October 28, 2011

Are We There Yet?

I adore Dani's teacher. She's fun, energetic, compassionate, and Italian from head to toe. She loves our 24 year old special needs baby girl as much as her own grandchildren, which is why we've hit it off since day one.

Loretta's made sure Dani gets Bible study in her day hab program because she knows how much Dani loves God. Perhaps that's why she invited me to her church's women's event last Friday knowing I'd enjoy the time with God too.

"Cabin retreat? You bet! Count me in. Just tell me when and where. It'll be so much fun!" I sqealed.

We set the date, talked about it for weeks, packed our bags, and blazed a trail to what has to be Missouri's most remote Christian camp. Clueless to the impending challenges ahead, we forged out of the city in her new light green Mustang with the wind blowing in our hair like Thelma and Louise. Had we known what waited ahead, we'd probably not stepped foot on the course.

Short of Loretta forgetting her washcloth, towel, and blanket, we were prepared for the trip. She had the directions her church had given her and I had my Garmen navigation thingamajig with the address typed in and the lady primed to boss us to our destination. Getting lost was as far from our minds as being abducted by aliens.

After driving an hour and a half the directions became foggy. Two highways merged into one somewhere along the way, but we were to follow only one. At one point the paper directions and the Garmen began to conflict each other, so I suggested we follow the eye in the sky rather than the more vague ink on paper. Despite our efforts, things went from bad to worse as the woman's voice led us to one isolated woodsy dead-end to another. (The horror flicks from my past began to surface.)

"Ok, everywhere we turn it's a dead end. I'll tell the lady in Garmen we want to go home and it'll take us back to the main highway we recognize" I proposed with shady hope.

Making our way back to the highway, we popped into the town hospital. (It was an emergency of sorts.) While Loretta checked the restroom's decor, I obtained directions from two employees in the lobby. With hope resuscitated and Loretta comfortable, we set out into what was now pitch black night.

Our new directions helped us get back on track but failed to account for a detour. We were tired and hungry by this time, so I got Jimmy on the horn at home and he began Googling our location in order to assist remotely, while Loretta called the women's leader at the camp. Her woman did not answer and I lost my phone signal. We were back to two conflicting directions and it was getting late.

At one point I recall saying, "When will we know whether to continue to pursue the camp? What if we never find it? Do we head back home, get a motel, or what?" I don't remember Loretta responding to the question. May she thought it was rhetorical. We were both so busy following the detour I don't recall waiting for an answer anyway.

Well down the detour, Loretta's phone rang. It was her pastor. I answered the phone, so she could avoid deer, and explained our location. Tapping Loretta on the arm, I motioned for her to turn the wild Mustang around for the umpteenth time.

After backtracking 5.8 miles we continued to follow the Garmen lady who was still conflicting our paper directions. "We're close, no actually we have arrived" I announced as we looked all around at nothing. Driving forward a little more, the destination flag moved behind us. We'd missed the no-so-obvious and had to maneuver a U-turn on a one-lane gravel road. "Turn around and take the first right and let's hope that's the camp" I said hoping it was my last act as co-pilot.

After following my directions to a tee for 2 1/2 hours, Loretta took a stand, "We aren't heading in the entrance until we know for sure this is it" as she positioned the "stang" to shed light on the entrance sign. Finally we had indeed arrived.

Topping off the adventure, we knocked the front spoiler of our athletic vehicle on a log that served as a parking stop which couldn't be seen in the inky air.

Wrangling our worn bodies out of the car, we dragged our wheeled luggage across huge gravel rocks and made our way to the front door of the lodge, which was locked. Checking the left side of the building to no avail, I returned to Loretta. About the time I got back to her, a beautiful collie rounded the other side of the house. As if it were her job to greet the guest, Lucy (whom I loved on a lot over the weekend) led us to the door that held the event.

Opening the door tired and hungry, we were greeted with the smell of homemade bread, chicken, rice, and gravy. The fireplace was crackling, the women were smiling ear to ear, and gifts awaited us at our seats. Perseverance had paid off. The worst was over and fellowship was about to begin.

We played games, sang, and spent our time focused on God. I came into the event knowing only one woman and walked away with 22 new friends, well worth our struggle to find the camp.

Believe it or not we got lost again when we left the next day, but got back on track more easily than the night before. I couldn't help but rest in the knowledge that with God we are never lost. He never navigates us to dead-ends or conflicts in His directions. He is a constant light to our feet and never leaves us or forsakes us. With Him we have peace no matter where we are.

We sure had a good time but it's good to be home safe and sound.

October 14, 2011

Imitating Faith

"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you.
Consider the outcome of their way of life
and imitate their faith."
Hebrews 13:7

As I watched this morning's news program on the latest trends sweeping the country, Hebrews 13:7 immediately popped into mind. Seems like every eye is set on monitoring and mimicking whatever the royals and movie, television, or reality stars are wearing. It takes but a tiny spark for a fad to blaze into every closet of this continent and beyond. Whether it's dresses, shoes, hair styles, make-up, jewelry, or the subtle hue of fingernail polish, millions of women monitor the higher ups with a fine tooth comb, seeking to copy and paste the rich and famous trademark into their own lives. Truth is everyone wants to be the cat's meow, fashion and style is just one way to accomplish it.

Interestingly enough, like this mornings style segment, Hebrews 13:7 teaches us to watch and reproduce what others do too, Christians are just called to emulate faith not fashion.

Recently, when reading this verse, I noticed for the first time an element I'd never noticed before, our mission to imitate a mature believer's faith, not their style, personality, or personal preferences. I think in the past I've crossed this boundary, and how easy it is to subtly shift from admiring a godly leader to emulate the person themselves, dropping God from the point of focus. My oh my how this grieves the Spirit of the Holy One.

So how do we keep God on the throne of our hearts according to Hebrews 13:7?
  • "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you." - Choose your leaders (those you learn the Word of God from) very carefully. Compare their teaching with the Bible, if it varies beware. Stick with the fundamentals, The Holy Trinity (God the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit; three in one), Jesus is the only way to the Father, and Jesus was sinless and born of a virgin. Make these your cornerstone and you'll grow well in the knowledge of God. (Note: this list is not all-inclusive. There are more key fundamentals.)
  • "Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." -Observe the behavior of faith in those who have gone before us. This includes Godly men and women of the Bible (see Hebrews 11, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, etc.) as well as Godly men and women of today. As we consider their faith and how they lived it out, determine to implement this same faith in your own life.

    Remember, it is only by faith that we can please God. As we persevere in faith and revere God, we model a faith worthy of imitating.


Who or what are your eyes on today? Is it temporal or eternal?

What attributes are you copying and pasting into your life?

Who is watching and imitating you? Think outside the box. More are observing than you might think.

October 1, 2011

Child-Like Faith

You can view it one of two ways, sad and depressing or precious and encouraging. After all, our 24 year old daughter functions at a kindergarten level, a reality that hosts a variety of emotions depending on the day and circumstance.

I remember a time not long ago when her delayed development would hit me like a ton of bricks. Out of the blue, just one look at this truth would send me sailing of course. I'd be out of whack for days on end, depending how strong grief's grip got a hold of me.

This time, however, as she tried her hardest to copy words on the board, grief was nowhere in sight, not even on the horizon. Instead, joy took center stage as I watches our little baby work so hard to do her best.

As Jimmy and I enter our later years it's sobering to grow older as our little girl's development remains frozen in time. Life moves on for everyone but Doodle Bug. She doesn't worry about the future or suffer past regrets, she simply lives each day one at a time.

Truth be known, her simplicity used to bug the tar out of me. There were so many simple things she couldn't do or learn and it was all so far beyond my comprehension. Through the years, however, God has painstakingly revealed the power simplicity holds in the life of a believer. Simple faith, Simple following. Simple love. It's all so key to the kingdom of God.

Though Dani cannot read more than a few words and cannot speak at all, she knows God. She signs "Jesus loves me" to strangers she meets, never thinking twice how they might respond. She shares what's on her mind and moves on, no questions asked. Amazingly enough Jesus always seems to be on her mind too. The other day I had a post-it on the bathroom mirror and as I was brushing her hair, she leaned forward toward the mirror in attempts to read the note. Searching for something familiar, she settled on a word that started with "J" and enthusiastically signed "Jesus!"

Bless her heart, the word wasn't Jesus, but I didn't spill the beans. I just smiled, gave her a big hug, and marveled at how tender her heart is toward our Lord and Savior. Her world may be small but Christ is her rock and always on her mind. She teaches me so much every day as her presence offers opportunity to not only serve one of God's precious children, but to imitate a true life example of what it means to have faith like a child.

"I tell you the truth,
anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God
like a little child will never enter it.”
Luke 18:17

Change of Seasons

In one day the leaves have begun to fall. Our pool is still open as we await the tarp's return. The dogs have been so hard on it we had to send it off for repair. Wouldn't you know they said it couldn't be fixed. Fortunately, it has no holes, just loose straps that run across in a checkered pattern. It'll fit tight as a drum for the winter and keep unwanted rodents and debris at bay, that's all we really need for now.

Speaking of rodents, Ecclesiastes (the snooper in the pic) and Cocoa Bean (who's off somewhere else in the yard) still swim in the frigid water. They don't know it but every time they retrieve a toy from this still clean reservoir, they get a bath of sorts. With this handy feature at our finger tips, we don't mind dilly dallying the close. In due time the rains will invade, guck will accumulate on their paws, and it'll take more than the toss of a toy to get them clean. Case in point: less than a year ago, when our son Drew visited with his two dogs, we stood on the deck in the cold misty night air trying to concoct a way to effectively clean 16 paws before letting the herd in to trample the carpet. The pool would have been invaluable at that moment.

We're willing to fish leaves out of the pool for now. In time we'll have no choice but to close, which will force us to clean the mongrels ourselves after a good play. It's always kind of sad to close the pool as the summer season comes to a close. But life goes on.

What will you miss about summer and what do you look forward to as fall approaches?

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven" Ecclesiastes 3:1