Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saving "grace"

There’s so much grace that comes to us unnoticed and unappreciated as we go through our lives. Some day in eternity, we may well be shocked at how many times “Divine intervention” has been all that has stood between us and an untimely end.

That grace was more than apparent to us today as we stood outside Camper’s Corner in Nashville, TN with two of their techs. We had driven (without incident) from the tire shop in IL to Nashville, TN. Facing a mountainous drive east, and concerned about possible hidden damage and the brake’s wiring, we made an appointment to have “The Nest” checked out.

The prognosis was not good. We found that we had absolutely no brakes on the trailer at all. The guys at the tire shop had tried to help us with the wiring, but little did they know, the wires had been literally ripped from their source.

There’s lots of good news in all this. The experts at Camper’s Corner were able to resolve the wiring problems and get us back on the road in a little under an hour. We were overjoyed to find that the brakes were back to normal and especially so as we faced some steep climbs and descents heading east. We rejoiced in HIS covering and protection and HIS provision in this another day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tripping down "Memory Lane"

After our little tour of my "roots", we headed south to Washington, IL to seek out DannyLee's "Humble Beginnings". Despite the many years that have passed since his family moved from IL to TX, he was able to find the earliest home he can remember in Creve Couer. It took him a little longer to determine the whereabouts of their later home in Washington. Lots of things change in 46 years.

To commemorate this visit to his past, he played a round of golf on the first golf course that whetted his appetite for the sport. Back in those early days, he had an 8-stroke handicap. Despite all the intervening years of practice, he was unable to best his record there. I dare not tell you his score lest I find myself walking. (Just kidding!) The highlight of his game was the little fawn that decided the presence of golfers was not enough to deter him from enjoying an afternoon snack of clover in the middle of the driving range. Very cute!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When trouble comes........

I heard this story that was an illustration of how people react when things go wrong. It likened people to being "full buckets". When something in life goes wrong, and these "full buckets" get 'bumped', what splashes out of those buckets reveals what has been kept hidden inside of our hearts.

If we are filled with HIS peace, HIS love and HIS grace, the "splashes" are painless and don't cause anyone any hurt or discomfort. If we're filled with anger or fear or anything negative, what's going to splash out is going to harm anyone within range as they lash out. With that thought, I try to pay attention in my life to what "splashes" out of my "bucket" when a crisis comes. Our little adventure here seems determined to provide lots of "bumps" in order to test my resolve in this.

One of those "bumps" came in a big way on Tuesday as we left Rose's house and resumed our journey southward to visit DannyLee's home town in central Illinois. As we came to a little town called Albany on a "glorified highway" that consisted of two lanes and not much more, one of the tires on the passenger side of "The Nest" literally exploded into pieces. I heard a strange noise and started looking around for the source only to see chunks of black and white "stuff" flying off of the side of the trailer.

I shouted to DannyLee that he had to STOP RIGHT NOW! as parts continued to fly. He managed to pull off the road as much as he was able as I leaped out to assess the damage. It was far more than we could have imagined from such an event and we focused on how to stay safe and get help. People appeared from different directions with offers of help and suggestions and within minutes we actually had a large service truck on site. He quickly changed the tire for the spare which was critical as there wasn't any shoulder on the road we were on and led us the two miles down the road to the tire repair shop.

There we were able to determine a little better how much damage "The Nest" had sustained. The blow-out took out lots of electrical wiring for lights and the brakes and ripped all of the plastic molding from around the wheel well. Fortunately, DannyLee was able to stop quickly and I stood and watched as all the air slowly leaked out of the tire lowering the trailer down onto the rim. This act of Providence saved us from damaging the rim or even worse blowing out the second tire and possibly losing the trailer completely. Our "provision" wasn't to end there however.

This blow-out made us realize that the tires on "The Nest" were not adequate. We'd asked the dealer three times about the tires and had been reassured that all was well with them. In the end, my best advice from this experience is always trust "your gut". We do wish that we had done that and replaced these tires at the get-go. Some things are better not learned from experience. We told the shop to replace all four tires on "The Nest" in the hope of preventing any future repeats of this event.

After we'd paid for the repairs and new tires, and we prepared to get back on the road, we learned another lesson about how YHWH goes before us to prepare the way. The owner of the shop, HARRY's FARM TIRE told us that 15-20 minutes prior to our arrival, the tire delivery truck had come. He delivered two of the four tires that we needed just as we needed them. The shop only had two trailer tires that morning, but as our FATHER promises, HE met our needs. We drove out of Albany on four new tires.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Another Blessed Reunion!

As our cup of blessing "runneth over", we found that HE wasn't done with us yet. We had planned this stop in IL with the intention of meeting up with my family, my friends, Holly & Edgar, and another very special family and friends that meant a great deal to me. Our schedule has been pretty tight and our planning has been very short-term so far. We hope that as time goes on, we'll get better at this.

Fortunately, HIS timing is always perfect and when HE's in charge of things, it always seems to work out. This was the case with our friends who were in Colorado when we called to check their schedule. They got back in town just in time to spend a very special evening with us as it was our hope to be able to bless them with a mini-concert in their home. HE made it all work out.

The beautiful young lady in this picture here is a testimony all unto herself. I met her and her family through Holly as I was preparing to leave for Thailand. Lily was in the second grade at that time. As I spent 11 years as a missionary in Thailand, most of my friends and family stopped writing letters to me within a couple of years. E-mails continued a bit longer, but letters took far too much time and effort for most people to fit into their busy lives and Thailand is far away.

Lily, however, made it her "mission" to write to me letters that shared with me her thoughts, her life and her "growing up" concerns". Her letters were always a welcome touch as she often reminded me of things that really matter in life. Her letters continued to the time that I moved back to the States where we briefly lost contact as we both had moved. It was a special joy to spend time with this family that had made it their business to pray for me and to do what they could to meet my needs with their limited resources. It's humbling to be in the presence of people that don't just talk about doing things for others, but get things done.

For a special treat, Rose and Ted and Lily took us out for a boat ride on the Mississippi River. It was a "first" for both of us and we thoroughly enjoyed our little tour of this mighty river. Afterwards, we headed back to their house where DannyLee entertained us with his "Johnny Cash" repetoire until Lily could be persuaded to sing us a song too. It was a wonderful time of food, fun and fellowship that we all enjoyed wholeheartedly. We look forward to the time when we can all be together again!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

May the "Circle" be unbroken!

There's something very special about reconnecting with old friends and family in your life and Sunday proved to be a day just for that. Finding Pastor Oracio and his family opened the door for DannyLee to sing a couple of his songs during the church service in the morning.

This was a very special blessing for us as this church and church family played a very important role in my life. I learned a lot here about acceptance and it was wonderful to come full circle and to once again have that feeling of acceptance as I brought my new husband to meet my old friends and they welcomed us "home". Our joy was made even greater as my Mom, my Grandma and my Aunt and Uncle came to share in the music and the celebration of HIS mercy and HIS grace in bringing us to this place.

Our day was not to end there, however, as we had a special dinner meeting planned with another very special person in my life. My dear friend, Holly joined us for a cookout at "The Nest" and we spent a wonderful evening catching up on our stories as DannyLee serenaded us and the neighbors with a selection of his favorites. What an incredibly blessed day we had!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How the "other half" lives.

Boating is one of those hobbies that never took hold in my life in a big way. I can handle a canoe or a rowboat on a nice quiet lake or a lazy river, but sailing out into the ocean or braving the "high seas" just didn't fit. That hasn't kept me from appreciating the excitement of such ventures of sailing around the world in however many days. I just never saw myself in that scenario.

On Saturday, we went to Lake Michigan to see the "nests" of the "boating crowd" as we took a walk along the shore. The range of boats from the smallest to the biggest is very wide and every turn brought another boat name to ponder. The most memorable for all the wrong reasons was the boat named "FISHFOOD" and we all agreed that this boat would not be the one for us. We can only wonder at the owner's intent on that one.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Home is where????

Thoughts of "home" are the subjects of songs, stories, and many "sappy" holiday movies. When I lived in Thailand, many people asked me if I was "homesick" or thinking of "home". I found these questions confusing as I thought of Thailand as my home when I lived there and never longed to be somewhere else. I did have the strange feeling of being homesick for Thailand during my brief travels away from Thailand while I lived there, but this was unusual for me and it ended when I came back to the States in 2008.

One thing that I did long for quite often were the foods that can only be found in the Chicago area. At the top of my list were things like deep dish pizza, gyros, and Italian beef sandwiches. I could easily remember where the "best" of all these foods were to be found. So naturally when we found ourselves driving to Waukegan to visit my family, I planned out the route to take in one of my old favorites. I tried to tease and tempt DannyLee as we drove with details on the bread, cheese and red sauce that made these sandwiches more than memorable. They're an experience not to be missed! It helped a little to distract him from the horrible traffic and road construction that hindered us at every turn.

Finally, we found ourselves at this little spot on the northside of Libertyville on Rt. 21, Slot's Hots. This has always been one of my favorite places to grab an Italian beef with cheese and red sauce and I could only hope and pray as we drove that it was still there and still good. My hopes were not disappointed as we feasted on sandwiches that were just as wonderful as I remembered them. DannyLee forgave me for torturing him and enjoyed this special treat with me.

Afterwards, we headed north to Gurnee to take a short trip down "Memory Lane" and visit my house and church from my pre-Thailand life. This proved to be a bit more of a challenge than getting to Libertyville had been. The main roads were all under construction and my memory blurred with every detour. I couldn't find my old house! We drove around and around and around and slowly it started to come back to me. Finally we found it and the owner was sitting out front having a garage sale. We greeted him and his family and I told him my little part of his house's history. He told me all that had transpired since I left and we once again headed north to see the little church that held a special place in my life.

As we neared the church, we saw a "church sale" sign on the corner. That helped me to know I was on the right street. As we drove past the church, I noted with great surprise the name that was hanging in the front window of the house - Oracio's. I wondered why my old pastor's name was hanging there as he and his family had moved to Ohio while I was in Thailand. We pulled into the parking lot and I was staring at the people outside trying to puzzle this out when I saw the Pastor's wife, Ruth. I leapt out of the truck yelling like a crazy person. There was excitement all around as their story unfolded for I never expected to find them back in IL. I didn't even dare hope that I would get to see them again and yet here we all were back together in this little place. As we filled in the blanks in our stories, our hearts were lifted with joy at this special turn of events that only HE could have orchestrated in this place.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Crossing the "Great Divide" aka the Mississippi River!

For whatever HIS reasons, crossing the Mississippi River somehow presented itself as a hurdle to be faced. Our resolve to walk forward with HIM had been clearly tested in the weeks before and we felt strengthened in our commitment to go ahead with HIM leading our way. Crossing the bridge would show far more than we could know or understand on this day.

As we left Minneapolis and headed south, we found ourselves eagerly looking ahead to what lay before us, east of the Great River. As we reached the bridge at La Crosse, WI, I started to cry with a mixture of relief and joy that we had made it through all that had gone before and were entering into a new chapter of this journey. Little did we know the surprises that were already lined up for us in the next few days. What an awesome and loving FATHER we have in YHWH!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Signs, Signs, Everywhere are Signs!

Y'shua's disciples asked HIM what would be the signs that they should look for concerning HIS return. HIS answer is found in Matthew chapter 24 and many have attempted to fit HIS Words into some sort of historical time frame. I've heard it said that there are more people alive today that believe that this generation we're in now is the last generation prophesied before HIS return as KING of KINGS. We are people that believe that this is the last generation and we live our lives with the hope that we can help people to prepare for what lies between us and HIS glorious return as outlined in the Book of Revelation.

This is no easy task as the enemy has spent the time since Y'shua's death and resurrection creating enough lies, confusion and basic misinformation to keep most people in the dark. Y'shua rebuked HIS disciples saying that they were able to read the signs of weather, planting, harvesting and other such things, but they were ignorant of the signs of the times they lived in. That ignorance persists today with the majority of believers having accepted the lie that we can't know anything about the timing of HIS return. The Scriptures tell a different story and as we try to share them with the people that we love, we find that most aren't interested in having this event as a part of their lifetime. How grieved our Messiah must be as HE longs to be rejoined with HIS Bride.

We found this little "Jackson" sign in Garden City, MN. Good luck finding that little blip on a map! It seems that our "Jackson" theme is more interested in following us than we are. We drove past Jackson, S.D. and Jackson, MN on our way here with little more than passing interest.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cowboy or Farmer?

There was no shortage of "old things" to take pictures of in Minnesota. From old tractors to log cabins to vintage cars, we saw many such things in the 10-mile drive to find ice. I couldn't convince my "cowboy" to make like a farmer and sit on the tractor seat for a picture so I settled for this. He absolutely drew the line at going into the yard where this car was parked for a personalized picture of it so what can I say, "We were there!"

Monday, August 10, 2009

Old Friends, but not Forgotten!

In Garden City, MN we found this campground far off of every "beaten path" courtesy of our Passport America membership. DannyLee originally thought it was about 60 miles from Minneapolis, but that 60 turned into over 100 miles as we drove as fast as we could to meet up with one of his oldest friends and his wife.

DannyLee and his friend, Don were licensed as Southern Baptist ministers back in 1970 on the same day, in the same church. They ministered together as Pastor and Minister of Music for a couple of years or so before their lives diverged in different directions. Although they've taken different paths, their love of YHWH and their desire to serve HIM have not diminished over all the intervening years. We spent a fun evening catching up on the things that YHWH has done in our lives before heading back to "The Nest".

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Fresh Start (or should I say re-Start?)

Today we left Nebraska and pointed ourselves east with a slight northerly lean as we headed towards Minneapolis to meet up with a couple of DannyLee's oldest friends and I'm not referring to their age, but to the length of this friendship.

We passed through miles and miles and miles of South Dakota's vast, empty expanse seeing lots of Harley Davidson motorcycles along the way. We're not sure what motorcycle rally was ongoing or breaking up at that time, but there were plenty of riders and bikes to admire.

I took this picture trying to be funny like he's wearing a funny beanie hat with a VERY LARGE twirly thingie on top, but he wasn't tall enough to make the connection. We made it to Souix Falls, S.D. by evening and stopped in at the local Wal-mart for the night.

We've encountered a new technical problem with "The Nest" and one of it's "feet". It seems that it took a hit when we dropped the trailer in Oregon and the brackets and bolts are quite mutilated. We had to completely disassemble the whole thing to get it off the ground when we left Nebraska. We were able to find the parts we needed and have been able to resolve this for now. We'll be looking into making a more "beautiful" repair a little further on down the road.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Weathering the "storms" of life

Yesterday, we spent several pleasant hours examining this week's Torah portion and other related Scriptures. As we studied Moses' words to the people, not only of his generation, but words that extend to all those that live in this, the last generation as well, our hearts were lifted up with joy to hear HIS message as clear as it was in the day that Moshe delivered it. Having grown up in the traditions of dead religion, it is clearly a delight (Psalm 119) to cast off the bonds of human logic and false teaching and come back to the very foundations of The Gospel. We find ourselves constantly falling back in love with our first love - The Living Word Himself,
Y'shua Ha'maschiach.

The evening brought us a storm that rocked our little "Nest" with howling winds that whistled across the vast Plains. Lightening flashed and thunder growled as we sat snugly in the midst of it all confident in HIS protection. Our little green friend here appears to be refreshed by his (?) rather violent shower and his feet remain firmly lashed to his foundation. I'm reminded of the safety that comes from being fully rooted and grounded in the foundation of HIS Torah. This has definately changed our lives for the better.

Today we drove to the nearest "large" town in search of a supermarket to restock our food supplies. As we pushed our empty cart up and down the aisles of a Safeway, we both reeled with sticker shock at the prices on the most basic foodstuffs. We're not fancy eaters and are happy enough to eat fairly simple food like hot dogs, spaghetti and such, but the prices of things like cookies, chips and cereal seemed outrageous. I realize part of my problem is the 11-year gap of having lived abroad has caused me to miss the slow rise of prices, but I can't help wondering how people are able to put food on the table at all these days.

We did have one funny moment that caused us to laugh and laugh. We had worked out some menu options and headed back to the meat counter to see if we could afford to get some hamburger. We were only hoping for a little bit to "beef" up the spaghetti not expecting to get much. DannyLee was walking ahead of me and had stopped in front of some small packages to check the price. As I followed him, I suddenly noticed one of those 3-pound rolls of hamburger literally rolling right towards me. It definately caught my attention as it had no apparent reason to be moving at all. I checked the price and found that it was on clearance for a $1 a pound. Angels at work in the supermarket..............................hmmmm! Yes, we are blessed!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hanging out "tractor-style" in Nebraska

Needing a break from the hectic pace of the last couple of months, we decided to find a quiet place to retreat and re-examine our resolve to follow HIM in all of HIS ways. We don't consider this to be a lack of faith on our part, but we find it is a necessary part of our walk with HIM. It's easy to let discouragement creep in or to get "off-focus" when the ways of the world are constantly trying to beat us down. HE tells us to "be still and know HIM" (my paraphrase) and we find there's great wisdom in doing this as often as we can. It keeps all the efforts of the enemy and those he uses to attack us in perspective. When YHWH is for you, who can stand against you?

Our place of retreat is a tiny little roadside RV park in a town barely big enough to have a post office with a main street less than a 1/2 mile long. It's just right for us and for our needs, however, and we enjoy the tractors and other various kinds of farm equipment that parades past our "Nest" each day. There are a couple of cows and lots of outbuildings but no actual staff assigned to watch over this venture. We simply showed up one day, picked up an envelope of instructions and parked ourselves right in the middle of this field. Payment is on the "honor system" and every morning the spaces around us empty as people get back on the road.

Each day, people pull in and park their rigs here and there, filling out their envelopes and taking a short break from their travels before heading out again. This evening we find ourselves surrounded by a bevy of Class A's on every side. They started pulling in and parking early in the day and by evening, there were 6 or 7 parked for the night. As the lone fifth-wheel, we're feeling a bit small tonight. We'll welcome the Shabbat in the midst of all of this somewhere in Nebraska knowing that HE knows right where we are, amen?

Today we faced a bit of a puzzle as we ran out of LP gas for the first time ever. We were able to determine clearly that our tanks were empty, but we weren't exactly sure why. We have two tanks and we had thought that we would use up one tank and then switch to the other and use it up. We haven't had to switch to the second tank as of yet, so we were surprised today when making the switch to find there was nothing to switch to.

A trip to the little "mom and pop" grocery store found us hesitantly asking if there was a way to get LP gas out here. With a bemused look (probably wondering at where we'd wandered in from), we were told to walk to the gas station 2 doors down and just get some more there. Hmm...............could anything really be that easy??? It was just that easy and the man from the gas station hopped into his propane truck and drove right over to "The Nest" and filled us back up. We then had to go back to the gas station when he was done to settle our bill and the problem was solved. We were relieved to have overcome another "hurdle" without making some sort of mess or breaking something else.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Captivated by Colorado

Having been "on the road" for nearly two months, it's somehow strange to realize that we've spent 25 days of that time in Colorado. It wasn't our intention to spend that much time in this particular state, but circumstances will have their way with us. We spent 10 days west of the Rockies and after our jaunt to Montana, we spent 15 days east of the Rockies.

We did find some time to enjoy the Rocky Mountain National Park. We took a drive up into the mountains where we saw the briefest of snow showers that turned into manic rain by the time we'd beaten a path back to "The Nest". Most of our time here, however, was spent on far less leisurely activities and we are taking a brief respite from our hectic pace.

Today we set our backs to the Rockies and headed north and east in our quest to reach the Atlantic Ocean before it starts getting really cold. We've got some stops planned along the way before we see the sea, but time marches quickly and seems to be moving ever faster as end time events continue to press us forward to the end of The Book. Our efforts to share our thoughts in this have been met with polite apathy for the most part. For most people out here on the road life goes on as usual and there's nothing to indicate anything is amiss to those attuned to the media's world view. "As in the days of Noah..."