Do You Know What You’re Doing, Lord?

Do You Know What You're Doing, Lord?Do you ever wonder what God is doing…and if He even knows what he’s doing? While visiting Jon and Linda to help out with their new baby, they held a big breakfast/ prayer meeting in their home to pray for the beginning of the school year…and really needs all around the world. While there, I met Carol Lee Anderson, who wrote “a jungle journey in search of God” called Do You Know What You’re Doing, Lord? She and her husband, Neil, were missionaries for 34 years with Wycliffe, translating the Bible into the Folopa language for former cannibals in the jungles of Papau New Guinea…and learning how to love and minister to the needs of these people in numerous practical ways as well. Along the way, they had all sorts of adventures, including Carol’s developing a reaction to malaria medicine that almost killed her and plenty of encounters with “all spiders, great and small,” etc. In fact, they seemed to experience just about every imaginable scenario of raw life among a very remote tribe of precious but wild and woolly people.

Carol speaks with transparent candor and a wisdom only possible after you’ve “lived through the war” (so to speak) and have survived with grace rather than bitterness. Still, she’s retained great clarity of memory and openly describes her failures and flounderings along the way as she struggled to live out what she believed to be God’s call in her life. Or…was it?? Or, was she mistaken? Or, did He really know what he was doing? Carol deals very effectively with the inevitable doubts that come to those who attempt to follow God by doing those impossibly difficult tasks that can only be done through supernatural grace.

I think this book would be especially valuable to anyone considering the mission field, but I also found it inspirational reading for myself. Missionaries are sort of like the marines of Christian living, although rather than “the few, the proud, and the brave,” they are “the few, the humble, and the brave.” Thank you to every Christian missionary who leaves home and family to carry the love of Christ to others. May you be blessed, safe, and live to continue ministering to others even into older age, as Carol and Niel are continuing to do.

And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).


From Jane’s Inkwell: Coping with Tragedy

This morning I had no inspiration and no time to write. That hardly ever happens to me, but I decided it must of God so didn’t fret as the hours slipped by. I appreciated the special privilege of encouraging a friend just back from the doctor’s office.

However, a few minutes ago, I saw this post from my dear friend Jane, and it struck me that God wants her story shared today! So, with her permission but without further ado:

Choose to be a Shining Star“Three years ago while at one of my favorite vacation spots, a horse ran over me. That’s all I’m going to say about the place, the event, and the accident that changed my life forever. I made a choice then. I make the same choice every day. I will not let this discourage me, will not allow depression to touch me, and will trust God in the dark for what he promised in the light. I went from healthy to broken in under 60 seconds.

“When I felt the sting on my head and heard scraping against the pavement, I remember thinking, “This is going to hurt tomorrow.” Then I was in and out of consciousness while emergency first responders saved my life. My head was hurt, my right lung was crushed my shoulder blade was broken and I had a herniated disk in my neck. This was not at all how I envisioned our last weekend of the summer.

“I was caught by surprise, but nothing catches God by surprise. I’m one small piece of the puzzle in God’s grand design, but we all know what happens when one tiny piece of a puzzle gets lost. Apparently God isn’t finished with me yet. I’m still living my puzzle piece.

“After just eleven days in the hospital, a patient advocate came to my room and said she had some news that might not seem good to me. Mystified, I asked, “What is it?” Apologetically she said she was sorry to tell me I wasn’t going to qualify to go to a rehab facility because I was functioning at a level that disqualified me. If you can just imagine the conversation. Me with a blank stare and her with apprehension. “Are you kidding me? If there is one thing I don’t want to qualify for, it’s rehab.” I still had a chest tube and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, but once I was able to be rid of that, I would be allowed to go home.

“Thirteen days after laying on the ground unable to breathe and thinking, “I could die from this,” I was on my way home. The medical attendants and doctors at McLaren Hospital in Petoskey were phenomenal. I was touched one afternoon when an older woman from the volunteer staff came into my room and told the nurse, “I have to meet this Jane Anderson.” I know crazy, right? I was baffled. She had a whole stack of cards in her hand. She said she had been delivering cards to people for over 12 years and never had she delivered as many cards to one person, so she had to meet me. Awwwww what a sweet gesture. Then before I left the hospital several of the nurses each gave me a hand written card. If you don’t think your cards and notes and emails to people matter, change how you think.

“A few days after coming home from the hospital a friend emailed me. “Stay strong and positive. Not sure why I said that to the most positive person around.” Friends I hadn’t seen in months or years stopped over to see me. One of them approached me with a hug and kind compliment, “I’ve noticed you haven’t sounded angry or bitter.” I was caught off guard. How could I be angry or bitter? How can I be anything but positive?

“I hope I can explain this so you can apply it to your own circumstances. From the moment I realized what happened I started thanking God for all the things that didn’t happen – and I know I was one breath from death. I had been riding a bike with my then 9-year-old granddaughter and her 10-year-old friend. When I was told that I was in the hospital and had been trampled by a 2500 pound horse, I’m sure I thanked God a million times that those two precious girls were not harmed. They were 20 feet ahead of me and spared any injury. To this day, three years later I still often stop and thank God that nothing happened to those sweet little girls and that he protected them. Mark 10:16 “He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” He also protected them. I get that.

“’I’ve noticed you haven’t sounded angry or bitter.’ How could I be angry or bitter when I think about what I didn’t get. My scalp was torn away from my skull and required 14 staples to put it back in place. My skull could have cracked, but I didn’t get that. (There are advantages to being hard headed, I guess.) I had a concussion severe enough to do some brain damage that affects my short term memory. It could have been much worse. My eyes were swelled open, but I didn’t lose my sight. God miraculously spared my vision. I didn’t go blind.

“When I looked up to see the horse advancing too close to me, I moved to the left as quickly as I could. All my ribs on the right side front and back were crushed. My heart, just a couple inches away, was not touched. My heart could have been smashed, but I didn’t get that. When my ribs got crushed, my right lung was punctured and collapsed. God orchestrated the team of workers who showed up to save my life.

“What are the chances that the med station on Mackinac Island would have a chest tube? How often would a medic be called upon to insert a chest tube, not from the bottom of the lung, which is the normal method, but from the top, down? God sent an ER doctor, who wasn’t supposed to be on the island that day, to stand in for the regular attending doctor. Communicating back and forth with a doctor at the trauma center in Petoskey, it took three attempts but he finally inserted a chest tube to inflate my lung.

“My shoulder blade cracked and while it remains the most painful area on my body, it wasn’t shattered beyond repair. I now have this nifty wing on my right side but it healed. I guess God knew I always wanted a badge for something. Maybe not what I was thinking but then as God reminds me His ways are not my ways. My winged shoulder isn’t beautiful but it’s a beautiful reminder of God’s protection and blessing on my life.

“That day I was wearing a backpack and every item inside was crushed, bent, or broken. My metal business card case, metal encased notepad, and metal reinforced wallet were bent beyond use, and my glasses inside a hard case were totally crushed. My spinal cord could have been damaged and I could have been unable to walk – but I didn’t get that.

“The sandals I was wearing rubbed blisters on my ankles, but my ankles didn’t get broken or sprained. Think of it. I could have gotten broken legs, crushed knees, broken pelvis … I didn’t get that.
I want to tell you the rest of the story.

“A friend from our church and his daughter were in the emergency room at McLaren Hospital in Petoskey. Their attending doctor as completely distracted and wouldn’t stop talking on his cell phone. “Wait a minute, doc. Why are you not attending to this young girl whose ankle might be broken? Why are you talking on your cell phone?” How would you feel? I would be irritated too. The doctor apologized and explained I’m trying to help doctors save the life of a woman who got trampled by a horse. That changed everything. In that moment our friend and his daughter prayed for that woman and her life was spared. They had no way of knowing that woman fighting for her life was a family friend. Their whole family left their campgrounds and before heading home came to visit me in the hospital. I didn’t hear this story until sometime later, but even then, I felt the overflow of God’s love and faithfulness.

“Do you think prayer is just something you do because it’s expected? Is prayer something you value? Prayer is powerful. Believe God for something big. He holds life in his hands.

“”Ephesians 3:17, 20 “Let Christ dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

“On August 31, 2013 my life changed forever. It caught me by surprise. God knew all about it. Psalm 139:16, “Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb. All the days ordained for me were recorded in your scroll before one of them came into existence.”

“You know, every day we have a choice. I could complain that life isn’t fair. I could grouch about my circumstances not being what I was hoping for. I could compare myself to someone else and totally lose out on any form of contentment. I could have a pity party all by myself because nobody wants to go to one of those. I could – but I won’t. And you don’t have to either.

“Philippians 2 says to not grumble or complain – and we will be like shining stars. That encourages me to put a positive spin on ‘What choice do I have?’ You’ll see that our choices begin with a thought and thoughts become actions. We become what we think about. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”

*This, and other great thoughts, can be found on Jane’s blog:

Lovely Leelanau

Monarch Butterfly+ 08.28.16 copyIt’s been two years since I wrote about one of Lower Michigan’s
best known and best loved hideaways: Leelanau Peninsula. Cherry Republic Sign copyThat post was titled, “What if Your Kid Doesn’t Want to March in his Graduation?” and described a sunny June adventure
àla Joel (my beloved lastborn),Rainy day in Fish Town but this time I want to tell you about a rainy weekend adventure
àla Alie (my beloved husband). Rose Rainy RedAs luck (or failure) would have it, the water pump had burned out in our “Sanctuary” (motor home), and the RV repair shop said
they couldn’t do anything about it until the end of September.

150 year old cedar at Leelanau State ParkAs luck (or brilliance) would have it, Alan just picked up another motor
and did the repair himself after we arrived at our campsite at the northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, which turned out to be especially wonderful because it was a rustic campground (spell that outhouses and take your bath in Lake Michigan), so warm, running water was a particular privilege.

Sunset over Lake Michigan from Leelanau State Park MIWe arrived as the sun was taking his evening dip in Lake Michigan
and settled in for the night with the sound of waves gently lapping on the shore. Rustic campground at Leelanau State ParkWe awoke to the disconcerting drum of a near torrential downpour. In fact,
it rained so hard that most of the campers left ASAP (some during the night).

Wild rose in the rainIt was reminiscent of one of our trips to Disney when a tornado touched down 3 miles from our campsite. That year, Carl and Kathy christened their tent “Pleasure Island” (which it wasn’t…they bailed and went to a motel) because the tent was partially afloat in the midst of a pool of rainwater.

LeLand River (Carp River) (In fact, that year we consoled ourselves
with the thought that we had lakefront property.)  View of Carp River and Lake Michigan from the CoveThankful for our motor home, we drove down to Leland’s Fish TownOn the pier at Fishtown. Leland MIand took a meander along the boardwalk Perch basket at The Covebefore stopping for an amazing perch lunch at The Cove. View from Grand Traverse LighthouseLater, after the rain cried itself out, we toured the Grand Traverse Lighthouse
and enjoyed the ambience of this northern Michigan haven.Porterhouse Steak for 2 at Boone's Primetime PubOur favorite dinner spot is Boone’s Prime Time Pub in Sutton’s Bay,
where the steaks are sharable and unforgettable,
and the prices seem like a bargain compared to those in GR.

Old canoe along Leland River MIUsually if we go anywhere on the weekend, we return home Saturday night so we can make it to our own church on Sunday. This time we looked for a church in the area, but finding none that looked likely, we stopped at a park in Glen Arbor and listened to our own service ( “livestream.”

Monarch Butterfly+ .08.28.16 copyOur pastor is preaching his way through Romans,
and the message (as always) was excellent! Grand Cafe at Cherry Republic MIWe stopped for lunch at the Cherry Republic, after which Alan was more than ready to make a beeline for home. Flower box along Carp River in Leland MIHis wife, however, mourned the loss of a stroll through Frankfort,
a climb up Sleeping Bear Dunes, and a hike along Michigan’s glorious shoreline.

Great blue heron on roof of Falling Waters Lodge Leland MIIt occurred to me that I am like Kipling’s little elephant with the ‘satiable curiosity. Bad for me! There’s no end to good things, and I really need to appreciate the amazing abundance I have, not mourn the ??% I miss. Great blue heron on boat along Leland River MIDo you ever suffer from wanting more than is comfortable for someone you love to give? I hope not. But, if you do, please join me in trying to savor what’s in our cups of blessing, not what’s left in the bottle. Parmesan-encrusted grilled cheese sandwich copy                    Perhaps that will leave possibilities for some other time!Library in Grand Traverse Lighthouse MuseumFor we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:7-9).Cross stitch in Grand Traverse Lighthouse(If you’re actually researching for a possible excursion to the Leelanau Peninsula, it will become even more beautiful over the next few weeks as the autumn leaves color. Here’s more info: )Fishtown and Leland River

Rise Up, My Love (201): The Second Grace—An Enduring Faith

SS 200:08.21.16Song of Solomon 6:9 “My undefiled.” To defile something is to make it impure or violate its chastity. To be undefiled is to be pure and holy, with untarnished luster and unsullied reputation. Ah, how my heart condemned me as I read this text! “Woe is my, for I am undone; because I am a (wo)man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). Every time I think an impure thought or utter a careless word, I am defiling myself. How can I ever think of myself as chaste and holy?? We cannot see our king without recognizing how utterly impure and unlovely we are…how repeatedly and horribly we’ve failed him, how unfit and unworthy we are to be his bride. Remember? “Look not upon me, because I am black!” Yet, even after our conversion, we fail. Still I am tarnished and impure, prone to wander and frustrated by my chronic weaknesses. How can our Lord praise us as his “undefiled?” I guess, for me, it will always remain a mystery. Perhaps because he is able to look ahead he see us as we shall be. Perhaps, because he is God, he is able to see us as pure and undefiled because we are washed by the blood of Christ moment by moment and dressed in his righteousness…so that what God sees is Christ’s perfection, not our sin. Perhaps he is able to look at our faith—as tiny a mustard seed as it may be—and see that it has never died, so that our faith has not become defiled in a sense, and we are purely “justified by faith” (Romans 3:28;5:1 and Galatians 3:24).

In marriage, I have been a woeful failure when measured against God’s standard of never having been tempted by another man, and yet it’s never gone from the realm of sinful thought to evil action in the physical world. I believe that is also true of my husband. If we look critically at the dark side of one another, we could soundly condemn the other person for their failures…and yet…with a heart of compassion and love, recognizing that our sinful natures are as frail as dust, we can also look at the bright side and say, “Yes, we have been faithful to one another. We have not defiled ourselves with others.” Could this be how King Solomon viewed his wife? Not that she was sinlessly perfect, but that she had kept herself chaste for him. Is this how the king can praise us? Not that we are sinlessly perfect, but that we have “kept the faith.” We may have been tempted by the gods of this world, but we have not truly gone after them and given ourselves over to them. Though we are frail as dust, yet we have clung to our Lord as ivy clings to an oak. Ah, and he holds us in his hand, too, and promises to never let us go, and to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are his undefiled! May we ever cling to him in untarnished, unsullied faith! This is the second grace that will bring the praise of God and men. The first grace is a Spirit-filled, obedient life; the second grace is a deep and enduring faith.


Introducing our Newest Little Miracle from Heaven: Marie

Grandma holds MarieWednesday, I wrote about Miracles from Heaven, but I believe there are miracles happening around us every day if we just stop to think about it. One of those miracles is our fifteenth grandchild, who made her appearance early this month, and this morning I wanted to share just a little bit about her.

Riding the Merry-Go-Round in Spokane WAMarie made her appearance later than anticipated, so I’d already arrived at Jon and Linda’s home, giving me some very special bonding time with their two girls. Making peach pieWe’d taken a motor home trip with them last summer, so Biggest Sister was already excited to see me, but it took Almost Big Sister a bit of time to take me in. Choosing items from a menuFunny how positive you can feel about being accepted as an appropriate mother substitute when it comes time for bathroom toiletries, isn’t it?!  🙂Meeting Baby SisterAt any rate, we had a wonderful time anticipating the arrival,
and meeting little Marie was such a blessing and joy! Newborn sleepingShe’s as pretty as a picture and as sweet as sugar. In the parking lotJonathan brought us over for a first precious visit at the hospital,
and since it was the day before Mama and Marie could really come home, Choosing Donuts with Dadhe then sponsored a birth day party for us, complete with donuts,Birthday Donut one with a candle on top! Watching Doctor check babyWhat a miracle each new child is, don’t you think? Holding Baby sisterWe could never create a baby, and yet, without even knowing how,
babies grow within the womb and come to birth.Back to Sleep It never ceases to amaze me and fill my heart with joy. Life is such a gift! Daddy's girlsWith every child, I think God is saying, “I love you! I love this child.”Taking turns holding new baby“Love this child with me, will you?” Praise God for children!Mother and Newborn BabyLo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward
” (Psalm 127:3).

Celebrating 100 Years of Inspiration: America’s National Parks

Rafting in the Grand TetonsGuess what? Today marks the 100th birthday of America’s National Park Services! To celebrate, the park services are offering free admission to their 59 national parks from right this minute through Sunday. If you live close enough, I hope you can take advantage of this offer and celebrate by enjoying some of Americans gorgeous 51.9 million acres of national parklands! Mt_Saint_Elias Wiki Public DomainDid you know that our largest national park is in Alaska? Wrangell-St. Elias has over 8 million acres and is larger than each of our nine smallest states! As I looked at all the fascinating parks available, I realized that I’ve only seen 28 of them in my 65 years. I think after Alan and I retire, I want to see a bunch more! Yellowstone ParkBack in 1872, Yellowstone became America’s first national park, and it is still among my favorites. Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir in YosemiteFor those of you who are Disney aficionados like our family, you probably remember John Muir urging Teddy Roosevelt to start a national park to protect Yosemite from redwood lumbering, lamenting, “…or what will our children inherit, seedlings?” Actually, that was back in 1903, and I found an excerpt on the Sierra Club’s website from Teddy Roosevelt’s journals about that trip: Yosemite National Park“John Muir met me with a couple of packers and two mules to carry our tent, bedding, and food for a three days’ trip. The first night was clear, and we lay down in the darkening aisles of the great Sequoia grove. The majestic trunks, beautiful in color and in symmetry, rose round us like the pillars of a mightier cathedral than ever was conceived even by the fervor of the Middle Ages. Hermit thrushes sang beautifully in the evening, and again, with a burst of wonderful music, at dawn.” Isn’t that poetic?Yellowstone FallsIt wasn’t until August 25, 1916 that Woodrow Wilson officially created a National Park Service, and since that time, they have established 450 areas that are protected because of their historical, cultural, recreational, and/or natural beauty. Quite a heritage for Americans, and for the world at large! Grand TetonsAs someone entering her senior years, this makes me stop to ponder what I’m leaving as a heritage for my children and those around me. I pray that what I leave is worth possessing..and much more of wisdom than wealth.

Family ReunionA good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.
(Proverbs 13:22)  Children playing on shore of lake in Grand TetonsThe just man walks in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” (Proverbs 20:7)Father tying son's shoe

Miracles From Heaven

Miracles from Heaven DVD CoverWhen my son Michael and his family were visiting this summer, Mike kept sharing stories of near-death experiences that he’d been reading about online, so I was particularly interested in watching Miracles from Heaven, Miracles from Heaven 10which recounts the true story of the Beam family from Texas, whose daughter, MFH photoAnnabel developed two esoteric and potentially life-threatening digestive disorders when she was five. Miracles from HeavenAlthough local physicians just thought it was stomach aches or acid reflux, the mother persisted in getting help, NFH Mother and Dr. Nurkoeventually finding her way to Dr. Samuel Nurko in Boston, who diagnosed Annabelle’s illnesses as pseudo-obstruction motility disorder and antral hypomotility disorder. Despite every possible medical intervention, the illnesses caused Annabelle so much pain that by the time she was 9, she wanted to die and go to heaven to be with Jesus.  Miracles from Heaven 5And then it happened! On Dec.30,  2011, Annabelle fell 30 feet down inside the trunk of an old, rotted cotton wood tree. Miracles from Heaven 6It took rescuers 5 hours to bring her safely out of the tree, but Annabelle not only survived with no serious injuries, she said she’d gone to heaven and met Jesus! Miracles from Heaven 7Furthermore, Annabelle said it was so beautiful in heaven that she wanted to stay, but Jesus told her she had work to do on earth yet, reassuring her that when she went back, she’d be completely healed of her pain and illness. Miracles from Heaven 2Christy Beam, Annabelle’s mom, told reporters later that she kept “waiting for the other shoe to drop” and could hardly believe her daughter was truly cured, Miracles from Heaven 4but as of now (5 years later), Annabelle has no symptoms and is free of pain!Miracles from Heaven 8The illness and fall are all undeniably true. Did Annabelle really have a near-death experience where she met Jesus and was cured? I believe so, but then, I believe in Jesus. I believe in miracles. And, I believe in heaven. Miracles from Heaven 3As Christy Beam says in her memoir, Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing, we can either live as if every day is a miracle, or as if nothing is a miracle. Author and ActressI will tell you that according to Catholic Online, Jennifer Garner (who played the role of Christy, Annabelle’s mother), was so inspired by the story and family that she began attending church again. If you’re a believer, this movie will strengthen your faith. If you don’t believe in God or heaven, I’d especially like to encourage you to watch Miracles from Heaven; maybe it will also inspire you to seek God!Miracles from Heaven 9Are you seeking the truth about what comes after this life? So was a man named Nicodemus, about 2,000 years ago. This is what Jesus told him in the story recounted in the Gospel of John:  John 3: “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10 Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”Miracles from Heaven 1*Source material and photos for this post are from the movie and: from Heaven 11

A Close Call: Five Tornadoes Touch Down in Grand Rapids

Trees DownLast Saturday our city’s emergency alarm system started to wail and our cell phones were abeep with warnings to take cover because a tornado had touched down and was heading our way. It was raining lightly, but the sky wasn’t dark with that threatening greenish glower I associate with a “tornado” sky.

Nevertheless, we sat quietly (and prayerfully) on chairs in our storage room and waited. Soon news came that more than one tornado had touched down, and the warning period was extended. It was hard to feel very frightened without external confirmation of what might be coming, but I’m one of those who hug the mountain side of the road, so I stayed downstairs until the “all clear” was given an hour later. Alan, on the other hand—exhausted from his morning’s outdoor work—decided to ignore the wailing and went upstairs to take a nap.  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 5In the cellar, I thought back to my first experience with a tornado, which occurred when I was about six. My family was visiting my grandmother’s farm on the vast prairies of eastern Colorado. I knew all about Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz, so when my uncles shouted that a twister was coming across the prairie heading straight for us, we all scrambled down into their dark, dank storage cellar…a place I’d never venture into uncompelled. That day, the twister missed our farm, and I felt very relieved that I hadn’t been carried off to somewhere over the rainbow (or worse).  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 6My latest experience with a tornado was reading a children’s book to my grandchildren last week…a book based on a true story about a little boy who lived in a trailer park, where a tornado turned his family’s trailer into a trail of bent metal while his baby sister was asleep in her crib. After the tornado passed, the family ran everywhere, desperately searching for any signs of their baby, and by a miracle of grace they found her still safely asleep in her crib at the edge of the local ball diamond!

Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 11The GR tornadoes never struck our home, and our electricity didn’t even go out, so it almost seemed like a false alarm.Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 9 It wasn’t until we went to church the next morning that I knew how close we’d come to being hit. Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 1One of our friends said they heard on the weather station that a tornado had touched down just a mile from our house and was headed toward our lake. Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 7For some reason, it lifted before it reached us. Thank you, Lord! Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 8(Yes, I was praying, but I’ll bet a lot of people whose property was damaged
were also praying.) Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 3Yesterday afternoon I drove through the area close to our home that had been impacted, and although there were trees down everywhere,
not a single home had been harmed. Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 2In fact, in all five of the tornadoes, there had been mostly tree damage,
and not a single report of any person being injured!   🙂

Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 4Our “friendly neighborhood tornado” had uprooted massive trees, but in the most precise way so that they fell into the streets, across yards, or over fields. It reminded me of a father who’d given his children a stern warning but hadn’t spanked them!  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016I’ve had a swirl of thoughts since then. For one thing, we can’t always tell by present circumstances what the future will hold, but I think we’d be wise to listen to our authorities, and for me, the most authoritative source of information about our future is the Bible, which tells us how to prepare for the inevitability of of our physical body dying. For another thing, God’s ways are higher than ours, and we can’t really fathom what he’s doing or why he’s doing it. Like a tornado, God is a God of great power, but like the five tornadoes that hit GR over the weekend, God is also full of mercy. So often he protects us from the storms, but sometimes he takes us through the storms. Both ways, He is a God of love. He loves us, and he works all things together for our good. If only we could grasp that fully!  Grand Rapids Tornado Damage 2016 10And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:28-29).

2016 Olympics and Michael Phelps: “Live Your Passion!”

Michael_Phelps_wins_8th_gold_medal by Bryan Allison. FlickrAs the 2016 Olympics drew to a close yesterday, I’m sure all of us who participated—even if it was only marveling over the achievements of the contestants—were inspired by some of the exciting events we witnessed. To me (and many), the most exciting story is that of Michael Phelps, who was the flag bearer for the U.S. in the Parade of Nations and is the most decorated Olympian in world history. As of today, Phelps has participated in five Olympics and won 28 medals, 23 of them gold (dwarfing the second highest record of 9 golds). Michael_Phelps_2012 by Jay Baker. Wiki Commons via FlickrIf you don’t know his story, let me tell you just a few of the highlights I’ve learned. Michael Fred Phelps II started swimming when he was seven, and by the time he was ten, he held the U.S. record for his age in the 100-meter butterfly. By fifteen, he became the youngest male to make the U.S. Olympic swim team in 68 years. Although he didn’t win any medals in the 2000 Olympics, he did finish with the team, and his career path was set! During the 2004 and 2008 Olympics he became increasingly famous for his incredible achievements, so much so that he was even suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, which was proved to be totally false after he passed all nine tests that were administered to him during the 2008 Olympics.

Although Phelps played it straight as an athlete, he had serious problems with alcohol, which caused him trouble as early as 2004 when he was arrested for  driving under the influence in Maryland. Over the next decade, his personal life continued to deteriorate, until, as he explained on ESPN, “I was a train wreck. I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self-worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost.”

In 2014, Phelps was arrested again and given a DUI (for driving under the influence). According to a report in Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint, “In the immediate aftermath of that DUI arrest, he cut himself off from family and other loved ones and ‘thought the world would just be better off without me . . . I figured that was the best thing to do — just end my life’.”  The Purpose Driven LifeAt that point, a friend (Ray Lewis, All-Pro linebacker and devout Christian) persuaded Phelps to enter a rehab program and gave him a book to read: The Purpose-Driven Life, by Rick Warren, which Phelps read. Phelps told ESPN that the book “turned me into believing there is a power greater than myself and there is a purpose for me on this planet.” In fact, reading the book had a radically transforming impact on Michael Phelps. He told Ray Lewis, “Man this book is crazy . . .  The thing that’s going on . . . oh my gosh . . . my brain, I can’t thank you . . . enough, man. You saved my life.”

And, indeed, it seems to have done just that! According to the Los Angeles Times, 31-year-old Michael Phelps at times “shook his head in disbelief at the stream of victories. He repeatedly laughed, kissed his son, Boomer, after races and shed tears during some medal ceremonies.”

The motto for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro has been “Live Your Passion,” and it’s obvious that Michael Phelps has been doing just that. But, he’s learned to lean on God to turn his passion into joyful reality. His story has inspired me, and I hope it also encourages you! What’s your passion? God can do in us what we cannot accomplish on our own! He is able.

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

(For the fuller story of Michael Phelps conversion, see )

Rise Up, My Love (200): The First Grace—Humble Submission to God

SS 200:08.21.16Wouldn’t you like to know what kind of a woman receives universal praise, both from God and from other women? Wouldn’t you like to become such a woman?

Song of Solomon 6:9b, “The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.” Here is the same group of women as that discussed in the preceding verse, the pool of all the world’s most beautiful women. Solomon has surveyed them and found that his bride is the most wonderful of all. Even more astonishing is the response of the other women. From the youngest, most innocent daughter of Jerusalem, to the mightiest queen and most desirable lover, the king declares that they praise her also. Have you ever known any group of women to give universal praise to another woman? This is unheard of, and yet, it happened!

What is it that they find so praiseworthy? Notice that what the king praises her for here has nothing to do with outward beauty! Song of Solomon 6:9a, “My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her.” Look at the list: she is his dove, his undefiled, and her mother’s only child. Let’s study each description individually in hopes of learning how to delight our Savior and earn the respect and praise of others.

“My dove.” Indwelt by the Holy Spirit, she has become meek, mild, gentle, sensitive, and obedient. Have I ever told you about my son Jonathan’s Java doves? When Jon was a boy, he bought a pair of snow-white doves to train for teaching biblical principles through the use of illusions and “tricks.” The doves were the tamest birds I’ve ever seen, and he trained them to lie perfectly still, hanging upside down from his finger as if they were dead. He could put them inside his coat and they would remain perfectly silent and motionless until he pulled them out. They would even let him gently extend their wings one at a time and they would neither tuck their wings back nor would they fly away. They just sat as still as an ivory statue. They were incredible birds.

Now, I’m not suggesting that our Lord wants us to be as motionless and mindless as trained Java doves can appear to be…but he truly does want us to be as trainable, obedient, and patient. He wants us to be willing to wait silently inside his “breast pocket” until he pulls us out. He wants us to appear dead to self…to be able to live the crucified life! He wants us to be able to let him extend or draw in our wings without the slightest ruffle of our pinfeathers…without our flying away or pulling back into ourselves.

Has a human ever been as obedient as a Java dove?  Sorrowfully, I confess that I certainly have not. Oh, may the Holy Spirit, blest heavenly Dove, so indwell us that we may be praised by others for our gentle submission to the will of God. “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). If we learn this, we will have developed a truly meek and quiet spirit, and this will earn the praise of our Lord…and even those around us.*

(*Obviously, this doesn’t work 100% of the time. Jesus was perfectly submissive to the will of God and yet incurred great wrath and jealousy from many of the religious leaders of his day. Even as Jesus suffered persecution for being obedient to God, “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12].)