The Mountain

Yesterday we returned home from Bald Head Island, NC.
Leaving that place brought me back to my last morning walking on the beach
during our week with Brian’s family.
Here I was, having a mountain top experience.
It was a peaceful, relaxing place.
All the business and troubles of life seemed so far away.
I wanted to stay here.
To keep “life” far away.  To continue to rest, renew and relax.
I knew what was at home.  Life goes too fast at home.
It’s busy, noisy, stressful and exhausting.
I wanted to stay here.
But then there was this voice.  A quiet voice, but I heard it.
It was reminding me of the beauty and joy of my home.
The life I had “in the valley”.
The mountain is beautiful, restful, peaceful,
a place where I can go to renew my spirit,
but it’s not where I am supposed to stay.  I would miss my home too much.
For there is laughter, joy, perseverance, friendship, family and mountain top experiences there too.
And there is work to be done.  Joy to be spread.  Good news to be shared.
Work I want to be a part of.
As I walked along the beach, that last morning, 
the words of Steven Curtis Chapman’s song echoed in my head.
I began to sing it out loud as a prayer.
“You bring me up here on this mountain
For me to rest and learn and grow
I see the truth up on the mountain
And I carry it to the world far below
So as I go down to the valley
Knowing that You will go with me
This is my prayer, Lord
Help me to remember what You’ve shown me
Up on the mountain
Up on the mountain”
And so I wanted to write these posts
mostly to help me remember…
May you know that the Lord is with you wherever you go.
May you find rest and strength for your journey in Him.
The Mountain
(Steven Curtis Chapman and Geoff Moore)
[Mark 9:2-9]
I want to build a house up on this mountain
Way up high where the peaceful waters flow
To quench my thirsty soul
Up on the mountain
I can see for miles up on this mountain
Troubles seem so small they almost disappear
Lord I love it here
Up on the mountain
My faith is strengthened by all that I see
You make it easy for me to believe up on the mountain
Oh, up on the mountain
I would love to live up on this mountain
And keep the pain of living life so far away
But I know I can’t stay
Up on the mountain
I said I’d go, Lord, wherever You lead
For where You are is where I most want to be
And I can tell we’re headed for the valley
My faith is strengthened by all that I’ve seen
So Lord help me remember what You’ve shown me
Up on the mountain
You bring me up here on this mountain
For me to rest and learn and grow
I see the truth up on the mountain
And I carry it to the world far below
So as I go down to the valley
Knowing that You will go with me
This is my prayer, Lord
Help me to remember what You’ve shown me
Up on the mountain
Up on the mountain
I cherish these times up on the mountain
But I can leave this place because I know
Someday You’ll take me home to live forever
Up on the mountain

Chit Chat

How often do you just sit and chat with someone?
Friends, family…
Something that has become so real to me lately is how we have lost the art of chit-chat.
Our world is filled with technology that blows my mind.
We have cell phones to carry around so anyone can get to us anytime, anywhere.
Not to mention how we can get to anything, anytime, anywhere on a cell phone.
We have laptops to carry around so we can do work, check up on friends, check email or just surf the net anytime, anywhere.
We’ve always had books we can read, now we have Nooks and Kindles that can do so much more than just a book in our hands.
We can listen to podcasts, watch TV shows, Skype…
oh the list goes on and on.
All this technology is amazing, fun and really very cool.  
I like it.
I have a cell phone (blackberry) which does all sorts of things.
I have a laptop.
I have a facebook account.
I have email.
I listen to podcasts.
I read books.
I like technology.
But it also gets in the way.
At the beach, I had some great conversations (chit-chat) with my sister-in-law.
We sat at the pool every afternoon and just talked.
About parenting, friends, work, family and just stuff.
Not all of our conversation was deep and moving.
But we connected.  On a level that doesn’t happen with technology.
Every afternoon, my sister-in-law took her book to the pool with her.
One day I apologized for keeping her away from reading her book.
I knew she was getting to the end and really wanted to finish it.
She said it wasn’t that important. She was enjoying talking and hanging out.
How often do you just hang out?
It often seems that anytime there is extra time, we have our faces in our computer, we are searching the internet on our phones, checking email, listening to podcasts, connecting with friends, reading our books.
It makes me sad.  
The time we have here on this earth is too short.  
When I am with friends or family,
I want to put away my phone,
close my laptop,
put my book on the shelf,
and just be together.
What would it really be like to spend a weekend or a week 
with family and not take your laptop or leave your phone off or not take a book to read?
Instead, fill the extra time with talking, connecting, walking, praying?
It’s a challenge I want to live.
Dear Jesus, convict my heart when it comes to the time I spend around my family and friends.  Help me to put all that stuff away and focus on the relationships in my life – talking with my husband, laughing with my friends, catching up with my family, playing with my kids…
Don’t let me give in to the easy route when it comes to filling up the time I have.
May I enjoy what technology brings to my life,
but may it never replace relationships in my life.
Amen

Visitors?

So if it is an actual law, it must not be uncommon right?
Right outside our house, in the middle of our little “village” so to speak,
we had a pond.  There were several ponds at the resort.
I believe the ponds were all connected with swampland.
It was quite beautiful.  
But of course, along with those swamps come critters. 
One morning as we walked to the beach, we saw him.
He was long and swimming along the surface of the pond in our village.
On our walk back from the beach there he was,
sunning himself on the bank.  
He seemed so out of place at this resort.  
It was just weird.
Of course, Brian’s family is from Florida so gators are not uncommon to them at all.
But it was still weird.
in retrospect, I believe the gator belonged there, we were the ones who didn’t.
After all, this was their land.  They were here first.
People just moved in and kind of took over.
So he really wasn’t the visitor, we were.
I often hear people refer to earth as not being our home.  
That we are just here temporarily, visiting, and one day will go home to Heaven to be with the Lord.
I understand that thought, but am also challenged by it.
I believe this is my home.  
God created this earth for us to dwell.
He originally created it in perfect form for us to walk in the garden with him.
But sin entered and it just moved right in, trying to take over.
And so we live on an earth where there is chaos, war, heartache, death, disease…
The Good News is that it doesn’t end there!
God created this world and is in the business of reconciling and restoring this garden and those he created to live in it.  That’s you and me!
By the blood of Jesus, we are forgiven.  We are restored.
So I give my life to this business of reconciling and restoring this beautiful creation.
This is my home.  It was created for me.  I want to do my part in caring for it.
With love, kindness, gentleness, patience, peace, joy, faithfulness, goodness, self control and a lot of grace! 
And I invite you to join me in making this your business too.
Dearest Jesus, may I never let the hardships of this life weigh me down.  Help me to see with new eyes, the beauty of your creation, the home you gave to your children.
  Grant me the strength and perseverance to do my part in reconciling and restoring your creation, both the earth and your people.  
May I love unconditionally, 
give sacrificially
as you have done for me.
Amen.

Provision

Provision:
 noun – 
( provisions) supplies of food, drink, or equipment, esp. for a journey.
verb –
to supply with food, drink, or equipment, esp. for a journey 

Our beach house rocked!  It was just awesome!  
4 bedrooms, 3 full baths,
 a large open kitchen with a huge round table we all could fit at
a nice family room area and a great porch with rocking chairs
We were well provided for at the beach.
It was big enough to be comfortable and small enough to not loose anyone, especially kids!  🙂 
But what was most cool, was the laundry service.
No, seriously.  Here is how it worked;
Every morning someone would drive around in a van
and drop off a large garbage bag full of clean, dry linens.
Well, actually they didn’t just drop it off,
They tossed it up the stairs.
If you were sitting in the house looking out the front door
you would see this large white bag come flying up the stairs.
It was quite humorous.

Then a little while later, another person would arrive to clean the house
and change any linens we left on the floor.
(If we didn’t need new towels/linens, we kept them hung up. Eco-friendly!)
Then they would bag up the dirty linens and leave them out for someone else to drive by and pick up.

So this may seem trivial to you.
But think about it.
The goal was accomplished through teamwork.
The goal was to get each house cleaned and stocked with fresh linens.
One person could have done this, driving from house to house
carrying the linens and doing the whole job themselves.
Instead, there was a team.  The house got clean and they had help.

Isn’t life supposed to be like that?
So often I think I can just do it myself.
I know what needs to get done around my house.
I know what my to-do list consists of.
Just let me grieve and move on.
Just let me be angry, I’ll get over it.
Just let me carry my worry, fear and frustrations myself.
I can deal with it!  I am strong enough.  I’ll be just fine!

But wow, that gets boring, lonely, monotonous and sad…
doing life all by myself.
It can also squelch my spirit and sap me of all my energy,
which does not make me feel joyful and “clean”.
My heart gets heavy and my attitude gets crappy.
I know this, but I always seem to let it happen to me.

I need Jesus.  I need the people Jesus has put in my life.
He provides all we need.  So why do I so often ignore that and do it alone?

I have been challenged once again to not walk alone in this life.
Yes, some things I do need to just do,
like daily house chores. 🙂
But I sure don’t need to carry burdens all on my own.
It would do my heart and soul so much good if I would just allow myself to be vulnerable,
reach out to family and friends and ask for help when I need it.
It would also fill my days with so much joy if I take the time to share it with others.

What things to you carry on your own?
Who can you invite into your journey of life,
to be vulnerable with, to share frustrations and sorrows with, to laugh with?
 May the Lord reveal those people of peace in your life and
may you be released of burdens and find healing, peace and joy!

John 10:10b
“I have come that they (you) might have life and have it to the full.”

Preservation

To Preserve:
• maintain (something) in its original or existing state 
• retain (a condition or state of affairs)
• maintain or keep alive (a memory or quality) 
During the first morning I walked along the beach,
 I noticed a lady with a canvas bag picking up trash.
Anything from bottles and cans to flip flops and t-shirts.  
I smiled at this.
How nice of her to pick up trash along the beach to keep it clean.
To preserve the beauty of the shoreline – what a job!
The next day I noticed 3 people walking together doing the same thing.
In fact, every morning I witnessed this kind act.
Each morning it was someone different than before.
Finally I asked a group one morning about what they were doing.
What I discovered was that there were groups of people that walked every morning,
Every day was a different group, but each group did it the same morning every week.

I didn’t find out if they were an official organization
or just a group of people with the same passion.
What struck me the most was the joy they had in doing it.
Each group greeted me in the morning with smiles and hellos.
Here they were, picking up trash,
things belonging to negligent people.
They could have been bitter and tired of picking up after people every week,
frustrated at people’s lack of appreciation for the shore,
but no, they were joyful.

It was a moment when I could have simply said thank you and smiled.
I did say thank you, but then I pondered on it.
Do I walk every day filled with joy?
When my house is a mess?
When my son is cranky?
When my laundry needs to be done?
When I am disappointed, let down or just picking up pieces from someone else’s mess?
No, I don’t.
I’ll admit it.

How do I wish to preserve these days?
My kids won’t be this age forever.
This season of my life will change to a new season.
I want my home to be filled with joy, even in the hard times.
I know there won’t always be happy days, but I can still walk with joy in my heart.
For I am loved and cared for.
I am forgiven and set free.
And so are you!


Dearest Lord Jesus, may I walk each day filled with joy knowing that you walk with me. 
There is nothing that can separate me from you.
Let no obstacle, no worry, no frustration, no sorrow harden my heart.
Help me to preserve today and do my part to make it a beautiful one.
Let me choose Joy!  For I have the freedom and the will to do so.
Amen.