The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas

The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas
We are all like sea shells tossed about in rough waters and being re-shaped in wondrous ways. But have you ever contemplated the notion that sea shells have to complete their journey through the rough waters before they get to rest on the shore? Yeah, we are ALL like sea shells and Heaven is The Great Shore.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Strongholds, Life-storms & God: A Correlation

Greetings Everybody,
This blog entry is dedicated to one of my new blog-friends who is dealing with some upcoming Life-storms.  
Her name doesn't matter, she knows who she is.
I hope this blesses you and brings you courage.

So...Ok...Let's talk about Strongholds and Life-storms, and God.

The word Stronghold appears in scripture more than once, but let's start out with a verse from the book of Nahum.
" The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him" Nahum 1:7

Now I am aware that there are people all over the world who may be reading this lesson, so let me make sure that they have a good understanding of the word Stronghold before I go any further. They might need a working definition to really understand where I am going .

So here ya go, as per

stronghold  is a noun that has 2 meanings.
1. (Military / Fortifications) a defensible place; fortress
2. a major centre or area of predominance
[from strong + hold1 (in the archaic sense: a fortified place)]

Now let's apply those words to something that we can understand a little bit better.
Let's take a look at a stronghold that I personally have been inside.
Castillo de San Marcos. Construction started in 1672. It is in St. Augustine, Florida and it was a stronghold /fortress designed to protect and defend the town from attacking ships.  Tourists can walk on the roof and view the antique cannon positioned there.
                                   aerial photo found at 

Just like the definition states, a stronghold is a place of safety...but it is also a place that by definition was able to both protect AND defend. 

Strongholds were not designed to be mobile. 
They were built solid, stationary, and strong. 
The stronghold didn't go to the people, the people went to the stronghold.

And there were three kinds of people who came to the stronghold: 
1. Those who needed protection.
2. Those who served to defend the stronghold and those within it's walls.
3. Those attacking the stronghold and seeking to destroy all within it's walls.

There are strongholds located all over the world.
Some ancient.
Some modern.

They were and still ARE built in areas considered to be vital for security, protection, and defense. 

In the days of old, people knew that when enemies attacked, the best place in the world to be was INSIDE that fortress.

Soldiers and Peasants alike knew to get inside the stronghold when times of trouble came.

It was simultaneously their place of safety and of strength.

When enemies were on the march, or advancing in approaching ships, everybody who was able, would run with all of their might, to get inside the stronghold before those giant doors were closed. 

And they would remain inside the stronghold until the time of trouble was over. 

Now history reveals that over the years many strongholds eventually fell to the enemy.

They were man-made and as such were subject to flaws. 

They used a trial and error system in building them.

They learned from the mistakes of others.

Sometimes those in the stronghold would perish because they put their faith in these structures built by men.

But there is a stronghold that is impenetrable 
And that stronghold is GOD himself.

Consider David of the old testament.
Over the course of his life, he was a shepherd, and a warrior, and he was a king.

He knew a thing or two about military wisdom, and he knew what a stronghold was.

And he called God his stronghold.
"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me." Psalms 144: 3

But pay close attention to the very next verse because here David expresses the awe of knowing that GOD actually knows him.  David was astonished that God, the creator of EVERYTHING, was HIS STRONGHOLD, and that God actually KNEW him.
"O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?" Psalms 144: 4

If you will allow a very loose paraphrase, to me, those two verses come across like this : "God, you are so big and I am so small, yet you KNOW me and my needs. I trust you and know that you will protect me and bring me to victory. And BTW this whole concept of YOU, the creator of Heaven and Earth, knowing ME, a shepherd-boy- turned-king just kind of blows my mind."  

Pretty Cool Huh!

When we stack the words of Nahum & David, we get strong precedence in calling God our Stronghold.

Nahum 1:7 " The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; He knows those who take refuge in Him" 

Psalms 144:3-4 "He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?" 

And now let's bring this discussion into the New Testament and discuss Jesus for a minute.

But before we do, let me just say that from here on out you will sometimes see me refer to God as our Stronghold and other times see me refer to Jesus as our Stronghold. 

I don't want to confuse anybody so let me just take a minute and say that I believe that Jesus is a part of God and God is a part of Jesus. 

And here's the scripture that serves as the basis for this belief.
These are the words of Jesus...
"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." John 14:11

Ok...that having been hopefully cleared up, let's keep going.

Do you remember the story of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee?

"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” 

Matthew 8:23-27

I submit to you that there is a great correlation between the weather-based storm that Jesus stilled and the life-storms that we go through today.

We often hear people talk about waves of troubles crashing over them.

We often hear people saying that they fear that they will be overcome by their hardships.

I think that if we examine Life-storms, using the paradigm of the Real Storm that was happening in the story of Jesus calming the sea, we can glean some pearls of wisdom to apply to our lives today.

Let's take the story in the order that things occurred, step by step:

First, He (Jesus) was in the boat with several guys and was sleeping during a raging storm. (lol Apparently he was  QUITE UNAFRAID.)

Second, the guys in the boat woke Him up, and were crying out for help from Him. (Clearly they WERE afraid.)

Third, He spoke to the guys in the boat: 

A.  commenting about their little faith and
B.  asking WHY they were afraid.
This is really kind of a huge thing. 
-Did they Under estimate Jesus' Power? 
-Did they Over estimate the power of the storm? 
-Did they do both? 
-Or was it that they didn't KNOW HIM well enough to totally TRUST Him?

Fourth, He stood up.

Fifth, He spoke to the winds and the waves.
(He interacted with The OCEAN and The WIND.
These are two HUGE and POWERFUL forces here on Earth.
And at His Command...both the ocean and the wind lost all of their fury.)

Sixth, it got completely calm.

Seventh, the guys were astonished.

Now I think I am safe in saying that the guys in the boat, reached out to Jesus, their Stronghold, and that their Stronghold protected and defended them.

Pearl of Wisdom #1
-I am thinking that I do NOT have a problem that is more powerful than the combined forces of ocean and wind.

Pearl of Wisdom #2
-And if Jesus can control both of THOSE things...every thing else must be pretty much within his "scope and sequence" too.

Pearl of Wisdom #3
-If I have Faith in my Stronghold, I too can "Sleep In the Boat" regardless of the raging life-storms. 

So lets bring this all together now:
-Life-storms are inevitable.
-They brew up and come at us full force all the time.
-Man-made strongholds are useless against Life-storms.
-The only real Stronghold is God and His Son,Jesus Christ.
-But we have to be IN The Stronghold to get the protection.
-We must come to KNOW the power of our Stronghold.
-Our Stronghold Already Knows Us .
-We can Totally Trust Him. 

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." 
Isaiah 41:10

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear Not!
In Him,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In the Family

Greetings Everybody,
It's Sunday morning, and here I sit again, contemplating God.
I really enjoy contemplating God...probably can't explain it to anybody else, but there is just something peaceful and right about my daily morning prayer time with Him.  

However, my prayer time is done for the morning, and now I'd like to catch you guys up with what's been going on since my last post.

Let's just say that this week has been a busy one.

On Tuesday our new granddaughter was born...and as you might imagine, there has been quite a bit of flurry going on.

We got to babysit our grandson some during our daughter's hospitalization, and that was really nice too.

BTW, it is really special to watch this 11 month old child interact with his new baby sister. 

He toddles up to her, and pats her...and then extends his pointer finger and touches the tip of her tiny nose...and giggles.  And then he is off on his next adventure as he toddles around the house.

He is so very gentle with her.  

None of us were sure how he was going to respond to this "interloper in his mothers arms" lol...but he has shown no jealousy or resentment whatsoever.

In Fact...he is particularly tender with her.

It's almost as if he knows she is fragile and that he needs to be careful with her.

And we are all grateful for that. 
We know not to assume that he will always be this way, but at the present it is very sweet to watch him interact with her.

The Grandmother-In-Me thinks that it is pretty cool to know that as he grows up, she will be written so smoothly into the memories of his own childhood that he will probably never remember life WITHOUT her.
And that she will have no memory of life without him either.

For the rest of their lives, they will be bonded and fused as Family.
They will be Significantly, Sufficiently, and most Assuredly Bonded & Fused as Family.

And there you have it...

We all want security
We all want safety
We all want to know that we are loved.

And my Grandson and Granddaughter will grow up like that.

They have their parents and they have each other and they have grandparents and aunts and uncles.

God, made this incredible support system for little babies  called The Family.

And when that support system is in place, and God is at the center of those families, Families are Powerful.

Families are The Most Impressive TASK FORCE ever assembled.

The God Centered Strong Family Unit wages a daily battle against, drugs, gangs, violence, and evil.

And God Centered Strong The Family Unit wages this war with unquenchable love, courage, discipline, encouragement, strength, stamina, diligence, determination and a whole lot of prayer.

And that God Centered Strong Family Unit has a very impressive win/loss ratio in these daily battles.

God, thank you for Families.

Thank you for the Mommy's and Daddy's who lovingly hold strong to your ways.

Thank you for Grandparents who do the same.

Thank you for this system.

Thank you for solid marriages that stand the test of time.

Thank you for commitment to those wedding vows.

Thank you for fidelity, and loyalty, and strength.

Thank you for the Fun of the Family Table, where we eat and laugh and share acceptance and tell stories.

Thank you for the Unity Created and the Sense of Belonging found at our Family Table.

God, this Family thing is such an Impressive Force For Good.

Father, as I contemplate YOU this morning, I have been granted a tiny insight as to the wisdom with which you designed us the way you did.

You created us to need each other.

We don't lay eggs like turtles.

Instead, YOU bring human life into this world in small numbers...and you give us helpless babies who require constant love & attention...and you help us to bond with them.

We are special like that.

We are made in the image of YOU.
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." Genesis 1:26

And if we are made in the image of YOU, and we are made with the need of our Parents loving care and attention...then God, I understand why I am so drawn to my time with YOU.

YOU are my Heavenly Father.
And I am part of YOUR Family.

YOU Help me. 
YOU Feed My Soul. 
YOU Make Me Strong.

In my morning prayer times...YOU hold me, and YOU feed me and YOU cause me to feel secure.

This is when YOU reassure me that I am
Significantly, Sufficiently, and most Assuredly Bonded & Fused into YOUR Family.

Scripture says that when I put on Christ in baptism, I become a member of the family of God and an heir of your blessings...right along with Jesus Christ.

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8: 16-17

I am part of YOUR Family.

And there you have it...

We all want security
We all want safety
We all want to know that we are loved.

I rejoice in the knowledge that my Grandson and Granddaughter will grow up like that because of their Earthly Family.

And I pray that, when they are older that they will Come to Christ, be baptized, and then be Adopted into the Family of Faith.

And in The Family of Faith, you grow for the rest of your life.

Yes, even though I am in my 50's, I am still growing in the Family of Faith.

I grow each morning during in prayer time with God.

And I grow more bonded and more secure in The Family of Faith, every time I attend worship services with my other Brothers & Sisters in Christ.

I am most certainly still growing in the Family of Faith.

And I crave to be bonded and fused more every day to YOU my Heavenly Father.

My hearts desire is to be Significantly, Sufficiently, and most Assuredly Bonded & Fused into YOUR Family Forever....AMEN!

In Him,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Baby Girl!

Greetings All,
Yesterday my daughter delivered (by C-section) a 9 pound 5 ounce...20 inches long....beautiful baby girl.

She has a CROP of inch-long dark hair, a gentle disposition, a ferocious appetite, and she is perfect.

Mother and Baby are doing very well.
Son-in-law is amazing and very attentive.
Big Brother is a happy camper too.
And hubby and I are diggin' the grandparent role.

For those of you who might be keeping track of such things... this is their 2nd baby in less than 1 calendar year.

Their firstborn will celebrate his 1st birthday on July 14th.!
And to think...she wants 4 kids!!!

We'll see.

But for now, I am thinking that the next several years of Christmas celebrations are going to be filled with fun.

Heavenly Father, thank you for a safe birth and a healthy baby.
In Him,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers Day

Greetings Everybody,
Today is a wonderful day already.  
Today is both Sunday and it's Father's Day...a double tribute
-First there's my Heavenly Father
-Second there's my Earthly Father.

I am so very blessed to have had an Earthly Father who loved me and provided for me.
He took me fishing & he taught me to throw a football & he bought me ice cream cones.

He taught me how to fly kites.
We would spend glorious hours lying on a blanket, looking at the sky, each of us holding on to the string of a kite that was floating high in the sky.

We would fly our kites and  watch clouds sail past.  

Perhaps THIS is where I first learned to love clouds. 
Perhaps THIS is where I first learned to look to the sky and think beyond things that kept me anchored to the ground.
Perhaps THIS was where my child-mind first understood the term FATHER and how that term could be applied to GOD.

I learned that my Heavenly Father loved me as I experienced how my Earthly Father loved me.

I learned so many things from my daddy.

I learned servant leadership.
I learned "the buck stops here"...and about his role as the final authority in our home.
I learned rules and I learned laughter and I learned faith.

I learned humility.
I learned integrity.
I learned honesty.

I'm pretty sure that My Heavenly Father approved of those lessons, since they are all based on the way that Christians are supposed to live.

I love my daddy and He loves Me.

Heavenly Father, thank you for my Daddy.
And thank you for loving me even MORE than he does.

Happy Fathers Day to you too God!
You are the Ultimate Father!

In Him,

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Its a La Madeleine's Morning:)

Greetings Everybody,
My morning prayer time is finished and so is my first cup of coffee.
The Sears repair guy is due to be here sometime between 8 am and 12 fix the fridge.

Yay for getting a repair appointment quickly.
Meanwhile...YAY for my little school refrigerator that I brought home for summer.

It's true that it doesn't hold much.  
And it's true that we lost a ton of stuff yesterday when the big fridge went out...
( the mayo, the various dressings, the eggs and meats and cheeses, know the drill)

I salvaged the mustard, ketchup and pickles...figured that they were probably OK since there was still the tiniest bit of cool left in the fridge when I discovered that it had died.

But I felt so very blessed that at least we had the little school fridge and that I could put a few things in that.

And YES...we did go buy a small container of milk so that I could have cream in my coffee this morning.

Yesterday I had to drink it black...and I do NOT like it that today I felt quite rich when I opened that little bottle of 2% milk and splashed a generous portion in my cinnamon swirl coffee. Hubby doesn't know it yet...but I think I am going to ask him to go on a MISSION this morning.
Yup...this Mission, should he choose to accept to go find the nearest La Madeleine's, buy me an amazing take out breakfast ( since at least one of us has to stay here and wait for the Sears Repair Guy)
...and the most challenging thing of all...if he can manage it...he needs to score me... an almond croissant.  

OH the bliss!
I can almost taste the blend of my 2nd cuppa mixing with that almond croissant!!!

And YES I know how many calories are in those things.
And you need to just HUSH right now, cause you are messing with my mornin' mojo!


I suspect that HUBBY may grumble a little bit about this MISSION that I am going to ask him to undertake.
But I also suspect that he'll go.
He's really good like that. lol.

Ok, tick-tock-time's-a wastin'-here...need to go wake up sleepyhead cause he has a Mission to take care of...and it's time to get this show on the road.'s another wonderful thought:  I bet that a nice Chocolate Silk coffee would be just PERFECT with that almond croissant. WooHOOO

Heavenly Father, Thank You for the promise of 
each new day!  
You provide what is needed...and so much more. 
You give us hope and joy and mercy and grace.

In Him,

Friday, June 15, 2012

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

Greetings Everybody,
Today has been a day of challenges.
And the evil one is trying so very hard to fill me with anxiety.

Several areas of concern going on:
-Rapidly Aging Parents
-Daughter due to give birth on Tuesday (planned C-section, but could be sooner)
-Possible Career change...ready if God leads me there.
-This week the big freezer died and this morning the refrigerator did too.
-Lots of challenges going on.

At times like this, I often claim Isaiah 40:30-31
...and imagine flying high above the cares of the world
...flying on the Wings of Eagles with the wind in my face and the earth beneath me

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:30-31

And I remember that this promise is for those who HOPE/WAIT in the Lord...which implies TRUST/FAITH.

"And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You." Psalm 39:7

I like to say that I Trust God completely.
I want to believe that!
I try really HARD to live that!
But if I did Trust God 100% there would be no anxiety in me right now.
And so I am reminded that I still have room for more Faith to grow.

It is comforting to recall the New Testament story about a specific Father who asked Jesus to help his son because the demons would throw him the fire.
Jesus spoke to him about the situation and the dad ended up saying the following:
 "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24

And there it is.
I so identify with this dad...
I believe.
Help my unbelief.
I believe.
But there is still room for more faith to grow.

This reminds me that Jesus understands about how hard it is for humans to totally 100% suspend all worries, doubts, fears, and anxiety.  
Afterall, Even JESUS went through some of this on the Mt. of Olives the night before he was betrayed...
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 
Luke 22:42

Yet Jesus submitted to God's Will...endured dying on the cross...was in the grave for 3 days...rose from the dead and walked among men for 40 days...and THEN ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God. 

I think Jesus has a real good scope on the words of Isaiah about those Eagles Wings!

Well, there's my lesson for this post...
I'll close with 4 quick sentences and one last scripture: 
-Learning to live in loving submission to God's Will is NOT for the weak.
-It takes courage, strength, stamina, hope, trust and faith
-Yet, "waiting upon the Lord" is richly rewarding.
-For God will take care of all of our needs
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

In Him,