Saturday, 8 September 2018

A Berry Tree and Samson.

I listened to a 3-part sermon last night about Samson. I’ve never liked Samson. He seems brutish and stupid to me. I’ve always been disgusted at his behavior.

I listened to these sermons on Spotify on a podcast called, Creekside Church. I also found their sermons online at Every sermon I’ve heard there has been terrific.

I saw something this morning that reminded me of the sermon. It was two trees located in the neighboring apartment parking lot. I love these kind of trees because in the winter, when the snow clings to their branches, birds come and eat the red berries.

But in the 5 years I’ve lived here, the trees have never been pruned. The one in the foreground has branches growing in all directions and there are bare spots where nothing grows. It looks a mess, which reminded me of Samson’s life. He was always reaching out to find a woman who could fulfill his life. This always turned out messy and sometimes deadly.

The pastor said Samson’s life is an example for us what NOT to do. Yes, of that I am sure. He said his problem was his unchecked desires. Samson would say: “I want it, I deserve it and I can handle it.”

I remembered those were the very words I used to say to myself about my gambling addiction. I said to myself, “I want to gamble. It is so exciting and there is nothing like the thrill of winning.” I said, “I deserve this. My life is hard, constantly spent helping other people. I deserve some fun.” I said, “I can handle this. “I will stop before I lose too much.”

And I tried to, but I couldn’t. I spent too much, way too much. I usually spent all the money I had that was for my clothes or extras for the house. One time, when I was also an alcoholic, I spent $400 my husband had saved to fix the car.

I had prayed about it, and one day I thought of making a solemn vow to God to stop gambling in my city and the nearest cities. I’d leave a door open for vacations. Lol So, I did make the vow and kept it except for one time when I had a breakdown and was in the hospital all day. I did go to the casino that one time, but I know God forgave me as he forgives all things.

I now see myself as a tree unpruned. I reached out for happiness, excitement and love from things and people around me. It never worked. I didn’t feel much peace and little happiness until I had pretty well lost everything and everyone and was left with God alone.

I said to him, “Well God, it’s just you and me. I need you to fill the loneliness and emptiness of my life. I couldn’t see how he could do it, but he did. (I know I’ve written about this before.) Slowly he did it. He gave me reasons to live and enjoy life and I still feel that way. He showed me how not to let people hurt my heart. 

Yes, I can get sad sometimes, but I go to him right away. I pour out my heart to him and he shows me the way out of the sadness. He is enough for me. He is more than enough. I have never felt this joy inside before and it was well worth the pain to find his loving arms and faithfulness to me.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

God and a Little Girl.

This is a picture of me at 6 years old. My mother used to cut my hair. Lol  I thought I looked like the Dutch Boy on the paint cans. I remember being a bit embarrassed and by the time I was 8 I had a nice pony tail like the other girls.

I’m not sure if I’ve written this story before, but I feel compelled to tell it so you’ll have to forgive me if you have already read it. It was 1956 and I was six years old when my parents decided to leave Canada and move me, my sister and brother to a drier climate. My brother had severe asthma and the doctors said he wouldn’t survive another winter.

So, they applied to move to the United States and my father got a job in Loma Linda, California at a hospital working in the accounting office. We packed up and took off in our roomy car. On the way, my father would break into song, “California here we come; right back where we started from…” I was very excited since I knew about Hollywood where all the movie stars worked and the TV shows were made. I imagined it was beautiful. (At the time, it was definitely not beautiful and we were terribly disappointed.)

The drive down south was certainly beautiful. We took Highway 101, which is famous for its fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and the giant Redwood trees. We stopped at the Trees of Mystery, drove through a hole in a tree and had our picture taken in front of a huge sculpture of Paul Bunyan. We also stopped at the Sea Lion Caves, which were wonderful. Then we came to San Francisco, where we got out of the car and walked on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was all very exciting for me and I suppose that trip is the reason I have loved to travel.

The day we left the bridge and came back to the hotel was a day I will never forget. We entered our room and my father said, “My wallet is gone.” We looked all over the room, but Dad figured he must have lost it in the car or at the bridge. One of my parents said, “Let’s pray.”

We all knelt down on the carpet and my father prayed. I guess I prayed too, I don’t remember. But I do remember one of them saying, “All the money we have in the world is in that wallet.” I would guess it was the first time I had ever seen my parents afraid., so I was afraid too.

We drove to the bridge. Dad got out of the car to retrace our steps. We waited, feeling very nervous. He came back with the wallet. He said it was lying open on the sidewalk. The money was sticking out for all to see. Yet though people were walking by, no one saw it or picked it up. I believe the Lord put his hand over it.

From that moment until now, sixty-two years later, I have never once doubted the existence of God. I don’t know what that answered prayer did for my brother and sister, but for me – I knew there was a God who hears us. And come to think of it, they never had doubts about God’s existence either. None of us were Christians when we were teenagers, but as adults we all came to him. My brother died of asthma at age 21. Before he died he wrote an article about how he was ready to meet Jesus. My older sister has become very close to God in the last 15 years. I became a Christian when I was 19.

I’m so thankful to God for showing us kids his mercy and kindness when the whole family needed him. I’m not sure what we would have done back then to keep traveling and staying in motels and eating. Actually, I’m sure the Lord would have provided in a different way. I just want to say a big, "Thank you," to God for showing a 6- year-old girl what you can do.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Don't Regret the Past.

After writing my last post, where I said I wish I had known spiritual things when I was younger, I felt the Lord did not want me to keep thinking and saying that about my life. There were so many things we need to learn about God and being a Christian. But God doesn’t zap all that knowledge inside us when we are following him. We learn as we live, struggle and experience the good and bad things of life. This is the way he teaches us.

God could have made David a king immediately after Samuel anointed him. But Dave had to flee and hide from King Saul for 20 years. If David had not suffered the loss of all things, even his family and home, we would not have most of the Psalms, which have given wisdom and comfort to millions of people. When I am in distress, I turn to the Psalms. They teach us how to rely on the Lord when we are confused, sad and frightened.

God could have delivered his people from Egypt at the time Moses wanted to do that. But he didn’t, and Moses was spent 40 years living as a shepherd before God called him. Moses must have matured and become patient as he looked after sheep. When God did call him, he felt he wasn’t up to the task, which is what God was waiting for. Moses had become humble, and as the Bible says, “The meekest man on earth.” Now God could use him.

God allowed Joseph to be a slave and then a prisoner before he could use him. Joseph had learned to trust God through two of the worst conditions that can come upon a person. He came to Egypt a spoiled child but grew to be one of the few people in the Bible that records none of his sins. His forgiveness towards his brothers is beautiful to read about.

I feel like God doesn’t want me to regret the past years of my walk with him. There were years when I was angry at him and wouldn’t speak to him. When I turned and came back to him, I could only read one verse in the Bible at a time. Slowly, I could read more and spend more time praying. I was an alcoholic during that time, for 10 years. Yet God didn’t leave me. He was always there hearing my prayers and helping me.

How do we thank a God like that? He stoops low to save us. He, himself, the God of the universe is humble. He will take us as we are. He has great patience to stay with us through all our trials and temptations. There is a song lyric, “I’m confident your faithfulness will see me through.” (Song: Confident, sung by Steffany Gretzinger)  I believe that now for myself. No wonder we will praise God in song through all eternity. 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

The Black Cloud of Depression.

I thought I’d revisit the topic of depression, since I am so closely acquainted with it. I’d been feeling happy for many months, then depression hit again. Every morning. Again. I knew it might be caused by my youngest daughter and my granddaughter leaving to live in Canmore. But I didn’t see why this sadness was lasting so long.

After a few weeks of this, I asked God about it. Before this, I had just been asking for help and quoting Scripture. That wasn’t working this time. I realized when I asked God why this was happening and why nothing was working, I should have asked him many days ago. Because God always answers my questions. Sometimes he answers right away; sometimes in days. So, I waited for an answer and kept my eyes open.

I believe I got an answer the next day. The answer came through Christian books I was reading, podcasts by Annie F. Downs, and Joyce Meyer on TV. She was the one who showed me how important it is to quote Scripture out loud. There is power in that. Evil spirits don’t stay around when the Word of God is quoted.

That morning, Joyce was speaking about depression. This is what I learned.

1. Believe God loves me. Not an easy one for me, although it is getting easier.

2. Write in a notebook every time God does something for me, be grateful and thank Him. I do thank him many times, but not daily and I don’t write it down. I thought of all the things he has done lately for my family, really important things, and felt better.

3. Believe God is working. Now I’d heard this from Joyce a few years ago and it changed the way I felt about my family. I used to worry about them and I would say this to myself, I did believe it and this brought peace. But I never used this phrase to help myself – to really believe God was working for me every day. To believe that actually helps me believe he loves me.

4. Don’t get discouraged because you have to learn and remember spiritual truths over and over. This is a big one for me, and it was by listening to interviews on Annie F. Downs’ podcast where I found a lot of Christians have found this to be true in their lives. I used to wonder, when I would learn something new that helped me, why didn’t it stick with me? Why would I keep forgetting? Why was I so dense?

Apparently, I’m not alone in this. And I suppose that is why we must read Scripture every day. God’s ways are so much higher and so different from our ways, it takes a lifetime to learn them. And I am thankful God is super patient.

 Thus, after a full day of searching for God’s answer, I believe I have found it in these four ways of living and thinking. I don’t feel depressed today, I feel blessed. Not that I am supposed to rely on my feelings, but it is truly lovely not to feel a dark cloud circling my head.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Hills and Valleys.

Mt. Carmel: Wikipedia

I listen to Annie F. Downs who has a podcast called, “That’s Sounds Fun.” I listen to her on Spotify which also has a huge library of music. Sometimes Annie has musicians on her show. When she does, I go listen to some of their songs. I’ve found many beautiful Christian music this way. Listening to songs about God makes my heart soar, and there are always good lessons in the lyrics.

One song I found recently is called, “Hills and Valleys,” sung by Tauren Wells.  It is my favorite song right now. What I find in Christian music is that I can put myself in the lyrics or I think of the people from the Bible. “Hills and Valleys” speaks to the fact we all go through highs and lows in our spiritual lives. I wish I had known that as a young Christian because then I might not have been so despairing in my low times. I thought I was a bad Christian and I just didn’t know how to live the life and have faith like other Christians.

When I first heard this song, I imagined myself on hills and going through valleys. But I’m afraid my hills aren’t very inspiring. With my psychological makeup I have been mostly slogging through valleys. So, I thought about people in the Bible. First there is Moses. He was on the mountaintop with God. He spoke face to face with God. He was given the tablets of the Ten Commandments written with God’s own finger. But then there were his valleys. He spent 40 years travelling around the desert with a bunch of people that kept complaining until he finally lost his temper and God did not appreciate it. Still, like the song says, he kept his eyes on God. He didn’t turn away. And he was a humble man He knew he didn’t get to that mountaintop on his own. It was God who made him what he was, a great man of faith, and when he was in the valley, God himself buried him.

Then there is Elijah. He was on the mountaintop with God on Mt. Carmel. He prayed and fire came down from heaven to prove God was God of the whole world and there was none other. Like the song says, he didn’t get there on his own, but that same day, Elijah became afraid and ran away from Queen Jezebel. He didn’t ask God what to do, he just ran for his life. He was in a valley. He ran for miles and miles and even told God he wanted to die. He was discouraged, but he kept his eyes on God. He ran, but he didn’t run from God and God sent an angel to help him.

Jesus. He was on a few mountaintops. He gave the Sermon on the Mount. He climbed a mountain with Peter, James and John. As he was praying, Moses and Elijah came down from heaven to talk with him about his death. He was transfigured there and became bright as the sun. But very soon after that he walked through the Kidron Valley to the Mt. of Olives, there to go through his greatest suffering. When Jesus was on mountaintops, he didn’t get there on his own either. His Father was with him. He said he did nothing without the Father. And through his valley, he kept praying and keeping his eyes on his Father who sent an angel to strengthen him.

In each of these stories, God took each one to heaven after they had gone through a valley. So, don’t be discouraged if you are going through a valley right now. One day, either here or in heaven, you will be standing on a mountaintop with God.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The Three Sisters.

Hello Everyone, I feel in my heart some things I want to share about God, so I’m going to start posting again, but not reading other blogs because of the issue with my eyes.

My youngest daughter, Christine, was living in Lethbridge, Alberta. Her husband had been transferred there and she had gotten a good job working for two surgeons. But their youngest daughter, who has OCD, became sick. Lethbridge has high winds and tornados and their daughter became so frightened she needed to leave. My daughter quit her job and went with her and they came here to Kelowna.

My son-in-law told his employers he had to move closer to Kelowna and get away from the winds.  They had wanted to move him far up north, but that just made his daughter feel worse. She missed her sisters and the city she had grown up in.

So, Christine looked for work here, not knowing what would happen. We were all praying for God to lead them where to live. I knew something good would happen. I was hoping they could all move back here, but that wasn’t the answer. After a month, the company asked if they would move to Canmore, Alberta. It is much closer to us and is near Banff, a skiing and resort area. They all met there to look around and their daughter was happy. She liked it and there are no tornados as it is at the foot of the Rockies.

Yesterday, Christine phoned me and asked if I knew there were three mountains there called, The Three Sisters. I told her I had seen them. She said, “You will never guess what the mountain’s names are. They are called, Faith, Hope and Charity.” I was astonished, because those are the names of Christine’s three girls, Faith, Hope and Cherish. I said, “It is a sign from God.” Christine said, “Yes, I know. We are right where he wants us to be.”

I do believe that whenever those mountains were named, they were named by inspiration from God so he could encourage our family in our troubles. I want to thank him and praise him for his kindness.

For those who remember my mother was sick, she is living here with us now. She has cancer, but it is slow-growing for which we are thankful. We love having here here with us.  

Saturday, 28 July 2018

The Eyes Have It.

Hello Everyone. I’m going to have to quit reading blogs.  I’m not sure for how long. I might keep posting; I'm praying about that. As I explained earlier, I was waiting for cataract surgery. It was getting hard to read on my laptop. My left eye is the worst, my right eye is much better than that one. I see now, as I sat down to write my post today that reading is even harder than before. I was also getting headaches then.

My surgery was scheduled for last month but I did not have it. It is a strange story why I didn’t. I was preparing for the operation. I was supposed to buy two kinds of eye drops from the drug store, one was an antibiotic. I had to take them three days before the operation. I went to the store 4 days before and they didn’t have that antibiotic. They needed my doctor’s permission to change to another one. It was a holiday weekend, so it was difficult. They finally got the new prescription and called me. I went and got it. I wouldn’t be able to take more than one dose before the operation because I had gotten it so late.

The night before I was to start taking it I remembered something. When I had been in Nevada 15 years ago, I had a strange, clear bump on the white of one eye. I went to a clinic and he prescribed an antibiotic. I took it at my sister’s house and immediately became weak and almost fainted. I was shocked by this. I went to the clinic the next day and told the doctor what happened. He said, “I’ve been a doctor for 25 years and I’ve never had this happen to a patient.” I guess that meant he thought I was lying. He told me they would put a drop in while I was there, so they did. It took a few minutes until I felt faint. They took my blood pressure etc. and had to put me in a bed. The doctor was shocked too.

So, here I was remembering this. I had told these doctors I wasn’t allergic to any drugs. I had just forgotten about it, but now I felt so stupid. My husband told me to just go and have the operation. I had put the other drops in for the 3 days. I had read the directions and it said not to touch the eye with my hands or anything else, even the top of the bottle. Well, the morning of the operation I decided to cut my bangs. They were way too long. I cut them and three pieces of hair fell in my bad eye. Yes, that’s right, not one but three. I had to dig them out with a tissue. So, I’m standing there wondering if God wants me to not have the operation. I said to him, “I’ll go to the hospital. If you don’t want me to have this operation, please make me get sick.”

My granddaughter, Faith, drove me to the hospital and as we were walking to the elevator I became sick. I ran to a bathroom. Afterwards, I told my granddaughter to go and tell them I couldn’t have the operation. She did.

Well, that is where I am at now. I can read on my tablet, but not my laptop. I find it difficult to read blogs on the tablet. I guess the next step should be that I get tested for allergies to different antibiotics. I did get sick last year from Macrobid. Who knows how many others? I do wish I had remembered about the eye drops sooner, but I’m very glad God stopped me from the operation. I read later that people past 60 years old sometimes die of eye antibiotics. Their hearts just stop and they can’t get them going again.

My daily life with God has been wonderful. He is the strength of my life; he is my strong tower I run to and I am safe; he is my light in darkness. How I wish everyone on earth would just give him a chance, if they would just, “taste, and see that the Lord, he is good.”