Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Jury Duty


Joel and I both were called to be in the jury pool at the same time, so we have been calling in every Monday to see if our particular panel needed to report.  I was told to report to the court house today by 8:30am and was selected to move into the jury "box" for questioning by the prosecutor and the defendant's lawyer.  This was a domestic abuse criminal trial so questions leaned in that direction as twenty-one of us tried to answer openly and honestly what was presented to us.

Secretly I was hoping to not be chosen since I head back in tomorrow for the second laser surgery on my eye and I did not want to rearrange that appointment.  I need not have worried. 

Here is how the questioning went......."Does anyone know a family member or friend or have you yourself experienced domestic violence/assault?  I was one of two who raised their hands, having had two family members that I know of who have experienced domestic assault.

Another question was, "Have any of you ever had any positive or negative experiences with the police?"  Thinking only of our local police, I raised my hand, responding when asked to explain about a suspect the police were chasing who hid in the attic of our garage.  After the police left the area I spotted him leaving our garage.  Two days later he came back with his friends to intimidate me into not identifying him.  Needless to say, the police we involved.

Then this question came up......"Does anyone have a family member who is a police officer?"  Once again my hand went up!  Our son is a police officer.  I was further questioned on whether this would influence my verdict in this case.  I said no, but when we were asked if any "Joe off the street was a witness and contradicted what the police witness was saying, would I tend to believe the police.  I truthfully had to ponder that, since I have a deep respect for the police.  It led further into what would make a police officer a credible witness. 

Soon another question came to light...."Has anyone experienced violence personally?  I asked for clarification  Domestic assault only?  No, any kind of assault or violence.  My response was another question......" Well is it considered assault when someone threatens to kill your husband, the police have to come in your home to defend and protect you, and the threats continue for a long time....."  I was told that they would consider that an assault.  Okay, then.  I raised my hand.

Then came the question, "Have you ever seen anyone assaulted?  Good grief!  I raised my hand one more time.  Seriously I was getting embarrassed......I told how my son and I observed a man beating up his wife in a vehicle in front of our home which was also the church parking lot.  I then said, "Wow, your questions are bringing up all these memories!"   I then explained that my husband was a pastor and these kind of things just happened.  Didn't they?  (I did not even share all the times we have had to call the police)

Then, (I am not kidding) the lawyer for the defense asked, "Have any of you had to call the police to report violence? "  My response???   "And.......that would be me!"  The potential jurors laughed. 

The final thing that got me removed from duty was when they asked if we knew any of the people on the jury.  I did recognize a man who was in our former church.  I said as much, and the man leaned over to smile at me and said, "Yes, Renee's husband was our pastor for many years!"  Giggle....

So there was no surprise when I was dismissed. 

I told Joel the story and he laughed until tears came and he was still laughing 2 hours later.  This adventure got us talking about all the "interesting" encounters we have had in our ministry....with people threatening Joel's life.......seeing violence occur and trying to stop it........living with a threat on Joel's and our family's life for over six years.......the man hiding in our attic......Joel and sometimes myself being called to more than one crisis involving drugs, alcoholism, violence, murder, abuse, etc.  We began to wonder if all pastors and their families have experienced such events in their lives. 

And I began to ponder writing that book my sister Jan keeps telling me to write....I know how it would begin.......

A funny thing happened on the way to jury duty.....


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you!    We woke today to gray skies and chilly temperatures, but earlier in the week the days were beautiful and I took several pictures of the view as we walked around our association out here on the edge of town.  This community originated from one farm house and surrounding fields, so there are still two areas where we can see combines moving through the fields and the harvest being brought in. 

A view of the man made pond and grounds of the
original farmstead
 
A view of the river road from the walking path
Just look at the jet lines in the sky....cool!
 
 
Isn't this a cute mailbox?
 
 
Beautiful!
 
Colorful bush on our property
 
Last Sunday after lunch we left for Dubuque Iowa.  Three hours later we arrived at the hotel and conference center where the pastors retreat was taking place.  Dubuque is located on the Mississippi River and among other things, one of the ELCA seminaries is located there.  The weather did not cooperate for anything outdoors....heavy rain prevailed, but we did take the designated Monday afternoon off and visit a downtown bookstore, eat out with friends, and get in a good nap!  There was a speaker who was brought in from Chicago's headquarters that was extremely difficult to listen to or understand.  All head and no heart.  I wrote about it on Thursday.  Our restoration time was found mostly in the worship.  It was based on the Psalms and soothed the soul......and the service on Monday night at Wartburg Seminary was amazing.  There is nothing like a church full of pastors singing.....I could not help but be still just to take it in.  We headed home again Tuesday afternoon, ready for our own beds.  We have stayed in three hotels in two weeks, and I think we are ready to stay home for awhile....

Wednesday afternoon we headed to church for their Fall Festival and Potato Feed.  The meal includes homemade pies too.  This little church had about triple their numbers attend.  I helped with the craft area and enjoyed that very much.
 
Thursday night I had a very scary incident which turned out to be an "eye" migraine.  It came on suddenly...the right corner of my vision was all neon blue and white lights which moved and vibrated.  I could not see Joel's face completely or read...words and parts of letters were invisible.  Needless to say, I freaked out by this.  We prayed first and then discussed going to ER.  When we were heading out, it stopped just as suddenly as it had started.  We talked to Holy Spirit and went to bed....I actually slept quite well but woke up pretty anxious.  I put in a call to the eye specialist and he called back at supper to tell me that it was an "eye migraine".  No harm, always benign.  Probably triggered by the laser surgery and others stressors.  He said, "If it happens again, just sit back and enjoy the light show.  It will be over in 20 minutes!"  Okay then.  I cannot say I am quite over the experience.  Darn scary.

Yesterday we went to purchase Halloween candy.  We need to get 7 bags of it to take care of all the kids that come through our neighborhood.  Good grief.  It is not my favorite holiday...ok, it does not even make the list, but I tolerate it.  We avoid TV the week of, and enjoy the little ones as they come to the door trick or treating. 

Today we are heading out in search of pumpkins for the steps of the porch.  Joel is finishing up some painting after repairing the back door trim and I am catching up on ironing.  Truth be told, I like ironing!  Crazy, huh?  There is something about getting rid of all those wrinkles....Joel knows how much I dislike wrinkles....and baggy knees on pants .....giggle....

Tonight we will have pancakes with blueberries, fresh strawberries, and coconut whipping cream...We were able to still get everbearing berries at the Farmer's Market.  Delightful to have fresh picked berries in mid October!

We are watching our usual live stream teachings and TV shows, although we are finding The Mysteries of Laura too crude for our liking.  We will give it another go, before we decide.  Reading has been off the radar this week except for blogs and devotions, etc. What has been going on in your world? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seeking Spiritual Whitespace

This past Sunday afternoon through Tuesday noon Joel and I attended the Northeast Iowa Synod pastors retreat in Dubuque Iowa.  It was the first time I went, so I was looking forward to the retreat and meeting some of Joel's colleagues.

My expectation was that we would be engaged in what Bonnie Gray calls "spiritual whitespace"  A time of rest and renewal....in ways that bring you peace and joy and healing. 

There was a speaker from Chicago's ELCA headquarters whose list of accomplishments and degrees took 5 minutes to read!  She lived and breathed academia, and for six hours over 2 days we took in her lectures.  I am not a theologian, but I was not the only one who found her fascination with research and presentation of Jesus as male and female a bit, actually more than a bit unsettling.   For me it was also frustrating and definitely not relaxing.  It was hard work for my brain to stay engaged.  I speak from my heart first and run it through my brain.  She spoke from her brain.

On day two I looked around and observed other rostered pastors, spouses, and staff.  Were any of them waiting for the point to be recognized, and how to apply this information to ourselves and our congregations?  Many had their iPads, tablets, and phones in hand.  Some were checking emails and Facebook (yep), others were taking notes.  I was making an effort to stay focused.

Don't get me wrong, there is a place for this kind of learning, although in all honesty, you could not pay me to sit through it again!  What kept running through my head was the question..."Is this a retreat or continuing education?"  In my opinion, there was nothing restoring or healing about those hours spent on hard chairs. 

In search of spiritual whitespace, I began to look forward to the worship times.  A man named Richard Bruxvoort Colligan led worship with Psalms set to music, using guitar, banjo, and drums.  It was beautiful, as we sang David's songs of lament and praise.  He would engage us in deep breathing, prayer for those on our left and right, and have us sit in silence until it became almost uncomfortable.  In these morning and evening moments, spiritual whitespace existed.  Moments to restore, rest, renew.  Moments to connect with Jesus in intimacy, One on one.   We also attended a service at Wartburg Seminary.  There is nothing like hearing a church filled with pastors singing.  Oh my the power in their voices!  Great food for the soul. 

Reflecting back on these days, I realized that no matter the circumstances, we have the opportunity to seek out and find spiritual whitespace, as we did within the beautiful music, the powerful church service at the Wartburg chapel, and even while swopping stories of our first years of ministry with friends over a meal.  Seek and ye will find.....  God waits patiently for us, in nature, in church, in our living rooms, even in hotel conference rooms.  He longs to give us nourishment for the soul.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday in our corner of the world and Fall has been sharing it's beauty with us up here in the upper Midwest.  Leaves are showing off their vibrant colors, the geese are on the move, and even the deer seem to be out in numbers, if I go by the four that were in our yard yesterday.  It is time to add a few pumpkins to the gourds and mum plant, fall decorations, and more that we enjoy seeing.  Don't you just looooove Fall??


We have walked this week most every day, although we did avoid the river road a few days after reading in the paper that a mountain lion was spotted out by the YMCA.  Seriously.  I enjoy the deer and wild turkeys, and even a coyote does not bring me concern,  but mountain lions? 

Our Gerber Daisy plant presented
us with one more beautiful bloom! 



Mum's the word!

This past week the neighbor noticed a crack in on of our trees near his property line.  It was big enough to cause concern and worst case scenarios to run through our heads.  We called a tree service and after he checked it he told us he could rearrange his schedule and come early the next morning to take care of it.  Evidently he felt it was a hazard too....so he came and cut off a big chunk of the tree, saving the rest.  Joel enjoyed watching the process and would have loved to join in! 

Friday I ended up having last minute laser surgery on my eye in the hope to lower the pressure.  I have been on a beta blocker eye drop for years, but a second kind of drop was added and caused me some serious heart palpitations that I am still recovering from.  So, the surgery was the next step....even though we had prayed and the pressure was down, I believe God told me to say yes to this procedure.  It was offered right on the spot by the eye specialist (who is great) and it was over in a matter of minutes. I go back in two weeks and if it has worked he will do a second session with the hope that I can be off all drops in the near future.  Yes!  It is the only medication I use so I would love to toss it out.

We head out tomorrow for another short trip.  This time we are going to a pastors conference.  This is the first time I have gotten to go, so I am looking forward to it, although I am happy we will spend only two nights in a hotel and then home to our own beds again.  I think after this trip we will be staying closer to home for awhile.

I read a fiction book this past week...one of those read-for-hours-and-finish-in-one-day books.  (Joel was gone for 12 hours) Now I am back to reading "My Heart The Holy Spirit's Home" and watching some Biblical teachings on healing, etc.  I also ordered a new CD, "You Make Me Brave" from Bethel that was recored live at their womens conference.  It is wonderful!  We have found a couple of new shows we are enjoying.....Madam Secretary is great!  So is NCIS New Orleans (so far) and then there is The Mysteries of Laura which had us laughing.  Speaking of that, Last Man Standing is a nice comedy too.  What has been getting your attention?

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

I Won't Hesitate

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,
“It has come at last— 
salvation and power
and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority

of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
    has been thrown down to earth, the one who accuses them
    before our God day and night.


 And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by their testimony. 


And they did not love their lives so much
    that they were afraid to die.
Revelations 12: 10,11

Wednesday morning I read a post written by Lisa Buffaloe about her healing from Lyme Disease.  I have been reading Lisa's posts for several years and find her writing both inspirational and encouraging. Like many with Lyme, Lisa battled this terrible disease for years.  During prayer one evening she heard Jesus speak to her as she felt heat move from her head down to her toes.  She knew she was healed.  It was then a matter of walking out that healing. Take a minute and read her story....

I have had a similar experience~ some of my healing came instantly, then inner healing with Holy Spirit at the lead took me on quite a tumultuous journey of restoration.  The rest of my physical healing has been a step by step process. That "rest of my healing" has been the hard part.  There are days I become discouraged.  

Wednesday was one of those days. Then God spoke to me through Lisa's words, and I realized I needed to pick up my mat one more time and walk forward.  I needed to rebuke the devil for whispering that I wasn't doing this healing journey the right way.   That old "I am not enough or doing it right" rising up it's serpent head hissing lies that tried to remove from my heart the "It is written" words of God.  In obedience I need to share my story.  All of it.

Because God has done amazing things in my life.  Because the powerful presence of God on me through Holy Spirit is part of my story, even if it makes others uncomfortable.  I share all my story because it gives God glory.  I share because it encourages others.....and me.  Because my Healer has led others to tell me, "God wants you well" ......"You are so faithful, don't give up!"  Because God's Word tells me Jesus already paid the price.  Because I believe in all His promises.  Because I love Him and He loves me......because of this and more....

"I won't hesitate to share what has happened ~ what God has done.......and promised."
Lisa Buffaloes

Oh God!  I won't hesitate to share just because I am afraid of looking foolish.  I won't hesitate to share just because I am still standing firm for some of my healing to be released.  I won't hesitate to share just because my broken past still plays a part of my present. 
 
Today I picked up my mat and walked forward by having last minute laser surgery on my eye to reduce pressure and get me off the beta blocker eye drop.  We had been praying for pressure to drop and it had, but I felt God telling me to say yes to the Dr.'s suggestion, whatever it would be.  It was not the path I envisioned,  but in obedience I said yes.  This, too, is part of my healing story.

So, I won't hesitate to share what has happened ~~what God has done and promised........Like Lisa and Bonnie Gray~ Faith Barista, and every single one of us, our stories are HIStory too.  He wants us to write them...to speak them...to live them.....to shine a light on what He has done and what He has promised. I will not hesitate.  It is my promise to Him.  I won't hesitate.


I am linking up today with Bonnie for Spiritual Whitespace Thursday.  Her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace is well worth the read! 
 
Spiritual Whitespace Linkup

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It Is Well

"It Is Well" 
Kristine DiMarco
Jesus Culture
Bethel

Joel and I were sitting in the home of an older family member when I noticed a strong odor of something chemical or musty that permeated every breath I took.  I could not identify it, but the old need to protect myself rose up and I quietly put my hand over part of my nose and mouth hoping to avoid an exposure.  It was in that moment, in the midst of conversation that I heard the quiet voice of Jesus say to me, "Do you trust Me, Renee?"  

Do you trust me?  So simple, and yet so complex....the question....and the answer.......  In that moment I had a choice to make.  Did I trust Jesus...did I trust that I was healed of reactions to chemicals and other odors.  That I was no longer that girl in the bubble.  Down came my arm and I laid my fear at the feet of Jesus.  I gave thanks to the Healer for setting me free from that yoke of slavery. And all was well.

Late last fall, we went on a two week trip out East to a conference on healing.  We searched for a natural spring along the way because a dear friend was instructed by Holy Spirit to tell me to drink from a spring.  Long story, short......we felt strongly that out of obedience I needed to do this.  God directed us to a natural spring on Amish land, and this never-lived-on-a-farm girl freaked out.  It was not what I expected....I was worried about getting bacteria...or parasites...or......  After more prayer and some stern words from Holy Spirit, I drank.  It was not easy, but I knew it was a matter of trust.  "Do you trust me?"  It was also a matter of obedience, and the bonus?  The UTI's I had dealt with for 9 months have been gone since that time a year ago.  Wow. 

Some "Do you trust me" situations are more challenging than others.  One recently had me in knots.  I have pondered His guidance and I have questioned whether we have heard Holy Spirit speaking.  I have read that we can hear three voices...our own, the enemy's or God's.  And sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes when the answer seems illogical, we tend to think it cannot be from Jesus, but look how many times in the Bible Jesus did illogical things.  He turned water into wine.  He spit on a man's eyes and they were healed.  He fed thousands on one boy's small lunch.  This is where discernment with God, and prayer come together, when in the natural the answer looks illogical.

Yesterday morning I listened to the worship song above which I found on blogger friend Deb's Sunday post.  "It is Well", sung by Kristine DiMarco.  The song spoke to my heart deeply.  Later in the afternoon, while talking with God, I asked for confirmation on what I felt He was telling me concerning my current situation.   With a trust issue at hand, I asked that this song I had listened to for the first time that morning, be one of the worship songs on Bethel Church that day.  I have watched their services for a very long time and never heard them sing it.  A few minutes later I turned on the morning service (which is afternoon here) and walked into the kitchen to get lunch going.  Less than 5 minutes later I heard Brian Johnson begin the first words of the song!  I began crying, humbled by God's love and response to my untrusting human request.  I am not ready to share yet the situation that has had me struggling, but I know Jesus is asking once again...."Do you trust me?" while patiently helping me out along the journey!

Do you trust me?  Have you heard those words from Jesus?  Most of us have.  Does He challenge you to step out in faith?  While following Jesus, there will be times in all our lives where we need to answer this question. It is not always easy or clear, but we have God's promises to rely on.  It will be well.  It is well.  Always.