Time for Vacation, err, Sabbath!

Fri., Jan. 20, 2017the-belize-sign-monument

Leviticus 19:30 – I command you to respect the Sabbath and the place where I am worshiped.

 A few weeks ago, I marked off several days the end of January for vacation. Prodded by the church assistant, she insisted I plan for a vacation. She and I know me. If I don’t mark off the days, they will get filled.

Until a week ago, Rick and I had no plans for where we would go. Rick graciously offered for me to plan this vacation. We’ve had several wonderful vacations with family and friends. Selfishly, I wanted time to just be with my husband. Just the two of us. The way our schedules are, we see each other just a few days a week. While we have done this for years, sometimes we need more than this. I need more than this.

What were the requirements for choosing a vacation?

  1. Warm weather. There are many places I would like to visit. With no guarantee for 80 degrees weather the end of January, these vacations left for another time.
  2. A beach – we have talked about visiting Hawaii several times, we also would like this as longer than a week and/or with friends. On hold.
  3. Something more than just the beach – I love the beach. I also like more than the beach. Rick is perfectly content to sit on the beach, all day, every day. It’s not best for my fair skin. Honestly, zip lining or hiking or snorkeling also call my name.
  4. Not ridiculously expense.

After googling, the most intriguing result was Belize. I know very little of Belize. I explained to Rick its location in Central American. He received the average temperature of 84 degrees for this time of the year with great enthusiasm. Our hotel is near the beach. A small country, there seems to be an unlimited number of cool things to do: zip lining, Mayan ruins, jungles, snorkeling and other yet-to-be-discovered.

I’ve checked out three tour guides from the library. Honestly, I should have read them before I booked our hotel. Are we in the best location? What about transportation once we arrive? Their money and current exchange? I should really explore these things before leaving on a jet plane.

A few days ago someone asked me, “Where are you going for your Sabbath?” I found this very insightful. We call it “vacation.” But I’m really hoping it will not only be a vacation. It will also be a Sabbath. Quite honestly, the progress of restoring myself has already gotten sidetracked. I’m fallen into those “easy” habits that pull me away from being the best version of myself I can be.

I know one Sabbath/vacation won’t remake my life. What I do every day is far more important. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to just being. With God. With my spouse. With my thoughts. I work a part-time agriculture job. My boss told me to leave my laptop at home. I plan on leaving both of my laptops at home. What is Sabbath if I have those constant distractions quietly hounding me while in their bag?

I know God will show up for my Sabbath. Now, I just need to ensure I do.

Almighty God – even in creation, You provided the model of setting aside time to just be. For some reason, too often we think we can short-circuit this. We’re too busy. We don’t have time. We must take care of all these other things. In the process, we fail to take care of our souls. May we move “taking care of our spiritual souls” to the top of our priority list. And allow time to just be with you this weekend.  Amen.

Blessings –


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The Miracle of Healing

Tues., Jan. 10, 2017

Mark 2:5, 12 – When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Last weekend, Rick and I participated in a miracle of healing event. Mel and Joanne belong to a church where I used to serve as the pastor. Mel has struggled with congestive lung issues for years. About 18 months ago, he began the process of going on a transplant list. A couple days before Christmas 2015, Mel received a call that a lung was available for him. In short order, he successfully received a tremendous Christmas present: a new lung. Mel’s recovery has been nothing less than remarkable. Yet, this was only possible because a family lost a loved one and made an organ donation.

A year later, Mel and Jo had a life celebration at their farm. The winter air was single digits with more than enough wind. Yet, over 100 family and friends gathered in a somewhat heated tent to honor Mel and the family who made his transplant possible. Mel does not know the person’s name who donated his lung. He has not had any contact with the family. This does not diminish his awareness of this family’s generosity.

Early in Mark’s gospel, Jesus is teaching in Capernaum. Four friends have a paralytic friend. They know Jesus can heal him. When they arrive at the house carrying their friend on a stretcher, they can’t enter the house. The house is so full, one more person can’t be squeezed inside. Not to be dismayed, the friends get creative. They climbed up and made a hole in the roof. They lowered their ailing friend down to Jesus, who heals him. Here’s the twist: it’s not the paralytic’s faith who convinces Jesus to heal him. It’s the faith of his four friends.

In the story, none of the friends are named. Why? So WE can become the friend with enough faith for an ailing friend. The person and family who donated Mel’s lung is one of his unnamed “friends” who had faith an organ would make a difference in another person’s life. And it has.

As part of the life celebration, people were encouraged to launch lit lanterns into the night sky. The wind died down just a bit as folks gathered outside a shed, used to help break the wind. Rick held the first lantern, as a woman persisted in getting the heat source lit. The lantern took off; up over the silos, into the night air. Rick and I lit our own lantern. Many other families patiently released lanterns. Surprisingly, 20-25 lanterns danced across the chilly night sky.

Too often, we do not think God performs miracles in our lives today. I think God allows for many miracles. Sometimes, we just miss them. We choose whether we see them as miracles. We choose when we see God’s healing hand in our and other’s lives.

Mel’s lung is a miracle. Like his organ donor, we have the opportunity to be a friend to an ailing person who needs a miracle from God. Whether the ailment is physical or otherwise, we can help be the conduit through which the miracle happens. I pray when such an opportunity is placed before us, we will creatively bring healing to another person’s life.

Almighty God – as the great physician, you have the ability to heal us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Thank you for the many times you provide healing in our lives. Grant us patience when healing does not come exactly as we would like. May we see chances placed before us as an opportunity to be a friend to someone who needs healing in their life. Amen.

Blessings –


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Restoration Not Resolutions

bedroom-doorsSat., Jan. 7, 2017

Hebrews 10:36 – You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

 My life has been filled with restoration projects the last 18 months. August 2015, Rick and I bought a 110-year-old Victorian/Farmhouse that needed love. With basically good bones, we’ve put lots of time, effort and resources into making this “old girl shine” as Rick would say. About half of the house is done. Rick spent the summer restoring and adding onto the original carriage house. It’s still not done. How can restoring a carriage house take longer than remodeling a kitchen?

In 2016, restoration has been at one of the churches I serve. It started when I asked for new blinds and some paint. First, the basement and small upper room were repainted. Last summer, an addition to the church’s rear provided an indoor handicap entrance, a bathroom on the main level, dedicated office space for the church assistant and myself and a coffee bar with a fellowship area. Once the addition was completed, the sanctuary looked dowdy. Traffic flow was awkward. In five short weeks, the sanctuary was torn apart, rotated 90 degrees and restored. The transformation has been nothing short of remarkable.

These projects, along with normal jobs, families and life, means time for myself has been skimpy. Honestly, I haven’t taken care of myself spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. I’m not a mess. I have a good life. I’m just not where I would like to be. As I creep closer to a milestone, making the best me can’t take a back burner. 2017 is about restoring me.

Rather than resolutions, my focus is remaking areas of my life I desire were different. Practices and mindsets that prepare my mind, body and soul for healthy longevity and sharpness. Just like remodeling a house or church, it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires constant vigilance and attention. Things simply are not going to be magically “better.”

I want to become the person God desires me to be. It’s having the right heart with God more than having the right occupation or way that I serve. Making sure my physical temple is well-cared for. Having mental sharpness, an appropriately compassionate heart and a closeness with God I haven’t experienced for a while.

Daily exercise is a priority, even if it means doing it at an oddball time of the day. This is easier than restoring my eating habits. While daily time with God and reading is happening, distractions and focus remain a challenge. Here are a few things I’ve discovered:

  • Healthy food choices take more time than convenient, tasty and addictive junk food choices.
  • Our physical bodies loose strength much quicker than restoring physical strength.
  • It is much easier to flip on the TV than choose a nourishing book. We often watch some really awful TV shows.
  • We quickly lose 30 minutes on Facebook or surfing the internet. Ten minutes centering ourselves with God seems FOREVER.

Excelling at anything requires repetition ad nauseum. Not true just for athletes, it’s true for any person desiring to master a skill. I’m hunkering down for a lot of repetition as I restore what is most important in my life. I believe it is worth it. How do I know this? I look at the doors in our bedroom.

While remodeling the upstairs in our house, one day I decided to switch what bedroom we would use. Besides painting and sanding the floors, there was only one problem: the closet doors. I knew what I wanted them to look like. I just hadn’t found the right kind of wood. Rick had brought home some samples which I had nixed. One day, he brought home the old boards from the cow bunk feeder at his Dad’s farm. They were covered with mold, smelt like manure and were very rustic. Rick was shocked when I said this was exactly what I wanted. When he questioned the mold and smell, I told him “this is what power washers are made for.”

A few weeks later, we installed the doors. They are my favorite restoration project of our house. This morning Rick said, “I never envisioned having boards from the bunk feeder in our bedroom.” But we do.

If bunk feeder boards can be restored into gorgeous closet doors, I’m confident I can make something special of the rest of my life. I may be a bit weathered, a little stinky and need to scrap away some undesirable habits and attitudes. I know it will be worth it.

Lord God – You never give up on us. We give up long before you do. Encourage us each day to restore ourselves to You. May we discover simple, easy ways to find peace and comfort in knowing Your presence in our lives today.  Amen.

Blessings –


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