August 2023 Conchshell Chronicles


Lamb Bleatings - Maui Fire

A brush fire near Waikapu in 2020.

On August 8th 2023, four fires broke out on Maui. Brush fires do happen occasionally, especially after the sugar plantations closed down approx. 15 years ago- much of the formerly irrigated green sugarcane fields are now dry scrub brush areas. This time high winds 50-60 mph suddenly appeared from a storm passing to the south, and electric power lines began shaking, some sparking fires in trees, others dropping to the ground causing the dry brush to catch fire. 

A fire near Wailuku was quickly contained, but two fires upcountry burned out of control for hours, one near Makawao spreading to the forest above, and another by Kula spreading down the mountain toward Kihei. About 19 homes were destroyed, and the fire was contained in Kihei at the edge of a residential area.

On the west side the dry conditions and high winds cause a line of fire to break out that engulphed the Old Lahaina town, destroying the apartment that I formerly lived in, along with the two building were our ice cream business and later our photography studio were located. Many many home and business were destroyed, and traffic came to a standstill because of blocked roads, downed power lines, and rather confusing road closures by the police.

Water that could have been diverted from a mountain stream was delayed by critical hours by the authorities to consult with farmers downstream. Warning horns were not sounded because of a decision by the disaster management team. There are over 100 confirmed deaths, with still over 800 persons missing. Not much is left of the town between the Holopiilani Highway and Front Street, and many were trapped in their cars. Other escaped by jumping the sea wall and spending hours in the water. It was a firestorm.

This fire was the deadliest fire in Unites States history during the past 100 years.

We had already planned a trip to Maui for the month of September, and now we understand why we picked this month to return to our island.

It has been a very sad week for many, but the Aloha spirit is alive and well, and many are rising up to help those suddenly homeless while we wait to get a final count on the missing. 

We have had many donate to our relief effort, which we will personally give to needy families and individuals during our time there (Sept 5-Oct 4).

If you'd like to help, here is our donation link.

Maui Fire Relief

Laura shares the thoughts of many of us below:

The Lord is near to the broken hearted.  This comforts me greatly in these times of grieving and extreme sadness with the Maui Fires and the many lives profoundly impacted forever.  I am counting on the Supreme All Loving hand of our Creator God to stir up goodness that will rise up from the ashes of pain and suffering.  He alone knows, cares and will do the  best for all…today, yesterday and always.  I bank on the fact that He has never lost control or direction for all matters of Life.  Yet, all of our hearts are heavy and saddened beyond our control.  The fact that we can somehow give is a gift from God to relieve some of the tension of our helplessness and grief.  We do what we can with every chance we get. 

This morning we were invited to speak before the City Council of Vero Beach. I was able to share my grief and let all who were listening know we were receiving all donations to be taken directly to the victims of the Maui Fire.  It is a        televised meeting so people here can keep up with what is  happening in our community.   I was thankful for the opportunity and was brought to tears by the mere fact that  we stood first together in unity and we pledged allegiance to the United States of America.  I felt so empowered and blessed for the privilege of standing before our Flag with other servants of this great land. This allegiance was followed by an appropriate  reading from Psalm 121:

 “I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth! The LORD himself watches over you! The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.  The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.  The LORD keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.  The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.” Psalm 121

 A few months ago Michael and I felt a strong urge to go to Maui for the month of early September.  We started to pray about it because it didn’t make logical sense to me (in particular) because of the big Dance Party FUN-Raiser (new word in my life) we are having on October 28, 2023.  I felt God’s approval of our going when I started to complete all of the ground work with some of the logistics and God helping me raise a few thousand necessary dollars from the get go.  So thankful for God’s sovereign plan and gracious ways in our lives when we go to Him and ask and trust and believe …He always does his part over and above….always.  How I thank the Lord for giving me many lessons in these years of the necessity of truly needing One Perfect Person and Eternal Entity for all things In my life.  The art of focus on the One True God over All who lacks not one thing.  He is the way of all Goodness and mercy and to Him we must cling in these times of chaos, confusion, distraction and great evil being released throughout the earth.

 I praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.                                          Psalms 144:1 

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.                                                                     Proverbs 21:31

Personally my only solace has been at the feet of my Lord and Savior.  I need the direction and wisdom from His Holy Spirit.  I have been vigilant to ask constantly for my daily orders so I can walk in His victory and confidence with a peaceful knowing that I am in the center of His will for my life.  He has allowed me to have great practice through all my distractions, sorrows and challenges that constantly surround me.  “God how do I rise above and go beyond that which I think, feel and want to act out…” 

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgement.                   Prov 9:10

One day on the road, I had a sweet vision of a turtle crossing the street right in front of me.  I stop and watched as he got nearer to the other side of the street. I noticed a car from behind and I pressed on my brake so she would notice that I was stopping for something, then I slowly went way around the turtle who was almost there but not quite.  I saw in my rear view that she followed me going around as well…the turtle made it to the safe green grass.  “Slow, but sure you will make it to the other side”…my inner voice spoke…”one deliberate step at a time. Don’t rush, don’t worry or deviate from my path I have set for you. You will get to the otherside.”

Then I came to an intersection as I approached the light. A huge white crane came floating down with his wings fully extended, landing gently in the grassy ground right behind my car.  It reminded me of the God of the Universe by His holy spirit power gently lifting me up and placing me down in my green pasture so I could enjoy my time doing what I was called to do in this life.  My soul was comforted by these visuals., and by Jesus reminding me:

“I GOT YOU!  Like the wind under your wings you will soar with Me.  Stay with Me. Your only safe place of refuge and strength. Practice my presence. I want to show up and show all who I am .  Get out of my way.”

He’s my leader!             Laura


What is Wrong with our World

Part 2

As a follow up to last month’s discussion on “original sin”, let’s revisit the Garden of Eden and discover the ramifications of their disobedience. 

What is the number 1 source of depression in our world today?  Ask any psychologist or counselor. They will probably answer “alienation.

Alienation from society, families &friends, careers, and our modern society, even with all the ‘connectiveness” of the internet age. Most of all we are alienated from ourselves and ultimately from our Creator.

Alienation. Estrangement. Disaffection. Isolation. Indifference.

49,449 Americans took their own lives in 2022, the largest number in our history. 79% of those were males, many  older men.

Why is this happening?  

I think the Bible gives us the answer in Genesis chapter 3.

The serpent deceived Adam and Eve, saying that they could not trust God’s goodness, and convinced them to take control of their lives by eating the forbidden fruit. Immediately the Knowledge of Good and Evil took root in this first couple, and became part of their DNA.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

They ate the fruit and became aware of themselves and decided that they could no longer share total intimacy and transparency- they covered themselves. Now they would control what the other could see. Alienation.

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

When God came for their regular time of fellowship, they hid. Their intimate relationship with God had changed. Alienation

Then God said to the serpent:

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed;  Now mankind’s relationship with nature changed- animals became a threat to Adam & Eve. Alienation

Then to Adam He said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and    thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread”,

Now Mankind’s relationship with the Earth changed- Nature became an adversary to be tamed through sweat and toil. Alienation.

Family is a strong antidote to alienation.

We are fortunate to have strong family ties.

All of these consequences to their disobedience resulted in a condition called “guilt,” and it has affected mankind ever since.

 Here is Psychology Today’s comment on guilt:

“Guilt is aversive and, like shame, embarrassment or pride,  has been described as a self-conscious emotion, involving reflection on oneself. People may feel guilt for acts they have committed, a failure to do something they should have done, or thought they think is morally wrong.”

Guilt is based on a foundation of a personal morality. If there is no moral code, then there is an absence of guilt. This seems to be an approach utilized often in today’s society. When we abandon a Biblical Worldview, then we are left to ourselves decide what is right and wrong. We see the result of this thinking in the horrendous events in the news, as well as the conflicts of the families in our neighborhoods.

 Sigmund Freud had an understanding of the affects of guilt on humanity, and agreed that this was a root cause of alienation.

“The price we pay for our advance through civilization is a loss of happiness through the heightening the sense of guilt.”

We sometimes just feel like we don’t belong, that we cannot trust ourselves, much less society for happiness and contentment. As Jimi Hendrix sang in the song All Along The Watchtower,

There are many of us here among us that feel that life is just a joke.”

This is the state of mankind after the Fall in the Garden. We are trying to make sense our of life, but are fighting a lingering sense of guilt and alienation from this world. What do we do?

God had a plan from the beginning. Do you think this took Him by surprise? Of course not! His plan was a shocker to all, and very counterintuitive to all of the world religions, which call for mankind to do good things so that God will accept them– we pay the price for our sins.

The disciple John recorded these world of Jesus:

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His  only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

Saved? How was that to happen? Isaiah tells us that

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants.                                  Isaiah 53:5,10

Jesus offered Himself up as a guilt offering like those described in Leviticus 4 & 5. The price for our sins were paid for by God Himself, and now we are free from guilt, free to embrace God as a family member, free to be who God created us to be.

Paul told his friends in Corinth:

“For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ ” 2 Corinthians 5:19-20

This is God’ solution to the guilt and alienation that has  always plagued mankind. Many have understood this and received God’s mercy and grace, and have peace in this life, in spite of the daily troubles. Others are still searching for their answers through materialism, pleasure, status and power.

Come Back To God!    Michael

Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee  May 2023


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