Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Emergency Preparedness National Day of Action~It doesn't take much time to BE PPREPARED

Psalm 119:82 (MSG)
My eyes grow heavy watching for some sign of Your promise;  how long must I wait for Your comfort?

Storm clouds on the horizon.
Today is Emergency Preparedness National Day of Action.  It is a "FEMA-sponsored nationwide community based campaign to increase our emergency preparedness and resiliency" as quoted from the FEMA website.  I think the point is to study the geographical area in which you live, and prepare for the most logical scenario for a possible emergency.  I, personally, cannot manage to think about the large scale emergencies, such as, earthquakes and terrorist attacks, so I focus on the smaller more "manageable" emergencies.  In this area of the Midwest, of course, one thinks immediately of tornadoes and ice storms.  With the recent tornado outbreak, it is certainly fresh on my mind. 

We have a basement in our home, so I use our closet under the stairs as a shelter since it has a concrete wall on one side and is a small room.  The area fits all the "criteria" that I researched to make certain it was "the best" room for this function.  I have set it up according to the FEMA recommendations.  If you come with me inside the room, you will find:  water bottles, peanut butter, flash lights, blankets, pillows, weather radio, storm map, hammer, (supposed to be an axe...need to get one of those), change of clothes, first aid kit, a few good books (a given for any time you might be sitting with nothing to do, but not on FEMA's list...gasp)...etc.  It is not air tight, so it doesn't really provide shelter from an air born terrorist attack, and it's in the basement, so it's not a good quake protection I would want to be standing outside in the field for that one...but I digress. 

Storm Shelter
I think the point is this....I can't possibly prepare for every tragic scenario, but, I can surely focus on this one, sense it is truly a common threat that we are frequently faced with here in Missouri.  So, I took some time today and cleaned out my "shelter".  I changed out the batteries in all of the flashlights and storage box, which I might add had not been done in a LONG time apparently, based upon the many exploded batteries I found!  Interestingly, the brand Rayovac was the culprit.  All the Duracell and Heavy Duty were fine...a post for another day...perhaps...maybe even a  I replaced old water and snacks and made sure the radio was in working condition.  I shook out the blankets and pillows and rearranged the mattress.  That was easy...push that "easy button" here.  Now I am all "prepared".  How about you?  Are you prepared for whatever might come your way?  It didn't take me very long...and now I can rest assured knowing that I've done what I can do.  It's a nice feeling.

Today's Bible verse is a reminder to me that I need to be ever "watchful" and prepared to do my part to protect the life that He has given me and to guard my children's lives.  And to answer the question of the Psalmist about "how long must we wait for His comfort".....we don't have to wait at all for His comfort!  He is right here.....waiting for us!  We need only go to Him and He will wrap us in His comforting arms.

Thank you for the ability to provide protection to my family from storms.  I know that You hold us in the palm of Your mighty right hand.  May Your plans and promises always be fulfilled in our lives, so that Your name will be glorified!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls

The Sinners’ Garden by William Sirls is a refreshingly creative and spiritually significant read that will not only entertain, but draw you closer to a God who sees and takes delicate care of your every need! 

The Sinners’ Garden by William Sirls is a well written fictional novel centered on a family as they work through their past and present trials.  The setting along the Michigan Great Lakes is quite descriptive and at times, I could feel the cool breezes and hear the gentle lapping of the water as it caressed the rocky edges of the land.  The characters within the book are so relatable that they easily draw the reader into the story from the first page to the last. 
The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls
 is refreshingly creative and spiritually
Andy Kemp, “the teenager with an attitude” even bigger than most, due to a past disfiguring incident involving an abusive father is the main character in the book.  He is surrounded by his loving mother, uncle, and a close friend of the family.  In addition to these in-depth interactions, a budding teenage romance is also thrown into the mix.  As the book progresses, the layers of pain and confusion in this teen’s life are exposed.  A broken I-pod becomes Andy’s connection to God’s voice and a field of grass develops into a beautiful garden where he can feel the presence of a living God just by being near it and looking into the rows of flowers.
Meanwhile, occurring in tandem is a “crime” of goodness as an intruder is methodically breaking into homes and establishments only to leave items that the owners need, but never stealing anything or harming any individuals or property.  As the mystery continues, intrigue is piqued and the momentum builds to a point of intense curiosity.  What does this stranger have to do with the rest of the story?  Who is the intruder?  The author’s ability to successfully carry a detailed dual theme without losing the reader’s ability to track the action is stellar!
This book is one to escape to for a tangible fantasy entangled in a real world journey where truths are gently exposed about the consistency of genuine love, perseverance, patience, hope, forgiveness and faith.  At times, during the reading of the book, I felt as though I were sitting in on a Christian counseling session as characters divulged their deepest hurts and struggles.  At those points in the book, the author takes advantage of the opportunity to reveal the unmoving nature of God and His ability to wait for us to respond to His love.
The Sinners’ Garden by William Sirls is not only entertaining, but will most certainly draw you closer to a tender and loving God… matter what your distance is from Him, currently.  The book has an undercurrent of hope and patience that will most surely give rest to a weary soul.  What are you waiting for?  Go read this book!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Salvation and Hope....What We Call "Easter"

Psalm 119:81 (MSG)
I'm home sick--longing for Your salvation; I'm waiting for Your word of hope.

Hello Blog World!  I've missed you so much.  When I don't get to write as often as I want, which would be at least daily if I didn't have other responsibilities, I desperately miss it.  This little chunk of Cyberspace has become like a quiet peaceful room to me.  It has morphed into a safe place where I can come and sit at the feet of the cross and just deeply breathe and easily hear the voice of Christ, while I soak up the word of God.  I find that I am not as distracted by the chaos that abounds outside of the door when I am typing away in my small corner of the world.  Clearly, the strangest part of my blogging is that, unless I am writing a book review or an interview of some sort, I never know exactly what will flow through my heart and onto the page when I sit down here.  The practice of methodically going through a chapter of the Bible, verse by verse (currently that is Psalm 119), supplies the subject matter for that individual writing session, and as long as I have been doing this (over 3 years now), I am still astounded at the timing of some of the verses.  Take today's words, for example, that "just happen" to be "salvation and His word of hope" as we celebrate the week of Easter!  Pretty amazing, don't you think?!!   

Easter~Salvation & Hope
Salvation and hope......these two words alone carry so much power, but at Easter, they become center stage as we look at the story of Christ and His life, death, and resurrection.  I know most of you reading this already know this story from the Bible found in John: 17-21, as well as the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but it's so humbling to read it again.  As I reflect on the chapters today, I am thinking about so many people that I have encountered lately that are going through unspeakable trials here on earth.  Whether it's a fight with a life altering/endangering illness or the death of a child or husband/wife, I have heard and seen so much of the incredible pain that comes with these circumstances recently.  These are the people that have drawn my attention.  I am watching them in awe and wonder as they continue to claim the salvation and stand in the hope that Christ provides.  Could I do the same?  I don't know.  I pray so. 

These people have a very strong testimony of light that is being presented in their darkest hour.  They tell of a strength that comes from Christ.  They speak of a peace that is only possible through Him.  These are the people that make me turn on my heels and take notice.  They have been through the fire and don't even smell like smoke.  They have walked through lapping flames, but are not burned. (Daniel 3:26-27)  They have yelled and screamed and cried out to God for answers, but have not been consumed by an uncaring God who looks away.  No, they speak of a loving God who is allowing the tough questions.  A God who wants nothing more for their life than for them to find His faithful arms so He can carry them through the night.  This is the God of Easter. 

One individual and his family that comes to mind when I think of living through tragic circumstances and dealing with immeasurable pain, is Rick Warren the lead pastor at Saddleback Church.  He is encouraging us to listen to his personal story this Easter.  His message is titled:  The Answers Are in Easter.  You can get the details by clicking here.  I plan to listen to Rick's sermon, because "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ."  (Romans 10:17)  I trust that what he has to tell us will be life altering....even for those of us who already know the King.  If my hunch is right, every person reading this at this very moment can think of at least one challenge that you are facing in this life.  Whether it's a much needed healing, wisdom, forgiveness, clarity, direction, and the list goes on....Christ is your answer.  Easter is for you.....and me!!

Abba Father,
What You allowed to happen to Your Son is confusing to me.  I admit it.  I don't know why it was necessary and cannot fathom how it could be the answer to our condition.  But, I trust You and know that once and for all we are forgiven...because of what happened on  Friday and on Sunday...what we call "Easter"....because of Christ.  Thank you seems a little shallow...but...thank you from the depth of my heart.
In the wonderful name of Jesus,


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

National Walking Day....Taking A Stand For Living Whole and Holy

Psalm 119:79-80
Let those who fear You turn to me for evidence of Your wise guidance.  And let me live whole and holy, soul and body, so I can always walk with my head held high.

Three generations.  Two cultures.  One heart. 
Standing together for a healthier today
...and tomorrow!!
Happy National Walking Day!  
Today, as a nation, we are celebrating our health and taking a challenge to make it better through a commitment to increased physical activity.
This is a picture of my sister-in-law, daughter, Mom, and I, as we accept the challenge to live "whole and holy, soul and body"!  Want to join us in the challenge?!  Keep reading.....

The American Heart Association has started a nation wide campaign called:  "Go Red For Women" .  It is a wonderful initiative to encourage and educate women in our nation about the number one killer amongst us, which is heart disease.  The site brings women together for conversations, community, compassion, and encouragement which will help to empower and equip each of us to do our part to live a healthier life.  There are stories of amazing courage and strength from some incredible ladies as they are fighting hard against this nation wide killer.

The simple goal behind the American Heart Association is to help people live healthy and whole lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.  Together, we can make a difference as we support  and encourage one another!  I am determined as a Mom, to teach my daughter how to live a healthy and active life.  Education and action are the only ways to bring about change!  Let's do it!!

The verses above are my prayer today.  May our lives as women be "evidence of Your wise counsel."  Help us to live "whole and holy...soul and body" that we might walk with our heads held high and our eyes forever upon You!