Are You…His Mother?

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I have had my signature silver hair for a very long time and Ross has always been “baby-faced.” Of course, that fact that I am the older one of us, by 6 1/2 years only adds to that “difference.” That’s what comes from falling in love with a younger man. Thus, I insisted that he must always have a beard and a mustache because if not, people would really think that he’s my son and not my husband…. as has happened on more than one occasion.

After only a few months of living in our new remote Alaskan village of 200, it was time for the high school graduation. It is an honor for the elders to receive their food first and in this case, dessert. As the entire village was milling around the school gymnasium, a young 10-year-old girl looked at me.

“You can go get your dessert now.”DSC05996

Quizzically, I looked at her. “Why?”

She promptly responded, “Because you’re an elder.”

I smiled as I was just in my early 40’s and one needed to be 55 to qualify for that status.

“What makes you think I’m an elder?”

“Well, your hair.”

I burst out laughing, leaned down gently and said, “Honey, I’m not an elder. My hair might look really old, but I am not.”

Later when relating that story to some of my new friends in the village, they started laughing in embarrassment. I was puzzled and they finally told me why they were all so embarrassed.

“We all thought you were older. We all thought you were his mother!”

DSC06002So, our first Christmas in the village, we were debating what to do for the church
program and our oldest daughter, Rachel Joy, chuckles and looks at me, “Well, Mom, you’re too old to be the Virgin Mary.” So, Ross and I goofed off and teased about being Simeon and Anna…..which became reality.DSC05997

Ross purchased theatrical make-up and a bald cap and beard but then in order for it to be applied correctly, he realized that shaving might be the better route. Now you can see for yourself how young he looks. That’s Dad posing with his two sons and oldest daughter. He was nearly 39 in those pictures. The last shot is us, as Simeon and Anna.


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Fish Tales

Picture 1092One of the things Ross asked me while we still lived in Texas and were getting to know one another was, “What kind of fish do you like?”

I was puzzled and answered, “You know….fish.”

He prodded and asked, “What kind?”

“I don’t know. They are kind of golden, shaped like a rectangle with white on the inside. You know….fish.”

Picture 1347In Texas, our fish in the pond were small and I don’t recall ever really eating them. But God has a sense of humor because He later sent us to live on the Fish River in a remote Eskimo village in Northwestern Alaska. Ross proceeded early on to share that “Fish” story with our entire congregation, who got a great kick out of their new pastor’s wife.

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A “Bluegill” Bream from our pond in Texas

 

Our first summer, a Native woman in the community called and asked, “How many humpies would your family like?”

I was clueless and thought, “We can’t eat that much humpback whale.” But all I said was, “Well, maybe one or two?”

“One or two?” The person was shocked and mentioned something like at least 5 or 6. All I could think of was the huge humpback whale that I’d seen pictures of when I was growing up. I thanked her and wondered to myself, “Gee, how much Humpback Whale can these people eat?”

Humpies are another name for pink salmon…..not any kind of whale. They make wonderful smoked, dried fish.  The  pictures are all of silver salmon — our main course for many meals. And as you can see, my kids learned early on that there’s more in life than just fish-sticks. Later on, this story was also shared with the congregation…..ah, the laughter!

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Why All Was Silent

Admittedly, this should have been a “highlight” week for me but I have been sick for the last five days. Here is the irony of realizing that our expectations do not always equal our reality.

I received confirmation that my few sample books should be arriving at my door sometime in the next few days! Once I give my final approval, Broken Hearts Healed, will be available for purchase!

So, yes, the achievement of a “lifetime” of waiting and dreams in my heart fulfilled but my poor body didn’t have the energy to celebrate. Further, you were all on my mind daily as I kept thinking, “I should post something…..a devotional, a funny story, a short meditation.” But as you can see, I did not. Silence ruled across my facebook page and website this week. I am just now re-gaining some strength and I look forward to being “back in the swing of things” this coming week. Thanks for your patience.

Nothing Stinks About It

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Where do I begin to share those amazing times we had as a family with our sweet young children? Yes, the pictures show a glimpse but some of the more memorable moments weren’t captured with photography. We love to reminisce and laugh together. I will be the first to tell you we are not the perfect family but in the famous saying of our oldest, Samuel, those were, “Ahhh….good times.”DCP_1334

…..We took the kids on their first backpacking trip to Big Bend, Texas, with some dear friends.  Leah, our youngest, had just turned 4 and she insisted that she wanted to carry her little backpack and water, etc. the whole 2 miles into the back-country and she walked all the way on her own. The first few nights we roughed it all the way. The third night we stayed in a campground. As she and I walked towards the bathroom, she piped up,”Mommy, do you have the shovel?”

Another camping trip… we were sitting outside at the picnic
table in the evening and Ross very calmly and slowly stated,  “Ruth, whatever you do, don’t move….there’s a skunk right beside you.”

I screamed and jumped about 4 feet!!! The skunk jumped about that much, too, and ran off. Thankfully, no spray….I think I scared him even more than he scared me.

Later that night, about 2:00 in the morning, Samuel, age 10, came to our tent and whispered. “Dad, Mom, I hate to wake you up….but there’s a skunk in our tent and what stinks about it, is that Isaac is using it like a pillow and he’s fast asleep.” It had taken Samuel over 20 minutes to slowly and quietly get out of the tent to come to ours, without disturbing the skunk. Ross dragged himself out of the sleeping bag and carefully walked over to the boys’ tent.Big Bend 2003 059

Meanwhile I was desperately praying that the skunk wouldn’t get scared and spray them. All I could imagine was the awful stench and how much tomato juice it would take to make things better.

Ever so carefully, they opened the tent flap to observe the skunk and Isaac, age 6, soundly sleeping.Shining the flashlight and studying closer, the “skunk” turned out to be the stripe of yellow on the hood of Isaac’s blue mummy sleeping bag…

Lesson of the Forget-Me-Not

Consider this devotional a God moment in which He is speaking to you.

Forget-Me-Nots

I have not forgotten you. Can a nursing mother forget her child? Yet, I have not forgotten you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. You are precious to me. I created you for My glory, for companionship so that we would walk together throughout this life. Many things have happened to you that have caused you such pain and heartache. I know intimately all that you have carried. I desire to take the burdens from you and to fill you with joy. If you only knew how very much I love you.

Circumstances and broken relationships have damaged your ability to trust. I am aware of all that satan has done through people to keep you from believing Me and surrendering your heart and life to My care. It is the enemy’s desire to rob you of relationship with Me. The thief comes but to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you might have life, and that life more abundantly.

Your fleshly desires for more materialistic possessions will never satisfy. Even if you gained all the wealth you long for, but have not found Me, the essence of Life itself, all would still be meaningless. Can you not look at the tiny forget-me-nots and recognize that in spite of blistering winds, trampled ground, months of seeing no sunshine as they are avalanched in snow, every summer they are still there, clinging to the rocks? Do you not yet understand? If you cling to the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ, there will be nothing that can rip you out of My hands. There will be no difficulty or hardship that will be impossible to endure if you only cling and trust in Me with all your heart. This is a great life lesson. Few will ever see the forget-me-nots, yet I know exactly where they are, every season of the year. Oh, precious one, if I care so much about tiny tundra flowers, how much more I care about you. You are made in My image. I loved you so much that I willingly gave My life for you on the cross.

I died because of My great love for you. I died in hopes that one day you would repent of your sins and turn to Me and we would be friends and no longer enemies. I took the risk that only true Love would take. I gave all not expecting anything in return. I gave freely in hope that My love demonstrated on the cross would be so profound that it would melt your heart of stone.

I will never leave you nor forsake you. That is My promise and I am not a man that I should lie. I Am the Almighty God. Will you come to Me? I have not forgotten you. Have you forgotten Me?

The Lesson of the Snow

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It’s a new day—full of fresh possibilities. Surrendering to Jesus and receiving His unconditional Love means there is no need for performance or jumping through hoops—but to simply be forgiven and washed as white as snow.

Many have been the paths

Of sin I’ve trod

But they have been obliterated

By the mercies of God.

We hear that snow covers like a blanket but it does so much more than that. Snatch away the blanket and you will see all the ugliness hiding under the folds. If our sins are only covered and not buried, then  forgiveness and a clean slate are merely a delusion. We live in constant fear and shame of being exposed. All our secret sins continue to have power to haunt us and grip us in iron-clad shackles.

Snow completely removes the evidence of the sin. When snow covers, it obliterates all that came before. The old paths and trails are completely wiped away. No signs of the old ways of sin and failure remain. There is only virginal, uncharted vastness to blaze a new trail of walking in Christ’s love, mercy and forgiveness.

This is the truth of the power and authority in the life of the Christian. It is living for God and being filled with exceeding joy. This is the freedom we experience through the power of the Cross. “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Is. 1:18.

 

 

Little Children

Guest Post by Ross McElwee:

DCP_0306Years ago, back on our farm in Texas when our kids were young, I used to have a cabinetry & remodeling business. I would often work long hours, and 10-12 hour days weren’t uncommon. One thing I remember clearly, is how often when I would come home, the kids would all race out to greet me. Often barefoot, often dirty from their play, even having smudges of mud on their faces, they didn’t care. Nor did they care that I was sweaty, or had sawdust on me. Instead, we would all just revel in being back together.

Why isn’t it like that when we come to God? After all, isn’t HE our Heavenly Father? Why do we feel the need to try to clean ourselves up first, like that really matters? Aren’t we supposed to come to HIM like little children? And yes, like any loving parent, HE will take the time to clean us up and if necessary to wash our hands and faces before sitting down for supper, or putting us to bed. I’m thankful that God calls us to be His children…. not “grownups.”