Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cheesecake Delight

My pastor made a great point in his sermon a few weeks ago.  Are you plagued with questions, frustrations, addictions and anxieties from time to time?  The solution, of course, rests at the feet of Jesus where we can be ourselves and ask our questions.  The pastor spoke of the delight of quiet time with Jesus and compared it to dining at the Cheesecake Factory!

We relax in the beautiful setting at The Cheesecake Factory.  Oh, to eat a good meal and then walk to the front of the restaurant, stare into the dessert counter displayed behind glass and swoon at the array of every cheesecake imaginable.  How does one choose?  No matter how stuffed we are from dinner, we must leave room for the rich delicacy. 

About eight years ago, my sister and brother-in-law flew in from Chicago during the Christmas holidays.  My daughter and I picked them up at the Phoenix airport.  After we hugged them profusely and packed them into our car, we headed to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner.  The four of us sat in a big booth where we chatted, laughed, and shared our food.  Yes, we are one of those families that tastes each other’s food.

“You’ve got to try this; you’ll love it!”  We exclaim as we dish out bites of our meal on each others’ plates.

Good food, togetherness, joy, and delicious dessert await us at a beautiful table to enjoy.

It’s like that with God.  Maybe not for all, but for those of us who know the joy of His presence, His acceptance of us just as we are, and His faithfulness to enrich our lives and fill us to overflowing.  He spreads it all out for us and  invites us to come to Him and to be with Him.  An extravaganza of love awaits us as we arrive.

I find it a great delight when family comes to visit, not a chore.  Likewise, I don't find it a chore to sit with God in my ordinary days.  I never feel “I have to” but “I can’t wait to.”  His peace fills me and I’m full to the max!

Yeah, I like the Cheesecake Factory description of my special meet ups with God!

You prepare a feast for me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
    My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5

Sunday, November 13, 2016

A Day at the Arboretum

The mountain cities north of us show off an array of fall beauty.  Our family decided to get in the midst of all the yellows, oranges and reds as we drove up to Flagstaff, Arizona, a few weekends ago.  We visited the arboretum!


A new exhibit features butterflies.  We had to carefully enter one of the greenhouses and watch where we stepped as fragile butterflies freely landed, sometimes on us!


This photo features the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state of Arizona.  Humphreys Peak, the highest point in Arizona stands 12,633 feet.

We experienced perfect weather that day and enjoyed getting out in the fresh air on this little hike at the Arboretum.  It is a special memory of a day with family. 

"While the earth remains, Seed-time and harvest,
 And cold and heat, And summer and winter,
 And day and night shall not cease."
Genesis 8:22

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hanging on to Hope

I’m struggling.  My best friend’s husband is dying.  I feel clumsy, so clumsy.   I want to help; I don’t know how.

My emotions feel raw.  My eyes fill with tears.  I love her so much and feel her pain.

“This is life,” she tells me “And it’s the pits.”

I’m honest and ask her if I’m doing enough.  Does she feel my prayers?  Does she feel God’s strength pouring into her to feed him, clothe him, and shower him?

Her petite frame looks worn out.  She quotes the Word.  God will never leave me or forsake me.  He is my strength and my song.

She tells me too many people drop by the house.  It overwhelms her.

She has to say, “Please don’t come.”

She needs quiet and space to refuel.  Seems other friends want to know their part in this too!  She assures me she knows she can text me or call.  She knows she can count on me.

I get the text to meet in Old Town for breakfast.  In the restaurant, we cry over eggs and bacon.  I tell her I hate cancer.  I speak lovingly of her Christian husband and reminisce about those inspirational times at lunch as a foursome.   I’m sad he is fading, but I praise God for grace.  The slow process gives her time to adjust to the idea of death.  She agrees.

She’s always been picky about her coffee.  She pays a company in Old Town to roast it and grind it special for her taste.  Her order is ready.

“Know that I can pick up coffee orders and deliver them to you.  Or do you need to get out of the house?”  I ask.

“Yes!  I need to draw strength from you, a good breakfast and someone to cry with.”

She tells me the kids flew home last month.  She expresses their loving talks and tears with their father.  His strength fails day by day.  We praise God for perfect timing to say goodbye.

She wants me to talk about my family.  She giggles when I share stories of my grandchildren and I smile when I see her spirit lift.

That evening I get her text telling me our time together uplifts her.  She thanks God for everything.  She thanks God for me. 

It makes me cry and I seek comfort in my husband’s embrace.   I hear him say everything will be okay.  Death, the ultimate healing, nears.

Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed.
 Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law.  Galatians 6:2

Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy;
 share tears when they’re down.  Romans 12:15