White Sands – NM

So as you approach the White Sands National Monument on Route 70, you start seeing all this white stuff. It’s hard to identify from the road. Wow! As you get closer…it just becomes amazing! White as snow, but not… it’s made of gypsum crystals and unlike sand, it’s not hot. It’s is an awesome sight to behold.

“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.”(Isaiah 44:24)  Praise His name!

Thank you for stopping by. Be blessed!

Images of West Texas

Hi everyone! Just thought I would share a few more pics of our travels. Earlier this month we traveled up to the McDonald Observatory located near Ft. Davis. The drive was long but pretty amazing. We found a few spots to take a break from driving and managed to capture some interesting shots. I love that no matter which route we were on we saw some breathtaking views of God’s creations.

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“And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation[b] of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today.” Exodus 14:13 (NKJV) 

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We could not find what we needed at this Target. 

 

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“In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

 

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“Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose.” Psalm 25:12 (NKJV)

 

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“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26 (NKJV)

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DSC_5659Praise God! More later…

The Storm Clouds

It’s been a while since my last post. I miss writing, so I am going to try and sit down and just write. The Lord has done so much in my life the past few months. His mercy has been endless. Taking a road trip was the highlight of the summer. We took a road trip out west and it was absolutely amazing! We took over 160 gigs of photos. We managed to catch a few storms once we got out of the Texas heat. Here are a few pics of storm clouds. I love clouds!

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way
In the whirlwind and in the storm,
And the clouds are the dust of His feet.” (Nahum 1:3)

Stay tuned for more pics of our road trip!

What is the love of Christ?

“I look back over the events of my life and see the hands that carried Moses to his grave lifting me out of mine. In remembering I go back to these places where God met me and I meet him again and I lay my head on his breast, and he shows me the land beyond the Jordan and I suck into my lungs the fragrance of his breath, the power of his presence.”
― Rich Mullins

The message at church yesterday touched on the love of Christ. As the pastor began his sermon – it was about the love of God. I have heard it often in church. Pastor’s message was focused on defining the love of Christ. Specifically, what do we mean when we say we love Christ? I thought, “I know what I mean when I say it.” As the pastor spoke, I had all these thoughts and questions going through my head. I wondered if I had a good understanding of what it meant to love God. How can I possibly know if I do? Can it be recognized? Do I show the love of God to others, to those close to me. Do they sense it? Does God acknowledge it? I wondered if fellow believers had a good grasp on the concept.

When I say I love Christ, I mean I love Him as He loves me. Unconditionally. As it says in Daniel 3, confident that God would save them, the young Hebrew men adamantly told the King that even if God didn’t save them they would still not bow to another God. I love my Lord so much that I prayed earnestly for Him to remove any desire for companionship. It was during my journey – during years of unemployment (not for lack of job searching) – I came to rely wholeheartedly on the God I could not see. Yes, He became the God I could not see, but yet He saw me clearly. He not only saw me, but with a raging fury He chased me day and night, calling me out. Several pastors became messengers, as did Rich Mullins and his music. During this journey, I came to realize the reality of my walk with Christ. I did not need a man, the lusts of the world, a job, or affirmation to feel complete, to feel worthy. It was in that time that the Lord began to chip away at the very core of who and what identified me. If you said the world. You are correct. The moment we exit the womb the world grabs us by the feet and throws us into its very clutches. The world that I was born into was remarkably different from the world my children and grandchildren were born into, thank God, but the mission has not changed.

The Lord unraveled years of socialization into a world that could never satisfy, or be satisfied. It was in those bitter years the Lord had me on a diet of trial, tribulation and honey. Slowly, the Lord was renewing my thoughts, revealing my true identity, teaching me His truths, teaching me to pray, and to accept that my walk with Him was not always about me. It took me a while to recognize that He was re-socializing me. It was indeed a journey full of reflection. Eventually, the Lord did say, “You are ready to go. Leave this place.” And of course, at that point I was not ready, but God, being God, He prepared the path and I set my feet on it – with Him leading the way.  It’s easy to understand when someone invests time and energy training an individual that the purpose for the training is to eventually say, “It’s time.” I had a bible study teacher that would always point that out. He’d say something like, “I am training you in the things of God, so you can share the love and knowledge of Christ with others and bring them to the saving knowledge of Christ that brought you here.”

In my encounters with the living God, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, I found comfort and fulfillment that drew me ever closer to my Lord. Unattached, my thoughts could always be focused on Him. If He spoke to me in the middle of the night I was prepared to take notes. It was on this journey that the Lord brought me to the point of surrender and to identify with the King of Kings, as a child of the King, and forever resigned my worldly identify. The Lord took me out of the place I was in for so many years and He set my feet in a new place, a place I could never have imagined and I have a pretty good imagination. In a new place is where He has me now. He’s teaching me new things to build on what He spent years rebuilding.

I am quite familiar with the unconditional love of Christ, and all to familiar with His grace and mercy that flows ever so abundantly – too often in the most undeserving moments – and across circumstances. I pray the Lord will always allow me to show that same love, grace and mercy to others, as He leads and not by how I feel, or what others say I should feel. In your name, Jesus Christ.

The Lord used Rich Mullins, his music and his ministry to teach me. There is still much to learn in this walk with Christ.

“I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you’re doing as ministry. Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not. Your ministry is the way that you love people. And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging. You love people when you call your wife and say, ‘I’m going to be late for dinner,’ instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime, because you know she’s really tired. Loving people – being respectful toward them – is much more important than writing or doing music.”
― Rich Mullins

God’s Mercies are new Everyday

I closed 2017 with a new role, wife. Yes. I remarried after 22 years of living single. The year 2017 was marked by unimaginable grace and mercy, not just for me but for my household. Yes, it is a bit of a cliché, but it truly took me taking a leap of faith into unknown territory, literally, to behold God orchestrating a new beginning. To experience God’s miracles from the sidelines, is nothing compared to being God’s miracle. Actually, 2017 was a year of 360 change for me, one blessing after another. It was marked by events I was not even considering, like remarrying after 22 years of being alone, not even in my wildest dreams and traveling. Surrendering to change is not easy, so allowing the Lord to guide me through so much change was a bit scary at times. Often, I hesitated. I questioned every decision. I prayed asking God to confirm my decisions. The change was going to happen. It had to happen, because if we live for Christ He changes us and when He changes us, He never clues us in as to when, or how he will cause this change. So, when he sets change in motion we have to be willing to allow him to work in us rather than resist at every turn. Like Rich Mullins sang,

“Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees”

Change was coming. I knew it when I was laid of from my job in Sept. 2016. Layoffs generally cause all kind of change, mostly nerve wrecking change. I can say that after facing 3 layoffs, and two of those in less than a year. I was scared. I was frustrated. Then, my only close friend went home to be with the Lord. She had been in the hospital for a few months.  I saw her as often as I could. I sat with her.  I prayed for her and with her. I called our Christian friends to come pray for her. Only one came, Richard. He prayed and I sensed the inevitable. I just wasn’t ready. I did not get to say goodbye to her. Not again my Lord!, I prayed every night. I felt so alone. This was my first job after years of unemployment. I had been employed just over a year and it was only part-time at that and I get laid off. It was my first real job after seven years of underemployment and unemployment due to my first layoff in 2008, when the rug was pulled out from beneath me.

That first layoff turned out to be a harsh lesson. Year after year I was stripped and battered by circumstances, powerless to do anything. Every which way I turned I ran into closed doors. My soul was weary. My thoughts were constantly on the Lord for comfort, for wisdom, for courage and strength to face every day anew. His mercies are new everyday, He says and I trusted in those promises. Still, I was getting older. I was chasing 50. I questioned my identity. Trusting in God was a moment by moment thing. By 2016, things looked promising, but time was passing quickly then the wind changed. I get laid off and now my friend was gone. I had no one to talk to. I prayed. I prayed. I read God’s word. I prayed.

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Storms clouds looming over the city made me reflect on the past few months.  They made me realized that in this Christian walk of ours, storms will come our way bringing both pain and joy, though it seem joy is afar off.  The storms do pass. Sure the storm clouds looked ominous, but they did pass as the Lord is always in control in the storm.

April 1, 2017 after 22 years of living single, raising my children, grandchildren, working to provide, trusting in God in all things and fully persuaded that I was meant to spend the rest of my days on this earth living single, content in the place the Lord had me…Well, lo and behold…a voice from decades long gone…reached out via Facebook.

“Yes. I am the Jeff you knew. Proof: almost got in trouble at the Airman’s Club with your brothers car, and sitting in your mom’s house when they came to the door and told you your brother had been shot .
When I saw this message, I was taken by surprise. I have thought about you a lot since back then. I did not respond back in 2010, I had met my soul mate after 2 failed marriages. I knew that if I responded and she saw it would upset her.
She was very jealous, I knew she was the one that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I really knew God, had put us in a place to find each other. We married in October of 2011.
A year and a half ago we found out she had liver cancer, worst day of our life.
3 weeks ago my wife lost a tough battle, she is now pain-free sitting with my Heavenly Father. Sorry I didn’t respond in 2010, I hope you are doing well.
Maybe one day if our paths cross we can sit for a cup of coffee. Take care, and my God bless you. Your friend, Jeff. 

I responded with “Oh my gosh! You remember all that!!! I’m in tears. So sorry to hear about your wife. I know it’s a difficult time….you will be in my prayers. I too have thought about you often…the one that got away. God has a perfect plan for everyone that trusts in Him. Take care. I’m here if you need an ear.

I text my sister…”you’ll never believe who just messaged me on Messenger! She’s like, who? Still in shock I text..Jeff! Remember? She’s like, “no way!!!! She remembered. Everyone I spoke to after this remembered, Jeff. Through the years, those that had met him when we dated asked if I ever hear from him. I never did. When he rode into the sunset he was gone. I often wondered if he was still alive. Was he happy. Then came Facebook. I did a search of old friends on Facebook at the end of 2010. Many old friends, I could not find, those I did I was not certain if I had the right person. Jeff was one I was not sure of, so I messaged him and asked him if he’s been stationed here in 82. I never heard anything back so I assumed I had the wrong man and forgot about it. It’s been 16 months since that first conversation and I still can’t believe how the Lord orchestrated so much change to bring me to this place. What place is this? It’s a place where the Lord set me to show me His glory, His favor, His mercy.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps his fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

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As with any divorce, there is always left over hurt and distrust. Age can also make one a bit more skeptical when it comes to romance. I had completely surrendered that need to the Lord, yet when Jeff appeared, all those emotions resurfaced. I had not realized that God had been preparing my heart to love again. I had a love for this man that time could not diminish, that was so true, but time and trial had made my heart distrust love. I questioned God. Why this man? This is the only man I would even consider for a relationship, but marriage? I couldn’t. I prayed.

Rich Mullins sang about it…

Well the night was cold and my heart was
Hidden very safely in a shell
But I knew somehow I’d have to run that risk
Have to open up myself
Look at the stars on the face of the sky
They’re the same ones Abraham saw
Come under my wings I will make you shine
Give you strength enough to love

Oh now I’m getting strong enough
You helped me chip my way out and open myself up
And for the snow that comes with winter
For the growth that comes from pain
For the joke I can’t remember
Although the laughter long remains
For the faith that brought to finish
All I doubted at the start
Lord I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

Well my face was smooth and featureless
Just like an egg
And if I was moved you would never guess it
By the look upon my face
But You said man looks without but I look within
I can see the love you hide
It’s a matter of doubt it’s a symptom of sin
It’s a problem of too much pride

And I now I’m opening up wide
Wet feathers pulled out from beneath me
And You’re teaching me to fly
For the strength that comes with friendship
For the warmth that comes with hope
And for the love time can’t diminish
And for the time love takes to grow
And for the moonlight on the water
And for the bright and morning star
Lord I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

Rich Mullins The Hatching of a Heart

Revelation 3:7-8

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Zechariah 9:12

Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.

 

Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Be Blessed!

The Sunset

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30: 4-5

 

Dying, in Death and in Life

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Nothing shocks our lives more than the sudden death of a loved one…lives forever changed. We surround the bed hoping for a miracle, hoping our loved one will rise up and walk, but it does not happen. Would witnessing such an event lead those present to seek the Lord? Perhaps. I am reminded of the Rich man and Lazarus, both having died, but their destinations at opposite ends. The rich man believed that if his brothers would see Lazarus rise from the dead, certainly… they would believe in Him.  Scripture says different…
Luke 16:27-31 (NKJV)
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”

You were in your car driving to place you can’t even remember, in the shower, in bed sound asleep, in class, at work taking care of customers, playing with the kids, eating, you were doing something, or just relaxing, then you got a call. The one downfall of cell phones, quick access. You say hello. The person on the other end hesitates… then you cling to your phone in disbelief. Response to the news depends on the relationship. In my case, it was a niece I had not seen since she was a child. The first born of one of my eight brothers… gone in the blink of an eye.

We are a tribe of 14, with ten surviving siblings, ages ranging from 55 to 77. My niece was 42. Our parents had died years ago, along with four siblings, two within the last twelve years. We had yet to experience the loss of one of our children. My niece leaves behind four children from 17 to 22 years of age and grandchildren.

It’s so true that no parent wants to outlive a child. It was not I who lost a child, but the thought of such a thing coming to pass…well…it’s not easy thing to face. I felt bad that one of my brothers had to be the first. If that’s not difficult enough, to realize that anyone of us could have been first…well…it kind of shakes your foundation a bit. So my heart breaks. I can recall, that until the day she died… my mother’s would heart break with tears streaming down her face when she remembered the two small children and her 12 y/o brother she lost to death.

Somehow, experiencing the sudden loss of a loved one is a bit different than dying from an illness, though no less a shock and no less prepared. I can recall watching my friend fading away and feeling so helpless, so I would cried out to the Lord. And when she finally took her last breath I was not there. And worse I had to hear of her death on Facebook. With an illness God’s mercy gives us the time to think about things, even how we’ll get through it and there is so much involved in facing a serious illness. I wouldn’t even downplay it. But even when illness catches us of guard, we can turn to the Lord and pray for strength and healing, but the same cannot be said of sudden loss.  We can only pray for the Lord to give us strength and healing to deal with the loss.   Although we can never know the exact moment we will take our last breath, even in facing a terminal illness, that moment will come. So in  our mortal body we make it our mission to treasure our loved ones while on earth, that’s if…we are so inclined. Not every feels the need to make things right. When we don’t, for whatever reason, we tend to regret it once a love one dies… at some point anyway… at that point it’s too late. No reboot. No turning back the clock. No rewind. No do over. Only flash backs of all the hurtful/ angry words exchanged, pointless arguments, pointing fingers, etc. etc. etc. Life happens.

Life happens, sometimes it’s like a sweet melody that we replay over and over again, or like a Monet painting. Sometimes, it’s like a Jackson Pollack, or Picasso painting, full of stuff splattered and shattered all over, confusion, turmoil, anger, frustrations etc. etc. etc.. Regardless, it’s a life worth examining through the eyes of the living God.

At the start of life, death is far from our thoughts, even though we know that death is inevitable! Death is a big part of living, yet we rarely speak of it. I know most people think it’s morbid to speak of death and that it’s often depressed people that obsess with the idea. I don’t always believe that’s true. I tend to believe that when people accept their mortality they tend to prepare their loved ones for their eventual departure. And that can look different for everyone. I remember, when I would do something asinine, my mother telling…”I’m going to be dead one day, what are you going to do then?” And, of course I always had some lame comeback. After hearing that remark so many times at one point I told myself , that if my mom died, I would die right along with her, but that was long before I had my own children. Nevertheless, it was her way of telling me that she would not always be here for me. It did not sink in the first thousand times, but then she had a stroke, it then became very real. She was already in her 70’s and still me teaching lessons.

My mom taught me quite a bit about how to be a compassionate human, in spite of how the world treated her. The world did not treat her/us well, but God’s mercy was always near. My dad abandoned our family when we were very young, and my mom never seemed to harbor any ill feelings toward him and she also expected me to show him respect. That was not easy for me to do, especially, when he died.

The relationships my siblings and I have had with our children cover the spectrum of childrearing. It’s a birds eye view of how much of who we are… was shaped by the way we were reared. Even the way my grandkids are being parented is much different than the way I parented and the way I was parented. Even our relationships as siblings look different. Still, it’s a travesty that my brother had to grieve the loss of his first daughter in the face of criticism and judgment because of his childrearing practices. I did find it quite interesting to hear various comments on the things my mom would have said… had she been alive to witness this debacle.   And all I heard in my head was … “it does not matter…he is still your father and you will show him respect.” From the time I was four until the day he died… I was commanded to show respect to a man that abandoned me. Believe me, that was difficult. However, God in His infinite wisdom had a lesson waiting for me through that experience. And I am more than sure that many of you have been taught that lesson.

 Although, it appeared my niece believed in God, I am well aware that it’s during these times of adversity, that we tend to turn to God. We don’t necessarily seek Him. We may not live as children of God. We just turn and expect Him to be there to comfort us. And it is His mercy that we encounter. When the time comes that we are able to move on, we make every effort to make our loved one proud, to live to remember their memory, we create alters for them and put them on display. And God is put back in His place. We all mourn in our own way, but that’s been my experience.

The death we experience when we accept Jesus into our heart and allow Him to work out all the muck and mire we have collected since birth…there we die to this wretched flesh, that unchecked can make us do unspeakable things. It is in experiencing that death that will bring us closer to the God that raises people from the dead. I do believe that God can raise people from the dead, if He so chose. My God is a living God and He can do everything He said He would do. I also believe that it’s the spiritual death that we must experience to get to that place…that place where Lazarus sat when the rich man reached out for a drop of water to cool his tongue. That place of comfort that God promises to those who believe is where His children will go when their journey on earth is finished. And we don’t know when that time will be. And that journey will look different for many of us. Thus, I am always reminded that our battle is always against the spiritual forces of darkness. It has taken me  many years to realize that truth.

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

So, I had to say goodbye to my niece with a heavy heart, never knowing if she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, but always hopeful, as only God knows the heart of any man.

My prayer is that the Lord will use this one life, this one loss, unexpected as it was…for us anyway, to bring healing in all its facets to those souls touched by this one life, good or bad.

 Psalm 103:15-17 (NIV)

The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.

Ecclesiastes 9 (NKJV)

For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them. All things come alike to all:

One event happens to the righteous and the wicked;
To the good,[a] the clean, and the unclean;
To him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.
As is the good, so is the sinner;
He who takes an oath as he who fears an oath.

This is an evil in all that is done under the sun: that one thing happens to all. Truly the hearts of the sons of men are full of evil; madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But for him who is joined to all the living there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

For the living know that they will die;
But the dead know nothing,
And they have no more reward,
For the memory of them is forgotten.
Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished;
Nevermore will they have a share
In anything done under the sun.

Go, eat your bread with joy,
And drink your wine with a merry heart;
For God has already accepted your works.
Let your garments always be white,
And let your head lack no oil.

Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun.

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

11 I returned and saw under the sun that—

The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
12 For man also does not know his time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them.

Psalm 27

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life —
of whom shall I be afraid?

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
Psalm 27:1, 4-5 NIV

Be Blessed