Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday night sermon - spiritual leprosy

The text was II Kings 5:1-16 "1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Now bands from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy."

4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 "By all means, go," the king of Aram replied. "I will send a letter to the king of Israel." So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: "With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy."

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, "Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!"

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: "Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel." 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. Please accept now a gift from your servant."

16 The prophet answered, "As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing." And even though Naaman urged him, he refused."
(NIV, Bible

(These were the high points, from the notes I took. I can't remember every word!)
Sin is spiritual leprosy; a disease of the heart. In the times of the Bible, a person with leprosy was doomed to death, suffering, and isolation. Sin dooms us to death, eternal death, the lake of fire. We suffer from guilt and despair, and we are isolated from God.

Naaman had preconceived notions of how healing should be done. Pride was a stumbling block to his recovery. We often have preconceived notions about obtaining eternal life. We think we can earn it by being good and doing good. We think that God would never send anyone to hell. Our pride is a stumbling block to salvation.

Naaman listened, and turned back in obedience. If we are wise, we will listen to the urging of the Holy Spirit, will be convicted of our sins - will recognize that we are sinners - and will turn to God in repentence (turning away from sin).

Bathing seven times in the Jordan River was the one way, God's way, for Naaman to be healed. Accepting Jesus Christ's atoning death on the cross as payment for our sins, and coming to Him for forgiveness is the only Way, God's Way, for us to be saved.

God has provided a Way; He has not left us lost and dead in our sins. Why is it so hard to come to Him, confess our sins, and accept His gift of forgiveness and eternal life?

John 3:16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV, Bible

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

An old childhood friend passed away

A girlfriend died suddenly Sunday morning. Her memorial service was today. When we were children we played together almost every day (except when we were mad at each other!), and walked to and from high school as we chatted about life, boyfriends (or lack thereof), and our futures. After graduation, we went our separate ways, and only met again for lunch once, about ten years ago. We found that we didn't really have much in common with one another any more.

Who knew she would die so soon?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Seattle-Alaska vacation, Part 5 (final) - Victoria, British Columbia (Canada)

Victoria is a lovely city, full of flowers, parks, and restored or preserved buildings. We were greeted at the dock by men and women dressed in Victorian fashion, straight out of Dickens! They gave us maps, brochures, and lapel pins.
Victorian greeters
Victorian greeter

Click on any photo, and it will take you my Flickr page, and you can see larger sizes, and more photos. You can even see them as a slideshow, if you want.

We took the bus tour to the Butterfly and Butchart Gardens, riding through the city as we went. Our driver kindly pointed out places of interest, and told us a bit about the area. They started hanging flower baskets on the city street lamps in 1935! I wonder if it was the first city to decorate the streets like that. My mother told me that her father visited Victoria a long, long time ago, and said it was the most beautiful city he had ever seen. I wonder if it was after the street lamps were decorated with flowers?
(These photos were taken through a bus window, and some in a light rain)
Famous for flowers
Provincial Government Building. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia
Provincial Government Building, with garden
A hotel
Hotel in Victoria
Clock tower at a modern shopping mall
Another pretty spot

The Butterfly Gardens were in a huge greenhouse. There were thousands of butterflies flying all about, and new generations of caterpillars and chrysalises. There were also a few moths, in particular the atlas moth, which is very large and colorful. In addition, there were birds: parrots, ducks, and flamingoes; and a koi pond. There were lots and lots of tropical and semi-troical plants and flowers (to feed the butterflies and other creatures). One butterly landed on a man's cheek, and stayed there for several minutes. He was the most photographed visitor at the garden that day!
Victoria Butterfly Gardens
In the light
A closer look
Emerging butterflies
Atlas Moth
Atlas Moth
Pink and white
Reflections at koi pond
Most photographed man

It had to be kept warm inside, so the tropical plants and creatures could survive and thrive, but I was way overdressed! It would have been better to have worn a heavy coat, and left it on the bus, but I was wearing layers, and lots of nylon underneath -- and couldn't remove it! Beautiful as it was, I was really glad to get out of there.

The Butchart Gardens was outdoors, and I was more appropriately dressed. In the cooler temperatures and drizzly rain, I was quite comfortable. The Garden generously provided loaner umbrellas for the visitors. They were clear plastic, so as not to obstruct our view, and "hammocks" were available for returning them.
Garden Entrance
Drizzly weather did not deter us

One quite remarkable featue of the Garden is the Sunken Garden. The owners, the Butchart family, made their money in limestone quarrying, and when the quarry on their property was depleted, it left a big ugly hole in the ground. Mrs. Butchart said, "I know! Let's plant a garden!" So, that's what they did, and it is a very lovely place, indeed!
A place of beauty!
Another view of sunken garden
Tower in sunken garden

(It seems that often it's the women who come up with the idea, and in many cases, do all the work in creating a showplace garden. For instance, Freida Carter of Rock City and Bessie Morse Bellingrath of Bellingrath Gardens and Jennie Butchart)

Lawn and house
Huge "sunburst" dahlia!
Monkey pod tree
A lily
The Jenny Butchart Rose
Jennie Butchart, Canada, 1975
The Dolly Parton Rose
Dolly Parton, USA, 1983
The Belami (Korhanbu) Germany Rose
Belami (Korhanbu) Germany, 1985
The National Trust, New Zealand Rose
National Trust, New Zealand, 1970

Victoria, BC

Butterfly Garden

Butchart Gardens

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Schmap Seattle Guide!

I recieved the following Flickrmail today:

"I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has been short-listed for inclusion in the ninth edition of our Schmap Seattle Guide, to be published at the end of this month.
While we offer no payment for publication, many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and link to high-resolution originals at Flickr."

Do any of you know anything about Schmap Seattle Guide? I gave permission for my picture to be used, and am looking forward to seeing it "in print" or online! Here is the one they're interested in:

Pier 55

I have one more entry to write and post about our recent trip. This one will be about Victoria, British Columbia, and will include loads of pictures of the city, the Butterfly Garden and Butchard Gardens! Coming soon ...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Seattle-Alaska vacation, Part 4 - Skagway, Alaska

On the morning of August 31, we woke up in Skagway, having traveled there overnight. The first thing we saw was this rock wall with graffiti all over it!
Ships' graffiti on rock wall
As I looked at it and read it, it seemed to be ship's names and logos. Later I learned that it has been a custom since the late 19th century for the crew of any ship coming here for the first time to put the ship's name and logo and the captain's name on this wall. The more highly a crew regards its captain, the higher on the wall they will paint their ship information.

A train was waiting at the base of this cliff wall to take travelers along the rail route to the Yukon.
Sightseeing excursion train
We took the bus route; the road ran parallel to the train tracks. Before leaving the ship for our bus tour, my husband and I enjoyed a pleasant breakfast looking out at the view of harbor, town, and mountains.
Breakfast with my hubby, and a lovely view!
View out the Windjammer casual buffet restaurant

Our driver and tour guide was a pleasant, funny lady who combined jokes with interesting information about the town and the gold rush days. She told us she was at that awkward age -- too young for Medicare and too old for men to care! She also said that, with the high ratio of men to women in Alaska that "the odds are good, but the goods are odd!" (Later I learned that this is an old joke, but it was new to me, and I thought it was funny!)
Tour bus driver and guide

We drove through town, and learned that bars and brothels were plentiful in gold rush days, and one of them, the Red Onion Saloon, has become a museum of sorts. Red Onion Saloon
Red Onion Saloon
We heard about some of the colorful characters, such as Frank Reid and Soapy Smith Wikipedia article and Harriett Pullen Harriet Pullen

As we rode up the Yukon Highway, we stopped several times to take pictures, and learned about Dead Horse Gulch, where thousands of aged, over-burdened pack animals of the prospectors were pushed off the trail when they collapsed and died from exhaustion. Later, our bus refused to start again after a stop at a scenic overlook, and I asked the driver if this was Dead Bus Gulch. We were rescued by another tour bus, whose driver was able to get our bus started again.
Skagway River, from inside bus
Skagway River
Pretty tree
What kind of tree is this? There were lots of them in Skagway.
The fault line
Twin waterfalls
Bridal Veil Falls
Mountain range
Mountain top with glacier
A beautiful day
On the Yukon Highway
Smoke on the mountain
U. S. Customs
Returning to USA from Yukon Terr., Canada

Coming back into town, we paid a visit to the Gold Rush Cemetery to visit the graves of the people we had heard about. Looks like a good place for a Halloween party!
Gold Rush Cemetery
Graves at Gold Rush Cemetery
Largest gold nugget in the world
"Largest gold nugget"

Later, in town, we shopped and looked around, then caught a bus back to the ship. Skagway is an interesting place!

Mural depicting gold panning
Mural of a gold-panning prospector
The Arctic Brotherhood Lodge
The Arctic Brotherhood lodge building, completely decorated with driftwood - how they passed the time during the long, cold, dark winters!
Horse and buggy rides
Horse and buggy tours, depicting Harriet Pullen's role as town hostess and hotelier
Part of downtown Skagway
Mural on store wall
The gold rush pioneers
Snow train
White Pass Yukon Railway, with ice cutter
Skagway Centennial Statue
Statue commemorating prospector and Tlingit Indian guide
North to Alaska