Category Archive: Faith

The Ark, a Refuge

We were on the Ark a few days ago. Noah’s Ark.

Ken Ham envisioned creating a full-size replica of the Ark in Kentucky, to show the immensity and scale of this boat God told Noah to build. The Ark was a symbol of the grace of God. It pained Him to see the increasing evil among men (and women). He determined to destroy the world by a great flood, saving only Noah and his family, who worshipped God, and two of every kind of animal that had breath on the earth. It was grace that rescued Noah’s family; and is grace that saves us today.

I didn’t know what to expect when we got to the Ark Encounter. The boat is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high. It’s enormous!

Frank and granddaughter Kate in front, in blue and pink
  • It had to withstand heavy rainstorms for forty days and nights.
  • It had to hold together without leaking throughout that time.
  • It had to have space for all the animals aboard (“one of every kind or type, not necessarily one of every animal), provisions for their food and water, for getting rid of waste products, etc.; and
  • It had to have provisions and spaces for the family.
Supplies, Grains
Amazing curved beams

We met our dear friends, Fritz and Frank Buschman, their daughter Kim Sahmel and her three beautiful children, the night before. I loved watching Kim guide and teach her three children whom she is homeschooling—Ben, 5; Kate, 8; and Luke, 10. We delighted in seeing the Cincinnati shoreline and the Ark through their eyes. What a delight to see young parents teaching their children truths from God’s word, discipline, and academic and creative skills.

Kate on Camel
Luke and Ben enjoying camel ride

At the Ark, the children rode camels–a first for them, along with seeing some zorses (zebra/horse).

“That was insane,” chuckled five-year old Ben, eyes sparkling as he dismounted.

Scientists estimate it took 75 years to build the Ark. Seventy-five years during which Noah’s neighbors laughed at and mocked him.

“Who is this God who told them to build this big ship? They must be crazy.”

But Noah persisted, obedient to the prompting of God.

And then God told them to get into the boat. When all, family and animals were aboard, God shut the door. No one could open it, from inside or out. The boat was sealed.

Don in front of Ark

I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if those mockers would have trusted the word of God through Noah, and repented of their sin. Based on God’s character, which is both holy and loving, I believe they too would have been invited into the Ark of Protection.

While the creators of the Ark Encounter state that they have taken some literary license in laying out the interior of the ship, etc., they translated Biblical measurements (cubits) into our current feet, yards, etc. for the exterior.

And there was room for all.

I wonder if God gave Noah the whole plan at one time or if He gave it to him a step at a time, as He so often does with me. “Take the next step,” He says, and then another is revealed. Seems the whole plan at one time might have been overwhelming. But then, these instructions were coming directly from God, so maybe not. God himself is overwhelming!

What lessons can we learn from this experience?

The detail of God’s plan for the ages–His plan to offer redemption to all through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing more needs to be done.

“It is finished,” Jesus declared from the cross. And, with His resurrection, He conquered death once for all. Oh yes, you and I will die one day; but our spirits will live on in eternity–our destination depending on whether we have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus. His grace is there for each of us, if we will only receive it.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

God promises to guide us in all our ways. He didn’t leave Noah without a plan, whether step by step or with one huge blueprint. And He has promised the same to us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV

May God guide your steps and mine this week as we walk with Him, grateful for His grace!

PRAYER FOR AFGHANISTAN

Picture a young M*slim woman, physically, emotionally and mentally abused by the husband she was forced to marry at age fourteen. Desperate, near death on occasion, losing several children in the womb. Then Jesus helped her escape. The Jesus she saw in a vision at fourteen when he told her he loved her – this girl who felt unattractive, unloved, unwanted. She didn’t understand then. But later, she gave herself fully to Jesus as she learned who this Man was who appeared to her in her teens.

Satan tempts her at times with the fear of the past, the scars she’s borne. But she fights him with the full armor of God.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” 

Ephesians 6:10-13

The elements of that armor?

  • The Belt of Truth
  • The Breastplate of Righteousness
  • Readiness to share the gospel of peace
  • The Shield of faith, with which to extinguish the evil one’s attacks
  • The Helmet of Salvation
  • The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and
  • Praying at all times in the Spirit for all the saints.
smiling woman wearing hijab
Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy on Pexels.com
This is a representative photo and is not the woman I write about

This young woman has fought against evil and is finding freedom from the memories, the scars of her past, and I praise God for her life and her testimony.

And now we see desperate people trying to flee Afghanistan in the wake of our withdrawal of troops and the takeover by the Taliban. Oh, how we need to pray for these people, beloved by God who gave His Son that ALL might know Him. I can’t even imagine the terror they feel as they rush the airport, cling to airplanes from which they fall to their deaths, as they try desperately to flee a horrible regime.

I know many of us are praying for the Christians who will be sought out and persecuted, likely killed. Franklin Graham has called for today, Sunday 8/22, to be a Day of Prayer for Afghanistan, especially for Christians and those who have worked with America. I am copying here a prayer by Anne Graham Lotz (daughter of Billy Graham) for the people of Afghanistan.

“…I cannot shake the very heavy burden I feel to pray for Afghanistan. The following is a summary of how I am praying as I pour out my heart before God. Please join me if you feel led:

Creator of the Universe. Ruler of All. Lord of the Nations. Are You not the Judge of all the earth? If my heart is broken…shattered…over what’s taking place in Afghanistan, what must Your great heart feel? So I come to You and plead Your mercy for Your people who are now hiding in basements, caves, any hole they can find, knowing that demonic forces will not stop until Your people are found and slaughtered. So I pray for Your people…followers of Jesus…to be supernaturally protected and delivered. Send Your angel armies to surround Your people, as You did for Elisha (2 Kings 6). Blind the enemy so they cannot locate Your people in hiding. Didn’t You teach us Yourself that when we pray, we are to pray that we would be delivered from evil? (Matthew 6) So. Deliver Your people. By any means. Please. But if You do not, and if You allow Your people to be slaughtered, then I pray that You would give dying grace to each and every one of them. Men. Women. Children. Fill them with Your supernatural peace. Give them a vision of Heaven opened for them, as You did for Stephen in Acts 7. Open their eyes to see You, Lord Jesus, standing at the right hand of the Father, waiting to welcome them Home and give them a martyr’s crown.

And then I pray…yes I do… for the fullness of Your wrath to fall on the evil perpetrators, whether they are in Kabul or Tehran or Washington, DC. Holy God. Avenge Your people. I know You hear this prayer. Now I wait to see how You will answer. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Surely it’s time for You to be glorified in all the earth. For the sake of Your great name, Amen”

Anne Graham Lotz

Please join me in this prayer. May God keep His sovereign hand on His precious people.

Family, Majesty, the Faith of a Child, and a Gold Coin

Last week I wrote about the first three days of our road trip.

On Sunday, we left Eagle, ID for Yellowstone, again driving through quite a bit of smoke and watching the topography change around us.

We arrived at our hotel just outside the West Gate of Yellowstone, checked in, and joined Bob and Sheila to drive into the campsite where their sons and families were staying. What a fun evening of reconnecting, of setting out our chairs by the fire, of watching nine cousins (from 5-12) who adore each other and delight in being together.

Following are some highlights of our stay.

FAMILY

Our nieces and nephews took turns cooking for Bob, Sheila, Don and me. What great coordination, what serving love. We ‘older generation’ brought desserts, brownies, s’mores fixin’s, makings for birthday cupcakes, etc. We delighted in seeing different sights in Yellowstone, especially through the eyes of the children! We started at Old Faithful on Monday morning. Each evening we gathered in our circled chairs to talk and enjoy hanging out together. Our oldest grand-niece present, Makenna, was wonderful with the littler ones, always checking whether they needed to go to the bathroom, wanted to walk down to the lake, etc. (where we found leeches–kinda creepy!).

And Don and I felt cared for as some of our nephews and nieces would walk more slowly with us (the altitude was a bit tough on us), or suggest a shorter way that we could walk back to a meeting place while they hiked three times the miles that we did!

One night we had a time of prayer and laying on hands for one of our family who was facing surgery. “Thank you that we can celebrate ‘X’s’ surgery,” one prayed. While we chuckled at her choice of words, we realized we are grateful that the problem was identified so that surgery could be an option! We joined with the little children in asking God’s hand to be on the situation.

MAJESTY

Elk – some resting right off the boardwalk near Old Faithful.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where at a certain time of day the mist reflects rainbow colors at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall.

A large herd of bison crossing a river. We saw one turn back to check on her babies, behind her. How amazing that the God who created us for community also put into these huge beasts a nurturing instinct. Beautiful! And the one that walked within five feet of the car, ignoring us all as he meandered between the cars.

Deer and a stunning buck with a huge rack.

WORSHIP

Nephew Josiah led us in a time of family worship one night. He shared scriptures about the majesty of God’s creation and had chosen several songs for us to sing along with a speaker. As I looked at his six-year-old daughter, I saw the beauty of holiness as she sat, arms on the chair arms, eyes closed, face lifted in praise to God. O for the faith of a little child!

A GOLD COIN

I followed the four littlest girls to a log where they sat huddled together. The “Princess Crew,” they call themselves along with one cousin a bit older–because they all love Disney Princesses. As I snapped pictures, the girls started asking questions. One noticed the coin pendant I wore.

The Princess Crew and MomMom in front of Old Faithful Inn

“Is that real?” she asked.

“It is. It belonged to a dear friend who died about seven years ago.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s ok, honey. She’s with Jesus.”

Our outgoing one jumped in with “But she’s with God. And she’s in your heart.”

“That’s right.”

A younger cousin, five, spoke up.

“I don’t want to die. I just want to live here on this earth.”

“I understand, sweetie. But God will take care of us.”

Just then the older cousin appeared.

“And the best thing about being a Christian is that you know you’ll see here again.”

Moments like these are priceless treasures to be stored in my memory bank for joyous recollection.

I felt expansive, filled up with the majesty of our God, grateful for the beauty of this earth, for these enormous creatures who walk by without incident, for children who are being raised to love God through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Dads’ Day

Happy Father’s Day!

What’s your favorite memory of your father?

I was blessed, through nothing but the grace of God, with a loving Father.

I have friends who had unhappy childhoods. Abuse, sexual trauma, fear. I can understand why they sometimes have difficulty trusting God as Father.

My father loved me unconditionally. Even when he corrected me, he did it with firmness, with strength, and with an explanation of what he wanted me to learn through this lesson. His discipline usually ended with a mutual hug.

He taught me about Jesus. He wakened early to spend time at his desk, designing homes he would build; spending time reading the Bible and praying. He focused on his relationship with God, modeling that for us children.

Dad had integrity. I don’t think he ever lied to anyone.

And when someone he cared about did something that was against God’s standard, I saw Dad’s pain. Not pain for an offense against him, but for an offense against God.

One of my favorite memories is when, as a child, I sat on my Daddy’s lap in Winnipeg, Canada. Together we watched the Northern Lights flicker across the sky. While the awesome power of those brilliant, floating colored lights terrified me, I felt safe in my father’s arms.

Dad with my two older brothers, Melvyn and Arnold

He also taught me to act like a lady, and my brothers as gentlemen. Once, walking along the street, one of my brothers walked on the inside of the sidewalk. I was on the outside. We may have been four and six at the time.

“Arnold,” Dad said quietly from behind us, “don’t you know a gentleman always walks on the outside of a lady?” And I felt ten feet tall.

Yes, some of those old manners are no longer in style and it’s ok – we’re not walking under windows where garbage might be tossed out onto the street at any time. But Dad modeled his love for Mom, and for us, clearly and openly. And I think at least partly because of that, I now have three adult brothers whom I love dearly. They’ve walked with me through a difficult move away from a legalistic ministry; through the death of one husband and into marriage to another; and continue to be a significant part of my life.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven almost 19 years already, Mom one.

When I broke an engagement, Mom stayed up ’til all hours while I cried and told her what had happened. The next day Dad took me to one of his job sites. He and I had a very different interaction. Calm, logical, no tears. I needed both a female and a male perspective. I felt supported having both of them listen and feed back regarding this major decision I’d made.

When I married at age 36, my father teased me about making up for lost time by having quintuplets (which I never did!). He loved going out to lunch with my first husband because Jerry encouraged him to enjoy desserts (which Mom didn’t always approve). And Jerry passed away three years after my father did. Both losses left enormous gaps in my life.

I wish Dad could have met Don, my second husband. Don shares many qualities with Dad.

  • His integrity
  • His love for God and his family
  • His graciousness.
  • His ability to fix anything around the house
  • His love of color and making the yard beautiful
  • Their mutual experiences in construction, and
  • Don’s great love for me.

You may not have been blessed with a good father. But God promises to be a “father to the fatherless, a husband to widows.” Perhaps you need to change the word “father” to “friend”, if “father” carries a negative connotation. But as we learn to know the Father better through his Word and prayer, we understand more of his love and correction in our lives, his Father-care.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,

    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Psalm 68:4-6, NIV

Thanks for listening to my memories. I’d love to hear some of yours.

post by carolnl | | 4

What’s Love Got to Do with It

My mother showed me unconditional love in so many ways.

I came home from kindergarten in Winnipeg, Canada one day. “Mommy, I missed you. I don’t like being away from you so long.” She looked at me, gave me a hug and said, “I’m not quite ready for you to be gone so much yet either.” So I’m a kindergarten dropout–and I think I turned out ok!

Another time when I was even younger, I spilled milk on my highchair. I expected a scolding, but instead Mom grabbed a damp towel and said, “Oh well, that can be cleaned up.” I’ve never forgotten that incident although I was only two or three at the time. Mistakes were ok, they could be fixed. (However, I’m still a recovering perfectionist!)

When I made some choices in college that differed from the way I’d been raised, I was able to explain my thought process to Mom and Dad and they didn’t question my choices.

When I broke off an engagement and went home to grieve, Mom stayed up ’til the wee hours listening to me, crying with me.

We had disagreements, sure. But after my father died twenty years ago, Mom and I took several out of town trips together. Our conversations ran the gamut, from faith to family to food to movies to sex (yes!) to hopes and dreams for the future. These relaxed times together were some of our most precious.

She loved both of my husbands. She enjoyed Jerry’s humor; and treasured Don’s hugs and kisses, freely given, as well as his help hanging pictures, building shallower steps up to her door, helping move her into Assisted Living, and pushing her wheelchair when we took her out on occasion.

Mom had a beautiful, classically trained first soprano voice. She often sang solos in church, songs I remember as being part of Mom’s signature. I loved singing next to her in the church choir because her voice always challenged me, pulled mine out stronger and more controlled.

My mother is in heaven now, singing with that heavenly chorus. And I’ll bet she can hit that ‘high C’ again with clarity! She left us shortly before Mother’s Day last year. I’ve written about her before because she has been and continues to be such an impact on my life. And I miss her. Our family has been together on Mother’s Day for years. Two years ago Mom joined in the fun when we followed nephew Kyle’s example and balanced spoons on our noses! She was able to laugh at herself, and with us.

And she modeled love for Jesus Christ. Her deepest desire was to know him better day by day. To search out truths from the Bible. To see him face to face in eternity!

I’m so thankful for my mother’s presence, love and impact in my life.

blue jeans
Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

I’m also thankful for many other mothers. My three sisters-in-love, Vicki, Carol Ann, and Sheila. My stepdaughters-in-law. My nieces and granddaughters, by DNA and by marriage, who are embedding core values into their own children’s lives. Some homeschool. Some support their children in private or in public schools. Some have adult children already. I love watching the interactions between some of my nieces and their children as they love well, discipline wisely, and direct the interests of their children into positive outlets. And I hurt with them when they go through difficult challenges with their children.

two woman chatting
Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

There are also many wise women other than my mother, who have impacted me over the years, too numerous to name. I’m grateful for you–Sunday school teachers, friends of my parents’, youth group, work and writing mentors.

And I’m grateful for the women who have become like daughters to me as I’ve mentored them in faith and life. If you’re not a biological or adoptive mother, you can still love and mentor a younger woman.

Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited.

Titus 2:3-5, NET

If your mother is still alive, love her in actions and deeds, not just with words. And when her frailty provides new challenges to you in terms of time and energy, be grateful she is still with you. One day she will not be.

And if she is no longer with you, remember the precious times, the conversations, the laughter, the tears, and be thankful.

…in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:18, NET

So Moms, my hat’s off to you! Your task is a great one with ramifications that will reach to eternity. So what’s love got to do with it? Just everything!

Happy Mother’s Day!