Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Just Put It To Rest

In 1984 a church member shot up his brother in law's house and then told them he was going to go kill the pastor.  That pastor was Joel.  The police called, and soon arrived and were outside and inside with guns drawn.  Our kids were frightened.  We were frightened.  Several squad cars escorted us out of town down to the Twin Cities.  It did not end there.  More threats and another arrest and 6 years of being on "high alert" because one mentally unstable man decided Joel was the cause of all his problems and needed to be dead.

We learned something very interesting during this tough season of our lives...........many people did not take the threat seriously.  The police did.  Our family did.  The psychiatrist working with him did.  The schools did.  But there was a kind of, "Oh that is just how he is" that came from people in town.

When I first started talking about the abuse I went through as a young child, the reactions were somewhat the same from some people.   Why talk about it.  It is over now.  Lots of people go through it, it's not really a big deal.  Put it to rest.  I learned late that I lived my whole life on high alert because I never felt safe.  My voice had no power as a child, but it does now even though there are those who try to silence it still.

The #MeToo revolution is in full gear right now.  I am finding it a bit overwhelming to listen to all the women who are angry and hurt, broken by what happened.  Those who are finding their voice now.  Do some have an agenda?  I'm sure they do............although it is a documented fact that only about 3% are NOT telling the truth.  That is a pretty small number.

 I truly hope and pray that the #MeToo gives not only voice to those who are part of this group but that change will actually come from it all.  That it will NOT BE OKAY any longer.  The climate of our country, of our world has fueled much of it, and more than ever we understand that the victim cannot become the suspect.  I hope and pray that each man and woman, and let's remember it is 1 of 5, will have someone as willing to listen, believe, and validate like my husband Joel has.

Even though right now the focus is on what happened, we know that Jesus provided healing for us on the cross.  For all suffering and sin.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Our Resident Wrens

We have Wrens who are residents of our backyard and the two houses we have up in the trees.  They first created a nest in the house located at the end of our deck, then when those baby birds "flew the nest" they moved over to the other birdhouse and built a new nest.  It has been fun to watch them on their journey.  We love listening to their songs too......they seem to be a happy couple!

We have laughed often as they chase away anyone and anything that gets near.  We once saw a squirrel running up and down and all around our big locust tree and then realized the wren couple were chasing him and he was trying to escape their wrath.  The same thing happened with a crow that came to visit with the hope of snatching an egg or two.  It was driven off by the parents as they fought to protect their offspring from a bird that was 20 times the size of themselves.  They are amazing little birds.

I could not help but think about our family that came for our 50th celebration.  We enjoyed having them here for 3 nights and 4 days....longer than most visits.   It was hard to have them go.  They are definitely grown and "left the nest" with our youngest being 32 years of age.  They have their own busy lives and we are always thankful when we get to spend time with them.  Our oldest son has said to me often, "You raised us to be independent, capable, people, going out into the world to make our own way............and now we have all done that.  And there is sadness for you in that too, because none of us live nearby. "  So true.  So very true.

Like those wrens that visit us every year, we, too, did what we could to protect our children.  We raised them in a  Christian home, fed them well, loved them deeply.  We made plenty of mistakes, but our children have turned out well in spite of and because of us.  They each walk their own journey.  We are very proud of our children and their families.  They are good people, and do life well.  Of course they have their ups and downs, their challenges and hardships, but they know to rely on God.  Their faith sees them through. 

And now they are seeing their own children grow up and leave the nest.  Watching them find their way, and stepping back to let them "fly away" into their own future.  Not an easy thing to do, but necessary.

And here we are, finding ourselves in the autumn season of our lives.  So grateful to be here to celebrate each new day, but pondering our future and God's plan for us.  Our grands are growing up, our children are well settled with some coming close to 50.  My goodness, when did that happen"!   How often our prayers are about them, for their protection, their success, their health.  With gratefulness of course.

I wish our Wren families well as they nest, raise and teach their little ones to leave the nest.  I wish our children well as they nest, raise and teach their own children to be adults who one day leave the nest.  It is an amazing journey filled with mostly joy and always God's presence.  Be proud of them.  We are. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Our 50th Celebration

Happy 50th

Our Plan B for a location turned out to be a good decision for our 50th Wedding Anniversary gathering.  The heat and humidity were off the charts, and right before the party started at the church, a heavy storm came through with torrential rains and a bit of hail.  Awful!  Even so, by 4 the party was in full swing with family and a few colleagues and old friends coming together to celebrate.  We did not invite anyone from former congregations except a couple from the Morris area where we lived years ago.  If we were to invite parishner friends, we would have to pick and choose from the two dozen churches Joel has worked in at in some capacity or another, so we made the hard decision not to do that.

Vow service

Vow service

We celebrated with cake and coffee.....and then we gathered in the sanctuary to renew our vows.  Our children had a small part of the brief ceremony.  After the vow renewal we offered supper, and after supper and more visiting we danced a little to music on our new Bose speaker, a gift from our kids and their families.  It was wonderful!
Dancing to "Could I Have This Dance
by Anne Murray
"our song"

Our friends Mary Lou and Keith came around 2 and spent the time working, which made it easier on the kids to get out and visit with family, too.  And the grands were helping people get in the door....taking umbrellas out to those who were getting rained on.  A lot of hard work went on so we could spend our time greeting and visiting with those who came.

Mark and Beth with Sarah in background

Sisters Jo and Jan dancing

Sunday morning we had a brief worship service with communion and then a brunch.  I think everyone was gone by 2:15 at which time we crashed for a nap!  Ha......We were in bed by 9:30.   Monday  we were wishing it was not over, but we took two naps and had early bed again!   Tuesday Joel rode 15 miles and I walked so were are starting to recover......although we are kept napping twice a day and heading to bed early.  That continued on Wednesday!  Huh....Guess the weeks of planning and work and then a few days of family and the party kinda wiped us out.  Isn't life grand?  We always say we would rather wear out than rust out!

It was wonderful to see a friend we first met in Salt Lake City in 1970.  We visited with long time friends we met 42 years ago at the seminary, plus another pastor friend who we met in MN.....but I remember as a child because he and his family were missionaries to Brazil and our church helped support them.  My friend Lana (since 5th grade) and her husband Roger came.  Some of Joel's family came from NW Minnesota and and some of mine from Minnesota, Texas, and Arizona.   I think our son-in-law's parents came the farthest as they were heading home from CT and did a round about stop here before heading back to WI and their own home.  So nice of them to come.  We had about 70 people come for some food, fellowship, and fun.  So so grateful.

Joel and I are so grateful we are able to celebrate so many years together, grateful for our family and all those we love and care about.  Grateful for God bringing us together so many years ago.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Plan B

Joel meets with a few colleagues on a Thursday morning once a month.  He has been a part of this group of pastors from North Iowa since we moved here 22 years ago.  They come together to share, discuss, and enjoy each other's company over morning coffee and lunch.

This month they were going to meet at the big park here in town.  Joel offered to bring the coffee and rolls, and hold the shelter until everyone arrived.  And then the rain came.  Again.  It rained all night and continued in the morning.  A Plan B was needed. so we welcomed the group to our home.

We are celebrating our 50th anniversary next weekend.  The plan is to have it at our home, with family and a few friends joining our celebration.  A tent canopy in the back yard with table and chairs is on the agenda along with some good food and fellowship.  There is just one thing we cannot control............the weather.  And the weather does not look good.  The forecast is consistently telling us it will be 91 degrees with chance of rain and a lot of humidity.  A Plan B is needed, so we put one into place.

Joel, who loves nature, was a bit bummed by the Plan B for his group, and we are a bit bummed by the necessity for a Plan B for our wedding anniversary, but remembering that it is not the location that is so important, it is the time together with those we love and care about.

On a much more serious note, our youngest daughter went in for same day surgery and ended up in the CCU with seizures that started after surgery.  She was kept intubated and sedated through the day and night.  Then today she was doing really well when the seizures started again.  An MRI and EEG ruled out any brain disorder or tumor.  She was diagnosed with pseudo-seizures, and thankfully does not have epilepsy.  She will be taking anti-seizure meds and making some changes in her life.   This was definitely a really big Plan B.

How often in life do we need a plan B?   I think we can all name a few.   Life seems to be what happens while we are making other plans.  What we hold on to is the knowledge that God walks with us through every Plan B.  The big ones and the little ones.  We hold our plans loosely and pray for God to guide our way, trusting He is with us.  Our Plan B's are no surprise to him.  He is there to work out all things for good.  His plans are for good and not for evil.  That is what we remember. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Shofar's Message

For the past few months Holy Spirit has been guiding me concerning spiritual warfare.  It began in April during a time when we asked Jesus what kind of armor He wanted to give us.  For myself I immediately saw an angel pick up a shofar (a ram's horn) and hand it to me.  I was confused on what it meant but when I looked up information on the shofar, I discovered it was used to battle in the spirit realm, to confuse the enemy, and also for worship and praise.  Our question and God's answer put me on a path that continues today.

In May as I meditated I saw before me a huge angel possibly 9ft. tall.  He looked fierce, wearing a type of armor.  He had what looked like to be 4 wings.  I heard him pull a sword from the sheath at his waist.  Then I heard Jesus say, "You need to take this seriously."  I asked Him, "Take what seriously"?  I then heard the word, "warfare".  I replied, "I'm so weary of warfare."  I immediately saw hundreds of angels~ some on foot and some on horseback.  They were behind the 9 ft. angel. I felt the need to ask "What do I need to do?"  I heard the word, "DECLARE".  Immediately I heard the shofar and then saw one in my hand.  I saw myself lift it up high and turned to face the opposing army. They were on horseback and foot, wearing dark gray slate armor with their faces covered.   Each step we took forward caused the enemy's army to take a step back.

Then in early June I asked God to let us see in the spirit realm and immediately I saw the 9 ft. angel again.  He had 6 wings that were spread out.  He had a chiseled and very serious face, piercing eyes, although I don't remember the color.  He also had reddish blond hair.  There was a radiant light streaming behind him.  I heard, "I am here for you.  I am assigned to you.  I am fighting for you. I am with you always."  I said again, "I am weary of fighting" and he replied, "This is a war."  I then noticed I was wearing shoes of "peace" that I have seen in past visions, and Joel was standing beside me.  I saw a trumpet being blown and I heard it, but it sounded like a shofar.   I asked, "What do you want us to do?" and God laughed.  He said, "Don't ask questions, just focus on this."  We each were given a trumpet, handed to us the way surgical instruments are given to surgeons...precise and firm.  We then walked ahead with the trumpets,  blowing them.  We heard shofar sounds and then took a step.  Then again the shofar sound and took another step.  We were told again, "Declare.  Declare the works of the Lord."

In 2 Chronicles Jehoshaphat was told to send his worshipers and singers out ahead of the soldiers who were going to be fighting a number of armies.  He was obedient and his worshipers and singers went out ahead of the army.  As they did so, the opposing armies turned on each other and all died.  Worship and praise can be a weapon of warfare.  I'm thinking, so can declarations and praise for God's goodness in our lives.

Just this week I was re-reading what I had written about these visual experiences and I felt strongly that God wanted me to share these with the public again as a prophetic word for others, not just ourselves.  I have prayed and asked about it as I usually only "get" what I see for us, but He seems to want His people who are "weary of warfare" to know that He is with you always.  He is here for you.  His angels are assigned to you.  Encamped around you.   And what is warfare?  Sickness, disease, anxiety, financial difficulties, anything that seems like an uphill battle. He is fighting with you and for you.  . Victory will be yours.  Declare His goodness.  Declare all the times He has healed you.  Declare and give thanks for His promises, especially the ones He has spoken over your life.  Yes, worship and praise, declaring the goodness of the Lord.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Father Heart

Matt, Joel and Mark

Today is Father's Day and there is not one of us breathing air that does not have a father in their lives, present or past.  Many are fortunate enough to have a father that brings a smile to their face and warm memories to their heart.  Included in that list would be my favorite columnist, Sharon Randall.  Today she wrote about "the fathers I have loved."  which certainly got me thinking about the fathers I have loved too.

On Friday Joel and I were discussing this day.  Joel's dad died when he was 16 and my father when I was 6.  For Joel, he has many memories to rely on that define who his father was.  For me, I think about when Joel and I married and his mom told me that his dad had always desired for Joel to be a pastor.  He prayed about it and even kept him from doing more of the farm work, in the hope he would see his prayers answered.  Joel's mom requested that I not tell Joel this until he made his own decision.  I kept that promise and even though I never met his dad, I loved him for his father heart.

My memories of my dad come from other people, as my own are tucked away in my subconscious somewhere.  According to my sisters, my dad was a fun, loving man who doted on his "girls".   We know he had "gypsy blood" and was always on the move.  My sister Jan went to 14 schools.  I had moved 9 times and lived in 5 states by the time I was 7.  My memories of those years are definitely foggy, but when I was 11 I had the privilege of having my brother-in-law Dick "father" me.  He was a steady man who cared deeply about his family and blessed me with a father's love once again.

There are many in our world who do not have good memories when they think about their dads, but hopefully that changes when they think about other men in their lives who have nurtured them.   We also look up to our heavenly Father who loves us beyond our comprehension.  His Perfect Love is waiting for us all.

My hubby, struggles with Father's Day.  He has a deep love for his children and is so grateful for the fine adults they have become.......but........  Even so, he sees his flaws as a parent and wishes he could have a few do-overs.  Don't we all.   Having a father and being a father is never perfect for sure.

Yet, this day, we honor fathers.  I am so proud of Joel and his father heart.  I am so proud of our sons Matt and Mark and the fathers they are.  We feel so thankful for our two son-in-laws and the fine men and fathers they are.  Parenthood is not for the faint of heart, but it does come from the heart.  It is a gift, fatherhood.  Treasure it, embrace, it, and keep opening your hearts to it, and always remembering to look up and give thanks to Papa God who fathers us all.