Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lesson from a Solar Eclipse

All the talk about the solar eclipse expected on Monday brought to mind the eclipse of 1994, when New York was in the path of a total solar eclipse.

Courtesy Google.com

I was teaching second grade. Remembering my experience of a total solar eclipse the summer I graduated from high school in Alaska, I wanted the children to see the beautiful corona without damaging their eyes. I set up a large tub of water in the parking lot and with the help of several mothers, I took them out one by one to observe the reflection of the corona in the water. The still water gave us an exact reflection of the happenings in the sky.




















Proverbs 27:19

Just as the sun and our faces are reflected in water, so our lives give an accurate reflection of who we really are inside.

My Cruden's Concordance has more than seven columns in tiny print of references in the Bible that contain the word, heart. What does the Bible mean by that word?

With a quick perusal of the references just in the Book of Proverbs, we find a wise heart, a wicked heart, a perverse heart, a deceitful heart, a heavy heart, a sick heart, a merry heart, a righteous heart, a proud heart, a haughty heart, a prudent heart, a pure heart, and a foolish heart.

The Bible uses the term, heart, to describe the source of our emotions and motivations. The heart contains all our desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections.

The heart is what we really are, not what we or others think we are.

Our heart determines why we act, speak, and think as we do.

Jeremiah 19:9 tells us that "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." That is why we need to pray with the psalmist every day, inviting God to "search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23, 24, NIV).

Our hearts can deceive us. Only God really knows our hearts. Sin begins in our hearts, so God's daily search can nip sin in the bud.

Growing up in coastal Alaska, I often observed the reflections of the mountains in the water. I noticed that the clearest, most perfect reflections appeared in calmest waters. Only as we quiet our hearts before God can we have our hearts cleansed and purified.

Have you initiated God's search of your heart today?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fight Ever Onward!

In Alaska, where I grew up, the Pacific salmon are now returning to the glacial streams where they hatched. They spend most of their lives in the ocean, where they grow big and strong. Then their instincts send them back home to spawn.

Courtesy Google.com

The salmon must fight against the current with every ounce of their strength. Their flesh turns red and gets torn on the rocks, but the instinct to procreate is so strong that they struggle on until they reach the spot miles upriver where they originated.

Courtesy Google.com

They face many hazards along the way--bears, fishermen, birds of prey. Yet, so many make it to the spawning pools that often the streams look like blood at first glance.There, the salmon lay their their eggs. Their life cycle complete, they die.







Alaskans had a saying: "Any old dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a real live one to swim upstream."


Courtesy Google.com


As Christians, we too must swim against the current of this world. We face many snares that would trip us up. If we are going to make it, we must continually strengthen ourselves spiritually and check our progress, keeping our eyes on goal.

As a teenager, I spent a week on a salmon fishing troller on the Gulf of Alaska. I noticed that when the engines stopped, the ship didn't just sit still in the water. It drifted wherever the waves took it.

So too in our Christian lives. If we are not moving forward in our relationship with the Lord, we will drift along with the current and end up on the rocks.

Just as sailors constantly check their navigational instruments to keep on course, so must we check on our position by studying our life's compass, the Bible. When we see we are getting off course, we need to quickly make corrections. We must not be careless. We can never rest on our oars until we are moored safely at our journey's end.

Have you checked yourself recently? Do you need to make a mid-course correction? Do it today.
Don't delay.


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Excerpt from Beside Still Waters

Opening Scene in Chapter 1 
Beside Still Waters 
Book 3 in my Alaskan Waters Trilogy

Boston, Massachusetts, March 1915

Aunt Mabel was dead.
Violet Channing unlocked the door to the three-room flat she’d shared with her aunt, her only living relative, now deceased. The cloying scent of her aunt’s floral perfume could not obscure the rancid odors of garbage and stale food in the stairwell or the medicinal smell of sickness that pervaded the apartment.
Violet clenched her fists. Aunt Mabel was too young to die!
Closing the door behind her, Violet surveyed the tiny living room. It was stuffed with the nicest things Aunt Mabel had been able to salvage when she lost her large, Victorian house in a wealthy neighborhood to the creditors after her husband died.
Slightly tattered lace curtains draped the lone window, the only source of ventilation—if it could be called that. The soot-ladened air from the tenements’ stark chimneys had permanently stained the curtains a dirty shade of brownish gray. Hand-crocheted doilies covered the head and armrests to protect the Victorian sofa she’d managed to save when her house was repossessed.
The apartment felt empty without Aunt Mabel’s dominating presence. She had tried so hard to make this cold-water flat look like her lost home. But the two of them couldn’t even afford enough coal to keep warm in winter or the doctor’s fees when she started coughing.
If only she’d stopped taking a lunch to work sooner to save up enough money for a doctor’s visit. Violet shuddered. Her aunt’s fits of coughing had worsened so quickly. She had refused to see a doctor until her sputum became tinged with blood. By then, it was too late.
“Consumption,” the doctor told Aunt Mabel. “Keep warm and rest.”
He took Violet aside. “There’s nothing I can do for her. Her lungs are too far gone. She probably has only a few weeks.”
“Keep warm. Ha!” Violet spat out, feeling again how her stomach had clenched at his words. She groaned. Her throat tightened, and she sank to her knees on the Persian carpet Aunt Mabel had brought with her to cover the bare, plank floor. The torrent she had held at bay throughout the funeral broke forth like a sudden, angry squall.
When she had no more tears to cry, Violet mopped her face with her handkerchief. The cold had seeped through her skirt. Suddenly aware that she was shivering, she arose.
Hugging her threadbare wool coat closer over her long, black mourning suit, she sat in her aunt’s Boston rocker to figure out what to do. She no longer had the responsibility of Aunt Mabel’s welfare and was now free to choose what to do with her life—if only she could find the means to do it. The rent was paid until the end of the month, but the simple funeral had required all but a few remaining dollars. She needed money.
Violet reviewed her options. Before her uncle died, she had been studying to be a teacher. That’s what she really wanted to do. Because Uncle Chester had mortgaged the house to the hilt to finance his risky business ventures, she and Aunt Mabel were left destitute when he died.
At eighteen, Violet had had to give up her education to take a low-paying job as a seamstress in a garment factory to provide for the two of them. Six weeks ago, she’d had to quit that job to care for her dying aunt. The thought of reapplying there made her shudder—and not from the cold. That ramshackle wooden building, full of dust and lint, was a tinderbox.

But how else could she support herself?

Beside Still Waters, along with the other two books in the Alaskan Waters Trilogy, Till the Storm Passes By and A Star to Steer By, is published by Ambassador International and is available at Amazon.com (Kindle and paperback), BN.com (Nook and Paperback), Vyrso, and Christian bookstores. Visit my website at www.AnnaLeeConti.com or connect with me at Facebook.com/AnnaLeeConti.Author.