Strikes, Curve Balls, and Happy Dancing

As every baseball lover knows, strikes and curve balls are great when happening to your opponent, but not so much fun when they are happening to you.  The past eight months or so, strikes and curve balls have abounded. During this time I literally wanted to just go to sleep and wake up again in eight or nine months to see the outcome. I did not want to be in the game! Thankfully during this time Kathy Pingel was leading an excellent & applicable Bible study titled “Armor of God” by Priscilla Shirer at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, which was incredibly helpful to me. One day as I came out of Bible study the school children were climbing and giggling on the big snow hills near the school. On that cold day my heart was warmed as I remembered the joy of my boys playing on those snow hills. Nothing brought happiness in the winter time to my boys as much as being king of the snow pile. That night I wrote that “happy dance” moment down in my journal.  I began writing “happy dance” moments in my journal every day. The moment that brought happy dancing to me the next day was a washing machine that did not leak as I did a load of laundry - the night before when I went to bed, I noticed that for some unknown reason water was pouring out of my washing machine. I do not know why and thankfully it hasn’t leaked again. Every single day, I experienced happy dance moments: brilliant blue skies and sparkling white snow glistening in bright sunshine, flowering spring trees, beach walks, musicals and cast parties, family fun times punctuated with love and laughter.

Bring on the curve balls. James declares, “I count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3)

By writing down happy dance moments, and also going back and reading them, I have experienced peace & joy. Every single day, I have had delightful moments! I realized I didn’t have to know the future outcome of this uncertain time, but I could trust God and live in the present enjoying the blessings of this moment.

In “The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis, Screwtape, the older and wiser devil, is coaching Wormwood, his young nephew, about tempting people to worry about the future.  “He (God) would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present-either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure. Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human to live in the Past. But that is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past...far better to make them live in the Future...thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also it is unknown to them, so in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities.”  How often we are tempted to live in the past or future, instead of enjoying life with God and enjoying the present.

Writing down my happy dance moments has continually helped me to live in the present, enabling me to give “thanks for the pleasant pleasure”.  As I read over my happy dance moments, I see how much good happens and I’m glad I have not missed all the wonderful blessings of the present.
This morning in my devotion I loved reading about  Habakkuk’s rejoicing, in spite of all kind of trouble. “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the oil fail and the floods yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,” -wow, that’s some serious strikes- “ yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.” (Habakkuk 5;17-19)

I don’t know what curve balls and strikes are coming your way, but I strongly encourage you to WRITE down your HAPPY DANCE joy moments every single day. You, too, will experience great joy and God will reassure you that, in spite of strikes and curve balls, there are base hits, doubles, and even home runs, too!


(If you like listening to podcasts, I would encourage you to listen to MurdyCreative.com-October 14, 2018 called "The Present".  Having written this blog post before I heard his podcast, I was surprised. I felt like he was taking the words right out of my mouth??!! Almost like we are related or something. ;) Obviously, this year in our family we have had multiple discussions about living in the present.)

I Just Want to Go Home

"I just want to go home!" cried not only the Murdy family, but also the children of Israel, hurricane victims, refugees, and maybe you?!


Why DID the children of Israel of the Old Testament want to go back to slavery? I always wondered. Suddenly I understood! They just wanted to go HOME, back to familiar territory. As I house hunt and try to adjust to life in a new city, struggling to deal with my own feelings about home, I think about those children of Israel, who left their homes. What did God have for them? “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart before the people.” (Exodus 13:21-22) God does not depart from us either. In incredible ways, God has also been and continues guiding my family, by open doors (and closed ones, too), by words of trusted Christian family and friends, by our Bible readings and devotions, by messages from sermons and songs. God has brought us to this new place and we trust that He has a new home for us.


To the children of Israel and throughout the Bible, God reminds His people not to worry or be afraid. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you: He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8) Almost every day I need to read this verse. What a sense of peace we have, knowing that God IS with us.


One of the many blessings of this new place is the people of Concordia High School. Last week at a Concordia  girls’ Bible study, Allie read this verse: ”For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city to come.” (Hebrews 13:14) Wow. Exactly what I needed - to be reminded that we have no lasting city or home on this temporary earth, but we seek our permanent home in the city to come in heaven.  
What about you? Are you in a place of just wanting to go home? I would love to hear your story. Feel free to email me at ksmurdy@gmail.com.


Where is home? Of course home encompasses so much more than a physical home. My husband, children, and I have been discussing home frequently these past few weeks and months. How easy it is to be connected to our earthly homes.  But God has prepared the best home for us in heaven. Let us all keep a perspective, not becoming too attached to this earthly place, but keeping our eyes on our perfect home awaiting us in the city to come, heaven.

Perspective

Just two months ago my basement was not quite filled to capacity, but pretty close, housing treasures galore!
-Two banquet tables covered with cities built of Lincoln Logs and Hot Wheels, constantly being arranged by Murdy boys and visiting boys, big and little alike!
-A huge gold column from the grand hall of "Phantom of the Opera" along with multiple other musical theater memoirs.
-The largest piece of shrink wrap you can imagine that once covered our boat (never know when you might need that😝).                              
-Papers galore and toys, some broken waiting to be used in the next project or experiment, along with shelves and shelves of beloved old books.
-Cushions and afghans of every kind that became makeshift seats for the impromptu movie projected on the wall.
-Drums, shakers, and noise makers of all sizes.
-Boxes and boxes that chronicle purchases of shoes, small appliances, keyboards, guitars, etc. that might be used to wrap a present or store something else.
-Little Tyke van, tricycles, and bicycles.
-John Deere tractors and corn planters.
-Ping pong, pool, and foosball tables.
-Guest bed, bunk bed, baby bed.
-Etc. Etc. Etc.
OH THE MEMORIES!!

But for the past seven weeks, my job has been to empty out my house! When we made the decision to move I couldn't imagine how I would ever manage to clean out the basement. Bit by bit, with the help of family and friends (a big thanks to all who helped!), slowly there was less and less left. I was ecstatic to have finished cleaning it out just in time for the last of Daniel's infamous bonfires. As the kids came over, I was excited to show off the clean basement. As I walked down the stairs with one teenager, tears streamed down her face as she mourned, "It's so sad; everything we had so much fun with is gone!" Perspective!!! After all my work, I saw clean basement. She saw end of fun times. And for a moment, I sat & cried with her!!

Perspective!! So many things in life are all about perspective. I contemplated. I was struck by an image of a cross and the perspective of that. For some, the image of Jesus on the cross was of just another person in history dying. For me the image of the cross is Jesus. Son of God, Lord of lords, my Savior, Salvation of the world!! Not only did Jesus die on that cross to pay the price of my sins, but He rose from the dead conquering death! John declares, "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." John 20:30-31

I pray that you seek God and will have the wonderful perspective of Jesus as your Savior! What's your perspective?

Best of Times, Worst of Times

As my family travels we like to sing along with Jimmy Buffet, “These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, Nothing remains quite the same…” This time of year is filled with graduations, weddings, and new babies, Changes…”Nothing remains quite the same.”
Personally my family is about to experience a major change. (More on that in a later blog!!) Changes are often both the best of times and the worst of times.


I invite you to read a blog post I wrote for WLI:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” So begins “A Tale of Two Cities”. Since my high schooler was reading this classic story, I decided to read it, too. I love the way Charles Dickens masterfully creates contrasts.
“It was the best of times…” It was Christmas Eve. “It was the worst of times.” It was Grandma Barbara’s last breaths on earth. My son, along with his new bride, Leah...continue reading here http://wlicuw.org/the-best-of-times-the-worst-of-times/


When I think of change, a few lines from a verse of one of Dad’s favorite hymns, “Abide with Me” comes to my mind:
“Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.”


As we go through changes, we cling to our Savior, who does not change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrew 13:8


If you are looking for a speaker for your group, please contact me; I love to talk! Check out the link to my page on WLI Speaker’s Bureau http://wlicuw.org/profile/speaker-karen-sue-hinz-murdy/

The Women’s Leadership Institute educates, encourages, and equips women for Christian leadership in the home, church, workplace and the world. WLI’s vision is to develop capable and confident women who serve Christ, embrace their gifts in service and leadership, and mentor others to do the same. http://wlicuw.org/

GTT and home again. Day 7 Heroes

Ahhhh. It is indeed a long drive home from Texas to Wisconsin.  At about 7:00 am we left Pflugerville, TX. We drove like bats out of hell to get back in time for Monday activities. We stopped only when absolutely necessary; a few gas stops and one stop at Braum's for food. As we got closer and closer to home, we decided to try to get all the way home, instead of hoteling for the night as we had initially planned.  And after many hours on the road we arrived back in Janesville safe and sound.  PTL. About 1:15 AM arrival: 18+ hours on the road. WE DID IT! At times when I felt discouraged driving, I thought of all the prayers people were praying for us this week, and felt God's hand directing and upholding.  Thank YOU all so much for your prayers.

Sam & I discussed heroes as we travelled home.  The dictionary definition of hero: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. So many heroes in TX.

Julie Tucker, from Concordia Lutheran in San Antonio, works tirelessly (well surely she must be super tired by now), organizing teams and people coming from out of the area to do Hurricane Harvey relief. She helped arrange our work at Trinity Klein.
http://www.concordialutheranchurch.com/engage/events/hurricane-relief

The people at Trinity Lutheran Klein, Spring, TX are just amazing!! Several people I did meet, but so many more behind the scenes- making lunches, collecting and organizing the supplies, working in the food pantry, hosting out of town workers, etc!!!
https://www.trinityklein.org/harvey-relief/

But here are some people, heroes in our eyes, that we did meet and want to name:

Bill and Dan, the chief leads on Hurricane Harvey home relief, were both incredibly strong and wise men, interacting with homeowners and overseeing each job, making sure supplies and communication were taken care of.  Heroes. Thank you!

Kent and Jim were our team leads directing the work on the homes we volunteered in. Both men were kind, diligent, and helpful to the team and homeowners. We especially appreciated their interactions to us, newbies, as we learned the ropes.  Heroes. Thank you!

Carla Grebing met each us morning. She oversaw the volunteers and took care of and prayed over us as we left each morning. I'm sure we saw only the tip of the iceberg of what all she does. Hero. Thank you!

All of the homeowners had courage! Please continue to pray for "our families":
Barbara
Janis and family
Roland and Ann
"Brick wall" family

We left. All these people stayed and continued the arduous task of cleaning up! Heroes!

Joshua 1:9(ESV)  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”





GTT Day 6 Encouragement

 A week of encouragement!!!

The very fact that we would come all the way from Wisconsin was an encouragement to everyone we met in Texas.

On our work teams, we all encouraged each other as we worked side by side, and as we shared stories and laughter. 

For the people whose homes we cleaned, our presence, our work, our prayers, our hugs, our laughter; all was a huge encouragement to them.

One of my favorite memories from the week: Sam & Austin laughing as they used their teen-age strength to tear out a wall together.  Sam and Austin, teen-age son of the homeowner, had spent the day working side by side, and by the afternoon both were encouraging each other and having a very fun time, despite the tragedy of Austin losing so much. (The day before Austin's downcast face showed only tragedy. This day, at least for a while, some joy sparkled on his face.)

United we stand! There is so much division and nastiness in our country.  Far nastier than the horrid muck we cleaned out is the tenor of our country at times. Oh how very encouraging to all be on the same page working on a common goal, with hearts full of love!

YOU encouraged us with your prayers and your comments.  So many people sent texts or fb messages and comments that lifted us up and helped us continue on; especially when it was tough. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! And I was able to pass along to the people of Texas words of encouragement of people in Wisconsin and other states praying for them.

Carrie, Eric, and Melissa, our host family, encouraged us.

Some people were particularly instrumental in encouraging us to go to Texas: 
As always, my husband was the the first to embolden me to go after I had read the emails calling for people to come help. He helped me think through the details and overcome the obstacles, reassuring me that I could do this with Sam.

Next was Sam's soccer coach.  With it being mid-soccer season, we hated to ditch the team for a week.  I texted Coach Jacobson.  She immediately texted back, "Do it!" And she continued to encourage Sam.

My niece and godchild, Julie Meese, who lives in the Houston area and had so many friends and neighbors experience the devastation encouraged us to come. "You are so needed here."

On Saturday night before we left, I went to bed very conflicted about whether or not we should go to TX praying that God would just make it clear whether we should go or not. Sunday morning when I woke up, Ann Marie Vincent, my neighbor's voice was playing in my head, "Serve God and serve others."  She is always saying that phrase & on Sunday morning it was in my mind as I awoke. I decided we were supposed to go.


Day 6... hot tubbing, cookie baking, and story telling- a day to debrief and regroup.

Yesterday after finishing working, showering with again copious amounts of soap, and packing up, we headed to New Braunfels, TX to the home of my sister, Sharon, & her husband, Donald. Earlier in the week I had mentioned to Sharon that even after showering, I didn't feel clean, like I just needed to bath in bleach.  So both on Friday pm and Saturday, we went hot tubbing which soothed our aching muscles, washed our skin with chlorine, and filled our noses with something other than the putrid flood odor that I just couldn't shake. A time of telling our stories, baking chocolate chocolate chip cookies, basking in sweet sister time was so encouraging.

Saturday afternoon, we headed north towards Austin, attended a worship service, followed by supper and chocolate chip cookies at my brother Bill's house where we shared more stories with him, his wife, Carol, and Christopher, and Lisa, my niece, and her family. More encouragement.

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Thanking God for:
almost perfect temperatures for all of our work days
sunshine
friends old and new who have been so encouraging
cookies
strong bodies
opportunity to serve
Coach Jacobson
AND SO MUCH MORE

GTT Day 5 HOPE

As you drive along the roads of the areas that had flooded there are piles, like big snow drifts. Only it is not snow. It is people's lives....their beds, furniture, pictures, clothes, and everything. The first day I walked slowly along Barbara's pile. One black high heel, a soggy mattress, a chipped china dish, a broken bed frame, ruined family photos, a ripped address book. And on and on. Their lives seemingly dumped on the curb. But hurricane flooding cannot steal the memories, because although everything has some emotional tie, they are still just things. And sometimes amidst the mangled mess, a treasure is found as we found out on Friday.

After meeting at Trinity Klein, gathering our tools & supplies, (I always grabbed Clorox wipes!), and being assigned to our work team, we were briefed on our next job. Our next house had not been touched since the flooding. As we drove up, we observed the "snow piles" on both sides of the street at every house except our work site. Nothing. Walking up the the house was 85 year old Ann & husband, Roland. After thanking us profusely for coming, they announced, with smiles, "We have been married for 65 years." Priorities! More important than the fact that the flood had washed away life as they had known it for so many years was their married life together. I asked if I could give them a hug & they both responded with a resounding, "YES!" Then I asked if I could pray with them and they responded, "Please!" I prayed aloud. They cried silently. ( I prayed silently, too.) And then opening the doors, we got ready to do battle against what the flood water had done to this house. Ann said to me, "I just hope, I can find some of my china dishes. They were from my mother."

It is just breathtaking, in a very bad way! Unfortunately the flood waters had risen to 7 feet in this home and although the waters had receded, the damage had not. I can't even quite comprehend it. Apparently anything that floats (like beds) knocks everything else It all becomes a twisted tragedy.

In the living room and dining room area, big pieces of furniture were turned on their sides. Broken pieces lay askew. A broken table leg, a piece of a chair back, a cushion. In the bedrooms more of the same. An earring entwined with a towel. The broken top of a knock knack on a bed pillow. A wall hanging covered by an overturned chair.

My assignment was to help Ann walk through the house and find some treasures. In the antique desk, now on its side with broken drawers, Ann found a few items she wanted to keep. We could not get all the drawers opened and as the guys helped us, the water logged drawers just fell to pieces. Ann & I carried a few papers, her "favorite picture" of Roland-a young handsome man with twinkling eyes, a picture of their son who had died, and some glass bowls out to the drive-way. As we walked back up, we linked arms & literally marched together & I loudly yelled, "We are doing this. We can do it."  We both laughed. Inside she continued to pick out bits & pieces of treasure. We went to the poor china cabinet with broken doors. I grabbed a box so we could pack up her china. Amazingly even with the broken doors and broken shelf, none of the china was broken!!! Ann was so happy. And as we packed she told me of being rescued in a big pick up. "The rains were so bad we couldn't even open the door. Someone with a pick-up truck came. I rode in the cab, but poor Roland had to ride in the truck bed with the 2 cats & the driving rain. And now we have a leased car and a leased apartment. Nothing's our own anymore."

After a few hours, Ann & Roland suddenly decided to leave. I think they had hit a wall emotionally. I asked Roland if there was anything special he wanted us to look for and save. "Actually, I sure wish someone could find my oil paintings," he responded, We dug through the room & took out different pictures. Then he told us they were oil canvases that he had painted, but not yet framed. "This is a lost cause." I thought to myself. Like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But with determination kept digging. Under a pile of stuff, I pulled up a bag & sent them out to him. Bingo. Oh my, his eyes lit up! "My Blue Bonnets! I can't believe you found my Blue Bonnets!"  Amazingly, it looked perfectly undamaged, his beautiful oil painting.  (We later found a large case of oil paints, that also appeared to be undamaged.)

Two boxes of unbroken china, pictures, some yard flamingos that Ann wanted and the Blue Bonnets oil painting were safely packed in the car. "Now we have some familiar sights with us!" Ann joyfully declared as they left.

Meanwhile, Sam had helped move out big pieces of furniture. Also, he worked a lot on clearing out the kitchen. He hauled out pots & pans; all were filled w stinky flood water. He carried out kitchen drawers. Most of that was set on the driveway, so the owners could later decide what to pitch & what to disinfect and keep.  Into wheel barrels, he shoveled out cupboards full of water soaked, noxious smelling food to be dumped into the "pile". The morning was the hard work of emptying the house. After lunch, we got to what Sam calls the fun work: demolition. Everything has to be torn out of the house so the house can be rebuilt.  After lunch Sam worked on tearing out the kitchen for a bit.

Another home owner needed a brick wall to be torn down. Being young and strong, Sam was just the man for the job. Another sad story. On August 18 this couple closed & moved into their house. When the flooding started coming on August 25, before they left, she said that they put all their unpacked boxes on the counters. "But it was not enough. The water came above the counters and everything was damaged."  This house had been all cleaned out. Everything torn out. Except a few brick walls.  I was surprised they had to be torn out. The home owners explained that the inspector had already been there & told them the brick walls had to be torn down because there was wet insulation behind the wall. This brick wall had been built to never come down. (Sam can give you the details on the construction of that brick wall.) It took many many blows to knock down that brick wall!

Thankfully HOPE came in found treasures, laughter, strong arms and so many other ways! But if we have learned nothing else this week, we have learned that true hope is not in earthly measures, but in God who loves us and sent Jesus, His son to pay the price of our sins so someday we can live in Heaven with Him, where there will be no more sin, no more tears, no more hurricanes!


1 John 4:9 (NIV) This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  

Thanking God for:
found treasures
chlorinated hot tub
people who know how to empty a house
no bugs today!!
loving family
all of the people who have sent encouraging notes to us & who are praying for us
AND SO MUCH MORE


His love, our response