Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Surviving the Wreckage

Kelly's truck

There shouldn’t have been any survivors. Witnesses, ambulance drivers, EMT’s, doctors and nurses were all shocked there were no fatalities. But because of God’s intervention, two people emerged from the debris virtually unscathed.

My husband’s first words on the phone at 9:00 last Monday night were, “Don’t worry; I’m okay, but my truck is totaled.” It was cold and rainy, and he was three hours away on the side of the highway. 

He explained, “I was passing another car on the divided highway and hit a lady head on. She was driving the wrong way with her lights off and flicked them on just before we hit. I had a split second to steer toward to the median. If I hadn’t, she wouldn’t have survived. I drove over the top of her car and rolled four times before I came to a stop.”
the other driver's car
We got off the phone and I began texting family and friends to pray. The ambulance drivers arrived and convinced him to go to the hospital. I got ready to meet him there, so thankful our daughter offered to go with me.  Her presence was a comfort, and she made sure to update family and friends as much as she could during the hour and a half drive, mostly out of cell service. Our Salem daughter and her husband, my parents, and my sister and brother in law beat us to the hospital and kept us informed. 

The blood was all cleaned up before I got to him in the ER, but it was still shocking to see my Kelly in a neck brace surrounded by medical paraphernalia. They had already run tests and a CT scan—no concussion, no brain damage, no deep gashes, no broken bones; only a head wound from the impact on the third roll. He had counted; he said “Everything felt like it was in slow motion”

already laughing and joking with the medical staff

It wasn’t long before they released him to go home. We were astounded both Kelly and the other driver survived. The more details we’ve learned in the week since the accident, we are convinced this was all God’s doing. He was present before, during, and after the impact and rescued both drivers in order to accomplish His plans.

  • The lady he hit was filled with a cocktail of alcohol, meth, and oxycodone; driving with a suspended license, and arrested after the crash. This may be the wake up call she needed to get clean and sober.
  • Kelly’s truck flew 70 feet in the air after running over her car, before it landed and rolled. 
  • The accident happened in a small section of road where there’s a grassy median with no posts or wires, guardrails, or hills—which would have done significantly more damage in the roll.
  • Even though the median is narrow, his truck didn’t cross into oncoming traffic on the other side. 
  • Kelly was able to kick the door of his truck open, escape the crushed cab, and make sure she was okay before help arrived. 

      The morning after the accident, I picked up where I’d been reading—“Daniel in the lion’s den” in Daniel chapter 6. My Wiersbe Bible Commentary said this: “God saved Daniel because it brought great glory to His name and also because he still had more work to do. God’s servants are immortal until their work is done.” (emphasis mine)
Wow! Nothing can harm us until it’s our time. God doesn’t always rescue His followers from death, injury, financial collapse, failed relationships, persecution, or trauma to body and soul. He decides to rescue from the storm, or give us strength to get through the storm based on two things:

#1, that He will be glorified through the situation
#2, that we will fulfill our role in His plan 

Whether you’ve also been miraculously rescued, or are in a "wrecked" situation, it’s your decision what you do next. 

Will you give God the glory for your rescue, or for how He’s getting you through each day? Can you tell others you have a peace that passes all understanding? Are you surrounded by prayer support and the love of the Body of Christ? Give Jesus Christ the glory!

Secondly, ask Him how He wants to use you. Does He want you to be an example for someone else? Will your perseverance encourage their faith? Is this situation opening opportunities to tell others about your hope in Christ? How can you pray for those around you?

Daniel survived the lion’s den because God wasn’t done with him yet. He lived into his 80’s, passing every test and temptation. He provided counsel and wisdom to four kings, and lived a pure life while in captivity in a foreign land. He received prophetic visions that reveal God’s plan for Israel and the final days of history for all mankind. Who knows what God has in mind for us. 

Determine to make the most of every opportunity. 
when we bought the truck last spring
#ourpurposeinlife #carcrashunharmed #survivor #immortalityofbelievers #danielinlionsden #Daniel6

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

This weekend, the people of North America will celebrate Thanksgiving. They will gather in homes, restaurants, missions, hotel rooms, even outdoors. People all over the world can celebrate Thanksgiving, even if it’s not an official holiday in the country where they live. All of us can claim this day and choose what centerpiece we gather round.  

A centerpiece is usually a festive decoration in the middle of the table. Some people buy or create elaborate arrangements. Some are so big you can’t see around them to visit at the table. Other centerpieces are simple and homemade. But the kind of centerpiece I’m talking about is the focus for the Day.

For many Thanksgiving is all about the wondrous FOOD they plan to prepare and eat. I admit I’m pretty excited about that part. I’m looking forward to delicious ham, stuffing, cheesy potatoes, homemade bread, and a selection of pumpkin, pecan, chocolate, and coconut pie loaded on our plates.

For others, Thanksgiving is all about FALL—a season of fresh crisp air, multi-colored leaves, bountiful harvest, and the aroma of spices in the kitchen. I love fall and all it entails. I welcome the cooler weather and being able to focus more energy indoors and spend time with family for the holidays.

Then of course there are whimsical drawings of turkeys, delicious candy corn, and giggles in the house from kids on break from school. CHILDREN make holidays fun and meaningful—when we teach them what and why we celebrate in life. We tell them about the PILGRIMS who came to North America for religious freedom. They wouldn’t have survived a second winter if native Americans hadn’t taken pity on them. They shared the bounty of their provisions and how to plant and hunt with these strangers from far away.

Getting time off to spend with FAMILY and FRIENDS is a central theme as well. I love my family, and treasure the days we set aside to get together. We talk, sing, walk after our feast, and express gratitude for all the blessings from the past year.

Which brings me to the true centerpiece of Thanksgiving—A Day of GRATITUDE TO GOD for All He Has Provided. Thanksgiving is a reminder that all we are and all we have is not by our own doing, but by His gracious and generous hand. We can’t make it rain or heal the sick; we can’t mend broken people or give hope to the hopeless. Instead, we look to God for all these things.

The United States made a Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1789 which says in part: “It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” There is no more beautiful centerpiece than gratitude, humility, and an expression of dependence on the One who made us. He breathes life into our bodies and gives meaning to our days.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! May Jesus be the center of your day and the deepest joy of your heart.

#Thanksgiving #tabledecoration #holidayfocus #whatdowecelebrate

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Dark Days Get Me Down

My friends and I got together and talked about the short, dark days of winter. Three out of four of us tend to get a little down. And we’re not the only ones. Even celebrating holidays with people you love is not enough to ward off occasional melancholy. How can we combat these feelings and not sink in a mire of sadness?

Since I struggle with this every winter to some degree, I’ve learned a few things. Here’s what helps me:

Bring in the light: Open drapes, turn on lights, and light candles to lift your spirits. 

Resist the urge to overeat: Yes, I know I’m saying this one week before Thanksgiving. And I’m saying it to myself first! This is a huge temptation during the winter months—warm baked cookies sound better than ever this time of year. But overeating will make you sluggish and the drop from a sugar high can spiral into depression.

Get outside: Even on overcast days, crisp outside air can lift your spirits. Walks in the rain can be fun and adventurous, especially if the wind is blowing. Splashing in mud puddles, raking leaves, night walks to see the stars, and playing in the snow are great ways to get fresh oxygen and boost your mood.

Invite relationship: Even if you’re around people all day at work or home, you can still feel isolated. Purposefully connect with upbeat people you want to know better—meet for coffee, invite someone over to watch a Christmas movie, or plan a walk together.

Add color: Gray days can seep into our bones. Fight back by adding splashes of color to your work station, home d├ęcor, and what you wear. 

Choose music wisely: What might be soothing and energizing one day might be depressing or jarring another. Even upbeat Christmas music can wear after a while. Consider taking a break from the noise and breathe in silence, or limit music to times when you can savor it. 

Boost your system naturally: Instead of coffee, sugar, and pop, try essential oils (citrus, lavender, and spicy scents to calm and uplift) or mood enhancing nutritional supplements. 

Hibernate: This may sound contradictory, but studies show our bodies actually need more rest during the winter months. It’s God’s way of giving us a break from busy summer activities. So snuggle into bed early, or take a guilt-free nap on the weekend so you can begin the new day or week rested and refreshed.

Of course, the best way to combat the darkness is to open yourself up to God’s Light. Start every day reading His Word. You can even sign up to receive daily Bible verses via email or on your phone. 

Here are four ways to get more of His light in our lives:

1    1. Follow the light: When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Each of us has a choice—follow the light or succumb to the darkness. Jesus, the light of the world, came to shine on us. If we choose to follow Him, He will light the way.

2   2.  Position yourself in the light: “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” John 12:46

Even as a follower of Jesus Christ, I can fall into gloomy moods and negative thoughts. But I don’t have to stay there.

3    3. Trust the light: We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Pet. 1:19

We know the sun will come up every morning (even if it’s hidden by clouds). Prophecies throughout scripture foretold Jesus’ coming, death, resurrection, and His second coming. Three of the four have happened just as God said they would. His Word, like the sun, is reliable. Knowing God is trustworthy gives us hope on the darkest days. And soon His day will dawn when there will be no more night.

4    4. Declare the light: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

The best way to brighten any day is to talk about the joy and freedom Jesus gives us. He is light. He is life. And in Him we have hope for an eternity of sunshine.

#helpfordepression #lightindarkness #curesforwinterblues #letthelightshine

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Job Never Ends

I raked leaves yesterday, like every week for the last month. How is it I can fill the garbage can and several trash bags every time, yet there are still leaves on the trees? Kind of like the vacuum cleaner mystery—with so much long blonde hair tightly wound around the roller every week, how can I still have any hair?

Sadly, after two hours of raking yesterday, our yard is already littered with freshly fallen leaves. (I couldn’t bear to look yesterday afternoon.) It never seems to end! In fact, as I was raking I thought of the catchy/annoying song my girls and I learned long ago on Lamb Chops. “This is the song that never ends…” This song, I have found, comes to mind at the oddest times, yet amused me on this occasion. Leaf raking is indeed a job that never seems to end.

Maybe you’re struggling with another kind of job that seems to go on forever:

  • parenting a strong-willed child
  • being kind to a crabby spouse or co-worker
  • showing up for a job you don’t like
  • praying for a child who has turned away
  • reaching out with the life-giving message of Christ with no response
It’s exhausting to do the same things over and over when there’s no noticeable improvement or hope for a change. The leaves keep falling, your child continues to throw tantrums, people gripe and complain despite your best efforts, your heart aches for your beloved one, and the people you share with show no desire to know Christ.

But seasons change. Fall turns to winter and our raking is done for a while. Circumstances change. You find a new job; your child grows up and learns self-control; God reaches the ones you love in ways you’d never expect.

Until these things happen, don’t give up. Keep loving, praying, speaking, reaching out, showing up, and doing what is right—even when it looks hopeless. You never know what’s just around the bend; what the next wave will bring ashore. 

God sees our faithfulness, even when we don’t feel like we’re making any progress. When we do the work we grow, and God-seeds flourish in places we might never suspect. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:9-10).

Also, don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of process. I knew my raking chore wasn’t over even as I labored yesterday, but there was still pleasure in the effort. It was nice to be outside breathing fresh air, getting exercise, caring for our home. And the leaves! Moisture from recent rains deepened their color. They were different shapes and sizes; speckled, pointed, and curled. Taking a closer look filled me with wonder for our Creator.

Your never-ending job is no different. There’s beauty in it, if you look closely. And the more you see God there, the easier it will be for you to show up and give your all. The people you touch are so much more amazing than leaves.

Thank you for being faithful in repeated efforts. There will be a reward in all you do for Christ, if you don’t give up.

#areyouweary #dotheyevergrowup #neverends #worththeeffort #Galatians6