Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Grace is Messy

There's no other way to aptly describe God's grace except to say that it's messy.

It forgives the unforgivable.

It loves the unlovable.

It believes in the hopeless.

It strengthens the weak.

It weakens the strong.

Grace is messy.

It doesn't come all neat and crisp and dressed pretty with a bow on top.

Grace looks beyond the surface, then past the next layer or two or ten or twenty or one hundred layers that have made a person who and what they are and do.

Grace searches and seeks to know and understands how we got the way we are.

Grace came in the form of a human being, wearing the flesh of our mess, yet not giving in to the temptations we all give in to and suffer.

Grace takes the punches of rejection and loves anyway.

Grace takes the punches of arrogance and pride and humbly offers more of Himself to the self-righteous.

Grace loves beyond all human understanding.

Grace gets us.

Grace loves us anyway.

Grace came for us, to be with us, to suffer the sufferings we suffer with us, not against us.

Grace.

God's Grace.

His Name is Jesus.  He came for you.

Peace,
Ronda


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday or not, He's still the Christ of Christmas

I've been noticing how afraid people are to say the word Christmas this year.  No one talks about their "Christmas" shopping or their "Christmas" cookies or their "Christmas" cards.  It's all been replaced by their "Holiday" shopping, "holiday" cookies, and "holiday" cards.

Ok.  So it's offensive to say Christmas now.  Sad.

But not surprising.

And He knew it would end up like this too.

He knew, before He every left His throne and put on the flesh of a human being, it would be like this 2000 years after His birth.

The One who was born to be familiar with our sorrows, not just a bird's eye view of the pain and distress and suffering we bear silently, but a familiar acquainted feel it down deep in the bones and hidden cells of His DNA familiar acquainted with our sorrows.  He feels our pain.  Not just a catch phrase kinda feel either.  He feels it, He felt it, He lived it when He lived in the same flesh we live in now.

He knew He would be despised.  He knew He would be called a just a man.  He knew He would be rejected.  He knew He would be mocked.  He knew.

And yet, He still came.

Some find His story a fairytale, some find Him a deep offense.

He knows.

And He came anyway.

Maybe it is all a fairy tale.

And if it is, I'd rather believe in this fairy tale than not have anyone or anything to believe in.

Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty never claimed to be familiar with my pain and sorrows.

He did because He was.

There is no one, great or small, royal or not, who can truly feel what we feel.

He was a man of sorrows.....not one sorrow, but sorrowS.

He was familiar with suffering....not just a pat on the head or a sad look and "sorry man, it's tough," but He was familiar, He yada - He knows, he learns, he knows by experience, he perceives - He Knows.

He knows.

He knows you.

He knows your past.

He knows your pain.

He came for you.

His Name is Christ.

Whether we say His name or not or deny His existence, doesn't make Him less so.

His Name is Christ.

He is why this "holiday" is still in existence.

You who deny Him and His name cannot take away how it all got started.

He is the Christ of Christmas.  The one who is familiar with your suffering.

He came for you.

Praying for that Peace for you,
Ronda

Isaiah 53
Hebrews 4:15




Monday, December 16, 2013

what's your motive?

1 Corinthians 4:5
Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes.  He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts.  At that time each will receive his praise from God.

 Motive:

something as a need or desire that causes a person to act

moving or tending to move to action

of or relating to motion or causing of motion

Boule - from the Greek boulomai - to will.  I will, intend, desire, wish.  Boule means counsel, deliberate wisdom, a resolved plan.


Webster's synonym discussion of motive, impulse, incentive, inducement, spur, goad:

Motive implies an emotion or desire operating on the will and causing it to act.

Impulse suggests a driving power arising from personal temperament or constitution.

Incentive applies to an external influence as an expected reward inciting to action.

Inducement suggests a motive prompted by the deliberate enticements or allurements of another.

Spur applies to a motive that stimulates the faculties or increases energy or ardor.

Goad suggests a motive that keeps one going against one's will or desire.


What are your goals?  What's your motive for the things you do in your life?  If you have the courage, think a little more deeply on this question.

I've been thinking of my own motives and goals lately.  The whirlwind of this summer and all its activity and almost constant levels of adrenaline have now subsided.  We're falling into a routine and I think some of the emotions of this summer that were put in a box to be dealt with later are now climbing out, wanting to be aired and set free.

I've had moments, random moments, where I am overwhelmed, OVERWHELMED, with a deep feeling of sadness.  Like if the time is right, I could just start crying and not stop.  I even find myself during those times of overwhelming sadness, ask the W word....sshhh, you know the one.....why?

There have been thoughts that find their way into my mind that go like this:

How in the world did we get here?  (It's minus 10 degrees BELOW zero for crying out loud!)

Even though at the time I knew, and still know, God was at the forefront of the whole journey of leaving comfortable, I'm finding myself asking Him these questions like a four year old throwing a tantrum when she doesn't want to go to bed but is miserable staying up past bedtime.

What in the hell happened?

Why are we here?  (It's minus 10 degrees BELOW zero for crying out loud!)

I write these thoughts now with a somewhat smile on my face, but I'll be honest, I'm still working through it.  And God has been encouraging me all along, bringing to mind truth over my emotions.  Those emotions can feel so real and OVERWHELMING, but God's truth is what steadies my heart when I'm enjoying my new surroundings and our new opportunities at the same time feeling OVERWHELMING sadness and, yes, even grief.

I've been checking my motive, it can be such an ugly companion when it's not lined up with what God wants for my life, and believe me, I've had my moments when it's MINUS 10 degrees below zero and I'm saying to Him who made the Universe - "surely, you didn't have this in mind when you, yes YOU, ripped us from our home of 15 years, away from our children and our life there, SURELY, there's been a miscommunication somewhere!"

Faith isn't pretty sometimes.  Sometimes it can be downright tantrum-ish when we follow where we believe he's leading but we don't like where He's taken us.  (It MINUS 10 degrees below zero for crying out loud!)

It is my goal that when my motives are exposed upon the return of the LORD  He reveals a heart motivated by desire to follow where He wants, not where I think I need to be and forgives me for the tantrums I throw in the process and the moments I do what I think is best and ignore what His best is for me.  (Yes, it IS minus 10 degrees below zero, somehow, someway, that's what His best is for me.)

Wishing you a peace that motivates you to follow His will for your life.

That little Baby, born to be King is sooooo worth it!

Ronda








Monday, November 25, 2013

The Answer to Why

Comfort:

to give strength and hope to; to ease the grief or trouble of; console




2 Corinthians 1:around verses 3-9.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfortwho comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer....We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  




Why, you ask?  Why is their suffering?  Why do I suffer?  Why did he die?  Why am I sick?  Why did I lose my job?  Why do I have to file bankruptcy?  Why is there evil in this world?  Why did she leave me?  Why did he cheat?  Why did this happen?  Why?
Why?

Why?

Why?


So that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

It's time to realize, and own for ourselves, the significance of this reason.

We can't comfort if we're not comforted.

It's time to quit "whying" and start being comforted by the God of comfort.  

This -this divorce, this loss, this illness, this pain, this suffering, this adultery, this disease, this terrorism, whatever you are suffering and ask why to right now, all of it -  happens that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 

If you are not receiving comfort from Him who gives comfort, ask Him to comfort you.  

This is the answer you are looking for.  The only answer that brings peace.  The only answer that makes sense in this senseless, pain-filled world.  

This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.  

The God who raises the dead.  

The God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead so that we may be comforted and bring comfort to a hurting, pain-filled world.  

If you're not comforted by the things you have tried because you thought they would bring you comfort, ask God, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort to comfort you in all your troubles.  

He's just a breath away.

Let Him comfort you so that you can be comfort to someone else.

That's the answer you've been searching for.  

Then you will know the reason why THIS happened.

Peace,
Ronda.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Reconciling Peace

Reconcile - to restore to friendship or harmony; to make consistent or congruous; to cause to submit to or accept something unpleasant; to check against another for accuracy; to account for

apokatallasso - to reconcile completely; change from one state of feeling to another.  Denotes the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed.

Ephesians 2:14-22
Colossians 1:15-22

This word reconcile has been ruminating and rumbling around inside my head for awhile now.  It's not a commonly used word in God's Word, only three times in the entire Bible, which is interesting to me because it is the one word that describes, to me anyway, what Jesus has done for me, for you who read this and for the world.

He reconciled us back to God, the lover of our souls.

He restored our friendship with Him.  He brought us into harmony with Him.  He made a way for us to submit to the unpleasant things.

He restored the relationship of peace which was disturbed and broken by our sin.

We don't have peace with each other, because we don't have peace with Him who reconciled us to Him.

We don't have peace with our circumstances because we haven't reconciled our circumstances with His will for our lives.

We don't have peace in our hearts if our hearts aren't reconciled to Him who made the way for reconciliation.

He's done the hard work.  He's reconciled us, and all that is us, to Him.

I don't get it.  I don't understand how one Man can reconcile the world.

But just because I don't understand, doesn't mean it isn't true.

Wishing you reconciled Peace in abundance today,
Ronda

Ephesians 2:14-22
Colossians 1:15-22


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Different is still good


When I was a girl I had a large extended family on my mother's side.  She was one of six, her mother was one of five, and so there are many memories of lots of people at all the get togethers we would have throughout my childhood.  They were usually quite loud, everyone talking at once, the hard of hearing talking louder and no one hearing anything, but always lots of laughs and fun stories told.  There was always lots of good, good food, and the men would congregate in one area of the house or yard and the women in another - the kitchen or the "parlor."   When the boys would run out of words to say, like the male gender tends to do, they would meander into the women's area where the topics were still going strong and hadn't run their course.

One of the things that struck me most since we've moved back though, and gives me a great feeling of sadness, is those who are not here anymore.  My great aunts and the life of the parties are no longer here, my grandparents are all gone, and the connections that were there when I was a girl have been frayed, some cut, and some held on by thinner cords then the thick ropes of large families getting together at wedding showers and baby showers and confirmations and weddings.

We still are family.  We still have the memories of those who used to be here to enjoy the times together, but it's just.....different.

(The word I would use to describe everything lately.....different.  The same, but different.  Not good, not bad, just....different.)

So we and the next generations are walking in the footsteps of the generation before us.  We're having our showers, our get togethers, and paving a different, yet same road that was started generations ago.

My Mom and sister-in-law hosted a post wedding shower for my new daughter and the next generations were there.  We've all gotten an unspoken promotion to who we are in the younger generations memories, and although we're much hipper and cover our gray better then the generation before us, we still are, I know in my nieces' eyes, OLD!

But that's ok.  Life goes on.  Even when the memories of those we miss still are as real as the last time we were altogether laughing and talking, and we miss them and wish the younger generation could have known them and shared the memories, life goes on.

Life is good because God is good.

Peace,

Ronda













Saturday, October 5, 2013

Walking through the door for grief or... blessed are those who mourn

I think the older I get the more I realize how everybody is carrying something.  Everyone is carrying baggage that is invisible to those around, but as we walk this journey of the in-between life we are weighed down by the weight of the burdens we carry.

Maybe you're carrying a burden of anxiety, or shame, or guilt, or fear, or sickness.  Maybe the burden you are carrying today is the grief you feel at the loss of a loved one.  Maybe you are carrying the burden of a wrong(s) done to you of which you had no control.  Maybe you are carrying the burden of having done wrong to someone and don't know where to put that wrong.

Maybe you're a believer of Jesus, you know the message of the cross and the hope it brings, but still......you're BURDENED.

There's a place in Jerusalem, along the temple wall, called the Hulda gate.  I learned when I was there that this gate was a special gate.  During the Jewish holidays and religious days, "the eastern gates were used for entry to the temple, while the western gates for exit.  The only exception was for visitors in periods of mourning, which entered in reverse direction, so the public will know about their loss and wish them well."
Read more about this gate here

This is a fascinating piece of history and I wonder, on this cool overcast Saturday morning in Wisconsin, what our places of worship would look like in the United States if we had such entrances and exits in our churches.

Then I wonder, would we all be going through the "exit" door, rather than the entrance gate.  I'm sure there would be plenty of folks who would expect the recent mourners to go in the reverse direction.  The ones who are mourning the recent loss of a loved one in death.  That seems logical and expected.  We can give people the space they need in the face of a death.

But what if those who mourn and needed to walk through the exit door were those who are mourning the loss of their childhood because of abuse, or they are mourning the loss of their marriage due to divorce, or they are mourning the loss of a relationship because of substance abuse.  

What if those people started walking through those exits doors?

I wonder.....


Would we know what to say?  Would we feel comfortable offering a touch on the shoulder or a squeeze of the hand? 

Jesus knows what to say and do for those who are mourning.  He touches us.  He feels our burdens, He feels our griefs. 

He doesn't just pity us, He has compassion on us.  He doesn't just say to us, "I'm sorry for your loss," and moves on.  Jesus is moved with compassion for us.  He "splagchnizomai" for us.  He is moved in the inward parts.  He doesn't just pity us, he has a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it."  He feels it with us.  He feels the grief we feel, with us.

He doesn't tell us we shouldn't feel that way, or "don't you think it's time you moved on from this grief?"

No!  Not Jesus!

He knows when we're fighting to not get overwhelmed with grief and he knows when we're doing all we can to avoid feeling the grief.  

Your grief, in whatever stage or degree you're in, no matter what caused it, He feels it too!  He's touching you on that shoulder as you walk in through the exit door.  He's squeezing your hand, whispering in your ear, "I know."

Give it to Him to carry.

It's not for you to be weighed down by it.

Give your grief to Him whose shoulders are never too small and never get crowded by the world's grief. 

Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be comforted.  You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.  



Peace,
Ronda

Matthew 5:4; 9:35; 14:14;     Mark 6:34;     Luke 7:13; 10:33; 15:20

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rocky paths aren't always roadblocks, they're just rocky




When I visited Israel in 2005 one of the sights that most impressed me was the number of rocks there are there.  Rocks in the fields, rocks on the paths, rocks everywhere.  Several, almost all, of the sites we visited were accessed by walking on very rocky paths.  So rocky that most of my time was spent looking down, watching where I was stepping rather than looking up to see the sites around me.  A lot of the rocks were unseen from a distance, covered by beautiful grass and fields of wildflowers, but it took great caution no matter how easy the path appeared from the distance, to make sure I didn't trip on a rock jutting out along a grass path.

Right now we're living in a new but old place.  Even though I'm familiar with the "roads" I'm still finding that I am on some rocky ground, familiar, but unfamiliar.  Maybe it's just because after a fast spring and summer of super speed sorting, packing, moving, unpacking, sorting again, and now we've stopped, Fast.  On a dime.  That maybe why I'm feeling less firm in my footing.

The familiar is not so familiar, the changes really are different.

Maybe that's why it all happened so fast, rip the band-aid to make the pain over faster rather than slowly lift the adhesive off the skin being careful to not pull on hairs.

I'm not unhappy or disappointed that our lives turned upside down, I'm just a little......mmmm....disjointed?

Now what?

I'm finding I have to watch where I'm walking, even though the paths are familiar, they're different.  An almost thirty year absence brought changes to everything I knew and everyone I know.

It's not bad.  It's just....different.

And a little sad.  No, maybe a lot sad.  No, maybe a medium sad, mixed with joy, still.  Where I thought we would be is now not where we are.  And where we were isn't where we were supposed to stay, so here we are.  Walking an old but new path. 

Until we find our places here, our routines, our purpose, I think I'll be looking for rocks in my way as I go along, but I'll be sure to be looking for the wildflowers along the way too.

Peace,
Ronda

Me sitting in a pretty field of grasses and wildflowers in Israel.  Don't let the pretty fool you!  The rocks are there!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gobbly gook

asdlkjf;slkfj;oier ;oia;oieur ;

That's what seems like the only words that come down on this keyboard lately.  alksjf;l ieru;oieu;woiaaflkjf as;f;woieru!

Not that there aren't a host of words rambling around in my brain trying to get out, but it doesn't seem like there is one trying to kick open the door.

I like sharing our Green Bay trip, our trip of the river pictures, but it just seems so.....sooo.....boring to me.

Maybe I'm still in transition.  Although, on the outside we're moved in, unpacked, living, routinely.  I'm waiting to finally get my nursing license application approved, after it seems like nearly everyday there is one other hoop that needs to be jumped through.  So I wait.

I sit and I wait.

And words ramble and roll and make noise in my head but sit on my tongue when I sit here at the keyboard.

Grrrrrrrrrr.

The world's events leave me constantly looking at God, because if I look anywhere else, the news, the radio, Facebook, I just get so anxious.  And there's absolutely NOTHING I can do to make anything or any of it make sense or even better.

It seems like there is a force that can only be stopped by Someone Greater than me or a congressman or a senator or president or a housewife calling on the phone.

So I pray and try not to be an ostrich burying my head in the sand, but there's just only so much that man can do to undo what has already been done.

We need Someone bigger than ourselves to save us from the mess that we've created of our country, our lives, our homes.

So I looked at the book of Job this morning.  And I found myself totally skipping over the parts of Job's "wise" friends, his buddies, his prayer partners, his accountability partners and just found myself soaking up chapters 38-42:6.

I was finding it a little amusing that with all of the "insight" his friends gave him, it was only when The LORD answered Job out of the storm that Job replied by saying to the LORD, "you said."

That's what's missing here in good ol' USA.  What does the LORD say?

Not what do we want Him to say.

Not what we think He should say.

Not what we would say if we were HIM.

Not what we hope someone would say.

Not what we thought He said.

Not what someone said he said.

What does the LORD say?

My words are specks on a page, on a computer screen.  Just specks that will disappear someday.

His Word has endured.

His Words are the only Words that have power in them to change.

An unchanging God with the power to change everything in His hands while He himself never changes.

We're the ones who need Him.  He doesn't need us to tell Him what to do about the situation His world is in.  We need Him to change us, to be the piece we are meant to be in the space we are using right now, today.
If we were god.....well, don't even go there.  We're not.  

He is.  He's the One we need.

Peace, yes there is still peace in my soul,

Ronda

Linking with Just Write 






Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Worst Move Ever

In the early 90's my husband's career was causing us to move often and for short periods of time.  In a span of two years we moved four times. There was one move in that time frame I would categorize as "The Worst Move EVER!"  That move was our shortest distance move - 80 miles - our shortest lived move, four months - but the move that caused the most damage to our furniture with the least amount of handling and the move that caused the most stress to our hearts.

The homeport of the ship my husband was on was closing and the ship was being moved to a new base just 80 miles up the turnpike.  We were nearing the end of our tour, but the base would not let us stay in housing if my husband's command wasn't there so we had to pack up and move.  As we always did between moves, we took the time to pack up, turn in our keys, and then travel to visit family before moving into our new home wherever Navy orders sent us.

This move was unusual as we would be moving a short distance so we felt good that not only would it be a short journey for our belongings, our household goods would not have to be loaded off the truck, into storage, onto a truck and then unloaded at our new home.  The moving company had arranged for our things to stay in the trailer instead of going into storage, until we could move into our rental. We were able to take a small "vacation" visiting family and attending a wedding before we took possession of our shipment.

However....

A typical military move involved the pack out one day and the loading of the truck the next day.  The morning the moving truck arrived the driver began doing a typical inventory of all furniture, boxes, bikes, toys, etc.  Each item and box gets a sticker which then gets a written description and number on the inventory sheet by the driver.  As the movers put an item on the truck, they tell the driver the sticker number as they put it on the truck and that's how they keep track of all of the service member's belongings.

This particular move was going the regular way.  Or so we thought.

Our children were very small at the time - 5, 4, and 3 - and the house we lived in was a three level apartment style house.  My husband was on the ship, within walking distance of our home, and I was supervising, as best I could, the kids and the movers.

My husband walked home at lunch and saw that not only were the movers scratching our furniture as they loaded it onto the truck, they were also putting things on the truck without the inventory sticker.  He made them take everything off the truck that didn't have a sticker and then told the driver what they were doing.

He told me what was going on while he ate his lunch and then went back to the ship.

About an hour had passed when I realized that it was very quiet and I hadn't heard or seen any of the movers in or around the house.  I walked down to the basement where the driver was doing inventory and asked him if the loaders had gone to lunch.  He said, "no, they left."

I asked him again, "Did they go to lunch?"

He said, "No, they left."

I said, "They're coming back, right?"

He said, "I don't think so."

It turns out, they quit.  They walked off the job.

So I called my husband on the ship, which in turn led to a phone call to our point of contact and it was 6:00 that night before some new movers showed up to load the truck.

When they showed up, the lead mover was very friendly, apologetic for what had happened and assured me they would do a good job and have our household goods loaded in no time.  Which they did.  They had us loaded in no time, the good job part....not so much we would find out on the delivery end.

The truck got loaded and away it went.  We finished our cleaning and did the necessary steps for check out and began our journey to visit family and attend a wedding.

Two weeks later we arranged for the delivery of our household goods.  Our children stayed with my parents while I took delivery at our new home.  My parents were going to drive our children to our new home later that week.

The morning of the delivery was exciting.  I was ready to be "home" and unpack suitcases and boxes.

Things started out well.  The movers were energetic and they had heard my story of the other end of the move and assured me they would do a good job and were sorry that it had been so stressful.

Boxes started coming off the truck.  Doors were open in the house, I was giving directions for where things should go.

Upstairs, second room on right.

Garage.

Laundry room.

Upstairs, first room on right.

Dining room.

Kitchen.

Then all movement in the house got quiet.  The furniture was getting ready to be brought in.

I was standing in the kitchen looking out the window waiting to see what would come off the truck first.  (It's almost like Christmas to see your couch and your bedroom furniture again and your tv and your kids' toys.)
I could see the lead mover heading towards the house, head down.

I knew it wasn't good.

He came in and said something to the effect of:  "I'm sorry to tell you, but there's been some damage.  The glass on your hutch has been broken.  There's a lot of scratches and damage to your furniture so far."

Ugh.

I've heard of military families moving over seas and the ship carrying their household goods sinking.  I've heard of moving trucks starting on fire and all contents being burned up.  In that light, broken glass and some damage to furniture that is in your driveway is really not a big deal.

But, it still was.  It was just stuff.  But it was our stuff.  Our "home."  The only things that stayed the same inside walls that were always changing.

It was a tough move.

It was a short move, but a tough one.

Glass got repaired, some of the damage got fixed, some didn't.

The kids were excited to see their new house, their new bedrooms, their new backyard, their new neighborhood.  All in all, in the big scheme of things, it all worked out.

But we weren't off to a good start.  Or the start was already not great and the middle wasn't looking too promising.

In the end, we were only there four months before we packed up again and headed to our next duty station.

One of those things in life that happen, you get through, par for the course of military life, move on.  It's a good story.

The interesting thing about moving when you believe that God is the one who designs where you live and move and have your being is you can look back and see how certain places made up a part of who you are and can be used for connections down the road, twenty or so years later.

I interviewed for a job the other day with a nursing home.  As one of the nurses I would be working with and I got to know each other and chatted, she asked me about the places we've lived.  When I began listing the states and got to the state of the above mentioned story, she stopped me and asked me what city.

When I told her the name of the city, she teared up and said, "I was born and raised there."

God already knew, back in the day when I was a mom with three little kids and stressing out about my furniture and moving men who walked off a job and moving to a new home in a new neighborhood and were not going to be living here long, why should I even unpack or hang pictures or enjoy the time I have here....

He knew.

He knew a connection would be made, twenty plus years later.

When I hadn't even thought about the possibility of becoming a nurse, he already knew that city, that move, would be a connection for me, as a nurse, for a job, over twenty years later.

(By the way, I got the job!)

If you think your life and your experiences have no purpose, I'm here telling you - "You're wrong."  God has a plan and a purpose for your life.  The good, the bad, the not so good, the annoying, the trying, the stressful - everything is for a much bigger purpose than our little minds can comprehend.

He loves you.  He has a plan for your life.

A good plan.

A plan not to harm you, but to bless you.  To give you hope.  To give you a future worth living, with purpose.

He's got your back.

You may never have to move four times in two years and deal with moving men with attitudes, but that doesn't mean your struggles aren't relevant to HIM.

You matter to Him.  Your struggles MATTER to HIM.

Believe it, Friend.

You matter.  If it matters to you, it matters to HIM.

He loves you.

Peace,
Ronda








Friday, September 6, 2013

When the colors of fall are Green and Gold

Since we've been back in Wisconsin we've been setting up our house, visiting family, going to a wedding, riding in our boat, and the list continues as we settle into our new, but old, state.  Top on the list of things to do once we moved back was a trip to the Mecca of Wisconsin, Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Growing up as a child one had no choice but to root for the Green Bay Packers, or if you weren't a fan, you had no choice but to endure the ones next to you rooting for the Green Bay Packers.  My childhood memories are filled with Sunday afternoons of my dad and brother yelling at the TV when the Packers were on.  When the Packers were losing, they'd yell.  When the Packers were winning, they'd yell.  The Green Bay Packers have established a long term love-hate relationship with fans and their family members on the sidelines.

When I married my husband, the Sunday afternoon drama continued.  No matter how far we moved from the Green Bay Packers, or how little he was able to watch any games, he maintained the love-hate relationship with the team.  

I must confess here, I didn't get it.

I lived in the middle of it, but I still didn't get it.

The energy and stress a Packers fan feels, some of the people I love and hold dear, baffled me.  

Sure, I enjoy the games.  Sure, I got caught up in the excitement of the 90's team and the recent Aaron Rodgers led championship team, and even made fun of the folks that only became Packers fans when they were winning.  I'd say, "You have no idea what it really means to be a true Packers fan.  Sure, it's easy to love them when they're winning, but you haven't really been a fan until you've endured the team, through the decades of loss, bad coaches, and the hope of 'Next year.'"  

I saw the devotion of the diehard fans, lived with them, suffered through the personal sense of loss they feel when the Pack lose.  

I got it, but I didn't get it.

But then, we went to Lambeau Field.  

I'm not a diehard fan, even after the visit, but....

I get it now.

There's a history to the team I learned that makes sense as to why the state goes crazy from August through January, and then continues through the spring.  The analyzing of the draft, the injured list, the this and the that of all things Packers.  It really never ends. 

Yeah, there are folks who go alittle over the top and use the Packers as an excuse to get drunk and party and have a good time.  But the root of the team, the story behind how they've endured in a multimillion dollar industry and they are owned by regular people, not corporations or wealthy owners is really fascinating.  

I've gained a new appreciation for the Pack.  I've gained a new appreciation for the fans.  

Yeah, they get crazy and loud and rude and let a game rule their emotions for a few hours or days or months, or even years, but the root of what makes the Packers and the fans special is really something special.

So here's a little piece of our tour.  Hope you enjoy and Go Pack Go!



Driving down Lombardi Ave.  There IT is!


One of the first things we saw when we entered the doors of the Atrium was a replica of Lambeau field made entirely of Legos.




 Then we got to go up to the club level.  Yeah, we'll only get to sit up here when....NEVER!  (Except on a tour)!

The good seats.




After living the good life we got to go down to the bowels of Lambeau Field.


Listening to our guide tell us the story of the tunnel.  Many, many, many Packers have walked this corridor.  We got to walk it with the recorded sounds of cheering fans playing around us.  Goosebumps, I admit it.  


The Pack come out these doors from the locker room.


My husband, the kid.



And then we're there.  The hallowed ground of Lambeau field!






These men were from England.  This is the look they had on their faces after our tour guide let us try out the acoustics of Lambeau with a loud, "Go Pack Go!"  They didn't seem to share the same thrill the rest of us had!




The day we were there Coach Mike McCarthy, in the offices at top left, was making the final cuts to the roster.  Wouldn't want his job.

Packers Players parking lot.  Fans sitting outside the gate waiting for players to stop as they drove through the gate and, hopefully, sign autographs.  We think the guys that drove right past the fans had been cut!


Don't know who this is.


After lunch at Curly's Pub we went through the Packers Hall of Fame.  Not nearly the thrill of the stadium tour but still a nice tour.  Of course the Mom in me is always touched by the Moms of others, even the famous ones.  How hard it must be to be a mom of a coach or a player!

And then, of course, one of four Superbowl trophies, bearing Coach Lombardi's name.


Peace,
Ronda

Go Pack Go!





Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Two Bravest People I know

It was six years ago today that we lost a cousin, a son, a friend, a nephew.  It still doesn't seem real and this weekend, as my son got married and we felt the empty spot where Cody would have stood by my son at the altar, there sat his mom and dad, in the pew near the back of the church.

I can't tell you enough how brave these two people are.  Who of us could go on after losing their son, their ONLY son, let alone keep putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one breath at a time, one day at a time, one month, one year at a time?

They do, they have, they continue to.

"Cody would have wanted us to,"  his mom told me after my first daughter got married and they made the journey from Wisconsin to Memphis with dread and sadness and an ache in their hearts.  She said it again  last year when my youngest daughter got married and they made the journey from Wisconsin to Knoxville.

"Cody would have wanted us to."

So they do what Cody would have wanted.

Bravely.

Sadly.

Staunchly.

Tearfully.

They come.

They sit through the events that Cody would have loved to be a part of, laughing when they'd rather be crying, sitting and listening and wondering what Cody might have shared at the rehearsal dinners.  What he may have said, or how he would have looked in his gray suit standing next to TJ as he married the woman God made for him.

"Cody would have wanted us to."

They are the bravest two people in the world to me.

Today is the anniversary of the day their lives changed forever.

Cody would have wanted you to know this about them.





Just Write

Friday, August 9, 2013

Ready to start the next chapter

For the most part our new home is set up and coming together well.  When we had our big clean out at our old house I got rid of lots and lots of stuff that I no longer used, didn't like, or just needed to let go.  I kept only my favorite decorating pieces and have slowly been trying to make them work in our new house.

It hasn't been easy.  The design of our new house is much different,wall space for hanging pictures is less, and it just....I don't know, doesn't quite flow.  So I've boxed up what doesn't "work" for right now and I'm just setting it aside for the time being and will try again in a week or two.

Our son is getting married next weekend so we will be on the road for several days traveling to and from this wonderful event in our lives so it's a good time to take a break.

I still find it a dream sometimes that I am now living in a new place, but it's a good dream.  We are enjoying being closer to our extended family, taking our boat out and enjoying the beauty of summer in Wisconsin.  We are blessed beyond what we deserve and I can only thank God for the new journey He is starting.

Peace,
Ronda










Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A foundation is only as good as the building it supports

For several years, while living in Tennessee, I would frequently pass a property that intrigued me.  There was a house built on the property and obviously lived in, and about ten years, give or take a few years ago I noticed that a foundation had been built with what looked to be a new house that would be built upon it.

Each time I would approach this property and this foundation I would wonder if the building had been started, and each time I would only see this.


For years, at least 8, maybe ten or more, the foundation remained the same and the only thing that was added to the foundation were weeds that would grow up amongst the sand.  Every so often the weeds would be gone, but still the foundation remained, no walls were going up, no signs of any continued building were seen.

Now, I don't know the story of why the house, or building was never built, nor is that the point of why this intrigued me so.  Maybe there was a tragedy, a loss of income, who knows?  But the foundation has just sat there, waiting....

You know I can't see things for what they simply are, a foundation that is just a foundation, my brain starts to think about foundations.  What they are for, what is built upon them.  How it will be used.  

I don't know a lot about laying foundations for buildings, but I respect the engineering that is involved in making sure that a good foundation is laid.  That the foundation will support whatever will be built upon it.

But....what if nothing is ever built upon the foundation?  I'm assuming this foundation is intended to hold a home.  A home with walls and lights and carpet and people and furniture and warmth and joy and fun and laughter and tears.  

But if you only have a foundation, what kind of home can you have?  Maybe you can set up your furniture on the foundation, but as soon as the rain comes, you're going to get wet.  Maybe you can even cook a meal on an open foundation, have friends and family over, but where does one go for shelter when the foundation has no walls or no roof?

Our lives of faith can be like that empty foundation.  We can have a great foundation laid in our hearts.  A great foundation of faith in a Savior named Jesus, but when it's a foundation only and nothing else is being built upon it; no walls of learning are being added; no roofs of security or shelter to protect from the elements that drive us to our knees are there; no lights of wisdom and discernment to light our path on this broken road we trod, what good is a foundation for now?

We need the foundation, we rest in our foundation in Christ's sacrifice for us, we have peace in the foundation that has been laid for our salvation.

But if our foundation is just a foundation and no home is added, you're going to get beaten by the elements.  Sure, you can have your friends over and cook out and sit on your couch and say "what a wonderful foundation this is!"  

But where are you going to go when it storms?

God wants you to build on the foundation He's laid for you.  Make a home on your foundation.  A home of learning, of knowledge, of stretching and thinking.  Add some lights, put up some rooms so many more can come and enjoy your foundation and your home built on the Foundation that is Jesus.  

Great engineering went into that Foundation.  It can stand the test of many, many storms.  There's enough rebar in its walls to support any wind that tries to blow your walls down.  It's solid, it's sure, it's True.  

And its meant to be built upon.

Peace,
Ronda 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

TJOLC Book two begins

As of yesterday our home is now the home of our daughter and son-in-law.  My mess has been cleared out by joy.  God is good.  Here's to the next chapters of our lives!

Friday, July 19, 2013

When a small view is better than no view

The view was small, looking through the small hole of this marble wall of a temple that once existed to a god made up by men.  On this side of my view I could see the majestic walls of marble, walls that once sparkled and gleamed in the Mediterranean sun.  Through the hole lay the city.  I could only see a small portion of the ancient city through my limited view, but I knew it was there.

  

It was a small view, but it was enough.  I didn't have a Master's in Archaeology and my limited education of Greek mythology and the significance of the wall I now was standing next to was only learned the day before in a lecture on board the cruise ship.  But I knew, beyond that small window, was a very large city.

But to get the full picture, to see the full panoramic view of the beautiful sea and the city in its cradle I had to step around that small hole, away from that broken down wall to see this.


Sometimes a small view is all we need to get a glimpse of the bigger blessing that lies just beyond what we can see.  But sometimes...we just need to step away from our small view, walk around the wall and see the better view.



Peace,
Ronda

All pictures are mine, please enjoy, but don't use without permission.





Thursday, July 18, 2013

When ignorance isn't bliss

Ignorant - destitute of knowledge or education (an ignorant society); lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified (parents ignorant of modern mathematics); resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence (ignorant errors); unaware, uninformed

 Examples:  They may be poor, ignorant farmers, but they are not stupid.

Synonyms:  dark,  illiterate, nonliterate, rude, simple, uneducated, uninstructed, unlearned, unlettered, unread, unschooled, untaught

Antonyms:  educated, knowledgeable, lettered, literate, schooled, well-informed, well-read

Just one example of Ignorant in the Bible Isaiah 44:9  "All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.  Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant of their own shame."

The word for today is ignorant.  What does it mean to be ignorant, to be happy in ignorance - ignorance is bliss, right?

I have a lot of ignorance.  There is so much I don't know, that' I'd like to know, that I'd love to learn about if given the time and opportunity to learn.  I used to be ignorant about a lot of things - it's called childhood.

Mark Twain said  "“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” 

Growing up brings knowledge, awareness and the childish ignorance we once had about life and money and relationships and the world mature, somewhat.

I've grown up and I'm still ignorant.  In growing up, in maturing and getting older, some hard lessons were learned to put a spotlight on the areas in which I truly was ignorant.  I've rambled around the edges of this topic before in older posts, but I'm realizing that just as I was once ignorant as a child until I became an adult, I am still being made aware of my own ignorance as an adult getting older and more, dare I say, wiser?

Just when I felt smart and wanted to delve into the God's Word and learn about His ideas of ignorance, I realized I had a lot more to learn just about delving into His Word.  There is so much there I am so ignorant of!  (and I'm not ignorant of the totally wrong structure of that sentence!)

I did learn this morning that there are too types of ignorance.

The first ignorance is likened to our childhood ignorance.  We're not stupid, we just haven't learned enough yet.  It's ignorance unveiling, if you will.  What we were ignorant of when we were toddlers is only because we're toddlers and our minds aren't developed enough to be declared un-ignorant by the time we start school.  There's a process that hasn't been completed in our minds yet to be capable of learning more than how to hold a spoon or to put a puzzle together or stack some blocks.

We're not stupid when we're toddlers.  We're just ignorant.

And ignorant in this way is not a bad thing.

But there is a negative side to ignorance.  The choice to remain ignorant.  To look the other way, to refuse to understand, to refuse to look at circumstances of another's makeup, opinions, cultures, beliefs.  

When we choose to remain ignorant and not learn what we need to understand about a person's beliefs or culture or family dynamics, we are being as Martin Luther King Jr. said, "dangerous in our sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."  

There's a lot of conscientious stupidity going around in our country, in our world, in our churches, in our schools and even in our homes.  

In my opinion.

Willful ignorance likes to be spoon fed belief systems.  Willful ignorance likes to remain accusatory of racism.  Willful ignorance likes to point out what's wrong with a political party rather than look at what's wrong with one's own heart.

Willful ignorance likes to pick apart what someone said, rather than having the courage to declare your own convictions.

Willful ignorance likes to mock people with spiritual convictions rather than respect the person for having them.

Willful ignorance likes to point out the sin to stone the sinner rather than lay down the stones and pick up compassion and walk along with the sinner where he or she trods. 

Willful ignorance is comfortable because when we are willfully ignorant we don't have to change.  We don't have to step out and learn and be challenged and find out where we may be wrong in our thinking or our beliefs.

The ancient Hebrew text, in the above verse, uses a word picture that is translated in the English for ignorance.  It means to close up, fence up, hedge, enclose, make up (a wall), mason.  


When we willfully remain ignorant we are building a wall, fencing ourselves in, putting hedges around our walls and closing ourselves off from knowledge, from awareness, from being informed and educated.  

And we, in the end, are robbing ourselves of a deeper meaning to our lives.  

We're not here on earth to remain ignorant children never leaving infancy.  We are capable of learning, of growing, of being enriched in our understanding of our culture, our history, our faith and the faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Without Christ, you who refuse to believe, who continue to remain ignorant, you are being robbed of a joy that your ignorance will never provide or replace.  

You are capable of becoming un-ignorant.  Be smart, be educated, lay to rest your ignorance and learn what you are capable of understanding and knowing because a Creator designed you for that very purpose.

Peace,
Ronda

References:  Ezekiel 45:20; Acts 3:17; 17:30; Ephesians 4:18; 1 Timothy 1:13; Hebrews 9:7;
1 Peter 1:14; Psalm 73:22; Proverbs 30:2; Isaiah 44:9; 45:20; Romans 11:25; 
1 Corinthians 10:1; 12:1; 15:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; Hebrews 5:2; 1 Peter 2:15; 2 Peter 3:16

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