Headed to the valley!

Another morning, another climb up the mountain out of the valley.  Forever cherishing the connection with the Father, our Creator in the alone time that has become a “need” greater than any desire I could list.  As I ascend around another corner, down below I hear a great noise.  Crashing through the dry brush beneath me are my deer.  The first realization was “How odd?”  That is what struck me first.  I stopped and watched them for a few minutes.  They had also stopped and through the bare trees, ground littered with fallen dead leaves, I spied the two -staring right back at me.  But all I could think was, “Why are you going down the hill into the valley? You guys are always on top of the mountain.”  They soon bounded off , zig-zagging tails waving at me as they headed down the hill.  As for me, I continued my ascent and had almost reached the first view, when a second crashing, branches snapping, leaves crunching noise startled me.  This time I could not see them.  The brush hugged the path too tightly to view them, but I knew.  God was emphasizing His point. “Follow me down to the valley!”

This may not seem weird or out of the ordinary to many people but on my journey it was very strange. What came to mind as I continued to walk was the book, “Hind’s Feet on High Places” by Hannah Hurand.  It is a wonderful classic allegory about the deep desires of all God’s children to be led to new heights of love, joy and victory.  The verse referenced is Habakkuk 3:19 – “The Lord God is my strength, and He will make my feet like Hinds feet (deer), and He will make me to walk upon mine High places.”

It is an amazing journey about crippled “Much-Afraid” (the main character) and her walk with the Good Shepherd, triumphing over every circumstance by accepting His will, lying down hers and moment by moment following Him.  Allowing Him to mold and shape her every day, through the good and bad. We are told,lighted path

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

 

She learns that with complete trust, sacrifice of self and acceptance of circumstances, we will triumph over the evil and learn from each experience.

What I failed to mention about that day was the mist that clung so heavily to the valley.  It was still shrouding my climb and created an eeriness through the cemetery.  Again the meaning was not lost. We cannot see ahead too far as we walk this path of life. God may be calling us off His mountain of peace and safety, out of our comfortable lives to go down into the valleys of the world.  To work with Him (the Good Shepherd), “for that is where evil and sorrowful and ugly things are which need to be overcome.”

fog up the mountain

 

Too many of us are limping, crippled like “Much-Afraid” in this allegory.  She comes to the conclusion that the only really satisfactory way of dealing with evil is “not simply binding it, but where possible overcoming it with good.”  So as for me, I have been allowed to hang on the mountain-top, learning lessons all summer, but now He is leading me into the valley to overcome the evil of abortion with good.  (See my ministry theredegg.org.)  I know no other way but His leading.  What comes to mind is how Jesus taught us to pray……let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…..

 

Double take

Jeremiah 29:13  “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart”

Starting my walk later than usual, Sheba (my German Shepherd) and I commenced our routine of climbing the cemetery hill.  I knew we had missed sunrise and I watched as a jogger ran up ahead of us to the summit. Deep down I felt dismayed.  The early hours, the sunrise, the solitude I have found at the peak of the cemetery hill would now be unattainable because I had not left the house early enough. So I turned my attention to the Lord, praising Him, snatches of choruses from my favorite songs echoed in my head as I ascended. The verse I had been ruminating on all week came to the forefront of my mind…it was from Genesis when Eve ate the fruit from the “Tree of Good and Evil”.  Adam and Eve were not aware of both “good and evil”.  They had always only known God’s best.  His perfection. His complete attention. His pristine creation, uniquely melded together with perfect fellowship and idyllic peace.  I had always looked at “evil”, never thinking that “good” was less than God intended. It has bothered me all week.  The verse in Jeremiah 29:13 came back..”if you seek me…..” and suddenly I realized I was not looking for God in His creation!  My mind was elsewhere, distracted with good things but not the best.  By this time I was rounding the highest point, knowing I would not see the deer that He always allowed me to be unnaturally in close proximity, especially with Sheba at my side. So I started back down and noticed the “tree”- the brilliant tree from last year- it was drab looking. I took a picture with my phone. I passed by and turned the corner.  I realized that I had not truly identified the tree and turned to go grab a leaf to help me solidify its identity.  Lo and behold,  a 4 point buck was staring at me from underneath the tree.  Too late to grab my camera again.  I was way too close.  Our eyes locked, I stopped, always amazed at how close God allows me to be to his beautiful creatures.  I had a few more seconds and then he bounded off.  I was so thrilled to have seen him so close yet bummed I didn’t have a picture to remember it by.  I continued onward to the base of the tree and plucked a leaf.  Wanting to make sure it really was a red maple, the leaf had seven points – of course it did!  “7” God’s number of completion/perfection.  As I headed back down pondering its meaning and praising God…it hit me! I had taken a picture of the tree before!  Was the deer there? Even then?  I stopped, found the previous picture (see picture below) and blew it up larger.  Yes, there he was, but I did not see him because I was not looking for him.  Again, I heard the message…..God said, “I am always here but you must have eyes to see, ears to hear and you will find me.”  I am always humbled when He gives me such a beautiful message.  He is always there, how many of us get distracted with “good” things or activities and miss the “best” that God has for us.  Good and evil are all around us but only when we remember to seek God’s best will we find Him.

Matthew 13:16  But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.deer under tree

The Oak and the Pine

Psalm 5:11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
oaktreesideviewI have to say that 50 has been  a turning point in health…everything is just a little harder to do, takes longer to maintain results and the body is definitely a tad weaker….like eyesight.  It used to be that I wore glasses (or contacts) for distance but my up close vision was just fine.  Through my forties, my up close vision has steadily declined, to the point that I cannot distinguish the shampoo bottle from the conditioner in the shower.  But I believe what has really affected me the most is my contacts.  No longer am I able to correct my vision using contacts.  Now I need “cheaters” or drugstore glasses to read, however, this does not help my distance vision at all.  So even though I wear my contacts, I am still squinting to make out what appears to be a wreath or some pine debris next to a tall oak at the edge of the field yesterday morning.  So being the ever curious person God made me to be, Sheba (my dog) and I decided to head across the field to check it out.  As we meandered over to the tree, I was surprised to see that it was a beautiful miniature spruce actually rooted to the base of this towering oak.  I thought it rather odd that a perfectly formed pine had grown beneath the tree canopy that in the warmer months would have prevented much sun from finding it.  I sat down next to it and looked at the towering oak and thought, “that is so weird to find an evergreen under this huge deciduous oak.” (Yes, the words really do enter my mind!) The ground was littered with acorns and the distinctively shaped oak leaves.  As I sat and pondered such an odd pairing, I thought about the characteristics of both type of wood.  Oak is a hard wood, heavier, slow growing, highly prized for its toughness and beauty.  The spruce or pine, on the other hand, is a fast growing, soft wood, not prized for its beauty as much as its availability and quick growth.  It also is susceptible to dents and scratches.  The price difference is also distinctly different, with pine being cheaper than oak.  In the early morning sunrise, the Lord brings another picture to mind…….God is the beautiful towering Oak!  Tall, majestic, durable and highly prized.  We are the pine; weaker, softer, susceptible to dents and scratches.  If we understand the relationship that God intended with His Creation, we, too, would nestle in underneath His canopy, draw from His deep tap root, stay protected under His wide overarching reach.  We would not worry about the sun reaching us so we could grow in stature.  If we are rooted with God, His “Son” will sustain us, nurture us, and grow us up into a beautiful sight that would bring joy to others, especially at Christmas time, when, as the “pine” we would be able to shine –  adorned, and decorated – for the celebration of the Father’s gift to us, Jesus, His son.

The Stink of the Skunk

Early morning in March, first light is at hand but the shadowy outline of a furry creature in the distance makes me stop…..then the scent…ewwww!  Sheba, my dog, knows something is making its way up the hill.  She, unlike me, is now eager to trail it.  She starts pulling the leash…As she uncomfortably pulls me up towards the scurrying skunk, I think,”Why, Why??  I am trying to enjoy an early morning hike!”  But the gentle inner voice brings me back to my previous article “The Dog Walker”  and God brings yet another image to mind. The skunk represents sin!  Dogs have no fear of skunks initially, In fact ,they will run right up to a skunk, until the skunk turns and sprays the unsuspecting dog— the “sin” is the horrific oil used by the skunk to protect itself. The smell clings to our skin, our own human efforts to remove the smell just dulls the scent but cannot remove it. Skunks do not want to spray. Its their only defense. A skunk will typically give a warning sign like raising its tail, shaking it as an additional warning.  To a domestic dog, these acts are not warnings but invitations to sniff. The dog is attracted to the skunk!

skunk

Tomato juice has been the historical answer to rid the smell, which I find interesting…this red liquid will dull the smell but it clings to us and does not die easily once the oily spray adheres.  “Sin” waves its tail, looks like an invitation but get too close and we are hit with the noxious scent that will cling so thickly to our skin. It leaves its eye-watering scent on the road, in the air…those “dogs” (the inner selfish souls) which have not been trained by their “owner”, with constant focused attention to Him (God,the Ultimate Creator) will race off to sniff and trail the “skunk”.  It is attractive to our inner “dog”. But when we get too close, we will be sprayed and blinded by the sin. It’s the obedience to the master that keeps our souls safe and free from “sin”. No human effort can remove the smell completely. Sin is like an oil which, no matter how much we try to remove it, is impossible, the only red liquid that will cleanse us “white as snow” is Jesus’s blood.  He cleans us up, one side, down the other and inside out. By His blood and confessing our sins, declaring, “Yes, Lord, you are God, be “master” of my life, I give all control to you; only then is the smelly, cloying scent of sin erased.  We are pure and clean.  Then our obedience training begins in earnest.

 

THE CALLING

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they feel that hollowness in the busyness, the everydayness of life…….and we think, “Isn’t there something more I was created to be or do?” For some it happens early on, for me it is now. I turned 50 in December and the nudges I have had keep getting stronger.calling.jpg
Last week, I was talking to a good friend by phone, ( she has been searching for purpose as well,) and I asked her, “What did you want to do in college? What was your major?” Later on, in return, she had asked me about my degree. I began to tell her that when I was growing up, I was extremely shy and frequently played by myself outside. I loved nature and all God’s animals. I did not grow up in the church and so I had no biblical knowledge at that time but I wouldn’t miss an episode of Wild Kingdom. My dream was to save the animals, which did not have a voice. I thought for sure I would be living in Africa with my safari outfit using my love of photography to do what Merle Perkins did….bring back stories about the animals and bring awareness to their plight. So when I arrived at college, I decided to major in zoology, logically that would accomplish my goal. Well, by junior year, that vision dried up as reality surfaced.  I knew my desire did not include being a doctor or vet and that left the research world and constantly looking for grants. All my business friends were on“easy street” with so much time because they did not have all the science labs. So I ended up changing my major to international business with a minor in French (my other love was foreign cultures and travel).

I NOW see God’s hand in every situation. Upon graduation I experienced such regret for my decision because now I would be locked into a cubicle with piped in air and fluorescent lights and no sunshine. (Picture the old time zoos where the animals are caged and pace back and forth. That was me.) See God had put a desire in my heart from birth to be a voice for his creation. Back then I thought it was for the animals, and as I was retelling my journey, I heard God speak to me…..”Same desire, the burden I have given you is for my creation…….the unborn babies that have no voice.” All of the sudden, clarity shined upon my life, God wastes nothing. I may have strayed from the “narrow path”, but He has guided me back when I have detoured. The passage of Cuomo’s baby killing law (I will not grant it its official euphemistic title so as to deceive people that it is anything but that – murder) at the end of January sent me into such states of weeping; the burden is real and I for one am heeding the call. What I did not know was that a month later, a “Day of Mourning” was scheduled for Saturday, February 23, 2019 at the Empire State Plaza convention center in Albany. The event was live-streamed and there were events all over the country. I knew God was calling me to go. And what He said to me that morning was so profound, that it has changed my life forever……

(The book “Calling” is by Jen Tringale and she is an awesome speaker)