2017: Page 225

Page 225 began early as Susan had a seizure during the early morning hours.  After we all made it back to sleep, we were able to sleep in a little bit before getting up and around for Sunday School.  The Sunday School class is trying to finish up a study in First Timothy, and today we were in chapter six with a focus on contentment.  The Bible teaches that “the eye is never content with seeing.”  That truth is exhibited in at least two ways in our life.  One, the more we take in something visually, the more accustomed we become to it and the sight will often no longer have the same influence in our mind so we look for something new to stimulate our visual sense.  Two, the more we dwell on looking at something, the less satisfied we become with simply seeing it — we simply must have it.  Advertisers bet a lot of money on that fact.  If they can get the image of their product in front of people often enough, a good number of those people will conclude they “need” that product.  Contentment is the result of taking every thought captive and keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith.”

After Sunday School we had our morning worship gathering where David brought a message on “What We Believe About the Bible”.  Here are some highlights of my take on it:

  • The Bible is God’s Word — the “God-breathed” truth that never changes.
  • The Bible contains the “power of God unto salvation” for those who would accept not only its truth, but its author.
  • The Bible is a spiritual tool, or weapon, that has great power when used by a person living with the Spirit of God within them.
  • The Bible can be a defense against temptation if we hide its words in our heart and mind.
  • The Bible can demolish strongholds of the enemy when we use its truth by the power of the Spirit.

After the church service, it was time for lunch and then a restful afternoon spent continuing to go through the trip photos from earlier in the week.  After an afternoon of staring at the computer screen deciding what photos to share, we headed to the Riverwalk to get some fresh air and exercise . . . and perhaps a few more photos.  As we headed out for our walk, I grabbed my camera with the wide-angle lens and decided the “big picture” scenes would be the focus of my photographs during this walk.  During the walk I saw a beautiful butterfly fluttering about the various blossoms of a butterfly bush plant.  I really thought there was no way I could get close enough to it to take a decent photo with the lens I had on the camera, but there was no real way of knowing that without trying.  In the first few photos I took, the butterfly was just a growing speck in the center of the picture.  As I kept moving closer, it kept crawling over the blossom until I was able to get right up to it.  Today’s photo was taken with the camera about six inches away from the butterfly.  It reminded me of a phrase that I would hear on what seemed like a regular basis growing up — “Can’t never could until he tried.”  How often do we fail to accomplish a desire that perhaps God Himself has put within us, only because we chose not to try?

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Life has its difficult times but doing life as a family can help carry you through the difficulties.
  • “Godliness with contentment is great gain” . . . not just my thought, but God’s Word.
  • Contentment isn’t easy but God says the secret to having it is found in Him.
  • The Bible is “living and active” . . . if it doesn’t seem that way to you, perhaps you need to spend more time with the Author.
  • The breath of God — God’s Word — brings life.
  • Many things seem impossible until we try them.
  • The impossible never seems so impossible after we’ve accomplished it.
  • Our greatest accomplishments can only take place when we step out in faith and allow God to work in and through us.

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2017: Page 224

Page 224 was a Saturday but I found myself awake early to write yesterday’s page before the day got away from me.  Once the page was written, I went through the next group of photos from last weeks Upper Peninsula trip so I could share another round of them on Facebook.  We packed so much into the few days we had, that it is going to take multiple posts of the photos to give just a glimpse of the incredible beauty of creation we were surrounded with.  At times I begin to think I’m posting too many photos, but then people encourage me to keep sharing them so I try to keep sharing from the gift God has given me.  While I worked on the photos, I heard a noise from upstairs and found that Susan had somehow fallen into the empty bathtub and pulled the shower curtain and rod down on top of herself.  She didn’t act like she had a seizure, but also didn’t know how she fell into the tub or what had happened.  She said she wasn’t ready to get up, so after making sure she was okay she went back to bed to rest the morning away.

After sharing a group of photos, I took my mug of coffee out on the front porch and enjoyed some quiet time — with my camera close by, of course.  Several hummingbirds eventually stopped by the feeder, but before they did I noticed one of them sitting in an opening of the branches of the nearby pine tree, enjoying the morning sun as it streamed in.  He sat there for at least ten minutes, which is the longest I think I’ve ever seen a  hummingbird sit in one place.  Today’s photo is one of several I took as he seemed to pose for me so I could photograph different views of it.  I don’t know about his day, but I know that mine always seems to go better if I can start the day with time soaking in the sun and the Son.

After spending some time photographing the flowers and hummingbirds, and resting in the sun and the Son, I went to work on another round of photos in what I’ve called the “Way UP North” trip.  Last Sunday I preached in Dowagiac, Michigan then drove the 7+ hours north to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area of the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior.  Monday we spent the entire day sightseeing and Tuesday we headed back home with numerous stops along the way.  It was our first trip to the Upper Peninsula and I was captivated by its beauty and incredible variety of natural scenes to photograph.  I’ve already posted four groups of photos from the trip and those postings only take me through mid-day on Monday — I’m not sure yet how many groupings I will end up with by the time I’m done going through them, but it was not only fun to see the sights and take the photos, it is fun to share them.

I had no frozen hamburger patties and no hamburger thawed out, so lunch ended up being smoked pork chops and fresh sweet corn.  The afternoon was spent working on some of the photos from the morning and resting before sitting down to write today’s page.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Rest is important, but so is taking time to reflect and remember.
  • Sometimes we slip and fall and need others to help us up.  God’s Word says, “Pity the one who falls and has no one to help him up.”
  • Sometimes we know why we fall and other times we find ourselves down on the ground with no idea how we got there.
  • The how and why a person fell can be useful information, but it often isn’t nearly as important as being someone who helps them up and makes sure they are okay.
  • It feels good to sit in the warmth of the morning sun.  It is even better to sit with the Son warming me from the inside out.
  • It is possible to see a lot in a short amount of time when you focus on what you can get to rather than on what you can’t.
  • Traditions can be good but that doesn’t mean something different can’t be good as well.
  • There ought to be room in life to do new things without completely abandoning the old.

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2017: Page 223

Sometimes a day has a moment or two that seem to define it — at least until you step back and consider the bigger picture of the day.  Page 223 was like that for me.  The day began early as I’m trying to get back into a school year routine.  Being a Friday, I knew it would be a long day so my plan was to take care of the early morning tasks then get most of the mowing done before taking an afternoon break prior to the evening tasks of getting the building cleaned and ready for Sunday.  The key words in that very long sentence are “my plan”.

The day began as expected with the early morning cleaning and picking up the trash left behind from the previous day.  Once the building was ready for the start of the school day, I turned my attention to a battery issue with our alarm system.  After leaving yet another message with the company that installed the system, and getting no response to any of the messages, I tracked down access to the alarm panel so I could get the details on the battery installed and begin the research to track down a replacement.  It didn’t take long to find a replacement that I could pick up locally by noon, so I ordered the battery then went out to begin the mowing for the day.

Mowing can be relaxing for me, but it can also be a time when I “think too much”.  With school back in session, I try to be more deliberate about where I’m mowing at any given time during the day.  My plan was to mow the outlying areas while school was in session, then mow around the building after school was out for the day.  I began in the ball field and noticed a deer standing in the back corner of the field where she could both watch me and have a quick escape into the woods if she felt threatened.  As I mowed, my mind wandered to how difficult it is being different.  I’ve always been different in a way that doesn’t fit most social models all that well.  Most of the time I’m okay with that, but every once in a while I think it might be nice to actually fit in and belong somewhere — then I remember the sacrifice of conviction that is generally required to do so, and I just can’t bring myself to accepting what I know is wrong just so I can fit in.  With more information readily available now than ever before, I have a better idea regarding the source of my being so different but that doesn’t usually answer the “why?”.  Most of the time I can see how God uses the differences in how my mind processes information to accomplish great things in spite of me, but I also know I carry with me the great pain of rejection often because I don’t have the ability to play the game of social acceptance.  Anyhow, this isn’t where I thought this page would go when I began the writing, so on with the day. 🙂

After getting the ball field mowed, it was time to go pick up the alarm system battery, as well as get fuel for the mower and lunch for me.  Once I was back from running errands, it was back on the mower for the afternoon.  As school was letting out for the day, I took a break and found a message on my answering machine about some options in servicing a piece of equipment that hasn’t been operating well.  After returning that call and ordering the parts we decided would be best for the situation, it was back out to finish the mowing around the building.  I’ve always enjoyed mowing and one of the reasons is the beautiful look that a freshly mowed lawn has.

This really has been a productive day and being reminded of that is one of the reasons that the writing of these pages is important to me.  Without the writing, it is the remainder of the day that tends to stick in my mind yet looking back it was such a small part of the day that it shouldn’t be given as much space in my mind as it wants to take up.  As I set about to begin my Friday evening cleaning and building prep for the weekend, I was warned not to be too shocked at what I would find in parts of the building — that the issues were being addressed and would be taken care of.  As the problems were described, it wasn’t what was actually done that caused my frustration level to rise, but the fact that people were so unwilling to listen and follow very simply and straight-forward instructions.  Anyhow, I knew it wouldn’t do me any good to start cleaning in the state of mind I was in, so I headed out to get some supper and spend some time away from the building to let my mind process the information in a way that would allow me to finish my work for the day.  After eating, I came back to an empty and secure building with lights left on — another one of those little pieces that wanted to define my day.  Even with frustration mounting, the work needed done so I set about taking care of my evening tasks and eventually had the cleaning done and the building ready for Sunday.  Just as in the mowing, there is great satisfaction to be had in looking at the completed task and taking in the sight and smell of freshly cleaned bathrooms and floors.

Today’s photo is one I took late Thursday night as a storm rolled by.  It made me think of the storms of life that I face and how dark they can appear until even a small amount of light illuminates everything.  The storms of life may be dark and powerful but the light of Jesus is brighter and even more powerful than the storms. 

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • When I allow one event to define my entire day I typically have allowed the bigger picture of what God was doing throughout the day to be hidden, or even stolen, from me.
  • It is good to have times to think and reflect.
  • It is critical to take every thought captive during those times of thinking and reflecting.
  • Sometimes being different is a good thing and sometimes it feels like a great burden.
  • Being who God created you to be is more important than either being different or fitting in.
  • Sometimes a battery has been drained and recharged so much that it no longer functions.  I suspect that we are a lot like that which is why God says that He will put within us a new heart and a new spirit.
  • Visible results of work can be very encouraging, but faith is being able to see the results of God’s work even when they are not yet visible.
  • I wonder how often my failure to follow simple instructions frustrates others . . . or frustrates God?
  • The storms of life will come but the darkness never has the power to overcome the light.
  • Even though my mind did not think so as the day ended, it was a very productive day.

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2017: Page 222

Page 222 was a quiet day spent working on equipment maintenance and prayer retreat content ideas as I waited on follow-up from some service work.  As I headed out of the house for work, the moon was shining brightly in the early morning sky so I shot a few photos.  At work I checked on the progress of some maintenance parts I am waiting on and found that they still have not shipped.  I guess that comes from having equipment that is no longer “current model”, so the parts are not stocked at distributors to be able to send out right away and the manufacturers won’t sell them directly.  Sometimes we get so used to immediate access to everything that we want that we forget how to live with patience.  Many times we need to be reminded of the value of waiting — particularly waiting upon the Lord to not only learn from Him, but to be strengthened by Him.

As I worked in the office, I received a phone call from a service tech to let me know he was on his way to look at a piece of cleaning equipment I have that is not working properly.  So, I got the equipment out and ready for him to look at while I waited for him to arrive.  He was able to diagnose the problem, but had to check on part cost and availability when he got back to his office.  After taking care of some small projects in the building and checking on the programming for our HVAC system now that school has resumed, I spent the rest of the day working on prayer retreat content as I waited to learn the equipment repair options and timetable.  As the afternoon melted away with no call, I wrapped up my workday and headed home.

At home I spent more time working on more of the photos from our Upper Peninsula trip and then took my camera outside to try to photograph the hummingbirds.  I did manage a few photos, but they were hesitant to spend a lot of time at the feeder while I was nearby.  While I was watching for the hummingbirds, I took photos of the flowers around the front of the house.  Today’s photo is of one of the roses that are growing along the porch.  It serves as one of many reminders of God’s creativity and beauty that He continually surrounds us with.  Eventually I set the camera on video mode while I went in and ate lunch/dinner.  After I ate and checked on the video, I found that I did have one hummingbird stop by for a minute while I was away.  

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Even in the twilight of the early morning hours, God hangs reminders of His faithfulness in the sky to be seen by all who would pay attention.
  • Patience is a trait that God wants us to learn, but few of us seem to desire it.
  • In a society where it seems most things are disposable, we are often too quick to throw out things that still work well.
  • Taking the time to maintain what we have is often more cost-effective in both time and money than constantly throwing out replacing.
  • Most people seem to be enamored with the new but God calls for us to look for the ancient paths and seek the good ways that we would walk in them.
  • The birds of the air seem to be more aware of potential danger than many people are.  We would do well to pay attention to the dangers of temptation that surround us.
  • There is rarely a moment or place, if there is any at all, where we can’t find reminders of God’s beauty and creativity if we would only look for it.

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2017: Page 221

The first hour and a half of page 221 was spent finishing the drive home from our Upper Peninsula trip and after a little unwinding, it was finally time to sleep.  Susan was going to need to sleep this morning, so I also slept in a little bit and did an afternoon and evening workday.  While Susan was sleeping, I started my way through the photos from our getaway.  I’ve not made it through all of them yet, but based on what I’ve gone through of them, we packed a lot into a few days — my truck computer says we traveled almost 1400 miles with a little over 26 hours of drive time in the three days we were gone.  We were on “roads” that we were doing good to travel at 5 miles per hour and roads with the speed limit of 75 miles an hour — each one had its purpose and added to the amazing trip.  Today’s photo is one from yesterday as the clouds began to gather over one of the lighthouses we visited.  It made me think of the need for a place of safety and refuge when the storms of life approach.  God has not only called His Son, Jesus, the light of the world, He also says we are to be the light of the world!  How much greater would our church families and communities be if each one of us was a visible beacon of hope and safety to those who find themselves in the midst of a storm?

I thought I would mow this afternoon when I got to work, but I got caught up in messages, maintenance research, and office tasks that kept me busy all afternoon.  All of the tasks seemed to involve things I was ordering or scheduling for later, so progress was made even though it didn’t feel like anything was completed.  By early evening, I went to get something to eat before finishing up my workday with the cleaning and prep so the building is ready for the start of school tomorrow.

As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:

  • Some days spill over into the next before they’re done — those often have some of the best memories.
  • Sacrificing some sleep for the purpose of making family memories is worth it.
  • I’m thankful to have flexibility in the day in regard to what block of hours my workday entails.
  • Having an abundance of time to see the beauty of creation that God has surrounded us with is nice, but it is also possible to take in some if it within a limited amount of time.
  • We didn’t see everything there was to see, nor everything we would have liked to, but we saw a lot more than we would have if we had decided we didn’t have enough time to even try.
  • Jesus is my lighthouse and refuge in times of trouble and in times of peace.
  • God wants me to reflect His light to others in their times of trouble and peace as well.
  • It is nice to have plans, but it is also good to recognize when things need done that are more important than our plans.

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2017: Page 220

Page 220 wrapped up a whirlwind getaway to spend some time together as a family before the start of school and the schedule it brings with it.  I was up at 7:30 in the morning to begin the day with some quiet time and coffee, and we were on the go all day long as we didn’t arrive home until 1:30 AM.  It was an wonderful day filled with lighthouses, waterfalls, and roads that should feel very accomplished to even be called a road. 🙂  One of the early roads we encountered had a sign that said, ” 4 low, or no go” — and it wasn’t even the most primitive of the roads we traveled.  I think we ended up on off road vehicle paths rather than roads, but they were listed on my GPS and Google maps.  My navigator may have turned us down one of these paths that we may not have had to take, but it was a fun adventure.  Much of our day was spent in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan followed by the 5+ hour drive home from the Mackinac Bridge area.

Anyhow, in keeping with my getaway/vacation style posting, that is enough writing and here are a few thousand more “words” to finish out the page.

 

2017: Page 219

Page 219 was a good, fun, and long day enjoying the beauty of the Lake Superior and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  As I write this on my iPad from the kitchen of our vacation cabin, there are some rays of sun streaming through the trees as I look through the window in front of me.  That pretty much represents the day we had yesterday.  We were all awake early as we headed out to see what we could see in a day.  Susan did great as she was able to ride her wheelchair on some of the trails and walk on some of the shorter ones.  It was.a day filled with incredible lake views, waterfalls, and lighthouses capped off with a sunset over the lake.

Here are a few thousand words to describe the day. 😀