Warm February Days

D475FD73-8CF4-423F-951C-581A2A277AF2Winter used to be a more tolerable season for me.  These days I find myself longing for warmth long before Spring is set to arrive.  We have had a string of unseasonably warm winter days that beg you to get out and enjoy the fresh air!

8B996320-AE4C-4857-97F5-4F72844A8594My youngest son and I both needed a day spent in nature.  We took off to try to capture some of Lake Tahoe’s beauty.  Traveling to Lake Tahoe from our home takes no time at all, and in February there is virtually no tourist traffic.  It’s a different story when you travel around the lake in the summer – terrible traffic.  So this was such a treat to be able to drive and see things at a slow pace.

We stopped at a couple of view points and took in the stunning vastness of the lake.  Living so close to a wonder like Tahoe, one might assume you would find it less impressive over time.  Not so, quite the contrary.  It’s more inviting and accessible the more familiar it becomes.

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We ended up spending the majority of our time at the Eagle Lake Falls trailhead across the street from Emerald Bay.  We had hiked the trail years ago in the Spring.  Then, a couple of years ago we tried to visit the location again, but were unable to due to the time of year (Summer).  The destination was heavily crowded and we had to continue on our way.  Disappointing, but a blessing in disguise because that’s the year we found what has proved to be one of our favorite places to visit in the Lake Tahoe area – Sugar Pine Point State Park.  (I highly recommend this as a destination during the summer months.  It is not overly crowded and there are many things to do – beaches, walking trails, small museum with store, and tours of the historical mansion on the grounds.  Great story there.)

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00509E23-ECF6-47B6-967C-627C82F560E0We were only able to complete a portion of the trail because although it was a gorgeous day, the trail quickly became a ground of solid ice.  I couldn’t keep my feet underneath me!  My son did much better with the boots he had, but I just couldn’t find an ounce of traction.  It must have been a sight to see!

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We continued on and drove around the lake, taking in all the things that are difficult to notice in the warmer months when there are so many tourists.  I think we saw things we’ve never seen before.

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I know we need the snow and for winter to do it’s provisional thing for our water supply.  But I will take these warm February days as rare gifts and be grateful for them.

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But for Kindness and Grace

I couldn’t believe what I saw.  Anger gripped me when I read the words written by a Christian in response to a social media post.  The individual who made the initial post is not a believer and is lost and wounded.  The content of the post that was commented on insinuated that God is not real.  Pain, rebellion, a cry for help – maybe even a dare for someone to object, a test to see the measure of a Christian response?  What was the tone of the response I read?  It was a sarcastic, somewhat belittling response meant to jab and “win” – to get the last word.  What on earth was he thinking with that prickly reply?  Did he think that putting an unbeliever in his place would aid in this lost soul’s salvation in any way?  I was angry and certain that this reply was more egregious than the controversial post seemingly meant to dare anyone to argue with him about whether or not God is real.

DSC_5424Usually the things that bother me (and boy did this bother me for a good couple of days) cause me to think through the situation a hardy while, simmer a little, and then try to see the issue in the same light as God sees it.  I suppose if I changed the order a little, I could skip some of the agony of simmering!  A lot of times, that examination will lead to personal conviction.  That’s exactly what this did.  I realized that although I would never use social media to win an argument with an unbeliever (or anyone for that matter!) my own heart can go to a similar place when faced with the foolishness of this world.  How many of us get angry in the flesh about Hollywood, politicians, neighbors who hang confederate flags in their front yards (just bothers me!)?  Yes, a lot of the philosophies, practices, beliefs, and behavior should be upsetting and I think that we absolutely should be in opposition to evil deceptions, never yielding for the purpose of conforming to this world.  But that is entirely different than placing disdain on the human being who is so obviously lost.

24750110-02A7-41A7-B3F2-6BBC5BF591B5It is natural to want to set someone straight and cause them to see things in a godly way, but can we realistically expect anything close to that from someone who doesn’t know Him?  When I think about what wins my heart again and again, it’s God’s merciful and patient love given to me freely.  It’s His desire to see my heart become more and more like His heart.  He sees sin as a danger to us.  He loves every single soul and hates all sin because of its destructive power to separate us from Him and all that is good and lasting.

I’m not suggesting we excuse or justify terrible behavior or ever go along with it.  We need not stand for evil in any way.  But may our responses be carefully thought out and Christ-like.  The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still in our sin – that is how God demonstrated His love for us (Romans 5:8).  He didn’t give us what our sin deserves.  He made the first move by giving up His life for us to demonstrate His great love.  Couldn’t we make the first move by giving grace to those who are still in their sin?

DSC_4623 I think that most of the time we do a good job of giving grace out of immense gratitude for the grace that’s been given to us.  But if we pay closer attention to the times we withhold grace, we can begin to recognize places in our hearts that need to be changed and surrendered.  Oh, that God’s extravagant grace reflects in us to effectively lead the lost home.

 

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Ephesians 2:4-9

 

All My Life

Sometimes I am at a loss as to what song to sing on the spot when I want to sing to God. I have hundreds of songs in my memory bank from childhood until now.  This was kind of a remake of one of those choruses we sang in church while I was growing up that went something like this – “I lift my hands up unto Thy name, my lips shall praise You, thus will I bless You, I will lift up my hands unto Thy name”.  I took Psalm 63 as my inspiration and made the words more personal as I would say them.