Sunday, March 29, 2009

Walk The Walk....Follow Jesus

There is a song our family sang in 1975 when we were living on Clark Air Base in the Philippines. The chorus has stayed with me over the years.

Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus
Anywhere He leads me I will follow...
Follow Jesus I will follow Jesus
Anywhere He leads I go
I have shared before that when I read or hear the same theme over and over again in a short period of time, I take notice. Yesterday morning we were reading Max Lucado's small book on Psalm 23 and it spoke about how God leads us as The Shepherd, but also how He follows us. Then we read the Daily Guideposts for that day and this Bible verse was written:

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way, walk in it'". Isaiah 30:21

I told Joel I have never thought much about Jesus "following "me as much as Him "leading" and me following. This verse has given me more insight into how God works in our lives.

On Sunday mornings Joel leaves the house by 6am, so I usually listen to a couple of TV services before getting out of bed. Today I heard Dr. Charles Stanley talk about walking with Jesus as Christians. I then turned to Joel Osteen's sermon and heard him say that God sometimes pushes us forward when He wants us to do His will and our steps are faltering. He had my attention as I heard once again the idea of walking with God...whether He is beside us, taking the lead, or following behind us as a shepherd guides his sheep. On my way downstairs I went onto the computer and read my Rest Ministries daily Bible promise verse: ....because those who are LED by the spirit of God are sons of God....... Romans 8:14

Later in the morning I read our Lutheran "Christ In Our Home" devotional that the ELCA publishes for all members...and ....yes, you guessed it! Today's reading spoke about us "following" Jesus. I started to giggle.....I could not believe all of the info I was getting on walking and following... Later yet I watched Saddleback Church and the preacher for this day spoke about connecting with God and becoming aware of God in our life at all times....I felt I had made it through this sermon at least without hearing anything on the subject at hand until he said...We need to walk with Jesus 24/7!

I knew Joel had a Executive Board meeting today that was going to be very stressful. Following God's will with this last call to a new congregation has been more than a little challenging. I felt strongly that he needed to hear what I was hearing to help prepare him for the meeting. I knew I could not call him and he never called me on Sunday mornings, so I prayed. I prayed that if God wanted me to share all this with Joel that He would nudge him to call me.....and yes, he called!.

Praying for God's will in our life can be daunting, but if we quietly listen, we will hear His voice guiding us. We may not be in a place of our own choosing, but if God has sent us there, we cannot go wrong. I would rather follow Jesus in the dark that go alone in the light! Isn't it amazing to know that God loves us so much, He sends us His peace and assurance in ways that meet our individual needs, and for those who may be suffering from a bit of brain fog, He might even send His message over and over again just in case it did not sink in the first time around!

Friday, March 27, 2009

What A Difference A Day Makes

It has been quite a week...lots of unusual and downs....turn-arounds....Isn't life just full of surprises!
Let me give you a brief explanation before I begin. I went to live with my brother-in-law, oldest sister(15 yrs older than me) and their 4 children.... first when I was 10 and then from age 12 until I married at age 20. Their children have been my siblings in all ways that are important. My brother-in-law has been like a father to me and he is "Gramps" to my children. He and my sister eventually divorced and he remarried a woman with two boys. Together they had a son. We are definitely a "blended family". Not everyone understands or even approves of the "his kids and me.....her kids...their kids".... family. Speaking for myself, I just know that I am eternally grateful for having him in my life. I am one of the extra-blessed individuals who has more than one family. My parents and two sisters and eventually my "second" family are strongly interwoven threads connected in my life, and I believe God has had a plan for me according to His purpose.

About 6 weeks ago D. was diagnosed with acute leukemia and told he had 3 months to a year to live. It was a huge shock to everyone. Only 3 weeks later he ended up in the hospital, and then when his organs starting to shut down, his heart was working at only 50%, and he was on 100% oxygen, everyone started gathering at the hospital from many different destinations....8 kids and their spouses, his wife, others who love and care about him. The first day, due to all my reactions to exposures and my illnesses, I stayed in the van while Joel spent several hours with everyone in ICU. We did not know if he had a viral infection which could put him and me at risk for other problems if I went in. We were told it was like his body was a big ocean liner and everyone was trying to turn it around...but it was not happening, so we expected he would not live....but just overnight.....slowly ...very slowly the "ship" started to turn and by Tuesday morning they were saying there was a tiny bit of hope. What a difference one day made! Joel and I decided to drive the two hrs back to see him along with everyone else and this time I was able to spend 1/2 hr with him. I asked him if he was getting enough rest with all the people around and he replied "I will not go there, look at all the love around me!" I said, "There are so many of us, if you were a preacher, you could give a good sermon!" He replied, "I would just tell everyone to love one another." He has been saying the same thing to everyone up much much love.... This past Wed. the AML doctor told him his organs were turning around and functioning better and that they had no explanation for it. One of my sisters said to me later, "We KNOW the explanation..all the love and prayers that have surrounded him." Will he ever leave the hospital? We don't know but we do know that he is no longer critical, and realistically we also know the AML is still on its destructive path...but for now he has had the blessing of seeing how many love and care about him...people have gathered in prayer and fellowship, and good has already come from this terrible situation.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Moment of Beauty

Here is my moment of beauty to share with you today....strange? A strong and sturdy Maple tree without its leaves in a place in time before spring fully arrives.... I find this tree in our yard beautiful to look at and filled with hidden meaning for my life. A
M.O.B. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The First Day of Spring

March 20th is the first day of Spring. What is it about spring that gives us an extra bounce in our step? In the upper Midwest where I call home, the first day of spring lets us know that winter is behind us and once again we will be able to go outside without bundling up in winter gear. I have already started opening windows to remove the stale air from the house, and Joel has removed the blankets of leaves covering our hibernating flowers. Viewing the outdoors from my sofa sanctuary, I have noticed the robins are back in full force and the squirrels and rabbits are busy with their own spring festivities. The time change has also had a positive affect on all of us with darkness holding off till 7:30pm. Of course up here in north country nature has been known to bring us a few snow storms even into April, but for today I am not thinking about that. Spring has officially arrived and I am looking forward to our having a little more color in my view. Last fall Joel planted a few tulips around our mailbox so I am waiting for them to pop out of the ground! We have peonies and "wild" day lilies that will soon begin their journey out of the earth, and the neighbors lilac bushes and our crab apple tree will both send sweet fragrances our way. Everything is coming alive once again...

There is another reason I enjoy March 20th, the first day of is my birthday. Today I am 61 years old. Last year when celebrating I was over the top at turning 60...because with the health issues I have dealt with, I never thought I would reach age 60! I was thrilled to get there and made the decision to enjoy every day from then on. I remember saying often last year, I am still here! I am 60 and I am still here! This year at age 61, I am better...not where I want to be, but not where I was by any means. I was talking to Joel about it last night because while living in the trenches of Lyme treatment I often lose perspective on seeing any improvement ~~but Joel does not, and I grasp tightly to the positives he sees in my health. There are plenty of other blessings to focus on from this past year also.....our "winter season" seems to be over (1 house...1 mortgage :) and we are able to enjoy the newness of spring. I have so much to be grateful for, so much to look forward to!
Today I am grateful for another birthday ~ cards and letters to enjoy, phone calls from family, a fun visit from our son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids, and an afternoon and evening at home with my hubby. Spring is here, I am still here, and along with tulips, spring rains, robins, and the first day of a new season ~ I am able to celebrate my birthday enjoying family, hugging a few grandkids, and looking forward to what this year will bring!
Photos by Renee and Joel

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Irish Prayer For You

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My father was French, English, and Irish, so today I greet you from my Irish ancestry :) I have never been to Ireland but one of my sisters and our oldest daughter have at different times visited there. Our daughter loved Ireland and the people, and felt like she was "home" while there. My sister found information that leads us to believe some of our ancestors were "tinkers". They traveled the countryside selling their wares. Now this made sense to us who love to travel, move, and meet knew people. By the time I was 7 I had lived in 5 states....My one sister attended 14 schools! As adults we have moved around the country, too. In the past I always found moving exciting and looked forward to it. Our one son-in-law asked his wife this question: "Why it is when your parents see some place that looks interesting, they don't ask, "I wonder what it would be like to visit there?" INSTEAD, they ask, "I wonder what it would be like to LIVE there?" I find that even with all my health issues, the thought of living in a new place excites me..although I must confess that age and poor health has lessened the thrill! If I hear about a town and I don't know where it is, I get out the map or the globe to find it. As I child I used to play a game where I would close my eyes and spin the globe seeing where I would land. I still enjoy finding places on the world globe and I have always loved maps! So it seems that I now have a genetic DNA connection or flaw(?) for an excuse if I need one! Just a few days ago Joel asked me what was wrong with us because we were talking about wanting to live on an acreage, and what kind of house we would like....and we became excited by it. My response to his question? "It's a sickness...."
Well, "moving on" , why do we celebrate St. Patrick's Day?
St Patrick was born in Scotland in the year 387. When St. Patrick was 16 yrs old he was captured by the Irish and sold into slavery. He escaped 6 yrs later and went back to Scotland where he entered the monastery. He eventually became a missionary and felt called to go back to Ireland to preach the gospel of Christianity. The 3 leaf clover was used my St. Patrick to explain the Trinity. What a great idea! The Irish celebrate this great man and what he did for their country. Here in America March 17th has been celebrated since before 1800 by Irish immigrants. We eventually all came to embrace the special day with celebrations across the country. So, today, in honor of my ancestry and just for the fun of it, I want to wish each of you Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Today I pray for each of you this Irish prayer that hangs on my wall:

Deep peace of the running waves to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the smiling stars to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you.
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Place Of Encouragement

I have been feeling a bit discouraged the past couple of days and once again God guided me through the words of others. Yesterday and today it was Lisa Buffaloe's blog. Lisa has experienced a lot of adversity in her life and at this moment is in the middle of a battle to treat Lyme Disease too. She is a faithful servant of God who encourages others with her deep faith and words of encouragement. Check out her site and blog and look forward to being blessed!

Friday, March 13, 2009

All Things Work Together For Good

We sold our other house! We are now a 1 house...1 mortgage family! We are feeling such relief. It no longer feels like we are in a holding pattern... we don't have a foot in the past anymore...we can live in the present and look towards the future.

We don't know why God allowed this situation in our lives. When Joel accepted a call to a new congregation we felt strongly that God was directing this move. So we bought a home, fixed it up and waited with excitement to move in. We just knew it would all work out perfectly because we were following God's will. When we went through this process two years ago, our home (we live in now) sold in the second week we had it on the market, and we felt like that was one more affirmation for our move...but it took 6 mo. to find a home to buy and when we eventually did find one we bought it very quickly without taking much time to mull it over. During that time the offer on our home where we live now fell through....and the move into the new house was delayed time an time again due to both a sweet smell and a varnish smell that we could not eliminate. Finally, in frustration, we went ahead and made the move to our new home, hoping for the best. BUT it caused me to be very sick~ I ended up living in a 9x11 room with special foil on the floor. I only left the room to go into the bathroom or outside. I tried to spend some of my days in the van at the church parking lot so I could get out of the house into a safe place away from the smells. After 1 month we started looking for options while at the same time trying to eliminate the offending chemical smell. Every door closed, so with disappointment and many tears we took what we needed to "camp" at our old house and moved back there. It was one of the most difficult times in our lives and we struggled to keep on trusting God's plan. We believed God wanted Joel at Trinity Lutheran Church, but what about our living situation? Were we wrong? Had the move been a bad choice on our part?
We spent a lot of time trying to figure things out. We knew that we bought the "other" house too quickly out of desperation for us to both live in the same town Joel worked in . We also knew that we would lose money selling it so quickly because we had updated it and made it safe for my special needs and even with the generous help from parishners, it had been costly. We knew we made a mistake in buying it, although it took us a long time to accept that. We knew God forgave us for that decision, although it took longer for us to forgive ourselves. In a short amount of time and with alot of discussion and prayer, we realized we could never move back into that house and we put it on the market....20 months later it sold.

Joel has now commuted 104 miles to work and home for nearly 3 long years. Our debt increased greatly due to two mortgages, maintaining two homes, etc. We have spent too much time apart and we have greatly missed having our meals together and dislike spending early evenings and sometimes overnights alone. We have adjusted, but not always easily. Those are the "negatives" of our situation.

So what good came from all of this???? Why is Joel pastoring a church in one town and living in another? Why did God allow so many conflicts in our lives all at once? The Lyme Disease diagnosis and ongoing difficult treatment~ my neuropathy that developed ~ the two houses~ the high gas prices ~ a terrible accident involving our van and a loaded pickup~ Joel having emergency eye surgery~ and a few other family crises I chose not to name. All of it greatly challenged us both. Was there a purpose in it all?
Here is what we know and believe about the past 2 yrs and 9 months:
GOD HAS WALKED WITH US. God has a plan for us and that has included Joel working at Trinity Lutheran and living 52 miles away. We accept that and what it means for us. He allowed all this to happen for reasons of His own understanding, but we do see some of the good that came from it all. God kept us afloat financially. Financial blessings came from sources and people that brought us to our knees with humility and gratitude. He was ahead of us, taking care of us with the van accident, the old house still being available to move back to, the surgery helping Joel's eye condition, a wonderful Lyme Doctor for me, and other blessings too numerous to mention. He worked all things out for good....(Romans 8:28) We became closer than ever to each other and to our Lord. We learned a deeper trust in our Lord without always understanding or having the answers. We can look back and see how His guidance and blessings have been interwoven throughout the circumstances of our lives. And as far as our future goes? We know that God will continue to guide us and walk with us as we make the continued effort to do His will. We know that everyone has a story to tell and blessings to give thanks for, and we only hope that by sharing our story it will in turn bless others with encouragement, be a witness to God's grace and faithfulness, and give our Lord the glory for all He is and all He does for His children.
Today we especially rejoice....for once again we are a 1 home ~ 1 mortgage family!

Friday, March 6, 2009


"God has proven himself a faithful it falls to us to be trusting children"
Max Lucado

God is always with us. He is faithful, loving, and walks with us on each step of our journey.
Can we trust Him to do what is best for us? Can we trust Him to walk us through the tough times? Can we trust His Word?
We can take every step with faith...trusting God to guide us along the way. We are never alone. We are His children...He is our heavenly Father. We are loved, forgiven, cared for, and watched over. We matter. Jesus loves me this I know....For the Bible tells me so.....

"Trust Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."
Proverbs 3;5,6

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Princess!

Today our oldest daughter is 39 years old! Where did the time many years ago when she was born ~ a beautiful healthy baby, a happy toddler, a bright child, a gifted pianist at an early age, growing into a passionate, strong, and beautiful woman of God, now living her own separate life with her own family ~far from home...far from the necessity of mom and dad's arms.
As mother and daughter we have a few similarities. When she was tiny you could not tell our baby pictures apart. Our profiles are much the same still to this day, but she is tall and I am short.....she has such beauty and I am average. We both are Highly Sensitive People in tune to people's energy, but she also "sees and senses" things beyond this world and I do not.
Like any mother, I see my children through the eyes of deep love and pride. Our oldest is very smart with a high IQ and a joyous vibrant personality that draws people in but at the same time she can be shy. She feels things deeply. She loves life, laughing, having fun, and mostly views life through rose colored glasses with the glass half full...or 3/4!! There is a positive energy that surrounds her. She loves her husband and children with a fierceness from deep within. Don't mess with her family! With her artistic and creative mind it seems there is nothing she cannot do.
Today I give thanks for her ~ a precious gift we were given by God to enjoy and nurture for a short period of time before we encouraged her to go out into the world for herself. I miss her. I miss her terribly. I miss them all, but today I give thanks for our oldest.

Happy Birthday Princess!

Monday, March 2, 2009

An important aspect of forgiveness and letting go of resentments was left out of my article yesterday. I left out the fact that it is a process to forgive and let go, and quite often this process takes a great deal of time. Some things take longer to forgive ~ some resentments....some grudges...some of the guilt we carry.....take time. Thus the processing..... The result is still the same ~ peace of mind and a sense of relief and freedom for ourselves. A place of grace.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Grace vs Grief, Grudges, and Guilt

Today I watched Rick Warren at Saddleback Church on my laptop and he talked about forgiveness..I thought I did pretty well with forgiving others and moving on with the people in my life....and then he asked us to think about what people come up in our minds when he asked certain questions.

Like: "What memory do you have that continues to hurt you, and is it connected to another person?" "Is there anyone you blame your problems or unhappiness on?" Or: Who is the 1st person to come to mind when I ask the question, "What is the greatest hurt in your life?" Is there anyone you tend to keep score with...tit for tat....he hurt me first type of thing....And "Do you react negatively to someone because they remind you of someone else?
He brought up grief and sadness over a broken relationship, holding grudges against others, and feeling guilty about our own actions. This is where I had to take a good long look at my own inner self. I had to ask myself whether I was holding resentment towards someone else and was some of my sadness in a certain relationship due to feelings of rejection and lost expectations. I have always known that resentment makes us bitter and unhappy. It is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die. Guilt is a no brainer for me...lots of guilt ~ some real and most a figment of my imagination. I discovered I had some work to do to get to a place of letting go and letting God in certain areas of my life. I desire to come to a place of complete healing through grace.
So I ask you if you have any hidden resentments, grief, anger, or guilt that is holding you back from the pureness of God's love, forgiveness and grace? His amazing grace!!!! Maybe you want to ask the same questions that are listed above, write down or think about your answers and nail them to the cross of Jesus who died for us all. Maybe you want to let go and let God in your relationships and with yourself. Grace is a healing place .....a good place to be.