Sunday, October 23, 2011

Safe in His Arms

I wrote this poem about a month ago and shared it at a Ladies Retreat a couple of weeks ago. I'd like to share it with you as well. My poems almost always have a story behind them.

I am in constant pain from osteo-arthritis and when I go to bed it takes a few minutes for my body to relax and the pain to ease up. But sometimes, when I wake up, I am so comfortable and on some days, before I move the pain is better and I just don't want to get up. I blame it on being a night person because I'd rather stay in bed in the morning rather than go to bed at night.

So I woke up one morning and as I lay in bed my customary 20 minutes (or more), I spent some time talking to God before I got up. I was peaceful and literally felt like I was wrapped in God's arms as we had our morning chat. I had a visual of trees blowing in a hurricane and how they bend to the ground but after the storm is over, some limbs are broken and laying on the ground but some trees pop back up, standing tall. And how without Jesus we are like the limbs on the ground broken, but with Him we make it through the storm.

The words began to come to me so after I jumped up and raced to work, I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote some of them down before I forgot. Then of course, edited and revised and edited some more. Later of course because, well, writing doesn't pay the bills and I was at work. In fact, I just edited it again.

I am praying for my friends going through storms right now which includes most of us. I have an endoscopic ultra sound on Friday for my pancreatic cyst to be checked out again. So far it's been dormant, and I am praying it still is but even better, that God decides to do a supernatural healing and it's gone! I'm not worried though, it's just a nuisance. Tuesday I had a pre-skin cancer on my face removed so now I have these giant red spots where the dermatologist burned it and some other keratosis off my face, neck and back. I have so many it's a lost cause to try to burn them all off. Although I wish he'd try even though it's painful. Now we just have to make sure the two he is concerned about are gone in a month. But you know what, still not worried because I am . . .

Safe in His Arms
By Karen Arthur

Lord, hold me tight in your loving arms,
Please keep me close, calm all my storms.
I hear your heart, as it touches mine,
Filled with your Spirit, I know all is fine.

I shout for joy, free from the pain,
The fragrance of flowers after the rain.
The darkness is past as I taste the dew,
The Lord then declares this morning is new.

Caress now the sunshine, say goodbye to the storm,
The Son of God saves and protects me from harm.
Sensing His presence, I bask in His light,
Then rest in His peace, all through the night.

Feeling God’s closeness, faithful always,
I know that He’s with me all of my days.
Like trees in a hurricane whipped by the wind,
Without Him I break, but with Him I bend.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

To Sing or Not to Sing, To Bless or Be Blessed

Sometimes, I think too much. I call it brain overload.

I sat in church the other Sunday thinking about how much I miss the choir. We no longer have a choir so only one or two people sing on the praise team. I’m not one of them. I love to sing, I’m not horrendous, but since I’ve been at our current church I’ve only sang a solo a couple of times in 11 years. Both times I was not asked, I nervously volunteered. I discovered in the past that when I don’t sing solos often, I lose confidence. My knee starts to shake so I leaned on that leg and the other starts to shake. Pretty soon, I look more like an Elvis impersonator than a solo artist. Maybe that's where he got his moves, stagefright. Nah.
I know I don’t sing as good as some people so I think maybe no one wants to hear me sing.  It probably comes from as a kid when I would attempt a song, someone always thought it funny to say, oh, please spare us. For shy insecure me, it wasn’t funny, it hurt. So I developed stage fright or an inferiority complex. Or both.
In seventh grade, my teacher gave me a nice confidence boost. I tried out for the talent show mimicking a song. She asked me to sing for her and said, you’re not bad, go ask a couple of your friends and we’ll work up an act. I became a shining star. Actually, I was a saloon girl channeling Debbie Reynolds in How the West Was Won. The memory stayed with me. It really was the most fun I ever had in grade school. Most of the time the kids teased me for being too skinny. Someone actually said I'm good enough, not bad, or maybe felt sorry for me.  Probably the latter but I prefer to pretend I'm not that bad. Our trio even tied for third place. What I lack in musical ability, I make up in drama. I love acting. I can pretend to be outgoing saloon girl that belts out a tune.

Occasionally, as I sing in church, I wonder if anyone hears me. I know my voice is okay, I hear every off key note. Mine or someone else's. Maybe that's why I'm so critical of myself.  As I sing to the Lord, thoughts run through my mind. I confess I am a little crazy. Do I sound good, is someone being blessed? Or cursed? And even if there is no choir, I should sing as if we’re one big choir. But I have to adjust my thinking many times. Because, instead of singing to God, I am too busy thinking about singing and being heard. Or not heard. And I wonder if the people around enjoy my voice, or hate it. I know, it’s such a fine line between being a blessing, annoying, or conceited. Why would I be conceited when I’m not great? So I think about these things. Stupid, I know when I should just enjoy worshipping God.

So, this particular Sunday, as my mind is distracted by thinking and (this is an ongoing process) I work on my attitude. I choose to sing to God, instead of trying to sing perfect and better or louder, I try to blend with the congregation like we're the choir. I think to myself, we may not be in the choir loft but I can sing like we are. And I want to sing to You Lord. Not whether man thinks I’m good or perfect or awful. But, I really want to praise and worship God in my imperfection. And that’s what I try do. I blend my voice with the voices behind me, beside me and I don’t sing for praise but to praise.  
When church is over, out of the blue, this sweet man in front of me turns around and says, “You have a beautiful voice.”  What a blessing I receive that day. My deepest desire is to have a beautiful voice to bless others, but instead, I sing my blessings to God with the voice I have, and then what does He do? He blesses me.

My conclusion is this, my attitude must be in line with God's will, His perfect purpose for me, so that whatever I do, I do it for the Lord, whatever my  talent, I use it for God’s glory. God can bless others through me when God is the heart of my worship.

If you want to be a blessing, bless God, and if your heart is pure and your intentions right, others will be blessed as well. And so will you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Soul Patrol Children's Ministry

Jeremiah 29:13 says:
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

That is our goal ….to Seek Out U Lord!

Our children's ministry is on Patrol this summer. The Soul Patrol.

On our PATROL we are ministering to people that are on their own “SOUL Patrol”. First, we ministered to the elderly in the Nursing Homes. They are seeking the Lord and asking what his will is at this point in their lives. God is giving us the opportunity to share and let others know that He still has a purpose for their lives and He still loves them very much.

We played bingo with the residents and sang songs. We even made sock puppets on Wednesday night to entertain while we sang. The kids and residents seem to really enjoy the Friday night visit.

Sunday morning as I picked up my grandkids from Sunday School class, their SS teacher handed me a pack of papers. She said these are for William. I just saw a little boy named William run past me and I thought, Oh, did he forget his papers. I looked a little bewildered so she quickly explained that the kids told her there is a man at the nursing home named William and he is having a birthday. The children wanted to color him some pictures and birthday cards. She said I didn't know what else to do (she was asked at the last minute to sub) and the kids really wanted to do this. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

William is one of the residents, he is missing both legs below the knees and I think he is also blind. He told Mr. Mike he is 57 and about to have a birthday on Sunday. Apparently, he told the kids about his birthday or they overheard. Wow! What an awesome blessing.

Now isn't this what the Soul Patrol is all about. Teaching our children to be ministers. I had to wipe the tears just realizing that what we are doing with these children is not only ministering to the elderly, the broken, the bruised, but also to the children, teaching them to be ministers, and to the adults.I learned a thing or two about ministry from these little ones. What an awesome blessing the Soul Patrol has already been and we only just started.

Matthew 4:19-20

New International Version (NIV)
19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

Second, we will minister to families that are going thru hard times and they too are wondering what God has in store for them. Again, God is giving us the opportunity to share his love with the parents and the children in a shelter in downtown Dallas.

The SOUL Patrol Leadership Team is very excited about the opportunities that God is opening to us to minister to those in need this summer. A perfect opportunity for us to continue to seek the Lord’s will in our own lives and to help others do the same in theirs.

William is the gentleman on the left with his hand over his mouth. Happy birthday, Mr. William.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Tripping out at the Lake

Hubby and I decided it was time for a getaway from it all trip so the first week in May we scheduled time off from work. After spending our life savings on a timeshare we didn't want to let it to go to waste so we used a banked week from almost two years earlier. It was either use it or lose it.

We wanted a short trip this time and possibly a visit to the ocean. Of course, we're terrible at planning ahead so we only had a few choices left. I found The Landing at Seven Coves on Lake Conroe just outside of Houston, Texas that looked promising.

On the way, at about Huntsville, we pulled into a rest stop and discovered the most beautiful scenery with a lake, some flowers, and even butterflies.

Taking pictures of nature is one of my hubby's hobbies that I also enjoy, so we took advantage of the setting and spent some time behind the lens.

Not knowing what a vacation resort will be like when choosing online, you always hope you get a decent place to stay. I loved the idea of our balcony jutting out over the water and this time we were not disappointed.

It was beautiful, spacious, and quite comfy. We slept peacefully on a pillow top king size bed without even adding the memory foam pad we brought from home. A big improvement from some of our other home away from home choices.

We fished off the balcony and I even snagged a huge fish, okay it wasn't huge, but was a pretty nice size, maybe more like a baby. We tossed him back in the lake to swim another day.

Internet online access was not free at our resort but I managed to get a skimpy signal from the resort next door so we could keep friends and family updated on Facebook. Not to rub it in but to let them enjoy the week with us. Maybe rub it in a little. They were having storms in Dallas while we were birdwatching.

I loved spending time on the balcony feeding the ducks. They were always ready for a bite to eat.

We also noticed the other wild creatures that enjoyed hanging out with us. Two humongous snakes made their home right beneath us while sunning on the rocks. They came back a couple of times during the week for family photos sessions.

On the other side, a very large egret spent some time recuperating from an injury until he was able to fly back home. He kind of looks like a grandpa doesn't he?

We spent a day (or two) shopping at Sam Moon's and at some other neat places along the highway. Yes, I spent a few hundred dollars on souvenirs. Okay, mostly for me but a there were some friends and family that got a trinket or two.

We also had some good exercise fun riding bikes.

They were $3.00 rentals and were quite archaic.

No gears or hand brakes.

Mike had no trouble cruising around. I had to peddle hard (or walk) to get up some of the hills in the neighborhood and was very lucky I didn't go flying into the lake reaching for the hand brakes.

We spent Thursday relaxing at the beach. We rented an umbrella with 2 chairs and took turns splashing in the ocean for some photo ops.

The giant sea gulls diving into the ocean tried to snatch up a fish or two for their next meal kept us both entranced during most of our Galveston trip.

The Southern Empress docked next to our resort and one evening we captured the most beautiful sunset behind the grand historical paddle wheel boat.

It was right by the pool that we had spent one of our days freezing in while I did my aquatic therapy. Not too bad once you get used to the water. I did get a nice tan.

Mike wasn't too keen on the freezing part so he sat in the chair most of the time and burned to a crisp.

He was quite grumpy after that but we were leaving the next day so it didn't spoil his vacation.

On the way out we drove around and took some pictures of bird island and the lighthouse across the cove.

That was after our car battery went dead and we had to call Progressive to come give us a cable jump. Thank goodness for those road hazzard folks. Last vacation we called OnStar to tow us to a local dealership. Gotta spread the love around.

We came home happily renewed and ready for, okay, not really ready for work, but ready to muddle through until our next great, relaxing vacation. Our next days off will be in July to clean the garage or put down flooring so I'm not counting that as a vacation. We're hoping to make it back to Missouri in the fall to see the grandsons, and our daughter and son-in-law too. I'm afraid they're growing up too fast and I'm missing it. Gotta make sure they don't forget Grandmommy and Papaw.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

God's Symphony

Written November, 2004
by Karen Arthur

God Orchestrates the universe, A symphony He leads.
He does it just for me, but too, He does it just for you.

God points to all His servants, He knows just what we need.
He does it just for me, but too, He does it just for you.

His love to us He demonstates,
With nail scarred hands He orchestrates.
Each lesson that He sends we hear
As beautiful music to our ear.

When He reveals to us the Word, His messages are sweetly heard.
Now can you hear God's symphony?
He plays it just for you, but too, He plays it just for me.

With nail-scarred hands He orchestrates,
So we can know God's saving grace.
Just listen, you will hear. God's symphony is near.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thankful - Branson Vacation - Part 3

Mike and I happily drove from Branson heading to Kansas City with just enough time to make it to a very special 2 year old's birthday. We drove through majestic mountains taking in the beautiful scenery. An hour later we passed Springfield and got a little turned around when took the wrong exit on the highway. What a long 2 miles before we came to a turnaround. No problem, we just laughed at our mistake and were about pass the northern side of Springfield when Mike said, "We just lost power."


"The car isn't running."

"Um, we're on the highway."

He edged over to side of the road and pulled in right before an entrance with a motel in walking distance. We decided maybe the gas gauge had quit working and we really were out of gas even though it said we still had a quarter of a tank.

So what to do? I'm thinking we're going to walk to that motel. Hello, push the OnStar button. Immediately a voice came on the line and we explained the issue. No problem. They even knew where we were stuck. Which is a good thing because we didn't. We were using our GPS to figure that out. They were so nice and sent a tow truck right away for free.
We had a great spot to wait, I got out and walked around in case some giant semi crashed into our car. It wasn't long before the tow arrived and we ended up right back in Springfield. After sitting for couple of hours at a Chevrolet dealership they came in and gave us the good news...and the bad. The fuel pump had gone out but it was covered under warranty. That's the good news. The bad news....they didn't have one to replace it. It had to be shipped overnight for Saturday delivery but the warranty insurance paid the shipping since we didn't have car rental on our warranty. And....

There was a rental company right outside the door in the garage of the dealership to rent a car. We are so blessed. We grabbed a cute little car and threw everything from my van into the the rental (amazingly it fit) and took off for Kansas City.

We checked into our hotel and were just a few minutes late for Elijah's birthday party at Mark and Erin's house. (James' dad and stepmom)

Unfortunately, Mike and James had to drive three hours back to Springfield the next day to retrieve my van and drive another 3 hours back to KC. Lacey and I spent the morning at our hotel room hanging out before going on a shopping spree. She introduced me to Gordman's. Love that store. You'll have to check them out. Great prices, cool stuff. The girls clothes were adorable. Wish we had one in Dallas. Although Mike is probably glad they don't.

We chose our hotel for the indoor pool since Patrick didn't get to swim again at Branson but it was so cold you couldn't get in the freezing water. So we opted for the hot tub spa and the kids had fun playing with the sudsy bubbles. If only Eli could have stayed in the spa instead of getting in and out and slipping on the tiles. I was so worried he'd bust his head open.

We left Sunday after a trip to McDonalds and a few tears and drove home through Oklahoma.

I miss my boys and Lacey and James but I know they're happy. They have a family support group in Missouri so I know they're not alone. Now when I think about them in Missouri, my picture of them is a lot clearer. They may be moving to their own house so I'll have to go back to get a new snapshot of their surroundings to carry in my brain. Plus a few for my computer. At my age, the brain gets a littly foggy.

We also had to stop at the biggest McDonalds in the United States just to go look out the window. It actually is the bridge that goes over the highway.

We had a spectacular sunset on the way home. The car did not have any more hiccups and we were very confident in our drive back to Texas. We pulled into our little circle for our vacation to come to an end and I had to be ready for work the next day. Next time I'm taking Monday off. Maybe.

As we were in the midst of car trouble, we couldn't help but thank God for the wonderful way it all worked out. Even though it was inconvenient, we were so grateful that we were out of the mountains and had a good open spot to pull over. If we had not taken a wrong turn, we would have been farther away from Springfield. We were actually just up the road a ways from the dealership. We had OnStar that sent the tow truck within 20 minutes. The dealership was open, (could have happened on the way home Sunday in Oklahoma) the warranty covered the repair, and the list goes on and on. God is so good and He takes such good care of His children.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vacation part 2

What a great time we had with our two grandsons, our daughter and our son-in-law James. We went swimming in the indoor pool at the Wilderness Club on the outskirts of Branson. That lasted about 20 minutes. Elijah refused to stay in the water and wanted to run around the slippery edges. We gave up and went back to the room. Poor Patrick never got to go back to the pool there. We tried the outdoor pool by our room but it was cold outside and we couldn't figure how to open the child proof gate into the pool area. Sad, I know. When we found out how to open it, we never got a chance to go back to it since the kids only had one night with us.

The shows at Branson are too expensive but we couldn't resist taking the kids on the Ducks. These are the amphibeus vehicles that drive on land and then plunge into the water. Patrick and Eli got to be captains on the water. Elijah didn't want to give up the wheel. Somewhere we have pics out of the millions on our camera disk that I will add when I find them.

We stayed in one resort area for 3 days and moved to another one in town for 3 days. The Wilderness Club was by far the best of the two. Yes, they talked us into an upgrade. Why are we so gullible? I don't know, but now we have more points and more owners fees. Hopefully, we will live long enough to figure out how to get the most out of our reservations plus our money's worth out of it all. Time will tell.

The kids left Sunday and we enjoyed the rest of the week just hanging around Branson. We didn't do alot but we tried out the Rosetta Stone on our laptops to learn Spanish, got in the hot tub at the second resort, and spent the day at Shepherd of the Hills. We bought the multi ticket and enjoyed the Sons of the Pioneers dinner, the tour, going to top of the tower to see all of Branson, and then topped it off with the play from front row and center. I literally felt the horses breath. I could have reached out and petted him if I wasn't so intimidated by his huge head. It was great.

This was my second time to see the play. It brought back many memories of our family trip we took along with some friends when I was in Jr. High. It was very nostalgic. After the play, Mike and I went down and talked to the actors after the show.

The next day we visited the Butterfly Pavillion and had a blast taking lots of pics of some pretty butterflies. It was so hot in there we were poring sweat. Downstairs we went through the mirror maze. Not a great idea for someone with claustrophobic issues but we managed to find our way out. Thank goodness.

On Friday, we drove back to Kansas City for Eli's birthday party and found disaster on the highway.

(To be cont)