Saturday, December 15, 2012

Prayers......Today in light of the horrendous loss of innocent lives in Newtown, CT I offer my prayers for everyone affected by this act of violence. I know that there is no comfort for those who have lost loved ones especially during this time of year. But dear Father I pray that they will feel the comfort and presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of their despair. May with passing of much time their tears of remembering their loved ones will be turned into smiles of remembering. Only You, Heavenly Father can do this. Amen

Tomorrow we will light the candle of joy for advent (the waiting for the coming of the baby Jesus as well as waiting for His second coming). I thought about joy and thought that against so much violence, it seemed hard to grasp. But then I remembered that this joy is not the immediate emotion attached to any certain circumstance. Instead it is an eternal joy that "is" because Jesus was born on this earth in humanity and walked among us. "This will be a sign to you; the virgin will give birth to a son and He will be called Immanuel, God with us." So in the midst of our despair we have a Savior who knows deep sorrow. But because He walked this tattered earth in the clothes of tattered humanity, He brought to the earth the eternal joy; that is Jesus was, Jesus is, and Jesus will be. And because of the plan that He was obedient to, we have the hope of a reunion day with all those followers who have gone before us. In that day the Word promises us He will wipe away all tears and take away our pain and in that day we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.

Immanuel, God with us, we pray together as your people for hope and comfort for all those who are mourning not only in Newtown but throughout our world during this season of Christmas.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent.....Christmas moments. Advent is the waiting for the coming of the Baby Jesus and the waiting for His second coming. I love Advent. Today was the second Sunday of Advent and our church looks more and more like Christmas each Sunday. Today we lit the second candle of Advent which was the candle of peace. Jon preached on John the Baptist and the peace of God "which passes all understanding."

I have found that the peace that the angels spoke of to the shepherds so long ago, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.....And the angel was accompanied by a multitude of Heavenly Host praising God and saying peace on earth and goodwill to mankind," often comes to me in little moments. Yesterday after participating in "Christmas in Marble," I sat down with a cup of coffee and three homemade chocolate chip cookies. The Christmas music was playing. Suddenly I was aware of a Heavenly Host within me. The taste of the coffee, the warmth of the cup within my hands, the melting of the chocolate chips in my mouth, the sound of the    music, the quiet of the house and there the Holy Spirit filled my being and Christmas was.

We have had very little snow so far this year. We are in desperate need of snow to restore our moisture. Last night it arrived silently. This morning I was up at dawn shoveling snow off the decks. The church gazebo still had the Christmas lights on and the snow was reflecting the light. It was magical. I looked around at the giant spruce trees and saw them wearing their mantle of snow with such grace and dignity. How could anyone doubt the presence of God with such majesty all around. I was filled with the breath of God and Christmas was.

This world is in such strife with so many experiencing the violence of war. It is easy to forget the peace that God offers us. It is a peace that exists within our hearts even in the midst of war. It is that peace that His son gives "not as the world gives," even in the midst of sickness and sorrow. It is there for us in moments to remind us that we are not alone. It comes to me often in little moments that are unexpected. Yet each time the fullness of it brings tears of joy.

As the sun dropped behind the mountains this afternoon and the Spruce tree that Jon put lights on just outside the church came on and its branches held proudly the snow, I breathed in the cold crisp air and Christmas was.....

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A new sound....When you reach the age that I am, and I am not really saying what that is, you do not realize that there may be new sounds out there that you have never before heard. I know that is a sort of arrogant assumption to believe that there are no new sounds out in God's great world to hear. But to be honest with you before today I had never thought about it.

After a great worship service
in our Marble Community Church, Jon and I took our yellow lab, Starbuck (yes that is her name and yes I do like coffee very very much), for a walk down to Beaver Lake. It was a relatively warm day and the surrounding mountains with their blankets of snow were magnificent! There was a gentle refreshing breeze and that is what created the sound. Beaver Lake has a very thin fragile cover of ice on it which is cracked in many places. The breeze stirred the thin ice and this most unusual sound was created. I stopped in my tracks and looked around for what was causing the sound. Jon, being from South Dakota and much use to frozen country, explained to me, a southerner, what the sound was.

I was so amazed that I got as low to the lake as I could on its very edge perched on a rock and listened. It was a sort of music in its own way. There was no traffic (after all it is winter in Marble) and no other distracting human made noises so that I could clearly hear this mysterious sound from nature. It was not so different from the "still small voice" that the scripture speaks of. My excitement was that I had heard a new sound, one that I had never heard before. How many new sounds are out there to be heard if only we stop to listen!

It is my prayer that I will have "ears that hear" and "eyes that see." It is my prayer that I can hear and be excited by the still small voice that is so willing to speak to a soul that is ready to listen. It is my prayer that I will always be ready to listen even if that voice speaks in a way that I have never before heard!

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him....." Psalm 37:7

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Another Year....Jon and I have been at the Marble Church for a little over a year. October 11 was our first year anniversary. The first year was a time for us to determine if God truly wanted us here and to give the church a chance to see if they truly wanted us as well. It goes both ways you know. Well the church officially offered us a chance to continue to serve them.

Jon recently asked me, "What have you liked most about being here in this remote location for the past year?" After all living between two wilderness areas is a bit different than what we have experienced in the past. I gave the question some thought. Then it came to me. I responded,"It's like I was seeing all things new and for the first time in quite a while like you would as a child!" From the little white historical church and the lovely people inside to the breathtaking scenery all around us.

Seeing my first full moon at 8000 feet; I remember twirling around in the middle of the dirt road in front of my house like a little girl. Did I say I was in my pjs? Hiking in the back country; we would hike into an open Alpine meadow with majestic peaks all around and I would break out singing "The Sound of Music." Feeling the intensity of the sun against the bright clear blue skies of this altitude reflecting off the crystalin snow, was invigorating! Then you know how I felt about our bears; photographing them in my night gown in the early morning, screaming at Little Bear through the door to get off the deck. Yes I have seen things and done things through fresh eyes, through childlike eyes.

I seem to remember as Jon has preached many times that our Lord said that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps as I have experienced these new sights and sounds my soul has reached back to touch the child spirit deep within. I certainly pray so. Can I hold on to the newness? Can I keep at bay the tendency of life to often paint our daily lives in less vibrancy? I certainly pray so. I want to have the kind of childlike heart that runs, dances, and lives the Kingdom of Heaven! I certainly pray it will be so!

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." II Corinthians 5:17

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Marble Community Church
Dear Father in Heaven, I pray for all your creation suffering from the horrendous storm. You know where all of your people are and what they need at this time. May they feel your mercy, your comfort, and your grace. May you help the workers who are trying to restore power. May you guide those who are still rescuing those in trouble. Be with all the first responders as they see the devastation and as they work long hours to make things better for all those who have been impacted. In Jesus name I pray.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, I along with my hiking buddy and another visiting retired Air Force Chaplain, took on the trail to the first summit of the four summit Treasure Mountain. We had gone to just below that summit before. But this time I was determined to get to the top of the first summit at 12, 257 ft.

Once at the spot we had reached before, I looked for a path up the last
100-200 ft. I could not spot a trail so I started scrambling up. The Chaplain friend that was with us followed me and my buddy stayed put (she is not big into scrambling up mountains without a trail).

I started up a boulder scree field. A scree field is made up of loose material instead of "steadfast" material. My Chaplain friend started up on tundra with sure footing. Now you tell me which one of us was smarter!!!

Being on LOOSE boulders I started having trouble with my footing and was in a "slippery" situation!! I had three options: 1. slide down on my behind, 2. get up the mountain somehow unscathed or 3. slide uncontrollably down on my belly. Now you tell me which you would choose.

I was determined to make it up if at all possible. My chaplain friend came to my aid. He came prepared. He had a strong small rope. He took off his belt and tied the rope to it, braced himself around a boulder and lowered the rope to me. This allowed me to make it to the next boulder to stablelize myself. He did this twice until we both could scramble up.

I wonder just how many times God has lowered a rope to me to help me out of situations that I had some how created myself?

Once on top we had a 360 degree panoramic majestic view of the mountain ranges all around us. It was breathtaking! On the very top there was a small cairn (this is a pile of rocks built by people to mark trails or to say that they too have been there). I gathered some rocks to add to the cairn. As I built up the small cairn I prayed this prayer: Father, Abraham, Issac, and the saints of old built alters to You to honor You and today I continue that tradition. I praise You for Your majestic handy work! I praise You that I am here to see Your work. The Spirit began to pray through me and it was a very sacred moment that I will long remember.

We began our descent. We yelled down at our buddy who stayed below to see if she could spot a good way down. She pointed to our right. We looked over and saw a washed out but visible trail down. We both were able to walk down on sure footing. The thing is that if we had spotted that section before our climb, we could have walked right up! We just had to laugh. Once we joined our friend, we asked her why she didn't follow us up. She responded that she thought that at least one of us should be prudent! You've got to love it!

"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.' He was afraid and said, ' How awesome is this place!' This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.' Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel ......Genesis 28; 16-18

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Little Bear was trapped and caught this week. I am so very sad about that. Little Bear was the smaller Bear that I have the picture of. He was yearling ( a year or so old). He did not really know how to be a bear.

He made a visit to my deck one night as I was preparing for bed. I heard him in the recycling. I ran to the back door (again in my night gown), screamed bloody murder for Jon who was
already in bed. It scared Little Bear and he looked up and we were staring at each other through the glass in the door. I ran to get the air horn and set it off in the house because Little Bear was too close to the door to open it. Jon came running ( I am glad to add in his underwear, did I mention he was in bed) yelling, "What on earth are you doing?"

Then he saw Little Bear and knew the answer. Marble's young bear turned around and scampered down the deck stairs. Needless to say the recycling is no longer on the deck. But it was the last time that I saw Little Bear. Someone called him in to the Dept. of Wildlife. They trapped him. :-( Some say that they will tag him and when he gets the third tag he will be killed. Others say he will be killed right away. I do not know for sure what his fate will be. We here in this small mountain village live in his territory not the other way around. I hope things go well for you Little Bear. You were only being a bear!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

LET US NOT FORGET.........I recently visited my family back in NC. I flew back home out of Raleigh, NC. As I was waiting for the boarding of the plane, I sat by a young little Army Captain. I say young and little because SHE was both. She was of Asian descent and had that tiny little frame. She was dressed in her battle fatigues and had her Army back pack with her. My mind wondered about her stories; where was she going and what had she already been through as an officer serving during war time.

Then her phone rang. She took it out of the pocket in her sleeve. You see, military uniforms have all sorts of pockets for all the little items that need to be with the member wherever they go. She answered the phone and said, "Hi honey, are you already home?" I could tell from her response that her loved one had not made it back to Fort Bragg but still had unfinished words or perhaps a longing to hear her voice again before she flew off. She told him that she missed him already and that she loved him. I can only imagine the words that he was speaking.

A young man sitting across from us, about my son's age, addressed her in the respect that the military teaches its own, Ma'am, where are you headed? Then came her response.....Afghanistan...... This tiny Army Captain with all the responsibilities of a war time officer was going to the war zone. The young man answered that he had just returned from a deployment from the United Arab Emirates. Two soldiers still serving our country..... Let us not forget!

I asked her if she was just beginning her deployment. She responded no that she had just been home for her allowed visit. I asked her if she was at her half way point in her deployment? Her answer was no, that she had waited further into her stint so that when she went back she would only have 3 1/2 months left. She told me that her husband was also in the Army and they had been saying their final goodbyes over the phone. LET US NOT FORGET!

I told her that my husband had just retired from the Air Force Chaplaincy. And we shared more. She told me of the time that both her and her husband were deployed. They had custody of his children from a former marriage and that they had to send the 2 children and all their pets to his first wife while being deployed. The first wife was now married to a person in the Navy and that he was also deployed. So she did what military families do, took on the responsibility of children and pets while all their loved ones were serving in harms way! Let us not forget.....families are sacrificing every single day for the freedom of this country!!!!

The young man began to share in that way that only youth can that he had a tendency to get into trouble on deployments if he did not stay busy. The small Army Captain took on her role as a leader and encouraged him not not to do so. I stepped in and added "As a mother and a former Chaplain's wife I also encourage you to do what is right. If you get bored and feel as if you might do something foolish go hang out with the chaplains. Believe me you will not regret serving well."

He surprised me by saying that he hung out with the chaplains often and even played an instrument in the praise and worship band. I cheered him on, thinking of the age of my own son. We ask so much out of these very young people who serve our nation. Let us not forget.

The boarding of our plane was announced. With a full heart I thanked the Army Captain for her service and her tremendous sacrifice! She surprised me by thanking me for my years of service for serving with my husband. She went her way, into harms way, and I went my way back to our little church in Marble. As I go about my business, as you go about your business, people are still serving in far flung places because their country asks it of them!! PLEASE AMERICA, LET US NOT FORGET!!!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I salute all of you and your families who have sacrificed so much!!!
Thank You will never be adequate for the debt of gratitude owed... ♥ chaps