Category Archive: Blessings

post by carolnl | | Closed

It’s a God Thing

Ahh, the sound of surf pounding the sand. Of children’s laughter floating up to our balcony. Of wind swaying the palm branches. The blues and greens of ocean and trees, shrubs and grass.

View from our balcony

As I write I’m watching a bright yellow outrigger come up the beach. Delightful!

We arrived in Maui Thursday, fatigued from a wonderful earlier trip and the preparations for this one. Friday afternoon we napped until awakened by a very loud fire alarm! At first I thought it was only in our room (but no fire) but then looked out into the hallway to see lights flashing. Soon there came a’knocking, knocking at our door–and at everyone else’s.

“We’re evacuating the building. Please leave your room and go out to the beach.”

Gathering our passports and credit cards, we took the stairs down to ground level. As we walked toward the beach we saw water raining down from a third-story window. Evidently there was a fire in that room, and the sprinklers were doing their job.

“Why don’t we get a Coke at the Grill,” I suggested. Don agreed.

We found a table and sat. With the building evacuating, there were quite a few people there. Don said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could have another couple join us.” But we didn’t see that opportunity.

Within a few minutes another evacuated couple took the table next to ours and we began conversing – sports, what they’d done while here, etc. Then Don mentioned an old Giants pitcher who had been in Don’s Sunday school class and became lifelong friends of his. Conversation was interesting, and I noticed the woman’s cross pendant.

Randy and Jane

I leaned over.

“I’m going to be kind of forward here, but may we join you? We’ll all hear better.” (They had four chairs at their table, we had three.)

Jane and Randy invited us over. Almost immediately, Randy looked at Don.

“You mentioned Sunday school. Are you a Christian?”

“Oh yes!”

And off we went, sharing lives, challenges, joys and faith in Jesus Christ. What a gift, a God thing, as we visited for several hours until we were able to return to our rooms. Meeting and developing a friendship with this couple from Tennessee was a good gift from the Father.

Our waiter said he’d gone behind the restaurant and, when the firefighters opened the patio doors of the room, smoke just billowed out. I hate to think of what that couple or family found when they returned to their room–as well as the people in the two rooms below that were impacted by the fire sprinklers!

My point? In the midst of any and all circumstances, God is at work. He may be encouraging others–and they us–people we may never see again on earth but with whom we’ll share eternity! He may be showing kindness to stressed waiters, waitresses or others through us. He may be drawing someone to Himself through our love and words.

Saint Augustine said “Preach the gospel always; using words when necessary.”

I’m a wordy girl. I guess that’s why I write. And I am learning that words are not the only way to show God’s love, that the Holy Spirit is always at work and I need to trust Him and get on board with what He’s doing rather than ask Him to help me with what I’m doing!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

Costco Grace

We’d planned to go to Costco after I did some writing Monday. However, the audio department at the VA called to say they could get Don in that morning to switch out a part of his hearing aid that didn’t fit correctly.

person holding hotdog sandwich with ketchup
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

So, leaving Paigey with a Greenie to chew, we headed to the VA, then to Costco. After our shopping we stopped for hot dogs. Let’s not argue about what’s in them or whether they’re bad for you. Once in awhile, they are a treat!

Only one table was empty so Don approached it at the same time another man did. They agreed to share the table. I approached with my hot dog loaded. We sat across from, and met, Vivian and Ray, a paralegal and a pilot. Vivian was born in China but relocated to Taiwan at the age of two years, then came to the US for college. They were eating before shopping (a good idea, since when we’re hungry we sure add to the list!). We sat and talked about everything from Putin and Ukraine, to Taiwan, to our need for hope, to hearing aids. A delightful, relaxed conversation from which no one was in a hurry to walk away.

creative shot of human ears on dark background
Photo by shutter_speed on Pexels.com

I have some hearing loss in my left ear, and the audiologist had told me it’s better to adjust to hearing aids while your hearing is still decent than when it is further gone. I’d talked about making an appointment with Costco’s hearing aid center for a year. I have Mom’s hearing aids, which were only a year old when she passed away.

For some reason, while at Costco Monday, I felt a nudge and made the hearing appointment for Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday I drove to my appointment. Bonnie greeted me and thought they could make Mom’s hearing aids work. I’d tried to charge them but her charger didn’t work. Bonnie looked up the record of Mom’s purchase.

“Oh my,” she said.

“Oh my, what?”

“Your mother’s warranty is up in eight days. I can get you a new replacement charger for nothing.”

“Really?” I was skeptical. “Are you sure?”

“I am.”

So why did I make the appointment last Monday when I’ve put this task off for a year or more, only to find the warranty was still good for eight more days? Some would call that a coincidence. I call it a God-incident.

One of the songs we sang in church that morning was written by Tommy Walker. Some of the words go like this.

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

You’re our creator, our life sustainer
Deliverer, our comfort, our joy
Throughout the ages You’ve been our shelter
Our peace in the midst of the storm

With signs and wonders You’ve shown Your power
With precious blood You showed us Your grace
You’ve been our helper, our liberator
The giver of life with no end

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

When we walk through life’s darkest valleys
We will look back at all You have done
And we will shout, our God is good
And He is the faithful One

Bridge

…I still remember the day You saved me
The day I heard You call out my name
You said You loved me and would never leave me
And I’ve never been the same

We will remember, we will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
We will stop and give you praise
For great is Thy faithfulness

The song reminds me that when my day feels dreary, when my heart hurts, when I lose hope, I will remember what God has done for me in the past–and there are so many times He has stepped into my situation for good. He has also walked with me along painful paths of sorrow. And as I remember His faithfulness in the past, I will trust Him for the present and the future.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

When is the last time you had a God-incident, an unexpected moment of grace that reminded you of God’s faithfulness?

post by carolnl | | Closed

Foibles and Grace

Headed for the exit in an unfamiliar city, I turned too soon. Instead of driving out of the rental car lot, I drove around in a circle, back to a different exit gate.

“Five minutes in Orlando and I’m already lost.” I smiled at the woman. “I just went out that gate over there and made a circle.” She laughed aloud and said “You’re fine ma’am. You can go.”

“I’m glad I gave you a chuckle,” I said as we exited the gate for the second time.

This time I took the correct ramp and Don and I got caught in a myriad of freeways–this way, that way…we chose the direction by our gut because there was nowhere to stop and turn on my Waze directional system (which didn’t work inside the cement car lot).

We drove several miles before we could get off the freeway and start Waze. Thankfully, we hadn’t gone very far afield and were headed in the correct direction.

Back at the airport, we’d ordered wheelchairs because I recently injured my hip and am using a cane periodically. And Don needed a wheelchair to keep up, because people who push those for a living are incredibly strong and FAST!

Michael was awesome. He managed both chairs, took us down to claim our luggage, across the street to car rental, got us right in front of the rental counter, loaded the car for us and sent us on our way (with a sizable tip to him!).

We stopped at the Welcome Center at the very large resort to check in.

“Oh, you’re supposed to see Hope in another welcome center. Here are the directions.”

We tried to follow the directions, got turned around at one gate, went through another and were to follow the yellow line (reminds me of Dorothy’s yellow brick road!). In the dark, we lost the yellow line. Regardless, we were too late to check in at that station, which closed at 8 pm.

We went back to the Welcome Center. “Oh, you’re back!”

“They’re closed. We’ve been here … and there … and there … and now we’re back here. And we’re tired. And we’ll try very hard not to be grouchy!” (And we weren’t). Having been awake since 3 am, we were pretty exhausted.

After checking in, we drove around to find our room, settled in and went to bed.

Twelve hours later, we wakened. Ah, what a sleep.

That afternoon we went to the resort’s market. Don’s phone fell off the car console and he thought it fell on my side. Now understand; I have a wounded hip and knee, but I wanted to help him find it. I got down on one knee in the back seat, my elbows on the floor looking under the driver’s seat to look for the phone. Not there. Then. I. Couldn’t. Move. My knee wouldn’t give, my elbows wouldn’t move. Can you imagine the view? (Don’t try.)

“I’m stuck.”

Don looked at me.

“Please help me. I’m stuck.” (Said in a very calm, quiet voice.)

“Oh, you’re serious.”

“Yes, I’m serious! Help me!” My tone was getting just a bit more strident.

He pulled me out of the back floor of the car (no, I should not have gotten down there in the first place)! He thought I was playing a joke on him! And the phone was on HIS side! Well, at that point we just started to laugh. I think sometimes laughter is 70% of forgiveness!

So we’ve laughed at our foibles and started to relax after a very busy schedule these past months.

Soon after entering Disney Springs we looked at a posted location finder. A husband and wife walked by and the man, seeing Don’s Veteran’s cap, thanked him for his service. That began a conversation where we learned he is a semi-retired pastor from Maine, about to take on a role as interim pastor for several months. It was a delightful God-moment to meet other believers, Susan and Ron.

Today, Sunday, we met our grand-niece Iona Jost for lunch. It was a delight to learn to know her better. I met her once before, and Don hasn’t seen her for several years either. We sat outside, at a table beside a cerulean lake, unmasked. And as I ate the yellowfish tuna that melted in my mouth, I was grateful for family, for this time away with Don, for life.

Somehow in the middle of all the tension in the world there is still room for laughter, for joy, for giving thanks.

In the Old Testament, Abraham’s wife Sarah, who was approaching 90 years of age and had not borne a child, was promised a son by God. And she laughed at herself, and at her joy.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

Genesis 21:6

As I’ve matured I’ve found it much easier to laugh at myself rather than simply being embarrassed. It’s freeing. So while we continue to pray about the crises in our world, our families, our lives, let’s laugh when we have the chance. It’s healthy!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

New Horizons, Renewed Connections!

Twenty-eight hundred miles later and four pounds lighter, Don and I returned from our road trip, filled with the love, majesty and grace we experienced along the way!

We spent our first night out in Imlay, NV, a one-exit, two-church town (Catholic, Baptist) whose only food is the Taco Bell inside the truck stop. A local couple built three small, one-room cabins in October of last year that have been filled ever since since! We stayed in the “Wyatt Earp” cabin (on left in photo).

Our room was tiny. We shared a one-person restroom with other guests in the other cabins, and the kitchen in another. The cabins and yard were very cute and everything was spotless. We played bean bag toss (both got two out of four in the hole), chatted with the owner about the gold mining in this area, and drove two miles down the road to a rustic cafe filled with cowboy memorabilia, signed dollar bills stapled all around the counter posts. Guess they’re doing well enough they don’t need those! It was fun to be in a local diner, with a group celebrating three birthdays next to us, and a man at the bar talking about being born in San Jose.

We wakened at 6 am to a loud train whistle. And the passage of a 100-150 car train rumbling down the rails just behind the property. And baby, we felt the earth move! All in all, great fun.

Despite smoky grey skies from our Northwest fires, mountains hazy in the distance, we saw so much of God’s creative beauty along the way. Forests, rivers, mountains, volcanic ash. And gracious people wherever we stopped.

But driving was fun and, after only four hours’ sleep that night, I was grateful to be awake and alert to drive as we listened to a book on tape.

We drove to Star, Idaho on Friday, where we met Don’s niece Karen and her husband John, who had invited us to stay with them. Karen just got out of the hospital that morning so John ordered mouth-watering Italian take-out. Don’s son Victor joined us for dinner and got to know his adult cousins better, who moved to the area just recently.

The following day we took dear friend Anne Marie Ritchie, whom many of you know from Peninsula Bible Church or Menlo Church, out to breakfast. We enjoyed wonderful fellowship with Anne Marie’s thankful, rejoicing heart! She loves the Eagle/Boise area where they had moved shortly before her beloved Ron’s passing a year ago, and where she has two sons.

We continued packing our schedule with a lovely lunch on the river with Shelly and Bob Mincy, California friends who have just moved to Eagle and are enjoying the beginning of their retirement! What a delight to spend time and see the house they are having built!

That evening we hung out with Victor and his family. The foliage on his yard reminded me of Camp Arnes on Lake Winnipeg (Canada), where I received Christ as my Savior. Enjoyed the time together!

Nathaniel, Gabrielle, Jess, Noah

Three days of wonderful renewing of relationships, valuing of family and friends, enjoying different scenery, and thanking God for the gifts of each. Sunday morning we left for Yellowstone…to be continued.

post by carolnl | | Closed

Froggies and New Birth

Our niece, Janae and her two-year old son joined us for dinner Thursday. Titus is an adorable, all boy moving wonder! After dinner we took them on a golf cart ride through The Villages, especially along the golf course. We crossed the street to reach the pond with ducks, geese and frogs. Titus was fascinated. We stopped, and he and Janae got out of the cart and walked toward three bullfrogs sitting on the lawn. The first two, flip, leaped into the pond as soon as Titus headed for them. The third held his ground, didn’t move, and eyeballed Titus from about 12-18″ apart. Then, as Titus’ little hands reached for him, he jumped. What great fun!

Soon after, our decades-long friend Susan Jones spent the weekend with us. So lovely to catch up face to face, to share our hearts and pray together.

And early yesterday morning Don’s grandson and his wife gave us our second great-grandson, Michael James. We are thrilled that all are doing well and look forward to meeting the newest Loewen.

A few days after Janae and TItus were here, I called his grandmother, my sister-in-law Sheila. We talked about upcoming plans for a family reunion and Titus insisted on getting on the line.

“Hi Aunt Cayo, Unca Don.”

“Hi sweetie.”

“How it going?”

“It’s going well thanks. How’s it going for you?”

“Good.”

“Remember the frogs we saw last week?”

“Yeah, froggies in the water. Crocodiles in water.”

Sheila spoke up. “I don’t think they have crocodiles in their water, Titus.”

“No, we don’t have crocodiles. But honey, the ducks just had babies! They’re so little.”

“Babies just like me.”

“Yeah. Just like you. Isn’t that great?”

“Yes. Bye Unca Don, Aunt Cayo.”

Now if that conversation isn’t a blessing I don’t know what is!

God, give me a grateful heart. It’s so easy to focus on the things I don’t like, from family conflict to poverty to national conflict. But God has given me this day, this week, and for that I am thankful. He has richly blessed me in family, in two wonderful marriages, and with deep friendships. So teach my heart to praise, to give thanks, to look for the positive and the blessings in life rather than getting wrapped up in the negatives.

“A cheerful heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit makes one sick.Laughter is a good medicine …”

Proverbs 17:22, TLB

For what are you thankful this week? What little or big blessings have you experienced? I find It’s often the little blessings that we miss most when someone is gone from our lives; the loving smile or hug of spouse or parent, the ability to talk through issues and make joint decisions, the fun of laughing at each other and at ourselves. Each of these is a blessing not to be missed.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:15-16, ESV