Thursday, June 30, 2016

Just a Bump in the Road

I feel lousy. I've got the headache, sore throat, and my head feels a lot like a basketball. Ugh, it's a summer cold. I feel like a real wimp as I have tried all the home remedies and a couple of over the counter items in attempting to get rid of this annoying bump in the road. My ears feel plugged up and the medicine makes my heart race. I used to work through these bugs but now it seems like I need to sleep it away.

It is annoying to be attacked by a bug when there is so much to do. I know it will go away in time, and I'm thankful it only happens once or twice a year. Personally, I would blame air conditioning for the 'bug'. Going back and forth, inside and outside during our recent heat wave has probably irritated my internal thermometer or something.

Feeling yucky reminds me to be thankful for all the days I feel pretty good. I know I have nothing to complain about when so many people suffer so terribly with all kinds of illness and pains. I realize I am getting older, too, and that seems to change the way I rebound from sickness. This getting older business is really just the beginning of a bumpy road ahead. With that in mind, I'm willing to take the time to sit on the couch with my feet up and drink plenty of fluids. And, all the while I'm thanking God for all those days of good health that I won't continue to take for granted.

"This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it" (John 11:4 NIV).

May you be surrounded by good health today and always.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Taking the First Step

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" (Matthew 6:26-27 NIV).

Yesterday I was driving down Oralabor Road (a busy four lane in Ankeny) and I stopped for a red light, waiting to turn left on a green arrow. I suddenly realized that the traffic going the opposite direction was backed up next to me and I wondered what had happened. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a procession of geese calmly crossing four lanes of traffic to get to a pond on the other side. It wasn't just a mother and her babies. It was a parade of more than 20 adult geese in single file. It was amazing to see this busy road come to a complete stop as these geese proceeded on their walk. I even saw a few smiles replace the usual intense hurry, hurry, hurry on faces.

It restored my faith in human nature a bit, to see this display of patience and kindness. What courage that first goose had when she stepped out on the asphalt jungle without hesitation! If only we could step out in our Christian walk with such confidence. We all know someone who could use a little encouragement in their faith - to attend church, read the Bible, join a Bible study group, involve their kids in Vacation Bible School. Who can you help take the first step toward knowing Jesus? Reach out to them today.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10 NIV).

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Under Construction

We live in a new development and with that goes a lot of construction work. It has been amazing to watch the progress on several houses in the months since we first chose our house. The foundation next door has bloomed into a two-story house that is being painted today. Down the block and across the street a new basement has been poured and the ground leveled around it in anticipation of another project. There are three other houses that are in various stages of development along the street.

Similarly, in a church body Christians are under construction; all in various stages of completion. Some are in the early construction stage where change is evident daily. Others have a strong foundation and completed structure yet they endure times of upgrading and polishing. Nearly everyone falls somewhere along a continuum of faith growth.

I have often wished I was farther along than I am in my spiritual life. I seem to have times of ebb and flow, related directly to my spiritual life activity. Sometimes I get lazy or occupied by other tasks and I lose my focus on Jesus. Nothing seems to go quite right during those periods. The realization of what is lacking in my life always draws me back to my foundation and I begin again to pray and study and connect with my heavenly Father.

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

Perfection is always the lofty goal I hold but it seems like such a distant desire that is unattainable. Yet, I cannot give up trying. I'll always be under construction as far as my faith goes and I must continue to forge ahead, even when I experience setbacks or challenges because the goal is so worthy.

"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Delight In The Lord

On Saturday we experienced the Des Moines Farmers Market. We got there early and were amazed at the plethora of senses already in place. From a distance we saw the rows of white vendors' tents and groups of people gathered around, some forming lines, waiting for their turn to make a purchase. As we walked closer there were dashes of color everywhere, from the mounds of plump, juicy and ripe vegetables, beautifully presented to make you mouth water. Bundles of beets; gathered greens of every size, variation, and shaped leaf; shiny red tomatoes; freshly peeled mangos on a stick, bouquets of blooms; and artsy displays of handcrafted jewelry, birdhouses, metal signs and homemade pies, cookies, and breads.

The fragrances blended at times and we walked through pockets of floating aromas of cinnamon and yeast, multiple coffees and spices, fresh strawberries, pungent onions and greens, blooming flowers, aromatic creations in lotions and soaps, and cooking eggs, sausages, and peppers for spicy breakfast burritos. Occasional whiffs of the city's asphalt passes through, quickly to be overcome by the sweet smells of delicious eating options.

Just as interesting as the marketed produce, was the amazing diversity of dogs in a constant parade of uniqueness. Strutting their stuff down the streets, exotic dogs of every shape, size and color stole the show as people paused to view them as the dogs' noses soaked in all the scents along the way.

There were songs by talented singers on every corner where folks would gather to listen and show their appreciation by tossing a dollar into an open guitar case. And there was plenty of chatter as people talked about the views of delight they took in. People watching could be entertainment enough by itself. Wonderful diversity of urban and rural, varied nationalities, young and old, in strollers and wheelchairs, walking with bags or baskets ready for the purchase of the day.

The farmers' market was truly a display of God's creation. As with any large event, the gathering of God's people brings evidence of the diversity in His creation. We all are His and He wants, more than anything else, for us to understand and know Him. Seeing examples of His creation helps us understand our God a little better. He loves us all and delights in our uniquenesses.

"This is what the Lord says: "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV).

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Don't Worry; Be Happy!

It's Thursday already. Guess it has been a busy week. It's amazing how quickly time passes. Just two more days and we will have been in this house for a month already. Isn't it strange how our perception of time changes as we look ahead to something compared to looking back at what is in the past.

It has been said so often that the only thing we really have is the present. What has happened in the past is gone and soon forgotten. What is coming in the future we do not know for sure. All we can control is the present by living moment to moment. Another way to think of this is to be mindful - keeping your thoughts in the moment you are living. That helps us really experience life and appreciate it.

Grief can cause you to live in the past. Our focus is placed on the one we lost from our life and we relive all the memories we can draw to mind. Losing my parents was so painful and I just couldn't figure out how to live my own life without them. It took me a long time to work through the grief of each of them. But life does go on. There are tomorrows that come and go and eventually you reach a place where today becomes your focus again.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34 NIV).

Thankfully, not every day holds trouble. But it does seem like life passes as the song suggests, turn around and you're a young child, turn around and you're an old man or woman. Today I will focus on what I can do to make it a good day. Whether it is marking items off your "to do" list, reaching out to someone with kindness, staying in the moment as you greet a friend, or pausing to tell God how much you love Him; focus on today and be happy!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Appreciating Iowa

It is always good to start a Monday morning with a lot of praise to God who is the Creator of all things. We had the chance to view acres of Iowa landscape this weekend as we spent many hours on the road, traveling to sheep shows. Iowa is so much more than cornfields.

Iowa is a redwing blackbird perched on a clump of wildflowers in the ditch; golden dots of rolled hay bales scattered across a hay field; well-stocked farm ponds carefully placed between the slopes of rolling land; pastures of grazing horses and cattle that appear in the shadow of the generous grove of majestic oak trees; light poles dotted by red and white-tailed hawks, and creeks and rivers dancing through the valleys. The sight of a blooming catalpa tree reminds me of the farm where I grew up. I long to breath in its fragrance once again. Patches of deep green corn leaves paint the landscape between fence posts. The Iowa view changes from the rich flat lands of Central Iowa to the gently rolling hills of Southern Iowa.

The scenery south of Des Moines was a perfect canvas as the early morning sun spotlighted spring's crop of deer, now in their rich red coats that set off their bright white tails. A group of four youngsters were gathered in the corner of a field contemplating which direction to jump. A few miles more and I spotted a mother and baby posing serenely on a hillside, with their rusty coats highlighted by the bright rays of dawn. Alas, another doe stood ready to prance across a corn field with her twin babies. Moments of delight for the eyes.

Man's architectural additions to the countryside provide interest too. A few surviving windmills remain to mark old farmsteads and fresh red paint dots the landscape with its bold and beautiful accents. I wonder at the sights of remarkable windbreaks, testifying of the labor-intensive agricultural life. Iowa has a true beauty that is all its own. Even the impressive skylines of Iowa's cities, and the colloquial villages that dot the landscape, offer definitions of who we are and what we do in Iowa.

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom" (Isaiah 40:28 NIV).

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mutual Encouragement

"I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong--that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith" (Romans 1:11-12 NIV)

This is truly one of my favorite verses, and it is the impetus for every Gloria's Glimpses. I hope that this blog sometimes touches your heart and gives you spiritual encouragement to be stronger in faith. I am richly blessed when you share with me something that touches you - thank you for the encouragement.

I didn't write this blog at the usual time today (first thing in the morning) because I had a task on my 'to do' list that I was determined to complete. I needed to go to the Polk County Assessor's office to file for Homestead credit at our new home. I know that to everyone else reading this, that is a super simple thing of no concern what-so-ever. But, I'm a wimpy Des Moines driver when it comes to going somewhere new, especially downtown. Just the word, 'downtown,' suggests images of wall-to-wall traffic, no parking spots, blocks of buildings with no addresses, and invisible street signs to me. I fill up with anxiety and I have to practice lots of positive self-talk to psych myself up for the task.

Totally ridiculous, I realize. But it is only through doing those stressful tasks that I am able to gain confidence for the next excursion. So, faced with the June 30 deadline looming closer every day I decided this would be the day. I googled a map and directions, got the address and information I needed. I prayed for God's strength and guidance in the car, and asked that He keep me alert to all traffic, signs, and parking spots. I know that it is only with God at my side that I am able to push myself to new challenges, even though they seem small.

Well, of course, (thanks be to God) it was a breeze. I was able to take Second Avenue all the way to downtown, from Ankeny, and ended up just a block from the Polk County Administration Building. There was only mild traffic and many empty parking spots. I found the right room quickly and the whole process took barely five minutes. Somehow I ended up on all the one way streets going the right direction (Praise the Lord) and returned exactly as I had arrived.

I know it seems silly that I made such a big fuss over such a little task, but I am convinced that God made the process uneventful because I prayed for His presence with me. If I hadn't taken the time to pray for the confidence of God that I needed, I might have been the one in the accident I drove past, or who knows what I might have encountered. Anytime I drive somewhere new I take the time to pray and time and time again God has been with me on those trips and I've made it safely. God is indeed my refuge, and yours, too.

Monday, June 6, 2016

So Many Pieces

I've been going through these months of preparing to move, packing, moving and unpacking and it has made me realize how complex our lives can be. It is only when we break things down to our day-to-day tasks that we are able to manage all the pieces of our lives. We get control of things and they become routine, no longer worrisome. I've been surprised at all of the little challenges there are to face when they are new, or firsts, that later become uneventful.

On Thursday I mowed the lawn for the first time. I was nervous about it. Living in town, who would be watching, what should I wear, will the noise bother someone, can I step on the neighbors lawn when I turn around? I had all these ridiculous thoughts. I found that while I was mowing I didn't notice much of what else was going on. I tried to make my lines straight so it would look nice and I discovered spaces between the sod where we have bare ground and on the side where a neighbor's house is still being built we have tubes of sand to edge. Next time won't be so stressful.

I found that it is almost as much work to sweep off the sidewalk and driveway as it is to mow! We didn't have a concrete driveway on the acreage and just a short sidewalk. I can imagine it will be a big job to shovel snow as well. Then there was getting used to a gas stove - something I am enjoying greatly. I'd forgotten how much more control there is with a gas burner.

Our mailbox is in a metal locker system a block or so away. We need a key to open our box and there is a slot for outgoing mail, along with many additional boxes for the neighbors. They looked so small at first. Only about two inches tall and maybe 10 inches wide but they are very deep and hold considerably more than I expected.

There are so many pieces to our lives that must fit together to run smoothly.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy". Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:13-19 NIV).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Power of the Son

What a blessing to enjoy a string of sunny days in a row! We are still getting used to our house and the way to keep it cool without the air conditioning. We have found there is great power in the sun these days so it is helpful to keep the curtains and blinds drawn during the hot part of the day. I love the warmth of the sun but I seem to have a very narrow comfort zone before it becomes too hot. We also experience the sun's power when we enter a closed car on a summer day or ride along as the sun beats through the windows. What a power-packed impression the sun makes.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:20 NIV).

I do not understand how a human being cannot believe in God. I love this verse in Romans because it minces no words when it declares that God's power is visible all around us on earth. Paul seems quite indignant to those who seem to ignore all the tangible signs of His power.

Paul assures us of Jesus' power when he quotes Jesus, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV).

We, too, can take solace during the difficulties of our lives and claim Jesus' power as our own! Truly, even the worst times of our lives reveal that our weakness is transformed into strength through our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son who saves us with His power.