Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gone on Vacation to Canada

This is officially my last post. Mom and Dad are arriving here sometime on Monday afternoon and we will be headed out of town on Tuesday morning. I'll be checking the computer up until sometime Sunday night and responding to comments as I have time. After that, the comments will sit in the moderation mode until I get back sometime on August 3 or 4. I'm going to miss you all, but plan to have a really good time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

California Fires - God Answers Prayers

I couldn't help but to be a little amazed by the fact that the one and only night that we had unexpected 45 mph winds, the fire that was effected by it was quite a ways away from here. Though this fire was blown quite a distance in a short time, it was pushed through a lot of empty fields and forest that contained no houses or buildings. By the time it reached the back door of our community, the wind had died down and the fire fighters were able to get a handle on it.

They expected the same sort of wind to happen again, but night after night, it never did. Why do you suppose this is? Could it be because lots of people were praying? Could it be because God knew that there are quite a few residents in our community and also limited escape routes? Could it be that God knew that there might actually be casualties if the fire rushed too quickly into town?

On the news, they said that fortunately, "Mother Nature" has been on our side, yet several of my friends have said, "No, not Mother Nature, but Father God." I tend to agree.

I was praying the whole time for the community, because let's fact it; if the fire reached our house, it would have to burn it's way through a whole bunch of other houses first and the devastation would have been massive, so I pleaded with God and told Him that I didn't find that sort of devastation acceptable.

A friend of mine, who is a little more Pentecostal in her approach, commanded the fire, in Jesus Name, to not enter the town. Interestingly, the homes that were destroyed were outside of the city limit. The more resent fire that was caused by the thunder storms did not destroy any homes in our community at all. It really does appear that God was on our side. Praise God!!

Keeping that in mind, I think that my husband and I can go on vacation now and not worry about leaving our house in His hands. Praise God!!

Summing it Up

They removed the Precautionary Evacuation Status from our area last weekend. I don't remember any more exactly when it was that ours was removed. I guess it was on Sunday, but it may have even been on Saturday night. When they did that, though, they sent the out of town fire fighters either home or to other fires.

We remained a little nervous at first because the last time that they did this, there was an unexpected wind the following night and we were put on Precautionary Evacuation again. Because of this, I was reluctant to unpack at first, since I had already done so twice, but we did finally unpack a little each day throughout the week and I think that we've gotten it all back in the house again. It sure is good to have my things back inside the house and the smoke has been much better. Praise God!!

We are getting ready now to go of a trip to Canada. I was really nervous about going because the fire is actually still burning. It has been 70% contained since Monday and is now 80% contained and the fire fighters continue to report good progress on it, but it is still not out.

Interestingly, in the next post down, the men who commented thought we should go on the trip and the women who commented understood my reluctance. Well, it looks like we are going. It's only been postponed by a few days. Mom and Dad will be here either Monday or Tuesday and soon after that we'll be heading out.

Please continue to pray that the fire fighters will get every single one of the Northern California Fires out. Thanks.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Finally, Some Encouraging News

Well, it looks like they are finally getting a handle on the fire again. They actually removed the Mandatory and Precautionary Evacuation Status from a lot of different areas and are letting some of the evacuees come home. It's just like I said on the last comment that I wrote, as of the time I posted this, "At present, the fire that we are personally threatened by is moving in a different direction, threatening a different community other than ours." I guess that's not so good for this other community, yet I must admit that we have been on Precautionary Evacuation for so long, that I really think it's high time for a break. Perhaps it's someone else's turn for awhile.

Actually, though, our particular neighborhood is still on Precautionary Evacuation, but I'm not as nervous because they're making progress. Since they have removed some of the Precautionary Evacuation areas, hopefully, it will only be a matter of time before they remove ours as well, so I'm praising God!!

Thanks for all of your prayers.

PS - If you Came to this Page by way of a Google Search and want to Know more about the Fires, then Click on the Link to the Right Entitled "California Fires".  Enjoy.

Things I'm really Getting Tired of

Here's something that I started writing Yesterday, but didn't actually finish until Today...

The longer the Precautionary Evacuation continues, the more items get added to our stash in the trailer and cars. After awhile, I was also adding some of my favorite pictures and nick nacks, but lately, I've been missing the things that are packed away. All my favorite things are packed in the vehicles. Since we don't quite have enough duplicates supplies of things that are needed both in the trailer and in the house, it has been difficult to decide, what to pack and what to leave in the house.

I'm tired of having all the family photos that were hung up on our walls packed away on and off for weeks in our trailer and cars for evacuation. I'm tired of looking at the empty walls where these pictures used to hang. I miss some of my favorite things that are packed away. I'm tired of continually having to go out to the trailer and cars to retrieve something that I need that I had packed out there for evacuation. I'm tired of wondering when and if we will ever get that call telling us that it is time to evacuate. I'm tired of stressing and worrying about the fire. I was tired of sleeping in my cloths after only two nights of doing so and decided a couple of nights ago to start sleeping in my nightgown again. I'm even tired of watching the news. This has gone on far too long. It's time for it to rain or something. Lord, yes, please do send the rain.

Smoke Kills

I didn't mention this on Thursday, when I wrote my last post, because I felt like writing about something else, but we also received some bad news on that day. A friend that we know from church has been informed that he is dying. He has had Congestive Heart Failure for quite some time and yet has continued to be basically Ok. Unfortunately, with all the smoke that we have had in the air because of all the fires, our friend's Congestive Heart Failure has moved into the next phase and he's been told that he is dying.

Well, yeh, he's dying of Congestive Heart Failure, but you know what? He has been living with that now for several years and was basically Ok, until all these fires started and the air has not been clear, so I figure that the smoke has taken away some of his remaining time on this earth.

We felt the same way about our dog, Casper. He basically died of lung cancer, but how much more time would he have had if there had not been so much smoke? He died pretty fast as far as I'm concerned. Once he had that one seizure, he was gone in 10 days. Prior to the seizure, he had been coughing a little, but was quite energetic and appeared pretty healthy.

It's just like when ever there is a major heat wave, there are some casualties. The healthy handle it just fine, but the elderly and those with health problems can die from a heat stroke. The same is true of smoke. It can kill those who have respiratory problems. These are the casualties that are not reported.

The smoke was so bad on Thursday that we couldn't see very far. My husband and I had not been wearing masks, but on this day, we did. Yesterday and today, it was a little better.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Still Here, While Sleeping Giant Creeps

Well, this blog has become more like a personal blog lately about all the frustration and stress of someone who is experiencing the Northern California Fires. I didn't mean for it to become that. At first, this blog was more Political and then, as it progressed, it became more Spiritual, and then more recently, there has been so many things going on in my life that I can't seem to write about much other than the fire.

My goal is to get back into the Political, as soon as life stops stressing me, but I have no idea when that's going to be. If you are interested in something other than what I am writing about at the moment, please don't go away, just check on my labels on the right and go to a subject you're more interested in.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like they are going to be getting a handle on this fire any time soon. The fire just sits there quietly, not doing much because the wind has been still, yet all it would take is another strong wind like we had that one night and the fire would be up in our town in no time.

It's just like I said in the last post when I wrote the words, "Just Yesterday, things seemed to be winding down.", which in relation to that post, was July 7, so we went and picked up our travel trailer, that we had left at a friend's house, just in case we needed to use it, if and when we were evacuated, unpacked it of all the things we had packed in it a couple weeks prior, while meanwhile, a bunch of the fire fighters actually left the area because there were other fires that were considered higher priorities.

Well, besides the heat wave, that was somewhat expected, we also got low humidity and high winds, that were not expected. We're talking 45 mph winds and that is very high for this area. These 45 mph winds, over night, blew a fire that was not even really that close to us over a rather large area (fortunately uninhabited forest) all the way over to our back door, while at the same time, blowing the fire that was close to us over the fire break that the fire fighters thought would hold when they left our area. Over night, we went from feeling secure enough to unpack our trailer and vehicles, to a Precautionary Evacuation Notice that required us to pack up again.

The fire maps have been showing a fire that is huge and not that far away. It is only the absence of any strong winds that is causing this fire to slowly creep towards us at a non-threatening speed, but I'll never forget the words of a Mayor of one of the effected towns. He said that "This fire is like a Sleeping Giant." and that "Anyone who has made the decision to get out of town has made a wise decision."

Basically, what I get out of these words is that the fire is currently "Sleeping", only because there have not been any strong winds, yet if the incident that occurred with the 45 mph winds repeated itself, this "Sleeping Giant" could very easily rush up into our town in no time.

These were the words that I was thinking of last night, when I was strongly urging my husband that maybe it would be wise to evacuate and we probably would have, except for the fact that we will be taking someone more elderly with us that does not handle these things as well as we do, so the decision is to put off evacuation until they make it mandatory and perhaps, if we are extremely lucky, this trial will pass without us having to evacuate at all.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Northern California Fires Still Burn - Now Round 3

I can't believe this! Yesterday things seemed to be winding down so much that we actually decided to go pick up the trailer that we had left at our friend's house, just in case of an evacuation. We unpacked the trailer and our car of all the things that had been in it on and off for several weeks now and this is the second time that we have done so.

During the first fire, which started on the 11th of June, about 4 weeks ago, the evacuation area was in a town near by and we did not appear to be threatened, yet even so, we felt nervous enough that we packed up a bunch of our valuables and photos in the car.

Well, sometime around the 19th or 20th of June, as we were preparing for some out of town company that visited us over the weekend, the fire threat had calmed down enough that we unpacked our car and hung our family photos back up on the wall.

On the 21rst, the same day that our company arrived, there was a horrible thunder storm that started a whole bunch more fires. Everything was fine for a day or two, yet soon after our company left, they were announcing another precautionary evacuation of an area closer to us than the last one was, so we packed up our car again and this time also packed the trailer and moved it to a friend's house.

Well, just Yesterday, things seemed to be winding down again so we went and picked up the trailer from our friend's house, unpacked it and also our car of all the things we had packed in it a couple weeks ago. A bunch of the fire fighters actually left the area because there were other fires that were considered higher priorities.

Well, wouldn't you know it, the minute we get unpacked again, something else happens. Besides the heat wave that we are getting and the low humidity, the winds came up unexpectedly, fanned the fire, blew it over one or their fire breaks and continued to blow it our way. This time we are, for the first time, actually officially in the precautionary evacuation area.

Man! Is this ever going to end? Why was I so darn efficient Yesterday in unpacking everything? Well, it's all packed up again and ready to go. Though I sort of doubt it, there is a possibility that they might call us in the middle of the night and tell us to evacuate. We're all ready to leave now at a moment's notice.

Sometime Tomorrow, we might evacuate anyway, if they tell us too or not.

It feels like I'm going to miss all my friends on the web. If you write comments and they disappear in the moderation mode and don't appear for awhile, you'll know that we're gone from our house. Unfortunately, we do not have a lap top. It would really be nice if we did.

Hopefully, this won't go on much longer and please pray that we won't loose our house. I'm still thinking, "No, that's not what's going to happen." If it does, there will be quite a few other houses also involved, so it wouldn't be good. Lord, please stop this fire.

Naturally, I don't want our house to burn down, but you know what I want even more than that? I want life to go back to normal. I want to unpack our car and trailer again in an undamaged house and return again to normal life.

I don't want to stress about fire. I just want to blog and eventually write about something other than the fire. I want to share my ideas. I want to eventually be so non-stressed that I can even write about politics. That's my prayer.

Well, if you want to keep reading about the fire and yet have not clicked on the California Fires Label on the Right, there is more. Just skip over the next two posts down and keep reading about the fire.

Shay's Day - Inspirational Story

Here is something someone sent me through email that I thought was sort of a neat story.

What would you do? You make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is; "Would you have made the same choice?"

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question;

"When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection, yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things is my son?"

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. "I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself and it comes in the way other people treat that child."

Then he told the following story;

"Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?'

"I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father, I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps, so I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play.

"The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.'

"Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

"In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

"In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again. Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat. At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

"Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball. However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact. The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

"The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay. As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over.

"The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game. Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first! Run to first!' Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled. Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!' Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

"By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball; the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team. He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

"Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home. All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay!' Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third! Shay, run to third!' As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

"Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

"'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

"Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!"

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Girl in the Glass (Poem)

Until I get focused again in a political way, which I am indeed thinking about again, yet until I do find that focus again, I've been keeping my eye out for inspirational things to put on my blog.

Here's a poem by an unknown author. It's about a girl and I believe it's actually written to young girls, yet the truth in it could be applied to either sex and any age group.

The Girl in the Glass!!!

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you queen for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that girl has to say.

For it isn't your father or mother or friends,
Whose judgment upon you must pass,
The girl whose verdict counts most in your life,
Is the one staring back from the glass.

You may be like Jack Horner and chisel a plum,
And think you're a wonderful gal,
But the girl in the glass says you're only a bum,
If you can't look her straight in the eye.

She's the one to please---never mind all the rest,
For she's with you clear to the end,
And you've passed your most dangerous difficult test,
If the girl in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartache and tears,
If you've cheated the girl in the glass!!!

Author Unknown

I think the girl, or the man, in the glass is the conscience, yet there is something else to keep in mind. The human conscience can be spoiled by the false expectations of others. Just as there is true and false pride, there is also true and false guilt. When the world honors us, this can result in false pride, yet true pride is when we have succeeded at doing what we expect of ourselves. Yet our expectations need to be realistic. Likewise, false guilt is that which is placed on us by others, yet true guilt is when we have disappointed ourselves, yet again we need to have expectations that are realistic.

One way to have the correct level of both pride and guilt is to form a personal relationship with God, our Creator. He knows exactly for what purpose we were created, what it is that we are best suited for and what it is that we should strive to accomplish. I keep repeating some of the same Scripture verses because I feel that they are so key to life.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 (NIV), "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (NIV), "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this; While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 (NIV), and "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (NIV).

According to what God says, the only reason for guilt is to bring us to repentance and than we are forgiven and no longer need to judge ourselves for anything, for the Bible also says "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:1 (KJV). What pleases God is not perfection, but humility and the willingness to admit our sins as well as our need for Him, for another thing the Bible says is "But He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says; 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" James 4:6 (NIV).

Because of these verses, I feel that it's important to add to the ideas in this poem that the girl in the mirror and also the man in the mirror will be easier to please if he or she is connected with his or her Creator and His Son, Jesus Christ. To have within us a conscience that is truly pure and holy and contains true, whether than false pride and guilt, the conscience must be submitted to Christ, just as the Bible also says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2 (KJV).