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Monday, August 18, 2014

JUST LUCKY?

If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.  The hardworking farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops. II Timothy 2:5, 6 (NASB)

Winding through the valleys our train left Durango, Colorado. Progressing slowly but surely around treacherous curves with drop offs into canyons, then up, up, up to about ten thousand feet to reach the former silver mining town of Silverton, Colorado.

Sitting inside the passenger car, as I admired the beautiful scenery, I tried to imagine what life must have been like a century ago.  What different types of adventures and challenges I might have faced.

Back then, a woman might have chosen to stay out East, in a civilized town or bustling city.  Apprenticing to a printer, a hat maker, or a baker, if I was so fortunate, would lead to a life of plenty.

Maybe if my family had a ranch, that might be an option to carry on the family business by working alongside my father, mother, uncle, or aunt to learn all there was to learn in agribusiness.

Or I might leave the beaten path and the security of the people who have known me since I was in diapers and go off to find new places, people, and begin with my skills to set up a life all my own.  Maybe I would have been a mail order bride.

There were so many choices in life.  What kind of talents do I have?  Do I start up a business?  Should I go to college, to trade school, or join the military?  Who should I marry?  Who should I trust and befriend? Where do I settle down? 

Many of our issues are more or less self-imposed.  They are a result of our choices, our attitudes, and our character.  When there are outside factors that come to wreak havoc on our peace, like hazardous weather, sickness, animal attacks, war, or disturbing killings or maiming, it is our response to those sufferings that defines us and our particular way of reacting is of our own choosing and determines outcomes.

Free will to choose is the biggest option in the whole game of life.

The great Conductor wrote love letters to explain the pitfalls of bad decisions.  He encourages me to stay out of debt, to give to the poor, to work so that I can eat, to be gentle and kind when others go through tough times.  How to have good relationships.   The directions are plain as day and not just moral, but practical.  The Bible is a track to steer me clear of disasters that I could bring upon myself.  

I continue to enjoy the ride as well as the people I've come to know and share experiences with along the way.  The freedom to choose each day from all of the options before me boggles my mind at the calculated outcomes we could end up with in a week alone.  So many yeses compared to the few warnings and prohibitions for my protection.

I gaze and admire the majestic beauty of His creation all around me, the simple pleasures reach my senses daily.


I am grateful oh God for sharing the wealth of your wisdom, so that when I have crossroads, I can reflect, find counsel, and choose wisely.  I am grateful that when I mess up, forgiveness is available.  So much is gained from errors.  God's wisdom just shines that much clearer.  Then another opportunity waits for me and I begin again.

Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.  But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.  The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those in opposition. II Timothy 2:22-25a (NASB)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

ALOFT

Matthew 17:20-21 (MSG)  "Because you're not yet taking God seriously," said Jesus.  "The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, 'Move!' and it would move.  There is nothing you wouldn't be able to tackle."

Late at night, the online reservations were finalized for my son, granddaughter, and I to take a hot air balloon flight from Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  Both kids sounded excited at the prospect.  I couldn't wait either.

They fell asleep and had faith that since I'd promised a balloon ride the night before, that meant that I would wake them early enough to arrive on time. Payment for the ride and the shirts was not an issue for them either.  
But early the next morning, out on the lawn with the sight of the flames, flimsy material, and the small basket, I noted some looks of concern on Madee's face.  She was sizing up the situation.  It certainly appeared a bit more challenging than when we had admired the pictures last night on the website.

The air was crisp, the sky was clear blue except for wisps of smoke filtering in from forest fires fifty or so miles away.

We eyed the controlled flames shooting from the burner. They shot into the envelope to heat the inside air.  

Slowly, over a half an hour later, the inflated craft lifted the gondola with it's wide-eyed passengers high above the tree tops and off on our adventure.

After all of the explanations of the pilot concerning procedures and safety precautions, grins started appearing.  The anticipation returned for this voyage and perks like bragging rights when this was over. 

Both kids hopped into the wicker basket with ease, locating their spot next the rim. 

Me, well, my hopping involved a little pulling of my arms by my son, Philip, but I soon stood in the middle of the basket, close to my kids, where I had a good view over their heads.

As a true blue member of the Mom's Club, I started  thinking of all that might go wrong, and what would I do to protect these two precious kids in the event of a malfunction.

This Mom's Club point of view often gets in the way of me totally enjoying events.  This time was no different.

It interested me to note the landmarks as our pilot pointed out several formations used to steer by.  Silently, we floated overhead with just the blast of the burners with spurts and snorts akin to a dragon spouting fire every once in a while to retain our altitude.
Silence, other than the soft utterances of the awed passengers seemed to sanctify this flight.

The pilot pointed out our final destination not too far off of the highway on some vacant lots.  We watched in amazement at the accuracy of his landing.

It all seemed over too soon, even though the set up and tear down alone, took forty five minutes.

I think back now on how much freer Madee and Philip were on that ride than me.  They had no one else to be concerned for.  


My take away is that no matter how much I might have planned or worried, there was nothing I could personally do to insure our safety up there.  I only distracted myself from thoroughly taking in the magic of the moment.

Kids are to be imitated.  Their faith in the experience of the pilot, the engineering of the companies that made all of the equipment was just there.  They believed that I would only take them somewhere safe and enjoyable.  They asked questions, got answers, and relished the moment.

Faith the size of a tiny grain of mustard seed is all I need to move mountains, Jesus said.  So if I abandon obstacles like fear and its cousins, doubt and worry, then imagine the difference. This life of freedom is exactly what a child in its innocence experiences everyday.  And this same offer is sitting on the table before each of us, when we receive God's gift of forgiveness.  

Freedom to walk with Him always at our side.  The Creator of the universe, who set all laws of physics into motion, is the one who paid the price to give this to me.  So, I am picking up this gift of faith and innocence from the table and taking God seriously.  I intend to enjoy my ride through life like I never have before.









 

Friday, August 8, 2014

FIRST THINGS FIRST



Romans 4:20 (NIV) Yet he (speaking of Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.


My preconceived ideas concerning the idyllic life of a writer and what that involves evolve daily.  

Originally, when I left Texas had a goal of completing my book in a month and a half.  I pictured myself rising in the cool morning with ideas percolating in my mind and ready to spill out through my fingers to the keys of my computer.  Once printed to paper, I would save these in my documents.  The chapters set aside would be reopened for editing and revision after a week, so that I could pull them out to reread with fresher more objective eyes.

After thirty-three days, I do see quite a bit of progress.  I just never anticipated so many activities to fill our schedules.

My days here in the tropics have been filled with appointments galore: dental, attorney, bank, church and ministry related.

Visits to see friends and then the busyness of cleaning, baking, boiling chicken in preparation for returning the favor.

Then letters, email, newsletter and blog to keep in touch with loved ones and friends here and abroad.

I stand here this morning, smiling as I converse with God over my busy mop. Yes, and there are chores around the house. 

"I know this book is a priority, Lord.  Thank you for prodding me to enter this place of concentrated  effort.  But things come along and keep me too busy to write as much as I would like."  Smiling though, for it is funny how much still happens, or how many necessary trips we need to make into San Jose or Atenas, even from this small remote cabin.

I am learning to fully embrace the moment, right now, and still keep the promise of this book that is strong in my heart.
Today began in the shower, not at a writer's desk.  Then during my breakfast which was lovingly prepared by my husband, we enjoyed small talk.  I ate scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and drank hot cammomile tea, while he sipped his rich Costa Rican coffee.
My chair scraped as I took our plates to the sink.  Wetting the sponge and then dipping it in Axion, I scrubbed, rinsed, and placed each utensil and pan in the drainer to drip dry.


Now my eyes automatically scanned the terra cotta tile as I took a couple steps to arm myself with my trusty broom.  Crumbs, dust, and dead flying insects swooshed out the back door and off of the terrace.

Sorting clothes came next.  The sun strutted brightly accompanied by a slight breeze.  What a perfect combination for washing and hanging up a couple loads to dry before the early afternoon when the weather tends to shift this time of year.

The mop waited patiently for me, near the washer, to remind me about the dogs with muddy feet that came to greet Jerry early this morning.  I wet it with cleaner and water to erase their prints.  And now here I stand.  Breathing in the freshness of the lemon scent.

Okay!  One more stop.  I plump up the pillows on my bed, which is my favorite spot for meditation and prayer.  My iPad opens up to the Bible app and away I go.

When I finally find myself sitting at my computer, ready to look over my work from the day before, I hear the engine of our Expedition coming up our drive and then a light honk that asks me to climb down our steep cement stairway to lift and carry the precious groceries that Jerry has purchased.

Now, my husband is a little out of breath, but he cheerfully banters about all that he saw along the way as well as all that transpired and who he ran into as he took care of business in Atenas.

Interested to hear the news, I listened intently. 

With a sigh and a look of accomplishment, this man of mine, sat on the couch to pick up his computer and begin practicing his Spanish from YOUTUBE.  

Quiet.

First things first.

The dream is still real within my mind.  The promise will be fulfilled.  My book is unfolding and soon will be a tangible accomplishment, but for now... I will enjoy each pleasant moment.  After all, this is exactly what my book is about: to live in the now, as a child.  I want to fully appreciate this time I am holding in my grateful hands.