Monday, June 10, 2019

Celebrations, Prayers, and Surgery

This past Thursday we drove 6 hours to our oldest daughter and family's home in WI to celebrate our granddaughter Abbi's HS graduation.  It was wonderful to be with family again, hugging, laughing, and just soaking in the love and joy.  Unfortunately Joel got sick and and fought a cold and cough much of the time. First time he has been this sick in years.  Still, it was a good good time.

Evan and Abbi
Brotherly love.......

We were re-acquainted with our grand dog, Koda too, who at one year old is weighing in at 120lbs and stands over 6 ft tall on back legs.  He is a gentle giant with quite a personality.   A Newfoundland/Poodle mix.

Tomorrow we take another step forward on this cancer journey as I head to the hospital in the early morning hours for a bi-lateral mastectomy.  The day has come, and we are moving forward on a wing and a prayer, trusting God in the process.  We can use your prayers for the nuclear dye to light up the lymph nodes ( since I have had this once before it lowers success rate somewhat), for lymph nodes to be clear and for surgery to go well!  And for the sore throat I have to completely be gone!   I will spend one night in the hospital and be home Wed afternoon.  We face this with determination and apprehension, working to remain calm and trusting our God who fights for me.  Thanks for adding your prayers!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Pursue, Seek, and Find

I confess that in the past I have never quite understood fasting.  It has not been in our tool box, probably because of our Lutheran culture.  I have felt uncomfortable fasting to "move God" and get the answers I want.  That was my take on it, anyway.  But God has been speaking to me lately about "seeking" Him.  When I felt Holy Spirit nudge me to fast before the prayer session with the couple I mentioned before, I asked what the purpose of this fasting was and I felt Holy reply, "To seek God".  It was not long after that response that everywhere I turned I was hearing the Him.....seeking  seek.  It came up in a sermon by Rick Warren.  It came up twice in our devotionals.  It popped up on a Facebook post.  It came up today as a memory posting from 2 years ago.  Seek His face.

So we went into fasting with the premise we would be seeking God.  When we wanted to reach for food, we stopped and sought Him in prayer.  For mealtimes we read scriptures, discussed what we had read and prayed.  We took communion.  In all those activities we had the opportunity to seek and find.  We know His desire for us to pursue Him is not just during fasting.  

We can find God in most things I expect.  We can seek and find Him in it's beauty, colors, animals, insects, birds, flowers, smells.  We can also seek and find Him throughout our days, our lives with those we love and care about.  His Presence in the midst.  Are we aware?   I am surprised at how often something pops up on Facebook that speaks clearly to me and I ponder how often I "miss" His love notes because distractions get in the way.

On the opposite side of that we need to question we seek and find God with what we say.......what we do..........what we watch on TV........what we read........Some stuff, not. We pursue Him in worship!   How about life's challenges?  In the midst of a big life storm I often seek Him....but will I focus on Him in all our circumstances?  Sometimes it has to be intentional with how loud the storm is, but He is there.  Oh, yes, He is calming presence in the midst.  

Bethel Worship

I am not sure where God is going with the continual messages we are receiving on "seeking Him",  but He definitely has our attention, especially as we prepare for next week.  We continue to pursue Him, remembering His goodness as we seek His face.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Let Me Rock Your Boat

Yesterday we fasted in preparation for a session of prayer last night with a couple from AZ who have a powerful ministry.  They are good friends with our sweet friends Dw and Linny, who suggested we call them. We felt the need for some prayer....and insights so we set a time to talk last night.  During this time of fasting we took the time to listen to our recorded prophetic session from when we were at Bethel Church in CA in the fall of 2017.  Please note that when we receive words we pray over them, looking for God to come through in the words that come from others.  Testing the truth of it in scripture and discernment.   We strongly believe the words spoken during that session were from God and we hold them close whether we understand it all or not.

We received several things we are hanging on to, but one that stood out for me today was when the man, who was also named Joel, asked us if we ever rock the boat......He said it was a bit strange, but he saw a vision of us rocking a boat.  We did tell him in our world, that we probably do rock boats with what we believe and practice, things such as God wants us ALL well, Jesus died for sins AND sicknesses.  Holy Spirit wants to shake up your world with visions, encounters, and His Presence "manifested" in many ways.  Speaking in tongues is a gift available to all, etc. etc.  It makes some people uncomfortable.  Been there myself.   In the words this other Joel said, he told us God wants us to keep rocking the boat.  He kept saying it over and over again  "keep rocking the boat".  He told us we are very aware that we are doing what God wants us to do......and then said, "God says when you stop rocking the boat He will be bringing you home.  To heaven.  In other words, we replied.........."Keep rocking the boat!"

The past few months, this challenging journey we are on, has kept our focus narrow and has not left much room for rocking boats and truthfully at times I have doubted and struggled with His promises to me for healing.  Were God's promises lies?  Even saying that makes me uncomfortable.  God never lies. And His promises are "yes and Amen".  Over time I have told Joel more than once that I questioned how I could speak about healing being for now and for all when I am battling cancer for the 4th time and the future looks scary?  I was healed of Lyme, of chemical sensitivities, of cancer, of thyroid disease ( no longer on meds after 27 yrs).  Healed of a cyst on my just left!  Healed of living life from my sofa.......  And I am in the midst of the biggest battle of my life so far.  Can I still speak about healing?  Let me say, my experience right now?  It does not change the truth of what the Bible says.

Plenty of people have prayed for me, over me, yet this time a miracle did not take place.  Jesus is using doctors to heal me.  I can't say I am happy about that, but I am being obedient in using the treatments, doctors, and surgeries to heal.  It is a journey in humility.

Speaking of being humbled, we were forewarned by God about this journey at that same prophetic session. Lori, the woman at our session shared that she saw us crawling on our hands and knees.  We were going through a difficult season and being humbled in the process.  She went on to say that we were strong and independent people and that we were going to need to now rely on God.  Just like the verse I keep getting, God will fight my battles...just stay calm.  She also said that there would be grace in the journey and we would stand up again and there would be a new thing for us!  We have hung on to those words at the end......sometimes for me only by a thread, but we hang on to His promises.  We don't believe God gave me Stage 3b cancer, but we do believe He can and will use it for good.   And we believe every prayer that has been prayed for me and for Joel has been heard by God.  Look at how the mass is breaking up?!  The kidney surgeries are over.  Strength is returning.  Hear our prayers, O Lord.

Do all people get healed?  No, we know they do not.  Do all people receive a miraculous healing?  No they do not.  But the point for me is, I believe we can.  "By His stripes we are healed."  I believe what it says in the Lord's Prayer.  "The kingdom come, thy will be done on EARTH as it is in Heaven.  In Heaven we won't need healing, will we?!  I believe that there is sooooooooooo much more for us. Catherine Marshall wrote a book many years ago called, "Something More".  I read that book often and felt her same hunger for something more in my relationship with Jesus.  It is available. He desires it too.

I confess, at times I seek the healing more than I do the Healer.  I desire the miracle instead of desiring a more intimate relationship with Jesus.  It is what He wants you know.  For us to seek Him.  For us to want a close relationship with Him that has us talking with Him throughout our days and nights like a good friend.  Because He is one.  The One.

Seeking God and a closer relationship with Him is what it is really all about.  We don't understand the mystery of it all....God is God and we are not, but we know He wants to communicate with us all throughout our days and nights.  He sent His son,  He sent Holy Spirit.  As we surrender to Him, stand firm on His promises, and let ourselves be embraced in His loving arms, we believe all will be well.  We trust Him.  We let Him fight for us.  We rely on Him.

Even in this difficult season of crawling on our hands and knees,  or maybe because of it, we seek Him more than ever, we trust Him in the storm.  As He teaches us humility and trust we lean on Him.  And at times, we rock the boat.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from here in our corner of Iowa where yesterday's temperatures reached 88 degrees (and 91 according to our car).  It was hot and sunny, but today we will be back to normal......low 70's.  Everything is so very green, but hazy.  The Canadian fires are sending smoke down through Minnesota and Iowa, filling our skies with a light smokey haze.  It is time for flowers to brighten our yard, so we purchased two geraniums pots this week to start with.  Last night I looked out at one pot, and half the flowers were on the ground.  Some detective work had us pointing a finger at a jack rabbit, who chewed the leaves and flowers off, and then left them on the ground.  Never have heard of any animal finding geraniums tasty!  That is one of the reasons we have them every year.  Sturdy, smelly, and beautiful, but unattractive to local wildlife.  Or so we thought.

Joel has another funeral next week.  Since taking this Interim position, he has had 7 funerals  in 9 months.  That is quite a few!  The two churches are getting close to interviewing pastors.  It is so important to find the right fit for a congregation and a pastor.

I have been off Verzenio for a while in preparation for the bi-lateral mastectomy coming up.  Boy, what a difference.  I am helping around the house a lot more, and walking 10-15 minutes a day in the hopes of building back up to my daily 30 minutes.  So nice to feel stronger and fully focused.  Verzenio has been doing a good job against the cancer though, so I am grateful for it.

Yesterday I welcomed a package from Amazon.  I had ordered some  sofa pillow covers that would bring color into the living room.  I love sunflowers and found them for a really really good price.  They arrived yesterday and we purchased pillow inserts from Hobby Lobby.  Our sofa and love seat now have a spot of color that make us smile.

We have a granddaughter who will graduate next weekend.  The plan is to be there!  Exciting times.
Our youngest grands are 11 and our oldest grand has left the "teens" behind.  The four oldest will be in college this fall.  I can remember so well their toddler years.

We had a few tornados in our area this week.  One 30 miles from us was quite large, and did damage at the county fairgrounds and to a few houses.  We have spent time over the years in our basements waiting for the "all clear".  One summer we were camping at a RV campground in South Dakota on our way home from a long trip.  There were many tornadoes sighted in the area that night so Joel and I spent several hours outside the camper keeping an eye on the sky.  Another time we were traveling from MN to Iowa for a graduation party when we found ourselves in a tornado warning.  Winds were blowing strong, rain was pelting down, and we ended up pulling up to the side of a building for some protection til it passed.  I don't know if we would ever live in a house without a basement for weather related reasons!

Yesterday Joel ran into a neighbor at the grocery store.  They visited quite awhile about the construction they are doing to the outside of their house.  Then the woman asked how I was doing.  As they talked she said, "Our children still ask all the time how your wife is doing."  It brought tears to my eyes.  I have never met their adult kids and I have only met the woman once.....but they are praying.  And last December they came as a family to our front porch and said Christmas carols to us on Christmas Day night.  We were here alone and I was trying to recover from that terrible disaster of a surgery.......needless to say, their caroling made our Christmas special!   So many nice many praying.

Today would have been our son Kevin's 39th birthday.  He died in December of 2004 from a virus that caused congestive heart failure.  He has a son, Eli, who is going to be 17 soon.  We are in touch with him and his family.  His mom remarried.  Kev has a daughter too, but her mom wanted nothing to do with us so we have no contact.  She is in our prayers.  Heaven.  I wonder if they celebrate birthdays or if every day just feels like one big celebration!?!

Have a good weekend, enjoying the weather where you are.  Breathe in the fresh air, take in the wonderful colors that grace your landscape, eat something delightful and tasty, let laughter enter in, and give thanks.  Today is a new day, celebrate it.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The Message Is Clear

Over and over and over again, the message from God has been clear and precise.  Mostly through Facebook He has put on my heart Exodus 14:14.  Clearly.  Emphasized.  Repeated.  Firm.  Here are a few of the images I have received.  Each one a love note from God.  Each one is a reminder that I am NOT on this journey alone.  Each one lets me know staying calm is the action I need to take, trusting that He does fight for me.

The message is very clear, and when I remember to give my battles over to my mighty God trusting in His desire to fight for me, I can live in peace. Do you need to hear his message today?  It is a rhema word from God.  Highlighted, emphasized, alive.  Hold it close.  Trust it.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Where's Your Happy Place?

Do you have a "happy place" that you retreat to where your surroundings bring about deep sighs and upturned corners in a smile?

Our oldest daughter and her family have a lake cabin amidst the trees and water in the middle of WI where they love to go year round.  Their "happy place".

I believe that our friends have a happy place they are living in as full time RV'ers.  They call Arizona home in the winter and travel to new places, experiencing new adventures the rest of the year.  Whether they are relaxing at a beach or giving of their time serving as volunteers where needed, they can return home each evening to their happy place.  They take it with them wherever they go!

In our younger married years we moved so often, our happy place was defined by those we were with....our family.  And I can't help but think that in this season of my life Joel is my happy place!
Our middle child lives in the country with her family, surrounded by the land they farm and decades of family history surrounding them.  I believe they have created a happy place space for themselves there.  I love to sit on their front porch and enjoy the quiet in the early morning hours.  As I have shared before, peace permeates the air there and relaxes me.

Pondering the many different kinds of happy places, I cannot help but question where ours would be now.  Would we want an RV to travel around in, or a lake home that would call us for weekends and vacations?  Would we love a front porch in the country where cars are scarce and fields are not?  Just where would our happy place be?

When Joel was young the outdoors was his happy place.  He enjoyed the woods and lakes of MN where he grew up.  When I was around 10 I lived with my mom in a small apt at the front of a house.  My bed was the living room sofa, but there was a larger closet/storage room upstairs with a window where the sun would come in.  I used to love to be in there, playing with my dolls or reading.  A small cozy warm place where I felt safe and happy. I still enjoy small rooms that have a cozy feel, and Joel still enjoys being outside in nature.

Neither of us are particularly eager for a lake home in the woods.........nor anxious to be full time RV'ers.  And it does not seem practical to have a country home as we look ahead to our senior years. Still, a "happy place" sounds so inviting. I told Joel maybe we need a home where we love it so much that we don't want to leave it for a cabin or RV.  Is that even possible?  I expect so.

So, again, I ask the question, "Do you have a happy place you retreat to where your surroundings bring about deep sighs and upturned corners into a smile?"  And I ask yet another....."Do you live in that place and call it home, or do you find it in someone you love?"  Happy places come in all shapes and sizes, and so many different places. Where is your happy place?