Sunday, July 12, 2020

Never Without a Friend

   We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Good News Translation)

Two and a half years ago, I started reading through the Bible for the second time. I had hopes to finish it before 2020 began. Hmm? Didn’t come close.

But the other day, as I was reading 2 Corinthians (which by the way is 93% through the Bible, so maybe I have a shot at finishing soon), I came across these lines. I wondered to myself why I had never run across these verses before, like on a plaque hanging in someone’s office or at least on their Facebook page.

This was one of those times where I so liked the lines that I looked them up in other versions of the Bible.

 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Living Bible)

I like the last line in the Living Bible translation. “We get up again and keep going”. Kind of sounds like every day for the last five months or so, huh? But the previous line is what gets us up and going. “God never abandons us”.

Lord Jesus, thank You for always being there for us. No one ever said life would be easy. In fact, You said that “in this world we would have trouble”, but we can take heart in knowing that we don’t have to get through it alone. Amen.  

Friday, July 10, 2020

Flashback Friday and 75 years

   This past Monday, the 6th, would have been my parents’ 75th wedding anniversary. So very hard to believe, isn’t it?

Dad was thirty. Mom had just turned 18 and just graduated from high school. 

He had been her school bus driver, and one night, he had heard her and the other girls talking about going to the basketball game. Mom couldn’t go because she lived so far from school. In fact, her’s was the last house on his route.

The story goes that he turned to her and said, “I have a horse.” I don’t know if she ever told me what exactly her response was to that, but in the end, she always said that when they got to her stop, she ran in and asked her pa if she could go to the game. When he said he supposed so, she got back on the bus and rode back to school with Dad.

The rest, they say, is history. 
Their wedding portrait from July 6, 1945
Don't know what year this was, but Mom always said this was her favorite picture of them. 

Certainly, Mom's least favorite picture. She will kill me when I next meet up with her in heaven.
Oh, yea, I'll already be dead. 
One of my favorite pictures of them. At my first wedding in 1985. Dad had pulled one of his usual goof-ball moves - I can't remember what - and Mom started cracking up. (Maybe he said, "I have a horse.")

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Why I Believe

   Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15 (New Living Translation)

As often happens when I sit down to write my Sunday inspirational post, I already have a thought in mind of what I want to say. At the top of the file where I write these devotions, I have a few random Bible verses which I have run across somewhere and liked and thought I could share some time. That’s where I got the verse above and it seemed so appropriate right now.

A few months ago, as you certainly already know, I had decided to completely self-publish my latest novel, “The Truth Beyond the River”, via Amazon. Everyone said it would be easy. I’d already published a novella as an e-book back in March and that went smoothly.

Oh, this time around, not so much. I won’t bore you with the details, all the hours I spent trying to get the manuscript formatted so it looked right, all the times in the last week when tears of frustration were puddling in my eyes, when I was ready to throw in the towel.

Yesterday afternoon, I had one more thought to make this work and as I started going through the book again, I sent up a prayer. “God, if this doesn’t work this time, I will take it as a sign that You don’t want this book in print. I’m sorry if I have failed You, but I am willing to accept Your will.”

When I do things like that, in total sincerity, I still feel like God has really got better things to do. But I remember that He is with us no matter how big or small our dilemma.

So I don’t have to tell you that the file worked and the book looks amazing – on-line at least. But here’s the super weird thing, or maybe God-thing.

As I was reading through the book on-line, trying not to cry, because even though I found a few more mistakes which I knew were fixable, I knew that God was taking care of me and my little problems. I was in my living room, with the patio doors only ten feet away, and my husband walked in and said, “look at that rain”. It was pouring rain outside. I never noticed.

The last time I’d looked out it was hot and sunny, not a cloud in the sky and none in the forecast, surely no rain in the forecast. And I was not looking forward to having to go out to water the garden again.  

So when you ask me about my hope as a believer, these are the kinds of stories I am going to tell you. Because that is how God shows me beyond a shadow of my doubt, that He’s with me.

Thank You, LORD, thank You for everything. My heart cries out to You in thanks and praise. Amen.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Spend the Fourth of July on the River

   For people working Monday through Friday, today is considered the Fourth of July holiday. In more ways than that – celebrating the 4th on the 3rd – this year’s Independence Day is like no other. No parades or fireworks or large groups of strangers just congregating in the heat because we all like to be crammed into small spaces with sweaty strangers. Besides the coronavirus pandemic, our country has been dealing with another chaos in the last month. A type of chaos which seems to be rattling us to our core, to the beliefs and lifestyles of our Founding Fathers. We thought that this whole election year has already divided us into Liberals and Conservatives, and now this. I’m not going any further into it than that.

But, oh, boy, this is what we all need – some time along a river. I may have shared some of these pictures already, from our camping trip a few weeks ago, but I reiterate – you can’t spend too much time along a river.

 The pictures above are of Foster Falls, between Saxon and Upson, on the Potato River, I believe.
Below is Lake of the Falls, on the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage near Mercer. Places you have to visit.

And of course, then there is this river, "The Truth Beyond the River". 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Late Father's Day Refections

 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him Psalm 103:13 (New International Version)
   Mother’s Day always seems like a big deal – everyone goes to see their mom and takes her flowers and then out to eat. Fathers sometimes seem to get the raw end of the deal on Father’s Day. No one goes out to eat; it’s summer, so they grill out instead and Dad might be doing most of the work.

It also seems that, at least in the past generations, we shower more affection on our mothers. They always get a hug. Dear ol’ dad? Maybe a handshake or a nod of the head.

I never considered myself a hugger. As kids, it wasn’t something we did as our parents didn’t initiate it. As we got older, though, Mom would hug us hello or good-bye. Dad? The nod of the head. I only remember hugging Dad twice in my lifetime.

The first time, I had been living in Colorado and flew home in February or March for a long weekend because he had been in the hospital with chest pain. I was worried about him and Mom too, how they were both coping. I called the airline (because there was no internet then), booked a flight, asked my boss if she could take me to the airport as well as pick me up, and called my sister Pat to pick me up at the airport. I think she spilled it to Mom that I was coming home, but Dad didn’t have a clue. I remember walking in the kitchen door and him meeting me with a genuine smile on his face. I threw my arms around his neck and he returned the hug.  

The second time, Mom and Dad were driving out with the fifth wheel to see me in Colorado. They called from Sterling one evening to say they wouldn’t be able to make it all the way to Castle Rock that night, but would see me in the morning. When my boyfriend at the time got off work sometime after nine that night, I asked if we could jump in his car and drive out to meet them. It was well after midnight when we pulled into their campground, and everyone for miles around was fast asleep. We hunkered down in Dan’s car and slept as best we could until daylight. I woke with the sun and spied Dad out walking the dog. I ran over to him and threw myself into his arms. Again, he was so surprised to see me. (I blogged about that adventure once before.)

I know that there is a wide range of relationships we have with our fathers. I had been blessed with a dad who I could always count on.

One last memory. When I broke my leg in eighth grade, it was Dad who picked me up and took me to the hospital, who held me down when the doctor set my leg without any drugs. I remember the doctor saying, “Hold her down, Paul, this is going to hurt.”

Thanks, Dad. You’ve been gone twenty-seven years, but I still miss you and love you. 
My most prized possession - the keychain my dad gave me when I moved to Colorado. 

Friday, June 26, 2020

The Truth Beyond My Most Recent Crisis

   On my two most recent blog posts, I overdramatically shared a tale of woe concerning my laptop. I felt I should explain what has happened to it.

Last Saturday afternoon, while working on it at my daughter’s kitchen counter, I spilled some grape juice next to it. (Honest, it was grape juice and nothing more!) I didn’t think any of the spillage landed on the laptop, and we washed up the counter and didn’t think much of it.

A while later, I noticed the battery on the device had quickly gone down to 6%. I plugged it in and again didn’t think much of it. When it looked like it wasn’t charging, I blamed it on the outlet in my daughter’s living room, turned it off, unplugged it and put it away.

When I got home a few hours later, I plugged it in again. It still didn’t seem to be charging, but I thought I would just ignore it and it would be fine come morning.

Sunday morning, I turned on my laptop, it said it was fully charged and I thought it had all been a fluke and all was well. Within twenty minutes, the battery once again registered at 6%.

What is going on? I asked.

Upon further inspection, the port for plugging in the charging cable was sticky. Apparently that spilled grape juice (I repeat – grape juice and not wine!) had indeed infiltrated my laptop.

Despair ensued!

I eventually settled down and accepted that whatever was going to happen to my laptop was God’s will. It appears to be working all right now, it just has no battery life. As long as it is plugged in, it’s functioning at an acceptable capacity, except that the internet is dial-up slow. I’ve been backing everything up on a new jump drive and will have my son try to fix the problem next weekend.

In the meantime, as I’ve also mentioned in the past few posts, I am trying to get my latest novel published. “The Truth Beyond the River” takes place in 1974 and revolves around a Vietnam vet fighting a new war, a young reporter looking for her big break, and an aging monk trying to keep the peace. Quite the eclectic group of characters, huh?

The setting is an abandoned monastery along a northern Wisconsin River, a place I’ve blogged about before. A friend of mine from high school painted an amazing picture of this place. A week ago, I shared some tentative book covers on my Facebook author’s page. Expect more soon! I appreciate all your feedback!

Also, expect to hear more about the book!
(As I just typed the title of this post, I recalled that I named the jump drive I am using "Crisis Drive".)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Return to Peace

   I’ve got a lot going on right now. So much so that I wasn’t going to put up a blog post today. I’m exhausted and have too much on my plate.

If you read my Sunday post, you may remember that my laptop isn’t working right, which has me majorly stressed. I've been transferring all my files to an external drive so that I don't lose everything, but I'm still hoping my son can fix it this weekend or next. Meanwhile, I’m able to use the desktop computer in our living room, but  - God bless him – that is my husband's terrain and not my quiet, inspiring office.

Then there’s work, which I cannot get into. And even if I could, it is just too long a story, there is just too much. Much, much, too much.

But the biggest thing is that I set myself a deadline for publishing my latest novel on Amazon on July 1. I thought the book was polished and ready to go. Well, it is, but there is still more to get it from polished in my file to perfected for print. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. I really, really cannot wait to share it with the world. But all things happen in their right and proper time. Hopefully for “The Truth Beyond the River”, that time will be in one week.

In the meantime, let’s return to my travels up north the weekend before last. Return to peace.