Monday, January 15, 2018

Unity In Diversity

It is Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in our country.  A time to remember him and his legacy.  A time to stand firm in fighting prejudice and hate against any race and gender.  A time to remember we are one in our Lord. There is unity in diversity.  We are a diverse people, not one better than another, but all equal.  All equal.

Joel's Auntie Ruth used to call us her "rainbow family".  She met all but one of our kids when we took what the family calls "The Trip" across the west to Seattle Washington and back.  In 1987 we took 6 kids, our miniature German Schnauzer, a pop up tent and a tent camper and headed west in our big station wagon.  We were gone a month exploring the new and revisiting the old, seeing friends and family along the way.   Sometimes our family drew the attention of others.  I recall one day when we were going along the interstate and a car passed us.....then slowed down so they could pass us again as they studied all of us intently.  The kids felt we should make a sign that said, "YES, we are ALL one family!"  Red and yellow, black, and white.......

Our children have been on the receiving end of prejudice statements and actions at times throughout their lives. We as a family have had our share and tried not to respond negatively to people who in their ignorance or hatred would say hurtful things.  One time in a restaurant we came in as a family and another family soon got up and left making it clear they were not going to eat a meal with the "likes of us."  I am happy to report that that was a rare experience, but it still happens to others today.  I have never understood how anyone, especially a  Christian can be okay with treating others badly.  All they have to do is open their Bible and read it.

We feel so blessed to have the family we do.  Our grandchildren are a blend of Filipino, Chinese, Spanish American, Puerto Rican Black, African American, White, Northern Cheyenne,  Mexican, and Korean,  There is Irish, Norwegian, Danish, English, German, French, Jewish, Iberian, and probably a few unknown ancestries mixed in.  A melting pot.  Unity in diversity.

There is more alike about us than there are differences.  And that expands out into our community, our cities, our countries, our world.  There is more alike about us than there are differences about us.  Unity in our diversity, whether it be in race, religion or the politics.

Unity in our diversity.  It is what makes us strong as a country.  It is what makes us who we are as a nation.  Unity in our diversity comes from extending grace and the love of God to each other.   In race.  In religion.  In politics.   I am so grateful for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all he did for our nation.  Let us never forget.......

Friday, January 12, 2018

Go Make Chicken

In Havilah Cunnington's book, "Stronger Than The Struggle" she shares a story about a time she and her husband lost their jobs at the church they had been serving for 15 years.  At the time, she was dealing with having a newborn son in the NICU, while parenting her 3 younger boys.  The day her husband called to tell her they had been let go due to financial difficulties, their three older boys had just been diagnosed with hoof and mouth disease and were put under quarantine.  When the phone call from her husband came, she walked into the bedroom, shut the door, threw herself on her bed and had an "adult tantrum" with lots of tears.  She asked Holy Spirit what she was supposed to do now and He said, "Make chicken".  Say what?  When she questioned this, Holy Spirit said, "Get up off the bed, take care of the boys, and go make chicken".

A little bit of dust yourself off, pick yourself up and trust I have a plan for you...for good and not for evil.  If she and her husband were no longer employed at the church they planned to work at their whole life, well, then, God had a better plan!  There is peace to be found in trusting God and doing the next thing He tells you to do, knowing He's got your back.

I can't recall Holy Spirit ever telling me to go make chicken, but I do remember when He told me to find a natural spring and drink the water.  A friend in Canada shared via email that Holy had insisted she tell me to drink from a natural spring.  I had received many devotionals talking about living waters so we put the two together and out of obedience searched for a natural spring on our way out and on the way home from a healing conference we drove to in CT.   It was our last stop in Indiana on our way home when we were directed by an Amish man Joel met in a gas station to a natural spring where I did indeed drink the water, even though I was sure I would end up with parasites.  Out of obedience I did as Holy directed and the chronic urinary tract infections I had been suffering with were gone for 3 years.

Sometimes God's instructions at the time don't always make sense, but we need to stand firm in believing He has only good intentions for us.  We need to trust His plan.

When we were going out to Bethel, I prayed as I researched the Bethel listings of guest homes where you can rent a room and use the living and kitchen areas besides.  There were several but one drew my attention.  There were no photos of the rooms and I did not get a response to my email inquiry so we decided to look elsewhere.  I searched out all other options but none of them worked out and I ended up coming back full circle to the house with no photos on their website.  Hmmmm  Because we had been hearing from God about the shelter of His wings, and we were finding beautiful owl feathers in our yard, we decided to go ahead and book a room in the guest house called, His Healing Wings.  Their replies to my emails were sparse and slow to the point of frustration.  I began to question if God was sending us to this guest house or not, but eventually we decided to stick to the plan, so we moved forward.   Our stay there was lovely.  The hosts were nice and challenged us to move out of our comfort zone.  Everything they used to clean in the house was a natural product so it was chemical free.  We met some nice people ~ from India and Nigeria and the USA, and we were just a 5 minute drive from the church!

And the rest of Havilah's story?  She and her family eventually became part of the staff at Bethel Church in Redding CA.  They relocated and began working with the school there.  Now, Havilah travels around the world to speak, has written several books and she and her husband have their own ministry.  What looked like a disaster opened the way for "something more".  God had bigger plans than they ever imagined and because of her obedience and initial step of trust (go make chicken) she kept her focus,  She believed God had her back and had a purpose for them.  They are now living a life of service to Him beyond what they had imagined.  Only God.

I can't help but laugh when I think about the "make chicken" reply from Holy.  He certainly had Havilah's attention with that one!  A little humor is good for the soul.  And so is a lot of obedience.  No matter what God instructs us to do, big or small, it is going to turn out best for us and others if we say, "Yes Lord!".  Whether it means going out to the kitchen to make chicken or drinking from a natural spring along the side of a country road in Indiana, yes will open the doors to something more!

Monday, January 8, 2018

A Heat Wave

We're having a heat wave......a tropical heat wave........ Today Joel and I walked outside in the fresh air.  It was a balmy 36 degrees, the sun was just starting to go down, and the wind was nonexistent.  It was wonderful!  After so many days of lows in double digits below zero and highs creeping up to a few degrees above, we are rejoicing!  My bones are so happy.......and getting out into the fresh air?  There is nothing like it!

January has us taking out the Scrabble game and this year we have Bible Scrabble, a Christmas gift from one of our families.  We have spent today putting away the tree and decorations, and Joel got the outdoor lights down.  The main living area always looks a bit bare when we say goodbye to Christmas.  Now we wait for Spring.

January always brings with it a question we revisit time and time again.....Why do we live where it is cold and snowy?  The days are short and the sunshine limited.  We both like dry heat, my body smiles when heated by the sun, and Joel is ready to let go of snow blowing and the like.  It is still on our bucket list to spend at least winters in a dryer climate, but we have not felt the go ahead from God.  He has what is best in mind for us and we are saying yes to that  ~ even if it means bitterly cold winters for now. 

Speaking of what is best, the other day I heard someone say, "If God tells you that you are moving forward, but doesn't move you into your purpose in a timely fashion, maybe He is using you to do what is best for others."  You mean it is not all about us??!?  Ha....

Yet, the last prophetic words spoken were about us, over us and for us.  They spoke of God having "a new thing" for us.  That it won't look like our "formidable past" but will be new.  That God already has it in place for us and to keep walking forward.  Don't stop. Yet here we are.  Feeling a big stuck and like we may be walking in circles.  Here's the thing about prophetic words......they are for our future.  So, we give thanks for what is coming while being so grateful for each day.

Like today.....the geese were flying, the squirrels were out, the sun was shining, and the weather was amazing.  We were able to get outside and walk in the beautiful association where we live.  So grateful.  So grateful for fresh air, sunshine, pathways to walk, and of course the tropical heat wave we are experiencing here in north Iowa.  

We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.....

Friday, January 5, 2018

Warfare Worship

This morning as I quietly mediated an angel appeared in my mind.  He was big and powerful and barefoot!  He turned around and began walking with purpose down a hallway.  As he walked he pushed with his right hand on a door to the right flinging it open to reveal bright light that hurt the eyes.  He continued forward and pushed open another door revealing the same light, and then yet a third where he stopped and stood quietly.

As he opened these doors I walked behind him and at the first door I stood and lifted my hands and said one word......Hallelujah.  At the second door I again stopped and lifted my arms and said, "We praise you Jesus".  At the third door the light was so so brilliant and powerful I got down on my knees and gave thanks.  I heard the words, "Worthy is the Lamb! Worthy is the Lamb!"  The angel then disappeared.

Over the past few months the concept of praise being a mighty weapon of warfare has continued to "hound" me.  In devotionals, on Facebook, during Bethel teachings, and as of late, in Havilah Cunnington's new book "Stronger Than the Struggle" due for release on January 9th.  Havilah is a leader, teacher, and pastor at Bethel Church and School, and I am part of her large book launch team,  I am enjoying very much an e-copy of the book. One thing she talked about "warfare-worship" and it certainly resonated within me.  Today's meditation during my quiet time only affirms to me the need for praise and worship.

Here is an idea (not mine)!  Everything we do is a form of worship to our Lord if we release it all to him.  From the mundane to the miraculous we worship our creator with our words and actions.  OR...we do not.  There are only two choices.   Besides the mundane or the miraculous, there are times we need worship to be a form of warfare.

When we were at Bethel and received the prophetic words at our private personal session, one of the people asking God for words for us told us that when mountains come to us (and we all face them ) we will laugh with joy when we stand before them BECAUSE we know what is coming.  We know that God's promises to us are on the other side.  We laugh because the joy of the Lord is our strength.  I confess that this year has sometimes been difficult for us with a few health mountains, and, too, the struggle to know where we belong.  My first reaction is not always to laugh with joy.  It is not to praise.  My words and actions do not always proclaim how good my God is.  Guess that makes me pretty human.   

But if praise is a weapon of warfare....if warfare-worship holds the power it did for Jehoshaphat to win a battle against many forces and for Jacob to break down the walls of Jericho, we best take notice.  If God tells us to intentionally worship and praise, we best be obedient.  "Praise is the highway to the throne of God".

Worship positions us for intimacy with God.  Worship positions us to keep our focus on the One, while doing battle because the Lord does fight for us.  Sometimes we are told to stand firm, sword in hand, alert and courageous in the battle with the enemy.  Sometimes we are told to rest and trust Him to fight for us.  Sometimes we are told to praise him, doing warfare-worship by lifting our voices, our hearts in praise to the One.  For, as I was told this morning....worthy is the Lamb!  Worthy is the Lamb!!!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

So Grateful

Our oldest daughter and her family were at their cabin with friends.  It was bitterly cold and they had been using the gas fireplace to bring extra warmth into their living space.  Our granddaughter and family friend had often laid on the floor in front of the fire, staying toasty and warm.

Then suddenly......while they gathered to eat supper on New Year's Eve, the fireplace exploded.  Glass shattered and was strewn out into that same area where our granddaughter and her friend had been.  Glass that was so hot it melted and stuck to the carpet.  No one was hurt.  No one.

So grateful.   So very grateful.

Another daughter and her treasures were in a terrible car accident.  The car was totaled.  Our daughter and the grands walked out of the car alive.  The grands physically unhurt, and our daughter able to recover from home.

So grateful.  So very grateful.

I have been praying for the son of one of Bethel Church's leaders, Joel Taylor.  A nasty strain of ecoli has nearly taken their son Jaxon's life and they continue to believe for his kidneys to function, his lungs to heal, and the organs to restore fully.  The other morning as a small worship team came to the hospital and prayed praise music over Jaxon as a declaration of healing, they saw a shift in his medical status.  He started to slowly and steadily improve.  He continues to need more healing, but the journey has begun.

So grateful.  So very very grateful.

Our whole family gathered together on December 28th.  This does not happen very often at all.  It was only for a couple of hours that our five, the in-loves, and ten grands were in our home at the same time, but our hearts were so full as we observed, participated, and embraced family and all that means.

So very grateful.

I was sitting in yet another doctor's office, this time in West Des Moines Iowa.  I was having a battery of tests to see why my vision had become wavy.  It was obvious it was connected to macular degeneration but where were the blood vessels leaking?  I had so many numbing drops I lost count.  I had dialating drops, iodine drops and a florescine dye IV.  before being given a shot of novicaine and then a shot of Lucentes in my eye.  In the past I would have been reacting with some pretty scary symptoms.  I did have a couple "minor" things arise but my body has recovered and healed enough in the past few years that I tolerated all the chemicals being poured into my body.  Thank you Jesus.

So grateful.

It was while I sat in that office that I realized my mantra of late has been the grateful.  So grateful for the many blessings, the gift of family and friends, and even the doctors who are at this time playing a part in my journey.  When I looked in my Christmas stocking this year I found a small magnet for the fridge that speaks of having a grateful heart.  It resonated.

So, I have taken my "count your daily blessings" journal off the shelf and am making 2018 a year to put in writing the "so grateful" things.  There are so many.   Like the doctor who suggested a medication to me and then told me to go home and pray, and ask Holy Spirit about it.....(I had never mentioned Holy to her, but evidently He whispered into her ear.........  Or my dear friend Katherine who lives so far away but knows my heart.  God brought us together for such a time as this.  Or the amazing story that can be told with how we bought our latest car.  Or the blessing of having a warm house on a cold day.  God is in the midst of it all.

Recently someone told me they are having a difficult time being thankful.  I told them, I understood.  I got it.  But at times we need to be grateful and praise God before we SEE things change.  That is why it is called faith.  That is why it is sometimes called a "sacrifice of praise".  Because no matter how difficult our circumstances we can find the many "so grateful" moments if we take our eyes off of the problems and unto the solution.  Our Savior.

So very grateful.  It is a good way to begin 2018.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Opening The Door To 2018

We are beginning the new year with sunshine and a temperature of 20 degrees below zero, wind chill at -41.  A strong start to what we pray and declare will be a year filled to overflowing with the goodness of God.

The past year has held a few challenges for us, but when Joel and I sat together to recount all our blessings they quickly filled our "cup" to overflowing.  Looking back on winter 2017, we played a lot of Scrabble.  I broke my toe in February which lent itself to more games until I could wear shoes again and get outside.  In March we spent 5 days with three of our treasures while their parents were off in Europe.  I confess that homeschooling required extra activity for my brain!  It was great fun to spend so much quality time with them.  May had us going to Des Moines to celebrate our oldest granddaughter Grace's graduation, and granddaughter Greta's Confirmation.  In June we headed to Wisconsin to celebrate our oldest grandson Evan's HS graduation.  Soon after I had surgery for malignant melanoma on my back.  In late July we decided to mark off the number one thing on our "adventures with God list" and take a trip out to Bethel Church in Redding CA.  We drove our "new-to-us" Enclave so we rode in comfort through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Nevada, South Dakota, and CA seeing nature at it's best.  We spent 10 days in Redding, attending 40 hours of teaching, preaching, socializing, prophetic and Sozo sessions, going to the Healing Rooms, and more.  Amazing.  October brought yet another health issue with an autoimmune skin disorder, and the end of December I began having eye shots in my left eye for macular degeneration that swiftly caused blood vessel leakage.  Our family gathering right after Christmas brought us such joy! We cherish the moments we are all together.  We ended this year attending a Sunday morning worship service with friends.

Throughout each challenge, each adventure, each encounter with God's Presence, we have seen the goodness of God.  I just can't stop feeling so grateful.  Grateful for His Son, for Salvation, for Healing, for guidance, for adventures, for Bethel, for family, and for friends.

Today we will break bread together with friends. There is something special about sitting down to a meal together, gathered round the table.  We will intentionally talk about the future and share our insights, dreams, plans, and purposes together.  Both our friends and us are seeking new adventures as God walks with us through this season of our lives.  He is always faithful.

Where are you gathering today?  Will you be breaking bread with others?  No matter where we break bread today,  we have ahead of us a new year with new adventures with God.  As we open the door to 2018, we pray for you all an abundance of blessings.  And lots and lots of joy!

Happy New Year!