Friday, July 29, 2011

A Bright, Bright Sun Shiny Day



Click on the pictures to enlarge. 

...because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse...

Romans 1:19-20

Without Christ...What do you do?

After reading Ken’s post “Will I have work?” at his blog “Following Jesus”, it got me to thinking.  How do people who don’t know God get through life especially during difficult and trying times? 

What do you do when you lose your job?
What do you do when the doctor has bad news?
What do you do when you hit some bumpy waters in your marriage?
What do you do when a loved one dies?
What do you do when you’ve been hurt and you feel like you can’t go on?
What do you do when you see injustice?
What do you do, whom do you turn to?

Even though I accepted Christ at the age of 32, I can’t imagine facing life without Him or without the wisdom, counsel and comfort I find in the Bible.  I can’t imagine facing trials and tribulations without reaching out to family and friends, knowing that they will go before the throne of grace in prayer for me.

Thank You Lord that I don’t have to know what it’s like to live my life without You.  Thank You Lord for friends and family who come alongside me and help me when life is hard.  Thank You that You don’t waste anything because You are able to use the bad things in my life to minister to others.  Thank You for the Bible which helps me to learn about who You are.  Thank You that I can have confidence and unwavering trust in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and eternal security.  Thank You that all my sins have been forgiven, that they have been cast as far as the east is from the west.  Thank You for being faithful when I am faithless.  Thank You for Your people.  Thank You for pastors and teachers who are faithful and bold to teach Your Word.  Thank You for prayer.  Thank You for hearing and answering my prayers and speaking to me through Your Word and the Holy Spirit.  Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the certainty that You will never leave nor forsake me.  Thank You for worship and praise and glorious music.  Thank You Lord!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thunder Dog…A Compelling & Good Read


With the events of 9/11 forever etched in my memory, I was eager to read “Thunder Dog” by Michael Hingson with Suzy Flory.  As the subtitle tells, it’s “The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.” 

Reading a story about a man who survived the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center is compelling enough.  But add to the story the fact that the man, Michael Hingson, is blind, has a guide dog Roselle and has to descend 78 stories on foot to get to safety and you have a gripping survival account by an unforgettable pair.

The story is well told, with a moment by moment account of Michael and Roselle’s escape, along with colleague David Frank from their office located on the 78th floor in Tower I of the World Trade Center.  Interspersed with the details of that fateful day are stories of Michael’s life. 

Michael was born two months premature and was blind due to pure oxygen he received as part of the standard medical treatment for premature babies.  Michael parents didn’t listen to the doctor’s advice about putting him in a home for the blind.  Instead they brought him home and raised their son no differently from his older brother Ellery.  Before he ever had a guide dog or white cane, Michael was expected to grow, learn and explore his neighborhood on his own two feet.  This boy had a spirit of adventure and he learned to ride a bike and even drive a car.  Michael’s feisty can-do spirit helped to prepared him to survive the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Through Michael’s story we learn about the bond between a blind person and their guide dog.  Roselle is a special dog and was able to keep her focus and concentrate on guiding her master down 78 flights of stairs and through the streets of New York filled with debris and a monstrous toxin filled dust cloud that pursued survivors running from the World Trade Center.

I highly recommend this book.  It was a gripping, interesting and unique story of survival by Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle.  “Thunder Dog” is a touching and memorable book.


I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Monday, July 25, 2011

Ungodliness

Recently, I had the privilege of reading Jerry Bridges’ book “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.”  Reading this book proved to be a painful experience.  On occasion I saw the sins of others, but all too often God confronted me of my own sins. 

When I think of the word ungodly, I don’t typically think of Christians.  Instead I think of unbelievers and a multitude of sins.  But Jerry Bridges helped me to see that ungodliness may be a sin present in a believer’s life too. 

In his book Jerry said, “Ungodliness may be defined as living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory or of one’s dependence on God.”

The day after reading that chapter, I had an example of ungodliness in my own life when I experienced anxiety and worry.  My first thought wasn’t that I need to bring this before the Lord in prayer.  Instead, I was thinking of things that I could do to help resolve the issues that concerned me. 

It wasn’t until later in the day, I realized I had given little thought of God when I started feeling anxious.  I wanted to get out of that place where I was feeling uncomfortable.  I wanted to be in control and use my wisdom and might to change the situation.  I didn’t act a whole lot different than a person who doesn’t believe in God. 

The book also addresses many other sins, including anxiety and worry. 

I found “Respectable Sins” challenging because the Holy Spirit was doing a work in me as I read through each chapter.  I would recommend taking one chapter at a time so that you can think and pray about what the Holy Spirit would have you to learn before moving on to the next chapter. 

This book is a keeper so you can reread and reevaluate where you are at in dealing with some of those “Respectable Sins” that all of us deal with this side of heaven.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Little Do They Know

My family laid my body to rest today
Little do they know
My soul will never find rest

I spent months fighting this wretched disease
On my death bed
Suffering day and night

They couldn’t take it any longer
Eventually they prayed
That I would suffer no more

They whispered in my ear
It’s okay, you can let go now
You are going to a better place

Little did they know
Where I would spend eternity
Now my soul will never find rest

I was never too religious
Thought that Jesus’ claim as being the only way to salvation
Absurd and narrow minded

Surely all roads lead to heaven, don’t they?
I was a good person, not perfect, but good in comparison to others
Don’t all my good works count for something?

Well, I was wrong, dead wrong
Not that it makes any difference
But I’m a believer now

If only I could send someone to warn them
Repent!  Receive Christ for the forgiveness of your sins
Lest you suffer the same fate as me

Susan Bunts Wachtel
July 18, 2011

I had started this poem on July 16, 2010, but finished it a year later.

How many times have you heard people say when a loved one has died, “Well at least they are not suffering anymore.”  While those words are meant to bring comfort, as Christians we know the truth that when an unbeliever dies their suffering has just begun and will last for eternity. 

May we be unapologetic and bold in sharing the Gospel message so that our family, friends, co-workers and even strangers may have the assurance that their sins have been forgiven and that they will be in heaven for eternity, not suffering in hell.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Changing My Thinking

And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
Joel 2:28

Recently the Lord has been doing business with me, challenging me concerning my way of thinking about Muslims. 

It seems like when God is working on me, He will bring that same message from several different fronts.  One was the Joel Rosenberg’s 2011 Epicenter Conference and the other was a book, “Which None Can Shut”, by author Reema Goode.

My earliest memories of Muslims and Islam go back to 1972, when Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and murdered Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games in Munich Germany.  Over the years, there have literally been hundreds of terrorist attacks carried out by radical Muslims resulting in the torture and/or murder of thousands of people.  Most prominent are the attacks on September 11, 2011. 

Even now, looking back at lists of terrorist acts over the last 40 years, I feel a righteous anger that rises up and cries out for justice.  And yet, when I see what God is doing in the Muslim people, I stand amazed. 

I was excited to listen to the messages from Joel Rosenberg’s 2011 Epicenter Conference to hear messages on biblical prophecy and where we are at on the prophetic calendar.  What I didn’t expect was to hear how God had worked in the lives of two men who were once radical Muslims but are now followers of Jesus Christ.  These men who once hated the Jews and Christians and wanted them dead are now my brothers in Christ.  Those who were filled with hate now love and embrace those who were once their enemies.  I was stunned to hear their stories. 

Shortly after listening to the 2011 Epicenter Conference messages, a friend lent us the book “Which None Can Shut”, by Reema Goode.  My husband read the book first.  While he was reading it, he kept commenting how good the book was and shared some of the stories that he had just read.  I could hardly wait to pick up the book and read it for myself.

What an amazing work God is doing among the Muslim people; it is simply stunning!  There is a great harvest taking place and God is preparing the hearts and minds of so many people, who have been held in bondage and darkness, to hear and believe the Gospel message that salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone. 

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 4:12

Please click on the link for the 2011 Epicenter Conference.  At that site, you can watch all of the messages and discussion panels and hear for yourself the powerful work God is doing.  But don’t stop there.  Pick up the book “Which None Can Shut” and read about Muslim people coming to faith in Christ.

I came away from the Epicenter Conference and book “Which None Can Shut” with a desire to be in prayer for the salvation of these people, whom God loves so dearly that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. 

Praying Through the Arabian Peninsula



Friday, July 15, 2011

Backyard Visitors

"Oh where, oh where should I deposit this sunflower seed?"
One of many sunflowers growing in the yard courtesy of our squirrel friends.

   Our favorite backyard bird a California Brown Towhee.

"A sip of water on a hot day."

Another one of our favorites...Gold Finches

Surgery, Healing and a Work of God



And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ - Matthew 25:40

Yesterday marked two weeks since I had my back surgery.  Through this whole experience God’s hand and His plan and timing have been evident, for both me and my husband Chris.

God took me from being fearful of surgery to recognizing that this might be the avenue that He would use to bring relief from non-stop sciatic pain.  For eight months I was in pain, almost every day, throughout the day.  There were times when medicine brought some measure of relief.  I even had three steroid injections into my spin to see if that would help bring relief.  The second shot reduced the pain level for about three weeks, but other than that, it was clear that the injections were not the treatment that would stop this pain. 

In January, I had an MRI that showed severe narrowing of the spin at the L4/L5 level, with bone spurs and the disk intruding in the area where the nerves run down.  Thus I had a very unhappy sciatic nerve that just wanted his own space without somebody pushing him up against the spin.  That’s not too much to for a nerve to ask now is it? 

In February I met with a surgeon who was well accomplished, but left me with little confidence that he could help my situation.  Thus I continued down the injection path with little relief.

Upon my return to the pain management doctor, she recommended that I get a second opinion and gave me a couple of names.  Thankfully, I was able to get an appointment in pretty short order.  My husband Chris accompanied me to the doctor’s appointment.  From the beginning of our meeting, I felt a confidence that this doctor would be the one I could trust to perform my back surgery.  She displayed a clear understanding of what was going on with my back, recognized that traditional treatments weren’t working and that surgery was a reasonable option.  Chris felt the same way and surgery was scheduled for June 30th.

A few weeks before my surgery, I received a TENS machine which the pain doctor had ordered.  I was using it in the evening and found it brought some pain relief to my back and even lessened the pain in my leg.  I was very grateful because the last two weeks before my surgery I couldn’t take anything stronger than Tylenol. 

In the days leading up to my surgery, God was at work and answering prayers.  My pain level was very low, which allowed me to concentrate at both work and home so I could accomplish what I needed to before surgery. 

The night before surgery, I didn’t have any pain in my back or leg.  It was very odd.  Almost to the point that I wondered if I should still have the surgery.  Yet I believe God’s was leading me to proceed with surgery. 

Chris and I had to be at the hospital at 8:30 am.  After checking in, we headed up to the same day surgical area.  We were surprised when we heard someone in the waiting room calling our names.  We stopped and turned to see a precious friend Norm from church who was there to pray with us.  Both Chris and I felt God’s presence and His peace about this surgery and were encouraged by Norm’s prayer.  Norm even presented us with a handmade blanket for us to keep. 

After I entered the room, the nurse went through the normal pre-op checklist.  I kept asking when my husband could come in.  She said he could come in after they hooked up the IV.  Before long, Chris was by my side and we waited for the clock to hit 10:30, the scheduled time of surgery.  While we waited, we prayed for the doctor and the surgical team, not only for my surgery, but the surgeries that would be performed that day at the hospital. 

As I was lying in the hospital bed, I had no pain in my back or leg, despite the fact I hadn’t taken any pain relievers since the prior day.  I believe that it was God’s reminder to me that He was the One who was going bring healing and pain relief.

Finally, the orderly came to take me down to surgery and Chris said goodbye.  Of the two of us, I was going to have it easy because I would be asleep for most of the time.  I was placed in an area that I call “the holding bin”, where people who are going into surgery are placed until the surgeon is ready.  It was a very active place with lots of doctors and nurses coming and going.  Finally, two people from the anesthesia team popped in to see me.  When the anesthesiologist came by I asked him how he slept and if he was feeling good and I told him I had prayed for him.  Before long, Dr. Tina Lin came in to see how I was doing and let me know that surgery would be starting shortly.

The anesthesiology team must have put something in my IV.  As they started rolling me in to the operating room I saw the name of the room on the wall and the doors open.  Three hours later I woke up in the recovery room.

I was struggling to open my eyes because all I wanted to do was close my eyes and sleep.  However, a strong nausea woke me up.  I was miserable and the nurses tried to stop the nausea, but it wouldn’t let up and I kept apologizing to the nurses.  Finally, after receiving the fourth medication, I started to feel better.  I kept telling the nurses I wanted to see my husband.  I was in recovery for about an hour and a half when they finally wheeled my bed back to the place I had started the day.  Before long Chris was by my side and he was a sight for sore eyes. 

He told me that after I was taken in to surgery, he had gone to have lunch.  Our friends Mike and Jo came and joined him.  When he got back to the hospital he was in the waiting room.  He checked with the desk several times to see if there was any word yet on how the surgery was going.  They said it was still going on, but assured him that the doctor would come out and speak to him when it was over.  He was notified when I was taken to recovery and the doctor came and gave Chris an update.

Dr. Lin said that the surgery had gone well.  When she got in she found that the nerve had been pressed up against the spin for so long that it bore the impression of the bone.  After removing some of bone and bone spurs she found that the disk was in the cavity much more than what the MRI originally revealed, but she was able to tease it out of the space to make room for the nerve.  About 4:30, Chris was able to come see me.  He was so sweet and caring and I was grateful to have him by my side.  The hospital released me and Chris and I were home some time after 6pm. 

I’ve had learning curve when it comes to navigating everyday things like getting into and out of bed, taking a shower, getting into the car, and picking up items that are too high or too low on the shelf.  Chris has been an angel and wonderful nurse as he helps me do the things I can’t do.  He makes sure that things I will need are at the right height.  He regularly reminds me to be careful and not bend, lift or twist.  Right before surgery I had ordered a “grabber” which helps me to pick up items off the floor or that are out of my reach on a shelf.  It’s been very helpful, especially when Chris is at work.

My recovery is progressing well.  When I first got home, I felt like a horse had kicked my back.  But with each passing day I feel better and the bruising is all gone now. 

My days are quiet.  I get up about 6:30 or 7 am so that Chris can help me get ready for the day.  I take walks in the morning and evening.  With each passing day, I’m able to walk a little bit longer.  I’m walking at a slower than my pre-surgery pace but that’s okay because I have the time.  I’ve had the time to read books.  I love to read but in the past ten years, I’ve been reading considerably less than what I used to.  So I am really enjoying reading again. 

Since I’m on summer break from Bible study, I wanted to stay grounded in God’s word.  Just the other day I started Kay Arthur’s Bible study in Isaiah.  I have the podcasts on my I-Pod and was able to download the notes and worksheets to study along with.  It’s a great study, in-depth and Kay shows you how to understand a passage verse by verse by applying the who, what, when, where and why questions to a passage. 

One of the biggest encouragements has been the support of family, friends and neighbors.  When Chris and I came home on the 30th, our neighbor brought over her homemade chicken enchiladas.  My sister brought over Mexican lasagna.  Some of our friends from church provided meals.  Yesterday a friend came by to take me grocery shopping.  I’ve had few visits from friends, received cards and notes of encouragement, flowers and a gift card to go out to dinner.  Thank you so very much each and every one of you…Rosie, Denise, Mary, Annette, Cindy, Rose, Michelle, Karla, Robyn, Carolyn and Beth & Jim.  Each of you truly has the gift of encouragement and knows how to reach out and help the least of these.  Thank you for your faithful prayers, God has truly answered them and has brought pain relief and healing. 

Thank You God for having Your hand upon me and leading Chris and me through each phase of this process.  Thank You for answering the many prayers of family and friends and for their gift of encouragement.  Thank You for the time to take walks and listen to Your word, to work on a Bible study and pray.  Thank You for giving me back the love of reading which has been absent for far too many years.  Thank You for the time to sit in the back yard and watch our precious birds as they eat, drink and even take a bath in the bird bath.  Thank You for the cooler weather this week!  Help me to stay focused in prayer and study of your word.  Help me to rest, heal and reach out to others during this time off work. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

31 Days of Power Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory


In 31 Days of Power Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory, authors Ruth and Warren Myers show you how to raise the Sword of the Spirit by praying God’s Word.  Each day focuses on a different aspect of God’s perfect work and plan and the victory found in Christ and His triumph over Satan.

I found the book well balanced with the scriptures predominantly focused on God, who He is, what He has accomplished and is able to do.  The authors warn the reader about the mistake people tend to make:  “So we can blame too much on Satan; we can give him credit beyond his due.”  Through praying scriptures, the authors keep the focus on God and victory that we can have through Him.

In addition to putting on the full Armor of God, the 31 Days of Power also includes chapters on the “Commander of Victories”, “Exalted Lamb, Defeated Foe” and the “Good and Mighty Shepherd” among others topics.  The last section of the book talks about “The Dynamics of Spiritual Warfare”.

I recommend this book, especially for those who want to learn to pray Scripture or those who find themselves in a spiritual battle.  31 Days of Power would make a good yearly devotional allowing you to pray the powerful Scripture verses again and again. 

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Picture a Day - Wild Yarrow

The yarrow in our garden is one of my favorite plants.  In the wild, it's just as pretty.