Friday Night Live

“Should we go tonight? I think it would be fun! We haven’t been yet this summer and it’s supposed to be great weather,” I asked. My husband and I discussed our evening plans before he left for work. We both agreed we’d go downtown for Freeman Friday Night Live.

I could picture the streets bustling with people and music filling the air. I had a full on day-dream thinking about it in advance. As he fired up the engine and mounted his motorcycle, I was snapped back to reality and said,”Okay, just text me when you’re leaving work so we can figure out if you should come home for me or if we should meet there.”

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Freeman Friday Night Live is an enjoyable recurring summer event. Our local Main Street is blocked off, police officers patrol on bicycles while people walk and dance in the middle of the street and listen to a variety of bands stationed throughout.

Each band plays a different type of music and draws a unique audience. People swarm in from all directions and sections of life. I enjoy it because I love people and I get a kick out of people watching.

Summer time is so much fun and Friday Night Live is a way to mingle with a wide variety of people from all ages. Dressed in summer sundresses and shorts, they bring their toddlers in strollers and young kids ride in wagons as they eat ice cream.  Others are with puppies or dogs on leashes. Some folks are slightly more dressed up and go out for dinner or drinks with friends then walk around and greet their friends.

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As my day unfolded, I hoped we’d get to ride together on the motorcycle and I wouldn’t have to find a parking spot or coordinate meeting my honey.

Then late in the afternoon, I received a text from a friend, Hey, Rachel if u are not doing anything tonight, we are going to Friday Night Live to walk around. Welcome to join us. Let us know, it will be good see u and get tattoos.

Jill always teases me about drinking margaritas, smoking cigars and getting tattoos, mainly because she knows none are big draws for me. It has become a standing joke the way she hassles me.  I texted back, Yep! We talked about it already but I need to wait until Michael gets off work. So we will see you there.

On Friday night I didn’t drink, smoke or get a tattoo, but I got my photo taken with my friend Jill so we could document the occasion of me getting close to the tattoo parlor.

J7zKwtgBRQOkSD72Tj+yyAimg_2986We had a good time. We walked and talked and saw some other friends we knew and gave them each a big hug, “We saw you ride in on the Gold Wing and I thought, that kind of looks like Rachel…Well it is Rachel and Michael!” I grinned and said, “Yeah it’s me!” We visited with them for a while and then headed home.

It is always good to be with friends and be in the community. I think summertime is one of my favorite seasons because of it.  I got my fix of people watching, chatted with strangers, giggled with friends, took a ride on the momo with my man and strolled through downtown with ease.  It was a good day and a night that did not disappoint.

Let me ask you:

  • What do you enjoy about summertime?
  • If you were to get a new tattoo what would it be?
  • What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • What’s your favorite season?
  • What genre of music would you stop and listen to, or dance to?
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When the Going Gets Tough…

Have you heard this phrase? “When the going gets tough; the tough get going.” I’d have to admit, when things get hard sometimes I’ve just quit. Here’s a silly little example I’ll share to illustrate.

Once upon a time, in a house of a home school family, mine, a magic marker was dropped down inside a blue glazed piece of pottery with a small narrow opening to the “mouth” of it. I tried for a while to dislodge the marker. First, I turned the pottery over, attempted to guide the magic marker toward the small opening.

“Lemme see, maybe this will work.” I said. Next, I shook it, inverted it and checked the placement of the marker. Then I shoved my index finger in, wiggled it and felt around trying to grab the end and guide it out. I followed this by a feeble attempt of my pinky finger. “Rats!” I exclaimed. “I’m so close, I can touch it!”

I tried other things too, but to no avail. I remember I looked down at my young daughter and said, “Let’s just set it aside for now and have Daddy take a look at it when he gets home!” I just quit. Is that pathetic? (I am married to a man who is mo-ti-vat-ed by a challenge!)

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Just so you know the rest of the story. Michael took a look at it when he returned from work and did something amazingly clever to free the trapped marker. I call him MacGyver, from the television series starring Richard Dean Anderson, because he fixes most anything using bizarre methods.

I believe someone out there is frustrated, discouraged, or losing hope and I want to encourage you… Don’t give up! The stuck marker and pottery scenario seems small, but it’s the stick-to-it-tive-ness, perseverance and overcomer’s attitude and testing of one’s will or strength I’d like to highlight.

Let me start by telling you this truth. You are stronger than you think, will last longer than you know, and are capable of doing more than you can imagine. (God knows this about you and about me too.)

What’s kind of funny to me is how we love the pain and struggle, in some areas of life, and are even drawn to it.  I have a few friends who’ve done the Iron Man multiple times.  I’ve seen how we can enjoy the toil involved in sports and athletics. I know I’m hooked by the background story of the training process of dedicated Olympians. The amount of sheer determination and grit that led up to the metals ceremony amazes me.

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These athletes undergo rigorous training routines as we cheer them on. Their training is excruciatingly difficult, but I have never heard anyone accuse the athletes’ coach or trainer of being too tough.

Rather, the coach is appreciated for pushing the individual and bringing out their best through the hard process of testing. The coach pushes hard which makes a better athlete, period. (A few movies display this well. Miracle, Facing the Giants, Remember the Titans)

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However, when it comes to our own spiritual lives or another person’s faith journey, we don’t have the same mindset we use with sports. Instead, when faced with a difficult situation or grueling trial, people doubt the goodness of God or easily assign blame to Him. But God is good and only good. Yes, life can be both hard and good. Yet God is FOR us.

Here are a couple of truths which keep me going when the going gets tough and have helped me thrive and make it through more than I knew I was capable of enduring:

  • the example of Jesus enduring the crucifixtion ‘for the joy set before him’
  •  the fact that God promises to be with us in hard times: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor for sake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 

Going through hard things in life, a trial, struggle or a PIT of some sort often makes people doubt the goodness of God. Whether we are the one going through it or we observe someone else in the PIT. I heard Graham Cooke once say, “PIT stands for ‘Prophet in Training’ or ‘Person in Transition.'” Are you going through a hard thing? Are you in the PIT?

I’ve spent some time in the PIT  I hope to see God working to make me a prophet in training and I know I’m a person in transition. I believe God only wants good for me and He is able to do the impossible in my life. Knowing Jesus in a deeper way is the result of my time in the pit because it’s where His presence became so evident to me and my encounters with the Living God increased. So I am actually grateful for the circumstances I’ve seen in my life. We are all in process.

The other day I ran across this verse from Isaiah 42:3 NIV. It is one that ministered to me and helped me believe in God’s goodness for me years ago. But it was needed again the other day as a reminder of that fact that God is NOT out to break me nor does He desire to squash me like a bug. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”

So remember dear believer:

  • God is for you NOT against you.
  • God works all things together for your good.
  • God will never leave you or forget about you.
  • God lifts up his smile upon you and gives you peace.
  • God blesses your coming and going both now and forever more.
  • God promises to be with you in hard times.
  • Be strong in the LORD and the power of His might.
  • God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.

Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 New Heart English Version

When we rely on the power of God and trust in His character and rest in His promises, We are stronger than we think, will last longer than we know, and are capable of doing more than we can imagine.. “So when the going get’s tough…Let’s cling to God and get going!”

 

What’s Your Mindset? Your Life Moves in the Direction of your Most Dominant Thought.

I typed one final text, “Okay, sounds like a plan, I’m looking forward to it.  I’ll meet you there! See you at 1:30.” I touched the SEND arrow… DELIVERED

If I need to meet her at 1:30, I should leave the house about 1:20. I took my walk, unloaded the dishwasher, finished a few emails and looked at the clock. Yikes! I still need to shower. Oh, my word, I better get movin’!  I quickly got ready and checked the time. You’ll make it with only a few minutes to spare!

Earlier when we were trying to decide where to meet we had batted around a couple of choices. One coffee shop was on Main Street and the other just outside the downtown area. We chose the one NOT on Main…because my friend had never been there before. “It’s cute and unique, let’s meet there,” I had suggested. It’s so close to my house it won’t take me a long time but I’d better go!

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ThankfullyI knew exactly where I was going. I confidently climbed into my steaming hot car and winced when my thighs hit the seat. I carefully touched and buckled my piping’ hot seatbelt. I pushed up my sunglasses which had slid down my nose now speckled with perspiration. I then backed out of the driveway and zipped away.

It was only a seven minute drive. I peered through the windshield down Main Street to see in the distance. There it is! I prayed, “Lord I’m sure she’s already arrived. Help me find a parking spot without having to loop around a ton of times and keep Kathy waiting.”

I scanned the street for a decent parking spot. I wanted a spot I could pull right into, not one requiring parallel parking, ain’t nobody got time for that! I glanced left and saw the store front of the coffee shop had a sign of some kind on it. What’s going on? It looks like the coffee shop is closed? Are they remodeling? I paused a bit confused and stunned.

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We will have to make a new plan to meet somewhere else. I pulled over to text my girlfriend the news. NO, NO, no… wait a second! It dawned on me this is NOT the coffee shop where we decided to meet.  It was one of the choices yeah, but NOT the one we had decided on.

“Oh, for goodness sakes! I drove straight here! What was I thinking about? Why did I drive to THIS coffee shop? Once my mistake dawned on me, I decided not to send a text but drove off instead.

I whipped around the downtown streets navigating through some of the local construction areas and orange barrels, weaving through like one of those car chase street scenes from a movie. I began to chuckle. She’s probably sitting, patiently waiting for me at our meeting place! 

Here’s the kicker. Only moments earlier, I had passed it! I flew right by the coffee shop on my way to the downtown one.( Kathy probably even saw my car as I passed by.)

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Why did I do this? What was I thinking?  Let me walk you through my thought process. While I was driving, I began to think about inviting Kathy and a group of ladies out for the evening downtown to Main Street.

I mean I was having a full on day-dream about it. Scary, I know, since I was driving. I was able to picture it all as I thought about evening plans on Main street. Next, I saw in my mind’s eye the cute coffee shop on the downtown corner. So I zipped passed the one place and drove straight to the other one instead. (My mind moved in the direction of my most dominant thought. Literally in the direction.)

Allow me to turn a “corner” here, no pun intended, and ask…What are YOU thinking about? Do you realize you move in the direction of your most dominant thought? (I heard this quote once but I don’t recall who said it. I only remember it resonated with me.)

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So…What are you currently thinking about? Is it a positive or a negative thought? Do you feel hopeful or hopeless? Are you fearful or joyful? You will move in the direction of your most dominant thought.  I often say, “Mind your mind and think about what you’re thinkin’ about.” Ask yourself, “How did my mind get here?  What thoughts led me in this direction?”

There are many Bible verses about your thoughts. I’ll share this one:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Philippians 4:8

I like this Steve Backlund quote, “There are no hopeless circumstances just hopeless people. Let’s all move in the direction of our HOPEFUL thoughts.

Here’s a verse that has been an anchor for me. Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NASB

I challenge you to think about what you’re thinking about so you don’t find your mind, like me and the coffee shop debacle, in the wrong location unaware of how you even landed there.

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 NASB

 

A True Fixer Upper Became an Amazing House Flip!

I’m sure you’ve seen shows, read articles and posts which have to do with fixer upper properties. House flipping or remodeling is such the craze now and there are ideas galore. Fixer-Upper, Flip or Flop, Property Brothers, Love it or List It, are a few that have been around for years. We’ve seen design showrooms and quality craftsmanship with Mr. Handy Man and Home improvement professionals who’ve become well-known through these reality TV shows. I used to watch Trading Spaces the way children watch saturday morning cartoons. I love the Before-and-After, don’t you?

Remodeling homes and even tearing parts down has repeatedly caused Chip Gains to don the T-shirt which accompanied his rejoicing exclamation of, “It’s Demo Day!” It’s come partly with the surge of popularity of Chip and Joanna Gains, but I believe there is something fascinating and wonderful about make-overs and the seeming “resurrection” of dead things. (Now, dead people resurrected will have to be a different blog post.)

Like you, I too have seen posts, articles and TV shows all about house flipping. Well, along those lines-there is this house in my neighborhood which was such an eyesore. It stuck out like a sore thumb. (to be fair, completely honest and vulnerable, we don’t keep our property perfect, JUST SAYIN.’ I feel badly sometimes for my next door neighbor who has to look at my yard.)

But I would walk by this one property while on my walk and think, What’s really is going on inside this home? It is becoming such a dump out here!  Yikes! No exaggeration…There was a dumpster parked in the driveway of this home for months. I’m talking about the big metal blue dumpsters contractors use when they’re replacing a roof or completing some other huge project. YEP! It’s still here! Each day I’d pass the huge dumpster until I no longer noticed it because it had sat there so long.

This huge metal dumpster was in the driveway for such an extended period of time that it rusted when it rained and the rust dripped down the entire driveway. It looked like a bloody river of orange which stained half of the driveway where it sat. The bushes and hedges were all over grown and there was definitely some exterior damage too.

I wondered, If it looks like this out here, what has happened to it on the inside? It’s kind of a scary thought. It was never abandoned and I’m not sure what the situation was. I don’t know for sure, but it was a true fixer upper.

But it has been reclaimed! A contractor bought it, flipped it and a new family has moved in!

  • The exterior was repainted from a dingy and tired yellow to a pleasing slate gray, white and black color scheme.
  • Re-roofed and the chimney was redone too.
  • There is a new fence, shutters, windows, garage door and doors.
  • Mulch was brought in and put down around the nicely trimmed trees.
  • The shaggy and overgrown bushes have been cut down.

 

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There’s even a beautiful white rocker out front on the porch now.  I think it’s completely inviting and has sweet curb appeal. It was a true “Fixer Upper” and an amazing “House Flip.”

It’s just fabulous! I am so delighted for the neighbor across the street. His own house and landscaping have always been so pristine and beautifully manicured.

I saw a young woman out watering the plants on the front porch the other day. It just made me smile. How delighted she must be to be in her new home. My girlfriend and I walk this neighborhood and always bless the people who live in the houses. We bless  them with prosperity and health and we bless them with a sense of God’s favor and goodness to them. And now I’m just watching the revitalization happen before my very eyes! WOW! How beautiful these properties are becoming!

I have camped on this section of scripture lately. (Isaiah 61: 1-10)

God is the God of INSTEAD:

  • To give a beautiful headdress instead of ashes
  • The oil of gladness instead of mourning
  • The garment of praise instead of a fainting spirit
  • Instead of shame there shall be a double portion 
  • Instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot

Dear reader, know that you are being blessed. I pray that God is showing his favor to you. I pray you know that God is for you not against you he’s working to reclaim anything in your life that has been neglected, miss treated or is falling apart.  God is really good at DEMO DAY! He is the God of INSTEAD!

If you feel your life is in a shambles, if you feel like it’s been too long, or if you feel like there’s nothing that can be done in your current situation, know that you do not have to partner with those thoughts. That negative junk is a lie. The truth is God comes to restore and redeem.  He does it better in our lives than any fixer upper. He doesn’t desire to fix us up. INSTEAD He kills us off and starts completely over. (read these whoppers!)

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20        
  • Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (one version says the old things have passed away… Passed away means they are dead.) 2 Corinthians 5:17 
  • The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Be encouraged, be blessed. “He who started the work in you, and in me, is faithful to complete it!’ (Philippians 1:6) 

 

I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

  • What is your latest home project?
  •  What is God currently doin’ in the remodel of your life?

 

 

 

 

How to Host the Perfect Graduation Party. Ha ha ha!

“My neighbor is going nuts about this graduation party she is hosting and is in a full-blown tizzy about it so I told her I’d help in any way I can.” My friend reported. “Seriously she is so worked up about it. She is stressed out and wants it to be perfect!” Her comments made me reflect about my plan for our son’s high school graduation party.

It was back in 2008 but I still remember it vivid

I had things planned for this Grad Party:

  • food
  • drinks
  • desserts
  • decortions
  • signs and balloons
  • photos and photo-boards
  • indoor and outdoor seating.

I too was excited and a bit worked up over hosting this shindig. However, all my planning and effort for a perfect backyard barbecue celebration quickly went awry when the June storm rolled in instead.

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We had tables decorated with colorful water-filled SOBE bottles, my son’s favorite drink at the time, and helium balloons floating above each bottle as centerpieces. The backyard had plenty of seating for everyone. “This looks great! I have a few more folding chairs coming from a few neighbors and we are all set!” I told my sisters.  They’d traveled to be the ones serving our guests.

I wanted it to be a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach and had even fussed over the flower pots on my front porch. I moved them each a few inches one way or the other then stepped back to compare which position I liked better.  It was a bit obsessive. I had balloons too and it looked fabulous. “THERE! DONE!” I decreed.

BUT…

NO ONE even sat at the tables or noticed the front porch flower pots due to the torrential downpour, each guest made a mad dash to get into our house as quickly as possible.

Instantly soaked from the storm they stood dripping in the entryway like drowned rats. They stood stunned for a moment. They were greeted and welcomed with bath towels to dry off.  It was chaos and a mess. We were soggy!

My husband and brother-in-law grilled chicken and hamburgers from inside the house as they pulled the grill as close to the back door as possible. Michael ran out into the treacherous conditions and collected hail and stuck some pieces in the freezer because they were so large he wanted a preserved memory.

Michael’s friends embraced the monsoon-like conditions. ” Let’s go!” They said and dashed out the front door FULL BOAR!  These high school kids jumped in the puddles and danced in the river that formed in the street’s gutter. Others were sliding down our backyard’s hill the way we sled on snow during the winter.

They scurried up the soaked hill and body surfed all the way down and repeated the process. I’ll never forget the looks on their faces as they hydroplaned down. They grinned even though the water-spray and grass hit them. Some closed their eyes as they flew down the hill. A few may have used the plastic sleds we own, I’m not really sure.  I do remember it was frantic and loud and CRAZY and FUN!

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Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

Because of the downpour and flooding, the interstate north of our house closed as the rain continued. This prevented guests from traveling to any other graduation open houses they had on their docket. THEY WERE STUCK. The result was we had a packed house as most lingered and filled both their plates and our home with food and laughter. Friends hung out in the basement where I never imagined them even being allowed. Some folks were up in our loft area sitting two to a chair…they seemed to enjoy it.

It was a great and memorable celebration and we all embraced it. It was quite unexpected. I still laugh at my fussing over the front porch and the other tiny details because I got a crash course in “DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF” and even though the graduation party wasn’t at all what I had envisioned or planned, it was one my son will never forget.

A bit of advice I’d give now:

  • lower your expectations
  • make people the foucs
  • expect to be surprised by something
  • you’re not perfect…but you are perfectly loved by God.
  • don’t sweat the small stuff (remeber most of it is small stuff)

The LORD’s plan stands firm forever. His thoughts stand firm in every generation.

Psalm 33:11

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Unplanned Celebration

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Sometimes it’s when things don’t work out the way you planned that it leaves an indelible mark on your memory.

 

I’ll never forget!  It happened last October after hurricane Irma hit Florida.  I was privileged to spend time in Marco Island with my girlfriends.

One of them planned a wonderful beach photo shoot at sunset featuring my fabulous girlfriends each wearing my mantra T-shirts “Don’t Compare, Don’t Compete, Celebrate! ” I was touched and felt so supported by these awesome women who are all so dear to me. I celebrate them!

We were excited, “I’m going to wear white pants with my shirt, is that okay?”

“Sure!”

“Rach, I’m just going to keep on these jean shorts with mine.”

“Yes, whatever you want to wear. The point is it can work with anything! I’m wearing these black leggings. No worries.” I reassured them.

We selected our outfits and got ready together.  It was great fun. We curled our hair, applied our makeup and selected our jewelry.  Someone texted our sweet friend Autumn, who lives in Marco, she texted back…”you might want to hurry there is a storm coming tonight.”

(It will blow over it’s Marco!” Let’s go! So…)

We piled in our rental van lookin’ good and smellin’ fine.  I was excited for this opportunity.  “Thanks for doing this you guys, these photos should be great!” I said.

We pulled into the parking area and the parking attendant asked,”What are you ladies up to tonight?”

“Lisa, our driver said, “Oh just heading  to the beach to do a photo shoot for our friend Rachel Inouye who is a speaker and…blah, blah, blah.”

He said,”Okay, great have fun and you look like a speaker.” (I shook my head and thought such a weird comment. He was probably thinking, Ya realize it’s supposed to rain, right? Goofy girls!)

As we walked down the board walk we passed a couple holding hands as they left the beach. We stepped onto the sand noticed only one other small group of five gathering their beach chairs and towels as they held on to their hats and exited quickly too.

We just stood huddled and motionless under a thatched shade hut for a second. We’re the ONLY ones here. It’s so deserted! “Not gonna be a wonderful sunset tonight. It’s cloudy and grey.” (For Marco Island, Florida that’s very ATYPICAL!)

“Hey, Rachel get out there and smile.” I stepped out from under the hut and onto the sand alone to get the first photo. It was breezy so I only posed for a few. (The wind blown look it okay, i guess. BUT No girl likes to have the wind-blown look especially if the wind causes ALL your hair to be in your eyes and face or when most is stuck to your lip gloss. At least THIS girl didn’t welcome it. I tried to pose but just laughed instead.)

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We hurried to snap a few photos to document the event and promote the CELEBRATE T-shirts hoping to invite others into the ever growing “Celebrate movement” when all of a sudden the wind came up and howled, this drastically altered our plans it caused us to hurry, giggle and panic a bit too. It was shocking and took our breath away.

As the wind blew stronger, the more laughable the thought of even attemping this endevor became. Then WIND invited its friend WATER and she joined in and made her presence known to all. We got drenched instantly.

We tried to run back to our van but couldn’t. We had no footing but slid like we were skiiing in our flip flops along on the slippery and flooded boardwalk. One friend didn’t even try to go fast because she was about to wet her pants from laughing.

She grabbed herself with both hands, hoping to help her stop the inevitable accident. She cried out indistinguishable words mixed with screeching laughter but finally made it to the shelter of the van. It was dry but very loud as the rain continued to pelt the metal roof.

These photos crack me up! I can still feel the rain and hear the roar of the wind even now! Memory made! Celebration embraced! ( Photos from FB sorry for their quality- a bit blurry, I know.)

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This is a Facebook post my friend Lisa wrote at the time. Enjoy the comments too.

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So let’s embrace and celebrate being together no matter what form it comes in, planned or unplanned.

Pretty sure of this!

“I don’t know much but I’m pretty sure of this…” is a phrase my father Richard has said so often when I’ve heard him tell stories or teach. Both things he is gifted in along with another special quality I’ll mention here.

In light of recent Father’s Day, I thought I’d give a glimpse into a bit of my life with my Dad. I wrote in the Father’s Day card I gave him: Dad, you are my hero! You have taught me so much about God and the nature of our “with us ” God -Emmanuel.

I love to be with you. No matter what we are doing whether it is:

• eating

• laughing

• singing

• creating

• drawing

• playing the guitar

• constructing

• thrifting

• teaching

•repurposing

It doesn’t matter what I am doing with my father being WITH him is what I enjoy.

The other day we laughed as we carried things from the neighbor’s yard where scads of various items lined the curb. Because of an upcoming move they were throwing out a bunch of junk aling with some treasures too.

I helped my dad search these are the treasures we found:

• 100 DVD’s

• watering can

• small guitar amplifier

• collapsable stool

• Eureka vacuum

.• nice pieces of wood

He also grabbed:

• a bicycle

• a large piece of plywood

• a lamp

• a bike rack for behind a car

• truck tire and rim.

We hauled all these things home in waves and cleaned up the items that needed it. Some items have found a home already and others will be given away.

The next day we took a stroll, and I mean stroll, back down the street again to the same house where we grabbed another gem. Dad said, “We’re kinda like Sanford and Son, right?” The gem was a perfectly good twenty foot steel pole so we hauled it home.

I was wearing white pants with flip flops so my dad asked, “Are you good to go right through the yard, Rach?” I followed behind him carrying my share of the weight and length, he warned,” Careful it’s a little muddy here ya see, so I just go like this!” and away he went up the slight hill tromping through everything.

He continued to navigate as he lead me through the trees, plants and ground cover that lines the south side of my parent’s property. My feet began to feel cool because I was tromping on the leafy plants still wet from the buckets and buckets of rainfall we’d received.

We made it to the back yard and we lifted the steel pole up over the custom-built fence my dad made years ago behind our house. I stood on my tippy toes and pushed and held it there waiting.  Meanwhile dad went around between the house and went  inside his high wooden fence.

“Push a bit more, will ya? Okay, yeah, yeah, now I see it. Keep on a’comin!'” He instructed.

“Okay, Dad that’s it! That’s the last of it and it fits!” I exclaimed.

He told me he found table saw and jigsaw in the same find one time. He also said, “I picked up a lawn mower once at the dump I just pulled the rope and it started!”It probably hadn’t been sitting there too long. I’m not kidding, I pulled the rope and it started. I gave it to my brother and he used it for twenty years!”

I’m influenced so greatly by my father, like him I always experience “a thrill in the FIND.”

I don’t know much but I’m pretty sure of this..My dad is a master of salvaging things. He enjoys cleaning up, modifying and fixing things for his own use or giving them away to someone in need.

I love to be WITH him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

“‘My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’ Luke 15:31 NIV

Father God, thank you for the good and perfect gift of my dad, Richard. I know every good and perfect gift comes from you so I acknowledge you as the giver. And thank you with a full heart that I’ve had Time recently to be with him.

Drawn Back to My Childhood.

I’ve had a lot on my mind today. I took a walk earlier this morning with a friend,yet my mind remained full. As thoughts seemed to loop, I decided to take a another walk to clear my head before dinner. I had only been gone about half an hour when I had this very random thought sneak in almost sideways. It was a thought that came from my early childhood. I was drawn back in time.

I could picture myself with my thin legs and boney knees tucked up under me, long, stick-straight light brown hair hanging down (Yes, I play with the color of my hair. It is usually blond now.) as my head was bowed in prayer. As a family we sat around our kitchen table which had a built-in booth like an “L” along the wall and corner with chair pulled up on the other sides.

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Maybe it was because I was hungry and needed to get back home to make something to eat, but I began to think about a simple little prayer we used to recite in unison at my family’s dinner table. It goes like this: “God is great! God is good and we thank Him for our food. By His hand, we are fed. Give us God our daily bread. Amen.”

This childhood memory came out of nowhere. I just thought of that short, child-like prayer as I was walking along. Then, as I traversed my neighborhood, I began to say it aloud, “God is great! God is good and we thank Him for our food. By His hand, we are fed. Give us God our daily bread. Amen.”

As my feet hit the sidewalk in rhythm I repeated the prayer in separate smaller phrases:

  • God is great!
  • God is good!
  • &
  • We thank Him
  • For our food——
  • By His hand
  • We are fed
  • Give us God
  • Our daily bread

I was struck by thanking Him for more than just my food. So I began to thank Him for:

  • His love
  • My husband
  • My family
  • My friends
  • His faithfulness
  • My healthy body
  • Our neighborhood
  • His kindness to me
  • His tender mercies-new every morning
  • His goodness

My mind quickly zipped to the rest of the prayer I learn as a little pip-squeak. I was struck by the words “by His hand” I thought of how God’s hand does more than just provide food. Man, God your hand does so many things. You have such busy hands! So I continued to say aloud, “By your hand:”

  • We are fed
  • We are led
  • We are guided
  • We are protected
  • We are saved
  • We are defended
  • We are delivered
  • We are supported
  • We are comforted
  • We are upheld
  • We are sustained
  • We are blessed
  • We are rescued
  • We are kept from being snatched

The remaining part of the prayer says, “Give us God our daily bread, amen.”

I got to thinking about more than FOOD. How the word of God is daily bread, the bread of life! So I thanked him for His written word, the Bible. I thanked Him for His word spoken to me through so many ways:

  • Other People
  • Circumstances
  • Songs
  • Sermons
  • Creation

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I believe the reason this childhood memory popped into my head is that no matter what happens in my life and how FULL my mind gets, I have settled the matter that God is great! God is good.

Scripture says that David strengthened himself in the Lord. I think just reciting this little prayer during my walk may have been how I’ve strengthened myself in the Lord.

I sure hope this reminder has strengthened you too.

The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

 

I’m Overwhelmed!

When you hear the word overwhelmed what do you think? Is it a positive or negative word? Overwhelmed is defined as buried or drowned beneath a huge mass.

When I think about it I typically think of overwhelmed in the negative sense. I think I’m overwhelmed by tasks like piles of laundry. Or I’m overwhelmed by the weight of the concern I carry for a loved one. I can be overwhelmed by other people’s problems and life situations too.

I would like to change my tendency to think of “OVERWHELMED” in the negative sense and instead train myself to see it in the positive light. I love the current worship song, “Reckless Love of God.”* A few of the lyrics read “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”

Lately, I have been overwhelmed by God’s love even when I have been tempted to be “overwhelmed” by my circumstances instead. Just so you know God’s love trumped the other junk and my concerns every time, hands down NO contest!

A mentor and precious friend of mine, Jill Briscoe, says, “When you are overwhelmed remember you’re overshadowed!” I love that. I refer to it often and have passed it on many times to multiple people for a myriad of reasons. Lately, in the midst of hard circumstances I have looked for the ways I’ve seen God’s hand or timing and chosen to be overwhelmed by the goodness of God instead.

I’ve been overwhelmed by His goodness to me expressed in these ways:

  • Our recent tour to the Holy Land of Israel.
  • The beauty of spring time flowers and the lush green everywhere.
  •  A friend who walks with me three miles a day and prays.
  • God’s orchestration of caring people at the “perfect time.”
  • My husband’s hand interlaced with mine.
  • My parent’s constant love for me and my family
  • Texts “I’m here for you. Do you want to talk?”
  • A phone call “Hey, we’re headed to your house with carry-out tonight.”
  • My sisters’ love and support and prayers.
  • A phone call I received from a nephew expressing his deep love for me.
  • A long lingering hug from my son.
  • Many phone calls from my long distance son.
  • Warfare prayers from wonderful prayer warriors.

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I am simply OVERWHELMED by God’s goodness in the midst of circumstances that want to negatively overwhelm me.

God is lavishing us with love and pouring out his goodness always. So let’s grab a bucket or barrel to try to contain it all. Let’s stay attentive, turned in and aware of the positive side of the word overwhelmed.

So today, if you feel negatively overwhelmed. Remember that God promises these things:

  • He is for you, He’s not against you
  • Through Christ you can do all things
  •  Nothing is impossible with God
  • All things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.
  • We can consider it joy when we encounter trials because the testing of our faith produces endurance.
  • Hope will not disappoint.
  • God is the God of all hope. If your thought doesn’t have hope then it’s not from God.
  • God does not withhold any good gifts from his children.
  • God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
  • If you stumble you will not fall.
  • God holds you by his righteous right hand.
  • God has a banner over you and it is LOVE.
  • In your weakness He is strong.

God is our healer, provider, way-maker, comforter, friend, defender, deliverer, strong tower, sustainer, keeper and the lover of our souls. He delights to overwhelm us with his love and abiding presence. He is good. It is truly overwhelming!

We ARE OVERWHELMED. We are buried and drowned beneath a huge mass – it’s God’s love and goodness.

Father God,  I pray for the one who has felt overwhelmed lately, under a pile of negativity manifested in the forms of anxiety, worry, strife, dread or gloom and doom. I pray, in the name of Jesus, you would set them free. I speak out and release peace and  hope and joy and laughter and praise over each one now.

You promise to give us a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. You alone can make beauty out of ashes. That is my personal prayer right now and I pray this too for each reader. May we be overwhelmed by your love, forgiveness, goodness and glory. May our only response to being overwhelmed be thanksgiving and praise to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

Oh, Jerusalem!

As I sit in the airport here in Tel Aviv waiting to board our plane to Toronto, I wonder. How does one take memories of a lifetime back home? They aren’t the kind that fit in my suitcase or carry-on bag. They seem to be best stored in my heart. 

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There is a scripture which says, 

but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.

Luke 2:19 NLT

I will think about my recent trip to Israel often. I know for certain they will never leave me.