Our furniture finally arrived yesterday … what was 1st targeted as 3 weeks … turned into 3 months + 3 weeks. I am normally a patient person, but I learned when I am not … I am NOT!!!!
Anyway … …, before I digress to far, this isn’t my pondering of long awaited furniture. It is my pondering of the little things.
The new family room furniture allowed my prayer chair to be delivered back to its spot in our bedroom. Ahhhhhhh … I could hardly wait to rest myself within its boundaries!
This morning, while waiting for my coffee to brew … I high-tailed it back to the bedroom and placed the electric blanket over my prayer chair. The long awaited crisp, fall weather allowed me to turn that baby to “almost” high. As I returned to retrieve my freshly brewed coffee, I was anxious to maneuver off the “adult proof” power sealed, tiny piece of aluminum that kept me from the 1st taste of my long awaited favorite holiday creamer.
My prayer chair … darkness … silence … crisp fall weather … coffee with my favorite holiday creamer … time with the Lord … I was giddy with delight.
I took time to thank the Lord for each of those things. For Himself … a human being without sin who died on the cross for me. For a prayer chair that looks simply like a chair to everyone else but to me beholds history of my prayers, studies, pondering’s, and meetings with the Lord. For darkness & crisp fall weather that rotates without fail. For silence that is desperately hard to find. For the feeling of anticipation and joy as I take the first sip of morning coffee.
The little things … the things easily taken for granted …
I must ponder … God’s perspective …. How much do the “little things” in my life bring joy to the Lord? The little things allowing God to take delight in me … turning a smirk into a smile … choosing to cover an attitude with love or choosing peace over anxiety … having an attitude of patience when things don’t go “my” way (even when furniture target delivery dates are continuously pushed out and the sales associate at the store is rude …) or patience while my husband “fills his tank” with conversation from peeps he meets “along the way” while I am desperately trying to fill mine with silence … creating “history” that glorifies Him in my prayer chair and in my daily walk with him???
My Bible Study took me to Genesis 8 this morning. I took the time to do the math and realized Noah and the fam were on that ark much longer than I realized. I knew it was longer than 40 days and 40 nights … but, I didn’t realize it was actually an entire year (+ 5 days).
I am thinking we can all relate with Noah to some degree during this pandemic. It seems like families are shut in to their own ark … floating about waiting for the COVID flood to end. Some of us “unmask” the doors to our ark upon 1st realization that the rain has stopped … others wait a little more patiently for a sign the waters are receding … and still others are waiting for the COVID waters to completely recede allowing dry “safe” land to be proven.
God told Noah there was going to be a 40 day flood … He did not tell Noah he was going to be quarantined inside the arc for just over a year. As the 30 day increments pressed on and on … Noah displayed his patience. I suppose it helped not having a smartphone with App’s professing up coming weather conditions or a news channel/website “spinning” information in the direction he saw fit.
God has ushered some to the other side of heaven during this COVID flood. He will usher most to the other side of the pandemic. When we arrive there … it is not the one with the most toilet paper or Clorox wipes that proves himself “wisest” or “righteous” … but, the one who takes the time to build an altar to the Lord. The one who acknowledges God’s sovereignty. The one who choose to be obedient to God’s unique plan for their lives. The one who builds a holy place on which to worship the Lord.
On the other side of the pandemic … I hope I am not most concerned with who did it “right” or “wrong” … but, how God “grew me” through it. I hope I live knowing my days are numbered … that life is short and eternity is long. I hope I release some of the trivialities of my life to make way for those things I learned are most important … relationships, ministry, Holy Spirit guided opportunities and my walk with God.
I just began a bible study in Genesis. After completing the first week of study, the ponder that kept coming to mind was “God’s Glory”. I challenged myself to contrive my best attempt at a definition. After a bit of pondering and study this is what I “imperfectly” came up with …
God’s glory is the fullness of all He is. The sum of which includes his omniscient wisdom, omnipotent power and all encompassing omnipresence … the culmination of which sets him apart from all man … and is his holiness.
My weeks study in Genesis 1, took me to a ponder on the aspect of God’s glory through creation. My ponder turned into a daydream of the mountains with their many grey, blue and white hues … uncountable shades of green and brown … a nearby valley with wildflowers flickering in the wind on a warm, yet breezy spring day and of course, the ever present babbling brook … “Creation Perfectus”.
However, comma, God’s glory in creation is not done well by way of a daydream. I must go further. Our recent fire evacuation and weather driven road trip taught me the importance of trying to view the larger picture … more than what I see before me on my personal canvas.
God’s glory is revealed in the beautiful … and also the powerful … thunder, lightening, fire … and unexpected blizzards when traveling through Wyoming in early September as well.
God’s glory is beyond my perception of “Creation Perfectus” … and includes God’s display of supremacy over all the earth … requiring me to reconsider my perception of perfection.
God’s glory is not just in the grandeur of his power … but also his unadorned, peaceful presence. That presence I embrace … and sometimes reject when I cry out to him in my suffering.
The Bible tells me God’s glory is also revealed in me. As “Creation In-perfectus” as I may be … I am still His image bearer. Sometimes I make brush strokes on my “life-canvas” God does not desire … those strokes I know are not intended for my canvas … but I determine to add them anyway. However, there are also those strokes that He did intend … a variety of strokes that depict love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control … … … and also there are also stronger, darker strokes such as suffering, repentance, and redemption.
What strokes am I going to apply to my canvas today? I shall ponder … … …
Plans … they were our “best laid” plans … but, were destined to keep changing.
#1. We originally had a solid “road trip” itinerary in place for the Labor Day Weekend … RV park reservations were made for the entire trip… heading to SoCal for the re-scheduled wedding of one of Elise’s bridesmaids. It was a wedding originally scheduled for May, that had been cancelled due to COVID. Sadly, we received an email stating the wedding would need to be cancelled again. Just hours later, we received a wedding invitation from my friend in Iowa … for the same week end. Soooo …
#2. Barry quickly rerouted and rescheduled our reservations from our SoCal Wedding trip to a larger circle towards Iowa heading east on I80 and ending in the south through Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona. Several weeks before the start of that trip … we were evacuated from our home in Vacaville, CA due to the LNU Lightning Fires. We decided to head out on our road trip 2 weeks early … highway 80 was both closed and at a standstill. Soooo …
#3 Barry quickly rerouted and rescheduled our reservations from our Wedding Road Trip plans to head South where traffic and air quality were markedly better. We spent a week-ish in central SoCal “gathering ourselves after the evacuation” and decided to take a route allowing us to share the beauty of Utah’s Arches & Zion Ntl Park with my mom. After spending the week-ish in 100+ weather (that our little RV air conditioner couldn’t keep up with) … we decided to reroute to a path that didn’t take us through 110+ weather). Soooo …
#4. Barry quickly rerouted and rescheduled our reservations to a route heading away from the scorching weather … our rescheduled plans included a quick stop to visit my prayer partner who had just moved to AZ … and then headed up to Flagstaff for a few extra days … where the higher elevation brought beautiful weather and a visit with one of my “Quilting Cousins”.
We continued for a streak without any re-routing … taking us to Pawhuska OK where the Pioneer Woman’s Mercantile is. The lightening and thunder storms were SEVERE! But, we managed to weather the storm to return to the Mercantile for truly one of the best lunches ever. (Highly recommend the Ranchers Sandwich and the Grilled Cheese Sticks with tomato soup!!!!). We made our way up to Waukee, Iowa to attend a precious friend’s wedding. It was “socially distanced” and beautiful atop of a winery … with a 360 degree view of Iowa farmlands. Magnificent ….
As we left the next morning to head toward home … I stated I had the hankerin’ to “be” home … soooo …
#5. Barry quickly rerouted us and reschedule our reservations to head west with “uncharacteristically” long travel days. The long 10+ hour travel day took us to the center of the “uncharacteristic” summer snow storm in Wyoming. Upon pulling in to our spot at the RV park in Rawlins … we learned that our car battery was dead and the black tank was both frozen and clogged. Mom received rights to the RV toilet … but, Barry and I made treks in the severe wind and snow to the reception desk bathrooms.
After a sleepless night of howling winds and snow that constantly jarred the RV to and fro … we learned that I-80 was closed and realized we weren’t going anywhere. We also realized we were out of propane to heat the RV. We made Mom toasty warm under heaps of blankets that pretty much kept her from moving … and we started calling every propane dealer we could find online trying to secure a mobile delivery … with no luck. Barry and I made several treks back and forth to the reception area to both use the facilities and secure our spot for another night. We learned the obvious … absolute obvious … the RV park sold propane!
So we unhooked the frozen hitch to the “dead” car and mozied ourselves to the propane tank. I tried to convince our pups yellow snow was acceptable under the conditions … Harriet obliged … but, poor Franklyn just could not do anything but, shiver with his new white mustache in the snow.
The thing about unhitching your battery dead car from your RV is … … now you have to back the RV up to the hitch instead of pulling the car forward. I have become quite proficient at moving the car forward to the perfect spot to connect it to the hitch … but, guiding a motorhome backwards … toward me … in the icy snow … was quite un-nerving. I was successful with only 2 tries and some high blood pressure.
The next morning, the highway re-open. After having spent hours & hours on any given state’s DOT weather site … we considered ourselves internet diplomaed meteorologist’s and determined we should move west as far as we could … out of the eye of the storm while there was a break in it’s pattern. It was a slushy, icy, slow move toward the west. We saw 5 car’s and 3 semi’s in a ditch … all abandoned … along the highway … all accidents from the previous day. One semi was in the ditch that separated east and west bound … with no truck head attached … obviously towed away … and the back was bashed in with some of it’s cargo also laying in the ditch … abandoned. Reality set in as we drove slowly and carefully. Not much conversation was happening in the RV.
Barry had researched a “portable jump starter” for our car (something about consequences to the transmission if we don’t get the car running … I don’t know … if it doesn’t affect the cup holders … I have no idea) … and I tried to locate one along our path. The first store that claimed one in stock ..ended up being CLOSED! I located another one and made a call to verify this store both had it in stock and was open. SUCCESS. However, our first attempts to start our car (which required us to unhitch the car …. ) were unsuccessful. Forward we moved out of the storm toward the west. We almost always avoid Utah’s Salt Flats and head around the top of the flats toward Idaho and then back down into Nevada … but, … …
#6 Barry quickly rerouted and rescheduled our reservations taking us through the Salt Flats to Wendover, NV. It was another 10+ hour driving day … and we all decided pizza was a perfect plan for dinner. We picked up the pizza on our way to an RV park and relished in the smell of some warm, good, carbs + sauce + cheese. I was ready to down my first piece when Barry again mumbled something about the transmission and needing my help to“try” and start the car. I felt it was futile … but took my place in the driver’s seat, said a faithless prayer and at the appropriate time tried to start the car. The first attempts were … in fact … futile … but, about try #5 … SUCCESS!!!! Barry ran into the motorhome … grabbed our slices of pizza … and we took a good ride to charge up the car.
#7 We have no plan for our trek forward. No reservations to cancel or reschedule for the 5th or 6th time. Plans are good … plans must be open to change … plans sometimes are best not made. We are just moving forward … toward the west … to the Golden State … which is “literally” glowing gold from the wildfires … and is home.
OK … cantankerous Oklahoma lightning and thunderstorm … #2 … on steroids … hit us last night. Barry and I were out chasing down the sunset when the weather drastically and quickly took a turn towards darkness. Again … not a fan!!!!!
I was hanging out the window, shot gun, taking a photo of the Drummond mailboxes across from the entrance to their ranch. The wind, the rain, the thunder, the lightening … but, ohhh, what a great photo op … that rusted yellowy/orange mail box against the coming storm … much more beautiful in person.
We headed back to “our” RV ranch where my mom was “trying” to relax with the pups. Immediately above us was a HUGE lightening strike with an immediate bomb of thunder … pretty sure I pee’d my panties a little. Just ahead on the road was a small fire where the lightening had hit. Luckily, it was a wet … instead of dry … lightening storm. I was the only one that seemed concerned. The small fire was casually circled by “locals” who seemed to enjoy the sociality of the moment.
By the time we got back to our ranch … the monsoon of rain tempted me to sleep in the car … until more thunder and lightening struck. I left my camera in the car and ran with a broken umbrella to the RV which got quite tangled in my hair … but, the run to safety was successful.
Snuggled into our bed, with Harriet our nervous dog, shaking in my lap … I asked the Lord … “What is it that you want my constant attention for?” … “What am I missing?” … The response did not come immediately … but the assuredness of His desire for me … his non-verbal words for me were real … and personal.
I will ponder his desire for me and his non-verbal words ….
Another thunder & lightening storm is on the way …..
There was a cantankerous Oklahoma thunder & lightning storm above us early this morning. Still not a fan. I have pondered how God shows his strength & power through such storms. That power is unsurmountable. But, in my continued pondering’s … I also wonder if he is trying to grab my attention. This morning’s thunderstorms certainly captured the attention of the 3 humans & 2 pups in our motorhome.
The thing is … … He captured our attention without words. We are all standing at attention, but are unable to interpret what it is He may be saying. If we all went to the Bible … we would all likely receive something different from God … a different passage … a different application to our life … and that’s OK because sometimes God speaks personally, and sometimes he speaks corporately.
I am wondering if sometimes God just needs to capture my attention; to remind me he is out there. The question is will I pay attention? Once the cantankerous moment is gone, who or what do I continue to paying attention to?
God can powerfully grab my attention … but, it becomes my choice what I do next. Will I awaken and head to scripture/prayer … or will I head to social media wondering what others are saying about the storm? What “voices” will I search out to have shaping power for my beliefs?
I believe God uses the voices of His people to have shaping power in my life. But, when God makes the attempt to grab or fix my attention on Him through a lightening storm, a song, a circumstance … I need to be careful I am paying extended attention on Him.
In Mark 4:24 Jesus told his disciples the importance of paying close attention to “what they hear” … that the attitude in which they receives the word of Jesus profoundly affects how much more they … we … will hear from Him.
Am I paying attention? Who & what am I paying attention to? Is it the Gospel and the other words of Scripture, or is it my “emotions of the moment” … an emotional high that causes me to maybe do, say, experience, spend more than I should or emotional low plagued by self-doubt and pity that causes me to do nothing at all?
Hmmmm … I shall ponder …. And pay attention … patiently …
a current of cool air in a room or other confined space
beer or other drink that is kept in and served from a barrel or tank rather than from a bottle or can.
Today is draft day for my Fantasy Football League. I have researched. I have prepped. I have re-enacted the information found in my “little black book” I left at home in the haste of packing. I have revisited my “Learning Fantasy Football” blog (available on the header menu above) … because I still feel “stupid” to the game. I have practiced using the “mock draft” system on the ESPN APP (ended up with a fine team per my son-in-law). Most importantly, I will find a draft … a brewski … to “pop” when the process is through and I have my team … “Sandi’s Tight-Ends”!
I have said it tooo many times … I am an academic … the academics don’t necessarily come to me easily … but, I must keep working to understand … and once I understand … I keep working to achieve knowledge that is beyond what I need to know. When it comes to Fantasy Football … and especially Football in general … this academia clearly is going to be a life long process. Though I am becoming more familiar with Fantasy Football … the game itself still completely eludes me!
In my research … I learned about a thing called “tanking”. Tanking is when a team gives up a game, losing intentionally to acquire a better position in the draft. Who knew?
I “tanked” in FF unintentionally last year. Came in absolutely last and earned the “tank award”. However, it turns out I don’t get better positioning in today’s draft. WHAT?????? Should have been more intentional about coming in last place!
Sometimes the “sanctification process” feels like tanking. There have been seasons in my spiritual walk filled with spiritual victory … and seasons of repeated defeat. I’ll be honest … I have boldly, bravely, asked my league manager, Christ, … “What the heck? What are you thinking?”. To my recollection I haven’t asked that question in times of victory … interesting.
At times … I wonder if God is tanking me. Allowing me repeated defeat for an “ulterior motive”. At those times … I head to the locker room … for some deep inner conversation. In that locker room … I am reminded sanctification is a team sport … we are to trust the process together …and as God’s people we are “to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25)
The truth is … God does allow defeat for a purpose. A sanctifying purpose. A holy purpose. But, I must always remember our victory is in heaven … not in the things of this earth. Everyone who walks with the Lord experiences the same kind of process. Sometimes it’s victory … sometimes it’s defeat … sometimes it is the feeling of being tanked … but, always … it’s growing in the holiness of God … a process I can trust … we can trust … because … “the God of peace [will] himself sanctify [me] completely” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
Barry and I had a short conversation about the craziness of 2020 … the COVID pandemic, the lightening & fires, and the catastrophically large hurricanes. Barry made a comment: “The world needs to wake up and pay attention”. That comment led me to a ponder …. Is it the world that needs to pay attention … or Believers of Christ? Is God sending “plagues” to grab our attention? Is this a sign of the End Times? This required me to search scripture …
The “Theology of Sandi” is coming to realize that the “10 plagues” found in the book of Ezekiel are not so much about judgment as a call for repentance and God willing his power, supremacy & “Creator rights” over Israel, Egypt and all the earth.
Scripture reveals to us God governs:
the hearts of kings,
and on and on.
God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display his glory. Scripture tells us it also happens to be for the enjoyment of His redeemed people.
The End Times
“The End Times” have come up in several conversation I have had with people as well. Is this craziness a sign of the end times? …possibly … but, does that mean the end is near in time as “we know it”? Scripture tells us we will not know the time … but, it does record signs and wonders we will see.
The end times will be preceded by:
great earthquakes and tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will,
plagues and famines in various places,
terrors and great signs from heaven,
the sun darkening, the moon not giving its light, the stars falling from heaven, and the powers of the heavens being shaken,
days like those of Noah,
wonders in the sky & on earth and of blood, fire, vapor and smoke,
the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,
wars and rumors of wars,
nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,
many falling away, betraying and hating one another,
False prophets will come in Christ’s name, showing great signs and wonders, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many, even the elect, if possible,
God pouring out his Spirit on all flesh,
the Gospel being preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations,
Prophesies, visions, and dreams.
God’s ultimate plan upon his return is that … “it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Cauliflower – a variety of cabbage (Brassica oleraceavar. botrytis) having a dense white mass of fleshy flower stalks that form the head.
I mentioned in my last post … my decision making process during our evacuation was quite “surreal”. While videoing those things that meant a lot to me, I went to this place … that was the most unemotional, rational place I had ever worked from. That place where speed was an option.
For some reason … that place left me when we got to the refrigerator. It makes no sense. We had just purchased a Costco membership with Brad & Elise and had our fridge crispers full of large bags holding vegetables of different types.
I was able to decide not to evacuate my sewing machines that are worth thousands of dollars … but, could not decide which veggies to cram into our much smaller RV fridge. I started loosing it when I saw Barry had decided to throw away the cauliflower ….. it’s funny now …. I think ….
In retrospect, The cauliflower decision wasn’t really about keeping vs. wasting cauliflower, but was really about coming to a somewhat subconscious resolve that the cauliflower presented an opportunity to release some of my pent up anxiety through unloving and unnecessary words spewed at my husband.
Decisions can be both easy & difficult … simple& complex … necessary & unnecessary. Deciding the fate of the cauliflower was clearly easy & difficult. Deciding where we were going to evacuate to … was both simple & complex with COVID, fires and heat all around us. Deciding to release pent up anxiety was necessary … deciding to release it on my husband was not.
The thing is … as a Christ follower … if I ask God to guide me … He will. His 1st step of guidance is through scripture. If I get “off track” He will correct and guide me back onto His path … it is called repentance and forgiveness.
After a good ponder … the “Theology of Sandi” has concluded that the Lord is not as concerned with my right or wrong decisions as he is if I am making them lovingly or not.
Evacuation – the clearance of personnel, animals, or materiel from a given locality.
It was a telephone call that pulled me out of a peaceful prayer time. My daughter was calling to warn us that the evacuation line for the Napa/Sonoma fire (also called LNU fire) was literally a mile from our home. I peered out the sliding glass door and saw a thick blanket of smoke overhead. I opened the door to take a photo of the bright red sun outside and the reality of heat vs smoke was startling.
We knew the right thing to do … but, we prayed anyway. A peace, a calmness enveloped me that reminded me why I should pray even when I “do” know the right thing to do.
We were scheduled to leave in a week for a road trip to attend one of my “inner circle” friend’s wedding in Iowa … so we packed the RV as if we weren’t coming home until after the road trip. I’m not gonna lie … there were definite moments when the calmness left me …. I’m sure we’ll laugh about them later.
I always wondered about the decision making process of what to take along in such a situation. My process was to step back, pray and ponder …. Could I live without this stuff? I desperately wanted to throw my sewing machines and some of the art on our walls in the RV but knew it wasn’t realistic. So I grabbed my phone and began taking a video of our possessions room by room … a surreal moment.
Once exhausted and packed up in the RV, we headed out. We had not discussed with each other where “out” was going to be. Our daughter called to let us know they were evacuating also and heading south for cleaner air. She asked us where we were heading … “McDonald’s” we said.
After loading up on burgers, fries & drinks we headed toward highway 5. I can’t explain the oddity of driving “somewhere” without having a destination plan. The fire was coming from the northwest and heading east … so we eventually decided south seemed like a good plan.
While on southbound Highway 5, we received the “official orders” to evacuate. The fire had jumped the highway and was headed for the hills directly behind our house. Reality set in. We may not have a home to go back to. It’s that moment when I remember how many times I have claimed God as Sovereign. I take a pause … a ponder … and claim God, still, sovereign … but, it means more to me now.
We settled in Coalinga for our first night’s stop. We have not seen blue sky since we left and we all have non Covid headaches and sore throats. Life gets better when we eat the salad and fruit that had been smashed tightly into the fridge for dinner.
Quickly, our hearts take a downturn when we plug into our hotspot and view some of the news broadcasts. Soon, the Holy Spirit peace begins to leave … pressure, tension, tightness … and acid reflux takes its place. We determine “news” can not change anything in our plight and shut down the hot spot. Barry plays computer games and I read. We soon fall into a peaceful sleep … Nighty night.