Simplicity of Legacy

This is me and my chubby partial feeling fingers. If you can wiggle your fingers you can make music….eventually

Mom was a beginners piano teacher. She influenced the world. I will use myself as an example as all 7 of us siblings took lessons and I qualify as the least talented in my eyes. While you read, please put on this youtube video of me playing my rendition of moms favorite old hymn. This is a bit of an unconventional way to blog so let me know if it was worth the effort to play and read at the same time.

Now this is important! Please Open another window on your computer, go here https://youtu.be/Ehr5dukFjzw Click and start Video, then come back to read the blog while playing…trust me it will make sense later

VS 1 “Tis so Sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take him at his word” (Musically hesitant)

Well mom thought so all her life. She told me that God had a plan and could be trusted completely. I was 11 years  lying in the hospital, both arms in casts after a saw blade came off a machine and cut both my arms to the bone on the inside near the elbow crease where arteries and nerves are housed . My median nerves were completely severed (a specialist tied them together). I couldn’t feel below the elbows on both hands.

“Just to Rest upon His promise, Just to Know thus saith the lord” (Musically slow but getting there)

Mom did not waver in her faith and trust in Jesus even though the hard times were sometimes very hard. She loved us and sometimes would cry when trying to discipline us (for our good, but didn’t seem so at the time). She had God, her huge garden, a piano, a community full of kids needing lessons and seven kids who ate very well off her cooking.

Chorus: “Jesus Jesus how I trust him” (Musically a little more sure and quite simple)

Even when we seemed to be wandering down the road away from God (she was not silent here). My siblings each have their own decision making and Mom stories. We would need many a week of campfires to sit around and tell those tales.

“how I’ve proved him o’er and o’er”  (musically a few extra notes added)

I was mad at God. I blamed God for allowing my hands and arms to be useless, have no feeling or cramping phantom feelings. My muscles acted as if there was no one in charge. it would take 3 years to do a push-up and pull-up in gym class. I hated the doctor for telling my mom (which gave her way too much leverage) I would have clothes pins for fingers if I did not learn to play the piano or learn how to type.

 

“Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust him more” (Musically ending a thoughtful phrase)

Mom was gentel, kind and cruel all at the same time. I sat at the piano for hours it seemed. “God has a plan” she would say. I was good at saying “ya” a hundred different ways. I didn’t see any plans coming down the pike anytime soon. I couldn’t feel the keys. My fingers didn’t really work. It took me 10 hours to play a little tune when others could do it in 20 minutes.

VS 2: “I’m so glad I learned to trust him, precious Jesus, Saviour, Friend” (Musically changes keys and begins an uplifting era of life)

I began to test the waters of life and one day made my choice. As a teenager I Chose to Follow Jesus. I knelt on the floor of our barn and told him I was all in. Like Mom and Dad and a few other people I knew, I was all in.

“and I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end” (Musically sure, ready to run off a cliff with the music)

It was a learning struggle more complicated than cliff diving (which I would later try); it was more like making a run off the cliff in order to clear several boulders below and reach the deep safe water 50 feet below (tried this also). God proved himself in countless ways. Like Mom I was learning how to fly with trust even in the crashes.

Chorus: Jesus Jesus how I trust him, How I’ve proved him o’re and o’re (Musically marching through life) 

We all got older. Mom began losing her memory. Quietly memories were stolen as the world marched on. I began to renovate this old hymn to play for mom, hoping she would be proud of her son.

“Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust him more.” (Musically challenging and dynamics added for the massive ups and downs of life)

Mom got a fast acting cancer. Her prayers had been that she would not forget her kids and grandkids before she died. She didn’t. I played this song for her as she was in her wheelchair by the piano. She was all there and more. It was not just a “favorite” hymn. It was a lifes song, unwavering in a dimming body.

Chorus again:  Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!          (Musically recapping moms life. I end with the final resolve chord then a little run up the piano as she leaves us to be with her Jesus, savior, Friend.)

I am not an accomplished piano player. My fingers can play some music and I have partial feeling in my hands and arms. This blog is not just about mom or about me playing the piano. I would like it to be a challenge to you the reader and listener in this way: that you would consider living your life all in. the only way I know how is to walk, listen and talk with Jesus, Savior, Friend daily. The proof is in the consistent upgrades that God’s Spirit brings about in our thoughts, speech and character of our being from within. This is The Simplicity of Legacy. 

I hope this in a small way can be a part of Gods Legacy in you. get to the deep and safe waters my friend! Eternity awaits us all, choose and follow Jesus. No hesitation, no excuses. No wallowing the “this happened to me stuff”. Tis so Sweet to trust in Jesus (till you close your eyes the last time sweet).

Gary

Disclaimer: I do not have video capabilities with WordPress which made this a little harder for you the reader, sorry. It was an experiment, let me know if it kind-a sort-a worked. I tried it on myself but I know the song too well. 

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Inside Outside

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Inside and outside are the same.  Kind of…

Have you ever tried to take a picture inside with the outside showing? Normally there is glare, too much light and a flash is needed unless it’s dark outside. I actually set up the camera in the living room on a tripod and waited until the light density was similar inside to the outside. A 70 degree difference from inside to outside as it was a snowstorm just ending outside.

It’s February and very nice out… temperature wise.  

In september the temperature made it’s way down into the 30’s and it was cold. October made it a little colder. November temperature went down into the teens. December made it down to zero and into a few degrees below zero. this January we found 20 below zero a few times and the beginning of February in the minus 30 below zero range (some saw minus 40’s but you get the picture).  What was cold in September is now t-shirt weather. January weather seems warm from February’s view. 

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Our Spruce tree seems cold as the sun sets. We love our views from the inside

We live and adjust to relativities in so many areas of our lives, not just the weather.

We live and adjust daily without even thinking about it. I have 6 pairs of outdoor boots and combinations of 12 layers of different types of outer and layered coats and jackets (I can stay warm in minus 30 with a wind chill of -60 degrees). A few days ago I was outside unloading my ice fishing equipment and I thought “It’s warm out here”; I looked at the outdoor thermometer and it read -32 degrees. The wind had died down and it felt warm outside. I called dad mid January to let him know it was minus 20 degrees. He said “wow it’s warm there, it’s -42 here”. I just gave my oldest kentucky daughter a text telling her “it is 40 degrees colder here…must be nice”. She texted back “and I thought 21 degrees was really cold”

Even though it feels warm, it would still be a disaster to stick one’s tongue on the car door handle. There are some things that are not relative. You will still lose part of your tongue if stuck on freezing metal (I have a winter camping story with tin cups for another time). A bad diet seems ok until later in life. Smoking seemed ok for our health a long time ago. We can come up with an endless list of how we live life as relative. Maybe it actually kind of works; until it doesn’t.

A relationship with God is not relative. Sin is not relative. God’s love is not relative. Don’t stay outside in relativities on this one. Come inside. What God says and has revealed to man and carefully recorded and preserved in scripture trumps our relative spiritual ideologies.

I would encourage you to read the Bible. Unlike any other book ever written, the Holy Bible is compiled of writings that cover a span of about 1400 years and include some 40 writers. Within its pages are 66 books, yet it is considered one book, The Book, The Holy Scriptures, The Word of God. The time period recorded during those 1400 years covers nearly 4000 years of human history and God’s revelation of Himself to and through man. The history of the Holy Bible is the history of God’s involvement with mankind.

I’m getting ready for tomorrow. Another snowstorm coming. Warm weather as it will stay above -10 tonight. Maybe. Tomorrow morning I will also continue getting ready for another tomorrow (someday my tomorrow will be in eternity) as I read a passage from God’s word, pray (my personal talk time with God), reflect and allow God’s Spirit to set my tone for the day. I have a personal relationship with my creator God. It’s real and I am changed. I trust the changes in me are not like the weather outside. temporary. Relative. To be more like Jesus is reality. Truth. Inside.

Gary

Moonset Morning at Ten Below Zero

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I  stepped outside and took a 10 second time exposure. Long enough to get cold in my sleepwear. 

I watched the moon set before the sun would light the morning.  I pondered and identified with the Psalmist.

“You, God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. ” Psalm 63: 1

I thought of the all the sailors who have been adrift in life boats after losing their vessel in storm or war; often muttering “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”

I think often of the happiest people I have ever seen in a third world country and they have nothing.

I think of the change of one’s whole being when they finally understand how much Jesus loves them; enough to die for them. It’s like coming home from vacation and all your plants look dead and they spring to life with water. Only we get “Living Water.”

I ponder how this passion for God in our dry and thirsty land affects my speech, word choices and topics of conversation today and through the week. Will I use alternate swear words? slang? Will I confront or come alongside when differences arise? will I wash the dishes when my wife looks tired even though I have had an 11 hour work day? Will I say a kind word to a harried cashier? Will I live intentionally? Generously?

It’s now daylight. Will I live as a child of light? A delightful sunday morning. I read on. “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you Psalm 63: 4-5 (even if I don’t know the song?)

Gary

Sacred Moments

To many this would be sacrilege. but to those who have realised they just escaped hell, sacred.

 I came a stranger, a visitor and casual observer. I left immersed in wonder.  

 The place was packed. The air as electric with excitement as a tied championship game in final seconds. Yelling, clapping and (very) loud cheering sounds from young and old alike. God winning. Testimony and story from several teens, twenties and some elderly as they declared hardships and victories before being dunked in an icy water filled cattle tank. Tears and much shaking of heads as memories of who they were “before Christ”. Gods power was evident, powerful, overflowing and permeating. All were participants in this sacred gathering.

Thirtysome quick stories and baptisms before moving on to thirtysome child dedications. The electricity was still there. Clapping, yelling and various carrying on continued as parents gave their kids to God and pleaded with the people to help them raise their kids to Love God. Not a dry eye in the place as a mom gave her child to God. “Before Christ”, Strung out on drugs at life’s bottom she had given away her young child for adoption.  Now in her new life in Christ, she was now giving her child to God. A child she may never see again on earth. She desperately wanted to at least see her child in heaven someday.

[Side notes: extremely organized, the youth band was great but their drummer is an alien with six arms I think. How could over 70 events happen with people talking and take only 2 hours? Wow, they didn’t come for the cake afterwards! I still feel compelled to pray once in awhile for the barren mom with purple and pink hair. So this is where my grandkids are being raised…]

There was nothing ordinary about this afternoon church service.  God wasn’t just “talked about”, God permeated the room and the people with his presence. A sacred excitement. We were there with His Spirit. I could  picture Jesus in the eyes of the little kids standing on chairs clapping with glee. The year was 2018. I shall not forget this sacred moment.

Ask God for a sacred moment in your life and church (and by faith carry ear plugs)

Gary

PS: a bit of irony on the backstory. This meeting was held in a nice church building given to this ministry. Seems the church grew old and disbanded from lack of people and funds. This ministry grew out of that church a few years back but was attracting people that made the church people uncomfortable. Now that ministry is a church and the old church building is just big enough for the youth ministry. God wins.

A Reason To Journal.

I re-read this often. You will get the gist. 100 years from now this may matter to someone.

Dad

When I sit to write in my own journal, I often think of you because you first introduced me to journaling. You let me read one of your entries once and I loved the little bits of personality and the depth it allowed me to see in you. I loved the wisdom it so clearly showed all laid out there in your own hand. It showed me that journaling was a valuable and even cool thing to do. It has since been invaluable to me. A means to get my thoughts all out where I can see them and sort through what makes sense and what doesn’t. Sometimes just having to put enough thought into it to form the words was the valuable part. I love that I now have pages to look back at and see the path my own learning has taken so far in life. It leaves a bit of legacy to perhaps share pieces with my own daughters someday down the road.

So, thank you and keep those pages coming, hope this will come in handy.

Love …(and signed by my oldest daughter)

Just a small glimpse of some of my past

Journal entry 1eml

In no particular orderJournal entry 2eml

Journal entry 3eml

Journal entry 4eml

Fair warning, discipline is required but the pay off is immeasurable. Please share your good thoughts.

Gary

PS: for some tips on approaching journaling, Mitch Teemley has some good suggestions. Check it out.  https://mitchteemley.com/2018/10/15/journaling-for-life-2/                                Also, Read Davids comment below…Again, journaling is worth the discipline for the long haul!

 

When it Rains

Plans are changed, priorities shuffled and lifes pictures may seem gloomy. We unknowingly booked a vacation for a hotspot of flooding, flash flooding, plenty of power outages and more rain on the way. Yes, the storms even come without warnings or disclaimers. That’s not fair!

Do you know how many camera clicks it take seems to capture a raindrop? Especially repositioning for a raindrop with it’s reflection. That’s ok (not really), I had time (about that). I’m on vacation! (can I get a do-over?)

 

Maybe God helps us pause, prioritize, reposition and see the reflections of our lives to gain what He wants in and for us.

I honestly did not think much of our vacation condo deck or it furniture. I sense that sometimes I am like the old deck wood; old and useable but warped with a few spots that hold water and have some rot. Maybe I am even more like the warped plastic table that cannot even shed water and am drowning in the rains of life.

But, maybe God wants to show his kind of beauty in my life in strange ways. Strange like the blue air in the pictures below after the rain.  Click to enlarge and scroll through the pictures. 

 

Just maybe, God knows I am planted in the crevice of a rock and I need a lot of rain in my life to stay alive and grow. Whatever the reasons for life changing storms and torrents of rain, God is the one who knows what He is doing. In trusting Him I hope when others look at my life, they see reflections of life and hope. Reflections, if only partial or broken up, of Jesus.

After all, if an old warped cheap plastic table can reflect a beautiful image of a tree, could I not in some small way reflect the character of Jesus if I stay close to him?

If a small tree can sink it’s roots into a rock and survive the seasons of life, Could my soul not thrive on the feast available in God’s word?

If some lowly outdated warped deck boards way past their prime can still hold water enough to reflect what is around them after the rain for awhile, I suspect God can still use me somehow as I get older and less useful by human standards.

Sometimes God waits till “after the rain” to speak to us. If you are like me, I am not ready to hear or listen until the rain has passed.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Gary

Your insightful thoughts and comments are greatly encouraged!

Just a Worship Thought

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 Luke 19:37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

 Isaiah 55:12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 Habakkuk 2:11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.

Fire lake
Some places are gonna be loud!

Gary

To DeClutter Life

Clutter before God title 1
Psalm 1: What will be standing in my life when someday I stand before the almighty God? You and I will watch all that is seemingly important fall away.

I watched a leaf fall off a tree this morning, before it’s time, yet not I thought. but Fall is a ways off when leaves die and clutter the ground.

It was 50 degrees (f) on the screen porch where I sat with a bible and a cup of coffee. The hummingbirds were scolding me for being close to “their” flowers and feeders for a backdrop in my morning meet with God. In the distance a Rooster pheasant crowed to add reverence with a dozen song birds chirping in.
I had just had a conversation with my neighbor about decluttering our garages, storage sheds and so many extras. This morning I was reminded to think about decluttering my spiritual life. The to do lists, priorities and even not taking my own thoughts and views seriously unless they really come from God. This is serious stuff when an outdoorsman begins to pray for a smaller boat!

I had opened my Bible to Psalm 1. “Lord I want to be like the tree” I prayed. “Please help me declutter my life from the unimportant”.

I drew out a rough illustrated rendition of the psalm 1 version of  the two things that could happen to each of us when we stand before God. That day is coming. It will happen.  Add your comments to make it personal…Some great insights from fellow bloggers. Makes me feel like a lion in a den of Daniels.

Check out a very insightful comment below from parishdynamics . Also check out some great insight from InnerDialects written from a half a world away prompted by this blog and the concept of decluttering.

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This is my own little book with blank pages ment for scribbles and bits of wisdom potential. It’s a kind of sort of journal that works for me.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

GARY

 

A Time to Tell

It’s a story that needs telling. Maybe some stories are sacred enough to leave for the telling in eternity. Maybe some can be told as a teaser for story time a hundred years from now. I will leave most things out but you will get the gist.

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  Ominous sunset with a storm coming. I wonder what clashing spiritual forces look like? 

A while after moving to a strange place, with hardly an acquaintance, my wife casually mentioned to me she had an aunt (I had never met) living in the same small town where we lived. Odd situation I guess. Auntie didn’t like any of us or care to meet but she had cancer and was not long for this world. My wife had never felt moved to get to know auntie until now. “I’m going to visit her starting tomorrow” she announced “and she probably will not want to see me”. 

My wife found her address,  knocked on her door and when the door opened a crack with a “What do you want” greeting, she was quick to stick a foot in the door and let auntie know who’s daughter she was, that she wanted to visit and she brought a few cookies. Auntie took the cookies and shut the door.

This went on for awhile until my wife made it inside the door to talk a little longer and visit with one cold old bitter women. Seems Auntie didn’t need sympathy, prying relatives and even rejected her own children half the time. Auntie had no time for prayer or anything to do with God.

Auntie believed that when one dies, that’s it. No after life, no purpose to life, no God, nothing. Burn the body and get rid of the ashes.

In all this, my wife seemed more and more confident that God was pushing her from a weekly visit over time to daily visits by the time Auntie went into the hospital. “She needs someone” my wife kept saying. The nurses drew straws (they actually did) to see who had Auntie duty. Auntie was not a nice lady and even refused to let her grandchildren visit her. She did not want to even know their names or see their faces. When my wife or her  grown children would visit, Auntie would pretend to be asleep. If they tried to hug her she would say “You may shake my hand”. My wife would not ask. She would hug her anyway. Gradually her stiffening at hugs became less like hugging a wooden board.

My wife would sing hymns and read Auntie bible passages about knowing Jesus when Auntie would pretend to be sleeping. Some days Auntie would actually talk to her. She would not let any clergy see her or anyone pray with or for her.

A few days before Auntie died, My wife felt moved to ask her if she could pray for her. Auntie said “I suppose it would be OK”. My wife thanked Jesus for dying for all the things that separated us from God. She prayed the whole plan of salvation as she had been reading to Auntie in the bible. She prayed for Auntie to just believe in Jesus. If she would just believe. When she was done Auntie said something no one had heard from her lips in a very long time, “Thank you”. Then she went to sleep and My wife went home.

The next day some of Aunties kids said to my wife “What did you do to her?” Alarmed my wife said “I prayed with her, why?”

Auntie spent the last few days of her life smiling, thanking nurses and asking to meet her grandchildren. Hugs happened and Auntie was a different person. Auntie never acknowledged praying with my wife or believing in Jesus but there isn’t any other evidence to explain the complete change from an angry and bitter old dying women to a sweet little old cancerous women in pain. She was not getting more morphine. She actually seemed to be living beyond the pain drugs. She died much happier than she had lived most of her life.

“All I did was do what I felt God was telling me to do” says my wife.

My wife and I thought God had relocated us from family, friends and great fishing lakes for a job and better income. Now we are thinking God had far bigger things in mind. It’s very possible that God moved my wife here and gave me a job while He was at it.

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord  “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Gary

Please comment below, thanks

Monday Worship

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Monday morning, a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit  on the screen porch

When I can, which is most days, I approach the author and creator of this universe boldly on our screen porch (or the breakfast table inside). The loud traffic outside comes from hundreds of birds excited over a few patches of ground showing up in the snow (and three birds I have named Martha 1,2 and 3 fighting over a single bird house. I listen and worship today from the book of James. So much peace, joy and worship comes from this screen porch. I suspect someday some will want to ban screen porches.

Where is your place of worship? We all worship something or someone everyday.

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Praising God and reflecting on his word. When hard times (which we see) and God’s goodness (only God sees) collide, we are never the same. We are Gods masterpiece created in Christ Jesus (EPH 2:10) 

Dressed for the occasion in my wilderness wool, blue jeans and moccasins. It is finally above freezing and the screen porch is a great meeting place with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for now. I am competing with scores of upland song birds vivaciously singing at the top of their lungs. Sometimes God may enjoy their unabashed worship more than mine. Oh that God would melt the snow patches on my own heart and in that melted puddle reflect his glory.

What or who do we reflect?

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Morning reflections from the woods as the snow melts. The suns reflection  is noticeably absent

I Pray that the light of Jesus is not absent in the reflections of my life.

James 1:22-24   

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  

I’m looking forward to the eternal display of those masterpieces!

Please add your thoughts as well. Thanks for reading.

 Gary