Awesomeness in the midst of conflicting emotions

In the last few months, we have had several burdens upon us.

We haven’t been able to go camping; and this is when we’d be quite frequently camping. My wife’s Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is giving her trouble with being able to catch her breath after doing the most simple of things. She’s able to get around, but has to stop about every 20 feet to catch her breath, and has no stamina, due to the lack of ability to get into condition. My old knees haven’t been right, restricting my own mobility; and although I’m working on getting into better shape, even that’s gone in the wrong direction lately.

Thanks to my former boss (VP of HR) and his prescience, he got me into a category such that if there were cuts, it was going to make cutting my job hurt my employer rather badly. Consequently I have a year of full severance and fully paid COBRA insurance coverage for both of us, as we were covered in that manner previously.

There’s a ‘but’ with that.

Meanwhile, to keep my wife’s health up, we’d of course been on several doctor’s visits. But there were ongoing problems with getting the insurance to cover her visits. After many phone calls, and probably a day’s worth of waiting on hold, we discovered in April that my wife was supposed to have immediately applied (back in January when my job was terminated) for Medicare in order for the COBRA insurance to partner in covering her – so all coverage since January has been denied!

CHF isn’t a cheap disease to have. And you have to stay ahead of it. But with expensive visits (let’s call it the equivalent of a couple car payments) she’s had to skip the visits until Medicare begins coverage.

There is good news: We finally have things straightened out, and she will be fully covered again after June 1. We have doctor’s visits scheduled ASAP after that date, as her CHF symptoms are really bothering her.

The bad news is that even after appeals, we find ourselves liable for well over a thousand dollars in medical bills.

Meanwhile, God continues to remind me that he is on my side. And we respond by looking up in faith, instead of looking around; we both remain positive that things will turn out okay.

And now, in a God-moment of “look at this, child”: I came to this devotion in Tony Dungy’s book, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge. I’m giving proper credit and quoting ver batim with editing for flow. I’m also highlighting the passages which struck me:

For Us

If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31

How many times have we prayed for a certain outcome, imagined that a problem has only one solution, and lost heart when that outcome or solution didn’t occur? How many times have we seen that happen in our lives at home, at work, in sports, or with financial investments?

And then we learn, of course, that God has something much better in store. That’s what the apostle Paul proclaims in today’s verse.

For me, 2001 was a monster of a difficult year in Tampa Bay. First, as a team, we had all gone through the uncertainty of 9/11 and the aftermath together with the rest of the country. But we rallied from a slow start to make the playoffs again, only to lose to the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly—again. Off the field, the media was having a field day speculating whether I would be fired and if Bill Parcells would be the guy to replace me.

My staff and I just kept coaching, believing that the Lord requires us to do our jobs and He will take care of the rest. And then, despite much prayer, we were fired. That was not the answer or outcome we were looking for, but it was the answer we got.

And so in the midst of much disappointment and uncertainty for the future, we packed up, not knowing what doors the Lord would open tomorrow, but still believing He would provide. And He did. The Indianapolis Colts called with a mission statement they wanted me to fulfill.

If God is for us. (How could I have forgotten that promise?) Then who can ever be against us? Once again I was reminded that in every outcome—whether it was the one I had been praying and hoping for or not—God had a good plan in place, something whereby He would be glorified. And the amazing thing about that plan? It was just one of many in my life.

Ever since the appeals were denied, as I continue the prayerful hunt for a new job, I’d been looking to God to find me the right one, and with immediate medical coverage. It didn’t take much calculation to see that it would take just two of the COBRA payments from my former employer to fully pay off our medical bills.

But God is at work here. His timing is perfect, as always. In the mail on Saturday came the notice for my first payout of my pension, which was activated upon, and retroactive to, my job’s termination.

The check is exactly enough to cover all our medical expenses.

Thank you Lord. 

Don’t see this kind of thing, all that often: A Double Rainbow

This afternoon, we had weather of storm, nice, storm, nice, storm… You get the picture. Weather typical of where I grew up in Western Washington. But today brought a special reward: a clear double rainbow.

This is one of those things where the light has to be just right, and the contrast good enough for a camera to capture it.


It was invisible only moments later when the clouds to the Southwest parted and the Sun bought the primary rainbow into full brilliance.

And then it was all gone.

Transitory moments are part of our existence; they are a great part of what we are. THIS is why I am forever urging you to get outside, go outside, no matter what the weather; and just be a part of what is happening in Nature.

God created it all; he still beckons and says, “Look what I have to show you, my child”.

First Snow on the Ridge

It’s been cloudy and cold on the side of the mountain lately; and thanks to the time change, it’s dark when I get home. The Ridge to our North has been hidden behind cloud and invisible in the darkness, but this morning, it was as if God hooked his thumb under the edge of that blanket of cloud – and lifted it just for a few moments, saying, “Take a look at this, child.”

There was the peak, with a mantle of snow. First time this season. The speed at which the clouds were moving told me that I had mere seconds to grab this shot. I grabbed the closest thing that could make a picture and …

Here we are.

Our local peaks are visible between the two big trees, and to the right of the fuller large tree.

Ain’t you amazing, Lord? What else do you have in store today? May my eyes be open to see.

Clouds

Our Pastor was talking about a book called, “ReWilding“. Maybe I’ve been practicing this for years, in urging you to go outside and just marvel at what’s around – get wet, get cold, get wet and cold; get hot, but get outside and just get peaceful.

Moving fully into Fall, this is that time of year when it can be exhilarating and soaking, often within a few minutes of each other, when being outside. And there are many marvels, outside.

And the cloud patterns get really interesting. Here are a few from the last few weeks, culminating in a series of snapshots last night at sunset, which show how fast things can change on the side of the mountain.

The Indian sneeze:

Rainstorm Coming:

 

It’s time to marvel at being able to watch God at work: The River of Clouds is being formed, and it happens in a different way, every time. I just happened to be in the right place, at the right time. These snapshots are no more than five minutes apart. This then becomes one of those “Watch the hand of God at work” moments.

Clouds begin to shear off the tops of the hills, rolling in groups down the far side of the ravine. First a few…

Then more…

Then they’ve piled into the ravine, forming The River of Clouds…

And the sun quietly sets on the River, as clouds sweep across the far side of the Ravine as if gently guided by an outstretched hand.

Lord God, I marvel at your work. Thank you that I get to see and to share these things. May your Name be glorified.  amen.

Worship Through Work

Those of you who know me and what I do, know that this time of year contains many “hair on fire” weeks. These last ten weeks have been a sprint, like Hebrews talks about; and the last four have demanded much. This blog goes rather quiet, as a result.

I thank God that I get to do what I do: Technical Writing, Industrial Photography, Print Layout, and in a thread back to my old career, Video Editing; because even though now the hours are long and demanding, at the same time I’m energized, in a God way, because he made me for this!

It takes everything I have, but it gives back in a satisfying way, because I was made to do this!

Yes I’m exhausted, but strangely energized, because I was made to do this!

I feel God’s hand on mine, as I do these things; they are made simple through his power. Because I was made to do this!

I pray each day for the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the mind to understand, and the hands to do; because I was made for this, and it is only because of God’s power and grace that I get to do it. Every day I try to remember to keep my hand in God’s and to be thankful for the work that gets done.

This is worship, through work. Because I was made to do this.

The Sun rises again, bringing four-footed love with it

Our house had been dark, quiet, and overflowing with  grief after our loss of Wheaton. I realized that it’s been maybe 30 years or more since we haven’t had any dog in the house. Our loss was even more greatly felt, given Wheaton’s always-sunny nature and his boundless, obvious happiness at just being with us.

But God already had plans that we wouldn’t be left alone for long.

A friend of ours just got married and her new husband had a dog who had been left alone all the time while he was off to work. Would we like to meet her?

Hope dawned in our hearts; could this be God acting in our lives, to help with this abject, crushing grief? We looked past the questions in our minds, and tentatively said yes.

A short time later, our front door opened, and in shyly walked Dara: a ‘mutt’,  a mixture of what appears to be Aussie, Spaniel, and maybe a bit of Golden. Her shorter, sturdy legs carried a compact body and soft furry head with big soulful eyes; her Aussie-type tail wagging slowly. She went right to my wife, cuddling up and appreciating any and all attention she got.  You could see her looking into my wife’s eyes, trying to understand what she might be thinking.

Meanwhile, I sat down on the top step of the two-steps-down to our living room, to not seem intimidating. It took her a few moments to realize that I was there, then she came over to the top step, sat down next to me, and as I petted her, she leaned gently up against me, somehow sensing our sadness. Once she had just enough from me, she went right back to my wife’s side for a few minutes, then came right back to me, leaning in again. And she gave me that piercing, direct look, as if understanding that I hurt, and needed a furry friend.

Our hearts melted.

Meet Dara. Our new, forever-friend. In her new forever-home.

 

An evening with The River of Clouds

I made a time-lapse of the Ravine at sunset last night, below is the result…

I saw the clouds forming and re-forming to form the visual phenomenon we call The River of Clouds, so just for fun, I grabbed the cellphone from my pocket and made photos every few minutes over the time space of an hour to an hour and a half as the sun set.

It’s nifty to see how the clouds down in the ravine rise and fall, advance and retreat; at one point we’re nearly socked-in. This happens due to the air currents at sunset being a little chaotic; they generally settle down just after sunset. And you can see this in the very last frame of the video – although I had to enhance it to get the contrast up a bit. In person, it’s pretty impressive, as the eye has the ability to make good images in most any light.

This is one of the reasons I go outside to read and do devotions every night. You can clearly see this tiny corner of creation shouting, “God is! God IS!!”