No Matter the Place, It’s Always the People

Back by less than two weeks from my third trip to Israel, finally over the jet lag that dogged me longer than expected, I pondered the questions posed several times during the trip. “What is your favorite part of the trip so far?” “What is your takeaway?”

ancient olive trees in Garden of Gethsemane

Had I enjoyed exploring the grottoes near the Lebanon border on the Mediterranean? Spending unhurried time in a less visited part of the Garden of Gethsemane? Worshipping with previously unknown brothers and sisters outside of Jerusalem? Spending the night in a Bedouin camp? Absolutely! But favorite? Honestly, no matter when that question was asked, I could only remember the most immediate sight explored. Visiting so many places, several brand new to me, in such a short time, I couldn’t consider each one individually until I was home looking at my pictures and reliving the memories.Rosh HaNikra and grottoes (7)

mini-Beduoin Camp  (2)I wasn’t focused on finding that one most significant aspect of the trip, but Holy Spirit pointed out that the people we toured with made it extra special. My husband and I remarked several times while in Israel how much we were enjoying the entire group. We could interact with anyone at any time and feel none of the usual barriers found with groups.

I believe this was a specially chosen, God-picked group of just over 30 people, ranging in age from 12 to 73 and coming from the US, Canada, Scotland, Great Britain, France, Philippines (via Singapore,) and Israel. But, is that what made it special?

In part, I’m sure, but I suspect God saw so much more when He drew each of us to sign up and follow through. And I know He began something with the members of this group. Or He continued something. Or He completed something. Maybe some of all three. But something was affected in the spirit realm because we were all together on this particular trip at this particular time as believers in Christ who love Israel. Besides that, my heart gets happy each time I see the faces in pictures or memories.

12183691_463541337181015_5349280319832619147_oThere is a possibility I may never know what He did, and I’m not at all bothered by it. I’m totally thankful simply to have been included. Just being thankful is a really peaceful place to reside. I think I’ll dwell here going forward, no longer demanding to understand with my mind what Christ fully understands already.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

What’s in a Moment?

How I wish someone had been nearby to take a picture today! A selfie wouldn’t work – if I could even manage to take a decent one. Actually, the photographer would have had to be invisible and soundless to have caught the moment without disrupting one of the subjects, so I’m left with what I hope will be an unfading picture in my mind.

The afternoon was typical of my writing days. Sandy found me on a dining room chair in the middle of the living room (where the ceiling fan could keep me cool,) my laptop on the portable desk that allows arms and hands to be comfortably lower than other desks while typing. I had tuned Spotify to my instrumental worship playlist, with its music permeating atmosphere and attitude with peace while not distracting my focus.

After more than an hour, I became aware of what my subconscious noted as it happened. Sandy, my faithful dog, had joined me not long after I began typing, settling himself into a peaceful sleep in the sunlight behind me. He placed himself just near enough that I could reach out from time to time – with effort – to stroke him. At the same time, he was far enough away to keep me from something more constant – like resting my foot against him. There he remained until I moved away from the desk.

Why did I so want a picture? Though his aversion to cameras makes photos of Sandy rare treasures, that wasn’t my motive. Rather, it was the experience of the moment I wanted to preserve, a moment of deep-down, to-the-core happiness I encountered in a typical day with my furry companion nearby.

Sandy - snows of 2014
Sandy – snows of 2014

There have been other moments like this, but this was the first time I gave it more than a passing notice. I’ve taken other similar experiences for granted, disregarding how quickly time passes.   Because of many changes, I’m acutely aware of Sandy’s limited time, maybe even measured in months. Tough medical conditions are now working against his 13 ½-year-old body, though he still tries to be the younger version of himself.

Interestingly, that moment this afternoon came with no sadness added. Instead, I was overwhelmed from the inside out with thankfulness that I have Sandy today, and sensed a deep conviction to remain in this thankfulness each day for however many more we have together. By God’s wonderful grace, I refuse to let what could happen tomorrow steal from me today.

I think I’ll let the Lord apply that moment’s lesson to every part of my life.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV …give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s Always Father’s Day

When I came across the following entry while reading some of my journal from earlier this year, I knew it needed to be posted here.  Yes, Thanksgiving Day is upon us, and this was from Father’s Day.  When you read this, I think you’ll have to admit, however, that it’s always Father’s Day.

I have been thinking so horizontally regarding Father’s Day as I’ve readied myself for this special time with You this morning – thinking of Tom, of Brendan (and Angie), of Adam (and Sarah) – along with all manner of totally unrelated items.  But, as I wrote “Father’s Day” at the beginning of this entry, my heart / thought / senses opened wide with the wonder of the vertical – my Abba, heavenly Father!  

Despite having taken me so long to think of Him related to Father’s Day, there is a strong sense of His warm and loving smile covering me through all those other thoughts – not just when I finally made the connection.  What a perfect Daddy You are!

photo by Daniela Corno
photo by Daniela Corno

You just love being a Father, don’t You?  As much as I loved being Mom (and still do), and now have the amazing blessing of being Nana, what I feel as I think of those children and grandchildren is only a minute portion of what You feel for Your children.  You truly delight in us – always.  You love watching us play and work and sleep and enjoy people, places, things.  You really do.  

You see the end from the beginning, so all our missteps and failings don’t cause You to fret or grimace or be embarrassed by us.  No, You delight in us because Jesus already received our just punishment for every one of those things.  When You see us, You only see Jesus’ finished work.  You see us as we don’t yet see ourselves – completely free, completely whole, completely righteous, completely loved.  

What an amazing and wonderful Abba Daddy You are.

Forever Remembered

Another year has come and gone since Nathan left us to enjoy the absolute freedom, peace, health, joy, constant awareness of Jesus Christ, and . . .  We who remain on earth have moved on to different seasons in our lives, as is right.  There’s even another little brother in Nathan’s family now.  While the rawness of our loss (not his!) has greatly subsided, and even our thoughts of him aren’t as constant as they once were, Nathan Tyler Dawson will be forever remembered.  The memories now come with more smiles than tears, and the thought of how he must be blessing friends and loved ones who are with him in heaven brings much joy to my heart.

Time has a way of fading some of our memories, but certain people and moments in our memory banks remain as vivid today as if we were just experiencing life with them.  Nathan is one of those people for me, though I only knew him in person when he was 5 and 6.  How blessed and thankful I am that the Lord saw fit to let my life intersect with his, even for that relatively short time.  I’d rather have known him, despite the many tears when he left, than never to have had him in my life.

I am forever remembering Nathan with joy!

For more about Nathan, see My Tribute, posted February 18, 2009.

God’s Thanksgiving

Remembering that the purpose of this blog is to help believers in Jesus Christ know Him and make Him known to others, the brief entry I transcribed from my written journal into the computer the other day seemed to be a perfect addition.  I hope you receive the words the Lord spoke to my heart as His words to you, as well.

It was around Thanksgiving, and I’d been meditating for several days on various things for which I am thankful.  I included many people – family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ.  I went from there to being so thankful for all God’s promises for provision, protection, daily bread, eternal life, etc.  On Thanksgiving Day, however, I just thanked God for God.  How thankful I am that He not only allows, but actually wants, me to know Him – and has made the way possible!  I’m so thankful that He is Who He is, and that I am not!  He is trustworthy even when all around me seems topsy-turvy and I don’t understand what’s going on.  God is I AM, and His Word will never fail!  How I thank Him!

hot air balloon From this wonderful place of thanksgiving and gratefulness, telling the Lord how thankful I am for Him, and not just for all He does for me and for all He has given me, I heard Him tell me in the quietness of my heart that He’s so thankful for me.  Previously, I tended to listen to the condemning voice of the accuser telling me how bad I am, but I knew this was my heavenly Father speaking to me, and I chose to receive and believe it immediately – not because I felt that I deserved it, but because I am one of His sheep who knows His voice. (John 10:4-5)

Are you a believer in Christ?  Because of Jesus’ blood, our Father is speaking to you the same, simple, yet life-impacting words, “I’m thankful for you.”  Receive His words of love and affirmation today.