Monday, July 25, 2016

Bunka Boats, Bailing Cans, and Prayer

While living in The Philippines in 1974-76, we went on a tour of Corregidor Island in Manila Bay, part of Luzon Island where Joel was stationed at Clark Air Base.  The island is famous for when America fought with Japan, and for being a fortified place of defense protecting the entrance of Manila Bay and the city of Manila.  Our tour included seeing the old mile long barracks, American and Japanese artillery guns, tunnels, and more.

Joel standing on the American artillery gun

Waiting to get on our small bunka boats with outriggers

Going across the ocean

In order to get to the island we had to take bunka boats across the ocean bay.  This was not my idea of fun, but Joel and I found ourselves seated in a boat with a small lawn mower size motor with a young boy no older than 16 in charge.  Several other boats were filled two by two with American military, then we set out across the water.  I was wearing a life jacket "just in case".  We laugh about it now because it was a child's life jacket and barely would have held up this girl!  Still it gave me some sense of security. The trip over was uneventful, but our trip home held a bit more excitement for us.

About half way back, our tiny little motor stopped working.  The young Filipino boy could not speak English, but we knew he was frantically trying to start the motor as we watched the other boats get farther and farther away.  In between trying to fix the motor, he was bailing water out of the boat.  It seems it had a major leak!  Joel kept reassuring me we were fine, but when the boy handed us both our own empty cans and motioned for us to start bailing, we decided it was time to pray.

I'm looking back here for help.......
(Remember there were no cell phones at this time.)

The whole time we prayed we scooped out small cans of water.  After about 10 minutes of bailing and praying out loud while waves rocked the boat, we noticed another bunka boat coming back for us!!  It seemed like it took forever to arrive, but in another 10 minutes or so, we were tied by a rope to the boat of God's "angel without wings" and we were able to get across the bay, while continuing to scoop water out of the bottom of the boat and thanking God for hearing our prayers.

Over the years I have thought about that day and applied it to our lives many times over.  We did what we could in a bad situation and prayed for God's intervention at the same time.  We were limited in what we could do, but God was not.  He never is.  So it stands today.  We do what we can, pray for God's help and rest in the knowledge that we may be limited in what we can do, but God is not!!!!  We trust Him to be with us, rescue us, restore us.

We will never forget that day.  It was scary at the time, but also a great adventure with God!  It built our trust in our God, while at the same time helped us realize we are strong and courageous because of who lives in us and is always with us.  Even in bunka boats on the sea!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

It is a sweltering, hot, miserable Saturday here in Iowa.  The temperatures have been in the high 80"s to low 90's, the dew points in the high 70's and the heat index?  Up to 110.  Seriously?? Sadly, this is happening across a lot of our country.  You know it is hot when a friend in Mesa tells us her weather is not so bad compared to here!  Ugh....

This weather reminds me of the hot summer nights growing up.  When the heat upstairs became unbearable, we used to bring sheets down and lay them on the living room floor so we could get the outside breezes that came through the open windows and screen door.   No air conditioning and only one fan meant for a few restless nights. When we lived off base in the Philippines, we had only a window air conditioner for our bedroom.  Otherwise we had fans to help move the hot and humid air around the house. It was miserable at times, especially during the monsoon season.  The sheets always felt wet, our clothes felt damp. and even the kids wooden puzzles split from the humidity.  We also lived in many parsonages over the years and not one had central air.  We are so grateful for central air in our home now, and can't imagine living without it!

As I write this I am saddened once again to speak about Friday's attack in Munich Germany. The Baton Rouge officers being shot and killed last Sunday morning.  Today at least 80 killed in Kabul by ISIS during a peaceful protest.  Endless violence.  Yeah.....I don't know what more to say.  I don't begin to think I have any answers.  I can only turn to Papa God in prayer.  He alone has the power.........

Our neighbor likes to feed the deer.  You can look over across the street and see deer and squirrels munching on the ears of corn he has tossed into his yard.  It does not stay in his yard, though.  We now have  voluntary corn trying to grow in our yard that we mow down each week.  I am not crazy about the critters that gather.  Ticks and all.  Joel likes watching them....this week it has been a doe and her fawn.

I picked up an African Violet at the store Wednesday.  Our niece Becky had shared photos of her's that actually came from Joel's mom several years ago.  Mom T. could grow the most amazing violets!  Seeing one in the store brought this memory rushing back once again, so I picked up a small one to grace our table.  I have not done so well with them in the past but I am hoping I can nurture this one!

It has been to hot and humid to walk much, too hot and humid to cook much, too hot and humid to be outside on the porch much.  We have tightened down the hatches and are writing, reading, watching TV, cleaning,  and venturing out into other chilly buildings only when necessary.  We are still searching for a new laptop for me since mine is on it's last leg, as my mom would have said. We had friends for supper one night and caught up on each other's adventures.  I am still reading the same books as last week and still spending too much time resting.  Joel is filling in at churches 3 Sundays in July and all of August so he drives at least an hour one way to do so.  He likes to preach so that is the draw.  He did get a couple bike rides in. We continue to enjoy summer in the Midwest in spite of the weather.  Winter will come soon enough.  What have you been up to?

Until next time...............

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The 40 Year Wait

desert wilderness

It was in 1972, while living in Duluth Minnesota, that some friends invited us to go with them to their church on a Sunday night.  We worshiped with those at the Gospel Tabernacle and then  while the children went off for their own time of teaching, the men and women separated for a time of prayer.  The ladies headed to a smaller room on the right side of the altar area.  I clearly remember sitting on a chair in this room listening to the women in prayer.  They were all on their knees, hands folded and heads bowed as they prayed to God quietly in their individual prayer languages.  It was the first time I had ever heard "speaking in tongues" and I was fascinated with it. Very quickly I began to feel such a peace around and in me that it was almost palpable.  I went home that night with a deep desire to have that special gift of speaking in tongues.  I wanted to experience again what I know now to be the presence of God.

So I went home and asked God for the gift and I did receive it, but not that night.  It was not until 40 years later in February of 2012 that I was given the gift of a prayer language.

Forty years!  One friend said to me, "you had forty years in the wilderness just like the Israelites!" Forty is a significant number in the Bible, and I expect there is some significance to the 40 year wait.  I know I waited a long time to be connected with Holy Spirit in such a way, not because He did not want me to have this gift, but because I was not ready.

It was not the only time I had heard people speaking in tongues, but that night in Duluth was the first.  In the Philippines I had two good friends who both had the gift.  Again, I prayed for it but believed at the time that only a few actually receive the gift, that it is not for all.  I learned later that was not the truth.  Joel was never really open to having this gift and I did not really pursue it once he started seminary.  And yet, he received a prayer language before me.  It came as an affirmation of his overnight healing from Lyme Disease and two co-infections, from arthritis, sleep apnea, recurrent corneal erosion, thyroid disease and Parkinson's-like neurological problems from the Lyme in his brain.  Yeah......a miracle to behold!

I had asked Joel the night before his healing if he would ever want the gift of speaking in tongues and his reply had been, "I am Lutheran, what would I do with that?!"  So he did not ask for the gift, but God bestowed it on him as a confirmation of his healing.  I think God has quite a sense of humor!  Once Joel had the gift I felt the door open for me, and I pursued having a prayer language until blessed with it just a month later.

So what is the purpose of this gift?  The Bible says it edifies and builds up, it intercedes for us when we don't know what to pray(I Corth./Romans).  Paul also tells us that it is the least of the gifts, but goes on to say he uses it more than anyone else. (I Corth. 14) I had one family member tell us it was the least of the gifts in very dismissive tone,  but I replied that IF I receive such joy and strength from the least of the gifts, I am richly blessed and willing to pursue them all~ just imagine what the others will do to deepen our relationship with God.

Some people wonder whether when you have the gift you have control over when you use it, when to start it and when to stop.  It is always available, waiting to bubble out of you, but only if you choose to use it.  It is definitely spirit speaking to Spirit as you do not decide what to say, nor understand the language you are using.  A great book to read about it was written by John Sherrill, a writer/author for Guideposts, who set out to discount it and after a great deal of research realized it was real.  Needless to say, he uses the gift himself and has since the 60's.  I have also heard a counterfeit language while living in the Philippines.  Someone stood up to speak in tongues and when this man started to pray my friend and I both had a strong feeling this was not from God and we walked out of the meeting. The devil always tries to counterfeit God's gifts to us, but we can discern what is good and what is not.   A couple of months ago I heard a woman speak in tongues and have it interpreted.  When she prayed her voice sounded so melodic and pure, and the peace of God descended like a warm blanket over me.  Yes, it is real.

God provides the gifts of the Spirit for our benefit and for others, and having the gift of a prayer language is just one of the many gifts He shares with His children.  I suggest that if you are open to it, do your own research, and talk to God about it.  He desires to bring you into a closer relationship with Him, and this is one of the many ways.

I am so grateful that God put me in that room with those women. He blessed me greatly and sent me on a long journey that continues today, seeking more of Him.  I give thanks, even with the 40 year wait.

Monday, July 18, 2016

We Are Allowed To Break

"We are allowed to break".  These words were written at InCourage on Friday by a woman who is grieving the sudden death of her father.  So much loss, so much sadness overwhelming her.  Her pastor had the good wisdom to tell her it is okay.

"This is going to take time, and it’s okay to crumble on the living room floor, 
to weep and to cry out when the pain runs deep"
It is okay to fall apart when a loved one dies. We are allowed to break.  So often people believe that because we are Christians we need to rejoice when a loved one dies.  After all, they are with Jesus. This is true, but it does not take away the loss those left here on earth experience.  During times of loss, we are allowed to break.

We are allowed to break, and our God understands.  He understands love and loss.  He created us us to express our emotions, to express our sadness.  We know our God is the God who comforts. Our God is the One who restores. Our God is the One who heals our brokenness, He does not ask us to deny our brokenness.  He whispers..........."Come to Me........."

Joel and I have both stood at the graves of our dads in childhood, and of our moms not so many years ago. We have buried our son Kevin, and grieved the loss of friends and other loved ones. Joel has presided over countless funerals and stood by death beds watching people take their last breath. He has helped a family say good-bye to their dad and husband who had been burned over 95% of his body, helped another family prepare their dead baby for burial.  He has sought to find words to comfort family members who question why their loved one was raped and murdered.  At times life can be difficult and death can be brutal.

There are all kinds of losses that cause us grief. There certainly was a loss of life and security when 9-11 occurred.  We grieve the senseless death and violence happening in our country right now. We grieve the loss of innocence that we are safe and sound on American soil. On some level Joel and I have experienced grief this past year with our plans to move falling apart, a diagnosis of breast cancer taking our breath away, radiation results beating up my body.  We grieve what was lost and what appears to be lost.   I would venture to say that nearly every person alive has experienced loss and grief. Besides the death of a loved one, maybe it is job or financial security that is taken away, the loss of a home or a beloved pet.  Maybe it is a loss of trust in a marriage or in relationships.

Grieving is part of life, and there are times we will break, we will fall apart.  It is okay.  God will bend down and wrap His loving arms around us and shelter us.  He will never leave us as we walk through the shadow of the valley of death.  As we grieve the losses in our lives, having our roots buried deep in our faith will be what sustains us.  We grieve with hope, knowing that we can stand on the truth of God's Word.  We hold tight to His promises, one by one and we trust God to come to us in our brokenness and put us back together.  

Grief and loss are a part of life.  We are allowed to break, yet we need to remember Who we turn to. We remember Who comforts, shields, heals, who puts us back together with tender loving care. We listen to His Voice calling us.........."come to me..........".

"Come To Me" by Jenn Johnson

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to all of you from our corner of the world where the corn is growing, the flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and the heat of summer makes us grateful for A/C.  I am thankful that the weather has been great here the past few days~ love the open windows. We are always aware of the weather in our house~ Joel grew up on a farm and then was educated by the Air Force to become a meteorologist.  He forecast weather for Air Force pilots for 4 years, first in Duluth MN and then in The Philippine Islands.  We have weather apps on our phones and The Weather Channel has been known to be on our TV for viewing more than a few times.  Ha....

Porch sitting in Minnesota

Beautiful day lilies 

Last Saturday we headed north into Minnesota to see one of our kids and the family.  We enjoyed some good chats, church, cribbage playing, and the movie, "Inside Out".  We both found the movie sobering due to how often we moved our kids around.  They are great kids, and have done well, but moving is not on their bucket lists as adults.  I went into a major crash on Monday so Joel went off alone to see his family, friends, and the Bishop in Moorhead, MN.  Disappointing to say the least.  We headed home Wednesday.

The past 10 days have been disturbing in our country.  So much violence, anger, hatred, fear.  There are no easy answers but something needs to change.  Then there is the latest terrorist attack in France carried out by one man in a truck, and the coup in Turkey yesterday. Good grief!  I don't even know what to say.  Pray, people, pray!

I was able to head to the farmer's market yesterday afternoon.  Our favorite venders were there and we brought home fresh veggies, strawberries and a special treat~ homemade lemon poppyseed scones.

I have watched a teaching by Bill Johnson, Seth Dahl, and Randy Clark this week.  I am reading Lisa Bevere's book, "Lioness Arising".  So good!  I am still catching episodes of the British series, "Rosemary and Thyme".  What have you been up to?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Ups and Downs, The Facts and The Truth

It is a beautiful day here in northern Iowa and I am enjoying the warm breezes, open windows, and the birds singing.  I managed a very short walk around our cul-de-sac today and I checked on our flowers, before heading for the sofa.  We just returned from a trip to Minnesota where we stayed with our daughter, SIL, and grands. We had plans to visit Joel's family in Fergus Falls, friends in Fargo, an acquaintance in the ELCA synod office, and then friends and family on the way home. None of that happened for me, but Joel was able to take it all in except for the visits on the way home. I spent Monday and part of Tuesday doing little more than a few minutes of porch sitting and a lot of horizontal meditating!  Hugging on the kids and visiting with our daughter and son-in-love was a major blessing, as we digested my situation.

My present state of health is more than a little disturbing, but when I'm feeling concerned I remember what I read about "cancer-related fatigue".  I seem to be a textbook case.  Those are the facts, it helps answer the whys, but I can't dwell on it.  What I focus on is important as I move forward. I don't deny what is going on, but I refuse to partner with it.  It takes effort, but instead of focusing on what is happening, we pray, and I go back and remember what God's Word says and what He has promised me, and this gives me hope and confidence that this too will pass.  I focus on the truth, not the facts.  His Word is a great reminder that CRF is NOT bigger than my God. God is bigger than any problem any of us have. He is mighty to save.  He heals, protects, provides, and loves.  Oh how He loves us!  How great is our God!

The past couple of weeks our country has been in great turmoil.  So much blood shed, so many protests ending in violence, so many tears shed.  If one is affected, we are all affected.  We are concerned for our son who is identified as "black" and we are concerned for our son who is a "white" police officer. We are all affected in some way by what is happening around us, whether in our neighborhood or miles away.  We are all affected by what we see and hear.  The world seems to be flooded by fear, anger, hatred, disbelief, outrage and more.  It is more necessary than ever to remember how great our God is!

So, today, as I listen to the leaves rustling in the trees, the birds singing, a lawn mower as I quietly soak in the sunshine and all around beauty of the day, I rest on His promises and I give thanks for what I can do, and for the past few days of hugs and laughter, tears, and discussions with loved ones.  I remember playing cards with one grand, walking outside with another grand, and coloring on my phone app with yet another. I remember talking and listening, great meals around the table, and gathering around a computer screen to watch the movie "Inside Out". I remember to trust our Lord as I ask Him to protect our sons and heal our country.  And I remember the promises~ how great our God is!