Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from a wet and gray day Iowa.  Seriously sick of the humidity and rain that keeps saturating the far our ground is holding it well and we are not seeing any flooding here like way east of us this week.  So much flooding everywhere! And tornados?  Oh my.  Okay, time to stop complaining.

Speaking of complaining, yesterday Joel and I decided to not complain once all day.  It did not take us long to figure out that it is easy to small ways.....subtle ways like how hot is was..or how a car pulled we did a lot of catching ourselves and correcting our words.  We did not think it would be so difficult to not complain, in fact we thought we were pretty good at being positive!

The other night we sat on the porch, noticing that it gets dark earlier and earlier.  Summer light is fading.  The bats were starting to dive for bugs, and I hate bats so  was going in when I noticed three deer come across the front and go into the neighbor's yard.  He feeds the animals corn cobs.  Remember?  We have corn that tries to grow in our yard cuz the squirrels bring it here.  A momma deer and twin fawns were across the street enjoying a feast.  It was fun to watch them, even though it is common place here where deer have the run of things.

I watched a 20/20 special last night on Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian aid worker who was kidnapped by ISIS in 2013 and killed in a Jordanian airstrike in 2015.  She worked in Turkey but went with a boyfriend to Syria for an overnight with his work.  She was kidnapped, tortured, made a "sex slave" and went through horrific trauma because she was an American and because she would not renounce her Christian faith.  If all that was presented last night was true, I can't help but feel everyone in authority let her down.  Our government, the FBI, Doctors Without Borders, etc.  I can't comprehend the evil that defines this group.  When we think of one person acting out such horrors we feel sickened, but when it is a whole group of radical brainwashed men and some women who have gone over into the dark side,  it absolutely blows our minds.  So hard to comprehend.

Someone was telling me about a house their relatives were building.  A big house.  It made me think back about places Joel and I lived as kids.  Joel's parents first lived in an old grain building on their farm place.  They pulled an old small pig barn up to the side for a lean-to kitchen.  There was no heat in the upstairs where Joel and his brothers slept except for the stove pipe that came through and vented out the roof.  They had an outhouse and no running water until his teen years when a small house was brought in to replace the old makeshift home.  Joel never felt "poor" or that he was missing out on anything.  He never thought, "When I grow up I will live in a big place with lots of this or that."  Nope.  This was his home.  He was loved, had food and clothing, a community, and his church just down the road.  I moved a lot with my family, at age three I would call the car "home" and in some places we lived I slept on a sofa with my sister or later alone on a sofa as my bed.  At 12 I moved in with my older sister and her family and three of us girls shared a double bed for three years before we each got our own single bed.  That happened because of smoke damage from a fire.  Boys in one bedroom, girls in the other.  I loved our home, big or small.  Lots of good memories were made in that place. Times have changed.  Now Joel and I live in a house that is way too big for two people!  It is just the right size when the kids all come home which is only 1-2 times a year.  Otherwise, wasted space.  We certainly are blessed, but will eventually be downsizing as soon as God gives us the word. It is amazing how much most of us in America do have.

We rearranged the living room this week.  After the tree limb broke off more sun comes in the window and reflected on the TV so we moved things around.  I like to do that periodically.  I used to say, if we can't move, I rearrange or it gets to dull.  More than once years ago Joel would come home from a meeting and trip over things I had been busy rearranging while he was gone!  Now I need his help so there are no surprises!

I am almost finished with Joy Dawson's book, "Forever Ruined For The Ordinary".  I learned so much from this 90 year old woman's teachings!  I have a new heavyweight devotional by Rick Renner that I am starting.  Heavy like in weighing 4 lbs at least and heavy in like each day is a deep study in itself and takes time....So far it is worth it!  Joel and I are beginning to read a book called, "Spiritual Pathways" by Gary Thomas.  It is interesting and helps you identify where you are most comfortable in worshiping and in your relationship with God,  It is going to be used in a study group we are joining. Joel continues to preach, ride, and write.  I continue to write and walk, this week 3/4 mile each day.  The porch calls our name at night.  We are blessed.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My True Identity

I will be heading to my 50 year class reunion before long.  Fifty years ago I was one of 500 in my class that graduated from high school and headed off into the world. Some went on to college, like me, and others went into the work force or the military draft board came calling.

I don't often think about my high school years, but I do enjoy staying in touch with friends.  High school was, well, high school with all that involved.  Classes, homework, and the social media of it's time.....connecting at our lockers, while walking to classes, and at games.  We talked on the phone a lot, which was connected to the wall in our house.  I always sat on the counter and chatted.  One phone for 7 people.  On the wall.  Shocking in today's world.  But I digress...........

Lately God has been speaking to me about my identity, and reunion stuff had me thinking about where I received my identity in my teenage years.  My family and my church were a solid part of my life, but I can't help but smile when I remember how great I felt in my saddle shoes, mohair sweater, and white pleated skirts. ( no pants allowed for girls at that time).  Even my saddle shoes helped identify who I was.  Or so I thought at the time.  I do remember wanting to fit in, desiring the right clothes, the support of friends, and for me a boyfriend that not only cared about me but (subconsciously) made me feel safe.  In the sixties there were only the after school intramural teams for girls, and such activities as cheerleading, and school "clubs" to join.  Seeking acceptance was so everything as I walked through what was called junior high and high school.

Recently, God has been guiding me to ask where I get my identity.  I confess there are still moments in time when I wonder if someone will like me, how will this aging overweight lady be viewed, or even if what I write will be understood and embraced.  I am tempted to identify myself by what I do or don't do, or maybe how I look.  Yikes.  I am tempted to identify myself by how others view me, so is there still a bit of that teenage girl inside of me looking for approval? Maybe in all of us?

Dr. Brian Simmons has a Facebook page on his Passion Translation of the Bible.  He often posts something he calls "I hear Him whisper" which are prophetic words from God.  Today's was "I hear Him Whisper:  I (God) am your identity."  Needless to say, he had my attention. God is not subtle when He wants to me "get" something.  He often overloads me with the message, and this time was no different.  Several books have been coming to my attention and even though the topic is not about just defining who we are,  I have been drawn to their words on "identity".  Lisa Bevere, in her book, "Lioness Arising", talks about how we are each created unique by God.  We cannot be anyone but ourselves in life.  Each of us created for a purpose, with Christ residing in us to give us all we need to accomplish that plan.  Lisa's latest book, "Without Rival" is  about how to embrace your identity and purpose in an age of confusion and comparison.  (To compare is to despair).  Kris Vallotton asks how we see ourselves ~as a prince/princess or a pauper in his book, "The Supernatural Ways of Royalty".  And let me not forget what God's Word says about His children.  Yeah, God is definitely at work here!

We do identify ourselves by wearing many hats in life.  For me, that of daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and writer.  They are all parts of the whole me, but deep inside, God is asking, do you see?  Do you really see that I am your true identity.  I live in you.  You are a new creation in Me.  Your body is my temple!  Your spirit filled with my Spirit. You are a daughter of the King! King Jesus!  You are not to please others, you are to please Me. You are not to fear others, you are to fear( be in awe) me.  I love you as if there was only you, my child.  My beloved.  You can rest in this truth of where we find our identity.

Many in life are seeking to belong, to be accepted, and they may change themselves to blend in, to fit it.  I am not talking about just kids here, I am talking about adults who "go along with the crowd" whether that crowd is found in a church pew or on a bar stool.  Oh how it must sadden our Papa God.  He created us to be unique and find our identity in Him alone.  He wants us to embrace who we are on our journey to be Christ like.

Kris Vallotton says, "We all act according to who we believe we are, so it is vital that we hear who the Lord says we are.  When we hear God's name for us, we can allow that name to define our identity. We need not ask the question, "Who am I".  God has already answered that!

Like all of you I am blessed to wear many hats, several listed above.  But I am even more blessed to know that I am a daughter of the King.   I can rest and be at peace in the knowledge of my true identity. We all can.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Had Forgotten

"Renee will heal in this house"

It was a year ago that we put our house on the market.  We were leaving behind the past and moving into our future in Arizona.  Then our plans changed abruptly with a diagnosis.  I have grieved much in the past 12 months, including the fact that we are still living in this house.

 I spent 8 of the past 12 years viewing the world from inside my domain.  Among other things Lyme Disease kept me bound to my sofa, to my home.  I viewed the world with longing, unable to participate in anything much but phone calls, the Internet, and usually one visit a year from our kids, which involved lots of recovery time.  I went weeks without face-to-face, skin-on-skin interactions with anyone but my loving Joel.  Then Joel joined me for 3 1/2 years of the Lyme battle, himself. It is a sad story, and it is one I want to leave behind me.

After I was healed of Lyme and more, I was able to get out again in the world.  I could travel, see the houses our kids, in-laws, and grands lived in.  We could experience a normal life.  Yet, the memories I have from before the healing would come up again unexpectedly here in the house that kept me safe for so long, but also so very isolated.  I connected illness to the house and was so ready to leave the house behind along with the sickness that was part of my past.  I had stepped into freedom and out into the world and I was ready for a new dwelling place.

In the past year I have dealt with many tests, surgeries, and radiation, treatment fatigue and sobering losses, making it feel like I was once again surviving in what I identified as a house of sickness.  But over time I realized that this is not the truth.  The house that was a place of sickness needs to be acknowledged now as a place of healing.

I had forgotten.  You see, when Joel was out biking 12 years ago he drove past the area and noticed the owners were having an open house. He went inside and looked around before going out on to the back deck where God impressed something on his heart.  He heard, "Renee will heal in this house."  Joel had also dreamed about the layout of this house more than once before he ever stepped in the door, so seemed right to him for us to live here.  He had to talk me into this house, though, as it was not my favorite. It has a lot of stairs and levels and it really needed an enormous amount of work.  Joel and others did a great deal to fix the house, and then we moved here 12 years ago in October.  Unfortunately, I just got worse......and worse......At times Joel began to question what he had heard, but hung on to God's words with hope.  And then in 2012 healing came................

I had forgotten.  I had forgotten those words and I was letting the years of sickness and last year's health challenges take my eyes off of God's promise to Joel. Like the Israelites I was forgetting all God has provided.

It certainly is not our intention to retire in this house, it is too big and it has too many stairs.  And we are still waiting to hear a solid answer from God regarding a move, so we are not sure how long we will be here, but what I do know is that God is asking me to remember that this is a house of healing, and our house of healing has its foundation built on the promises of God. A promise given to Joel 12 years ago when he just "happened" upon an open house, and it changed our history.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from the upper Midwest where the weather continues to remind us that we are having a wet and humid summer.  Strangely, our flowers are not liking it, but everything is nice and green and we cannot complain because we are not flooding here.....flood warnings once in awhile, but nothing like 9 years ago when our city lost 400 plus homes to flooding, and certainly nothing like Louisiana or the fires in CA!  Prayers needed for the people in those areas!

We have been watching the Olympics, mostly our favorite diving, gymnastics, some track and field, women's beach volleyball, and for me synchronized swimming. We can't mention the Olympics this week without the whole Ryan Lochete drama....but I will not give it much time here.  Just saying, his behavior is not a representation of all the athletes, but only a few.

Last Tuesday we headed up to the Twin Cities and visited my sister who raised me who continues to heal at the rehab center.  We met my sister Janelle at Gr. Jo's apt. where our son Mark helped Joel fix her bed headboard/frame while our grandson Noah helped Janelle with a few things.We headed home later in the afternoon and hit a pretty heavy rain storm that had us going down the Interstate at less than 30 miles an hour.  Yikes!

Speaking of kids and grands we had a short visit with our daughter Sarah and her son Jonas this week.  He is getting so tall.  And speaking of tall, we received a text photo of our grandson Eli, Kevin's son. He is starting 8th grade this year.  We also received a picture of our oldest grandson Evan who is starting his senior year.  I won't share that one here because his football shirt states where he lives and the world at large can read my blog, but he is one handsome young man.  We have another granddaughter who is a senior too.  In just 10 years all our grands will be 18 or older. Yikes!!  Time marches on!

Jonas age 8 with mom

Eli age 14

When we came home from Minnesota the tree guys had been here and removed the big limb and the dead apple tree that was way too big for Joel to go after.  Everything was all cleaned up tidy. Joel was disappointed to have missed all the action, but I was happy to not be around for their work.

We went to the deli and had supper with friends on Wednesday night.  Three hours later we headed for home, long after the deli quit serving. We had a lot to catch up on. God made us for relationships.  Not just with Him but with others.  We are not meant to be alone.

I have been reading a book called, "Forever Ruined For The Ordinary" by Joy Dawson.  It is about hearing and obeying God's voice.  Joy Dawson and her husband were New Zealand Missionaries, and she is a Bible teacher, and a conference speaker.  She is probably in her 80's and is quite a character.  The book certainly has my attention as Joel and I desire to hear more from God.  What have you been reading?

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

What More Am I Here For, God?

I was listening to a teaching two weeks ago where the pastor talked on the popular topic of how God has a purpose for each of us.  This is not news, of course. The pastor went on to say that often the purpose is revealed after an encounter with God, the testimony someone shares, or how we observe others living.  Experiences shape us, whether ours or someone else's.

Last week Pastor Eric Johnson from Bethel talked about the fact that as we seek our purpose, we are  "building a house" every day of our lives, using Luke 6 to base it on.  It was an interesting perspective on a well known scripture~ building our house on rock or sand.  He stated that we, ourselves, make the decision on how to build our "house" for God.   Are we sitting at home watching too much TV? Are we spending all our time on ourselves or the things of the world? Then that is what we are building.   Have we identified our passion and are we moving forward with a sense of purpose in our God given passion?  Are we building our house on that purpose?  On the desires of our heart?  Another thought.....our lives affect the next generation whether we are building our house on a rock or on the sand, so what legacy will we leave our grandchildren, great grandchildren....future generations. We are always building our "house" so we need to decide where we are going to establish our house...on the Rock, or on sand.

I am also reading the book, "Lioness Arising" by Lisa Bevere and she, too, talks about our unique purpose, as daughters of the King.  Each of us have a purpose and play a part of God's plans for His world.  As she wrote about those who have the courage to move into the legacy God has for them, I could not help but think of examples in my life.  One is my friend, Linny.  You want an example of a Godly woman who arose from the ashes of a life of fear, abuse, and illness to find her passion, her purpose and an unbelievably strong faith in her sweet Jesus?  That is Linny, mom to 14 (so far), several married with children of their own, and 9 still at home.  Some "lifers".  Her hubby left a career as a lawyer to go back to seminary to be a pastor....they both were working as pastors, but knew that a prophecy given over their lives years before would eventually come in God's timing.  That prophecy came into fruition when they decided a few years ago to begin a non-profit organization for the orphans. International Voice of the Orphans feeds thousands of kids in Uganda and other places, and one of their daughters and her hubby parent and care for many special needs kids as missionaries in Uganda at The Gem Foundation. Linny and Dw are seriously passionate about their calling.  At. any. cost. What Linny and her husband Dw do. what their daughter and her husband do,  all stems from prayerful obedience. They would be the first to say they could not do what they do without God providing in all areas of their lives.  They are building their house on a rock!  THE Rock.  He beckoned, they answered and they have never looked back.

I have known others with the same God given passion, those who do "give up their lives to find it". It may not require opening your home to over a dozen kids in your "retirement years", but God has a purpose for you.  For me.   Sometimes people have a passion for helping their neighbors, or volunteering at a shelter.  It may be they are called to care for loved ones, or bring comfort to others.  Our passion does not necessarily light up the sky with a thousand may be one light in the darkness.  The point is, we all have a purpose and what lights your fire is often part of God's plan!

Joel and I experienced some of that passion when we were healed from Lyme Disease.  We learned all we could about healing through prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It consumed our lives for over 3 years before breast cancer. During the past year of surgery, radiation, and two eye surgeries I confess that my passion waned due to the distractions.  I began to question what God had in store for me.

As I pondered, I started writing about our lives and while looking back I began to ask God "what am I here for"?  Not in a negative way, but in regards to the 27 years of Lyme, two bouts with cancer, and the struggle for healing of my damaged body. Because I am still here, praise God, I am seriously asking, "What am I here for, God"?  "What do you want to build in me, in us?"  And I am asking myself, "In my choices, what kind of house am I building?"  I know some of the answers, but what more, Lord....what more??

One of our daughters tells me I "think to much".  I have no doubt that this is true, but God works with it.  He knows me well.  He is in the midst of the questions I am asking...."What more am I here for, God?"  He has a purpose, and many plans to get us there.  His purpose for each of us are often subject to change, too.  They may be only for a season of our lives. Yet His love for His children is always the same along with His desire that we build our house on a rock.  On THE Rock, Jesus Christ.

Have you ever found yourself asking God these questions?  What is my purpose now in this season of my life?  What is Your plan?  A good place to start is focusing on what we know.  What passion drives us?  What desires fill our hearts?  What is God's voice saying to our hearts?  Who does God say we are?  How does He want to use our unique gifts?  Am I building my "house" on the Rock?  Right now, in the present, what more am I here for, God?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

You Know The Mayor?

This old photo of our four oldest
was taken 40 years ago
still melts my heart....

When we lived in the Philippines we welcomed two of our children home through adoption.  We went through two court hearings and endless confusing paper work in order to get the official documents.  Just a couple weeks before we were to leave Clark Air Base, we still had not received our final papers from the Filipino lawyer regarding our adoptions of our daughter and son.  We kept calling and visiting the lawyer's office with no results.  If those papers did not arrive by our scheduled departure date,  I would be left behind with the two babies, while Joel went home with our older two.  It was more than a bit stressful to think about.

We had been praying because we knew this Filipino lawyer wanted money under the table before he would hand over the papers.  Problem was, we were not willing to do that for more than one reason.  First of all it was unethical and second of all, Joel could be put on "international hold" for agreeing to such a thing.

With just a week left before we flew home, I headed to my Interdenominational prayer group which was being held at the base commander's house on Clark.  Around 35 women gathered that day and I explained our dilemma, asking for prayers that it be resolved quickly.  We needed to all go home together!

During prayer time the base commander's wife came over and tapped me on the shoulder beckoning me to follow her.  We went upstairs to the bedroom and she handed me the phone saying she had called the Embassy in Manila and I was going to talk to the Ambassador.  The base commander's wife carried some clout!  I did explain our situation to him and he told me he really could not help me, that we needed to contact someone like the mayor in Angeles City where the lawyer was located. They would be able to get it resolved.  So the base commander's wife got on the phone again and called the Mayor of Angeles City. I soon was talking to him and telling him our situation and the name of the lawyer.

Two days later Joel received a phone call from the lawyer telling us the papers were ready and we could come pick them up!  When Joel went into the office, the lawyer apologized for the delay.  He then asked, "You know the Mayor?"  Joel replied, "No."  The lawyer went on to say....."You did not tell me you knew the Mayor....I did not know you knew the Mayor!"  Evidently this dishonest lawyer had gotten into trouble with the Mayor and he could not figure out how we even knew the guy.

We left Clark Air Base on schedule with our 4 children in tow.  We have never forgotten how God intervened and used a woman of faith, who happened to be the base commander's wife, and made it possible for me to talk with the Ambassador and the Mayor who got things resolved quickly.  God is sooooo good.