Just a daughter with her mom and dad.

The conversation was random. We discussed family, Hurricane Sandy and all its devastation, our favorite little people and their silly sayings, and of course the clothes we will be sporting at my nephew’s wedding in about a month.

As I was leaving, we somehow started discussing those annoying political phone polls. I commented that I had not received a SINGLE CALL…apparently if you get your number via a hot spot mobile number you don’t get called???

Anyway, my mother began sharing about a recent polling telephone call that she had answered. It wasn’t with one of those machine robot modern scary mechanisms that somehow know you have answered the phone and orders you to push different buttons to answer.

THIS time it was a L I V E  P E R S O N!!! She was very polite to the man on the other end of the conversation. Knowing my mother, I would expect nothing less. Once she had successfully answered all of his questions, she said she had her own question for him. (Oh I wish I could have videotaped the guy on the other end…)

My mother asked, “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, what reason would you give Him for letting you into Heaven?”

Silence. Followed by more silence. And then he said, “I honestly don’t have an answer for that.”

My mother proceeded to explain to the man that Jesus had died on the cross in full payment for all sin. That the man’s ticket was his for the taking, so to speak, if he believed in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as the only satisfactory payment for sin. No works. No being good enough. Only through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus for sin.

The call came to a close. I have no idea what decision the man made. I can almost assure you, however, that the man has been thinking about “that lady” with her question. And I really pray that he considers his own answer very carefully.

Whoever wins this election will have an opportunity to do things. Important things that impact lives. But none of those decisions, regardless of who the victor is, will be as important as the answer that the man will make regarding his eternal destiny.

No one can make that decision for anyone but himself.

Romans 5:8

 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:15-18

That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but He that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Ephesians 2:1-9

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that…he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

We Are the Champions (at least in our division…)

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! (ESPN Sports Center photograph)

For all you baseball fans in the world, you have to be stunned at the Cardinals upset over the Nationals last night to send the St. Louis Cardinals to the National League Championship series with the San Francisco Giants.

The Cardinals seem to have that special ability to take a hopeless situation, in which there appears to be NO CHANCE of winning, and turn it into something really special. And last night, our Cardinals did it again! And the hunt for a St. Louis red October is continuing to surge.

I confess I do NOT like “nail biting, cliff hanging, could go either way” situations. I much prefer a sound and solid win, determined early on in the game, followed by an amazing series great defensive plays to assure the win.

Yes, I admit that I am one of those “faint of heart” fans that gets so emotionally engaged that I can’t stand that back and forth dizziness that makes fans go crazy.

Personally, I believe I achieve my sense of craziness without adding “do or die” sporting results into the mix!

But once my victor is determined, I celebrate wholly–loudly, jumping up and down like a wild maniac. And we will decide right now NOT to discuss my reactions to those tough losses. It isn’t pretty.

So last night at midnight, my house was noisy. The neighborhood was noisy. Fireworks were going off all around the city. And this was an Away Game win. I could not wind down to go to sleep. I was struggling to find a great way to alleviate that emotional energy. If I had been AT the game, I would have had a more naturally crazy outlet for self-expression. But, we were not AT the game. And this morning, I am still shaking my head.

Initially, when I sat down just to write it was going to be about the stunning upset of the Washington Nationals, the team with the best baseball record in the regular season of ALL TEAMS, both American and National Leagues. But my thoughts were scattered (normal for me) and my mind was firing on a few extra cylinders. Random images and thoughts were racing through my head.

Out of nowhere came a mental picture, more like a video clip, straight out of Revelation–thousands and thousands of angels and people gathered around the throne of God, cheering and singing because Jesus was crowned the Victor over sin and death.

Revelation 5

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Scroll and the Lamb

…I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll … And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”  And no one … was able to open the scroll … because no one was found worthy… And one of the elders said, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered…”

And … I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain … And he took the scroll … and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb … And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God …”

I looked, and I heard around the throne … the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Can you picture a scene like that? It would be like the Cardinals winning the World Series, with all of heaven in attendance and all of creation cheering. In my mind, that is what Heaven will be like…a HUGE Game winning celebration that lasts forever because the final game was won, and the victory is eternal.

The Cardinals have survived the Wild Card playoff game. They have now survived the divisional series. But there are more games to be played. More victories are required for them to be the Champions of Baseball. And even then, that title only lasts until the next season begins. Yes, it is really exciting. But it really pales by comparison when putting it in a balance with Jesus, Victorious Lamb on an Eternal throne.

Another of the random thoughts that whizzed through my head was an old song from the 1980s by Carman. (Where is he now, anyway?) It is a long piece, but it is like the emotional game won last night. All seemed lost for the Cards…the other side was celebrating. And THEN, the Cards surged back to life…spine tingling excitement for one side. Horror and dismay for the other side. Check out The Champion.

I am grateful to be on the side of the Champion…are you?

The Promise

As I sit out on the deck today, I am being reminded of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.

It’s not as though I deny that life can be excruciatingly difficult and tragic. I have seen and lived through enough heartaches and sorrows to have a basis on which I might question God…

But, I also have lived through the heartaches and sorrows only to know that as I walked through those dark and agonizing valleys, I was never alone. Even when I was physically alone, even feeling abandoned, I really wasn’t.

When my husband and I began the process of adopting two of our children, we had to go through an abandonment procedure, whereby our two children were officially “abandoned” by their biological parents. There is no easy way to deal with the emotions of this process…the laws of the country through which we were adopting required the publication of our children’s “datos” and “fotografías” in the major newspapers over a three week period.

That was a scary time for us, as we already had custody of our children, and we knew that there was the possibility of having someone step forward and claim them legally, even if they couldn’t prove their biological claims to our children.

For my happy-go-lucky husband, he lost that aspect during the entire adoption process. It was excruciating to have custody of these children for two years, knowing that they could still be taken away.

I remember asking anyone who would listen to please pray for us. Please pray for our adoptions to go through. Every time the government suspended international adoptions, we felt a sense of panic try to overtake our confidence in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to us.

Eventually, we received approved adoption decrees for our children. Children who had been placed for adoption for different reasons. Children who would never be able to know their biological roots. That is hardcore abandonment, people. And there is no easy way to explain that away, no matter how heart-wrenching their biological parents’ situations happened to be.

Adoptees handle their feelings about adoption uniquely. Some truly struggle with the idea that they were somehow unwanted. Others are filled with grief for the circumstances that made it impossible for them to remain in their biological family. There are obviously commonalities that many experience, but just like everyone else, the situations are as individual as the kids.

But one thing is consistently true for each one of us…when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never, ever be abandoned. He has promised to never leave or forsake His children. No matter how awful life can get, if you are His child you will not go through your sorrows alone. He promised.

 

Pondering…

I  haven’t slept well this week. Of course, that means I am unusually tired. And crabby. And lacking in creativity. But I look at writing as a form of stimulation and exercise for my brain, so to those of you who choose to wade through my blog today…I may have to apologize.

If you could READ with your eyes closed, I would walk you through some of the sounds of this week…

For example, I am currently listening to an eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the other room. What does his eruption sound like? So glad you asked:

He is bellowing and billowing out “NO!!! NO!!! NO!!! WAAAAAH!!! WAAAAH! OOOOOWAAAAH!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” at the top of his angry toddler lungs. Just close your eyes and imagine you are sitting with me…listening to his angry outburst…

Ok. You can stop now. That was just excruciating, I know. I even turned on the attic fan to drown out the noise, but…we can all. still. hear. it.

Now, how about imagining that you are sitting on my deck…

It is night time and the sky is dark. Thunder claps are all around us accompanied by bright flashes of lightening. The rain is pouring down, and the wind is howling. The tall trees are swaying in circles. And the hollow oak, aka the Raccoon Condo, is swaying eerily.

Can you picture it? The oak tree is HUGE. How it still stands is a mystery, but we love that tree with its crooked branches that look like Rudolph and the critters that creep out as dusk settles. Of course, Joe Bear and Día view the critters as appetizers…

I just hope that if that tree topples, it is from a wind from the south…it could do some serious damage in a storm from the north.

But after the storm dies down, if you close your eyes, it sounds like rushing waters over a large waterfall…almost thundering. As the water level subsides, you can hear the creek in its normal trickle, almost like it is chuckling as it trips over the minuscule “waterfall”…a “waterfall” that I think is a man-made hiccup to keep the creek from getting too high during heavy rains.

But oh how I love the sound of the creek…soothing, tranquil, peaceful. Almost heaven on earth…

And that brings me to this morning. I slept poorly last night, and awoke earlier than I would have liked, but I was pondering this morning. Literally. The lyrics of an old hymn were playing in my mind…

Ponder anew, what the Almighty can do,
if with His love He befriend thee

Those words just kept playing through my thoughts as I pondered all the wonderful and awesome things God has done…in the past, in the present and even those things that are promised for the future.

Salvation, paid for at Calvary…sins not just covered, but cleansed away…miracles happening in lives of people who were without hope just days ago…a future at home with our Savior, our Almighty heavenly Father…

My head was kind of like that creek…gushing and trickling, making such a joyful noise at the many awesome works that have been done by our Creator.

And so, as I awoke, I pondered anew…and was filled with awe. When you close your eyes, and consider the many things that God has done, continues to do, and promises to do in the future…do you run out of things to ponder?

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

 

Beauty of the Word

When you read the Word of God, what do you see? Do you see beauty?

When you see beauty are you reminded of the Word of God?

Do you worry about tomorrow? Be honest. Sometimes I do…

Why are you here?

Are you born again of that which is imperishable and enduring?

Have you pulled away from the Vine? Are you withering because you are not abiding in Him?

Do you live your life as that abundant life given by Jesus for YOU?

Are you ready to meet Jesus face to face? Do you wait for His glorious appearing with great anticipation?