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Sunday, July 26, 2009


Last night we had the most amazing thunderstorm. Unlike where I grew up, we don't get many in this part of the world in summer. First faint flashes in the sky and much later thunder proved a storm. It moved gradually closer, the channel in front of the house changing texture and color much like marble, as wind picked up off shore. Then the long awaited rains started lightly and slowly, (Yes, it has been extremely dry in the Pacific Northwest) picking up speed and intensity as the storm came closer. The lightening, brighter, bigger and more frequent, the thunder close behind with the storm climaxed with a simultaneous huge crash and light. I wish I had my video camera ready as the scenes, sky and water, were amazing.

Storms can be thrilling or frightening depending on where you might be. To be in the water in a small boat as someone we knew was last night, could be frightening if you were depending on yourself to get to shore.
I think the message is clear, we are headed for another storm, financially, politically, literally or figuratively and it could be scary if we don't know what to do.

As our pastor related today, relating to Mark 6:45-52 the disciples on the sea of Galilee hunkering down in a storm depending on the oars and almost didn't see Jesus walking by on the water. As soon as they looked up and full of fear, saw him, he spoke to them then they knew that it was Jesus. He came in to the boat, the storm subsided and they were where they needed to be. I've experienced this peace that comes when I finally realize that I have left Jesus out of the boat and begin to look to Him instead of the problem.

I remember being terrified of flying . It began after flying into Seattle when I had a premonition that part of the plane was cut off and crashing. I prayed and we landed safely. But the next day I heard on the news that the same flight into Seattle, only the next day, the airplane had broken in two upon landing, cutting off right in front of where I was seated as I saw in my mind the previous day. This seemed to do nothing for my confidence in flying. So when I was called to go to Israel, meet a group I did not know in New York and the flights were going on strike the night before I was to leave, I got a plane out the night before getting into New York in the middle of the night, 3 am. The plane went through storms in and out of Denver. Many got off at Denver because the airplane was on strike at that point. I was ready to get off as well. As I considered this, a man asked if he could sit beside me, I mentioned to him the turbulence and he mentioned that he was a pilot trying to get back to his N.Y home base and that this happens all the time in Denver because of the mountains . He immediately fell asleep.
As we took off out of Denver the plane began falling once again and I became scared. I wanted to shake him and wake him up to ask if the pilots really knew what they were doing and were we going to crash? Then the scripture came to mind about Jesus sleeping in the boat with the disciples while a furious storm raged around them in the middle of the sea. I seemed to feel a hand on my arm near the window although no one was there. I heard the voice of Jesus say,
"Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:35-41
Then I realized that if the pilot beside me was sleeping, and the true pilot knew what he was doing, I needed to trust. All fear left me and I felt immediate peace. From then on, I had "peace that passes all understanding" with worse turbulence going into New York City with most people sick on the plane, arriving in New York City with an empty airport and not knowing where I could sleep and be safe, a scary ride with cab driver through back alleys to a hotel found on a sign near the wall pay phone ( they let me have the day rate and I began Jerusalm time). Then continuing the next evening waiting for the plane to load, we were called to go out to the tarmac to pick out our luggage and open the suitcases, since there was a bomb reported on board. That was just the beginning of the trip.... and me, because I met Jesus, with complete peace through it all.

So I guess, even though there may be storms ahead for us. I hope I will remember to trust that Jesus is in the boat with me even when he appears to be sleeping. Will you remember?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dealing with thorns

Kittsgate rose covering cottage several years ago
Goldfinch in the thistles

This week I've been pulling and cutting back thistles and stuffing them in black plastic bags so they won't spread to the neighbors. They made their many points on my arms and legs, putting up a fight before I put them in the sack, but I won the battle though scarred. One year I kept a field full of thistles just to watch the goldfinch. It was wonderful to see, but the neighbors and us suffered with more than twice the thistle the next year. So I purchase thistle seed and put it out in the Droll feeder and I stop and enjoy the goldfinch before I cut the thistles down. I know they both will be back.
Since I was already beaten up, I decided to tackle the dead-since-two-years-ago wood on the Kittsgate rose bush that climbed to the roof and over a trellis making an archway to the entrace to our home. It is the type that could engulf the house. In fact in England several cottages have disappeared under them. It has grown for years without much water with small profuse July white blossoms making a canopy over our heads as we enter and leave our home. Two years ago after a winter storm, it began to die. I noticed that one side was completely dead and the other, some canes cutting lose from the nibbling deer and beginning to find their way up the post to the trellis again. Now or never I decided. The dead wood needed to go to make room for the new shoots. More puncture wounds from thorns. I worked for several days with a ladder and longer handled pruners and made room for the new growth, winding it along the now bare trellis to start training the bush once again.
As I look at the sores on my legs and arms, how Jesus suffered wounds and death to set me free flitted across my mind. I have been thinking a lot about dead wood lately. I have a lot of it, old ways of acting, behaving that don't help anything new to grow. Time is ripe for freedom and a movement of the spirit here. My dead wood, the ways of thinking and acting in difficult circumstances, needs to go. It doesn't feel very good to be pruned or bear the scars, but I know that this is the only way new branches leaves, flowers can grow unobstructed and beauty returned. As I look out the window from our bed in the morning, I miss seeing the birds perched on the branches (and thistles) but they will be back and both the rose and I renewed.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steps forward and backwards

Downtown Seattle (picture by labradoodles)

We decided this week to go to Seattle to a Mariner's game and celebrate Neil's birthday at Chris' restaurant. Stayed downtown for two nights and became a tourist. It was an enjoyable break from catching up that caused us to be further behind upon return.

Seems like two steps backward one step forward, but was the two steps backwards when we left to enjoy the city or when we came back to pushing for order in this country house? I think the forward step was getting away for a break. Again the forward step was the trip back to continue our work. It seems that the backwards steps are just the ones that we dream up in transition between leaving and arriving somewhere else when we leave our minds and faith behind for a bit.

Philippians 4:8 "...I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst, the beautiful, not the ugly, things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." The Message

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Lopez Island fireworks