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Turtle Rescue {because God cares about reptiles too}

Why did the turtle cross the road?

To get rescued before he made it to the other side.

In the past two weeks I’ve witnessed two extraordinary turtle rescues and heard of a third.

The first turtle in distress was standing stock still in the middle of a busy two lane road. A daring member of the military stopped his car in the midst of the traffic, hopped out and alerted oncoming cars to halt. Then, in full Navy uniform, he kindly guided the confused turtle off the pavement, over the shoulder and into the abutting woods where he slipped into the protection of a pond.

Turtle rescue two occurred in the same location, minus the military uniform. This time the citizen rescuer came prepared with experience. He had saved turtles in that precise location a time or two before and knew just how to guide the turtle off of the street and back into wooded safety. With the help of the reptile rescuer it only took a moment for the lost turtle to find his way back to the pond again.

Turtle rescue three took place on a two-lane street where there was no pond in sight. This time an SUV stopped in the middle of the road and two men hopped out of the back seat. From afar I could see one of the men carefully lift something large and round from the middle of the road. Sure enough, it was yet another turtle rescued from a devastating, crushing fate.

After each turtle rescue I drive away in awe. The fact that the turtles survive on the street amazes me. How the turtles end up in the middle of the road without being crushed by a passing car is a miracle in and of itself.

Next is the miracle of being spotted by drivers passing by. The turtles could easily be missed. The tortoise’s shell blends in so well to the dark pavement. If not missed entirely, the turtles could easily be mistaken for a stray piece of trash or left over rubber from a tire. But the turtles were not missed. They were spotted, recognized and saved by heroic men who willingly stopped and saved the stranded turtles. They risked their own safety and stepped into harms way to protect the turtles. They delayed their own journeys to ensure that the turtles in these stories had a happy ending to theirs.

In the turtle rescues I see the wonder of my own salvation and am struck by the awe and wonder of my Hero, my Savior, my Rescuer, Jesus Christ.

 

From up on high God saw me in distress. I had wandered away from safety, standing bewildered and in harms away. I could have so easily been crushed at any moment. I was completely oblivious to the dangers whizzing all around me. I was trapped in sin, blending in so well with the rest of the world and yet God spotted me. While I was a lost sinner God recognized me as one of His own and sent His Son to rescue me. By the power of the cross, Jesus defeated death and guided me into the glory of His eternal safety.

I am in awe of Jesus, my rescuer.

 

So why do the turtles cross the road?

So God can rescue them.

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The Most Amazing Come Back Ever

Nighttime waking has become a regular occurrence in my life. Since beginning Lyme treatments my body has taken to battling the disease under the cover of dark while I would much rather be sleeping. Many nights I’m awoken with hunger pains that I gladly remedy with a bowl of “healthy” ice cream (Halo Top is not the world’s most perfect health food but at night all food rules are off the table…especially since I eat my ice cream in bed.)

Last night it wasn’t two AM before I was awoken by a different kind of pain that is not easily cured with a bowl of ice cream. My arch nemesis was back… Literally.

The lower back pain was excruciating. No matter how much tossing and turning I tried I simply could not get relief or a moment of sleep. After moaning, groaning and making all sorts of pathetic sounds I reluctantly rose from bed and ran a bath.

A middle of the night bath is not an unusual occurrence in my tub. It has become my go-to strategy for pain relief when sleeplessness strikes but on this particular night the bath proved ineffective. When I stepped out of the tub I was still stuck in pain. There was no way I would be going back to sleep…. Not yet at least.

So it was on to pain relief plan B. 5:00 AM at-home yoga

“Yoga for the Spine” was a pleasant video and a wonderful stretch for the back but when it ended a dull throbbing remained. It was 6:00 AM when I rolled up my yoga mat and looked out the window with a heavy heart. I was frustrated, discouraged and tired. After a year of battling Lyme I had hoped these sleepless nights would have ended or at least lessened in severity.

Before I had even spoken a word in prayer my gaze was drawn to the window. Outside the sun was just beginning to rise, casting beautiful rays of the light through the leafy trees. At that moment Plan C came to mind like a light bulb turning on above my head…

Get out there and run.

Running (or in my case jogging) goes against conventional wisdom and, arguably, common sense, for a disease battling, eighty pound woman who is in severe back pain. It defied logic and a doctor’s orders.

But I ran anyways.

One short mile later I was sweaty, out of breath and, at last, out of pain. Pounding on the pavement must have knocked the aching out of my back because by the time I returned home I was experiencing sweet relief and collapsed in celebration on the front porch swing.

Right before I finally drifted off to sleep the thought of Jesus on the cross came rushing to my mind. When Jesus died on the cross it didn’t make sense to His followers. They could not understand why their Messiah had to endure such agony. They could not see what God was up to.

What the follower’s of Jesus had yet to realize is that Jesus’ set back into the grave was the set up for heaven and earth’s most amazing come back ever.

 

Jesus has defeated the grave, ascended into Heaven and forever He reigns on high. Since I have been united with Him in His death I have the glorious assurance of His Risen life. I need not fear a single pain or sleepless night because the resurrected Christ has secured my victory and in Him I have eternal rest.

Because Jesus is alive this suffering you see is not a set back. It is the perfectly planned setup for an incredible come back for the glory of our great and glorious God.

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Frenemy on Facebook

I have six hundred and thirty-eight friends on Facebook and one frenemy named Satan.

I never intended to add the enemy of heaven and earth to my friend list. I don’t even recall receiving a friend request with his name on it. Yet, there he is, cluttering up my newsfeed with envy and dissatisfaction.

The enemy first slithered his way onto my social media while I was feeling weak and lonely. Before I knew it he was in nearly every post, hijacking updates of joy with his malice and discontent. My frenemy is so deceptive he has even invaded likes and shares. He even exerts his evil influence in smiley faces and pictures of furry pets. How dare he.

When my frenemy is online he fills the comments and likes with jealousy and discontentment. For far too long I have scrolled by the enemy’s posts and given him the evil pleasure of stealing my stillness and peace with his social media sabotage. I’ve clicked “unfollow” here and there, but I’ve never blocked him entirely.

Until today.

Today I am unfriending the enemy and blocking his influence. With the joy of the Risen Jesus Christ I am kicking Satan off of my social media and out of my soul. To simply “unfollow” isn’t enough. The enemy must be blocked entirely.

In order to remain united with my very best friend, Jesus, I cannot tolerate a single post from His arch enemy, the destroyer of eternal peace. The destructive influence of Satan must be forcibly removed and only the power of Christ’s Risen life can do it. Only God can effectively and entirely block the enemy from my heart, mind and soul.

 

The love of Christ cleanses my Facebook of the enemy and rids my feed of his hate. Transformed by the Savior’s redemptive mercy, my social media is made new in the presence of His amazing grace.

I still have six hundred and thirty-eight friends on Facebook and one best friend named Jesus Christ spreading abundant, everlasting joy all across my eternal feed.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:4-7

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Surprised by God’s Joy

As hot water pierced the open cuts on my legs I let out a boisterous laugh. That’s when I knew, “I’ve been surprised by God’s joy!”

The bombshell breakthrough took place in the shower, where the best breakthroughs tend to occur. I stepped into the tub completely oblivious of the terror to come. On my legs open cuts have been forming and, as I soon learned, they don’t enjoy hot water.
The second I stepped into the porcelain tub the rushing water transformed into a swarm of bees. The fresh cuts up and down my right ankle and foot screamed in the heat. Shocked by the sudden stinging, I yelped in pain, resembling the sound of an accidentally stepped upon dog. Then, resembling something like a Mexican jumping bean, I hopped around the shower for a few seconds uttering phrases such as, “Golly gee!” and “Hot diggidy!”
After some creative maneuvering, I was able to position my right leg on the side of the tub, out of direct line of the shower’s head. The only trouble was that in such an awkward position I could not step or twist, both of which are quite helpful when showering.
In the not so distant past, this circumstance would have likely reduced me to tears or at least frustration. But not this time. Rather than causing me to cry the strange shower scenario catapulted me into a fit of hardy laughter.
The joy of Jesus swooped in to my shower and delivered me on the wings of uproarious comic relief. The delight of Jesus’ presence was enough to fill my heart (and shower) with laughter and joy in spite of the stinging pain. Once my soul was lifted up in laughter the physical pain did not need to be removed in order for true joy to be experienced.

Only Christ has the power to deliver sufferers from any and every pain, both inside and out. At His resurrection, Jesus removed the eternal sting of suffering and defeated the doom of death. He rose to render the sorrow and sadness of pain completely powerless.
Jesus does not assure His followers a pain-free life but, united with His glorious resurrection, they will be most assuredly be surprised by God’s joy.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9

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Remarkably Intact

Mom’s prescription sunglasses have been found and the story is nothing short of remarkable.

The sunglasses in question went missing five years ago. Mom’s Elizabeth Arden tortoiseshell frames vanished without a trace. To this day, the circumstances of the disappearance remain vague. It always has been a very mysterious case of missing corrective lenses.
After much futile searching Mom gave up on ever finding her beloved prescription sunglasses with the perfect tint of sun blocking protection.
In due time the lost sunglasses were replaced and the ordeal was soon forgotten.
Until yesterday.
It was underneath a bright blue sky and warm sunshine that the discovery was made. I was seated in the passenger’s seat as Mom pulled the car into the driveway. That’s when a glimmer of bright light caught my attention. Something shiny was reflecting from the bare branches of the front yard’s large fruit tree. I squinted to ensure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me but there they were. Mom’s pair of missing Elizabeth Arden tortoiseshell frames balancing on the bare branches of the leafless tree.
The glasses that my Mother lost in 2013 survived five winters stuck in the tall tree. They were battered by winds, beaten by rains and covered by historic snowfalls yet they lost not a single lens or arm. The glasses have been found, remarkably, completely intact.

Dear friend, take heart because in Christ, the lost can always be found. By the Almighty hand of God that upholds by the power of the Risen tree of life, the lost are always found remarkably, eternally intact.

 

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

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Stand Tall

All of the daffodils are covered in snow.

The first of spring’s flowers were just beginning to bloom when a ferocious storm rolled in. When I saw the snow I was sure the delicate yellow buds wouldn’t survive. Even in the best of conditions daffodils never flower for long but this year the buttercup petals barely had three days in the sunshine before they were smothered in dense, heavy snow.

After being whipped by winds and flattened by weighty precipitation, I was sure the fate of the flowers was sealed. Certainly the fragile buds would have succumbed to the storm. The beauty of their flowery display would have been cut short.

But, miracle of miracles, the daffodils are still standing tall!

The yellow baby buds of the perennial are still affixed to their thick green stems. In spite of the storm, the bulbs have remained firmly planted and the roots have not been shaken. The blooms have been upheld. The flowers have been sustained and the buds have endured.
The daffodils are alive!

Dear friend, if today you feel like a delicate daffodil being toppled by a ferocious storm, do not lose hope. Look to the daffodils and take heart.

Planted in the eternal soil of “the way, the truth, and the life” your future is secure.

The Almighty hand of God that gives life to the daffodils can uphold your delicate blooms, too. You need not fear the wind. Do not worry about being crushed beneath the snow.

In the strength of the Lord you will be upheld. Because He lives you can stand “strong and courageous” in spite of the season’s storm. 
Rejoice, precious daffodil, because you have been made truly, eternally alive with the resurrected Christ.

Rooted in His risen life, united with His eternal, you can stay strong in hope assured that, when the snow clears, you’ll still be standing eternally tall.

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Happy Birthday to…Me

Tomorrow is my birthday and it terrifies me because I have so little to show for my twenty eight years of life.
The list of my documented accomplishments ends at high school graduation but, please, don’t ask me to find the actual diploma. That record went missing long ago.
Early twenties milestones are also noticeably absent from my timeline. I passed through them without wearing a cap and gown again and I never have received another diploma. Which is no great loss since I probably would have lost the record of it anyways.

But other milestones have been harder on the heart to miss.
Missing marriage, never even having the chance to hold onto documentation of that union, left a hole in my story that I had hoped would have long ago been filled. By now I thought I’d have a baby’s birth certificate or two in my possession. And, actually, I should but I lost Pippy’s and Molly’s birth records within months of obtaining them.
At least I had hoped for a testimony by my twenty eighth birthday. A miraculous healing or miraculous book deal, perhaps? During these ten years of mysterious illness and missed milestones I had hoped God would have erected his own unique stone display upon my empty life. At the very least I had hoped that by this birthday I would have a clear, understandable diagnosis to help define my obscure, unconventional life.
But tomorrow I turn twenty eight and all I have to show for it can be found in my second grade writing journal. On February 6, 1997 I wrote “One day I was bored. I imagined I opened windows to other worlds and I found a friend.”

In Mrs. School’s 2nd grade class I wrote the story of my life. In the faded green paperback “Level One” journal that miraculously survived in my Mother’s basement for 21 years, I have the most precious documentation from my past twenty eight year. That one entry tells my entire testimony. My whole life is summed up in those simple words.
All my life I have been bored, unfilled and searching for something to satisfy me. So I have opened up windows into other world and I keep finding my friend, my Savior, my Lord.
I keep finding Jesus.

Everywhere I go, I find Jesus. At every missed milestone my Savior is there. At every closed door, I am shown greater glimpses of His glory. At every window I have opened desperately hoping to discover other worlds I have found all I will ever need. I have found my life, my friend, my Salvation. I have found Jesus and in Him my life has been found.

Tomorrow is my birthday and I have the greatest treasure to celebrate. I have Jesus and twenty eight years of God lovingly, graciously, tenderly carrying me closer to THEE.