Almost a year ago to the day we were preparing for Hurricane Florence. Today, it’s Hurricane Dorian. It’s hard to think about storm preparations when the destruction from Florence is still so fresh. Many people haven’t even returned to their homes yet, or just recently have. Tarps still cover many roofs around Wilmington. Downed trees and yard waste are still waiting to be hauled away. But we do what we have to do. And so, once again in just under a year, schools and businesses are closed; grocery stores are crowded and out of bread; gas stations are out of gas, homes are boarded up, evacuations are underway, and anxiety levels are high. And once again I lift my prayers to all who are in the path of this storm and especially to the people in the Bahamas who got the worst of it and are now dealing with the aftermath. May God have mercy on us all and fill us with a little extra grace.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. (Psalm 57:1)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3)

Advertisements

I am fascinated with sea glass. It started when I began making jewelry. My walks on the beach turned into a mission to find sea glass, or rather, inventory for my small jewelry business. But it’s not all about inventory anymore. On the beach at Pine Knoll Shores I found part of a Pepsi-Cola bottle. (The picture speaks for itself.) Last year on Hatteras Island I found a rare piece that I believe was once part of an old Clorox bottle. Hatteras seems to be the place for rare and interesting finds. This year I found a piece of cobalt blue glass – the color is rare in itself which also made it easier to spot. The piece has four legible letters: RE, MD. And so I researched it. I learned the letters are actually part of “Baltimore, MD” and the glass originated as a Bromo-Seltzer bottle from the Emerson Drug Company, Baltimore, MD. The year of this piece is questionable, but after looking at pictures of Bromo-Seltzer bottles on various websites, and considering the condition of the glass, my best guess is that this piece is circa 1940 to 1950.

https://www.glassbottlemarks.com/bromo-seltzer-cobalt-blue-bottles/

 

Hatteras Clorox Bottle 4May 2018: I found this piece of sea glass on Hatteras Island last week. The letters “OX” are more obvious, but if you look very closely, the smaller letters “LOR” can be seen underneath the “OX”. As I thought about the letters and what this piece of glass may have originally been, Clorox Bleach was the first thing that came to mind. After researching the history of Clorox Bleach bottles, I learned that it did, in fact, come in amber glass bottles beginning in 1918. Over the years the shape and size of the bottle changed. Comparing the pictures I found to the lettering on this piece of glass, I would estimate that this piece was circa 1945. Seventy-three years later it washed up on the beach at Hatteras Island.
https://www.thecloroxcompany.com/…/our-herita…/bottle-guide/

wierd-kind-of-peaceMany of us have been impacted by Hurricane Matthew and will remain affected by it for years to come.  The morning after the storm the sun was shining in the bluest of skies. The sounds of wind and rain were replaced with the sounds of generators and chain saws – a typical scenario following a hurricane.

Being without electricity for several days made me have to stop and re-think how I was going to accomplish my basic needs.  But it also made me slow down and at times, to stop completely. I raced through my days trying to do as much as possible before daylight faded and I would be forced to spend my evenings in darkness with just a flashlight to maneuver my way around the house. It was in the silence of the darkness that I found my surroundings strangely peaceful. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to do anything, I didn’t have to drive anywhere, there was no TV or internet to distract me, and I especially enjoyed not hearing the phone ring. God certainly has a way of getting our attention.

The electricity has been restored and now I find myself surrounded by devastation, not peace.  Roads have collapsed, homes and businesses have been wiped out, cars have been swept away, and lives have been lost. Even after personally seeing the damage and then seeing pictures of other areas destroyed by the storm, I still find myself questioning what I am seeing. Could this be real? How could so much widespread damage be caused in such a short period of time? I am truly thankful our house was spared and for the inconvenience of no electricity for a few days.  But I also recognize that so many others were not so fortunate. The storm left a hole in my heart. My prayers go out to those who have lost homes, businesses, and family members who perished in the floods. The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

Perseverance“…and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NRSV)

I woke up to an absolutely beautiful day – sunny, but cooler, and perfect for running.  It’s been a while since I ran so it didn’t take long for me to realize how out of shape I am. My legs were feeling the strain and I think I actually heard them telling me to have mercy on them and walk for a while. Trying not to get distracted or discouraged, I concentrated on my high-powered, Jesus running music and this scripture from Hebrews came to mind. As I forced myself to continue I imagined Jesus standing just ahead waiting for me. He didn’t have a stop-watch, just arms open wide and encouraging me to press on – to finish what I started, which for today, was a two-mile run, an easy and realistic goal in the broad scheme of things. I completed the two miles. Probably my worse time yet. But it wasn’t about the time. It was about perseverance.  I could have easily stopped and walked the rest of the way home, but that’s not what Jesus wanted me do.

Perseverance has taken on a whole new meaning for me this year. When I refocused my run from a two-mile cardio to running to Jesus, not only did the running become easier, but I realized that while I’m working my way through the challenges I currently face, I often let destructive thoughts of self-pity and resentment creep their way into my mind and prevent me from seeing Jesus in my circumstances. We will always be faced with changes and challenges in our lives. Some are more difficult than others, but Jesus will always be right there waving us to the finish line.

Eugene Peterson says it best in his translation of this same scripture: “…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! (Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message)

Grace and peace, my friends!

This morning I settled back with a cup a coffee, enjoying a moment of peace, and asked God to speak to me. I picked up Jesus Calling by Sarah Young and here is what God had to say:

Jesus Calling 4-25-16

No truer words could have been said to me today. That’s just how God works. I especially love the analogy of how a spinning ballerina needs to return her eyes to a given point to maintain balance; so must we fix our eyes on Jesus to maintain balance. I certainly do not have the grace of a ballerina – except one that is spinning out of control – which is exactly how I’ve felt lately. I’m sure many of you know that feeling and would agree that it’s not good. My prayer today for you and me, is that we will give God the chaos in our lives and leave it with Him. He knows what to do with it! May your day be filled with God’s grace and peace!

“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” (Genesis 12:1)

The United Methodist Church uses the practice of itinerating pastors. No one is exempt – if the Bishop and his/her Cabinet decide to appoint you to a new church, you go. These decisions are prayerfully made by imperfect people who serve a perfect God. Many of you know my husband is a pastor in The United Methodist Church, and it is with bittersweet feelings I share with you that he has been appointed to another church.

Receiving the call made me think of Abraham and Sarah and how they must have felt when God called them to pack up and leave. They had no idea where they were going – just “to the land that I will show you.” But they went, fully trusting that God was with them and would give them direction along the way. At least we were given an address to go to.

Aside from the actual moving part, we are excited about this new opportunity. Although change brings challenges, we know that we can’t grow if we don’t change. Joyce Meyer once said, “Don’t be afraid of changing; be more afraid of staying the same.”  We look forward to what God has planned for us as we begin this new chapter in our lives.

 

 

Uplifting Grace Oct 2015

Earlier this fall we spent a week on Hatteras Island. As many of you know, this area is well known for its historical lighthouses, fishing, hang-gliding, and a multitude of water sports. But there is another activity that occurs at Hatteras Island that catches my attention every time I go there – flying kites on the beach. It’s almost as popular as surf-fishing. Maybe that’s because it’s one of the few places that usually has sufficient winds to uphold a kite for hours at a time.

We sat on the deck of our rental house one evening and watched several kites suspended in mid-air, maintaining their altitude thanks to the steady winds. The kites flew gracefully out over the ocean, sometimes dipping but then soaring right back up as the wind caught their fall. For a fleeting moment, I wondered what it would be like to hang-glide and soar through the sky like those kites.

The wind that upholds kites is very similar to how God’s grace upholds us. You can’t see the wind, but you know it’s there because you can feel it; the same is true with God’s grace. We can feel it, because with His grace comes strength, joy and peace. Like the wind, God’s grace is bigger than anything we can imagine. It catches us when we start to fall and sustains us no matter where we are and no matter what challenges we are facing. It is only by the power of His grace that we are able to endure tough times or do what seems impossible. The wind is sufficient for a kite; God’s grace is sufficient for us. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”… For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Divine MajestyThe last day of vacation is the pits. After a couple months of planning with excitement and   great anticipation – BOOM – it’s over. Just like that. Our week at the beach came to an end and the “real” world was waiting for us.

It was a great week. We were surrounded by the work of God’s hand, immersed in His abundant grace and peace. The ocean itself is an amazing phenomenon with the rhythm of the surf, the tides, and the waves crashing on the beach. Looking up to the heavens I saw the fullness of the majesty and glory of God’s creation –the patterns of the clouds and bright sunlight during the day; the moon and the stars at night.

It felt sad to leave this beautiful place and even though this year’s vacation is over, God’s abundant grace and peace certainly are not, and we are still surrounded by His glory – the birds, trees, fields of wildflowers, and gentle breezes. His glory is everywhere! Fall is here and soon the leaves will be changing colors – just another example of God’s majesty. “O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Reading through my journal I came across some notes I had taken a couple years ago while watching Joyce Meyer’s “Enjoying Everyday Life”. She was presenting a two-part series entitled “Your Words Affect Your Future.” I remember watching this program during a time when I was feeling especially down and uncertain about my future. I felt stuck where I was, and my negative thoughts convinced me that I would never again be happy. 

The notes I took were these: “You’ll never progress beyond your own opinion of yourself.”; “If you’re going to talk to yourself, you might as well say something that’s worth hearing!”; and “Believe that God has a plan for you.”

Feeling convicted, I realized the crippling effect my attitude was having on me and those around me.  I knew I needed to get a grip…quickly! Taking her advice, instead of speaking negative thoughts into my life I turned on some serious positive self-talk and wrote down the desires of my heart.  A few days ago, as I reviewed my short list, I was delighted, and humbled to see that during these past two years, three of the four did indeed happen.

Apparently I had Chinese food for lunch that day because in my journal, taped next to my notes was a fortune cookie fortune that read, “Your secret desire to completely change your life will manifest.”  Coincidence? I doubt it.

Thank you, Joyce Meyer, for your wisdom and encouraging thoughts.

Advertisements