Thursday, July 24, 2014

No One A Stranger, Everyone WIth A Story

Wednesday afternoon my cowboy preacher hubby got on his recumbent and rode downtown to observe RAGBRAI as it unfolded in our city here in north Iowa.  RAGBRAI takes place every July for a week as bicyclists from every state come ride together across Iowa, taking different routes each year with different host towns welcoming riders along with way.  It is a serious adventure with real risks as they ride up to 100 miles a day. This year already, two men have died from heart attacks.  There were around 10,000 riders this year, along with others who bring campers, trucks, etc. to follow them on the journey.  Our city was expecting 30,000 to come in...doubling our size.  Joel had made plans to ride the "hump" day, going a "mere" 40 miles, but life intervened and he needed to be elsewhere.  So later Wednesday afternoon  he headed out biking around town to visit with those who were setting up tents or eating at the different churches where they served hot meals for a small cost to those who were hungry. 

Bikes downtown
 
Bikes at the park
 
No one is a stranger with my cowboy preacher.   He struck up conversations with riders from New York, Colorado, and much to his delight a man from The Philippines who now lives in southern Iowa.  He bought meals for a couple of the guys and chatted with them about their passion for biking, even shipping their bikes and flying themselves to Iowa for RAGBRAI.  He heard about their jobs as graphic and industrial engineers and learned a bit about their daily lives.  Another man had an Air Force insignia on his shirt so Joel stopped to chat and found out he was with the Air Force Cycling Team!  Since Joel spent 8 years in the Air Force, a great conversation followed.  Danny, the man from the Philippines was eager to visit about his country.  He shared with Joel that Clark Air Base, where Joel had been stationed so long ago, is now going to be made into the Manila Airport since Manila has grown to over 2 million and cannot enlarge the airport there.  They talked about the Marshall Law under Marcos, our two years in his native country, and more. 

No one is a stranger and everyone has a story to tell.

Which takes me back two days to when my hubby answered to door to a young man selling "books".  Joel stood outside and chatted for awhile.  I was sitting in the living room when I heard them come in the house.  The young man from Estonia needed to use the bathroom so Joel brought him in to use the one right inside our front door.  Ok.  To be honest here, I was not happy.  He was a stranger for heaven's sake.  Was he really selling books?  Was he clean?  Using our bathroom? 

Remember what I said about no one being a stranger to my cowboy preacher? 

It got me thinking.  Past negative experiences had me set up boundaries around our home years ago, and welcoming the book seller with the Russian sounding accent into our home took me back nearly 40 years ago to when Joel brought home a man from a downtown mission for Easter dinner.  The man ended up harassing me with abusive phone calls that had us concerned for the safety of our family.  This was not the only time our family would be in some kind of danger, but we agreed to set firm boundaries back then.  We would help all the people God sends our way, but our home was off limits.  The family needed to be safe.

Joel is not clueless to the dangers in our world.  He just believes God will make him aware of who he can trust and who he can't.  Experience has educated us.   We both enjoy visiting with those we meet.  It is not difficult for either of us to strike up a conversation.  We like to talk.  Too much, in fact.  No stranger....works for Joel and for me....except if it comes home or the radar I have tells me someone is not safe.

But back to RAGBRAI and Joel's visit.  He took plenty of photos, a few of which I am sharing here, and he enjoyed greatly the atmosphere of it all.  As we drove through town together later in the evening we were amazed by all the people...everywhere.  Tent after tent...bike after bike.  Biker after biker.

Tents at a church near our home
 
Tents along the river in the park
Nice place to camp!

 It was fun to see.  We did not stay around for the Bret Michaels concert, but heard there were thousands and thousands in the streets and around city hall who were entertained until the wee hours.  I think Joel was itching to go back into the fray the next morning, but commitments took him elsewhere.  Still he enjoyed his few hours of fun yesterday.  So many people, each with a story to tell....none of them a stranger to my cowboy preacher. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Letting Go Of Our Yes For God's No

"There is no yield in our lives
until we yield our yes to the Lord"
Ann Voskamp

This past April we made plans to go to a healing conference out in Colorado that was scheduled for mid August.  We were so excited!  The ministry that was holding the conference is one I listen to on nearly a daily basis.  Along with speakers every night, we were going to spend 5 days going through their class on healing, then putting the teachings into practice.  It sounded great so we signed up, making hotel reservations near the college in a place with a great view of Pike's Peak.  When Joel interviewed for an Interim position he let them know we would be gone for two weeks in August. We made all the plans to go, and hoped to see our grandson Eli and some old friends while traveling.

And then we prayed.

We prayed, believing God would bless this latest adventure in healing.  How could He not?! He had sent us to another conference last October so we assumed He would want us to go to this one too!  We spent a couple of weeks praying and meditating and to our dismay, both of us strongly felt God say no.  No?  We struggled with that no, and prayed again.  And again.  Consistently we felt we heard a strong no. 

We decided that maybe we were to attend another conference that was going on at the same time in Florida....yes, maybe we were to go there.  Nada.  Another no.  When Joel's mentor and our friend Merv died we found out they were having a memorial service at Yellowstone mid August.  The celebration of life was at the Mammoth chapel at the same time as the two conferences, so we felt maybe this was the answer to why God was saying no.  With prayer and determination we tried to work it out, but to no avail.  We felt we had to say no.  Another disappointment.

So, when I read Ann's quote above, it spoke to my questioning soul.  Giving our "yes" to God is really a matter of trust.....and obedience.  Sometimes obedience is not fun.

When, out of obedience to God,  I drank from a natural Spring in Indiana last Fall, I was nervous about it.  What ifs kept coming up, but I drank, and the results of that have been 9 months free from the continual UTI's I was plagued with.  Was it the water?  No.  A dear friend heard from Holy Spirit I was to drink from a natural spring...it was so strange she did not want to tell me, but HS kept after her until she did.  We took it very serious and with God's guidance found an Amish spring to drink from.  The healing was the result of doing what God told me to do.   We get that.

We don't get why going to a conference where we would soak in His Word and learn more about His gift of healing is a firm "no".  But we are staying home from conferences, from our friend's service, from the 6 different things we had opportunities to do that week in August because we are yielding our yes to Him.  I don't pretend to like it or understand.  We just believe that He knows what is best for us.

The first time I left home after 10 years of being housebound, we prayed and prayed about the journey.  It was a step of faith.  Joel heard these words as he worried about the trip.  "She needs to go.  I will be her place of safety."  Out of obedience we went.  And then out of obedience last October we went on a two week trip to a healing conference in CT that change lives forever.  This August out of obedience we are staying home from another healing conference that we felt would change our lives.  Letting go of our yes because God said no.  We can trust Him.

 
I just read on one of my blog posts from two years ago these words.  "Radical obedience is doing what God says, obeying Him when it does not make sense."  Maybe this is not on the scale of radical, but it definitely does not make sense to us in the natural world.  I am sure that somewhere down the road we will look back and see how God worked this into His plan for our livcs.  For now we wait, letting go of our yes for God's no.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to all of you from our corner of the world.  We've enjoyed beautiful weather the past week, in fact it felt more like September than mid July!  I even pulled out my wool comforter, cranked open the windows at night and slept well under my Woolie .  Tomorrow the heat comes back, but for now we are enjoying the cooler "Montana-style" nights.

We headed up to north central MN. last Wednesday with the sole purpose of visiting family and Joel also hoping to have some alone time.  We visited with Joel's Aunt Harriet, age 102, and his cousin, three nieces...two in person, one by phone....a family friend who is like a second mom, and ate out with a close cousin and his wife.  Great time!  We were able to spend time with our daughter and SIL and three treasures, and I spent an afternoon with our SIL's parents and his niece, too, while Joel was off biking 20 miles on his favorite trail and swimming in a childhood lake that holds many memories for him.

Speaking of biking, I managed to stay upright on our granddaughter's bike when I denied how crummy I was feeling and took off riding for oh, maybe 100 feet.  First time on a bike for decades!  Joel would like me to eventually bike with him, but I am thinking those seats are just too painful for this spring chicken......or old hen!

On Saturday we headed down to Chaska Mn, SE of Mpls. for the wedding of my nephew Nate, and his fiancĂ©, Livja.   It was an outdoor wedding with the reception in a "barn" on site in the country..  Rain fell heavy in the morning and early afternoon, but the rain stopped for the ceremony and the sun came out later.  Lots of things for the kids to do~~ a bean bag toss, a large swing and porch, photo booth, firepit, and wide open spaces to play. After a good meal, we were able to hear Nate and his good friend play a song before the DJ took over.  Nate had been in a small band for years and still is part of a duo that plays at clubs, etc. Sunday morning we gathered again with everyone for a breakfast and more visiting before saying our good-byes and heading out to our individual homes.

Joel and I ate lunch with our second oldest daughter, SIL and family before heading down to Gustavus Adolphus College to look around the campus where 4 of our children and our DIL attended.  My nephew Nate is now a football coach there!  Then we went down to my dad's and paternal grandparents graves a few miles from the college, before continuing our journey home.  It was nice to get home after being gone so long, but we came back to water in the laundry room which meant wet carpet and work for Joel....again.  Ugh. 

I have been sleeping 9 hours most nights since our return.  Guess I needed to catch up after so much visiting and road time.  We have been walking at the city park a few days this week due to the association spraying all common areas, but Friday and today we were back to the river road and our usual 1.5 miles. 

Thursday after supper we headed over to our favorite Iowa lake (only one in our area).  We did not realize they have something called "Thursdays on Main" with vendors, arts and crafts, and live music all up and down main street in the evening.  We searched for a parking place and ended up walking several blocks to get to the lake and then walked through the downtown enjoying the throngs of people and the music.  Fun!  Who knew?! 

Friday we picked up 40 lbs of blueberries grown without chemicals by Mennonites,  and by that afternoon we had 10lbs in the freezer.  Of course we have enjoyed a few fresh yummy blueberries while preparing them to freeze!  They are sooooo good fresh! Working on getting the other 30 lbs. done this weekend.

This was Joel's first week back to work.  Even though he works mostly from home, we are both adjusting to the change.  He is looking forward to the challenge and I am looking forward to Sunday worship with the congregation.

I have not been reading much, catching up mostly with magazines and teachings online, plus one or two TV shows.  After spending several days without TV, it just seems so loud and distracting to have it on much.

What have you been up to?

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Do We Bleed?

"Why does it take so long to realize that 
 the words you speak
bleed up through your skin making you
more becoming or more beastly?"
Ann Voskamp
 
When I read these words in Ann's post over at A Holy Experience today, they held my attention.  It was quite a visual for me....this bleeding up through my skin the results of my words.  Speaking grace and life or speaking death and hatred. 
 
In the past I have been concerned about what I speak, thinking I may hurt others with my words.  Most of the time it is a short sprint from what I am thinking to what is coming out of my mouth.  No lag time!  That can be good and that can be bad.  Reading Ann's post, I pondered it all and I had to ask myself, do I intentionally hurt others with what I say?  Oh, I pray not. 
 
There is the power of life and death with our words....and the Bible says those who love it will eat of their fruit.  What we say, the words we speak from out of our mouth carry an echo.  They give us air to breath or take that very breath away according to scripture.
 
There are those who intentionally harm others with their words. Vicious, vindictive, and with deadly force, they attack.  They think they are only hurting the one who receives their fiery darts dipped in venom,  and how surprised they will be to learn that they are chipping away at their very own souls with what comes out of their mouths. You cannot speak hatred and death without dying a little inside.  God is clear about that.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat it's fruits."
Proverbs 18:21
 
And what about the words we speak over ourselves?  When we talk about ourselves negatively the enemy smiles.  We are doing his work for him and he likes that.  When we speak against God's masterpiece ~the you and the me He shaped and created~ our hearts painfully listen...our bodies respond...our very cells are affected.  Powerful stuff isn't it?!

I expect all of us know the power of words.  When I was an Interpreter for the deaf, words came through the use of my hands, but they still had power.  When I use my prayer language, I do not understand what I am praying, but I feel the affects.  Power.   We see the power of words in a courtroom, a doctor's office, school, pulpit, or even on the playground. 

Truly language in any form is a gift given to us by a loving God.  We need to treasure it and take heed the warning God gives us in Proverbs.  We need to be aware because, as Ann says, and more importantly the Word warns, we bleed through the skin the words we speak shaping who we are. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Linking Up The Past, Present, Future


This past weekend we embraced the present, the past, and the future.  My"blogaton "was in part due to heading up north to visit with family.  We were able to spend time with Joel's 102 year old Aunt who still livcs at home with her son, plus spend a few hours visiting with a dear friend and second mom who lived across a field from Joel as he grew up.  We also went out for supper with his cousin and wife, having a nice chat.  Joel took another day and went to his family church and talked with  our niece who lives nearby, then biked 20 miles on his favorite trail, visited with another niece, seeing her new country acreage, and finished up by going for a swim in a nearby childhood lake.  He had a great time reminiscing and enjoying nature at its best in MN.
Janis and Joel sharing memories

We were able to spend more time with our second oldest daughter and her family, getting plenty of hugs from their treasures.  We then headed down to my nephew's wedding on Saturday near the Twin Cities.  He and his (now) wife had an outdoor ceremony with the reception being held in a "barn" on the ceremony site.  It was all very nice.  We enjoyed gathering with so many of our extended family~~eating, talking, and dancing.  We all stayed at the same hotel so we were able to get up and gather once again for breakfast!!  The matriarch is my older sister who helped raise me.  She is 81 and joined in all the festivities, although by Sunday morning she was ready for her sofa.  High levels of pain along with last fall's stroke have made her more fragile than I care to admit.  She has always been strong, opinionated (a political powerhouse) and loves her family with a passion.  Hard to see her physically weak, but good to see her enjoying everyone so very much!

Nate and Livja

Sunday we went out to eat at Ruby Tuesday's (seriously, 5 times in one month!)  with our second oldest daughter, her hubby, and the three treasures.  Then we headed south to St. Peter MN where 4 of our children went to school at Gustavus Adolphus College (Lutheran).  The two oldest graduated from there along with our DIL.  One daughter went two years before transferring to another college when she married.  Another son went for a year.  Lots of memories!

After leaving there we went farther south to see my dad's grave and those of his parents, my paternal grandparents.  My dad died in 1955 when I was 7.    I pondered what life would have been like if his had not been cut short.  Sad.  Yet, nearly 60 years later I look back and rejoice in how God has guided my life and how blessed I am to be with Joel for so many years.  God is good.

Looking at the past can be a blessing wrapped in joy or in sadness.  God certainly works all things together for good.....and we are not to "live" there.  The present is to be embraced.  Seeing family and friends and soaking in the moments of hugs, tears, and laughter was great.  Each day is a gift, right?   Seeing the future in the eyes of our nephew and his bride filled us with hope.  Their life together is just beginning, really.  In all three we find God.  Working out His best plan, letting us look back to remember his faithfulness, stand in the now with Jesus by our side, and take a peak at the future. 

Lives in their final season, lives just beginning, lives in the here and now, lives with an earthly end so long ago.  All linking up together.   To everything there is a season.....

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of the world here in corn country.  We have had some wonderful walks this week, including one over at the state park again.  Unfortunately, after so much rain the mosquitoes are out in droves.  The deer and rabbits continue to nibble on our hostas and flowers and have little fear of humans. 

Last Sunday we headed to church, and then once again to the lake and Cabin Coffee along with a walk at the state park.  Monday was our 46th wedding anniversary and we enjoyed lunch at Ruby Tuesday's and that evening we watched the movie, "The Magic of Belle Isle" with Morgan Freeman on Netflix.  It was a good one.  It poured rain all day, but the sun was  shining in us as we gave thanks for so many years together!  Tuesday my hairdresser gave me a "summer cut".  Yikes!  Just a little short for my taste, well, more than short.  So glad hair grows back!  We spent a couple days just relaxing....just groceries and baking here at home plus watching a live conference in CO. 

Thursday we went to the Farmer's  Market and then headed over to the lake again for their fourth of July festivities.  A carnival, craft and art fair, and more.  We did not stay too long, but I purchased a cute patriotic decoration.  The thing is, I felt like I had to buy something....and here's why.  Joel began talking with the lady selling her wares and found out she went to the Lutheran church in a town south of where we live, where Joel had interviewed 19 years ago!  They visited about the difficulty of finding and supporting a pastor, etc.  Soon I felt I had to buy something....and I told Joel "No more getting to know these vendors on a first name basis!  It makes me feel like I nced to buy something to support them!"  Ha ha.  I like what I purchased, though.  Thursday night we watched our local fireworks from our living room.  We can view them quite well, and can avoid crowds and bugs!



On the Fourth we walked 2 miles early and then got ready for company.  My sister Kay and her hubby Dan came for lunch and the afternoon.  We did nothing more than eat and visit, but the hours flew by.

Our friend Linny from A Place Called Simplicity celebrated the fourth this year without her hubby Dw who is in Uganda with their missionary daughter EmmaLee.  Both Linny and Dw take several mission trips a year there bringing a team of volunteers with them.  They can use prayers as he tries to get home.  First flight canceled due to plane trouble and this week he canceled again due to specific terrorist threats on the airport he was flying out of.  The can use prayers for him to get home after being gone 9 weeks now, and for EmmaLee and all to be safe as the terrorist threats ramp up concerning Christians in Uganda and other surrounding countries. 

We walked daily this week, enjoying nature at it's best.  We spent some time reading, watching a little TV, and a lot of the live-streamed conference at Andrew Wommack Ministries.  Another week has gone by quickly!  Hope all you Americans had a great Independence Day celebration.

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