The Abbeys of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – Queen of Ordinary – November 17, 2014

DSCN5209DSCN5214 DSCN5215  The abbeys of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are amazing.

Even though most of them are now in ruins, the beauty of design, the layout of the structures and the locations compared to the lay of the land are stunning.  Some are more memories than reality, and some are still in tact, but most are somewhere in between.

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I could only imagine what these places were like in their full glory days.  I was fascinated with the stone work, the precision, the beauty, and the endurance of these structures that are hundreds of years old.  The fact that this incredibly beautiful places were built and consecrated to those in ministry who had given their lives to serve God says something about the value set on relationship with God in that time frame.

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Most of these ancient abbeys are currently under historic protection and the grounds are maintained through government programs.  In these photos were The Abbey at Cong, Creevelea, Kylemore, Dryburgh, Jedburgh, and Melrose.  The buildings may be crumbling, but the sense of being in a holy place is still very strong.  But then maybe the buildings put is in such a reverent frame of mind that we were more acutely aware of the Spirit of God within us.

Facing the Fear of Heights and More – Queen of Ordinary November 16, 2014

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An Irish View of the Ocean

On this day in Ireland we were heading to Slieve League along the Sky Road and to walk across the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.  We took a wrong road somewhere, but just look what we found by mistake!

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I don’t know who took the time to write “I love you” with the rocks at the bottom of the cliffs, just beyond the ocean’s reach, but I’m so glad they did.   When I saw it, it felt like it was a message from God to us on our journey.  We thought we had made a wrong turn, but perhaps it was just because God wanted to share this unscheduled beautiful view with us.

We did make it on to our adventure at Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge.  It was one of the toughest things I made myself do on our whole trip.  I have a deep rooted fear of heights.  Just looking at photos of things at a great height make my liver quiver!  Looking over the edge of something, even if I’m behind a railing, makes me woozy.  But I made myself take the long hike out to the rope bridge stretched between two cliffs about 100 feet above the ocean surging against the rocks below, and forced myself to face my fears and walk across anyhow.

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For someone as afraid of heights as I am, it’s a miracle that I ever crossed the bridge in the first place.  I kept saying to myself, “Help, me Lord…” and “Look at her back, and don’t look down,” about the person in front of me from our group.  But on the way back, there had been children jumping up and down to make the bridge sway and bounce, so the fear was doubled.  I had a death grip on the ropes on both sides and was only able to make my feet move about six inches at a time.  I was too afraid to be embarrassed about holding up the people behind me!  I truly thought I had made a mistake by crossing over in the first place.

Our tour guide, Coty Sloan, had crossed way in front of us and positioned himself on a cliff overlooking the bridge to get a group photo of us crossing together.  It surely didn’t happen.  Karen went on ahead of me and left me far behind with blank space, bride, and ocean staring up at me.  Sandy was behind me waving at Coty, and I was too terrified to look anywhere besides at the boards in front of me.

IMG_6606 Coty is the speck on this cliff facing us and no good photo for his trouble!

Sometimes we question the path that we are on and wonder if we are on the wrong one.  At times fear may paralyze us when the gulf between where we are and where we need to be is so great.  But, if we ask Him to go with us, God is there every step of the way across that divide and to the safe place we are heading.

I didn’t think I was going to make it back across that bridge without fainting, but I kept reminding myself of Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me.”

Spiritual Dreams and Their Relevance Today – Queen of Ordinary – November 7, 2014

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Glendaloch Monastic Settlement – Ireland

Have you ever had a dream that haunted you for years?  Have you ever dreamed anything in such vivid color and specific detail that you knew it was significant the moment you woke up?

In our Appalachian culture, dreams are still considered significant.  Not all dreams have a message or deeper meaning, but I am convinced that some definitely do.  I believe that all people probably have dreams in the course of their lifetime that are for warning, instruction, or revelation, but not all people take them seriously.

I saw the tower above in a dream that I will share in this post over THIRTY years ago, but the dream remained with me and vivid ever since.  It has often replayed in my head like a giant movie screen, reminding me of the instructions it held.

The Bible actually has a lot to say about dreams.

Acts 2:17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

Amos 3:7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

Queen of Ordinary is Worried About Uncle Sam – July 1, 2014

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I am so weary of turning on the news and hearing nothing but one political side slandering the other political side.  It feels like everyone has lost their perspective.  We are a nation becoming ragged around the edges.  We are plagued with economic instability in the world market, loss of respect from other nations, and loss of respect inside our own borders.

I don’t have the answers of how to change anything.  But I do believe in the power of prayer.  If our nation could come together in prayer, putting aside all arrogance and personal agendas, and truly seek God’s wisdom and direction for our nation, I believe we could see huge differences on a local level and all the way to the White House.

Clearly, our issues have become too big for our squabbling politicians to sort out and deal with rationally together.  BUT – nothing is too big for our God.

2 Chronicles 7:14King James Version (KJV)

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Queen of Ordinary Thanks God for Old Time Religion – June 5, 2014

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I remember sitting on wooden pews in church as a child – without cushions, carpets, or P.A. systems.  God was just as near, Jesus as precious, and salvation as sweet without all of our modern comforts.

People came to church for different reasons then, as they do now.  Back then people came because they truly wanted to be saved and serve God.  Young men came to get a look and see if there were any pretty “good girls.”  Young women came, sometimes hoping that a good-looking boy would show up searching for her and have a true salvation experience.  Church was a center of the community where whole families came into the house of God to worship Him and to learn about him.  It was also a place where the Word of God was taken for the truth, and the standard by which Christians were to frame their lives.

Church these days may still have those qualities, but often it is a place for “social networking.”  Young people try it out because they are bored with what they already have and are looking for something new.  Families come because they need all the help they can get trying to stay together.  But many churches have dummied down.  They’ve whitewashed sin and watered down the Word of God so they can be more socially acceptable and be seen as politically correct and tolerant.

The truth of the Bible is still there.  The Word of God hasn’t changed, even if man’s interpretation has.  The presence of God is still awesome, even though most churches don’t expect Him to show up.  The Power of God is still life changing, even though many Christians fear any power that is greater than their own will.  The gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is still the avenue of salvation.  The message of God’s love still transforms lives.

Sometimes I think the modern church has forgotten what Matthew 18:20 is really saying.  “If two or three are gathered together in MY NAME, there I am in the midst of them.”  Church is where we gather in His name – whether on dirt floors, wooden pews, in the jungle, or in glass cathedrals.

I am as spoiled as the next person with air conditioning, technology, and padded seats, but there is a big part of me that truly misses the days of wooden pews and “that old time religion.”

Queen of Ordinary – The Power of Prayer – May 31, 2014

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My cousin’s husband had a riding lawn mower accident this evening.  It rolled over and pinned him beneath.  I don’t know all of the why’s and specific details.  When I got the call from a family member that he was being flown out on a Life Evac helicopter, there were few details, but a request for prayer.

I got busy, along with other family members of spreading the word.  He wasn’t cut up, but had abdominal swelling and they suspected internal bleeding.  A call for prayer warriors to aid in the fight went out across our county, the region, and hard to say how far as one contacted another one or another group.

Prayers for him and his family rushing to the hospital were going up constantly.  The nurse told the family they should be praising God, after the initial check.  X-rays then revealed two broken ribs, a bruised lung, and a fractured pelvis, but he was lucky to be alive.  The medical staff told them they had seen much worse injuries in the same scenario and that someone must have been watching out for him.  I’d say his guardian angel was riding with him.

At the last post, he was in the hospital bed in ICU smiling at the camera.  Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not probably depends on the answers you’ve had and the miracles you’ve seen in your own life.

I, for one, believe that the power of prayer makes all the difference.  One prayer matters, and an army of prayers can produce amazing outcomes.

Matthew 7:7  “Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it

James 5:14-16 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another,that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Queen of Ordinary – Remembering at a Graveyard – May 26, 2014

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A cemetery is perhaps a peculiar place to go for remembering, but it is one of the best places to have a reality check. Have you ever gone to an unfamiliar cemetery and walked through?  I love to look at the statuary, the inscriptions, the dates, and names.  Perhaps that is because of the writer in me.  Each grave represents a lifetime of little stories and one big one from beginning to end. What do cemeteries cause you to remember? Loved ones who have passed.  Loves that have died.  Friends you haven’t talked to in a long, long time. Accidents, tragedies, illnesses, old age. Time, mortality, immortality, unfinished business. Regrets, loss, empty spaces. Prayers.  Songs.  Lives well spent.  Lives squandered.  Lives in progress. The importance of each day.  Keeping promises.  People we love.  Eternity.  Our relationship with God.  Things we hope to accomplish before we die.  Priorities.  Making a difference.  Endings. Cemeteries are a good place for remembering.

Queen of Ordinary – Don’t Lock Yourself In – May 22, 2014

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Have you been hurt in your life by other people?  or by a specific individual?  Have you ever wanted to hide away behind locked doors where no one can ever hurt you again?  Have you built up walls to keep others out?  Have you locked the door to your heart?

I was there many years ago.  I was so hurt and betrayed by someone I loved with all my heart, I felt like I had to protect myself because another wound like that would have mortal consequences.  I didn’t want to have to endure that pain again – ever.

God showed me a vision of myself hoping that someone would break down the wall, see the real me, and come charging in to rescue me from ever being hurt again.  Yet while I was hoping, I was steadily placing one brick with mortar at a time in place to build my wall higher and thicker all the time.

He spoke to my heart, “You may THINK you are building the wall to keep others out, but you are building a prison, one brick at a time, to keep yourself in.”

God never called us to be brick layers that shut ourselves away from the rest of the world.  I also realized that the person who had caused such grievous injury was out in the world carrying on, living large, and could care less what I was going through.

I forgave.  Over and over I chose to forgive, and tear that wall back down one brick at a time.  I wanted to stay safe, but I wanted to be free more than that.

Here are some of my favorite Bible verses about freedom.

II Corinthians 3:17 – Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

John 8: 36 – Whom the Son has made free is free indeed.

Psalm 118:5 – I cried out in my anguish and the Lord heard me and set me free.

Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…

Are you a prisoner of your own making?  Have you been hiding out behind your walls of captivity in an effort to keep hurt or harm away?

I urge you to tear down the same walls you built up; unlock the door; and be free.  Forgive.  It is the greatest gift you will ever give yourself.

 

Queen of Ordinary Sends Blessings – May 16, 2014

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Philippians 4:19 – But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete, Withal it shall be measured to you again.

3 John 1:2 – Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as they soul prospereth.