Month: February 2016

slippery slope

Simon and Garfunkel made the phrase “slip sliding away”popular with their song of the same name in 1977.

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away

You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away.

The East  Coast has experienced the slip sliding away feeling these past few weeks with the ice-snow-more ice combo. I am fortunate to have missed some of that slippery precipatation by spending a few weeks in warmer weather on the West Coast.

But I was caught off guard to find myself slipping and sliding while tackling the South Kaibab Trail at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. My husband found out that only 3% of the 5 million annual visitors travel below the GC’s rim. We wanted to be in that prestigious 3% of course. Always up for a challenge! Why not? We can do this.

The helpful park ranger warned us that the Trail still had ice on it. At the trailhead, the warning sign suggested wearing crampons. We didn’t pack those; we don’t own them either. No need, we have our sneakers.

We start down the Trail with our pride of being counted among the special 3% and with the magnificent views as our constant companion along the way.

An older couple (they were probably our age but referring to them as “older” makes me feel younger and better) had already turned around and said they  weren’t going to take the chance on the ice. Hmmm. Where is their sense of adventure? Like I said, they were old.

Soon we humbly found out what all the fuss was about: ICE! There really was ICE on this trail. The sun was out ( but not hitting this part of the Trail) and it was 65 degrees.  How can there be ice? This doesn’t compute. But I couldn’t linger on that issue because I was on a very narrow, steep trail trying to manuever on ICE  without crampons on my feet. We hadn’t taken the warnings seriously.

imageAhead on this perilous path, we helplessly stare at a young couple each with a small child strapped to them. They are desperatly trying to navigate this treacherous stretch. She hugged the rock wall (with a child on her back); he has his hand on her butt trying to brace her while not losing his footing since he has a child strapped to his front.

I was dreadfully thinking this was not going to end well for a member of this young family. Scarey stuff. But we wait and watch. My husband offered to help but he was also afraid to let go of me. (He made the right choice and kept me upright.) They make it through so we stupidly follow. Have I mentioned there are no guide rails? Just a deep, deep canyon.

Mule trains have traversed these steep, hazardous trails since the late 1800’s. We passed several mule trains, rather they passed us. Those 4-hooved animals were sure-footed on this mess. I was panicked. Then following my second slip, I announced that I was done. “I will sit on this rock, enjoy the awesome view and eat gummy bears.”

I had only made it 1/4 mile down but I couldn’t fathom how I would get back up the icy Trail. I read that 250 people are rescued each year at the Grand Canyon. Make that 251, I predicted.

While my nimble husband continued further down into the Canyon, I paused with my water and gummy bears and the Grand Canyon. I had read the signs and had heard the ICE warnings but I hadn’t considered the consequences, like a broken leg.

This enticing Trail was a slippery slope just like sin. It lured us in. We had ignored all the warning bells and whistles. As with my sin,  my prideful-self whispered that I can handle a little ICE or a second look or some hateful thoughts on and on.  It is no big deal. But it is a huge deal, that is the seducing aspect of sin. As with sin, I didn’t give the consequences a fleeting thought.

A bag of gummy bears later, my husband returns from his journey. I am still waiting on my rock even though I attempted to bribe a mule-pack driver as an empty mule with my name on it walked by. (It is against their silly policy for me to hop on.)

Thankfully, going  up the Trail turned out to be much easier than going down. I didn’t get down and kiss the ground once I had returned to dry, firm land but the thought crossed my mind.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:2 NIV

The warnings were all around me for my own safety, just as the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding me of dangerous areas. Don’t stop at that TV channel, don’t look at that man who isn’t your husband, don’t entertain those thoughts…..All for my own safety.

Will I listen or will I slip slide away? It’s a slippery slope.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Breathless

The view took my breath away. My next-to-be breath caught in my throat and just lingered for a nanno-second. But then my involuntary actions took over and my breath released.  Inhale-exhale.  It was so stunning; it made me gasp.

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My finite mind can’t explain all the how’s and when’s associated with the making of the Grand Canyon but that didn’t hinder me from enjoying  the beauty formed by the Creator. I just sat and  reveled in its exquisiteness.

My husband and I found a secluded and safe spot to sit and dangle our feet. It was peaceful and perfect. We enjoyed some peanuts and chocolate bars and great conversation. It was an impressive arena to snack and share and reminisce about other God-gasping moments.

Two other times came to my mind as I gazed across the enchanting vastness. Two other experiences had left me in a similar state of awe and wonder; awaiting for my next breath to release from my lungs. I knew I was blessed to be a part of something so special yet my finite mind failed me again with trying to explain the wonder and magnitude of it all.

Those two times were the births of my two daughters.

All of Creation is of God and by God. He is the Master of Creating. He allowed my husband and me to experience two of His most precious Creations. (OK, definately more me doing the experiencing than my husband. Let’s be honest.)

When the two gifts were first placed in my arms, I was breathless. How was this posssible? What was inside was now outisde.  What was unseen was now seen. What was “this is crazy” was now “we love her so much”.

As newborns, our daughters were red and wrinkled but perfect in every way. It was another God-breathless moment. This was nothing my finite mind could process, so I just reveled in their adorableness and His Goodness. God’s Handiwork leaves me breathless.

What leaves you breathless?

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

a beer and a cheeseburger

Their names gave their ages away – Nancy, Ruth, June and Dorothy- are all in their 70’s and 80’s. All born during the Depression or WWII. Some had outlived their husbands; some had outlived their children. All were a joy to chat with during lunchtime at the rehab center.

Ruth was a petite lady with a sweet smile. She was at the rehab facility with a broken wrist. She was a table mate of my aunt, Dorothy (Dot).  I stopped in for a visit and was introduced to these lovely and  still-feisty ladies. The fearsome foursome included June who had a broken leg and Nancy with a broken ankle.

They were wheeled to their assigned table in the dining room. Always the same four at the same table for their three meals a day. When the nursing assistant asked June what she wanted to drink with her lunch, she requested “a beer”. I snickered but was cheering for her inwardly. You go, girl!  She got an iced tea instead.

Nancy was hoping someone would bring her dog in for a visit. Her dog and Jesus were all she had left in life she told me.

Ruth had called her daughter to request a cheeseburger. But her daughter didn’t answer. Ruth hoped when her daughter took her to her cardiologist’s appointment the following week, they would stop and get a juicy cheeseburger.  I am sure her cardiologist would approve 🙂

These ladies had all fallen and broken a bone or several. My aunt had broken her shoulder and her thumb. Their brokenness brought them together. They bonded over physical and occupational therapy stories and sugar-free desserts.

Brokenness ties us together too when we allow it. When we are willing to be honest with one another; when we remove our masks. When we are open about how hurting we are; when we will admit how tough life really is.

                           How are you?  Fine.

No, I am not fine. You are not fine. Everything  is not fine. All of us are broken somehow; some are just better at hiding the pain.

They were all there for rehab. They were relearning how to walk, eat, dress, wash and use the toilet. Those are all humbling experiences. You have to wait for everything. You wait for someone to take you to eat, you wait for someone to help you get dressed, you wait for someone to wash you and perhaps the worst is waiting for someone to take you to the toilet. It is a waiting game for these dear ladies. Your schedule is not your own. You push a call button and you wait.

They were the caregivers to their families not too long ago and now they are the care receivers. The valuable life-skills they once taught to their own children ( walk, eat, dress, wash, toilet) are now goals in their care plans. When they are able to reach these milestones, they are considered for release. Released to their homes or a nursing home or as in my aunt’s case, an assisted living community.

How will I react when the roles are reversed some day I wonder. Will I handle the waiting game with the grace and patience they exhibited?Somehow I doubt it. Waiting in traffic and drive-thrus exhaust my patience so I highly doubt it.

Over their lunch of crab cakes ( I was jealous), they talk about how long they have been in rehab and when they hope to be released. They also want tartar sauce for their crab cakes, but they will have to wait for that. They are just passing through, they eagerly told me. They are heading  back to their homes eventually. This is not their home.

Elderly, fragile all of them. But all hopeful and a little sassy. Ready to go home, however that is defined for each of them. Ready for “normal” food. Ready for some guilt-pleasure food. Ready for a beer and a cheeseburger. Ready for less waiting.

Ruth passed away last weekend. I hope she got that cheeseburger she was patiently waiting for and maybe some fries too. I don’t know if sweet Ruth knew Jesus and His saving Grace.  I am left wondering about Ruth’s final home. That makes me sad.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow  weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31 NIV

Let’s Walk Worthy!

Judah

Judah, was the fourth of twelve sons of patriarch, Jacob (whom God renamed, Israel). This huge testosterone-driven family becomes the nation of Israel. The lineage of Jesus follows through Judah. Revelation 5:5 describes Jesus Christ as the lion of the tribe of Judah.

In Genesis, we can follow Judah through his highs and his many very-deep lows. Years later, the descendants of Judah make up the tribe of Judah. The book of Numbers begins with a census and with only counting the males, 20 years or older who are able to serve in the army,  the tribe of Judah is listed at 74,600 strong. That makes Judah the largest tribe.

From time to time, this army/nation needs to move.  A total of able-body men from all 12 tribes capable of serving  in Israel’s army is 603,550. Add-on women and children and that’s a lot of humanity to move.  One estimate puts the grand total at 2 million men, women and children.  According to the 2010 US Census, that would equal the city of Houston, Texas picking up and moving. I can’t comprehend that.

Where to start and how to begin? Who goes first? Who should be last? There are no moving vans, bulging cardboard boxes or friends to help. God’s people are on the move and He tells them exactly how to accomplish it.

One fascinating characteristic of God that I admire is His sense of order. I see it in Genesis with Creation and in the magnificent construction of the Tabernacle and  woven all throughout His Word.  With all that God has on His Mind, He still cares about order. With how whiney and rebellious the Israelites have been so far on their journey, God could have turned His Back and said, “Figure it out yourselves!” But He didn’t. God was (and still is) into the details.

I love order too. I just seem to constantly be chasing after it and I am never able to fully capture it.  I want everything to be “in order”,  but it is just seems out of my reach. Someday, perhaps.

God steps in and gives His people His moving instructions. He shares explicit detailed instructions concerning the movement of His nation. It would take order and a plan and God has details for both.

12TribesEncampmentThe nation of Israel’s 12 tribes are arranged around the Tabernacle  according to God’s directions. When it was time to break camp and move; it was to be done in a very orderly fashion. No confusion, disorder or panic.

The tribe of Judah was camped at the East side of the Tabernacle toward the sunrise.  In Hebrew, Judah means Praise.

Judah (Praise) broke camp first, moved first. Praise leads! Praise goes first!

Yes, of course, Praise leads! Praise should always lead. Before I start my day, before I break camp, Praise! Before my lists and desires and wants; start with Praise! Before me, Him!

Lead with Praise! Always! He alone is worthy of all my Praise!

I will give, you all my Worship

I will give, you all my Praise

You alone, I long to Worship

You alone, are worthy of my Praise     (Jeremy Camp)

See how God is into the details! I love it!

Let’s Walk Worthy and Lead with Praise!

Photo Credit: Israel-a-history-of.com

 

Trainee

Trainee. That’s all his name tag said. Not “Bob, Trainee”. Just one word, “Trainee”. I felt bad for Trainee as the line at the Post Office grew longer and longer. Trainee would occasionally stop and have to go ask his supervisor a question. Waiting and more waiting. Trainee was slower and unsure of himself. Trainee didn’t know where everything was located. Trainee apologized and told me he was in-training. Yeah, I read your name tag.  

Give Grace. Get Grace.

Years ago, I served as a substitute teacher at a local Christian school. I thought this would be a great opportunity to get back into the classroom after a 20-year absence. An added bonus was I could travel to school with one of my daughters. Win-win. She was in the high school area; I was in the elementary wing so our paths never really crossed which I think pleased her.

Receiving my first early morning call, I was excited to be the chosen one. A teacher was sick and I was up to bat. I was thrilled to feel like a professional again. I put on my teacher-looking clothes; sweat pants wouldn’t work for today. I packed my teacher lunch bag and was all set. My daughter was just happy she didn’t have to ride the school bus that morning.

I checked in at the office and I was given my name tag. Or what I thought would be my name tag. But instead I was handed a lanyard with a green piece of paper slipped into a plastic sleeve.

On it was written one word in boldletters: SUBSTITUTE

It might as well have said, “KICK ME”kickme

Come on. Really? Won’t everyone, both staff and children, know that I am not the regular teacher? Do we have to announce it like that? “Hello, my name is Substitute.” Do I need to be branded with this scarlet-word dangling around my neck too?

I have not forgotten that feeling. I wasn’t official, I was the substitute. The replacement, the stand-in. Usually, school-age children and teens rejoice when a substitute teacher walks into the room. Yay! Free day! Time for lots of pranks and silliness! Stop to consider what you and your classmates did to a substitute teacher. I know a young man who brought in a toaster and made toast for everyone. 🙂

A quiz?     No, no. Our real teacher never gives us quizzes.

Science?    No, no. We don’t have science books. (snicker, snicker)

We clearly recall our teacher, the real teacher, telling us today would be recess all day. Yep! A full day outside and toast too!

So I understood how Trainee felt. Everyone who came to Trainee’s line saw his name tag. Everyone I encountered saw mine.

I didn’t know where things were and would have to seek help. Yet, how do I leave a room full of fourth-graders to go get help? I stumbled and bumbled my way through the day and more days after that. I made tons of mistakes. It was a tremendously humbling experience but a learning experience too.

I am a Trainee in Christ. I don’t have any answers most days. I need lots of grace and patience from everyone I encounter. I make lots of mistakes and feel defeated many days.  I have to stop (and should stop more often) to ask my Supervisor for help. Thankfully, He is never too busy to come to my aid. He is forever patient with me. Each day is a learning experience. It is a growing experience. I am a Trainee;  growing more like Him, growing closer to Him.

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.  Philippians 3:1 (MSG)

So I was glad I was in Trainee’s line. I understood. I gave Grace because I need Grace. I wear the same name tag everyday. Trainee.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

Sea Shells

Walking the beach, I scan for the most perfect sea shells to take home with me. What a fun surprise to find a whole, unbroken sea shell!  I seek those without chips, holes or imperfections. I want the pretty ones, the whole ones. I am on a mission. Crunch, crunch as my feet walk across the shells I deem too small or too damaged or too ordinary.

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Most of these sea shells have traveled a rough and bumpy journey to land at my feet.

 

They were once the calcium carbonate  homes of many different types of mollusks. But when the mollusk dies,  the home is left vacant to be tossed about in the rough currents and slamming waves. In their journey to the shoreline, they get beat up. They break and crack. They lose their perfection. They lose their beauty.

So I keep walking, right past them. Goal in mind: perfect and whole sea shells. Those that are worthy to go into my pocket.

As I wash up on shore, bruised and beaten-up by life, I am very thankful the Beachcomber doesn’t keep walking past me.  There I lay, for all the world to see with my chips and gaping holes. But the Beachcomber doesn’t see me as too small or too ordinary or too broken. He sees me as beautiful and worthy. Worthy enough to go home with Him and be displayed as one of His magnificent creations.

So the Beachcomber stops. He bends down, brushes off the loose sand and takes me lovingly into His Hands. Turning me over and over in His hand, He recognizes me as one of His. He looks past my imperfections and sees the whole me. He gently tells me,

There you are. Look at you! You are so lovely! I know you have been tossed about in the waves of life, but now you are safe. I am taking you home with Me. You are my prized treasure. You are perfect exactly as you are. You belong to Me.

I slide down into His deep, safe pocket. But I realize I am not alone! I am one of many damaged ones rescued by the Beachcomber. I am surrounded by shattered and smashed. I see crushed and defeated. But the Beachcomber sees beauty and completeness. So He keeps walking, gathering, loving and restoring.

Deuteronomy 7:6, I am His treasured possession.

Psalm 139:14, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

We are His valued treasures, the Beachcomber says so.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

Double-Dog-Dare

flickIt was definitely a dare. Not as traumatic as Flick’s triple-dog-dare involving his tongue and a frigid flag pole in the memorable scene from the classic Christmas movie, The Christmas Story. But I made into a serious self-dare.

If an author lists his phone number at the end of his book and invites anyone to call at anytime, that’s a dare. Double-dog-dare ya.

Or perhaps it is just crazy or perhaps it is just Bob Goff-like. IMG_5841

At the end of Bob Goff’s New York best-selling book, Love Does, he lists his home phone number. Hmmm. I wonder if he really answers his phone?? Or does the call go straight to his voice mail or does a secretary answer?  I wonder. Only one way to find out.

Triple-dog-dare ya.

So I did what hundreds (maybe thousands) of other people have done.  I picked up the phone and called Bob in San Diego.

I called and Bob answered. (Wow, he really is accessible!)  Ok, he answered. Now what?  I have Bob Goff on the phone and I am trying to move beyond  gushing over his accessibility and get to my reason for calling. (I didn’t tell him it was a self-dare, although I imagine he would have chuckled.)  He’s a cool, fun guy so I knew this brief phone call was going to be interesting.

It wasn’t an interview, because Bob doesn’t do interviews. He was patient and kind enough to spend a few phone minutes with me.

Since my website is called, “Walk Worthy of Your Calling”. I decided to pick Bob’s brain about what he thinks keeps people from walking toward their calling.

 Fear

Bob went on to explain that the fears could be legit or unfounded. He used the example of growing up in an area inhabited with rattlesnakes. As a child,  he was told to stay on the path and watch out for rattlesnakes. Stepping on a rattlesnake is a legit fear. That is real; scary real.

Unfounded fears are what we allow ourselves to be talked into. Maybe CNN has made us fearful. Maybe an angry person has spoken lies into our lives for so long  we have begun to believe the falsehoods. These fears keep us in our safe places like our beds and couches. They paralyze us. But we aren’t born fearful, we learn to be fearful.

Bob’s advice…

 Check the return address. Check to see whom the message is from.  If the return address label says Jesus, then receive the message and trust. If not, don’t give it any air time.

I thanked Bob and then thanked him again and again and finally hung up.

I was proud of myself for following through on my triple-dog-self-dare. But what about my fears? What is preventing me from walking 100% worthy of my calling? Are my fears legit or unfounded? Are there rattlesnakes lurking near my path?

My dare to you (and myself) is to check those return addresses with each and every message playing through in your mind. Who sent them? Do they deserve any air time? Look for those Jesus return address labels. They are true and trustworthy.

Love Does. Fear Doesn’t.

Thanks, Bob!

Let’s Walk Worthy!

Photo credit: The Christmas Story