Sunday, January 19, 2014

God's Grace is for Everyone



Sunday Scripture

and a

Song
"For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. 
He gives us grace and Glory. 
The Lord will withhold no good thing 
from those who do what is right."
Psalm 84:11 (NLT)

Today's song found its way to me from the radio, once again.
Listening to KLOVE while I was driving, 
 this beautiful message touched my soul.
From the beginning of our life here on earth,
and throughout all of our days,
 God's great Grace is ours.
For everyone. No matter who you are.

Matt Redman wrote this song with Jonas Myrin
enjoy "Your Grace Finds Me"

Subscribers please click on Hope to find to view this video on my blog site.
Mobile users, click here to view this video on Youtube.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Surviving the Bitterest of Cold


A smooth blanket of snow glistens in the sun, its contours sculpted by relentless winds; while sub zero temperatures have frozen the surface into a solid sheet of ice.

Welcome to winter in Wisconsin. 

 
As temperatures recently plummeted into double digits below zero, we braced ourselves for the onslaught of Arctic air. A phenomenon known as a Polar Vortex was sweeping down from the north, bringing along high winds that produced wind chills that doubled the temperatures downward, into the negative thirties and forties, and even down to -50 degrees.
 

Though I’ve never heard of a Polar Vortex before, extremely cold temperatures are not a new occurrence here in the upper Midwest. When I was a young girl, temperatures would always plummet below zero for about two weeks in January every year. That’s just the way winter was, and we all survived by bundling up whenever we had to go outside, with layer upon layer of clothes until you could barely move your arms. Think of the little brother in “A Christmas Story” and you have a pretty good idea of our reality.

I think we’ve gotten spoiled. Winters don’t reach these arctic temperatures here very often. In fact, it has been a decade since we’ve endured this kind of cold. While these temperatures can present a deadly situation if one is exposed too long in the cold, if your are prepared, it’s just another winter day in Wisconsin.

In 1982, several days of temperatures as low as -25 were a catalyst for my exodus to warmer climes, though moving to California in mid-March might not have been such a great idea. A snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada mountains closed the mountain pass and we had to wait out the storm in Reno for a few days. 


When the pass was opened, and we drove through, we were rewarded with the most beautiful winter landscape I’d ever seen. The mountains and forests were covered with several feet of new fallen, pristine snow. Even growing up in the Midwest, I’d never seen that much snow. In the mountains, they measure snowfall in feet per hour, not inches.


For those of you who have never experienced -25 degree temps with -40+ wind chills, let me share one example of life in subzero temps. After moving to California, we returned the following winter to visit our families for Christmas.


One particular evening after visiting with relatives, we got in our borrowed car (after warming it up for 30 minutes or so) and drove away. There was a THUD, THUD, THUD as we drove away. We realized the tires had frozen to the roadway and were flattened on one side from the extreme cold. After a short distance, they found their round again. That’s something I will never forget.


For you folks who live where it never really freezes like this, let me describe how the cold air stings your nose and cheeks, or any exposed skin. Kind of like “Over the River and Thru the Woods.” Even the moisture in your nose freezes, which is quite an unusual sensation. 

Yeah, it’s interesting living here.  


I remember ice skating – outdoors – when I was young. Oddly enough, ice skates aren’t insulated. Why is that? Have you ever had your toes feel so frozen that they felt like they could snap right off? Yeah, that’s the kind of cold I remember! After ice skating on a makeshift pond on Buchner Park’s baseball field, my toes felt this cold. And then, while warming up afterward, as the blood began to return to the toes, the sensation was excruciating pain! But it was all in the name of good fun, right? The funny thing is, I don’t ice skate anymore.

In contrast to the bitterest cold, the people living here have the warmest and most sincere appreciation for one another. The hearts and spirits of family and friends exude the kind of warmth that makes living in the Midwest worthwhile. When I think of our hardy ancestors who lived in these parts when there was no such thing as snow plows and central heating, I am awed by their persistence and fortitude in enduring Midwestern winters.

It is this robust heritage that we share that unites us in our common struggle to endure this cold snap. And true to our ancestry, the warm hearts of our friends and families make sharing life through our wintery struggles more than worthwhile. We are still a hearty people, who love good food and fellowship; who care enough to stop and help a stranded motorist in a snowstorm, and open our hearts and our doors to celebrate the warmth of friendship, even in the midst of the coldest winter.


The warm hearts of the Midwestern people brought us back home to Wisconsin, and we’ve been living here again for nearly two decades. 

I embrace the change of seasons here: glorious rebirth in new life of spring; summer’s bounteous plant growth with long, hot days and warm nights of summer fun; autumn with it’s beautiful pageantry of color in the hardwood forests, and yes, even winter with the bitterest of cold, which produces a stark beauty all its own.

It’s winter in Wisconsin, so grab a cup of something warm to drink and put another log on the fire. Do what you can to keep warm, my friends.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

We Won't Be Shaken



 Sunday Scripture

and a

Song



~Today I am sharing two scriptures that capture the feeling I wish to convey ~ 
Believe in this truth:
We can be confident knowing that wherever this life takes us, God is always with us. 
He is our strength, and we will not be shaken.



"He alone is my rock and my salvation, 
my fortress where I will never be shaken."
Psalm 62:2 (NLT)
 

 "King David said this about him:
‘I see that the Lord is always with me.
 I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.' "
Acts 2:25 (NLT)



Sometimes a song gets stuck in my head -- does that ever happen to you? That's what happened to me with this song from Building 429. 

 On my way home last night, I prayed for God to help me find a song and scripture to share with you for this Sunday's post. This song came on the radio, and I can't get it out of my head.

Enjoy Building 429's song "We Won't Be Shaken"


Subscribers can click on Hope to find to view this video on my blogsite.
Mobile viewers can click here to view this video on youtube.


Be confident knowing that God has gone on before you, and walks along beside you. 
You need not fear.

Take care and keep warm, my friends.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Here We Go Again!

The bitter chill of January in Wisconsin gives us plenty of time to hunker down and contemplate a plan of hibernation until springtime. It offers time, too, to reflect on the old and the new. 

While all of 2013 is memory now, we look forward into 2014 with its blank canvas and wonder, what will we paint?

Little nuances keep filtering my way that this is to be a year of discovery for me; that is, a discovery of who I am and what I am supposed to do with this one beautiful life. A book I have been gifted encourages me to "uncover the art you were made to live" (A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman). Meditations I have discovered are leading me to figure out not who but 'what' I am. And scripture verses and devotions tell me I am made anew, with all the promise that only God can provide.


The thing is, I thought I already had it pretty well figured out. Funny, right? I write and I sing and these things bring me great joy and creative expression. I love my family with a mother's caring (and worrying) heart, and share in their joys as my sons find their way. I live and I love, and I share the best of me with those I am close to.

Don't get me wrong. By no means whatsoever do I feel I have it all figured out. I just kinda thought I was on the right pathway. And maybe I am, and my discoveries will lead me deeper into knowing who I am and what I should be doing. Perhaps I will be gifted with insight into the whys and hows of what my new direction in life will be.

Despite the fact that I always look for the best in a person or situation, and while I know that there is much pain and suffering in the world, I try to stay upbeat with a positive outlook. I seek to find truth, and celebrate justice, while struggling to comprehend what I feel in my heart is the ruination of humanity. While much beauty and love exist in this world, the painful truth is that violence is prevalent and I fear that mankind's inhumanity to humankind will be its undoing. 

Knowing the struggle that many have just to survive opens my heart to question why there is such disparity between the haves and the have-nots. And wondering, too, what one little person like me can do. 

I hope you don't mind my meanderings here. You see, I really am trying to discover what this life is all about. I think I've closed myself up within my own little world for so long, just taking care of my family and myself. I thought that was enough. My role was defined. And I lived it and loved it.

What is happening in my thoughts doesn't frighten me or worry me. I am open to the leading of the Spirit, and perhaps my willingness to embrace change will be the catalyst for my next discoveries. 

 

Whatever happens in the upcoming year, I pray for growth in my spirit, acceptance of my direction, and Divine guidance as I step boldly into what is my life.

I pray these things for all of you, too, that you might find your way as we all tread courageously into this bright, new year. Many blessings, my friends.