Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I can't believe it's been almost three weeks since my last blog post.  Part of the reason for that is that I took an intentional break from Facebook and most computer work.  I did check e-mail once a day but that was it.

Our Operation Christmas Child regional director, Leigh Fisher, asked our team to take a week off from OCC duties.  My media coordinator, Pam Niedhammer, dubbed it a "Praycation" and I like that term.

Leigh asked us to take that week to be still and hear from God.  I had hoped to make it a total week-long personal retreat but it didn't quite work out that way.  Life interfered, as it often does, and there were responsibilities I couldn't (and shouldn't) dodge.

Still, I was able to take at least a few hours most of the days of that week to go to some local place where I could experience the beauty of nature and I was able to stay (mostly) unplugged.

I only live a few miles from the beauty of Lake Erie beaches, but even though I love it I don't go to the beach on a regular basis.  Two days of that week I spent some time on the shore.  The weather was threatening but the clouds were gorgeous.  The sky is ever-changing, with a new view by the minute.

The verses I read in Isaiah 43:18,19 seemed appropriate, and I read them over and over.  And then I read them some more.  "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

There's been a lot of wasteland over the past months but I'm seeing a new thing spring up in our area.  God is on the move for us.

I stood at the shoreline and watched the waves come in and recede.  As the waves go out they seem to pull the ground from underneath my feet, then the ground is steady until the next wave comes.  That's life, too.

Then I read Psalm 46:10--"Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." -- I will be exalted in your team.  I will be exalted in your team members.  I will be exalted in your packing party.  I will be exalted in your marriage.  I will be exalted in your children.  I will be exalted at Rock The Lakes Erie.  I will be exalted at the BWI Processing Center.  I will be exalted in National Collection Week.  --Father, You are sovereign and You will be exalted.

Another day I went a few miles in the other direction to Four-Mile Creek.  It was a cool morning and I stretched out on a warm rock beside the water and just  listened to its gurgling.

This water isn't exactly still but it's not rushing either.  It looks peaceful and clear.  As I watch it flow, I think--the water doesn't know where it is going or how long the journey will be--it just flows.  It's diverted by branches and rocks but it just flows around them.

"Lord, I want to flow like that--surrendered to Your direction, Your timing, Your destination.  I sense that You are tending me as my Shepherd.  God, in my heart I want to please You, but all my trying will not do it.  Help me surrender to You, rest in You, trust You.  You will be exalted.  You are my fortress.  You will give me all things.  Like Elijah, I want to rest here by the brook and be fed and refreshed by You."

Because the shoe box goal for our Mid-Atlantic region is 1.1 million this year, Leigh challenged us to be still for 11 minutes each day but even by the end of the week I could never do it.  Not once.  I could sit still but I couldn't make my mind be still.  I guess I need more practice.

Though I failed to empty my busy mind, I felt God's comfort.  It was good to retreat.

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