Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Original is So Much Greater

During our many years of kayaking I have taken hundreds of pictures from my kayak of the sky, the  water and the sun.  Some of these have turned out surprisingly well, (although it is very difficult to take a picture from a boat that is constantly drifting with the current and with waves constantly changing the angle in the viewfinder.)

I find the ones I am the most disappointed with are the pictures taken of either the sunrise or the sunset.  Many times I would snap away hoping to capture with my camera the beauty before me, only to be so very disappointed with the result.  Try as I might I could not capture the glory, majesty and beauty of the original.

As Christians, we have been given the holy Scriptures of God.  In them are "the oracles of God."  They reveal a history of the ages in which the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord were prophesied and came about.  They tell of the might, the glory, the majesty and wonder of our Lord.

As great and glorious a gift the Scriptures are to us, when describing our Lord and God, they are like my camera.  They cannot begin to capture the greatness of the original.  Only when we are with Him, when we see Him in all His glory, will we begin to understand.

Then we will join with .. ."every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them.. .saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." (Revelation 5:13.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


 In the beautiful old hymn by Fanny Crosby, He Hideth My Soul, there is this line:
"He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,  He giveth me strength as my day."

We were singing this hymn yesterday in one of our church services at a local nursing home, and a memory was triggered of something I have done hundreds of times.

In Labor & Delivery our patients come in usually scared of three things:  getting an IV, getting an epidural and the delivery itself.  Ironically, most are more scared of the epidural than even the delivery, perhaps because they know the delivery will be much easier once the epidural is in place

When a mother is to receive an epidural, she is positioned sitting on the side of the bed.  Her nurse stands directly in front of her, holding her shoulders and helping the mother to keep her back in the "mad cat" position which is the optimal position for epidural placement.

There is a point in the epidural placement where the mother is instructed not to move.  Even if she has the worst contraction of her labor up to that point, she needs to remain perfectly still.  It is the nurses' job to help the mother reach that goal.  To accomplish this, she will often be whispering encouragement and direction to the patient as the procedure progresses.  When the epidural is completed and  she is returned to a supine position, the majority of women say, "That wasn't as bad as I thought it would be."

In our lives, there are often things about which we will be tempted to be fear.  There are things that perhaps we are dreading.  If we know the Lord Jesus and are trusting in Him, He will be with us during those times, He "holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,  He giveth me strength as my day," as Fanny Crosby described.  His Spirit will speak encouragement and directions to our spirits.  When we pass through those moments, we will know that it was the Lord, His grace and His mercy which have carried us through those difficult spots.  

"...and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."
Deuteronomy 33:25

He Hideth My Soul
by Fanny Crosby

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
  A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
  Where rivers of pleasure I see. 

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

  That shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
  And covers me there with His hand,
    And covers me there with His hand.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
  He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,
  He giveth me strength as my day.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

  That shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
  And covers me there with His hand,
    And covers me there with His hand.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
  And, filled with His fulness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God,
  For such a Redeemer as mine!

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

  That shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
  And covers me there with His hand,
    And covers me there with His hand.

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
  To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love,
  I’ll shout with the millions on high.

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock

  That shadows a dry, thirsty land;

He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
  And covers me there with His hand,
    And covers me there with His hand.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

"A Blessing"

A friend at work relayed the following story:

She was keeping her grandsons, approximately five and seven.  Her father had come to her house to help her prepare for some adventure with the boys and apparently he had done a great deal of work for them.

It is her habit to engage the boys in chores while they are with her and for doing the chores, they are compensated  with a preset number of quarters.  At some point while with her, she told them, "We are going over to Granddaddy's to bless him."  At his house they did chores, which included picking up the yard.  When they were finished the youngest asked if they were going to get "their quarters."

"No," my friend answered, "we came over here to be a blessing to Granddaddy and we don't get quarters for being a blessing."  She continued, "Remember when Granddaddy came to our house and helped us?  He was being a blessing to us.  We didn't pay him for it.  Now it is our turn to be a blessing to him in return."

My friend is one who has lived a life of being "a blessing."   She is a pleasure to work with and always seems to be volunteering her time to "be a blessing" to others.

There are those, like my friend, who do the right things for the right reasons.  There are others who seemingly do the right things, but their motive is flawed.  Perhaps like the youngest grandchild, they are seeking some compensation for their "blessing."  They are looking to be rewarded, or to be given attention, praise or reputation.

It is important that we ask the Lord to "cleanse Thou me from secret faults," (Psalm 19:12.)  Our motive must always be the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of His purpose and way.  Nothing else.  Because after all, "we don't get quarters for being a blessing."

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Years ago our family had a favorite restaurant that was located in other cities, but not ours.  If we were going out of town, we would plan our route to stop by Birmingham or Montgomery to visit the Macaroni Grill in one of those towns.

When our son finished Airborne training in Fort Benning, we left after the graduation ceremony and headed to Montgomery to celebrate with a lunch at Macaroni Grill.

One day several years ago, we noticed a new building come up not a half a mile from our house.  We joked that it would be neat if it were a Macaroni Grill.  We watched the progress of the building speculating what it would be.  Once the shape of the outside could be made out, I began to look online for restaurants with that form.  And what do you think I found?  It was exactly like a Macaroni Grill I found online.

Indeed, within a few weeks the Macaroni Grill in Mobile opened for business.  While we were thrilled, we did notice the service and food was not quite the caliber of the other restaurants we had visited.  Nevertheless, we could order our favorite dishes and enjoyed quite a few family celebrations there.  In fact, it was there I chose to have my last meal the night before my tonsillectomy.

Lemon Passion Cake
Over time, the joys and pleasures of the Macaroni Grill began to wane in our eyes.  Except for that wonderful Lemon Passion Cake, the food didn't seem to be the same, the service was not as stellar and the general atmosphere seemed somehow different.  We began to choose different restaurants for family dinners.  It has been a few years since any of us had even been there now.

In life, all things wane.  Everything loses its luster, its attraction.  Something we may have longed for dearly becomes old, worn and obsolete.   Everything that is, except the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ironically, the Scriptures say that He is without "form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him," (Isaiah 53:2.)  And yet, He is the very thing that our hearts --everyone's heart-- desires.  We try desperately to fill that void with other things, but our hearts, as St. Augustine said,  ". . .are restless till they find rest in Thee."

He is such that the more we know of Him, the more we long to know.  The more we experience His love, His grace and His mercy, the more we desire to experience Him.  He is a wellspring of flowing water to our thirsty hearts, He is the Bread of Life to our hungering spirits.  He is the "all and in all."  

He will never diminish, He will never fade, He will never wane.  We will spend all eternity discovering new facets of His character, His nature, His person and His creation and we will never tire of doing so.

From the poem "Always Rejoicing" attributed simply to Pauline T. :

"The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All is mine since I am His-
How can I keep from singing?"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Surf the Waves

I had the sweetest patient the other night.  She and her husband were a joy to be with.  Although she wouldn't be delivering on me, we had several talks about her upcoming labor the next day.  She wanted to go without an epidural and had never labored before.  That would be sort of like me wanting to do a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail when I have never camped before!

I talked to them both about what they could expect and what their various roles would be.  "If you are sitting in that recliner," I told the dad, "then you aren't doing a good job."

The main thing I told my patient was that she couldn't be passive with the contractions.  I told her how the contractions were like strong waves at the beach.  When in the fierce surf, you can't let the waves just through you around, you have to be active, you have to have a plan ahead of time.

I encouraged her that she could indeed meet her goal, but she would have to be ready to work with each contraction.  She needed to be prepared for it when it came and have a plan for how she was going to deal with them.

After I left work, I thought how that was so much like our Christian walk.  There will always be temptations, distractions and deceptions from the world, the flesh and the devil.  We cannot be passive as thoughs "fiery darts" come our way.  We must have a plan how we will deal with these when they occur.

The Lord Jesus used Scriptures when He was tempted, and this is a perfect pattern for us to follow.  Relying on the written word of God helps us to affirm what is true, what He has said is true.  It strengthens our own heart as we hear those words and it helps us identify the truth from those falsehoods our enemies through at us.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Birdhouse

There is a house in our city which has an interesting feature outside.  

It is a birdhouse which is an exact replica of the house.  We have passed it several times on our walks and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.  Since this house is in a historic district, I am pretty safe in assuming the birdhouse was made to resemble the house and not the other way around.

The birdhouse looks exactly like the house. . .the same shutters, the same porch, the same painting scheme.  The birdhouse, however, is not and will never be the house.  The house is more grand in every way than the birdhouse can ever hope to be.  The birdhouse is merely that which points to, and draws attention to the house.
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.   
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."  Romans 8:28,29.
"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18

As Christians, we, too, are replicas, or we are being changed into a replica. . .a replica of Christ.  His Spirit is working in our spirits to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus.  We are not and will never be Him.  He is more grand and glorious than we could ever imagine to be.  We exist to point to and bring attention to Him, because in all things He must have the preeminence.

"For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence."  Colossians 1:16-18.
What a wonderful thought that we are being made into His image, His likeness and His character, and yet, the attention will never be on us, but on Him.  For all eternity, every Christian, in their own unique way, will point to the wonders and glory of the Lord Jesus.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Follow His Feet

When Glen and I go out walking, we have learned it is best for only one person to decide if it is safe to go at the street crossings.  Glen takes on this role as "navigation."  He will check the traffic and either issue a "Go" or a "Stop."

Sometimes, his feet move before his mouth has told me what to do.  In those situations, I just follow his feet.  I know I won't be wrong if I step when he steps and stands when he stands, even if I haven't audibly heard his voice telling me what to do.

There are times in our lives when we face decisions and just aren't sure which path to take.  It is in those times we must trust the Lord to reveal His path to us.  While we won't hear an audible voice telling us to "go" or to "stop," He will lead us in a "plain path" as the psalmist wrote.

In those times when we truly don't know what the Lord's will is, we should follow His feet.  Which path most closely resembles the character, nature and actions of the Lord Jesus?  Which path most closely aligns to the life He lived, the choices He made and the Person He was and is?

When we start looking at our choices in the view of His choices, our path may become clear indeed.

Friday, July 18, 2014

All My Springs

Glen and I have a song entitled "All My Springs."  When Glen introduces the song, he usually says something like this:

"When David wrote the words, "all my springs are in Thee," (Psalms 87:7) he wasn't just speaking of a nice waterway in which to spend a Saturday morning.  He was talking of their very life.  A source of clean water meant the difference between life and death for them.  David was telling the Lord that He was his very life.  Indeed, He is our very life as well.  He is all we need in every sitution.  All our springs continue to be in Him and Him alone."

This week he introduced the song this way and I immediately thought of something more recent in our lives.

Walking out in the hot, summer Mobile days, having water readily available is imperative, especially as our mileage goes into double digits.  Thanks to my wonderful hydration pack, I carry a minimum of two and sometimes up to four liters of water with us as we walk.  There have been several days when we have consumed every milliliter of those four liters.  The water flowing out of my pack is essential for our health in the heat.

The Scriptures tell us of another flowing water.  "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, our of his belly shall flow rivers of living water," (John 7:38.)  The little phrase contained in the center of the verse is essential:  "as the Scripture hath said."  We do not just believe on the Lord Jesus in any willy-nilly way, but in the way laid out by the Scriptures.  That is the way of grace through faith.  As the old hymn says, "nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." There is no good thing we can do that is "good enough" to satisfy the Lord's requirements.  We must solely trust on Him.

The Lord Jesus has completed everything in order for us to have a relationship with Him, and He is doing everything to maintain that relationship.   Our part is to believe this by grace through faith and to walk in that faith believing that we do so through the "power of His might."  Philippians 2:13 tells us that it is His work, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure," not ours.  He works in us and we work through the power of His might, not our own. 

These are the rivers of living water, the things He works in us and the things which subsequently flow out of us.  The river does not flow for itself, it is for others, and the living water of Christ flowing through us is for others too.  We work not to obtain our own salvation, for that is futile effort.  We do work, however, that the life of our Lord Jesus will flow through us to those around us.

All My Springs


 All my springs are in Thee,
You are the fount of my being, 
And I look only to Thee
to find fulfillment and meaning. . . 
For all my springs are in Thee,
All my springs are in Thee. 

 Rivers of purest joy
flow swiftly into our spirits, 
And as the mercy tides roll,
Your voice, Lord, Oh, I can hear it. . . 
For all my springs are in Thee,
All my springs are in Thee. 

 So let me drink, Lord, of Thee,
o, lead me beside Thy Wellspring; 
And in the water I'll see
reflections of Christ so lovely. . . 
 For all my springs are in Thee,
All my springs are in Thee. 

 All my springs are in Thee.

Two on the Path

For those of you who have followed our treks around the city on the posts labeled "Cre Man & D'Sugar," I have decided to give those posts their own piece of real estate.

The posts which center on our walking adventures will now live on the blog, Two on the Path.

If you would like to receive those posts directly by email, there is a sign-up box on the blog.

The Cafe Powder Room will continue as before.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

To Pull Down

On April 14th of this year, our whole Labor & Delivery unit, along with the Nursery moved from the location it has been since it was built thirty years ago.  For thirteen months contractors will be creating for us a brand new, combined unit.

Progress with this renovation has been very slow up to this month.  Workers have been meticulously removing anything that can be used later somewhere else.  I have visited our old unit every week and the changes have been few and far between.  Until last week.

I had a few minutes and walked around to the old unit.  The main double doors, which were always locked when we occupied the space, were open.  I didn't even have to step across the threshold to see the changes.

My view from our unit's doors.

What had once been two hallways with rows of birthing rooms was now a pile of rubble and a tangle of wires and pipes.  I have to admit, it brought tears to my eyes to see the unit I have loved for the past twenty-two years so destroyed.  (If you look on the right side of the picture, however, you can see my desk still sitting where was the day I left.)

The view from our kitchen to our operating rooms.
It would have been impossible for the workers to create a new space for us without first taking away the old.  As the days, weeks and months pass we will begin to see our shiny new unit emerge from the rubble.

We see this truth in the Bible, as well in the instructions the Lord gave the Prophet Jeremiah:

"See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, 
to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, 
to build, and to plant."  
Jeremiah 1:10

Jeremiah was instructed to do six things, four were of a destructive nature and two were of a constructive nature.  The old and the wrong had to be pulled down before the new and the better could be built.

Many times in our own lives the Lord must first root out, pull down, destroy and throw down before He can build and plant.  Perhaps we have wrong plans or intentions, misconceptions or beliefs.  As my husband said yesterday, first we must "unlearn" the wrong we have picked up before we can learn the Lord's truth.

The pulling down process is often hard for us. . . it brings tears to our eyes.  But when we see the Lord begin to create the new, the right, the perfect in us, well, that brings tears to our eyes as well.  Tears of joy, tears of thanksgiving, tears of awe for His infinite understanding.

None of us enjoy the pulling down stages in our lives, but we can know that His pulling down has the accuracy of a surgeon's scalpel, that nothing we truly need will be removed.  There is great comfort in this knowledge and as we walk by faith with Him through our renovation, we can take great comfort that He is conforming us to the image of "His dear Son."

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified. 
What  shall we say then to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?"  Romans 8:28-31

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Comfortable Place

Less than an hour ago I was asleep, cozy & comfortable in my bed.

When one works night shift, they become experts in making a comfortable sleeping arrangement.

First if all, my room is chocolate brown, to facilitate darkness.  The windows are covered with dark fabric under the curtains to block out all daylight.

When I sleep during the day I can arrange the six pillows on our bed in any way I want,  I can sleep anywhere on the bed, too.

I have a soft velour eye mask and great earplugs that block out the sounds of the world.

My fan keeps me cool and my fluffy cover keeps me warm.  My beagle snuggles next to me for company.

It is very comfortable.  But from where did all that comfort come ?

It came from God, whom the Scriptures describe as "The God of all comfort."

Isn't it just like God that "all comfort" comes from the One who willingly gave up all comfort?

The Scriptures say that the Lord Jesus had no place to let His head, and they refer to Him as the "Man of Sorrows, aquainted with grief."  Born in a manger and died on a cross, He gave up comfort that He might freely give it to us.

So the next time we feel something comfortable...a bed or  a chair, a piece of clothing, the touch of a friend's hand, let us remember to thank the One from which it comes, the Man of Sorrows, the God of all comfort.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

4.60 miles
77°/ Feels Like  77° 98% Humidity

We didn't have much time today so it was a relatively short walk.  I worked last night, came home and slept some, then we had our services at Gordon Oaks before we could walk.

We set out toward Government Street and turned at Monterrey Street.  We snaked back through the neighborhoods toward home.  Starting out with 98% humidity, we should have known we would encounter a little rain.  It wasn't hard and it didn't last long.  Mainly when we talked about the weather, we talked about how we would have never expected to have a night with a temperature of 77° in July.

Our walk was pretty uneventful until almost the end.  Our light was beginning to wane, but we were walking on pretty familiar territory.  At one point there was an oncoming car and Glen (our navigator) said, "Sidewalk left."  I jumped up on the sidewalk to be out of the way of the car.

Then Glen said, "Oh, I'm sorry."  I thought he meant that the car had turned.  What I didn't know was that he had encountered a limb projecting onto the sidewalk.  He brushed it aside thinking it would go up, but instead it went straight back. . .into my face.

Out of the blue I was struck on the bridge of the nose by this hard branch.  It made me a little dizzy and disoriented at first and I couldn't figure out how the branch hit me with so much force.  I thought it was just stationary and I ran into it.  As we walked on, I learned that Glen had pushed the branch aside and it recoiled into my face.  I'm glad it didn't it me hard enough to cause a black eye, that would have been hard to explain.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

9.08 miles
87°/Feels like 99° 75% humidity

What a walk!

We drove to Government and Catherine Streets because we knew we wanted to walk downtown, and also tackle the steps today.

We walked from Government Street to Charles Street, then to Charleston Street. There, across from Callahan's, I saw the Oakleigh Garden District Book Share.  This is an enclosed bookcase (with a little roof) where people in the OGD can leave and take books for sharing. What a neat idea!

From there we waked to Broad Street and crossed Broad Street at Canal Street.  At one point I looked up and saw a gorgeous cloud bank above us.  Little did I know what those clouds would bring. 
British Park
From there we turned onto Washington Avenue and then Dearborn and walked through British Park.  We had passed this park once before, not even realizing it existed, and expressed a desire to come back some time.  We exited British Park on Warren Street and as we passed by one house a beagle rushed out to the fence growling at us.  I've never seen a "guard beagle" before.  I have hardly ever even heard our beagle growl.

We turned down Eslava to Lawrence, by the Civic Center. It made me wonder, when the first time was I ever went to the Civic Center?   I have a vague memory of going to the circus there,  but it isn't necessarily a pleasant memory.  It could have even been a dream, it is that hazy.

We followed Civic Center Drive, past the Malaga Inn. It reminded me of when our son Noah was ring bearer at the wedding of our friends Jerry & Kathy at the Malaga Inn.

Government Plaza
We turned on Jackson Street and I thought about the variety of architecture in our downtown district.  From one spot I could see the round Holiday Inn, and if I turned another way I could see the Government Plaza, built to be reminiscent of a ship. In between are old, historic homes now turned into business and lawyer's offices.

We followed Government Street to Water street where the steps awaited us.  

I spent a good part of Saturday playing he Kinect game, Adventures, with our grandchildren.  This game requires a great deal of jumping, squatting and side-stepping.  At one point my knee hurt so much I had to stop.  I was concerned how it was going to feel on our scheduled 10 times up and 10 times down the Convention Center Steps.

The first time up was difficult, I'll admit.  My knee was hurting, but the more I went up the better it felt.  Then it began to be harder in other ways, like breathing.  When we had done four sets I reminded myself we weren't even half-way yet.  The last two were very hard, but I was stubborn enough to keep going.  We accomplished our ten ups and ten downs, which is 500 steps up.

After that we needed a break.  We sat on the steps under the shade of the canopy to rest.  While we were there a sudden rainstorm came up.  It was pouring down rain.  We were so glad we had already walked the steps and that we weren't out in it when it started raining.  Thankfully the rain didn't last long and we were back on our way.

We walked east along Water Street where the sidewalk follows the train tracks.  A train had actually come through the Convention Center while we were walking the steps, (Yes, I said through. . .the train goes through the bottom of the building,) but I was so busy trying to consume oxygen I didn't notice it.

As we walked beside the train I thought of all the interesting people we had met on our train ride to New York.  There was Derrick the Dining Car attendant who had a huge, ever-present smile and a willingness to please just as big. There was Colin the archaeologist who probably had as many stories as he has had shovels of dirt to move.  Perhaps our favorite was Fletcher Smith who, like us, had decided to take the train for the experience of it, while his family traveled by other venues.  We may never have the opportunity to see any of these people again, but we know we can link ourselves to them by remembering to pray for them often.

GM&O Building
We walked past the State Docks and a  Handyman's Railroad Salvage Store, a place I definitely have down to visit another time.  We walked past rows of Wisteria with their tendrils reaching out to greet us and Crepe Myrtle blossoms full of water to splash on our arms.  We turned down St. Joseph Street and passed by the Mobile Press Register building, where our friend Jay Grelen used to write a column.  In the distance we could see the GM&O building.

We walked back up St. Joseph to Congress Street and then went down Conception and St. Louis Streets.  We passed a portion of downtown which I found very unusual because it had no discernible landmarks. . .nothing to capture the eye or engage the camera lens.  Usually there is at least something. . .a doorway, some flowers, a sign, that grabs my attention, but this spot was totally devoid of anything of interest.

We followed Jackson Street (again, basically having made a big circle) and headed to Dauphin.

We decided since we were so close, we might as well stop for lunch at the Mediterranean Sandwich Company.  If you live in Mobile and haven't ever tried this shop, please do so.  I highly recommend the Roasted Vegetable Pita sandwich.  Adding a side of Carbonara Orzo wouldn't hurt either!

We took our food out to the Cathedral Square to eat.  The weather was so pleasant, especially after the rain, it was very nice eating outside.

After our meal we continued down Dauphin Street, which is probably my favorite part of town to walk, until we reached Bayou Street.  That's when I noticed the clouds.  They were dark and full and we were walking right toward them.

We turned onto Church Street as we headed West and we passed the house with the boat named "Fish 'N Grits."  We talked to the man at this house last week as we walked by and he said the boat was named that because that's what he was eating when he met his wife in Atlanta.  I love that story!

Cake Balls at Cream & Sugar
By the time we reached George Street we could hear the thunder rumbling.  We decided it was time to duck into Cream and Sugar for some coffee.  We also shared a Lemon Curd cake-ball (which was superb) and a chocolate chip cookie.

We waited for the rain, which didn't come, and then decided to start home.  We hadn't gone two blocks when it started raining, but it didn't last long, not even five minutes.

We needed some more zig-zagging to get our miles in so we walked to Government, to Roper, down Palmetto to Rapier and back to Government Street.  Before we reached Ann Street it started raining again.  We didn't mind it, actually, it felt sort of good.

We turned off Government Street on Stocking Street.  Ransom Cafe operates one of it's cafes on this street.  It is a cafe which has no set prices, but instead is totally donation only.  Outside of the Ransom Cafe was a large van called The Clean Machine, where the homeless can get a shower and have their clothes laundered by volunteers.  Both of these ministries are operated by Matt & Tara Armbruster.  What a tremendous ministry to the homeless...a meal, a shower and clean clothes!

After we passed The Clean Machine, we walked past Leinkauf Elementary School, where our oldest two children went to school.  It seems like ages since the days they walked those halls.

We continued on Monroe, then Dexter Streets, and then back to Government Street.  We were close to the car when we decided to just go ahead and make nine miles instead of our planned eight.  We turned down Tuthill to Church Street, then McDonald to West Street (where we had to go around the fence on our wedding day.  The next time we walk that way, I'll tell you the story.)

Then it was to Government Street and the car.  It was a good walk, and I'm glad we have those steps out of the way for the week.  When we got home, the thunder and rain started again, so we quit just in time.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014 800 miles!

88°/Feels Like 102°   78% Humidity

I slept longer today than usual after working all night.  When this occurs I generally suppose that my body was trying to tell me I needed the extra sleep.  In spite of this, I was groggy and moving slowly when it was time to walk.

I got up, loaded the pack and we headed out, but as we walked to the driveway we were both surprised to hear thunder.  Looking to the northeast the sky had turned a dark grey.  Here is the radar map with a line of nasty looking thundershowers headed our way.  Obviously, we postponed the walk.

I wanted to walk at least 5.03 miles today (which will put me at the 800  mile mark) so we watched for a window of opportunity.

That window finally opened up.  When we did start out the temperature had dropped by 12°, but the humidity was 96%.  The roads and sidewalks were wet and slippery with puddles in some places and muddy slicks in others.  One positive thing from walking after the rain (besides the lower temperature) was the Crepe Myrtles.  They have been in bloom for a couple weeks now, but after the shower their blossoms are full of water, some to the point they hang down and almost touch the ground.  I love walking past them and touching the blossoms to release that water running down my hand and arm.

Our walk started a little late but we knew we had to at least get in those 5+ miles.  We walked to Ashland Place.  I guess it has been a little while since I have walked through so much of that subdivision.  One house that is in the midst of renovation truly surprised me.  I had not see it since a new front porch and second floor dormers had been added.  Once finished, it will fit in much better with the style of homes in the rest of the neighborhood.

We reached our halfway point and turned back, realizing we would end up at my 800 mile mark not too far from where I marked 700 miles.  So, after 1 hat, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 packs, 2 containers of sunscreen,  2 sets of earphones,  3 shirts and 4 pairs of shorts, I reached 800 miles for the year!

My Armour

It takes me a bit longer to get ready to walk than it does Glen.  I have more "armour" to put on.

I have, of course, my walking shorts and tops.  These are chosen to be as light and cool as possible and to reduce any friction while walking.  

I also take my hydration pack, which is strapped securely in place and provides me with cool water as we walk.  

I would not walk without taking special care of my feet.  I make sure to coat them with lubricant to prevent blisters then put on two pairs of socks.  Next come my trail runners.  

I then put on my running wallet which carries my cell phone and lip balm.  Attached to that is a towel to wipe my face.  

I always wear my orange "Sweet Olive" hat to keep the sun out of my face and my sunglasses to keep the sun (and branches overhanging the path) out of my eyes.  If we are walking on nature trails, I also carry my walking stick.  

While it takes a few minutes to gather and don all of the items, each has a purpose that none of the other items can fulfill.  I would feel lost without any one of them.   The time spent in preparation beforehand is well worth it on the road.  

It reminds me of this passage of Scripture:

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  
 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" (Ephesians 6:10-18.)
Each of the things the Apostle Paul urges us to "take" have a particular purpose, which cannot be fulfilled by any of the other things.  Each is something necessary for us to "stand against the wiles of the devil."  

Let us remember each day that there is a battle raging, whether or not we hear the cannons or see the smoke.  There is an enemy whose purpose is to devour us and we must be prepared against all the "fiery darts of the wicked."  

Let us trust be strong in the Lord and the power of His might and find ourselves prepared for battle with His armour.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Empty Inside

There is a great oak tree at the entrance of our subdivision which welcomes all who turn into our streets.  Originally, there was one on each side of the street, but a few years ago a hurricane damaged one to the point it had to be removed.

The other day, I don't know if it was the result of a storm or if it just happened spontaneously, part of this grand old tree fell down, the huge branches covering the yard and the street.

What I didn't realize when I first saw the fallen tree was that it fell because the entire inside had rotted away.  While there were still beautiful large limbs and an abundance of green leaves, the inside was almost hollow.  This gave no support for the tremendous weight of the limbs.

Once the homeowner began cutting the limbs out of the street and yard, we could see that even many of the limbs themselves had hollow places in them.

Until the tree fell, looking at it, one would only be impressed with its beauty and grace, it's size and longevity.  But now we know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story."

The tree needed the strength and soundness of the trunk to continue.  The beauty and structure of the limbs mean nothing without what should have been inside the trunk.  The same can be said of us.

It is well and good to do things for the Lord, and in fact, we are called to do many things.  But if our heart, our motives, are not right, we are like this tree with an empty trunk.  In fact, the Apostle Paul said it this way:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. "   I Corinthians 13:1-3
All these things he mentions are great things, let's face it, how many of us have "moved mountains?"  Yet, if our motive is not love of God and love of man, then however great the thing we are doing, no matter how earnestly we perform it, no matter how diligently we continue it is, it is nothing.

It is amazing to me how easily wrong motives can creep in with the right motives.  The motive of wanting to be noticed, wanting to be appreciated.  The motive of thinking I am good because I have done one thing or another.  I suspect that often we have motives we would be ashamed of it there were made known, and yet we don't even know we have them.

I am not one to suggest anyone participate in self-inspection.  In fact, I don't believe the Bible teaches any type of focus on ourselves.  I do believe, however, that as David did, we can ask the Lord to inspect our motives.

 "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," (Psalm 139:23, 24.)

May we open our eyes to that leading of the Lord, to His correction in our lives when necessary.  And may we also seek that one will: the eternal glory of Christ.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Nothing else.