Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Words Matter

"Every day I must remind myself
of how much words matter."
Christie Purifoy

I don't recall when I first heard about Christie Purifoy's book, "Roots and Sky", but I fell in love with her writing style and her story, somewhere in the first chapter.  Something in the way she puts words to paper brings a sense of peace to my soul. 

She has the ability to use words to create visual scenes of great detail for the reader's mind. Along with the visual extravaganza playing out, heartfelt thoughts carefully placed touch the soul.  Her words matter.  Our words matter.

On the day Christie Purifoy's  book was released, her brother-in-law was killed in a military heliocoptor that went down in the ocean near Hawaii.  Such joy mixed with such sorrow.  I remember her writing about the shock and pain for her sister and children, and how important the words were that soothed souls and strengthened lives to keep moving forward.  Words matter.

Words matter to not only each of us, but to God.  The scriptures certainly attest to that.  They are not to be taken lightly or tossed around with abandon.  His Word matters.  They are living, breathing, power-full.

Our words to Him matter.  That would be we give praise and honor who He is.  To God be the glory is not merely platitude but instruction and a form of worship that resonates from deep within.  We are the only living creatures on earth that can use words to communicate, encourage, build up (or tear down).  We use words to worship and give thanks to the One who used His words to create.

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart 
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

As we celebrate Thanksgiving let us use our words to give thanks.   I am so grateful for the man who walks by my side, shares my bed, laughs at my antics, weeps in my sadness, and boldly lives out his faith. I am so thankful for our families who love the Lord and serve Him, who turn to prayer in any crisis.  People who don't forget to praise God for His goodness.  I am so thankful for extended families who walk in faith.  For great grandparents who gave land and built churches and worked hard to provide.  For the legacy that we now try to breathe into future generations.  I am so thankful for Papa God's deep love, His desire for us to know more, seek more.  I am so thankful for Holy opening a new door for us.  For Jesus giving His all for us.  For God and His goodness and faithfulness.  I am so thankful.

Words matter.


Friday, November 17, 2017

One Teacher's Words Shaped A Life


This past week Joel and I listened to a sermon Paul Manwaring spoke at Bethel Church about our past, present, and our future.  It was especially encouraging for us as he talked about the prophetic words that are spoken over us and what that means for our future.  Doubt likes to come in and steal what God has planted in your heart, but there is no room for doubt when we realize Jesus has already seen our future and He is speaking into that future.   He has already been there!  He knows the ending of our movie!!

Prophetic words/words of knowledge from God are used to encourage and build up, confirming the present and speaking the future in us and in others.  Bethel Church in Redding CA has a school for Kindg. through 8th grade.  Part of their school policy is to keep a folder on each child that is filled with encouraging words that have been spoken over the boys and girls that attend school and Sunday School there.  By the time they are through high school they have in their hands all the beautiful words of knowledge from God that have been given to their teachers to write down.  Amazing.

Paul Manwaring reminded us to also be aware of how we speak over ourselves.  Words matter.  I am completely convinced that God created the "words matter" idea!  His word is living...healing...powerful...saving........and so. much. more.  We need to be aware of how we speak over others too.  Our words hold power.

One great example of that is with the teacher Joel had for the first 8 years of his life.  He went to a one room school house and had the same teacher the whole time.  Joel had a difficult time reading.  He had some form of undiagnosed dyslexia or learning disability.  His teacher would encourage him all the time, supporting him, working with him, and telling him he could grow up to be anything he wanted to be!  No limitations.  He believed her and grew from a young boy who could only read with great difficulty to a man with 12 years of college behind him and a calling that requires a whole lot of reading and writing!

We need to take the negative words we hear, weigh and discern them, asking ourselves, "What would Jesus be saying?"   What are we to speak into others lives.....what are we to speak over ourselves?  This is NOT just positive thinking.  This is taking the Word of God and speaking it into your lives and the lives of others.  This is believing the Word is living, the Word heals, the Word saves.  This is believing our words do matter, that they do shape others. They shape lives. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Hope Remains


We woke this morning to our "high" for the day...a balmy 39....and it has been a downhill slide ever since.  Winds are blowing the last of the leaf stragglers from the branches, sending them into yards that are not their own.  Gusts are producing single digit "feels like" wind chills.   Even the squirrels seem to be hidden away while gusts cause the branches to bend and sway.  All of nature is sending out a decree ~ Winter is on its way.

This is not a surprise, right?  We live in the Midwest, a place of four seasons.......where Winter arrives every year following the colorful beauty of Fall.  So we are prepared.  We brace for it, making sure that our snow blowers are in top operating condition.  We check to see that the snow shovels are in good shape and the furnace is running well.  We store the deck and porch furniture, and we hang Christmas lights way before Thanksgiving!  Yeah....no surprise.

Then there are the "life is what happens while you are making other plans" seasons that often take us by surprise.  A car accident, a medical report, a sudden death.  How can we prepare for those events in our life, the "winter seasons" that bring a cold wind into our hearts?

We prepare by staying strong in the Word.  We build a foundation for ourselves in the scriptures, prayer, and worship on a daily basis so that when a winter season comes we are able to be sustained in the hope that comes knowing our God and His promises.

Winter comes and winter goes whether in seasons or in life.  But hope remains.  Hope for Spring....hope for new life.   Yes, Hope remains.


Monday, November 13, 2017

WOWs


The dream was strange, to say the least.........but the message that came to me in the early morning hour was clear.  In the dream I was trying to find our grandson Noah.  I had been searching and searching to no avail.  Worry and fear set in,  and I decided to call a friend of his named Sosh.  I know, an usual name....The young man answered his phone with one word, "Sosh", and I told him I was Noah's grandmother and I was looking for him.  I lamented about what I had done while looking for him and how worried I was.

As I spoke, I noticed a cloud to my right and with every negative or fearful thing I said, a -$25 sign popped up.  Sosh was quiet but when spoke, all he said was "Wow" and again, "Wow".  With every "WOW" he said, a cloud appeared and a + $50 sign popped up.

Awakened by the dream, I lay in the dark and I thought about the meaning.  My dreams are unusual and sometimes disturbing, but this one held a message for me.  One I have been learning for a few years now.

It is the whole business of our thought life and what we say ~ We speak life or death with our tongue.......Proverbs 18:21.  Our words and our thoughts hold tremendous power over our lives and the lives of others.  Just ask any adult who suffered from childhood verbal abuse.  Words matter.  I believe the dream was telling me that when I speak fear or any other negative words, it takes away from the goodness God desires for His kids.  And when I speak  God's truth with awe and wonder...the "WOWs" of life and God, we are all more empowered.

The "WOW" word took me back to what had been spoken over us at Bethel......the words so powerful and personal that all Joel and I could say was...."wow"......"Oh, wow".......   Sometimes when we look at God's deep love and goodness for us, all we can do is be humbled and amazed....words just won't come except maybe just a "WOW". 

Are there times in your life when the "WOW" brings you to your knees in thankfulness?  Just this year I think of many, like my sister's recovery from a heart attack and 6 bypasses.  So many small but important things fell into place for her to live and not die.   Wow.  I think about our trip out west....so often we were amazed by the beauty set before us.  Joel told me I said wow often when we drove through the majestic mountains.   While sitting under the people and Presence at Bethel Church, we gave thanks repeatedly. Wow.  Wow again.  The things God shows me in the spirit realm....wow.  Even our new-to-us SUV that Joel has often said "Wow" about.  So grateful to drive such a nice vehicle.  Yeah.....the list of "WOWs" is long and appreciated.

The dream brought to light a gentle reminder to keep my thoughts and my words in the life column. Building a firm foundation on the goodness of God in our lives one "WOW" at a time.  It adds up.  Maybe not in dollars like I saw in the dream, but in living a full life~ definitely!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of Iowa where sunshine is hard to find, and wind chills were below zero already this week.  No snow here, but plenty of cold makes for gratitude for our gas fireplace.  So nice to snuggle in under a blanket/quilt with the fire going and a good book in my hands.

I have been doing a bit more snuggling and a lot less moving around the past few days due to a virus that came to visit.  Joel has had a much less potent dose of it.  An earache he had subsided with prayer and lavender essential oil on a cotton ball placed in the ear.  Pain left pretty quickly.  Our house is smelling like essential oils and homemade chicken soup which really soothes like no other.

On Monday afternoon Joel drove north an hour to pick up our grandson Jonas, and he stayed with us until Tues. evening.  Our daughter Sarah was in the hospital having tests,  We enjoyed spending time with him, although I am thinking he was missing his friends and home more than he let on.  It is pretty quiet here!  They are both home now and doing well.

I am reading Max Lucado's new book, "Anxious For Nothing" which is enlightening!  Proverbs 31 women has been doing a study on it.  I also am beginning a book suggested by the Sozo woman I met with at Bethel called "Who Switched Off My Brain" by Dr. Caroline Leaf. Fascinating!  I usually have about 4 books going at once, and most are inspirational.  Once in awhile I add in a fiction book, but prefer others unless I find a good series. What are you reading?

Joel and I just finished watching a series called "Shetland" that takes place in Scotland.  Netflix carries the BBC series....detectives and solving murders with relationships thrown in.  It is difficult to find much worthwhile TV but last night we watched a show called "Living On One Dollar", a short documentary about 4 young men who go to hillsides of Guatemala and try to survive on $1 each per day like the local people do.  It was interesting and reminded me of the Philippines where in the 70"s most made 7 pesos/$1 a day.  We had a live in maid, and paid her a very good wage at that time ~ $30 a month~!!   When I think about that now, I can't believe it.  We did other things for her and even bought her and her husband a house, but I now wonder how she lived on such a small amount of money.

It seems as if our country, our state, our community is dealing with a lot of tragedy.  Last week we heard about a baby in our area that was neglected and starved to death.  Horrific.  This week our city had a double homicide with two in their 60's killed by their grandson.  Add last Sunday's mass killings and the world does not seem very safe, does it.  During these times we shift our focus......Jesus only Jesus.

This past week we have been praying for friends and family.  One long time friend is battling a return of aggressive cancer.  Another from Bible college just had a cancerous brain tumor removed.  A friend struggles with finding help with a sudden onset of vertigo.  Others with memory loss, disease, and depression.  Then there are those walking through loss of pets, friends, and family.   Hold on, hold on.  We never walk alone through the valleys....Never.

That old hymn still holds some solid truth.....

"Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of the earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."

I leave you this Saturday morning with a prayer for each of you, no matter your circumstances, to look on His face.....and see the light of His glory and grace.......give thanks.....rest well.....put on some worship music, and maybe even watch a Hallmark movie or two~ you are guaranteed a happy ending!



Monday, November 6, 2017

Yet, Again........


The news yesterday brought disbelief, grief, anger, and fear.  Another mass murder of innocents, this time in a place of worship.  Yet again we mourn senseless killings.  Is there any understanding to be found for such evil?  Oh, Lord, have mercy.

Yesterday's tragedy also brought to mind our own experience with a church member back in the 80's when we were living in Zimmerman MN and Joel where he was solo pastor of a congregation of 800.  Back then he hugged those who wanted to be hugged as he greeted people after the services and one 70 yr old man took offense that Joel and his wife hugged, jumping to the conclusion that Joel was having an affair with his wife.  He stewed over this for a couple of weeks, and then decided he would kill Joel.  Yes, that was his mentally unstable conclusion.  He began to blame Joel for everything wrong in his life and made it his goal to "kill the pastor".

One evening we received a phone call at 10:30 pm from the police, telling us they were on their way to our home....that this man had just shot up his brother in law's house and was "going to go kill the pastor".  The police were in another town so they would arrive as soon as they could.

We made the decision to wake our kids and put all five in our bedroom on the floor.  Joel also made a decision to defend the family, and loaded his 22 rifle and went to the living room to watch for anyone coming.  We lived by the church on an acreage so we could see any cars coming.

The police arrived in force.  they came in our home with guns drawn, and escorted us to our car.  One officer took Beth around the house to collect clothes for the kids before we left.  The kids were told to lay flat in the car and as we drove out we noticed 5 police cars lined up across the street waiting for the man to arrive.  Three of the cars escorted us down to the twin cities, 45 minutes away where we stayed overnight with family.

This was the beginning of 6 years of living on alert, with threats on Joel's life, phone calls even from his jail cell, and seeing him out on the road watching our home. We had plain clothed police officers sitting in our congregation at times,  We knew no one could really do anything, besides a restraining order that was issued,  until he did hurt one of us.   We prayed about staying and Joel believed he was to stay.  He talked about me taking the kids and living somewhere else, but that was not an option in my mind and heart.  I was going to college nights and quit, and we never left our kids alone at night for the first year.  We also never let them walk alone to the church without watching them from the window.  We had the schools aware of this man and officials knew he was to not come near them.  We stayed and Joel and I served, but this traumatic event and the following years had a profound effect on all our lives.

And unlike in the Baptist church in Texas,  no one was shot....no one was killed.  Lord, have mercy.

I can't imagine what the people there are going through.   No matter how "common" these attacks are becoming, they can never be accepted as normal for our country.  Never.  And each event, big or small brings with it deep loss, fear, and grief.  Life changes in a moment.  The longer we live the more "life changing moments" surface in our world. Traumatic or otherwise, something shifts and we see through a different lens.

Maybe that is why God asks us to see through HIS eyes.    Maybe that is why He tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus.

When I think about what we went through as a family so many years ago, I can see how God walked with us.  He did not cause the trauma or "allow it" (free will) but God is with us through every valley.  I pray that those who grieve this terrible tragedy in a Baptist church in small town America can find solace in the very God they were worshiping Sunday morning.   Lord have mercy.

Let us all turn to Papa God in prayer.  Lord, have mercy.