Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Photo Reflection: Walking

Our daughter took this photo as we were walking to our car after the wedding and reception of our niece and her husband.  It reminds me so much of our life together.  We met in the fall of 1966, and began dating in January 1967.  We married the end of June 1968, and what a journey we have been on! 

It is truly a surprise to me when I see our images reflected in a photo or the mirror.  We are so different that those young kids who said I do.  I was 20 and Joel just 22 as we walked down the aisle of my home church and out into the world.  And here we are, 48 1/2 years later, still walking out into the world and still crazy about each other.  I cannot image this journey with anyone else.

So many years stretched out together to make our marriage, so many joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.  Sickness stole time, death bruised our hearts, loss grieved us deeply..........but God.  God never left us.  God gave us beauty for ashes, He restored health, He showered us with His love.  He blessed us with children and then in-loves, and the grandchildren that grace our home and bless our lives.  He gave us purpose and so many great adventures in the many places we have called home.  He offered His Son and Holy Spirit.  

We are so grateful that we are able to continue to walk together on God's path for us.  Never alone.  God always guides and directs us.  He lights the way!  

"Your Word is a lamp unto my feet
 and a light unto my path."
Psalm 119:105

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Autumn Preparations

Our backyard is covered with locust leaves, while our Maple and a few other neighborhood trees hold on tightly to their beauty.  Gold, orange, green, and favorite colors of Autumn.

Our favorite neighborhood tree

The squirrels scurry through the crisp leaves blanketing the ground, looking for tidbits to bury as they prepare for what is coming.  Winter.  A few days ago our trees were filled with robins gathering for their journey South.  We are seeing a lot more geese, too.  Eating in our association field, filling our skies with their beauty, and the sounds.....oh my.  We had to chuckle as one with a cold flew over us. He had to have had a cold, because he sounded all plugged up and throaty!  The only thing missing was the cough.

Nature is in preparation.  And so, I have observed, is our neighborhood..  In between raking yards, trees are being trimmed, windows cleaned, and snowblowers and furnaces are getting a readiness check-up.  One neighbor is quickly building a 3 season and just had the house painted.  Rakes are out, gardens winterized, and eves cleaned.  Soon Joel will fix our neighbor's basement window covers, he has already started the endless process of bagging leaves in our front yard. It is mid October so there is still time to get ready, but being prepared is a good idea. Snow can surprise us in October too.

It is always good to be prepared for the winter seasons.  In nature and in life. I have been re-reading Rick Renner's book, "Dressed to Kill", which speaks of putting on the full armor of God in preparation for what comes our way.  Those winter seasons that can take so much out of us.  Just how do we prepare?  In so many ways!!  Besides the armor the Word speaks of in Ephesians, Sunday worship services, Bible Study and reading, connections with fellow church members, devotions, and devoted prayer times are ways we prepare for any winter seasons that come our way.  And remembering.....remembering that God is always with us.  We do not walk through life alone.

I am not looking forward to winter, but we will be prepared for whenever it comes.  I don't look forward to those winter seasons that come into our lives either, but we do what we can to prepare and we trust God with the rest.  We trust God and we remember "Lo, I am with you always...."

And speaking of the earth, we continue to take in Autumn and all it's vibrant colors while getting ready for winter white.  Such beauty to feast our eyes on, including the porch pumpkins.  We took in so much of Autumn while driving last week to various parts of Minnesota.  God certainly uses His artist brush lavishly in the Fall.  And for that we are grateful.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Funeral, Two Weddings, and A Baby

Yesterday we arrived home after being gone for 8 days.  It was good to get back and settle in, while at the same time also noticing that our home seemed so quiet and empty of family voices.

Last Sunday morning we left early for Minnesota, first going to worship with our son Mark and grandson Noah at their awesome church.  So satisfying for a thirsty soul.  After lunch we headed east to Stillwater MN for our great-niece's wedding.  Katie is my sister Jan's granddaughter and my nephew Bob's girl.  It was a chilly day and the wedding service and reception was on the top of the Stillwater library.  Even with the need for coats it was a lovely venue for a wedding with a view of the Mississippi River.

A beautiful view with the Mississippi
River speckled by boats in the distance

Bride Katie with dad Bob

We spent the night at a hotel in Hudson, another great little river town, having brunch the next morning with family at a nice local cafe and bakery.  We headed north soon after,but first we made our way over to another town to watch a treasure run in cross country at a local golf course. Fun! Tuesday I stuck around the farm and later was able to see another treasure play soccer, while Joel went on a 22 mile bike ride on a great trail connected to his home town.  Then he went to the visitation of a Dahlen family friend who had died.  Bob S. had one request before his death, that Joel officiate at his funeral, so Wednesday morning we went to Joel's home church.  My husband has a gift in this area, and it was a beautiful service.

We had plans to head home Thursday to get ready for the next wedding by Red Wing MN. (Another river town), but the grands talked us into staying, although it did not take much encouragement!  So Thursday Joel went riding on another trail and I continued observing the harvest going on outside. There is something beautiful and so right about the work being done, the fields changing as the crops yield their bounty, the farmer focused on the task at hand....covered in corn dust as he stops in for a quick meal.

Friday morning we headed back to Joel's home town for a few hours.  Saturday we all took off for the wedding and arrived 4 plus hours later at our hotel in Red Wing.  Beautiful little town, with great history and of course they are well known for their Red Wing Pottery and Red Wing shoes/boots.  We shared a hotel room with our daughter and her treasures.....they were great roomies!

Another beautiful wedding. this one set out on a farm~ an open venue with chickens, sheep, and one affectionate cat joining in on the celebration.  The pews were out on the grass overlooking a field and hills.....It was lovely and the weather cooperated.  My brother Todd not only saw his oldest daughter being married, but celebrated that same day the birth of his first grandchild, a boy. His other daughter, who was to be in the wedding, was in the hospital instead birthing her first child. An amazing day all around!

Some of the wedding guests

Heather and Dan

As I look back on the past week, I cannot help but reflect on life and on death.  Two couples making a commitment to each other "til death do us part".  A funeral where we celebrated a life while grieving a loss through death.  And a new baby coming into this world in the midst of his Auntie's wedding plans. A little boy, precious to his parents and so many others, with a life full of adventures ahead of him. Time marches on, as we can attest to this past week.

In this season of our life, while looking with clarity at what is eventually to come, the last week has us in deep discussion.  We ask ourselves, what do we desire, what adventures lay ahead for us, what challenges?  Life can be complicated and often, so is death. There are those mundane days that make us restless, and those action packed days that make us long for the mundane.  Breathing in and breathing out, this journey called life.

Walking this journey called life

It was a good week with family and friends.  Celebrations of many kinds, with tears of joy and tears of sadness, our quota of hugs well met.  Filled with memories we step back into our daily living and give thanks for a life well lived, two marriages starting, and a new life beginning.  We give thanks for each sunrise. All and all it was a good week.



Friday, October 14, 2016

Be A Voice: Sexual Assault

As I hugged on two of our granddaughters this morning, my thoughts turned to this past weekend's latest vulgarity against women.  Donald Trump talking to Billy Bush several years ago about how he abuses women due to his position of power.

I am so weary of it all.  Yes, I'm weary of the political arena playing out 24/7 on TV, radio, and social media, but this is about what we, as women are STILL coming up against.  I am saddened by the predatory roles some men take with women, and how often they get away with it.

Sexual assault is assault.  Sexual harassment is what it says it is.  Sexual abuse is abuse. The world suffers each time a child or a woman suffers at the hands of a sexual predator.  It is NOT acceptable to brush it aside.  It is not acceptable to blame the victim.  It is not acceptable to flippantly excuse it with a "boys will be boys" or "locker room banter" attitude.  And I'm saying here that an apology is not enough.  It is not enough.

I was sexually abused as a child by a cousin and by a friend of my dad's.  I was sexually assaulted by a classmate in high school.....too often.  I was sexually harassed as a young woman.  I have way too many friends who share similar stories.  It is never okay and there are never any excuses that take away the trauma it causes.

And our daughters and granddaughters are waiting for those they love and trust to speak out for them, for others.  They are watching and learning by the actions and reactions of all whether or not they are loved and respected by those in their world as much as God loves and respects then.

Are they valued?  Are they esteemed?  Are they ever going to be safe in a society that preys on the innocent or closes their eyes to what is happening to young children, girls, women?

Too many people in positions of authority or power prey on others because they can.  Too many people are brushing it aside or closing their eyes to what's happening here and around the world because of their own agenda.

I want our granddaughters to live in a better world.  It begins by holding people accountable who prey on our innocent.  It begins by each of us speaking out and against those who verbally and physically prey on others.  There are those who are daring to make their voices heard.  Today I join with them again.  Be a voice!  Be God's Voice!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of Iowa where crisp and chilly air graces us each morning. The ground is covered with locust leaves after Thursday night's winds, but other trees are holding on to their bounty as their leaves turn Autumn colors.  The geese are gathering and flying overhead throughout each day.  The squirrels are burying corn kernels from the neighbor's yard and adding to that anything else they can find to store up for winter.  Our yard was full of robins for a couple of days respite before they all took off South again.  Fall is making itself known.  There is nothing I dislike about this most beautiful time of year in the Upper Midwest.  I think God prepares us for Winter with the gift of Fall.

It has been a quiet week here in our own Lake Woebegone.  Last Sunday Joel filled in at a church in Clear Lake Iowa.  I went along to Galilean Lutheran, a place we have been before.  We attended a group Tuesday night where we are discussing the book "Spiritual Awakenings".  Otherwise our days have been filled with walking, writing, listening, learning, and for me, resting.  It has been a quieter week in our world too.  A hurricane caused terrible destruction, which seems more understandable and reasonable to us than human again human destruction.  By the way, it is not an "act of God".  It is an act of nature! I have been pondering why people choose to stay behind rather than evacuate when asked to do so.  It makes no sense to me, with water being such a powerful source of destruction.  I can't figure out if they are strong, stubborn, or silly. Maybe a little of each!  Each to their own I guess.

Joel is preparing for a funeral of a friend of his family.  He grew up in the same farm community as this man, and considers it an honor that B. wanted Joel to officiate at his funeral.  He seldom goes back to any place we "used to live", but he will stand in the pulpit of his home church once again and speak of life, death, and Jesus.  Such a privilege.

Another grandchild has their license.  Our oldest grandchild is now 18, two are seniors in high school, and come November we will have 8 who are teenagers.  I truly feel like it was just yesterday they were babes.  I can look with longing at our neighbors across the street who see their kids almost on a daily basis.  And our neighbor June who has her daughter come every Sunday for dinner. And my sister Kay and her husband Dan see their kids about every two weeks.  With having had so many kids, you would think we would live by one, but as a pastor we have moved so much and as they went off to college they did not have the home they grew up in, or their "hometown" to return to.  I think it is smarter now the way pastors usually stay longer in one place, and yet we raised them to go out into the world and make their way,  living a life of adventure in faithful living wherever God sent them.  Speaking of sending, we are sending congrats to Abbi on passing her test and joining the drivers of our world.  Stay safe.......stay safe.

I have been watching the "Open Heavens Conference" at Bethel this week.  As always, inspirational. I have been reading Andrew Wommack's book, "You've Already Got It" in regards to our spirit where Jesus and all His promises dwell.  Joel and I are reading the book of Daniel, too.  I have taken in a few TV shows and picked up my pencils to color.....  What have you been up to?

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Welcomed As "Framily"

Our Savior's Lutheran
Salt Lake City, Utah

Joel and I have walked through the doors of many different churches over the past 50 years.  From the time we attended The Lutheran Bible Institute until present day, we have worshiped in Cathedrals to country chapels~ all houses of God with one purpose. A place to worship Jesus.   Most are friendly, some not so much, and those few that hold a rare quality that people seek.

All the pulpit hopping Joel has been engaging in lately has had me thinking back on one of those churches that stood out as having the rare quality of making you feel you belong when you step in the door .  While Joel was attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City we found a smaller Lutheran church a good 25 minutes by Interstate from our apartment near the campus.  What drew us in was not the fact that there were few Lutherans in that city....or in the whole state!  What drew us in was how welcoming everyone was.  It was beyond friendly, to warm and inviting.  We remember walking in the door and having people greet us with hugs and even having someone come up, grabbing Bethany out of my arms and exclaiming what a beautiful baby she was!  We were treated like "framily".  Old friends and family combined.  We still have good friends from that church and amazing memories.  We were so young, and taken under the wings of older members, who shared their wisdom, love, and even gently used furniture!  When our son Matt was born, members came and took care of Beth, showing up at midnight so I could go to the hospital.  After we had been there about a year Joel filled in as their preaching pastor for 9 months while they went through the process of calling a new pastor.  The chaplain on the university's campus officiated at communion, weddings, funerals, and Joel did the rest as a lay person.  He received only encouragement from the congregation.  Little do they know how much they paved the way for him in ministry.

This congregation had that rare quality of having a strong core of people who were sincerely warm, friendly, and welcoming.  As soon as you walked in the door you felt surrounded by love and acceptance.  That love.....the love that comes from intentionally being Jesus with skin on and seeing others through the eyes of our Savior... Oh people our churches need to be Jesus with skin on. Welcoming with open arms those in need.  And are we not all in need in some way?

Isn't that what we are looking for in life ~ love and acceptance?  It is not always easy.  I see this quality to love and embrace people where they are at with friends we admire. There are those who do it well, and we can emulate them.   It is pretty clear that this is what Jesus commands us to do.  Love one your neighbor as yourself.  Hospitality, love, acceptance.  These are not suggestions.   Love those around you.  And don't forget about loving yourself.  Loving others is made more possible when we can love on ourselves.

We owe so much to Marge, Dick, Skip, LeRoy, Lee. and many others who embraced us so long ago as we walked in as strangers and were welcomed into their church, their homes, their lives as framily.