Independence Day … and an update [Repost]

Independence Day

I am very thankful that we can still celebrate Independence Day here in the United States. Many of us typically celebrate with fireworks, picnics, barbecues and family get-togethers which commemorate probably the most important day in our country’s history. As a nation, the United States of America is very blessed because of the sacrifice of all those who fought to procure our freedoms.

--PatrioticSoldier

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
    the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom he has chosen as his heritage! —Psalm 33:11-12

Let us never forget how blessed we are as a nation … under God … whose freedom was bought at a great price.

Update on Monday’s post about the

19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters

I do not want to minimize the importance of this July 4th commemoration, the reason we celebrate it, or the enormous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve in the various branches of the military to protect our country and our freedoms. But I also need to share further information about some other heroes who sacrificed their lives to protect us earlier this week.

Please forgive me if it seems that I am dishonoring or disrespecting our military in any way by talking about these other brave souls. It is absolutely not my intention to do so.

This is just a simple tribute to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Firefighters, and the family and friends they left behind. A wonderful Facebook group established to honor the memories of these fallen heroes and to support their families created the great banner image below.

I did not personally know any of these brave men but my son did and so did several of my friends. We are all grieving their deaths, most of whom were so young.

IndependenceDayHonoringOurHeroes

The Yarnell 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots:

yarnell19-2Credit: Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots Facebook page

Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Robert Caldwell, 23
Travis Carter, 31
Dustin Deford, 24
Christopher MacKenzie, 30
Eric Marsh, 43
Grant McKee, 21
Sean Misner, 26
Scott Norris, 28
Wade Parker, 22
John Percin, 24
Anthony Rose, 23
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 32
Travis Turbyfill, 27
William Warneke, 25
Clayton Whitted, 28
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Garret Zuppiger, 27

You can read the “Families, Friends of The Yarnell 19 Speak Out” story here.

Several members of our church are retired firefighters who come out of retirement every year to help fight these wildfires. I am very thankful to each and every one of them for their service over the years.

Our church has been for praying for the families of the 19 men who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire and for firefighters who are still fighting the Yarnell fire as well as other wildfires in Arizona and other western states.

Please keep in mind—and in prayer—that there was a survivor of that horrible wildfire incident last Sunday. Of the 20-man Granite Mountain Hotshot team, one of the men survived. This was most likely because he was assigned to be the lookout that day and happened to be away from the rest of his team. He was up on a ridge checking weather conditions and radioing the information back to the rest of his team when they perished.

I’d rather not share his name here because he is more than likely struggling with why he was the only survivor. Maybe someday he will be ready to talk about this; maybe not. At any rate, he should be allowed the time and space to get through his many conflicting emotions about that fateful day without media or anyone else crowding him.

Our church held a prayer meeting on Monday night which I was sadly not able to attend, but I’m thankful that one of the ladies had the foresight to take some photos to share with us.

This is the result of how they decorated one of the parking lot fences:

Pray4FireCrewsLook closely and you’ll see it reads “Pray 4 Fire Crews”

The next photos show the alternating messages on the digital sign outside the church:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. —John 15:13

She’s baaack…finally! [Repost]

a7bd3-im-back

On July 8th, almost a month ago, I posted about needing to take a break from the blogging life. I thought it would be only a week or two, but the “stuff” of my life got totally out of hand and day after day slipped by. However, I’m baaack!!!

Things started out with the horrifyingly sad news about the line-of-duty deaths of the 19 Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots while fighting the Yarnell fire. There was only one survivor and that was because he was the assigned lookout that day.

On top of that horrible news, the wonderful and crazy part of my month. First, my son, Alan, and two of his firefighter buddies from Dallas came to stay here for a few nights in order to attend and take part in the memorial service for those 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. Then just as they left,, my daughter, Kathy, arrived for a few days’ visit while she was on vacation.

Wonderful? Absolutely! Crazy? Well, for me it was that, but only because any kind of extra activity—fun or not—greatly impacts my health. I have said many times before that good stress as well as bad stress affects me, and let’s just say that I spent the rest of July recovering.

Would I change any of it? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! I loved having each and every one of them here! Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some of what happened during my eventful July, a little at a time.

Let me start today with one of the big reasons I haven’t been here in awhile. I’ve been thinking on and praying over things that I saw and heard regarding the deaths of those 19 Hotshots…and aspects of fires (including wildfires) and firefighters in general.

yarnell19-2I have found myself very weepy at times as I contemplate how the families of those 19 fallen firefighters are feeling. They must be reeling from the sudden loss, and that hurts my heart so much. Just this alone made me physically and emotionally weary, which is enough to set off a CFIDS/FMS flare.

My eyes kept “leaking” (the sweet way Rick refers to my crying) as I thought about the significance of the way I prayed for Alan’s salvation for so many years—that God would do whatever He needed to do to get Alan’s attention. And I wept as I prayed this many times over the years because I realized that God could well allow Alan to be severely injured in the line of duty.

One thing we talked about while he was here is that God did indeed use a fire several years ago to get Alan’s complete attention, but thankfully he was not injured in the process. I had never thought about it this way before, and now not one day goes by that I don’t remember that! And praise and thank God for it!

I’d like to leave you today by telling you about a song that was written as a tribute to the 19 fallen Hotshots. Alton Eugene, an Oklahoma man, created “Hope Song” after the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma. When he heard about these 19 brave Hotshots who were killed while fighting the Yarnell fire, he knew his song could serve as a method to mourn and heal. So he made a tribute to the fallen firefighters as a backdrop to his song.

You can view the video at Alton Eugene’s website. There are also links on the Facebook page he created as a tribute. “Hope Song” (2013 Arizona Fires Tribute), by Alton Eugene, is available on iTunes or Amazon and 100% of every download ($0.99) goes to the families and communities affected by the Yarnell wildfire.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

—John 15:13

A_Firefighter__s_Prayer…..

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Thank and Pray for Your Courageous Firefighters! [Repost]

Last year at this time, we heard the devastating news that 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots perished in the Yarnell wildfire. In the next few days I will be sharing several posts from that time last year, starting with this one today.

PrescottFFLastAlarm

I was going to post an update this morning about the Doce fire which I told you about a couple of weeks ago and has since been contained. But I woke up today to some devastating news that I feel the need to share with you.

Yesterday another wildfire burned about 50 miles from where I live, in a little town called Yarnell. According to those on the scene, the fire turned deadly from lightning strikes during a monsoon storm.

As is common during these storms, the wind activity became wild—thus the terwildfire. I witness these kinds of monsoon winds many times during the summer and it never fails to fill me with foreboding. Often during these monsoon storms, we don’t get the rain itself, only the high winds and menacingly dark, cloudy skies.

That is what happened in Yarnell yesterday. Tons of wild wind mixed in with lightning strikes but with no rain to help temper the effects of those strikes made for a wildfire that spread too rapidly.

As a result, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots—part of the Prescott Fire Department—lost their lives while battling that blaze. Prescott is certainly in deep mourning over this tragedy, and many of us are praying for the families left behind.

As the mother of a firefighter, I have always worked to keep a certain mental and emotional distance from thinking too much about how dangerous fire fighting is. However, the deaths of those 19 at the Yarnell fire has really impacted me and brought me to tears. I am very thankful that Alan has never been severely injured or lost his life while fighting a fire but I also know that there have been some very close calls.

I choose daily not to think about or dwell on that.

In honor of my son, Alan (pictured above), and all the firefighters I know—or have never even met—if I don’t say it enough, here it is again:

THANK YOU for all you do in the line of duty to keep us safe. You are all examples of the most courageous people I can imagine, people who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to keep the rest of us safe from the devastating effects of fires.

To read more about the Yarnell fire:

  http://prescottaz.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=120764

ThankFirefighterssmiley-sad

Keep Calm and Pin On

PinterestKeepCalm

Today’s post is a little bit of fun. If you’ve never heard of Pinterest, it is another social media site where you can create “boards” for your different interests, and then add pertinent photos to those boards. You can easily add to those boards when you find something online that is of particular interest and you want to save it, or you may find things on the Pinterest site that you want to save on one of your boards.

I’m not sure of the history of how and why it started, but many people use Pinterest to put together ideas for home decorating, weddings, DIY projects, and the list goes on. It’s kind of like a giant bulletin board!

I joined Pinterest awhile back and am not always good at updating my boards, but here’s a look at a few of them.

 

Crochet

AnnasPinterest6


For the Home

AnnasPinterest9


Scenery

AnnasPinterest8

 

Pink!

AnnasPinterest7

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So, are you into Pinterest too?

Pinterest

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His Love Endures Forever

Psalm118--1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”

Let the house of Aaron say:

    “His love endures forever.”

Let those who fear the Lord say:

    “His love endures forever.”

—Psalm 118:1-4

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Chris Tomlin has written some wonderful worship songs. His song “Forever” is one we often sing at church and which I also find myself singing in my head at times.

 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, you can read the lyrics here.

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Joy Inexpressible, Part 2

Last week I shared Pat Knight’s devotional entitled Joy Inexpressible, Part 1. Today I give you Part 2.

joy

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Joy Inexpressible

Part 2

By Patricia Knight

God not only fills us with joy but also adds a sweet fragrance to that joy.

“But thanks be to God,
who also leads us in triumphal procession in Christ
and through us spreads everywhere
the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing”

(2 Corinthians 2: 14,15).

“The fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Now, that should cause us to smile. So much revenue is spent on cosmetics, many for the purpose of erasing deep frown lines that have formed over the years. Smiling takes substantially fewer muscles than frowning. Did you ever practice smiling in front of a mirror? It provides a light-hearted experience, putting a smile on your face, and one in your heart.

There are some extremely expensive fragrances on the market for which both women and men pay lofty amounts. As aromatic as these may be, there is no sweeter fragrance than that emitted by Jesus. We “are to God the aroma of Christ” among people being won to Him. What a privilege and a responsibility! We need not think we have to spread His joy alone. God manufactures it and gives it to us, the most expensive fragrance in the world, bought with the highest sacrifice in heaven and on earth. Then, God will help us distribute it to the destitute in heart. The source is readily available, renewable, and inexhaustible.

Gal5-22-23Joy is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22). In a long line of attributes, joy is second in line, snuggling right up close with love. We are told to have joy, ALWAYS! Have we been neglecting something important in our lives? We need possession of the immediate joy that sparks a flame of excitement plus the persistent joy that produces a daily expression of happiness and thanksgiving.

Worship flows naturally out of a thankful, joyful heart.

Praise, song and love all emerge from a heart previously primed with joy.

When we are consumed with joy, there is no room for negativism. As we are caught up in serving God and men with a happy heart, we are celebrating God and the joy He places there for us. When we share with others, our joy multiplies and carries with it a sweet aroma. People are encouraged.

Phil2_14We are commanded to do everything without complaining or grumbling (Philippians 2:14). I have never learned how to express joy while complaining, nor do I believe God intends for us to combine the two.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:12). Choices are made from the attitudes we form. No matter how negative our lives appear, no one can force us to match it with a negative attitude. Even though we tend to blame others for our problems, we as Christians are to rise above our circumstances. We choose our responses. We also choose joy. Though joy is free flowing and available, we have to embrace it for our personal life style for it to become an effective tool for us. An outpouring of our inner joyfulness is our gift to others.

In my earlier career, I worked at a medical facility where a friend of mine was later hired in the social services department. Martha was the most effervescent, enthusiastic and happy woman I had ever met. She possessed a beautiful smile and used it unsparingly, with a deep, engaging laugh. Other workers were aloof toward her and later shared with me that they didn’t trust Martha and were suspicious of her. They reasoned that she was too happy and smiled too much. I am still shocked by their logic. The unhappy, insecure workers were not going to befriend a newcomer who embodied joy and confidence. Studies have proven the power of a positive attitude in achieving the healing and recovery process. Martha understood the benefit of permeating her life and profession with joy.

Each day we have a predetermined amount of energy. When our supply of energy is used positively and creatively, we contribute to the joy in our lives and in the lives of others. If we look for laughter and sunshine wherever we go, we are able to increase the joy that we discover. Joy shared is multiplied. Joy restrained is limited. God commands that we prioritize joy. Look for the brilliance in the early morning sunrise, the diamonds bouncing off the rippling water, and the crystals radiating from newly fallen snow. Then, store those scenes in your mental imagery and share that beautiful joy with someone else when the opportunity arises.

Ps100-1-2

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name”

(Psalm 100: 1, 2, 4).

That same compelling joy will gladden your own heart and travel far and wide to affect the lives of others.

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P”

Pat, you are one of the most joyful people I have ever met and I am so blessed to have you in my life. Thank you so much for allowing me to share this wonderful and joyful devotional! 

PureJoy“Joy Inexpressible” is from Pat’s devotional book, Pure Joy.

Beloved, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of Pure Joy, please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.

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My Peace, My Comfort, My Hope

Psalm27-13-14--wait

I would have despaired
unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
yes, wait for the Lord.
—Psalm 27:13-14

 

Joy Inexpressible, Part 1

Today I once again have the delightful privilege of sharing another of Pat Knight’s writings. She and I have been talking more lately about joy and how to hang on tight to it while living with chronic pain. I think this devotional from her book, Pure Joy, was particularly appropriate right now.

This part 1 of 2.

1Pet1-8-9

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Joy Inexpressible

Part 1

By Patricia Knight

 Joy!

What a small word for such a giant effect it creates in others and us. “Joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8) is how our Guidebook, the Bible, assumes is the attitude and method of every Christian. Joy is dynamic and ready to do its work. Joy can flow out from one person to another or it can rush in to fill a life.

The exchange of wedding vows, the birth of a child, the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord of one’s life are times when joy knows no bounds. It overflows, gushes, whirls, either causing an action or a reaction. We cannot ignore joy. And, who would want to disregard such an important emotion?

The times we remember best in our lives are the joyous occasions, those that offer us great delight and gladness of heart.

Psalm126-3

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalms 126:3). “Filled with joy” is not a phrase I hear used often, but it sure does sound like a good idea to be infused, saturated, slathered with a good dose of joy. Imagine the result if we were all living joy-filled lives. I rarely hear about it, though I have heard of the opposite—”to be filled with anger.” I can even envision that anger at work, as a person’s face reddens and his voice and actions become irrational. As Christians, we are commanded to have joy. There’s no preference of when to have or when to share it. Joy must be an integral part of our being, with instant preparedness for sharing.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:4-7). Notice how joy, thanksgiving, and prayer have all been interlocked in this command. For us to have joy, we need to be thankful. If we follow God’s command to give thanks in all things, we will be joyful people. If we have joy in our own lives, then we yearn to give it away. Living in perpetual communication with our Lord, our supply will never be depleted.

“Let your gentleness be known to all.” God means all-inclusive, no matter to whom, in whatever conditions and circumstances we find ourselves, and for all reasons. The word “all” can be a little tricky. It is a small, three-letter word that can easily be ignored. It isn’t a difficult word to understand, but applying its meaning to our everyday life presents a challenge. In my personal life, I have struggled with expressing joy and thanks for constant pain. There doesn’t seem to be a purpose to it. That’s when God asks me to be thankful and trust Him enough to be joyful regardless of my life’s circumstances. I have to acknowledge that before the pain enters my body, God has approved it and because it is part of His plan for my life, I can thank Him that His will is being done and be joyful in His decisions for my life.

PraisingGodInSong

“The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away” (Isaiah 51:11).  To be “overtaken by joy”? That is what God says. What would result if all of us took a new approach to joy? I suggest that we all begin a new day with an abundant, heaped-to-the-top-and-running-over package of joy.

Perhaps that sounds a little fantastic, not really credible. If God is in charge, and He tells us that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27), then being overtaken with joy is possible. I want to be overtaken with joy so that there is no room for conflicting negative emotions. Nothing can quench the joy. If it were God’s wish that we be completely consumed with joy, then why do we find ourselves moping about at times, bemoaning our situation? God may wonder too. If He has given the instruction, He will also give the strength and power to accomplish what He has commanded.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity,
but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”

(2 Timothy 1:7).

P”T

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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Still Here!

Blog-Break

I put myself on a blog break last month, which you can read about here, but I think I tried to come back too soon and too strong. Our summer monsoon season has started, and for me that means constant migraines—yes, I mean 24/7 quite literally. So for about another month, I’ll continue to lay low to conserve energy for other things, but you’ll still hear from me here once or twice a week as my energy allows.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people,
and he will dwell with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them and be their God.
 
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said,
“I am making everything new!”
Then he said, “Write this down,
for these words are trustworthy and true.”
—Rev 21:3-5

 

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My Hope

 

MyHopeIsInTheLord

 

 

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