Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Showering Us With His Affection

What happens when God's way of communicating with us becomes new and somewhat mysterious?  I recall nearly three years ago when Holy Spirit made Himself known in a powerful way.  I had never experienced this kind of encounter and did not know anyone then who had, but during a time of worship in our home, He came like a heavy blanket over me.  It lasted for 4 months.   The first two weeks were intense and my body felt the Presence in such a physical manner that at times I needed Joel's support to walk.  Now, stay with me here, as I speak with honesty, because this is what I experienced.  This kind of physical and spiritual encounter continued at a lower level for over 3 more months, subsiding greatly by the end of the 4th month.  And then it was over.  It is hard to describe, but we definitely knew it was from God.  It put us on a quest to understand the experience more of course, and we have read about others with similar encounters since then.

 Saturday while watching the movie "Holy Spirit Reborn" a pastor asked this question..."Why is the church so afraid of Holy Spirit?"  With tears in his eyes he truly wondered why people are afraid to experience the Presence of God in ways where Holy Spirit is in control.  Well, I know I had little idea what I was doing when I asked God for "more" of His Presence.  I certainly was surprised when He gave me what I asked for and beyond!  I thought I had it all wrapped up tightly in a bow and I thought I knew how it would present itself.  Surprise!   BUT I would not have missed it for the world.  Not. for. the. world.  At the end of those 4 months I felt God's love for me in a way I never had before, I became good friends with Holy Spirit, and inner healing was a "side effect" of those wrap around, come on down, I desire all of you days.  I did not want it to end.

I have longed for that same season once again, but have not experienced it at that level.  I pondered why until I heard someone say that there are hundreds of ways to communicate with God and I realized I need to be open to how Jesus/Holy/God wants to communicate with me now in this new season of my life.

Through the scriptures we learn that Jesus wants a close relationship with us.  For each of us that will look differently, and we won't all experience His presence in the same way.  Still, He longs to talk with us and have us talk with Him the way friends do.  He walks with us through every minute of every day.  He is not found just inside the walls of a church, He is found in you, around you.

Abi Strumwell, a Bethel church teacher says, "A relationship with Jesus is not about rules......it is about having many different ways to bond with Him."  In nature, in music, in dance, in art, in laughter, in tears, in quietness, in loudness, in encounters that shake our world."

Holy Spirit is a gentleman and will not make Himself known in us unless we give Him permission, but He wants to draw us closer to our God and in doing so it will shake up our world.   Our God is without boundaries, limitless, and crazy about His children.  Yes.  He is crazy about us.  He wants to make Himself known in us and I believe He gave us a new Spirit to love and empower us as we welcome Him.  He wants to shower us with His affection in a variety of ways.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our soggy, wet, flooded corner of the world.  We have had quite a few days of heavy rain and storms resulting in major river flooding in our city and worries that the water standing in our yard would seep in to the basement.  So much rain.......The river came about 2/3 way up our hill to our cul-de-sac, but never made it to the top.  It completely covered the river road we walk and the association's prairie grasses and borders on the south side.  A few trees were lost in town, one in our association, but for us it was branches and twigs as winds were so strong.  It took Joel over 3 hours to clear the yard after the storms.  We have had a brief break today which has helped the yard to dry out some and the river to go down.  More rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning and then with several days of sunshine forecast we hope to dry out here.

Park flooding

Speaking of drying out, one the reasons we love fall is it is dryer and that is not happening much here.  My body just feels better in a dryer climate, it was on our list for why we were moving to Arizona.  I even sleep better when it is dryer.    I keep wondering if this is the new normal....these heavy rain events.....flooding, high humidity and dew points.

Flooded East Park

We also were to be in WI right now watching our oldest grandson play football Friday night and Saturday morning, go apple picking, and see a place called "Holy Hill".  This "flood event" as they are calling it, is keeping us close to home to keep an eye on our house.  We were half packed, food prepared, and even had our hair cut.......we were looking good.....all ready for a fall adventure.  Very disappointing.

View of river from bridge

View of river road we walk along....
all river...no road.

I have strong feelings about our media.  Have you noticed the changes in the tone of voice or intensity when the news in reported.  I have noticed it in the evening news, and have gone to watching only CBS because I don't feel wired up after watching.  I am sensitive to it all, and have noticed that fear, worry, and anger sells......so our news channels work hard that "selling" that to keep or gain customers.  This election is an example.  

Fall premieres have started this week, with NCIS (original) at the top of our list.  There are plenty of new shows but most of them appear to just be more of the immoral, unethical, fast paced kinda junk that fills up so many hours on the tube.   Last weekend we tried to rent a movie and could not even find one that held our interest!    We do want to see the new movie "Sully".  What do you enjoy watching?  

Last Sunday we worshiped at a nearby church.  It is a nice, but after going their twice we don't think it is for us.  Most of the time Joel is filling in somewhere, so he goes off early in the morning to preach to a congregation filled with people he does not know, and I stay home.  He loves to teach and preach, and we are both thankful he can, but..........but we are longing for our own church home where we are comfortable and have a sense of belonging.  There are lots of great churches........this quest is more about us than any congregation.  

Speaking of preaching, we heard this week about the death of a pastor friend.  When we met Lane he was in the military with Joel.  They were both stationed in Duluth together and we used to have him over for a meal.  He played a mean banjo!  He eventually left the military and became a Lutheran pastor.  Sadly, he died at the young age of 66.  It made us think of two friends from the Lutheran Bible Institute where we attended in the 60's, who both became pastors.   We have lost track of them over the years.  Time for a google search!

Speaking of, don't you just love Google.  I can type in a couple of words of a BIble verse and have the verses pop right up.  I often do Biblical word searches with Google and get good results.  I think God uses Google!  Just sayin......

We watched Bethel and the movie Holy Spirit Reborn, shown at Bethel.  It was intriguing.  I am still reading "Lioness Arising" by Lisa Bevere and have done some coloring this week to relax......it works!  

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Voice Heeded

1970 Gold Nova

We spent close to two years in The Philippine Islands where Joel was stationed at Clark Air Base as a meteorologist.  When it was getting close to the time when we would leave, we decided to sell our 1970 gold Nova that had been shipped over when we left the states.  Except for the Americans, cars were few and far between in the country, and being it was only 6 years old, so we could get a good price for it.  We prayed for God to send us the right buyer and protect us in the process.

 After posting a for sale sign, Joel heard from two Filipino men who wanted to test drive the car and check it out.  He picked them up, one climbed in up front and one got in the back seat behind him.  As Joel was driving around Angeles City, they kept giving directions to him on where to drive.  As he was waiting to turn down a sparsely populated road they had directed him to, he heard a voice in his head say firmly, "Do NOT turn here."  He hesitated and he heard it again.  "Do NOT turn here."  Realizing quickly that he was not safe, he did as the Voice directed and drove straight ahead, pulled over in a busy area and jumped out of the car.  As he did so, one of the men reached over and snatched Joel's small calculator that had been on the seat.  Joel stayed a distance from the men and told them to get out of the car and leave the calculator behind. They did so and Joel got back in, locked the doors, and drove home.

Two days later he heard about a military man who was showing his car to two men who wanted to buy it.  They directed him to a remote area and robbed him, stabbed him and left him for dead, stealing his vehicle.  He was hospitalized and did recover.

As you can imagine, we were very thankful that God had kept Joel safe, speaking clearly to him at that moment in time, and most likely saving him from the same fate as the other officer.  We eventually did sell our car, being careful to have someone go along with Joel and stay in populated areas for the test drives!

Sometimes we hear God speak to us through His written Word, through the words of others, through devotionals, or our own thoughts.  There is the rare occasion we hear the audible voice of God. The point being made here is that I believe God is always speaking to us.  Through nature, through friends, strangers, books, the Bible, in our hearts and dreams and sometimes as a voice that comes out of no where while we are driving a car.  Today, Lord, let me listen for your voice!  Joel heard a voice....whether it was the voice of an angel or of God, he heard a voice and he heeded that voice.  In doing so it kept him from harm that day and for that we are so grateful.

Monday, September 19, 2016

His No Fear Plan

Watching the news Sunday night took me back to September 11, 2001 and the months following.  In April 2002, 7 months after 9-11 Joel headed to New York City as a representative from his Iowa Synod office. Lutherans were gathering together to unite in worship and to give pastors in NYC and the surrounding areas a well earned break.  Our son Matt, who is a police officer, went along with his dad on the 5 day trip, partly because he did not want him going there alone.  Joel was able to serve in the oldest church in New York state, taking a commuter train to get there.  It was a special time for both of them.   He and Matt also took in some sites like the statue of Liberty and ground zero.

This came to mind because of how quickly NYC officers responded to the latest bombing.  I remember Matt saying to me after he had been to NYC, that he thought it was the safest city in the country now.  He had noticed a police officer positioned at least every half block.  When we were there in 2013 I felt the same way.  Police were everywhere you looked.  E.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

And yet in just 24 hours..............bombs go off in Manhattan and New Jersey............lone radicals stab people in a St. Cloud Minnesota mall we have shopped in ourselves............ It is all enough to give fear residence.

We once lived with a threat of violence in our home sometimes keeping Joel or myself alert into the morning hours. We lived with a threat of violence outside our home resulting in undercover police sitting in our church pews and years of extra precautions regarding our children.  We lived in a third world country with bars on our windows and security guards with shotguns walking our streets.  It was enough to give fear a home.

There is a healthy fear that is necessary, but living in fear can leave us breathless while feeling helpless to what is "out there" or "in here".  Having danced a waltz with fear in the past, I get it.  Yet, God..........

Yet God tells us we have not been given a spirit of fear....but of power, love, and a sound mind.  God tells us His perfect love casts out fear, to be still people.  Trust.  We do what we can within reason to protect ourselves and our family, but to live continually in response to fear is not part of God's plan for His children.  He has a no fear plan for us.

So much easier said than done, but God understands.  He has told us at least 365 times in His Word "Do not be afraid".  One for every day of the year.  He knew us before we were formed in our mother's womb.  He would not give us a command we cannot follow.  "Do not be afraid."  Yes, He has a no fear plan for our lives.

Do you have things in your lives that cause fear to take up residence.  Maybe those radicals carrying out acts of terror here in our own country, in our malls, on our streets.  Maybe it is hard not to pick up and carry the fear the media fuels for their own purposes.  Maybe it is a situation you deal with closer to home or a doctor's report that makes you forget to breath for a moment.

It is all out there.  It is a broken world we live in, and it feels like things are escalating along with our heart beat.  But God............

God says "I will fight for you, just stay calm."  "Be still and know that I am God"  "I am the Lord who heals you." "Remember.........."  Remembering what God has told us, remembering what he has done for us,  remembering what His Word tells us, activates the no fear plan for our lives.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

A part of our walking paths

Good Saturday to you from our corner of the world where Fall is showing off with dryer, cooler temperatures and some trees changing colors.  It has been great to walk this past week and in the picture above you can see a part of a path we take here in our association.  It is a lovely place and I feel so blessed to have safe, quiet, beautiful walking paths.  Although on day last week a huge Malamute dog was on a skinny leash was barking and growling at us as we passed.  Not nice. Mostly we do not see dogs out on leashes in their yards.  Rules are pretty strict around here, except for the geese who ignore all the rules and like to slow down traffic while bathing in the street puddles!

We headed up to a suburb in Minneapolis, Minnesota Wednesday visiting with my sister who raised me, Gr. Jo to our kids, and taking her to PT for the fractured back.  We picked up take out lunch and headed to her place afterwards where we were able to help her get out her winter clothes and store the summer ones and do some purging.  There is always purging to do in our house it seems, although we did a lot of that when we thought we were heading to AZ.  Food for thought:  There is a bit of purging we can always be doing inside of us too!  That is much harder in my way of thinking.

Speaking of purging...grin.....the election can't come too soon.  I keep wondering what the media will do for drama and sensationalism once we have a new President in office.  I expect they will find something.  Drama and bad news sells.  I avoid as much of it as possible on the TV, radio, or social media.....in fact I just stop following those who continually speak hate, disrespect, or out right lies about the candidate they are not voting for.   I admire their passion, but don't agree with the negativity.

We had hoped to head up north this weekend to the 140th Anniversary of a country church where Joel served for 6 1/2 years.  Unfortunately neither one of us felt very good Thursday and even though we are still active at home, the funkyness continues.  We have good memories of our time at that church.  Delightful people!

Have you seen that commercial on TV with the dogs doing synchronized swimming?  We don't watch commercials often and always mute them, but this one had us laughing.  Speaking of muting...don't you love the mute button on our remotes?  So easy to shut off what we don't want to hear.  I wonder if God ever wants to push our mute button when we speak.  Sobering thought......Back to the dogs......if you need a good laugh seek it out.  Funnnnnny!

Last Saturday night we went to a musical with friends at Stebens Children Theater.  It was called "Smoke On The Mountain" and was about a pastor and the traveling family that comes to perform at their church.  It was funny and fun!  Have you ever been in a play?  I have not, but think it would be an adventure.  I do like to sing, but don't have a great voice like our son-in-law or grands.

Speaking of son-in-laws, our oldest son-in-love is having a birthday today.  He is a blessing for our family for sure.  He is a hard working, solid man who loves the Lord deeply, adores his wife and kids, is faithful and caring to his family and friends and serves his community and church.  Happy birthday Kevin!

Last night we drove over to our favorite Iowa lake and hung out.  It is quiet there now with most of the tourists gone for the season.  A couple of years ago we were going a few times a week to take in the hustle and bustle, and the great views, but this year we have been over there only a couple of times.  Sunsets are so pretty we decided to take one in.  Joel took these with my phone.

We have continued to watch Bethel's and Charis Bible College teachings, read aloud from the Azuza Street Miracles book, and get our daily devotions in.  Joel has done more writing than me as he edits his book on healing......

So what have you all been up to?  Any good books to share?

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Autumn: What's Not To Like?!

signs of fall on a rainy day.....

In the midst of a heat wave, someone on Facebook asked an interesting question a few weeks ago....."What sound do you like?" The question brought to mind my favorite time of year.......Fall!  I love the sounds, colors and smells of fall, so I decided to spend time thinking about my favorite season.

I don't think I could ever tire of the beautiful sounds that come with Autumn.  The sounds of the crisp yellow, gold and brown leaves blowing in the wind have their own song.  The squirrels running through the grass blanketed by leaves causes a distinct rustling noise.  The geese flying overhead give fair warning of what is coming.  Even the wind sounds different to me in the fall.  It is a time of year I wish lasted for 6 months, but there is purpose for the four seasons.  It is one of the special gifts of living in the Midwest, having four different seasons every year.

Winter brings it's own silence.  Snow falls quietly, the mounds of white seem to insulate us from too many sounds, but the howling winds in a storm, and the crunch of snow under our feet.  We often hunker down here, bringing out afghans, wool slippers, and warm clothes, along with puzzles, books waiting for attention, and the TV.

Spring is usually damp and sloppy, but welcomed!  Birds return and grace us with their special greetings and the squirrels run across our roofs at random.  Rain is heard as it nourishes the land and soaks into the thawing ground.  An owl hoots outside our window at night.  The trees bud and lilacs bloom.  Neighbors shake off their winter doldrums and seek the out of doors once again.  Greetings are often more of a conversation, instead of a quick hi as we rush inside.

Summer explodes with color, fresh air, planting and growing. The birds chatter and sing constantly, delighted to grace our world with the creator's goodness. We have a resident wren that delights us here with songs of love and new life. The sound of children playing reminds me of when our kids were young and embracing the freedom of lazy, hazy days.  Porch sitting makes the sounds of summer enjoyable, except when the heat and humidity drives us inside where we listen to the hum of the air conditioner.

We are in the beginning of Fall now with the crisp nights and dry warm days.  I love it~!  Most snow birds who live in the heat of the desert leave when temperatures hit 100.  They head back to summer green and cooler temps but I think I would prefer coming back in the fall when I could enjoy my favorite season of all.  Autumn.  It brings with it a deep sigh and the question....."what's not to like"??