For Those With Unsaved Loved Ones Still Alive

The father of one of my dearest friends has a bleak report from his doctor. My friend is saved, but her dad, to my knowledge, is not.

I’ve always referred to my friend’s dad as “Skip”, since I first met him in the early 1980s, as he reminded me of a TV show host named Skip Stephenson. I can’t remember anything about the show, but the name has stuck for my friend’s dad all these years.

How scary for my friend, for her sister, for their mother, and for Skip himself, knowing his medical condition is not likely to improve and death is imminent.

Of course, death is imminent for everyone. Any of us could take our last breath before finishing reading this page, for any number of unexpected reasons.

The important thing is that we be prepared for what lies beyond our final earthly breath, whenever that may be.

If the Bible is true, and I believe it is because all that has been written about Jesus even many hundreds of years before He came to earth in the form of a man came to pass with accuracy impossible to force, then what is written in it on how to obtain eternal life in a new body, in a perfect place, free from pain and decay, is the way I choose to follow.

And that way is simply through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as restitiutionary payment in full for my own state of separation from God. No ritual. Nothing to do. Nothing to buy. Everything good to gain.

The linked article below says it better than I can. May the reader find hope through checking it out, may Skip be saved and his entire family, and may somehow there be peace in this troubling time for them and for all who struggle through in these imperfect bodies.

For The Unsaved: About Christ

Feeling OK Today

This is the result of holding my phone’s camera up to the “eye” of my kaleidoscope.

A few months ago, in July, I wrote a post called “Broken”.

I’d like to say right now that — surprise, surprise — life didn’t remain exactly as it was. This is a reminder of that fact, to myself and to anyone else reading who may be struggling.

I feel better today than I did then. I’m not leaping for joy or anything too crazy, but I am vertical. Well, semi-vertical. I’m sitting at my desk. Coffee is in my stomach and permeating throughout my cells, doing the thing it does to make me feel a little better than I felt before I drank it. Sunlight is sparkling on the snow outside. My children and animals are all occupied and quiet.

The unpredictable map of life always has its mountains to climb, sometimes painfully, but often with a beautiful view at the top, unless it’s covered by cloud. From my experience, those clouds do eventually part and lovely scenes show up again. And, in my vision, knowing what I do about what God has planned for my eternity, from what I have read in the Bible, I know that even if the clouds never do clear for me here before my time to go, there IS a clear place to which I am headed.

Although some days might seem mundane and repetitive, nothing really remains the same from one day to the next. Daily my eyes see something different, depending on what’s new, what’s placed where, and what my perspective is. Even if I were in a prison cell (heaven forbid!) with nothing but four stone walls, the sights in my mind continue to swirl and light up like a kaleidoscope.

A family member enjoying my kaleidoscope

 

Day 4 of Just Write – Writing Advice From A Friend

Yesterday’s sunrise – nothing to do with my blog entry

“Tell them something they need someone to say for them.”

Today’s entry in my Just Write Challenge is on advice given to me by a longtime friend and writing mentor, via a messaging conversation. Perhaps some can relate to my frustration, and some can gain from his response:

ME: Can you believe I am STILL not done my Alaska book? It hovers over me constantly, like a fog — sometimes thicker, sometimes barely perceptible, but always there.

I keep thinking, “I should message [my friend] and tell him about my frustration in this regard.”

I don’t know why. Maybe because I know that you are interested in the book.

The more well-written books I read, the more I become aware of my shortcomings as a writer. It is a daunting task, to compile all the stories in an interesting-to-read manner. They are all interesting to me, but I want them to be interesting to the reader, too, lest they put the book down unfinished, as I do with so many books that bore me.
Over the past week or so, I’ve got it in my mind to start (again!) another book, that being the story of how I met [the ex], the process I went through with him as he tore me down, and how I finally escaped.
I’ve been urged to write that book many times by many people, but the thing is, I feel like it’s only interesting to those who know me. And I’ve seen so many biography type books on people who’ve been through abuse, to the point that I don’t like reading them at all.
Buuuut, maybe I will write it anyway.
And the thing that’s been going through my mind about it is that maybe I should write it from a third-person point of view, rather than me me me. That’s another thing with which I struggle in my books: it’s only ME. I’m not a famous person. I feel uncomfortable focusing on me. Maybe if I do it in third-person, I won’t feel quite that way

FRIEND: I use third person, for exactly that reason. As I hinted before, I think Dostoevsky is doing that much of the time — telling his own story.

I’ve been reading my second Fyodor Dostoevsky novel. His narrative is the best I have encountered, and I marvel that I have that opinion merely through a translation.

How much better in the original Russian?

So, it must be the story he has to tell.

In both novels, he tells of some of the same characters: A horrible man who cruelly whips and beats a horse to death. A poor college student who gets a theological paper published and becomes greatly elevated in social rank as a result. A busybody housewife of the unearned upper class.

I have no doubt that these are real people and events from his own life — powerful, iconic (for him) stories and characters. Those icons give us glimpses into his, the author’s, heart, mind, and soul.

Dostoevsky has a huge heart, a supple mind, and a beautiful soul.

I got bored in the first few chapters of the second novel, but I pressed on because I cared about what he wanted to share about hearts, minds, and souls — especially his own.

You, too, see humanity in those terms. You have beauty inside and out. You, too, have a faith that overcomes all.

Let the reader care about you, and they’ll read. Tell them something they need someone to say for them. Tell them, also, what they need to know, but probably do not realize.

They’ll keep turning pages.

ME: Thank you. I think I shall print out what you just wrote about Dostoevsky and keep it on top of my desk to refer to for encouragement. I have another such printout from [another friend]. My desk is becoming cluttered. I need to fix that.

FRIEND: In that way God has of making a point, [a mutual friend] just sent me a little story. She sent it, she wrote, because I had encouraged her to write stories that give the reader glimpses into her.

So she did, writing to her sister, and copied it to me, separately.

It was a perfect example.

Yes, it is more interesting to me, because I love you two, but any reader is going to love you two. Let them.

I am grateful for friends. I hope someday I actually finish both of those books. They might be of interest and of help to someone.

Contented Folk

I would love to be so content, even when I lose my truck keys.

Maybe not until heaven.

His eye is on the sparrow

Here is honored the folk of whom is said to be the glue that holds civilizations together, intact. ~g.w.

IN PRAISE OF SOLID PEOPLE

Thank God that there are solid folk

Who water flowers and roll the lawn,

And sit and sew and talk and smoke,

And snore all through the summer dawn.

Who pass untroubled nights and days

Full-fed and sleepily content,

Rejoicing in each other’s praise,

Respectable and innocent.

Who feel the things that all men feel,

And think in well-worn grooves of thought,

Whose honest spirits never reel

Before man’s mystery, overwrought.

O happy people! I have seen

No verse yet written in your praise,

And, truth to tell, the time has been

I would have scorned your easy ways.

Then I do envy solid folk

Who sit of evenings by the fire,

After their work and doze and smoke,

And are not fretted by desire.

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1 Corinthians 15

Slowly rereading the words of this chapter comforted me tonight.

It is not the here and now that gives me hope. Other than the Word of God, more often than not the things I see bring discouragement.

1

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3
For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
5
And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.
Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

My Mother’s Hand

My sister’s hand holding our mother’s hand

One year ago to the day, my mom left this world.

I dreamed about her last night. It was as though she had never left. We went swimming together in an indoor pool within a huge log house with lots of windows letting in sunshine through a filter of tall evergreens. Later in the dream, we met up again with plans to return to the pool. Nothing at all crossed my mind to hint she had died. It seemed totally normal.

Man, I love dreams. That was a good one.

Only in the past few days have I begun to go through the boxes of my mom’s stuff that I brought up here last year. The thing that gets me the most is seeing her writing. Her nice, neat, left-handed writing was the same since I was little up until the notes she made during her final week in her old home.

Here is a photo my sister sent to my cell phone a year ago while a few of my kids and I were an hour into the drive on which we embarked after hearing the news of my mom having suffered a massive stroke. My mom was unconscious in a hospital bed as my sister held her hand and took that picture.

That’s the hand that penned letters, words, and thoughts I will always cherish. That’s the hand that raised me. That’s the hand that led me with love.

I didn’t get there in time. My mom passed away a couple hours after that photo was taken.

Some will understand when I say I will see my mom again and things will be better than ever. I look forward to that.

A Regular Dose of Wilderness

Scientific studies aside, getting outdoors rejuvenates me. The more, the better. Well, within reason. I draw the line at sleeping in a tent unless absolutely necessary. Too many traumatic associations of tent-camping with toddlers keep that as a no-go for me.

Here’s a taste of my yesterday dose of wilderness:

Abandoned cabin at Pothole Ranch on BC’s Gang Ranch – second largest ranch in Canada

Abandoned root cellar at Pothole Ranch

The Chilcotin River, which runs through Farwell Canyon, is an off-shoot of the Fraser River

The bees were busy on this tree

“Mom, we need to go do something in the wilderness,” said my oldest daughter, who’s been working hard as a supervisor and safety coordinator for road construction all week.

“I know,” I said. “I’ve been so busy. But I am going to have to just make it happen.”

“Yes, that’s when we need it the most,” she said. “I read a sign that said we should get out in nature for at least 20 minutes a day. And on days when we’re really busy, we need to get out even more.”

It is true. I get so buried by the “gotta-do’s” in my life that I run out of Steen:

the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery restocking and the other errands in town;

the appointments for various family members;

the overseeing of my younger children and their learning and socializing;

the paperwork and the organization of it;

the bill management and everything finance-related;

the scheduled and also the unexpected;

the prioritizing of urgencies, and the abandoning of priority to the emergencies.

And that’s not even mentioning the book project I try to squeeze in every day. Those documents are always open on my computer, in front of which I sit for a few minutes at a time, several times a day. Some days I only add a few lines. Some days I edit what was already there. Some days I can’t squeeze in a moment or a word.

I often leave my phone on a charger where I cannot see or hear it. Almost every time I check it, there are messages. I have lost friends because of my inability to sit down and return calls. I try to at least fire a text message or email in reply where possible.

My home is surrounded by wilderness. All I need to do is step outside and I hear birds singing. Trees and other foliage grow wild everywhere I look in my yard and beyond it. And the air is fresh and clean.

I walk in nature every chance I get, even if it is a few minutes to see the sky. I go for longer walks when able, alone or with family members, hiking up hills or meandering along forest trails; and breaking up the walk with sprints to get in some higher intensity intervals for increased health benefits is a nice way to spice up a walk. Outright longer runs are satisfying, too.

And every so often, I get to expand the radius of my wilderness enjoyment. Yesterday’s trip to Farwell Canyon, BC, meant 2-1/2 hours of driving to reach that spot, but I was with three of my kids, listening to music in my son’s Jeep while he drove, laughing, talking, and enjoying the views. The journey was as much a part of the destination as was the first step outside onto silent ground.

Water running over rocks. Sandstone hoodoos. Blue skies bedecked with white clouds. Grass, trees, and many more greens than I can name.

I need it.

I love it.

I thank God for it.

I look forward to more of it, in abundance, never fading or decaying, in the place my Lord Jesus has prepared for me, which is far better than even the best taste of wilderness this world has shown me.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Why I Escaped (And From What Did I Escape?)

Bruised Steen (2)

Here is a picture of me a week or two after I’d been thrown face-first into a wall in the late 1980s. I went to the doctor about the face wounds at the time, but I never thought to get my neck checked out. Several years later, I started getting headaches and neck pain that would last for five days, every few weeks.

In 2012, a chiropractor did a full spine X-ray on me. His assumption is that it was that unhealed whiplash type of injury, way back then, that is the cause of my spine having grown in a twisted manner, somehow flaring up into these frustratingly painful “attacks” that don’t respond to even strong medication like morphine.

That’s the drama part. It’s ugly. I deal with the outcome. But, I keep in mind that a lot of people have their own predicaments that are worse than mine.

The good news is that I am free from that destructive relationship.

The better news is that I am free from an even worse destiny of missing out on the most loving relationship I could ever imagine – one with the Creator of all life, thanks to His Son, Jesus, giving His life to pay for my ticket to Him. Call it crazy if you will, but it’s a long, long story, longer than mine, and it’s all there in the Bible for you to read yourself. If you’ve read it and still don’t believe it, I urge you to consider that if the Bible is right in that the only way to eternal life is through faith in Christ, and you reject that, you risk ending up in a situation you will deeply regret. If with even the tiniest bit of faith you can accept it, it is better than risking eternity in hell – IF hell really is as real as the Bible says it is. If it isn’t, we who believe lose nothing and we turn to dust. It costs you nothing to believe. I figure it’s not worth the risk to reject such a simple deal.

As for my own long story, it’ll take me awhile to get it copied to this WordPress blog properly, with all the photos and links, so for now I will just provide a link to where it is currently located, on my old Google blog. I never did properly edit it, as I wanted to get it out there in a hurry at the time, several years ago now. I apologize for that, and for any photos that don’t show up where they should.

Why I Escaped (And From What Did I Escape?)

If you are in an abusive situation, please know that at least one person understands. I would pray for you if I knew about it, and try to help you find a way out.