It’s just a rock…

I am on vacation.

Just me.

No husband. No kids. No grandkids.

Superman thought it would be a great idea for me to get to spend some time with my sisters and my parents.

Without distractions.

For those of you who know me, or think you know me, or just WANT to know me…;) You know that my life is very full of little people with lots of “learning experiences” and “opportunities for growth”…

All of those opportunities tend to crowd out quiet time and time to write…I almost gave up blogging. It became so hard to find time to write, and I felt so guilty NOT writing, and the internal struggle was more than I had time to deal with…

So…I write infrequently. And it frustrates me.

Superman knew that I needed some true R & R, and off I went…to SUNNY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA!

One of my sisters lives near San Diego, the other lives in tornado alley near Oklahoma City…fortunately, my parents live just ten minutes from my house.

But THIS week, we are all together…under one roof. The nephews tease about our cackling laughter when we get to be together. There is a lot of cackling.

We also have very serious conversations, though. We have each gone through some very hard times with some of our children. We cry together and encourage each other and share the joys and sorrows and glimmers of hope that God allows to foster hope in our lives.

I love rocks, and usually collect rocks wherever I travel to display in dishes around my house. The rocks are not special. They are just rocks. But I love them and can almost always remember where each rock came from and what I was doing when I found them.

My beautiful daughter...

My beautiful daughter and granddaughter…

My daughter, whose children are Froglegs, Dancing Eyes and Curly Top, doesn’t share my love of rocks. They are merely part of what she would call my hoarding disease.

But I love my rocks.

Yesterday, I had a call from my daughter. She sounded very animated and tense.

“Mom! Where is that verse about the husband cherishing his wife like a jewel???”

“ummm, do you mean Ephesians 5?”

I read her the verses.

Ephesians 5:25-30
(English Standard Version)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

“Nooooo. That’s not the right one,” she sighed. Clearly frustrated.

“Well, what about this, in I Peter?” And I read her the verses.

1 Peter 3:7-8
(English Standard Version)

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

“No. That’s not it either. On Sunday, the pastor preached about this and read these verses about how the husband should love and care for his wife like she is a precious jewel…”

“Well, Proverbs 31 refers to the virtuous woman being worth more than rubies…”

She looked it up and read it…

“Yes!! That’s it. Oh wait…” pausing as she read more…”No, that’s not it either.”

I suggested she call the pastor and ask him what it was. Oh no, she could NEVER do that. Of course, I told her she could, but she refused. Or his wife. Oh no. You just can’t do that. (Can someone please explain to me WHY one cannot do this???)

We talked a little more. She said she was so stressed trying to find it. I asked why it would be so stressful? And she informed me that she had been up until the wee hours of the previous night trying to find it, and her DAD didn’t know and if I didn’t know…well, she was stressed.

So, I suggested maybe Song of Solomon had something like that…She looked it up. Apparently for the first time. She started reading…

“Oh my goodness! That man’s a pervert!”

I started laughing. She continued to exclaim about the details she read. She was clearly SHOCKED that those verses could even BE in the Bible. She did not want to read any further.

“Well, in the context of marriage, it is beautiful,” I said.

I shared that maybe the preacher had used several different passages and created a composite of them with an explanation that she THOUGHT were actual verses, but were really his words.

Then I had an idea.

“Why don’t you check to see if the message was recorded and listen to it again? Then you will hear it again.”

“Oh, mom. You are so SMART!”

I almost fainted. How many years had I waited to hear those words! And NOT said dripping with sarcasm!

We got off the phone, and I started thinking about the conversation.

Superman and I have traveled a very painful road with our daughter. She has learned many lessons through a lot of pain that left a lot of scars. We have learned more about ourselves, and about God, as we have been on this journey. But mostly, we have learned how very much God loves His children, and works in our lives for His glory.

That God even loves us at all is such a gift.

That He is patient and long-suffering, well, that is just His grace and mercy.

That He doesn’t leave us is a promise I know I can believe.

So when my daughter was stressing over finding some verses, I could see how much God had done in her heart.

Kind of like rocks.

Diamonds and rubies and other precious jewels are not mined out of the ground in a condition to wear and show how valuable they really are.

diamonds

The rocks ARE valuable because of what can happen when a master stone cutter takes that raw stone and chisels away those things that detract from its value and beauty. As the stone is hammered and polished, it is transformed into something so beautiful.

That is what God does to a hard heart when it is yielded to Him. He loves that heart. He molds it. He creates a thing of beauty out of something that wasn’t before.

And only a Master can do that.

And I am so, so, so thankful that He chooses to transform us, day by day, moment by moment.

God is so good.

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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.

 

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.

 

Do you believe in miracles? (David Hanson Update #2)

I always struggle with the title. I want it to be catchy…you know? Grab your attention and get a bunch of likes and a new badge and more gold stars as a blogger?

Well, let’s just say that I don’t really need those likes, badges and gold stars. Readers??? Yes, would definitely like more of those.

But for today, I have some amazing news to share and I wanted a REALLY AWESOME TITLE…And when I typed out “Do you believe in miracles?” all I could think of was this –you know, Do You Believe in Miracles by Hot Chocolate…NOT what I was going for, I assure you.

So, you will have to deal with the title, because I DO believe in miracles. And it is absolutely the most thrilling thing to see, (even if it is only in print and without pictures).

So many of you have been praying for David and Rachel Hanson. And I am grateful. Thousands of people all around the globe, daily praying for this young couple and their families as they go through a Goliath-sized struggle.

David, who suffered such a devastating fall, leaving doctors with little hope for his recovery. A young wife thrown headlong into a test that marriages decades-old might not survive. And yet, she went forward with the most grace and peace I have ever seen. Her updates are thrilling, encouraging, hopeful…real.

There is no trace of bitterness. Love? Most assuredly. Joy? Yes. Pain? Yes. Peace? Astonishingly, yes. What a witness for the Lord whom she faithfully serves!

So many of us go to the David Hanson Update page on facebook each day looking for news (or if you are me, every 15 minutes). Anything that will give us an inkling of what is happening. Some days, there are no new reports. Other days, we gasp with amazement and are thrilled to the core as we read of God’s answers to our prayers.

Currently, David’s parents are visiting their son and daughter-in-law. They were with him just after his fall, but then had to return home. So, after several weeks’ absence they were able to see first hand how their son was progressing.

Annette L Hanson

Just a quick note to say that our first full day with David has been a blessing, and we thank the Lord for His lovingkindness! The OTs, PTs and nurses are educating us on how we can work with David’s arms, hands, legs and feet to help keep him “limber.” He is still very strong and it is definitely work! We are also trying to help increase his awareness by talking with him, asking for responses, reading to him, singing, and praying with him. Sometimes he looks right in our eyes, and today he seemed like he was trying to smile and talk. He also moves his head back and forth from Joel to me, when we stand on either side of him. Rachel had to work today, and we are looking forward to some time learning from her tomorrow. 🙂

I am a mom. I love my children dearly. (Of course they probably would not appreciate being called children since they are almost 31, 29 and 28.) But…as a mom, I can make a decent attempt at putting myself in Annette’s shoes and imagine all the emotions I would feel being so far away from my child who was hurt so badly, and then the joy at seeing how improved he was in just a matter of a few short weeks. I have read and re-read her posts several times, visualizing the scene as best I could, and have shed many tears of joy on her behalf.

Her subsequent post brought a smile and more tears.

Annette L Hanson

Wow – what an overwhelming blessing to see so much love shared and prayers brought before the Lord from many believers we know and many we look forward to meeting! What a great day that will be when we are all together bowing in thankfulness and worship to our Savior!

Yesterday was a happy time, to see David smiling for us (and more than that for Rachel), and to have him move his thumb and finger upon request! This morning he was pretty sleepy.

Do you remember how exciting it was to see your baby smile at you for the first time and you knew it wasn’t gas? Thrilling, wasn’t it? Now can you imagine your child is a grown man, has suffered a very serious, life-threatening brain injury and then seeing him smile? Somehow, I just think that would be even more precious than that baby smile. At least for ME it would be.

Annette’s next post was a very practical one–

Annette L Hanson

As a medical precaution, Joel and I have been asked to post a message about visiting David. We are very grateful for all of the love shown for our son and daughter in law, but have been advised that too many visitors can be stressful and overly agitating to David, and we need to limit his company to immediate family. Again, we thank you all for your love and understanding as we try to do what is best for David.

This is directly from the heart of Mama-Bear, protecting her cub from danger. Anyone who has any knowledge of brain trauma and coma understands the importance of allowing the brain to regain its function in a controlled environment. And anyone who has been faithfully praying for this young man is hoping to get to visit and see how well he is doing. Sort of like our faith being made sight–believing and then seeing. But not so fast…now is not the time to bombard that healing brain with a lot of interaction with multitudes of grateful and faithful pray-ers.

And then her post today almost had me jumping up and down…

Annette L Hanson

David was able to hold some “burts bees” lip balm between his thumb and forefinger this morning and apply it to his lips … and chin. 🙂 he was also able to wash his face with a wet cloth. So fun to see! Thank the Lord for this progress!

Wow. Wow. Wow!!! How wonderful!!! Amazing!!! Miraculous, even!!! Who would have thought David would have progressed so rapidly?

As I was beginning to write this post, I heard a Third Day song (new to me) playing in the background, titled “I Need a Miracle“…

You know, I DO believe in miracles. And I know there are so many people who DO need a miracle. The story of David and Rachel Hanson is not finished. It has barely started to unfold…but they will have a tremendous and miraculous story to tell of how God moved in their lives in a way that made strangers into family. That made the ends of the earth just a breath away. And THAT is amazing to me.

Keep praying! God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!

Ugly Treasures

I like to dabble in photography, and I take thousands of pictures, hoping to take that perfect one. Some are special. Some are blurry. Some are awful.

But honestly, I have a really hard time deleting my images. They are kind of like those boxes of mementos that I keep–treasures that somehow are too precious to discard but for some reason are still stuck in a box rather than out on display.

This week, my little buddy Froglegs became so excited and animated because he saw this very large yellow butterfly.

“Hurry, Nana! Get your camera! Come see this butterfly. It’s HUGE!!!”

I obviously have my little buddies well-trained at identifying those picture-worthy subjects. I hurried in to get my camera, hoping not to miss it.

It was a very windy day, and the poor butterfly was really flexing his muscles to hang onto the butterfly bush. (That bush is a topic for another blog post.) I snapped several pictures, but the wind was interfering with my shots.

And then, my battery died. Great. Just great.

Later in the day, I uploaded the photos to my computer to check them out. I felt a mixture of semi-satisfaction and disappointment. I don’t believe a single one of them was clear that didn’t also feature a weed, the neighbor’s trash can, her newspaper or the brand-new asphalt on the road. It didn’t look like any of them were frame-worthy.

Bummed would be an understatement.

I left the photos alone and did nothing. I moped a little. It had been a somewhat unpleasant day and I had a lot of mulling over going on. I had so many thoughts running through my head, and honestly, blurred pictures didn’t stack up too high on my list of significant failures.

But…as the day dragged on, the pictures became an escape for me. I was bound and determined to turn them into something semi-beautiful. After all, it was a gorgeous yellow swallowtail, the loveliest shade of yellow. It was stunning, to be honest.

So I messed around with my Canon photo editing software. I don’t even have Photoshop. As I experimented, God started bringing so many thoughts and verses to mind. And a-tweaking I went.

The mundane and ordinary became sublime. When looking at it through a different set of “eyes” I could see beyond the failures of the photos. Just take a look…

Can you even see the asphalt? Do you see the weeds? Or the garbage can and newspaper?

No. And you know what? These photos are a great example of what the blood of Jesus does to us…God does not see us as those miserable creatures bound by sin. We are not hopeless, ugly wretches.

We are His treasures. Loved and beautiful. Full of life and hope. When we are able to look at our lives through God’s filter of redemption and unconditional love, we can see ourselves as He sees us.

I pray that today, you will see yourself through His eyes of forgiveness and redemption.

Jesus, Draw Me

Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer

I came across a beautifully poignant song while searching for something to comfort my soul. There are those moments in life that defy the comfort of simple thoughts and words, but when coupled with the right melody and instrumentation can speak a far clearer message than mere words unaccompanied.

If you are experiencing grief, or sorrow, or heartache, I pray that these words and their accompaniment will be especially touching to your soul.

Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer

May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labor thro’ the storm
You have called me to this passage
And I’ll follow tho’ I’m worn

Jesus guide me thro’ the tempest
Keep my spirit staid and sure
When the midnight meets the morning
Let me love You even more

May this journey be a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart’s testing
With Your likeness let me wake

Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go
And at the end of this long passage
Let me leave them at Your throne

Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer
Jesus draw me ever nearer to You
To You

2002 Modern M. Music (Admin. by Music Services)
Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

Writer(s): Keith Getty , Margaret Becker

Scripture Reference(s): Psalm 23

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOVGChMsPsg