Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Master Sculptor

Every summer, my husband and I go west to visit my now 96-year-old father in Washington State. We usually drive so we can visit other family and friends along the way. Colorado and Utah display amazing scenic land formations.
I-70 runs through San Rafael Swell  Courtesy
In southern Utah the landscape is covered with arches, monoliths, mesas, and mounds--all in various stages of erosion. The rapid recession of the waters of Noah's Flood carved out a spectacular landscape, and the ensuing centuries of wind and water have further sculpted the multi-colored sandstone of the San Rafael Swell  into rock formations with  names such as Joe and His Dog, Double Arch, Balanced Rock, Sheep, Three Gossips, and many more names the images suggested to the imaginative observers.

Joe and His Dog Courtesy
That rugged landscape is characterized by two factors: it is always changing, and each feature is unique. Transformations are occurring because the environment is continually subjected to weathering. The hot summer sun, rushing rivulets from rainstorms, moisture caught in crevices freezing and thawing are important tools in designing these natural rock sculptures.

Here I am at San Rafael Swell 
These awesome natural works of art remind me of the work of God in the lives of people. Patiently, lovingly, He shapes every small detail to give aesthetic worth in His Kingdom. Just like those geographical formations, our lives too are constantly changing. God uses the tools of time and stress and experiences to refine the shape of our lives. As we submit to our Master Sculptor, He molds our attitudes and our wills to His. We can have confidence in Him that He will exert the stresses needed to best sculpt us into vessels of honor.

Even more impressive than all the arches and monoliths of Utah are the hearts and lives shaped by God's loving, skillful, unchanging hand. And like Creation, our lives will declare the glory of God and portray His character. Instead of dwelling on the past, we can look forward to what we are becoming. We have been set apart for God, and His Holy Spirit is transforming each of us into a work of beauty that will reflect His character.

How is God sculpting you today?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Meet Kristina Michelsen of the Alaska Waters Trilogy

Last week I introduced you to Norman Pedersen. Today, I'd like you to meet the love of his life.

Nordland Bunad such as Kristina would have worn
Hello! I'm Kristina Michelsen. I have been living with my Uncle Jon and Aunt Marta ever since I lost my parents. When my mother died ten years ago, my grief-stricken father, left me with his older brother and joined the Navy. He was lost at sea five years later.

Aunt Marta and Uncle Jon love me like their own daughter. I know having me in their home helps to fill the void left in their hearts and lives by the loss of their only son in a skiing accident. Our shared sorrow and mutual sympathy have welded a strong attachment.

I love to sing and play the piano. My uncle has been so good to provide lessons for me with the best music teacher in Narvik. At parties, my friend Freida, her cousin Henrik, who plays the violin, and I often play and sing together.

When Norman Pedersen moved to Narvik two years ago, we met in church. I was attracted to his rugged good looks and adventure-loving ways. But our mutual sorrow over the loss of both parents at so young an age drew us together in a bond I share with no one else. We also enjoy skiing, ice skating, and boating.

Norman's sister, Alma Kobbevik, has been like a wise big sister to me. Long before I met Norman, she took me under her wing. She is the one who introduced me to our loving Heavenly Father, who, unlike an earthly father, will never leave me and will never die.

When she announced that she and her husband, Tennes, were going to America, I tried to be happy for them. I know they struggle financially in spite of their hard work on their tiny farm. But in reality, I feel like I'm losing another loved one.

Alma told me Norman is sweet on me. If so, he's been too shy to declare it. I worry about him, though. He faces so many dangers at sea. Tennes's father and brother were lost at sea, as was my father. Yet, Norman thinks "religion" is just for women and children. I pray for him continually.

Norman says he wants to stay in Narvik and be a fisherman like Ole Aarstad, who hired him as a deckhand on his boat, the Viking. Having Norman here will make losing Alma more bearable, but I fear that Norman, with his love for adventure, will change his mind and follow Alma to America.

Will Norman go to America? Will Kristina wait for him? Read the rest of their story in A Star to Steer By.