Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Time to Pause...

What a restful week I have had! Our office was only open one day this week, but we were able to get several behind the scenes things taken care of. I'm thankful for slow times at the office to prepare for a new year, a new camping season ahead. It's that time we clean our desks, our closets, our basement, and get reorganized. We are switching from Outlook to Google Apps for our email, and from Internet Explorer to Chrome for our web sites/viewing/searching. Always something new to learn to keep up with technology!

We witnessed a powerful answer to prayer this week. We were called to pray and fast last weekend for a ministry that was operating in a mall kiosk. It appeared it was going to be shut down, but what satan intended to do resulted in God opening up a new space for the ministry. Instead of a small center-of-the-mall kiosk where the Jesus Film was being played, the mall management offered them a 2,500 square foot store with multi-faceted windows just outside the entrance to Macy's...huge space with lots of opportunities, a place they had hoped to move to in a couple of years. With that much space, the ministry has great needs, physical and financial, let alone spiritual. We were glad as a camp to donate chairs and a welcome desk, and are preparing computers for use in displaying the Jesus Film in up to 1,090 languages. I'm quite certain satan won't give up, so I am being somewhat vague about some of the details. Prayer power must surround this ministry so that it can continue.

Speaking of prayer, one of my devotionals this week was on prayer. I made the following notes:
  • the place of prayer is where you meet God so He can teach you, correct you, cleanse you, and love you
  • through prayer you are prepared to do His will
  • through prayer you operate in God's strength and not on your own
  • whether you pray or not shows up in your attitudes and actions
Some more thoughts:
  • God uses tough times like a refining process to bring out the best in us
  • God isn't out to destroy us, but to develop us
I have been using this past week as a time to organize myself, my winter schedule. Days are shorter and colder...I'll be inside more and have more time in the evenings. I have started back on my Greek studies, and my study of First Peter. There will be occasional blogs on First Peter, as I complete a passage and write my synopsis/overview. Check my other blog for that.

I also took time the past few days to put a Christmas tree up at the office and decorate our house for the holiday season ahead. This year I am giving out gifts early...gave to our kids and grandkids on our trip in October...gave to our Michigan family on Thanksgiving the process of giving gifts out to staff members this week. One reason for the early gifts is because the gifts are deco items for this season, and they need to be opened and displayed. Another big reason is that I want to keep the focus off gift giving at Christmas. I want that time to be all about being together and enjoying each other's company.

I find that each year I am putting out less decorations, focusing on keeping things simple. I love the sights and sounds of Christmas, but I just want to keep commercialism out of the picture as much as possible. Shopping is behind me, gift giving will be behind me, and I can spend the month enjoying the lights, the trees, the music, the laughter, the stories, and quiet moments with Jesus. I love my early morning time with Him. I want His birthday to be special to Him. I hope many will draw aside and spend time with Him in the days ahead. For we are a people desperate for His presence!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stop Grumbling and Complaining

Good Sermon today by Rev. Tim Smith, Sparta First Church of the Nazarene. His focus on this pre-Thanksgiving Sunday was on gratitude. It's rather difficult to be thankful and complain at the same time. One sort of wipes out the other, you know? When others look at you, listen to they see you as a grateful person, or a grumbler? What do you want to be remembered as?

Well, obviously, the sermon hit me between the eyes. I like to hand out compliments, look for ways to encourage others. But behind the scenes, in my "private" world at home, I do more than my share of grumbling...I might even be a grouch. Wow...I don't want that to be the person people think of when they think of me. I don't want them running away from me, avoiding me. That means I have to change. age 60...does not come easy, or even naturally. I have to make obvious choices to shut my mouth, to turn off the negative thoughts by replacing them with gratitude. I must think on what is right...goood...lovely, and no longer dwell on the things that irk me or disappoint me. I want to be an easy person to live with. I want to learn to laugh more, smile more, reach out more. I've been huddled up in my private world too long, and this past weekend gave me a good dose of what it feels like to be alone and lonely.

The question is...can Carol change at 60? By now I should be a woman of wisdom and have all my ducks in a row and know how to shrug off the disappointments of life. I should know how to focus on the positives in my life. Life is too short to be a complainer, a grumbler. With the grace of God and the nudge of His Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ living within me I CAN change. And I must. I've been given my marching orders in the sermon this morning. What a practical sermon, full of truth, and very convicting...probably to most of us who heard it. Thank you, Father God, for yet another chance to change. Please help me, starting NOW!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Summary 11/14/10

For lack of a better title....

I thought I might try to blog on Sunday afternoons and sort of give an overview of the week gone by. Seems like I tried this once before and it didn't last long. So here I am again, for today, for THIS Sunday.

Often in the morning when I am reading my daily devotional material, I read some good points to think about. I jot it down in my journal. I'll share some of these here in this weekly blog. They come from the devotional booklet "The Word for You Today", which is listed in the side bar as part of what I am currently reading.

- walk your like Jesus

- what you do consistently, you become permanently

- laughter is like a shock absorber, it helps you get over the potholes of life

- make your loved ones a top priority, for all too soon life is over

- choice, not change, determines your destiny

- if you limit what you WILL do, you limit what you CAN do

- failing doesn't make you a failure, quitting does

We have had an absolutely lovely week here in southwest Michigan this past week. It's been sunny and in the high 60's up until today. Today it is down in the 40's, but after all, this is November!! Last week's weather was highly unusual. Our maintenance staff took advantage of the nice weather to put up road blocks for the winter to keep us from having to plow unused roads. Many of the ILNC residents put out Christmas lights in their shirt sleeves, instead of trying to do it all bundled up in bad weather. We are grateful for such nice weather, for we know what is just ahead.

We winterized our cabin this week...drained the pipes and such. It's that once a year job that one doesn't really enjoy, but if you don't do it, or if you don't get all of the water out of the pipes, next spring you have to fix the broken pipes and clean up the water mess. We've had to do that a couple of times!!

I have my "new" desk in place in my study as of yesterday. Paul had to cut down the return to fit in the space I had. Now I have lots of space to lay out my books on the desk, and do my typing into the computer on the return. This is in preparation for me getting back to my study on I Peter, which I started last April and stopped after about three got busy here at the camp. I hope to spend these winter months reading and writing, preparing a new, teachable Bible study. It's been way too long since I've done this on a consistent basis. I know I am out of shape, but I believe the Holy Spirit is prompting me to do it, so He will help me as I begin to take my first steps.

One thing I most definitely need help with is how to use the computer and the camera and the ipod and the phone....all this technological stuff. That does not come natural for me and I am challenged to keep up with it all. Taking pictures, no problem. Getting the pictures from the camera to the computer and off the camera...a struggle. How to label and file the pictures once they are in the computer...frustrating to me. Hubby is highly skilled in those areas, but low in patience with me...know what I mean? And I don't blame him. I just don't seem to grasp it, and when I make notes, things change and I somehow still don't know what I am doing.

And why do I take pictures? Who cares? I need to just learn to enjoy the moment and quit trying to grasp it to look at later when everything else has also changed. Remembering how it was isn't necessarily a great thing either. I go to church on Sunday night, or not? I only do it for Jesus, so I guess I should go. Gotta leave now!! (and I'm not ready!!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Fall, and other thoughts.....

We had a wonderful vacation. I was gone three weeks, and loved every minute of it!! Even when our van wouldn't start and we had to get a new fuel pump. God is so good...the van broke down in front of Cracker Barrel!! We had a four hour delay during that part of our trip, but I figure it was so we could meet Chris, who was having chest pains. We prayed for him...he ended up going to the hospital. I believe in divine intervention, and Chris needed prayer.

I absolutely loved my week at Colonial Williamsburg. On the way we stopped in Holmes County Amish area....delicious food, lots of shopping available. Spent three hours there before heading on to Morgantown, WV...our stop for the first night. The next day we toured George Washington's Mount Vernon before arriving in Williamsburg. While in that area, we spent a day at Jamestown, three days at Colonial Williamsburg, one day at Virginia Beach, and lots of shopping in between. It was a unique area...very interesting. Now that I am back, I am reading a book about the historic area and it makes me want to go back. Thank you, Mr. John Rockefeller, Jr. for restoring Williamsburg to its glory days. I would like to take my granddaughters there some day, when they know their history a little better. Had a great time on this trip with my girlfriends though...first girlfriend getaway in a long time, and I'd do that again in a heartbeat.

We only had 2 1/2 days at Myrtle Beach...far too short to enjoy the relaxing setting of our resort on the Atlantic Ocean. I did walk the beach front one afternoon, between Gaither Fest concerts at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. We also spent time at Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing. We had to cut our time short there to head on to Nazarene Camping Assn. annual conference in Tishomingo, OK.

Camp Bond, Tishomingo, OK, was a great place to meet up with our Nazarene camp director friends. We go to a different camp each year. It would not be my choice to live in Oklahoma, but for a short visit, it was okay. That camp uses goats to "mow" their grass. We were right in the middle of red-neck country there...even went to an old make-believe wild west town. I was ready to ride out of town after a couple of days there...and that's when we headed to Albuquerque, NM.

That's also when we were delayed with our fuel pump problem. Once we were on the road again, we drove through the cotton fields of Texas...harvesting season. Got into Albuquerque late at night, and had been told driving into the city was like looking at twinkling Christmas lights. It was a pretty sight...seen even better from atop the Sandia Mountain range. We rode a cable car up to the top and had supper at sunset. It was a treat to us by our son and his wife, and it was a very special time. We had three days with them, and hit the road running...covering the University of New Mexico (where our son is a grad student); Old Town Albuquerque, drove the Turquoise Trail to Santa Fe (stopping to visit Paul's sister on top of a mountain along the way), and shopped and had lunch in the Plaza area of Santa Fe. I walked one of the trails on Sandia Mountain that my son and his wife like to hike. Didn't go far...didn't have much time. Attended Hope Evangelical Free Church while there. What a setting...right at the bottom of Sandia Mountain. We packed a lot in during our three days there.

Left there and drove to St. Louis, MO, stopping in Tulsa, OK for one night. Got to have supper with our son and granddaughters as we passed through St. Louis. From there we drove back to Michigan. We put on 5,000 miles in that 2-3 week span, and didn't have air conditioning in the van. I had my hair cut before leaving so it wouldn't blow in my face. That was a good decision.

Back in Michigan at the end of October we came home to face all the fallen leaves. The peak of the season had come and gone while we were out of town, and now it's time to clean-up. I was thinking how the beauty of the Fall Season comes in the changing colors of the leaves and the mild climates, sunny days. The down side of the season is a result of The Fall. If Adam had never sinned, we wouldn't be raking leaves and mulching leaves and all that goes with trying to keep the camp cleaned up and looking good during this season of the year.

Winter is just ahead. Shoveling snow is a lot harder than raking leaves!! But each season has its beauty, and that is where I plan to focus my attention. God is a marvelous Creator...He thought of everything for our pleasure. Thank you, Father, for each and every season and all that goes with it. I am grateful to be part of your creation. May I do my part in living a Holy life, having an Obedient will, a Pure heart, and Eternal values....thank you, Father, for HOPE!