Phantom Mountain

I recently stayed the night in the most beautiful house I think I have ever been in. Seriously, this house was BEYOND amazing. Every room had a magnificent view of Lake Keowee, and it just so happened the evening I stayed was a stormy one.

When we first arrived, our hostess told us that normally you could see a rugged mountain range in the distance (which made the lot one of the best on the lake). Due to the fog and impending storm, you could not even see an outline of said mountain range on this particular evening.

We ate dinner and settled in for a chick flick as the storm clouds rolled in. As many of you know from my previous posts, I LOVE storms!  The thunder and lightning began right as we finished up and headed to bed. In my big, comfy bed I had a perfect view of the lake and storm that had arrived. Lightening flashed, creating firework sparkles on the mirrored surface of the water. Hundreds of thoughts were coursing through my head, and I was trying hard to lose myself in the storm, but I couldn’t. I know that probably sounds crazy, wanting to lose myself in a storm, but I would have rather been lost in the physical storm than in the mental one that was raging.

In prayer I cried out to God. I cried out for peace, for comfort, for him to show his mightiness in my current situation. Looking out as the rain danced on the glass, lightning struck. For the first time, though, it was farther away. It was behind the mountain range. Suddenly, the mysterious range was jutting into the sky, outlined by the flash of lightning.

Then, my heart was still, and I heard it.

Sometimes, the lightning has to strike in our storm so that we can see the protection that is around us.

(I’ll be honest, my jaw dropped.)

I grabbed a blanket and hurried over to the window to see if it would happen again. “Nope, just once is all you need”, is what I heard. (Okay, then I laughed!)

I crawled back into that plush bed, pulled the blankets up, laid back on the pillows and fell asleep watching the storm. My heart was still. My mind was clear. I knew that he had already showed himself, and that he was still there . . .

just like the phantom mountain.

Advertisements

Mind Altering

Tonight, snuggled in with my baby boy, we vegged out and watched “Man v.s. Wild”. There we were, blankets pulled high, watching the “ultimate survivor” camp on an archipelago.  As he was making the roof to his shelter, Judah looks at me and says “He’s making a rain trap.” Sure enough, Bear Grylls begins to explain his rain catcher. Next came trapping a pig. “It’s an animal trap, mom” piped up my little man.

Then, with his big blue eyes penetrating into mine, he pouted his lips and said, “When are we gonna go camping, mom?”.  My answer was simple, “When it finally gets warm and stays warm.” This soothed his conscience, and soon he was snoozing away, no doubt dreaming of the traps he could make once we went camping.

My mind wandered. Childhood memories came streaming back, just as vivid as if they had happened yesterday. It’s been a couple of years since I have been “real” camping. Yes, I mean on an island on a lake, with no showers or electricity, and nothing but nature surrounding you. Okay, so you can “real” camp without a lake island, but you get my drift. I started to think about how camping was something my kids want to do. It’s something they dream about. It’s not unobtainable. It’s not outrageous. It’s just a desire, a goal.

Then, I started thinking about what I wanted to do. Camping – definitely. It’s in my blood. Beach trip – you betcha. But what about things that are a little farther off? Almost out of reach, but not quite.

I want to go on a cruise. I want to go to Africa. I want to see millions of butterflies hanging on HUGE trees. I want to go to Ireland. I want to find out my family history. I want to sleep in a hut over the ocean. I want to go to a Duke game. I want to ride an elephant. I want to go to Israel. I want to take my kids to Washington D.C. I want to dance in the rain. I want to go to Australia. I want to . . .

Dream again.

Kids have  no limit to their thinking. If I say “when it gets warmer”, my son believes me – no questions asked. He believes that his dream of camping will happen. They dream with not only their hearts wide open, but their eyes. They see it, long before it ever happens. Sometimes when my kids are talking, I can see the wheels turning and I can see them imagining it happening.

What about when adults have dreams?  Do we see it happening? Are our hearts open but our eyes closed? We can’t see ahead, because we are blinded by what is in front of us.

Not anymore. I’m dreaming big, and I’m keeping my eyes WIDE open. I challenge you to do the same!

The Wonder of Your Love . . .

Sitting alone in the sanctuary, lights out, nothing but sunlight pouring through the stained glass window to light the room. Silence. Complete silence.

How funny, I thought, that I was just sitting here. I remember being young and walking through the sanctuary at church and feeling overwhelmed. Almost like I didn’t belong, it was too holy of a place. Not because anyone had said that, I just felt it. It looked so huge, so overbearing, so . . . scary. I remember wondering what it would be like to be a part of what went on every Sunday. Would that ever be me? What would I do? Would I always be here? Then, I would scurry off, the feeling of being tiny in such a big space still crawling on my skin.

Now, it seemed so small. This room that we worshiped in, that we laughed in, that we cried in. It had been used for weddings and funerals, banquets and bible studies. But sitting and looking, it just seemed so small. When did I lose the wonder? When did it become so familiar? When did I quit dreaming about what was to come next?

Looking up to that huge stained glass window, the sunbeams looked light search lights in the darkness. They probed the thick blackness, waiting to illuminate and bring to life whatever they touched. “Touch me!” my heart screamed. “Find me!” I wept. It’s not that I was necessarily lost, I had lost something and it was there searching for me. The light of wonderment was searching for me.

The air around me became heavy. There was a thickness in it. You could almost feel the weight of the air. Like a warm blanket being wrapped around me, the holy spirit enclosed me. I lost track of time, as I just sat there, in the silence, in awe of this place and of my God.

I don’t want the normal. I don’t want the mundane, the usual, the expected. I want to walk into the sanctuary and stand in awe. Not because of it’s grandeur, not because of it’s mass. No, I want to stand in awe of what it houses. What it represents. A holy place. God lives in our hearts. Yes. He is everywhere and in everything. Yes. But, when you come into the sanctuary, you come into a representation of a holy place. A place where sin is forgiven. A place where souls are saved. A place where you can come in broken hearted and leave healed. A place where you can lay down every care in your life, and have it washed away. That is something to stand in awe of. The fact that we are still allowed to do so, to worship freely and openly, is a wonder in itself.

So the next time you are hurrying into your sanctuary, stop. Stop and ask God to reveal the wonderment of his place. Ask him to search you out, and make you see his place from a whole new view. Then, enjoy, and step into it!

Can’t Go To A Party Without It!

Jalapeño Popper Spread

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapeno peppers. Pour mixture into a microwave safe serving dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  2. Microwave on High until hot, about 3 minutes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I prefer the baked variation:If you would like to brown the cheese, bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes.

Serve with cut up french bread or crackers.

Enjoy!

The Welcoming

Peter Banning: [to Rufio who pulls out Pan’s sword at him] Okay, mister. Alright, show’s over now. You put that thing away! No, put it down before you poke somebody’s eye out.
[the Lost Boy all laugh at Peter]
Peter Banning: You’re not old enough to shave! What are you doing with a sword. I’ve been flying around – This is an insurance nightmare! What is this? Some sort of the “Lord of the Flies” pre-school? Where are your parents? Who’s in charge here?
[the Lost Boys all point to Rufio]
Peter Banning: [in disbelief] No! No, Mr. Skunkhead with too much mousse. You are just a punk kid. I want to speak to a grown-up!
Rufio: All grown-ups are pirates.
Peter Banning: Excuse me?
Rufio: We kill pirates.
Peter Banning: I’m not a pirate. It so happens I am a lawyer.
Rufio: [with the rest of the Lost Boys pulling out their weapons] Kill the lawyer!
Peter Banning: [laughs nervously] I’m not that kind of lawyer!

I have watched this movie hundreds of times. “Hook” was at one point and time my family’s favorite movie. We laughed when “Tink” carried Peter off to Neverland. We giggled at the “potty words” the lost boys used (fart being the main one). We cried when Peter couldn’t reach his kids. We guffawed when the they had the imaginary food fight. When Peter finally learned to fly, we cheered as the fight began. What an awesome movie!

My favorite part is not from the previous quote. I just thought that quote was funny. It shows how far removed Peter was from his “home”. He was grown up. He had responsibilities now, he had no time for “play”. His heart had turned. When it came time to find that daring, fun-loving, adventurous self, he couldn’t.

But, there is one part that makes me cry every time. It’s not when the little girl sings, or when his son breaks all the clocks. No, it’s a more hidden moment. The lost boys are lined up, trying to decide what to do with this man, Peter Banning. Is he Pan, or not? Rufio says no. But one of The Lost Boys step forward and takes of Peters glasses. He begins to push on Peter’s face, trying to see past the sagging skin and the wrinkles. Finally, he sees it. “Oh, there you are Peter!” he cries. Some of the younger boys come running over, doing the same thing. Yes, it is really Peter Pan! He was just lost behind his mask of age!

When we first become believers we are enthusiastic, even daring, in our relationship with Christ. We hold onto him, and boldly declare how awesome he is. But, as time goes by, we “grow up”. We have responsibilities, we have LIFE to deal with. It’s not all peachy keen, we don’t just sail through without ever coming across a storm. Our faces show the worry, the stress, the unhappiness we have. Even when we try to hide it, it shows. Not all of us, but some, lose touch. We lose touch with Christ, and with his joy and peace and comfort. We don’t feel him, hear him, know him anymore. I can’t find him, we may say. Then, he steps forward – as we kneel down – and he takes off our “world glasses” so that we only see him. He begins to push back the worry, the stress, the unhappiness. “Oh, there you are!” he exclaims, because HE knew the whole time we were still there.

When you get to the point that you feel like he’s not there, kneel down and let him find you. Let him find you surrendering and willing for him to teach you who you really are – HIS!

Don’t You Know?

If you ask me who Craig is, I will tell you he is my husband. If you ask me who Susan or Don are, I’ll tell you they are my mom and dad. Zeb, Anna and Judah? My children. Stephanie, Jessica and Steven? My siblings.

How easy is it to describe our family and friends? Even our acquaintances are easy to portray. When we are trying to jog someone’s memory about a person we describe them with words such as “the blonde in choir” or “you know, the sound guy”. Sometimes it may be “the guy who helped us move” or “the girl that sang at the funeral”. It is a simple task to describe those we come in contact with. We use distinct looks, a familiar character trait, even a talent to characterize someone.

But what if someone asked you who Jesus was? Who is Jesus? Would you be able to answer them? This question was brought up on Wednesday night at church. It made me think, because I could probably give you a TON of answers, but could I get you to recognize who I was talking about?

I asked my class of three year olds this question the next day. At first they kind of skimmed around the question (which is normal). But then, they really started to think. Finally one of them spoke up. “He’s our healer!”  “He saved us!” “He’s in our heart!” They started to get excited and began naming of all of the attributes of Jesus that we had been talking about  in our Bible story time.

The truth is, Jesus is all that and so much more. The only son of God. The baby born to a virgin. The child who was found in the temple listening and asking questions (Luke 2). He was a prophet, a healer, a teacher. He accepted the poor, the weak, the sick and the young. One of his “friends” betrayed him. He was an innocent man who was punished and ridiculed. He was whipped, had his hair yanked out, was spit on and was unrecognizable before his death. He was hung on a cross between two thieves. He died and was buried.

On the third day he rose from the dead, and continued to minister to his disciples.  His ascension to heaven left us with the Holy Spirit and the challenge to bring others to Christ.

To me? He is the song in my heart when I wake up in the morning. He is the answer to any and every question I may ever have. He is the peace that quiets my heart in the middle of craziness. He is the best friend that I talk to every day. He is the best friend who will reprimand me lovingly and redirect my path. He is the one who lifts my head when I am too tired to carry on. He is my joy in the middle of heartache. He is the words that speak when I am at a loss of words. He is my comforter when my heart is broken and smashed into a million pieces. He is in the laughter of kids. He is the scent in wild flowers. He is the beauty in every living thing. He is my advocate when I am standing alone. He is my covenant ( A binding agreement; a compact) maker (One that makes or manufactures) and keeper (An attendant, a guard, or a warden). His promises are always kept, his mercies flow freely and daily. He is the one who gives my heart dreams and he is the one who sets those things into motion. 

If you don’t know Jesus, or if you know of him, but you can’t say these things (or more) about him, I challenge you to accept Jesus into your heart and life. Admit you are a sinner and ask him to forgive you. Believe in him, read his word and pray and talk to him everyday. Confess it – tell someone to help you be accountable. You can find a local church or pastor and go to them. It doesn’t take some big production. It only takes you calling out to him. Now, will life become easy-peasy? Not a chance! But you will have this amazing person to call on and lean on anytime you need him. And, unlike everything else in this world, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”(Deuteronomy 31:8)

Put on Your ___________ Shoes!

Shoes. Who doesn’t like having a new pair of shoes? My sister is a shoe-aholic. She has a MASSIVE amount of shoes. Tennis shoes, running shoes, mud shoes, flip flops, sandals, boots, rain boots, dress heels, dancing heels, and her favorite pair of all time, her wedding heels.

It started a long time ago, her passion for the durable covering for the human foot. She wanted a pair of high top tennis shoes. Not just any pair, but the kind that had two different colors of shoe strings. She waited for her birthday (in April) and asked everyone for money so that she could have the money to buy her shoes. She received lots of money and we were on our way to the mall to buy her shoes. My mom convinced her to buy a different brand that was less expensive so that she could have not one, but TWO, new pairs of shoes. And, so it began. When she finally was old enough to get a job, her money for the most part went to support her passion. When she began working at a clothing store (and had to dress up) the shoes multiplied like rabbits. She became diverse in her selection. She went from comfy cute to rockin’ sexy. As I stated before, now her shoe collection has a WIDE range and it keeps growing!

At a womens conference one year, the title of the message was “Cinderella proves that shoes really CAN change your destiny”. After the message, I totally got it. It’s quite true if you think about it! She didn’t leave part of her dress behind, or a piece of jewelry. No, she left a shoe. There was not another shoe like it. It was unique, it was special. In our lives we have shoes that we wear everyday. We have specific shoes for specific roles. We wouldn’t wear tennis shoes to a black tie affair. We wouldn’t wear heels to the lake. Each shoe has a purpose, some have multiple purposes. I have shoes that I only wear to church. There are shoes that I only wear to the pool. I have shoes that I only wear in the snow. When I put on my shoes it completes my outfit. They can also define what I am getting ready to do, or where I’m getting ready to be.

What about our “spiritual shoes”? Ephesians 6:15 says “and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. Shoes are part of the full armor of God! “The readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”. The new living translation states it this way “For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.” Our spiritual shoes should be full of peace. When we are at peace we think more clear, we are not hasty, we are able to focus. Can you be at peace when all hades has broken out in your life? YES. The word says in Philippians 4, verse 6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When you put on your “spiritual shoes” you step into God’s grace, into His mercy and into His PEACE! When that happens you can move forward, secure in Christ and walking in peace. Your “spiritual shoes” are a lot like Cinderella’s shoes. They are unique, made especially just for you!

So, when you are getting ready in the morning, do things backwards. Put your shoes on first!