Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grateful/Thankful Thursday

Today I was reading a blog I enjoy, A Place Called Simplicity and the author, Linny, spoke about a book she and her husband are reading entitled, The Encore Church, by Wayne Cordeiro. She quoted the author below:

"Gratefulness, is different. It can only be developed intentionally. It begins with a spirit. It's an attitude, a disposition that we carry whether or not things go our way. It's being content before any gifts are given. It's breathing a silent "thank you" regardless of what the circumstances are. It's the hallelujah with no guarantee of a blessing. It is the confidence to accept whatever God brings."

Linny and her family has gone through many challenges in the past few months that would break down the average person. And yet, they have made the choice to be grateful regardless of what their circumstances are. Accepting whatever God brings. Grateful BEFORE any gifts and answers to prayers are given. They are an inspiration for us all.

Today on Grateful/Thankful Thursday I am giving thanks for people like Linny who are willing to share their journey of faith with us. I am giving thanks for what I have been reminded of this day in regards to gratefulness. I have so much to be grateful is time to take out my gratitude journal and start writing!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cleansing Rain

Psalm 51:7 "Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow." Ps. 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O god, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."

It is raining hard today. There is thunder and lightening in the sky at times, and a good old fashioned steady rain is helping the grass and spring flowers to grow. The rain is washing "winter" dust off the house, roof, and decks ~making everything clean. The often used quote, "April showers bring May flowers" is ringing true here in the Midwest today.

At times I feel the need for a good old fashioned rain to rid me of my "winter" dust, while making me clean again and helping me grow. There comes a time when we all are in need of renewal. Our bodies may need a rest, our hearts may be in need of healing, or our minds just might need cleansing and reordering. Sometimes in our brokenness we need all three.

In such a time as this, God will cleanse and heal us when we come to Him with arms outstretched. He will restore us, renew us, and sustain us, just as a cleansing rain restores the earth.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Giving Thanks This Thursday

It is a beautiful day here with sunshine and unusually warm temperatures. The grass is green and tulips and crocus are lifting their heads up in praise. I just stopped over to Debi's site,
Who Says Eight Is Enough and enjoyed looking at the photos of her family. It reminded me of the many blessings in our own. We have raised 7 children to adulthood and three in-laws have enriched our family. We now have oodles of grandchildren that bring us great joy. We have 2 birth and 5 adopted children, making our family multiracial and international. As in all families, sadness has touched us more than once. Our 3rd son died of congestive heart failure when a virus attacked his heart. He was only 25. Our 4th son was adopted at age 7, diagnosed as a child without a conscious at age 13 and as a sociopath at 18. Due to his violent behavior he is "estranged" from the family. The rest of our children are doing well and raising their own children to know Jesus as their Savior~ they are good, loving, faith-filled people...what more could I ask for??!!??

This Thankful Thursday I am praising God for the many family blessings in my life. For each and every one of our children, in-laws, and grandchildren and what they have taught us about living a life of faith.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fall Afresh

The past couple of days a song has been going through my mind and I find myself humming or singing a few lines...

Spirit of the living God............fall afresh on me

Spirit of the living God............fall afresh on me

Melt me ........mold me........fill me........use me....

Spirit of the living God............fall afresh on me

Part of our purpose here on earth is to serve and glorify God in all we do. To me, this song is a request for God's help in our quest to become more Christ-like as His followers.

Fall afresh: Send your spirit to renew me Lord.

Melt me: I surrender all to you precious Jesus.

Mold me: You created and shaped me Lord with a plan and purpose in mind.

Fill me: Come, thou Holy Spirit, fill me with all I need.

Use me: Lord, I am your servant, use me according to your purpose to tell others about You, and glorify You in all I say and do.

Lord, give me the strength to fulfill the dream You have put in my heart.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Grieving With Hope

Yesterday my brother-in-law who helped raise me and was a father to me, was laid to rest. A great number of people attended the visitation, funeral and graveside service. Due to my health I was only able to attend the graveside service, but I was very thankful I could be there at all.

My husband has officiated at over 200 funerals and as his wife I have attended my fair share in years past. What we have learned is that funerals are kind of a mixed bag of emotions. For those who are Christians the service is a place not only to grieve the death of a loved one, but it is a place of celebration for that person's life. It is what we call grieving with hope~the hope of knowing our loved ones have gone to heaven to be with our Lord and that someday we will all be together again.

The lunch that follows is usually a time of not only expressing our condolences to the family, but also a time of sharing stories about the person who has died, and a time for fellowship with people we may not see very often. You will see tears and deep sadness along with laughter and joy filling the hearts of those who sit together, communing with nourishment. Nourishment not only for their bodies, but for their souls.

As Christians we have the peace of knowing that our loved ones who die before us are with our Lord. They are safe, secure and no longer enduring any earthly trials. We will miss them terribly and often an empty place finds permanent residence within us, but when we lift our eyes to the Heavens we will also be able to see through our pain to a quiet place of assurance in knowing. Knowing that they are in HIS presence.

Grieving with HOPE.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Is Risen!

Mark 16:6 "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is RISEN!"

I have been thinking about all the Easter services we have attended over the past 40+ years. Twenty-three moves have had us worshiping at churches in Illinois, Utah, New Mexico, Minnesota, Iowa, Montana, and The Philippine Islands. When our children were all home we usually bought new spring outfits for them to wear ~ no Easter bonnets though :) ~ and spent quite a bit of time coloring dozens of hard boiled eggs. An egg hunt would follow our Sunday services and special ham dinner. Some years we hid eggs outside and others when it was too cold…we hid them around the house. Only one year do I recall a strong stench a few weeks later, which eventually led us to a rotten Easter egg! Each of the kids received an Easter basket filled with candy, colored eggs, and the yearly gift of a book. Finding places to hide a basket for 7 children was at times challenging! It was always a very special time for us.
It was not so important where we worshiped ~ whether it was in the heat and humidity of an early morning outdoor service in the Philippines or in a small church with 25 people in northern Montana where winter often lasts into April. What was important was that everyone gathered together to worship the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord!

We have an empty nest now and spend most Easters alone. Life is always changing, but I still am focusing on Holy Week ~ especially Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Not because of the commercial trappings of baskets, candy, or egg hunts ~ but because I need to reflect on what it was like when Christ hung from the cross and Mary found the tomb empty 3 days later. Even though I now need to worship from home, my Easter services are still filled with joy ~the music inspires me, the sermons sustain me, and the words of Jesus strengthen me and give me hope.

In a world where we often question what tomorrow will bring, we can stand firm on the foundation of our Lord. On this day, Easter, as we worship the ressurection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are reminded of God's love for us, His children. We rejoice!

Christ the Lord is Risen today


Sons of men and angels say


Raise your joy and triumphs high


Sing ye heavens and earth reply


Charles Wesley 1739

Friday, April 10, 2009

Faith Expresed: Death And New Life

Today Is Good Friday. A time when Christians gather together to remember the death of Jesus Christ. A time when we come before God on our knees and give thanks for Him sending His Son into the world to suffer and die on a cross so that we may be saved from our own sins. The focus this day is on death and dying.

On this night my brother-in-law who is like a father to me is dying. The leukemia has quickly ravaged his body and the family has been called to the hospital to be by his bedside. Even though he is still conscious, he is very weak, and they don't expect him to last the night. Joel has gone to be there while I am at home too ill to travel. My brother is flying back from Hawaii and hopes to be able to get back in time. The rest of the family has come together in an ICU room in the hospital. The doctors will do what they can to make is comfortable, but his passing is not in there hands now. The family has all been able to be there to pray and share with D. what he means to them. What a blessing for him at the end of his life.

Tonight I was watching Max Lucado on TV and he was actually speaking about death. Stephen Curtis Chapman was also there. Chapmans lost their sweet 5 year old daughter in 2008 to a terrible accident. They spoke about how no one escapes death. We don't usually know when we will die or how, but what we do know is that we are not alone. Tonight I was praying that D. would know he was not alone, that God would be with him when he died. Soon after Lucado spoke, a beautiful woman sang,and in the song was a verse..."God is there...with you in the ICU when the doctors don't know what else to do......" Tonight I have assurance and peace of mind that yes, God is in the ICU with D. and the family. He is here with me, He is with each of us~ only a prayer away.

Good Friday and the death of Christ does not last. There is hope for Easter Sunday and there is hope even as we grief because we believe that we will see those who have died before us once again.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Flagellants In The Philippines: Lenten Rites

When we lived in the Philippines in the late 70's we experienced a Lenten Ritual that was very memorable. It began during Holy Week when we were driving down into the city next to the Air Force Base. We noticed a man laying on the side of the road. His head was covered in black and some people kicked him as they walked by. We were stunned to see this and confused on why it was happening. The next day we talked to a Filipino friend who explained to us that during Lent ~ especially on Good Friday, Filipino men would lay on the side of the street to be kicked as a punishment by those who passed by, and that there was a procession that took place where men cut their backs with a blade and then whipped their backs with a heavy rope that had several wooden rods attached to the end. The more they bled the better, as they believed that through this ritual their sins were forgiven or divine favors given. We were able to observe this Lenten Rite in the city from the window of our Filipino friend's home on Good Friday. We have never forgotten it.

**We have slides of the Flagellants, so I am using photos I found online and keeping them small so at not to be to disturbing.***
Joel and I have often talked about our experience that Good many years ago. We know that each country is different in how they express their faith, and we were guests in a land that was mostly foreign to us, so we knew little about what this Lenten Rite represented. From our own perspective, we often said we wished we could tell these men that they did not need to beat themselves to have forgiveness of sins. Jesus did all the suffering for us! As Christians we need only ask for forgiveness....and because Christ died for our sins we are forgiven and have eternal life!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In His Time~In His Way~For His Glory~

I was reading a blog yesterday about one woman's journey with chronic illness and in her posting I read these words...."In His His way....for His glory". Reading this phrase brought me to a quiet place within myself where I was gently reminded of God's power.

Psalm 46:10 tells us, "Be still and know that I am God."

During the years I was editor of "The Encourager", I connected often with many of the subscribers. The members of this newsletter were Christians living with chronic illnesses. Their faith sustained them as they dealt not only with disabling diseases, but also with financial burdens, isolation, and all the grief of lost expectations for a healthy life. For the most part they were able to live a life of acceptance with a fighting spirit...knowing that God was in control, and that everyone's prayers would be answered in His time, in His way, and for His glory. We encouraged each other on our journeys and held each other up in prayer. It gave us the strength we needed to live a joy-filled life each day.

There are times I feel like the world is spinning on an extra fast axis and I am not sure whether I am coming or going. According to the my doctor, the illnesses I live with make it more challenging to cope with the crises that come into my life. My body responds very quickly to outside stimuli of any kind so when a crisis pops up, I need to work extra hard not to let it affect my health in a negative way. I heard someone say that the Chinese characters used for the word crisis are both disaster and opportunity. I find this very interesting. When a crisis comes our way disaster can be close at hand, but when we make the choice to look at it as a time for growth or change, it becomes an opportunity. When we trust God to work things out in His time, in His way, and for His purpose and glory, we are able to surrender to His plan for our lives. In turn, this helps us stay faith-centered, with the knowledge that God works all things together for good according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Certainly, at times it is very difficult to be in a season of trials. We may find ourselves wondering if God has closed His ears to our pleading voice as we ask for mercy. We believe we know what would stop our world from spinning, and cannot understand why God does not rescue us or those we love and care about according to our plans. When we come a place of confusion and pleading, we need to be still. No need to panic! Surrendering to our Lord's will, we are able to step out in faith, remembering that God is God and our situations or those of our loved ones are in His hands. We truly can trust that all things work together for good in His time, in His way, and for His purpose and glory.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The P O W E R of Prayer


Praying to God, Petitioning our requests, and Praising Him for the many blessings He gives us.

Opening Our hearts to God's love and purpose for Our lives.

Walking the path God has given us, following His planWillingly.

Exalt His Holy name! Examine ourselves.

Repent of our sins. Be Renewed ~ Rejoice!!


It is a privilege to be able to come to our Lord in prayer! He is our heavenly Father, our friend, our Comforter. We are blessed!

Friday, April 3, 2009

This Is The Way

Years ago while living in Utah we traveled to the Four Corner's area of the West. It is here that Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet. There is a round flat monument at this tourist area where you can stand and be in all four states at once. Depending on which direction you go, you can head off in just one step to either Arizona, Utah, Colorado, or New Mexico! Four directions, four choices, and four completely different places....
Where we find ourselves right now reminds me of the Four Corners. At first I felt like Joel and I had come to a fork in the road on our journey, but very quickly I realized we are pretty much standing together in a circle, looking at four options that we could choose from. Where do we go, what direction do we take? What is the best decision for us concerning Joel's ministry, his health, my health, and our current living situation? What has God planned for our future?

I am greatly comforted by this verse in Isaiah 30:21:

"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'. "

Do you find comfort in this verse? Sometimes we find ourselves in a place of confusion where the way is just not clear to us. Whether it has to do with a relationship, a move, a new job.....or any life changing decision~ when choices are not easy or clear to us, we need to wait with a listening ear for the voice of God to direct our ways.

In our present situation, Joel and I take great comfort in knowing that God is with us. He WILL guide us each step of the way as we surrender to His plans....plans for good and not for evil. (Jeremiah 29:11) For now we stand together at our own Four Corners and in God's time~ the best time~we will hear a voice telling us, "This is the way, walk in it."