Friday, April 23, 2010
We were all hidden anywhere we could - behind cars & trees, beside houses. Kids, lot of kids, had just watched the older kids in the neighborhood run a clothesline between two trees that were across the street from each other. They had hung a dummy from it and it was unseen high up in the trees. Now we were just trying to stay hidden, trying to stop the giggles and laughter, waiting for the next car who would be driving through. We waited, not knowing if the people in the car would find it as funny as we would when the dummy was dropped in front of them as they unknowingly became our next victim. Screeching tires. Screaming drivers. Car doors flying open as well as flying kids who tried to find a better hiding place now that we knew they weren't finding this funny at all. Unfortunately, many people failed to see it as humorously as we did!
There must have been 20 kids who played together most days and nights. Kick the can. Witches. Hide 'n Seek. Tag. Any game that could be thought of, or created, we played. Playing baseball in the backyard. My big brother getting hit in the chest with a baseball and I was so scared because he couldn't breathe! The clubhouse in our backyard built by my brothers who dubbed it the Heaven's Devils Clubhouse. (The Hell's Angels were very well known back then!) The teasing that went on between the girls and boys. The first crush. The second crush. Watching the cotton-filled baby doll blow up because someone (yeah, I know who!) had put M80's in the head. Raining cotton everywhere! My hula-hoop torn apart at the seam and put quickly back together. Around a big tree limb, of course!
I remember us as being an inseparable group. We went to school together - Somerset and Meadowbrook Junior High. And I'm sure we had to have our fights. C'mon, we were kids! But for the life of me, I can't remember one fight. Although I do remember when one of the Vogt boys was asked what song would best represent someone loving me he sang "The Impossible Dream"! Silly boy! Was he was being prophetic? Or maybe he cursed me? Hmmm.......!!!
Our parents knew each other and talked to each other. (They also made sure each parent needed to know what the kids were up to!) They actually helped out when it was needed. We knew most of what was going on in each family and what they were doing. Like the time the roofer fell off our roof. The neighbors said he must have gotten into Mom's homemade wine. Yep, they all knew about it and had probably tasted it!
I remember a party that my parents had and most of the neighborhood families showed up. The adults inside playing cards, talking, smoking, drinking and talking about whatever adults talk about. (I know now what they talk about and it isn't so different from what kids talk about!) Kids outside, screaming, yelling, running, just being kids, like kids should be. Carefree. Innocent. Childlike. Because we were.
Do you hear the bell clanging? The kind of small metal bells teachers used to have on their desks? That's what my parents used to call us in to dinner or bed or just in. Saved them from sore throats because the bell could be heard further than a yell.
And then 1972 came and my family left Rainbow Drive. Left Madge, Kelly, Joey, Debby, Mark, Larry, Ethan, Evan, Eddy, Pam, Mark, Valerie, Greg, Phillip, Benita, Bunny. And so many others that I can't remember at this time. That was the last year I saw any of these kids - kids who helped shape my life. Kids who let me have fun. Kids who were fun. And I have always held that time on Rainbow Drive safely tucked in my heart. Believing that it was a time that was gone but would live on forever because of the memories. Never expecting to see or hear from any of them again because of the years between us. Ahhh, good times, really good times!
But, oh, the power of technology and the far reach of Facebook! After 38 years, four of these families have reconnected because of this social network. Not all the kids but a few. Whodda thunk? And you know, even though I see current pictures, I can't really think of them as adults. Because in my mind, we will always be kids, having a groovy time on Rainbow Drive. Sunshine Days! (From the Brady Bunch but I may be way off on the year!) Doing what kids are supposed to do - be kids! And until I see some of these kids face-to-face, they will still be kids to me, running up and down Rainbow Drive. Red Rover! Red Rover! Send Greg right over!
P.S. I reserve the right to have my memories as the way I remember them. We all have different perspectives and I like my rainbow colored memories!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Isaiah 53:2 "...There is no beauty that we should desire him" Him being Jesus. To me, this means he was not the good-looking man that He is depicted as in so many pictures. He was a man whose looks did not warrant a second look. How many people do I walk by every day without giving them a second look? Had I walked the earth the same time as Jesus, if I ran into him on the dirt road, I would have walked right by him, never giving him a second glance based on looks. But there is something about Him, something that compels us to give Him a second glance. It is the shechinah glory that draws people to Him. The glory of God. .
I may not have given Him a second glance - my life proves it - but how many times a day did He look my way? I would venture to say that He has never taken His eyes off of me - even when I was denying Him. He was always looking at me, always beckoning me and always wooing me, while I silently screamed the words "If this is God, I want nothing to do with Him!" But Jesus never took His eyes off of me.
I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 14, and then did it again a couple of months later because I wasn't sure it took. Oh, I said the Sinner's Prayer (hopefully a subject for another blog!) both times - meaning it both times - and then promptly walked away. But I had positioned my heart to His and it would not be let go. "Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:31. His mark was on me at the age of 14. More importantly, my name was now etched in the palm of His hand and His eyes never left me.
But I left Him as quickly as I had asked him into my heart and did what I wanted for the next 23 years of my life, with barely a thought of what He wanted. Of course, I had my limits. A friend once accused me of not doing something I didn't need to be doing because I was such a good Catholic girl. Oh, if she only knew!!! But Catechism must have taught me something. Or scared me! I know now that it was the Holy Spirit protecting me.
He could not take His eyes off of me, always looking at me, always beckoning me, always wooing me until that day in 1997 when I surrendered to Him and became free. And it has taken me many many years to realize that all He wants me to do is look at Him, beckon Him, woo Him. He wants to be my bridegroom, my lover. And He is! "You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride. With one look of your eye." Song of Solomon 4:9. Me?! The girl people don't give a second glance?! I have ravished His heart?! How can this be? He has called me beautiful. With one look of my eye, I ravished (captured) His heart! Me! Wow! He finds me desirable. He calls me beloved. He calls me His. He etched my name in the palm of His hand and it can't be removed! And He wants me to "get" that I am His. He has called me His own. And I get it, most days, although sometimes it is easy to forget. But He is looking at me, beckoning me, wooing me and won't let me forget it for long. Because my Daddy is the King of kings. My bridegroom is the Lover of my soul.
Before I was born He knew me, sanctified me (Jeremiah 1:5) and wanted me. All that was needed for me to be His was to use that free will thing and choose Him. Because although He created me for Him, He was not going to make me be His. I had to choose Him, as He was not going to force me to do anything - ever. Free will - the gift that puts the choice in my hands. Would you want a god that makes you love him? That's control. I believe rebellion would erupt pretty quickly if someone forced me to love them. By the way, how can you make someone love you? My heart would not be in it, that's for sure! And a god like that would soon end up with a bunch of robots as followers. Not for me, thank you!
My God wants me to desire Him but lets me make that choice. And yes, I chose Him back in 1973 to get my "get out of hell free card" but like a true lover, He revealed Himself to me by looking at me, beckoning me, wooing me. Come, follow me. Let's go! How abandoned will you let us be?! My choice. I set the slow pace....trust issues, you know! But He had me on a fast track of learning about Him.
And one day it dawned on me - religion kills! I personally do not like religion. It is based on man-made laws and rituals and there is absolutely no way for me to keep them. No way for me to keep them, so I am set up to fail. At the same time, I discovered that He doesn't call me to a religion but to a relationship with Him. How close can I be? How close can I come? How much do I want to know Him? It's all my decision.
I don't believe that when I see Jesus face to face, He'll ask me what I did about religion. But He just may ask me what I did about Him. And the conversation will be just about me and Him. I won't be able to bring anyone else into it. I won't be able to say "But s/he said....." "Me, Greta, what did you do about Me?"
Contemplating....what have I done about Him? Well, I accepted Him as my Savior. Got my "get out of hell free card". Then, a while down the road, I made Him Lord and Friend. Trusted Him. Believed Him. Loved Him. And do you know how many times I have turned my back on Him?! I sure don't! But He always sees me through the eyes of mercy. He always affords me grace. I am dark. He says I am lovely. My shame is gone because I know I am beautiful in His eyes. Nothing can take me away from Him, because I belong to him....willingly. And He will fight and has fought for me. I have played the harlot, but He sees my beauty. (My beauty is the blood of Jesus Christ. That's what God sees when He looks at me.)
I have tried to run away, but then I remember what I was before Him and do I really want that? No, I have tasted live death and I never want to go back there. I want Him! I want to be His lover, bride & friend. You see, He desires me! And when you know you have been desired by the Lover of all lovers, what else is there? There is only Love.
Love is an action word. Love is the living, breathing, walking, talking Word of God. And the Word of God is Jesus (John 1). And He knows me. He knew me before I was born...knew what I was going to be named. (And my parents thought they named me!) He knew me on that day He was nailed to a cross, dying for me (Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!). He knows I was going to reject Him and He did it anyway. He also knew that I would fall in love with Him. (What does He know about you today?)
He is alive today! Looking at you. Beckoning you. Wooing you. Like a lover waiting for His beloved to return. Not with thoughts of anger or punishment but with open arms. And He will not quit waiting. Because we never come to the end of God!
Who am I that You should think on me? Like me, you are His creation, made for Love. Turn your eye towards Him and see what happens.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Abba, I believe in You. I believe that Jesus died, shedding His blood on that cross. And that He lives, seated at your right hand. And I only ask this question because you are big enough and you know I'm thinking it. Daddy, where are you? Don't you see what's going on? Of course you do. So, again, where are you?
I AM in that still small voice leading you. I AM! I AM in the prayers of my saints. I AM in the hearts of my saints. I AM here - right now, right beside you, in front of you, behind you, leading you, guiding you. Hear the war drums? Time is drawing closer. They are getting louder, stronger, fuller. They are beating as my heart. One who is ready to do war with my - our - enemy. Listen to the cries of the saints. They are not unheard. Listen to the war drums. They are the cries of my heart. They are the cries of my heart. Crying out for my people, my bride, my lover, the Ones given to me by the blood of the Lamb. Feel the drums. Feel me. I AM here. And I AM coming quickly. Hold on! Do not lose faith and do not be afraid to ask. I AM here.
After writing His answer I noticed that all prayer / singing / music had stopped, with the exception of the drums. There was absolutely no other noise but the beautiful sound of the drums.
God bless you all!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
One of my favorite songs and it really fits who I am right now. I lived in KS all my life until 2006. And since then I have lived in Utah, Missouri, Mississippi, California, Texas and Kentucky. I just can't stay in one place for too long any more. I figured out there is a world outside of KS....and I love it! I remember when I got engaged and my future husband & I talked about moving away from our hometowns of Pittsburg and Franklin. How I wanted to get out of Kansas! To see the world. He said we would! But it wasn't to be, at least not the way I had envisioned it. After we were married, we moved to Frontenac!! Argghhh!!!
Most of my travels are in my car. I really like driving. In 2007 I took a drive from MS to CA to UT to KS, back to MS to pick up passengers, then on to FL and back to MS. And I've done most of it on my own. I've taken several mission trips. Ukraine in 2004. Christmas 2004 I spent in Mexico. And in 2006 I was blessed to take a mission trip to Israel. (I am ready to go back, thank you very much!) I went to Mississippi for six weeks one time and ended up staying for 14 months. That was my first domestic mission trip and it ended up changing my life. I would love to have that experience again.
Wow! Who would have thought that this girl, who was scared to drive to the Kansas City airport by herself, would end up going to all these places and, in some cases, with people she had never met before! When I went to Ukraine (not knowing anyone else on the trip) I was privileged to minister alongside two great people - Paige & Taffie - and I am still in touch with them. A lifelong friendship, based on the love of Jesus Christ, was formed and I love both of them! And I laid in a pothole while there just so we could get a picture of how big they were! And in Israel I sat in some kind of big round stone pot / planter that was in the square of the Old City.....just cuz.
A really amazing experience in Israel: we had just landed, deciding to go the bathroom before picking up our luggage. We didn't take that long....I promise! But when we got to the luggage carousel, there was no luggage there but ours and it was surrounded by IDF....they wanted to know why no one had picked it up yet. They had guns! We had to pee.....again! When I went to Mexico (again, no one I knew was on the trip) I got to participate in handing out Christmas love packs to the poor. I'll never forget the Precious Moments dolls that had been donated for the trip. Or the day we were stopped by the Federales who had guns, really big guns. We were eight hours south of the US border, in the middle of nowhere. We had dolls. They had guns. The dolls won.
Do you know how fun this is? To be free enough to go wherever you want? There is nothing like it....absolutely nothing. And I would highly recommend it to anyone. Are you sitting there thinking there's got to be more to life than those four walls? There is! There are bathrooms in Mexico that have hardly any water pressure. There are bathrooms in Ukraine that don't have toilets in them. (You have to ask for the toilet in order to get the toilet.) And they have "squatty potties" in public places. And yep, what you have pictured in your mind is just what they are! And in Israel you can have either a small flush or a big flush....just pick the knob you need to get the job done. I'm thinking this is something we in the US should really look at seriously. And I'm wondering why I'm suddenly fixated on the facilities in foreign countries.
All this to say........on the road again. Just can't wait to get on the road again! Which I will do on Friday morning. Driving. By myself. And guess where I'm going? Kansas!
Monday, March 22, 2010
And I can go to bed tonight knowing I did the right thing. And I will able to look my friends in the eyes, the ones I supported tonight. I lived up to what I said I would do. And I can thank Jesus that He is my Savior, my Salvation, my reason for doing the right thing.
God bless you all!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
And why do I let myself get to the point of hurting so bad, that the only way to "fix" it is to walk away from the one who I believe has hurt me? I would rather not have any further contact with that person than face them and say "I am hurt." And yes, I know it doesn't fix it, it only puts it on a shelf to raise its ugly head at a later time. And besides, most people today don't care whether or not they have hurt you.
And why does it still affect me so deeply, the things that have been done to me? The things I allowed to be done to me?! The things I have done to me? And why does it matter? Why do I allow these things to make me stiff, unable to have a good time?
And why do I keep running into articles, posts by friends and email daily devotions that talk about telling the secrets and not letting them control me any longer? And about cleaning house, metaphorically speaking, and not just throwing the stuff into another room and closing the door? And ones that say it's OK to dream and that I am only hurting myself...and God...if I walk away from my dreams?
And why am I afraid to crawl upon my Daddy's lap and cry on His shoulder? And to tell Him my dreams and what I desire. Doesn't He know already? Why I am afraid? Because I don't trust Him enough to be there for me and to not walk away, or throw me away, like most everyone else has. Rejection. The core. I need to look at that. Because my Daddy will not reject me. I just want to be myself.
When did I become a slave to these machines that have on and off buttons? And why do I think I have to answer each one of these right now? I remember going to work to rest and get away from everyone.....nobody dared call me at work. And why do I let it get to me? After all, I just need to turn off my phone, shut down the Yahoo Messenger and tell the person yelling for me that I am at work and can't be disturbed.
I truly don't understand people who get a rush out of this kind of stuff. I've heard it called living off the adrenaline. That is entirely too much adrenaline for me......I'll take a valium, please. They must need to feel wanted. I do too, but to me it's just too much pressure. After all, don't I control each and every one of these machines? When did they begin to control me? Well, OK, I do have to answer the work phone and the work IM, but c'mon...the rest are just going to have to wait!
So tomorrow, I'm going to turn on my computer and nothing else. I don't need my cell phone at work. I don't need Yahoo messenger at work. I don't need it!
I'm sure there is an off button on my cell....where in the world is it?!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
My brother Tom was the most often "missing' one of the family. He would come back into my life every few years for a little while and then disappear again. This was hard - very hard - on me. He is 2 years younger than me and at one time we were very close. We worked together at Sonic. We ran away from home together once. We drank beer together in the parking lot of the bowling alley. We watched out for each other. He lived with me after I got married. He lived with my daughter and me after a divorce. One of my best Christmas memories came from the Christmas of that year. Silly String! And then change came. He went one way and I went another. But I never stopped loving him and wondering how and what he was doing.
Tommy came back into my life about a month ago after being gone for about 5 years. There was a time a couple of years ago that we talked on the phone, but that time he was gone just as quickly as he appeared. I used to call his phone number every couple of months, leaving messages, telling him I loved him, until the new owner of that number called me and let me know there was no Tommy at the other end! When I had last spoken with him, he had told me he was having health issues. As his sister, I worried. As I believer in Christ, I pray for him. Now he is back and his health issues have escalated to the possibility of needing a heart transplant. He is younger than me......he is not supposed to be having these problems! When I first heard about this from him, I went numb. Me, who has spent 90% of my life crying, couldn't (or wouldn't) cry. That changed tonight when I read his blog and the reality of it hit me. My baby brother has heart problems and may need a heart transplant. I cried and I am crying as I write this. It is not supposed to be this way! This is not what I had planned! But then, life never is, is it?
So, I will cry and I will pray. And I will trust that God is God and He is the One I can lean on. Knowing that His word is real and I trust that what He says will be, will be. Lord, I lay this one in your hands!
Friday, March 5, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
The definition of "finished" is: 1. Ended or completed. 2. Completed or perfected in all details. 3. Polished to the highest degree of excellence. "Polished" means flawless, skillful, excellent.
It is finished. It is completed. It is perfected. It is polished. It is excellent. It is flawless. It is Jesus. He is perfected and nothing can be more excellent that Him. If I know and believe in my heart that He said these words, I then need to believe that what He says He means. And since he meant that, He also meant it when He said "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17 (NKJV) So, I do believe that He meant it. The world might be saved. Through Him. Through His acts. Not through me. Not through my acts.
He finished "it" for me and you (He died that I might have life, if I choose to accept it) but He is not "finished" with me yet. There is still something I can do, if I want. I will actively live while believing His words. I do this by praising Him for what He has already finished, completed, perfected, and polished to the highest degree of excellence. I will continue to praise Him until I see the evidence of that which I believe in my heart He did on the cross. I am evidence of it. I am seeing evidence of it in my daughter, Chantel. She has turned her heart to Jesus and I see her teaching her children about Jesus. Evidence of what He said and did. Because He was thinking of her that day. And because He was thinking about you that day. And I continue to praise Him after seeing the evidence. Because I want to praise Him. After all, He gave me life!
As I read this over, I am getting other levels of understanding. I knew that would happen! This is the way the Holy Spirit works - always teaching, always wooing, always saying "hey, look at it this way!".
Jesus said it. Did I truly believe it? In my heart? Do I believe those words that He said while He hung there on the cross, bleeding out, dying, thinking of you and me? He came that we might have life. He died that we might have life. Did I believe it? Do I believe it now? My Jesus does not lie and He does not speak lightly. Yes, I believed it, but that conversation today led me to a higher level of understanding and belief. I believe it and understand it deeper now. Even as He died, He lived....and we are polished to the highest degree of excellence. We just have to believe it. It is finished.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I picked up my Life Application Bible (LAB) the other day. It was the first study Bible I owned and it was given to me by the women’s group of the church I attended at the time. The back cover is no longer attached and the maps and concordance are falling out as well. I keep saying I'm going to get some red duct tape and fix it, but never have! The LAB is the one I read / studied when I first came to know Jesus as my Lord, not just my Savior. It has pages that are tear-stained, crumbled, and torn! I have written in it in all different colors of ink - it was a system at one time, I’m sure. And although I no longer use this Bible on a daily basis, it is still a source of life for me.
I had an overwhelming urge to go through a box of stuff on Thursday and ran across my Spirit Filled Life Bible and noticed that the same thing is beginning to happen to this Bible as well. The spine is broken and pages, although not falling out, are not as attached as they once were. I've had this Bible almost as long as the LAB. Memories came in like a flood – oh, the things I learned while reading this Bible. Here too, I found the man I eventually fell in love with – Jesus Christ. I smiled contently as I opened it, knowing I had just picked up an old friend.
I have several other Bibles as well and each of them has a different part of my life attached. Some are well used and some, well, let's just say we're getting to know each other! There’s the NKJV I received for my birthday a couple of years ago. It’s the first one that a friend actually wrote in – even if I did have to make him! I haven’t seen him since as he was moving to Virginia that day. It is the Bible I take to church with me and I am reminded to pray for him because of his gift. And I have a Message Bible. This is the one in which my granddaughter Mallory wrote a message just for me in the midst of the Psalms! She also found the maps and drew roads leading to Kansas and Kentucky…..right there in the middle of Israel and the Middle East! I smile when I see the evidence of God!
The outside of the Bibles are different, some showing signs of age and wear & tear, and yet all of them have one thing in common – they direct me to the One I need.
If I am in trouble - “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11. He’s thinking of me…of you…right now! And He has plans to give me a future and hope?! How cool is that?!
If I want words with which to praise Jesus Christ, I can open any Bible to the Psalms and praise Him with words from the psalmist. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6. Hey, I have breath! I will praise the Lord!!
Am I feeling unloved? Song of Songs 4:9 says “You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes…”. I and yes, you, have stolen the heart of Jesus! Believe it, it is real!
Am I sick? Look at Isaiah 53:5 “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. And by His stripes we are healed.” Life giving words! We are healed!
All this to say – my Bible is a friend. But each time I open it I find my real Friend, who is my Savior, my Lord, my Healer, my Provider, my Lover, my God. And the list goes on and on……
Thursday, February 4, 2010
In 2006 I left the confines of my hometown and decided to see what was on the other side of Highway 69. I first ended up in Utah, spending just a few months. While there I took my trip of a lifetime (so far) by going to Jerusalem, Israel. I spent almost three weeks there. Then on to Missouri (next door to my home state of Kansas) for just a few weeks. I had this burning desire...which I knew was driven by God...to go help out with disaster relief in Mississippi. I ended up in Gulfport, MS volunteering and ministering with God's Katrina Kitchen. Absolutely amazing! I was there for 14 months. If you ever have a chance to do disaster relief....jump on it! But beware....it will ruin you for the ordinary!
Next stop was California. As Dickens penned, it was the "best of times, the worst of times". One thing about Jesus...he made sure that I knew He was close and caught me when I felt like my world had been swept out from under my feet. Actually, it had been and that was a very good thing! But I sure didn't know that then. I do now. And I love Him for saving me. However, I did meet some of the most amazing people out there and some of them will forever be my brothers and sisters! After that? Well, on to Galveston, TX to do disaster relief with Cavalry for Christ, a sister of God's Katrina Kitchen. I was only there for a few months. Left there not knowing where I was going and ended up a few weeks later in Kentucky, where I am right now. I came here for a week and never left!
I am working full-time and also volunteering for God's Kitchen, Inc. We are in the beginning stages of the next vision.....HIS House. HIS House is a school in Kentucky that we are going to refurbish to use as a distribution center, volunteer center, disaster relief training facility and God-willing, a place to house orphans from Haiti that need a place to grow in peace after their country was devastated by the earthquake on January 12, 2010. It will be a Christ-centered school and the children will be raised to know Jesus Christ and will be able to make their own decisions about Him. And then we hope they will return to Haiti in the strength of Jesus Christ and be the leaders that God will grow them up to be. Hey, if you want want to help out just log on to www.godskitcheninc.org. That website will be up and running shortly and will be full of information about us.
I don't know how good I will be at keeping this blog. Hopefully it will be updated at a steady pace. But then again, maybe not! Hope you like it here!
Numbers 6:25: the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;