Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love Brings Us Full Circle

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and Joel and I have celebrated this holiday together for 52 years.  Mostly we just exchange cards, giving thanks for each other, and marveling at how time flies.  It is also Ash Wednesday and in our world this is a solomn season, the beginning of Lent.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  For over 35 years Joel uttered those words as he made the sign of a cross on foreheads.  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

So this Ash Wednesday we will express joy in our love while remembering with quiet reflection our Savior's suffering and death, and our own mortality.  It seems appropriate, really, this combination of joy and sadness.  You can find both in what Jesus did for us all.  Sadness in the crucifixion, and joy in His resurrection and our salvation.

Spending the last 3 days on the losing side of a battle with a virus I choose not to label,  has had me bonding with our sofa.  This means Ash Wednesday will probably be spent at home.  One of the perks of being married to a pastor is we can have communion anytime we want to, and we do.  In the days I was the girl in the bubble, Joel would have a service with me at home...ashes to ashes on my forehead, communion celebrated.  In remembrance.  It holds special meaning for me.  It is part of our culture. 

In the midst of all this, the Olympics are on TV and we have been enjoying the events. I loved seeing Chloe Kim win her gold and observing the excitement her family felt.  Moving to the US in the 80's and sacrificing so much for their daughter so she could seek out her passion!  A Father's love for his child.  A Father's love for His children nailed Jesus to a tree.   Which brings us back to Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Valentine's Day.  Full circle. 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Old Gloves And Old Habits

I pulled my gloves out of my coat pocket and put them on as we drove down the street.  A couple  minutes later I noticed that the tip of the finger of my gloves had unraveled and I had a big hole from which my finger protruded.  I had something similar happen before and I had just sewn up the gloves but this time it looked like I would need to replace them.

I started to think about these gloves that I had worn every winter for.....let's see....no, it can't be.....I had worn them for 13 years?!  I had purchased them on clearance for $3.  They were a wool blend and a light blue color that went well with my coat. They were washable and kept my hands warm, so what more would I want.

We were shopping the day my finger wiggled at me through the hole in my glove, so I decided with Joel's encouragement to look for a new pair. I found a pair of isotoner gloves half price.  A bit of a a funky two-toned color, but when I tried them on they were such a good fit I bought them.  As I wore them I came to realize that my old wool blend gloves that I did not want to let go of kept my hands only half as warm as these new gloves. I kept saying to Joel, "Wow, my fingers are staying so warm" as we went in and out of stores.  Why had I waited so long?  I missed my old familiar gloves but had no complaints about the new ones. 

It seems I was so comfortable in the familiar that I did not realize my $3, 13 year old gloves were not serving me well anymore.  Of course Holy had to use this small circumstance to bring to mind other things I hang on to because they are comfortable and familiar and have worked in the past.  Maybe a bad habit.....or a way of coping with stress......or just stepping out into something new.

Speaking of stress, Holy has been making me aware of the techniques I use to cope with a stressful situation.  From childhood until my senior season, I feel it in my stomach first.  I may get very quiet or still while my mind is racing.  I go to the worst case scenario and work my way back when news is bad.  The fight, flight or freeze responses all come into play.  It has taken a toll on my body, so Holy has been bringing to my attention other ways to cope with that which shakes us.  We remove ourselves from the place of fear and stand with God on that beautiful place of trust.  I have to tell you, it is a work in progress....and God is patient as He walks with me on the journey.  It really is a good place to be though.  Letting go of the old for the new. 

So, I can't help but ask, do any of you have some "old gloves" you need to let go of for some new ways of living?  Are there any old habits, or coping devices that need replacing?  Holy is always in the business of making us more like the image of Christ, He definitely guides us on our journey...one step, one decision one "new pair of gloves" at a time. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Keeping Thankfulness Before Us

I was listening to a young man read Psalm 138 before services started at Bethel Church, and he ended the scripture reading by saying, "Let's keep thankfulness before us".  I immediately saw in my mind people walking forward and right out in front of them was thankfulness leading the way "sitting in a zippy little golf type cart"!  It made me laugh.  Thankfulness was leading the way and making it possible for people to follow Thankfulnesswith joyful faces.

Putting aside that unusual visual, this reminded me of the story of Jehoshaphat found in 2 Chronicles 20.   All the armies were coming against Jehoshaphat and his army, and he knew they were no match for the others, so he asked God for help.  The Lord told Jehoshaphat not to be afraid because He would fight the battle.  Johoshaphat, king of Judah, sent out his singers first, just ahead of the soldiers.  They were to sing songs of praise, leading the soldiers into battle.  The songs of praise, of thankfulness, were more than enough, because the other tribes all began warring with each other and by the time Jehoshaphat and his army got to the battle field, everyone was dead.  His people were led by praise into victory.  They kept thankfulness before them!

I can't tell you the number of times God has highlighted praise to me in a circumstance or struggle.  Praise is a great weapon of warfare, and the enemy hates it when we praise our God.  Thankfulness brings our focus right back on to our Lord.  It leads the way for our own victories, whether, spiritual, physical or emtional.  Spirit, soul, or body.

In 2 Timothy Paul talks about us being given a Spirit of love, power, and a sound mind to replace the spirit of fear.  Maybe there is a Spirit of Thankfulness for us too.  Thankfulness can lead the way through tough seasons into seasons of blessing.  Thankfulness is KEY to spiritual warfare and to peace within.  Maybe Thankfulness is what unveils to us our victory.

Ann Voskamp has certainly changed her life one step at a time by writing down one thing at a time that she was thankful for.  She went from being a woman terrified to leave her home to a world renown speaker and author who is changing the world for others in places like Africa and Haiti.  All because she put thankfulness ahead of fear and found peace and victory over the enemy.  I love that!

Psalm 138 says, "I thank you Lord and will with all the passion of my heart!  I worship you in the presence of angels, Heavens mighty ones will hear my voice as I sing my loving praise to you!" (The Passion Translation)

My dear friend Linny Saunders has shared her own story of childhood abuse that lead to fear controlling her life.  She struggled with being alone for any amount of time, often having panic control her life.  And then God set her on a journey, and fear took a backseat in her life.  She is co-director of the International Voice of the Orphan, and flies to Africa a couple of times a year to work with her daughter and family at The Gem Foundation,  leaving her husband and family home. She still has 9 children at home, many with special needs. She is also an author and speaker, and I have been on the receiving end of her continual thankfulness to her Lord.  It centers her.

Keeping thankfulness before us shifts the atmosphere around us.  Keeping thankfulness before us keeps our eyes on Jesus,  guides us on the right path, and defeats that which comes against us and those we love. Keeping thankfulness before us brings us into His Presence.  It is a place where we can say as David did in the Psalms, "I sing my loving praise to You."  In His Presence, in thankfulness.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What Is Normal?

About 4 weeks after my first eye shot for a vessel leaking in the left eye, my vision went "wonky".  Reading was difficult because with that eye the sentences were wavy....and vertical lines were too.  Also, looking with my left eye, faces were distorted and vision was low. My right eye was having trouble tracking with this change.

Can I just say, this was so not okay?!  I was trying to stay in peace but was tossed about on a sea of emotions. I called the eye specialist on Monday morning and saw the retina doctor yesterday afternoon.  Side note:  When did doctors start looking like they are 12 years old to me??

After I was examined, I was told everything looked "normal".  No bleeding, no real swelling.  Probably just fluid from the leaking vessel that moved and caused these problems.  "Normal".  Seriously? He wanted me to accept that this is normal?  Maybe in his world, but not in mine.  It is difficult enough to be the youngest by far of anyone waiting to take their turns with tests, exams, and injections.  Younger most likely because of the damage from that $#%&@ Lyme.  I get that, and there was some relief to hear that even though symptoms are worse, damage isn't, but I don't think I will ever accept that this is normal. 

I don't like this one bit, and refuse to partner with the word, "normal" when dealing with this condition, but I am grateful right now for the medical help. I never forget, though, that my true Helper goes by the title Papa.....Daddy.....Father. When I was talking to God about it all, He blessed me via Facebook, with words from Brian Simmons of The Passion Translation.  Words that fit so well, I tucked them into my heart along with the promises God has placed on my life.

"What you call delay, God call's preparation.  Many times God is at work behind the scenes, yet you cannot discern it.  God is preparing others so that your destiny may be fulfilled and God is preparing you even as He prepared Joseph for his season of promotion.  Never judge God's works by what your eyes see but by the promises He has made to you.  He will fulfill His word, and your eyes will see the miracles of His hand."

Here is what I consider normal.......bringing your needs to God.  Speaking to your "mountains" with the authority Jesus has given us.  Letting Holy Spirit guide us in all areas of our lives.  God is so good to grace us with just what we need.  And He is so good to remind us of His promises.  His Word sets the normal setting for us in life. 

Miracles ahead!  I look forward to miracles being the norm.   We won't need them in Heaven, everything is perfect there, but when His Kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven?  When we do as he commanded...."Heal the sick....cast out demons....." ?  When miracles and healing are part of our churches, homes, communities?  Yeah......I look forward to that kind of normal.  Meanwhile, I stand on His promises and rejoice in the miracles we do see. I don't know how a person lives without our Papa God to depend on.  So grateful. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A New Day In a New Year

I have been pretty excited this year to celebrate Joel's early morning wake up miracle.  I am not sure why, except that it is still over the top amazing for me to think about.  In our research on healing through prayer, about 1/3 of the people who are healed have it happen instantly.  The other 2/3 of the people heal through a process.  We have described Joel's healing as a microwave healing, where as mine was and continues to be more of a slow cooker type.  :)

Joel prayed for the Lyme, Bartonella, and Babesia to die.............and it did.............but along with that His body had a complete overhaul when other conditions I mentioned also left his body.  He did not have to slowly build up energy....it was just there.  Bam!  Before his healing, he could not ride his bike at all....but after his healing he could ride 10 miles and rides 20 miles at a time now.  His muscles healed immediately too.  We just cannot give enough thanks to God for this.  Joel spoke to his mountain just like Jesus tells us to in scripture, and the mountain fell right into "the sea".  The impossible made possible because Jesus paid the price on the cross.

It is hard to wrap our brains around, isn't it.  I can remember when Joel shared his story with a few colleagues and then a few months later ran into one who asked him...."Are you still in remission?  Are you still feeling better?"  Joel's reply?  "NO I am not in remission.  I am healed and I feel great!"

Joel and I have done a great deal of research on healing since this journey began.  We have talked with and observed people healed immediately or some getting better. pain leaving, energy returning.  A great thing to be a part of.  We have had disappointment too, but we cannot let negative experiences sway us now from what we believe to be true.

Our book shelves hold around 40 books on healing and Holy Spirit.  We have watched endless teachings and conferences and we have spent many hours in scripture and prayer on the subject because we have so much to learn.  We know that God placed us on this journey and we want to keep moving forward, being open to all He has for us.

So today is the first day into yet another new year of new beginnings.  Our lives have been defined  by B/H and A/H.  Before healing and After healing.  Ok, I admit, that is a bit drastic, but we know we can never go back to what our life was before God showed us His healing power and the gifts of Holy Spirit.  We stepped into a spiritual realm that only makes us seek more of Him and His love.  We are so grateful.  So grateful.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Six Years Of Celebrating

Six years.  It has been six years since Joel woke up at 4 am, sat up in bed and said, "I am healed."  A miracle had manifest itself in every part of his body.  He was healed of Lyme Disease, and the co-infections Bartonella and Babesia.  He was healed of Sleep Apnea, Thyroid Disease, Recurrent Corneal Erosion, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Gluten Intolerance, and something our doctor called Pre-Parkinson's.  God did a complete overhaul of Joel's body.  And the confirmation of his healing was something he never expected.....he spoke in tongues.

Joel went to bed on January 23rd and prayed in a way he never had before.  He spoke to the sicknesses, commanding them to be gone.  He addressed the Lyme and co-infections and told them that they had no authority to be in his body, they needed to die and leave his body immediately.  Then he lay down and went to sleep.  He woke at 4 am healed.

After being on disability for 3 years, spending 9 hours a night sleeping and and 4 hrs a day napping, unable to physically exert himself nor work full time, he was able to work, go back to regular sleeping hours, walk an hour at a time, and ride his bike again.  It was an amazing over the top miracle that could have only come through God.

He went to his eye doctor and was told that what a doctor had called his "80" year old eyes (from an eye disease) were now the eyes of a "50 year old"!  Our Lyme doctor tested and examined him and could find nothing of Lyme or other diseases and conditions left in his body.  Even the arthritis bumps on his joints were all gone.  He was healed.

He has told his testimony as often as he feels led to do so.  Why?  Because only God could do this.  It was His miracle and we need to give him the glory.  Because Joel (and I)  believes that God wants us all well and he is one example of what God does.  We celebrate every year, the reminder of God's goodness for His children.  It is a reminder to us of the healing we have seen in Joel and myself and it brings hope for the healing that is to come.

The past six years have been quite a journey for us with healing and Holy Spirit.  We are so grateful.