Encountering the Christ in Israel Part 2

After getting through the border exchange which included a driver and host exchange, we moved on toward the Dead Sea.  A most interesting place.  Google it for all the details.  Nothing lives in it but bacteria, and the fish that do land in there die quickly.  It’s got enough salt in it to kill, well, just about everything, but that salt makes a person so buoyant that once you walk out in it and just fall backwards, you’re floating.  Kick out your feet; splay out your arms; float.  Strange but so fun.

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Me in my Dead Sea floating position

It is the lowest point on earth, thus the song the four of us had to sing:  “We’ve got friends in low places, where we float on the sea and put mud on our faces.”  (Thank you, Garth, for the inspiration.) (I would add the video but can’t figure out how to turn it.  It’s sideways.  Anybody got a little advice about that for me.)

The big thing is to slather the mud from the Dead Sea all over you for the beneficial, uh, bacteria? minerals? salt?  We slathered; we dried; then we rinsed.  My skin did feel very soft, and we were impressed with the end product, whether it was physiological or psychological.  Didn’t matter.  We were at the Dead Sea!  Where my big moment with Jesus was still as dead as the sea.

But we were just inside Israel.  The true footsteps of Christ that I would soon be stepping right on top of was awaiting me.  And my anticipation was mounting.

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Encountering the Christ in Israel (Part I)

Israel.  A country I’ve longed to go to.  A place where many Believers of The Way, The Christ, The Good News, want to go.  It’s a longing from somewhere deep in the soul to  walk where my Savior walked, to see his country, his home.  So when I found out my nephew was going to be part of the worship team on a tour to Israel, I called his mom and said “We’re going.”

Somehow, some way, we were going.  That was her son!  She had to be on this trip.  And so did I.

We got all the finances squared away, got my passport, and began getting emails about the trip:  what clothes to pack and how to pack them, how much money to bring, safety measures to do before and during the trip;  little tidbits of advice as well as important cultural advice.  It was a tour through Living Passages, a company I would highly recommend.  There were four friends going, and we were constantly sending messages back forth via Marco Polo, an app that lets a person video a short message and send it out to an individual or group.  Some were hilarious (Joe’s video, husband of Cindy) and some were a little long-winded that I had to double time to get through (sorry, girls) and some were super helpful or downright laugh-you-silly videos.

The day finally came, and we were off.  We were to catch a plane out of St. Louis and go to Atlanta and catch a plane from there to Paris and from Paris to Amman because we were including a small Jordan trip in there as well.  The big storm that hit Atlanta that evening also hit our plans and knocked us out of flying out to Paris that evening.  After a stressful night and next day, the group got to Paris only to find there were only seven seats on the flight to Amman for eight of the unassigned seat people in the group.

Wes, the pastor, the wild young man that God changed into a quiet, caring, compassionate, wise leader stayed behind in Paris.  The airline was kind and put him in a hotel where he slept for ten hours thus arriving another day late.

Beginning the walk to Petra, the Siq

The Treasury at Petra. Look familiar? https://youtu.be/FkjRaq31dxI

The crack is the corridor, Siq, leading out of Petra.

The long walk to the Siq that leads to Petra Treasury

amphitheater and tombs

So many tombs! These were the royal tombs.

But the whole group was finally in Jordan expecting great things.  At least I was expecting great things, a great movement within me the minute I touched my feet to the land that Moses and Aaron and Jacob and Abraham had walked.

And it was exciting!  It did move me.  Gently.  Appreciatively.  Just not the way I was expecting.  I wanted the Holy Spirit to take me out, knock me on my knees, do something that said “You are walking on holy ground.”

It wasn’t happening.  Ah, but Israel was next.  There is where I had best be ready for whatever was about to happen.

Looking Back

For several years I have had the opportunity to transport my two grand-girls to school while school was in attendance.  They would bebop out of the house either in shorts and cute little t-shirts or all bundled up in winter coats and gloves.  After getting all buckled in, off we would go.

Kate was the first.

What good times we had!  She still believed in the purity and innocence of the world, so we had awesome rides to school where the trees talked to her as we passed, or the tires would squeal when we made curves, or clouds were all sorts of objects.  There were deer and other animals to be seen and enjoyed.  Big plans were made on these short little trips.

Ava came next.

She grew up faster than Kate, always running in her sister’s footsteps to be like her sister.  But we still had awesome rides to school.  She believed as long as Kate kept quiet, but if her sister stated this was true or this was make-believe, then it was chiseled in stone.

And now they are both in double digits.  My little fairies that used to hide in my closet  (until they were found by a couple of snoopers)  are leaving me notes instead of them leaving my sweet girls notes to ooh and aah over.  The toys that once were dragged out all over the floor haven’t been touched in a while.

They ride the bus home and Kate rides it to school as well.

But I still get to take Ava.  And we still have a great time talking about all kinds of things in that ten-minute ride.  The laughter is still full and fills our guts to bursting until our sides hurt.  She is ten.  I might have one, maybe two years left before she, too, starts riding the bus to school, wanting to socialize with friends.

And that’s okay.  I’m making memory boxes for them.  So they can remember what the trees said and what objects the clouds really were and how the car could squeal when it made a curve and how fairies were real.  Back when they were smaller and younger and believed in the unbelievable.

 

Does God Answer Prayer?

Isaiah 65:24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Movin Up“Why?”

As Philip Yancey says, the question that never goes away.

Does God answer prayer?  The answer is yes.  The answer is no.

I have searched long and hard for the past 20 years to finally find out that, yes, God answers prayer.  And I have found out that, no, God doesn’t answer prayer.

When I ask for my friend to find her necklace that is meaningful to her, and in a minute or few she finds it in the tall grass, God has shown my little granddaughter that He cares about even the smallest things that cause us anxiety.  Thus, when she can’t find something, she comes in my office and asks me to pray that she finds a picture she was looking for, like I did when I prayed for Teri’s necklace.  God led us to the picture right away.

When I ask for healing for my children who have serious mental health issues, He is silent, letting us forge ahead through the thick jungle of confusion, sadness, depression, hopelessness, pain, searching, hospitalizations, imprisonment, and heartache.  And heartache.  And heartache.

How are we standing?  Bloody and battered from the wildness of this uncharted territory we have never walked before.  Is it His strength?   Is that the answer?  Not this but this?  “Lean into me, and I will bring you to the other side albeit not the person you started out being but now someone that resembles that person.  You carry them  as I carry you.”

Did that answer my prayer for healing?  No.  Are they healed when we all come out on the other side bruised, panting from the struggle?  No.

When I pray, I know that God hears.   1 John 5:14 ~ This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

When I pray, I know that something in the heavens shifts and moves, and shifts and moves me, in some way, now or much much much later.  I have not suffered and been in great distress alone.  Others have suffered far worse than I have.  Even the Lord Jesus prayed fervently for a change in circumstances.  Prayed so fervently, in fact, that his sweat was blood.  Jesus Christ experienced hematohidrosis while praying in the garden of Gethsemane before his crucification as mentioned in the Defenders Bible by Physician Luke as “and being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.     ”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810702/

Matthew 26:38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:42 “He (Jesus) went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’”

Matthew 26:44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

“Why?”  Is there ever an answer?  Yes, sometimes.  All we have to do on occasion is see how we have caused our problems through bad habits, bad choices.  Or we can see how our genes or work environment has caused our problems.  But when the Why answer is elusive and a great mystery, and the healing or the saving wasn’t quick enough to heal or save or the evil that was perpetrated against us or those we loved destroyed, then we stand, as Jesus did, overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

And we need someone to stand with us in the Why.  We need someone to stay and keep watch, to pray with us and stand firm by our side, not judging and rationalizing, not looking for the human weakness but calling for the supernatural strength that sustains and passes understanding.

Perhaps the answer is Love.  Do we love enough to stand with each other in the Why moments?

 

 

My Little Duckies

Several years ago,  maybe five, I purchased this duck towel.  My little duckies would always want their photo in it, so after their bath they would fight over the duck towel (why did I not buy two for crying out loud!) and then finally settle into a duckie moment.

Living the Good Life

my just scrubbed grandduck

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Kate always always tried to make Ava pose just right

Quacky Halloween

Kate and Ava in the duck towel

They were here together again not too long ago (doesn’t happen so much anymore), so I cajoled and begged until they let me take the last duck pic I will probably ever get.Kate Ava in duck towel 2017My heart is full.  That towel will stay here forever.

The High Cost of Retail Theft

This past week I was privy to the circumstances and outcome of a terrible misfortune.  A person was accused of walking out of the local Walmart without paying for $46.60 worth of goods.  According to the accused, the oil that was placed on the bottom of the cart was forgotten as the self-checkout was being executed.  Well, I have been through one of those self-checkout ripoffs, and I can see how one could forget there was something on the bottom of the cart in the process of doing the shopping and then being required to check out the items and bag them as well plus paying for the merchandise and the privilege to be a Walmart employee for those minutes it takes me to check out.  Or wait in the long lines at one of the two open registers run by actual people.  Please, Walmart, let me do it all.  That way perhaps you can lay off a worker or two, or four, or… 

Oh, it’s not just Walmart that wants to scale back on service to the consumer.  Kroger does it, too.  I’m sure there are others somewhere along down the road, but I live in a rural area, and we are limited in our choices in shopping unless we want to drive a ways east or west or north or south.  And it’s not just Walmart that’s greedy and wants to make as much profit as possible.  I am amazed at the difference in the service to the customer now as compared to just a few short years ago.  Did it start with pumping our own gas?

The aforementioned person was arrested upon passing through the front doors, admitted that, no, those items indeed had not been included in the checkout process.  Or maybe deliberately left out.  Who really knows?  There were factors that would lead one to believe that perhaps the items were intentionally forgotten; however, considering the accused also has an addiction to drugs, it is very possible to believe that the items truly were forgotten.

None of that matters.  Deliberately taken or accidentally taken.  The point is it cost $3660 in the court of law for taking that $46.60 worth of goods.

That just seems a little steep to me.  Especially for someone who doesn’t have a pot to piss in, so to speak.  I haven’t seen an addict yet living the high life.

The free attorney was $750.  So, even though you have a right to an attorney, that free one they tell you that you can have may cost you a lot of money when it gets down to the “costs” portion of your fines and costs when you plead guilty.  And you also have to pay a little bit of money to the prosecutor to prosecute you.

The fine for the $46.60 worth of goods was $1500.  The probation fee was $25 a month or, as it was charged right up front, $600.  There was a $570 lump sum surcharge.  I’m not sure either in case you’re asking What the heck is that?!  There were other charges too numerous to outline.  Some for the state police, the clerk, the probation officer, child advocate.  Oh, the list is long.

Rather amazing.

I wondered why would a defendant even sign that?!!  Then I remembered.  A drug-infused brain doesn’t make the best choices nor does it understand all that is taking place.  A person using drugs needs at least six months off of drugs to be able to think correctly.

Now, I do not uphold stealing in any form or fashion.  Nor do I uphold greedy counties and states that want to fill their coffers on the backs of the people who already have nothing.

How can anyone think this is fair or right or conscionable or a just disposition?  It isn’t.  To charge an indigent defendant $750 for the appointed counsel seems indecent.  That’s why the person needs appointed counsel:  indigent, poor, no money, destitute.

Fines and costs are a necessary punishment to those who steal.  Let’s make them appropriate and an amount that has a foreseeable conclusion.  $3660 may as well be a million to an indigent person.

The moral of this story:  Children, do not steal.  Do not do drugs without your own prescription and even then be very, very careful.  Do not drink if you have alcoholism in your family for it is genetic, and you may very well become an alcoholic.  Stay out of Walmart.  (just kidding)

 

Invasion of the Insects (or whatever they were)

This summer right around the first of August, just in time for Kate’s swim birthday party in the backyard, we were invaded by stinging insects.  Never in my entire lifetime have I seen anything like this.

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WHAT IS THIS THING?!!!!

They were as big as my little Ava!!

This is only one species of the flying, attacking THINGS! The points on their rears look like they could cut your throat!

Now, this one on the sunflower I am used to seeing:

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One of the stinging species in the backyard this year

The bugs were so thick you couldn’t walk through the yard.  So I did what I don’t like to do.  I went to the store and bought cans of hornet spray.  There was no way I could have a bunch of kids coming over with those things swarming (best word I can use but it was an invasion) all around the pool and the yard.

So like a gunslinger, I walked out in the yard with my “guns” and chased and sprayed those bugs (some chased me back) until I got rid of them.  Mainly just scared them off because they came back.  I just kept my “guns” with me at all times while the kids were here and met them at high noon whenever I needed to do so.

WHERE WERE THEY COMING FROM IN DROVES LIKE THIS?!!!!!

After the two-to-four-week frenzy they all settled down.  It was then I found all the mounds of sand and dirt in the yard and the huge holes.  All the old timers said to pour gas down the holes.  Some said light it on fire because they have a way in and a way out, which I found to be true in every mound.

I went with the gas-only method because if I set fire to all the nests in the ground, I am fairly certain my yard would have blown up.

I used a lot of gas.  I wanted to get rid of them.  Really, really wanted to get rid of them.

And Momma still lives…

If I’ve heard it once, I have heard it a million times.  At least that’s the saying, and it’s close to the truth in my case.  All my life I have heard “Your mom will never be dead as long as you’re living.”

Dad and me on prom night

Dad and me before prom–for a second I thought it was Mom

And it’s true.  I look just like her.    I even sound like her.  From an early age.

One day many many moons ago as I was talking to someone, standing next to our vehicles parked along Main Street, a lady I didn’t know came up to me and asked, “Are you Amy Rutherford’s daughter?”  I was shocked.  When I affirmed that, yes, I was her daughter, the lady said, “I knew you had to be.  You sound just like her.”

So not only did I look like her, I sounded like her as well.  I’m sure I still do.

 

Mom isn’t the only person I resemble.  There are many similarities in my dad’s family as well.

It’s interesting to me the way the gene pool asserts itself across the generations, on both sides of the fence so to speak, Mom’s side as well as Dad’s side.

So who do you look like in your family?

My Praising Momma

It was just now on the radio.  The song that always reminds me of my mom.  When we sing it at church, sometimes I can’t even sing the last verse because I see Mom as she lay in the hospital bed we had exchanged for her double bed, dying, practically comatose, unable to eat or talk or give orders — I mean instructions.

Mom 1960

This is always how I remember Mom.  Here she is ready for church.

She had “instructed” us for many, many years, and, well, it was just a hard habit to give up.  As hard to give up as everything else she had to give up:  bathing herself, feeding herself, cooking for her family (the thing she loved best), cleaning her house (that may be a toss-up with the cooking for her family), mowing her yard, driving her car.  The list got bigger every year, every month, every week, and then every day.

She was being birthed into heaven.  Anyone who has given birth or witnessed a birth (humans or animals) knows what a difficult labor that usually is.  Being birthed into heaven is a labor as well.  Mom had struggled to eat with the coughing spells that accompany the death process.  She had struggled with the pain of her arthritis that came from not being able to get up and move around, lying in bed due to her weakened state.  Failure to thrive is what the medical field calls it.  I think she was tired and ready to go home.  All her life she had been afraid of death, and I always thought that odd because she so loved her Lord.  But at the end, when the journey home had truly begun, her peace and joy was abundant each day.90 cake

This particular day, as my sisters stood at the foot of Mom’s bed and sang hymn after hymn, no music, just their beautiful voices blending together, Mom’s little toes started  tapping to the music.  She couldn’t eat.  She couldn’t walk.  She couldn’t talk.  She couldn’t move her arms.

But she could praise the One who was bringing her home.  One little toe tap at a time.

And my heart is full of praise for the God Mom taught me about, dragged me to Sunday School to learn about, and forced me to play piano during the worship service to praise a name I didn’t fully understand yet.

Now… I have 10,000 Reasons and more to praise Jesus the Christ.

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
You’re rich in love
And You’re slow to anger
Your name is great
And Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness
I will keep on singing
10, 000 Reasons for my heart to find
Bless the Lord, oh my soul
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
Sing my soul, sing my soul
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
10, 000 Years and then forever more
Bless the Lord
Bless the Lord
Oh my soul, oh my soul
Worship His holy name (For all Your Goodness)
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name
I’ll worship Your holy name
Songwriters: Jonas Myrin / Matt Redman
10000 Reasons lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group