Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Awe


We are expecting another 6 inches of snow today here in the upper Midwest. Looking out on the 12 inches plus on the ground already, we can definitely say we will have a "white" Christmas! Our small indoor tree is all decorated with its tiny lights giving off a glow on this grey day. The fridge is filled with Christmas dinner ingredients, and the house smells like sweet potato pie. Our gifts are wrapped and waiting for Christmas morning, and Joel has his church services ready to go. Christmas will soon be here and the wait will be over.

Tomorrow we will read the Christmas story, worship the birth of God's son, and celebrate the most precious gift anyone has ever been given~ the gift of salvation coming in the form of a baby. In joy we will sing familiar hymns, hear God's Word, and greet others with "Merry Christmas"! We will eat a feast, enjoy special desserts, and will be bursting with the love of family and friends whether in our homes or from afar.

As we embrace another Christmas, in awe we give thanks for God's gift to each of us. Jesus.
Merry
Christmas

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mary, Mary, Had A Little Baby

There is a song I listen to during Christmas that is on a CD by Sarah McLachlan....and one verse sticks in my head...

"Mary, Mary, had a little baby...
mmmmm...tiny little baby..
mmmmm...pretty little baby...
Glory be to the newborn king."
~~~~~~~
Mary, a young woman, having been chosen by God, gives birth to a baby that she knows is the child of God. She births a king. THE King. I cannot imagine how she felt that day, and for the years to follow. Did she understand it all? In her obedience to God, did she realize the importance of this tiny baby she held in her arms...the boy she watched grow up...the boy she found teaching in the temple at age 12....the son she saw turn water into wine...heal the sick...die on a cross... and rise again. Mary had a little baby......and the world changed.
~~~
So, here we are, and may I say we, too, are like young Mary...believers in God. Just average people. Are we open to have God use us? Use us until we are all used up? Are we open to surrender? Are we willing to be obedient to God's plan for our lives? His plan that will help further His kingdom? We will notbe favored by God to birth a King...we will not be remembered in Biblical history...but we can all do our part by glorifying God in all He asks us to do. Fulfilling God's purpose for each of our lives....As believers. As average people. As obedient children of God.
"Mary, Mary....had a little baby...
Glory be to the newborn King!"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Please stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to link up or read other inspirational posts. www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Faithfulness

I watched Joyce Meyer early this morning before I even got out of bed. I find that God often has a thing or two to tell me through her words. Today the words hard, stay, and go were resonating in my foggy head. They came alive for me because I have been struggling with finding a situation here very had to deal with...and my first response is to "go". To leave it behind. Besides this challenge, we are getting ready for early retirement, and find the process to slow for our liking. At times it is hard to remember that God has a plan for us...a plan with His perfect timing.

In our faithfulness to God, we are able to wait for His plan to unfold and not force things to move at our pace, but boy I find that hard at times. I keep asking God through my actions and my words..."NOW Lord? Is it time now?" Like an small child waiting for Christmas morning, who continually asks her parents..."Is it Christmas yet?", I go to God daily and ask...."Is it time yet?".

During the Advent season we learn the meaning of waiting ~ waiting for the right time for our Savior. Waiting for the birth of a baby that would save the world. Waiting for Christmas. With this in mind, I can apply the same process to our future. Waiting for the right time...the right place. Joyce Meyer spoke today about being faithful and trusting God to tell us when it is time to go and time to stay and I am so glad I opened my eyes early to listen. In faithfulness I can trust our Lord with today...and tomorrow. He loved us so much he sent His son to die for our sins, His love never ends and neither will His guidance.

"For I know the plans I have for you' says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11
NLT

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Anticipation and Joy

"Let the Word of God dwell in you richly..."
Colossians 3:16a

This time of year I wait with anticipation for the mail to arrive. I love getting cards and newsletters at Christmas! Having moved over 20 times in 42 yrs, and with Joel having served several congregations, we have connected with many people and love to hear how they are doing. We oooh and ahhh over how kids have grown up, and enjoy seeing wedding photos, and the pictures of grandkids that are so eagerly shared. We catch up on what is new in each household and learn of their joys and sorrows. I love these special connections with friends, don't you?

It came to my mind to ask myself if I connect with God enough, and have the same excitement when I open His letters to us? The Bible is like one long inspirational newsletter. The only thing missing is the family photo!

As I open the cards and newsletters that arrive on my doorstep this year, I pray I will be reminded to open up God's newsletter with the same anticipation and joy, and read the good news He has for me every day!

Friday, December 3, 2010

White As Snow

I have been watching snow fall gently all day in our corner of the world. Everything looks so pure and white now that the brown grass and earth are wearing their winter coat. It reminds me of the verse in the Bible that speaks about forgiveness.
~~~~~
"Come let us reason together," says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.
Thought they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool."
Isaiah 1:18
~~~~~
Scarlet....Crimson...like blood...Jesus' blood shed for our sins. Wool....Snow..clean.....no stains left from our sins. Absolutely pure. Forgiven. Isn't it amazing? We are so blessed with the precious gift of forgiveness and the privilege to forgive others. As we walk through Advent in preparation for Christmas, let us rejoice in the birth of a baby, God's son, our Savior who was born on one Holy Night, and who grew up to die for our sins. Though our sins were scarlet, they are now white as snow. Thank you Jesus.
~~~~~
Stop over and see Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to link up or share an inspirational post. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swiftly Go The Years

"For everything there is a season...."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunrise
This photo was taken from our backyard

Do you remember the song "Sunrise, Sunset" in the movie, Fiddler On The Roof? It is such a beautiful song! When our second oldest daughter was married, Joel officiated at the service and during the sermon his friend sang this song. There was not a dry eye in the church!


Sunset
This photo was taken from our front yard
~~~~~~~~~
"Sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly go the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears"
I was thinking about this song today when I reminisced about our family gathering. How tall the grandkids are getting. How old they seem. No need for grandma and grandpa to have a high chair anymore. No one expecting. Our family certainly is growing as one season follows another.
~~
I also was giving thanks for this past year. Like everyone else, it has been laden with happiness and tears, and through it all God has walked with us. So many blessings to be grateful for.
~~
As the sun goes down on this day, and soon on another Christmas...and then another year, let us never forget the goodness of our Lord who wipes away our tears, and brings joy into our lives.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reflecting on Thanksgiving

Our family gathered together for a 2 day Thanksgiving celebration this year. There were twenty of us, with our family coming from north, south and east, driving through ice, sleet, rain, and snow to get here by Wednesday afternoon. Joel and I could hardly contain ourselves we were so excited to have everyone under one roof again. That usually only happens once a year due to schedules, etc.

We had our usual Thanksgiving fare, although one turkey was done too soon and the other took an hour longer than we had planned. We still managed to eat a good meal and save room for pie and ice cream. Thursday evening the grandkids performed their annual Christmas play and then they opened Christmas presents from Grandma Na and Papa Joel. We even managed a family photo using a tripod and timer. It only took 4 takes to get a good one!

Staying in a hotel made it possible for the kids to swim and the adults to stay up late visiting. It also made it possible for Joel and I to rest and get a good nights sleep to prepare us for the activities to come. Joel and I did the planning, but little of the cooking or clean up. We still managed one-two rests/naps a day. Lyme and CFS are unforgiving when it comes to pushing over our limits.

We are so grateful for the time we had together...lots of laughter, visiting, hugs, a few cribbage games, a touch football game, and great food filled the days. At first it took awhile for us to adjust to all the noise twenty people make...and then it took us awhile to adjust to the silence after everyone left!

As we spend extra time resting and restoring our energy, we cannot but help but smile as we remember our family gathering. We are blessed with a beautiful family~ inside and out!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Gratitude

The house is starting to smell like Thanksgiving! Pumpkin bread has been made ~ the regular kind for the family and gluten and sugar free for Joel and me. Pies are baking and the cranberry sauce is in the fridge along with a fresh turkey. The fridge has not been this full in a very long time.

Tomorrow our children start arriving from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Southern Iowa. Please pray for them as they travel~ it is a busy day on the roads and we are expecting to see freezing rain, sleet, and snow in all of these areas!

We will eat our Thanksgiving feast on Thursday and celebrate Christmas Thursday night! We look forward to having everyone under one roof again. With the kids, in-loves, grandchildren, and us, we total 20 this year.

We have so much to be thankful for. Family, fun, fellowship, freedom to worship, and an abundance of food will grace our lives in the coming days. We pray the same for you.

God bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving And A Half-Baked Turkey

"Be joyful always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you
in Christ Jesus."
I Thessalonians 5:16

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving next week here the USA, I have been remembering Thanksgivings past, and one that stands out for me took place when we lived in The Philippine Islands from 1974-76. The month of November in the P.I. is in the middle of typhoon season and we had a week of them our first Thanksgiving on the island. We decided to go ahead and cook a traditional meal, even though a typhoon was predicted to hit with over 120mph winds and a torrential rain. We had stored up on candles, water and food, and thought we had done all we could to protect our home. What we had not checked on was our natural gas supply.....so when we ran out of gas while cooking, we ended up eating half-baked turkey along with jello, rolls, and potato chips for our big feast! The kids thought it was great. Right after our unique dinner Joel left for work, as he was a meteorologist in the Air Force and was working the mid shift. The kids and I, and our live-in maid stayed in our home. When the lights went out we lit candles, and when the water came into the house under the front door like someone had put a hose up to it, we used our brooms to sweep it back out and kept up as well as we could. Our home, like most others the military lived in, were made of cement blocks which were then filled with wet cement. The roof could have gone, but not the house itself! We spent a lot of time sweeping water and praying that day. Joel spent a lot of time at work sitting helplessly before a wall of equipment that was not working due to no electricity! We gave thanks quite often for keeping us safe that day. Needless to say it is one Thanksgiving we will always remember ~ and quite fondly!

This year we will celebrate with our family, sharing a feast and fellowship with the crew and enjoying all the hugs we can get from our grandchildren. There will be no typhoons to worry about, but plenty to be thankful for!

May God richly bless each of you as we give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

Join Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read or link up inspirational posts.
www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Mystery Behind Suffering: It's Not About Me

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

I wrote a post a few days ago for Spiritual Sundays that spoke about the mystery behind suffering, and the many comments I received gave me new insights into this topic and affirmed some of my own. The comment shared by my friend Dominique from "4 Walls and a View" gave me pause and an important piece to this puzzle I have been putting together.

I had been reading and talking to others about the many ideas surrounding the subject of suffering. Does God use our suffering? Is it sometimes part of His plan or assignment for us? Does God want every person to be healed and well? What are the causes behind suffering? Can we solve this mystery? Should we even try?

Dominique shared, "Maybe we were never meant to figure it all out. Maybe this is just part of our journey that is called faith." I had to chuckle when I read this. My practitioner tells me I like to have "all my ducks in a row". I do not like surprises and I like to have all pieces of the puzzle in place! Like that ever happens in real life! Dominique is soooo right.....we will never figure it all out. We are not meant to. God is God and we are not!

This journey of discovery I have been on has expanded and deepened my faith and helped me realize that I can find acceptance and comfort in living with all the mysteries of God. I know that God will use us as we are and where we are today. It is my desire to serve Him whether I am healed or not. It is not about me. It is about putting the spotlight on God...His glory....His desire to further His kingdom. Dominique's words helped remind me that I can trust God, and not lean on my own understanding. Trusting and leaning on God ~Not a bad place to be.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Mystery Behind Suffering

The last few months I have been spending time pondering and praying about the subject of suffering. I have been chronically ill since 1984, finally being correctly diagnosed with Stage 3 Lyme Disease in 2007. Joel joined me with his own fight against Lyme and its buddies (co-infections) over a year ago, and this past March I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had surgery to remove it all. During this recovery time, I began to question the journey we are on. There are several schools of thought on the subject of illness, suffering and getting well, and when you are sick for a long time, people seem to be more verbal about sharing their opinions on these subjects with you.

My need to learn more intensifed when I joined a conference-call prayer group, where the leader believes strongly that God wants all of us well and healthy. She states that Christ's death on the cross was in part so that we do not need to suffer. He already suffered for us. I felt challenged by these beliefs and my pondering turned into a time of struggling and growing.

I have read a couple of books by well known authors on the subject of healing~ there are many on this topic! There is more than one TV evangelist who tells us if we would just "believe" we would get well. God's favor is there for the asking, and our faith or that of a faith healer will heal us. One person I am close to has asked me, "Do you really want to get well? Is there something emotional inside of you that is keeping you from getting well? Some hidden benefits?" In Max Lucado's book, "It's Not About Us" he states that a season of suffering can be a part of God's calling for us ~ He says, "Your faith in the face of suffering cranks up the volume on God's song." Yet another school of thought is that we live in a fallen world and we are going to have suffering because of sin.

I have looked at all the above and more, reflecting on my own beliefs while reading about those of others. What I came to realize is that there is scripture to back them all! There is great mystery in all of this for me....we have seen a close friend on death's door with terminal cancer who was miraculously healed and is living a full life years later. We have seen others who believed with their whole heart that God would heal them here on earth...and He did not. I have also observed others who have not asked for healing but did use their suffering to glorify God, and we all understand that a sinful world brings suffering to many. There are as many answers as there are questions on the enigma of suffering.

I believe there are mysteries we will never fully understand, and one of them is the mystery behind suffering. Researching this subject left me open to God's desires for our lives in all areas, including healing. I have come before God asking for healing in accordance with His will, hopeful for full health here on earth, while also asking God to use our season of suffering to His glory. I know that God answers our prayer requests with what He sees as best for us, and that He loves us....deeply and unconditionally. In His omnipotence there is mystery and will be until God welcomes us into Heaven. And I am okay with that. I don't have all the answers on the suffering people experience, but I do know I can trust my Lord in every season of my life.


Stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up with your own. www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com

May God Bless And Keep Them


Giving thanks today for those who have served or are serving and defending our country.
May God bless and keep them in His loving care.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pray Continually

Last Wednesday night I picked up the phone at exactly 8pm and called in to the conference line that connects me to around 60 others who pray together for over 300 people with Lyme Disease. There is something special about gathering together to petition for God's healing power. Isn't it amazing the many different ways we are able to connect as Christians and pray for each other!

We can go to any number of blogs in our Spiritual Sundays group, among others, and find prayer requests for those in need. I have one on my blog for a sweet little girl named Georgia who is in need of prayer for a serious heart concern, and I remember being overwhelmed with gratitude when others put my photo on their blog asking for prayers for my cancer surgery and recovery. It is hard to describe how it feels to know others are talking to God about your needs.

When a family member or friend is in need of prayer a phone call lets us know, or an email goes out with the request which pops up quickly in our email boxes, and I have even received a few in my Facebook account. In today's world we are really blessed to be able to have not only instant messaging online...but instant praying! We can all share stories on how the prayers of others brought us through a trial, a crisis, or difficult circumstances. We have experienced it here at Spiritual Sundays.

We are told in the Bible that if we ask we shall receive.... we are told that where two or more are gathered together Jesus is in the midst of them...we are told to pray without ceasing ~pray continually.

When I am having my next conversation with God, and it is not my time to listen, I am going to give thanks for the power of prayer! What an amazing gift it is to bring as many as we can to the feet of Jesus for His healing touch. In obedience to God......let us pray.



I am joining Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays this week. Stop over to http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/ and read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Traveling In Style


Once again I am posting my Memorial Box Monday on Tuesday! I am linking up with Linny at A Place Called Simplicity where we share stories of God's love, grace, provision and power in our lives. Remembering God's many blessings helps strengthen our faith during tougher times, and reminds us of how God answers our prayers!

Our van has around 200,000 miles on it and was needing to be repaired more and more often, so for over a year we had been talking about how we were going to buy a newer van. As time passed we continued to thank God for our van continuing to be trustworthy, while praying about finding a different one. We figured we could make a payment if we were really careful, but a trade in would be impossible. Why? Well, because I have something called Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. I react badly to chemicals of all kinds and gas, wood smoke, fragrances....and more. When you buy a used van it has always been detailed and has a smell most people like, but my body finds dangerous. When you buy a van from a private owner you are never sure of what you are getting. When you buy a new van, it has all the smells of new plastic, formaldehyde, foam, etc. This is not something that goes away in a month...or even six. We would have to keep both vans until I could safely ride in the newer one. It was going to be a challenge and when you add to that our health issues, just having the energy to look for a van would be difficult. We began to pray.

Little did we know that our oldest son and his wife were looking at trading in their van for a different kind of vehicle. They knew our van was getting old and that we were talking about getting a new one, and they were willing to sell us their van and not use it for a trade in. They called us one day and asked us if we were interested in purchasing their van, which we could finance through our son's credit union at his job, which we discovered would give us the lowest interest rates. We were definitely interested, so our son drove it up here and Joel drove it and checked it out to see if it would work for us. It is the same kind as we drive, but was only one year old, with few miles, and sporting some of the gadgets he likes such as temp. direction, etc.!! Exciting!

Just like that our prayers were answered. We were able to purchase a van from private owners whom we know very well and could trust (smile), and it did not take any real effort on our part to find it. We still have our old van for me to ride in until the newer van "outgasses" enough for me to travel safely, and Joel has a new vehicle for getting to work and when he travels without me! God took care of it all. it could have been a long, stressful journey to find a new vehicle to drive, but God had it all worked out. And our gracious son and daughter-in-love were the instruments God used to answer our prayers!

I am going to put a match box van in our Memorial Box to remind us of how God took care of all the details without us having to buy a "detailed" van!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Grace Me Again Lord

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith~and this is not from yourselves ~ it is a gift of God."
Ephesians 2:8

One of my favorite books is by Gracia Burnham entitled,"To Fly Again". It is a sequel to her book, "In The Presence Of Mine Enemies" which is the true story about the year she and her husband spent as hostages with a terrorist group in the Philippine Islands where they were missionaries at the time. Her husband Martin is killed during their rescue and her second books covers her life after his death, and how God's love and grace continues to bless her and her family.

In her second book she uses a phrase that is more like a prayer. "Grace me again, Lord." As Gracia's life slowly moved forward she realized that her life was not over. God still wanted to use her to further His kingdom. She trusted God to still make something more of her....to grace her again with His blessings and guidance.


This phrase really resonates with me, and I use it when I find myself in a number of different circumstances. It is one we can all keep close to our heart. When life feels burdensome....grace me again, Lord....when illness or death strikes....grace me again, Lord.......when we are confused about what is going on today, struggling with our past, or worried about our future....grace me again, Lord.....when fear or discouragement come calling....grace me again, Lord......when we need His strength to carry us....grace me again, Lord...when we need encouragement....grace me again, Lord.

If you look in the concordance of your Bible, you will find countless verses on grace. They confirm over and over again how much God loves us. God's grace never ends!

Grace me again, Lord!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you
The Lord turn His face towards you
and give you peace..."
Numbers 6:24,25
Please stop over to Spiritual Sundays to read more inspirational posts, or join Charlotte and Ginger and post your own. www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Transition Thoughts on Thankful Thursday

As each morning wakens us, my husband and I find ourselves talking about retirement and just where that will be. Retirement is coming early for Joel, due to his (and my) battle with Lyme Disease and several coinfections. It is not what we had planned....not by a long shot. We had plans to travel, do mission work, visit all our children, in-loves, and grandchildren and see extended family. Those plans were all thrown into a giant dryer and spun around. As we take out each piece of our changed life, we are finding hidden blessings to be thankful for.

My illnesses slowly changed our lives over the years, but things went down hill when I became homebound six years ago. The spinning only got worse when Joel was also diagnosed with Lyme and coinfections 16 months ago and was put on disability. His ministry was put on hold until he took a less than part time job as an interim in a town nearby. This job was a blessing we were not expecting! Even with the interim job, thoughts of retirement are at the forefront.

Thus, we find ourselves in the midst of a transition. For the first time ever I hear my husband say, "I don't want to do this anymore. I am exhausted and I need to rest."

Today I am actually thankful for this time of transition. Oh, I am not thankful we are sick, but I am truly thankful we have the option to live on the permanent disability he has been given and for the option of early retirement. I am thankful that we have God in the center of all the decisions we need to make. I am thankful for the progress we have made in our treatments and the wonderful doctor who works with us to lead us towards better health. I am thankful for God's promises in His word that give us the hope we need. I am thankful that God is leading the way in the wheres, hows, and whens of this new and unexpected journey. I am so thankful that He loves us and wants the best for us.

Reading another blog today, I heard the words ~ I decided to look at my glass as half-full instead of half-empty~. No matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, there are plenty of blessings to keep our glass half full. I am thankful today for our half-full glass and the hope I have that some day soon we will be saying, "Our cup runneth over!".

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

God's Mighty Healing Power

Even though it is Tuesday morning, I am posting a Memorial Box Monday today. Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity started this wonderful link where people share stories of big and small miracles that God has blessed them with in His love and faithfulness. Stop over and read or link up with Linny.

Today's story is not about us, but about friends who experienced a miracle in their lives. We grew to be friends with Marilyn and Leon when we moved to their small town and Joel served as Pastor to their congregation for six and one half years. A few years after we moved to another church, we got a phone call telling us Leon had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer from asbestos. He had been exposed to the asbestos while in the military and quite often it resulted in this type of cancer. Many people began praying for Leon as he moved forward on this difficult journey.

When they had exhausted all treatment options and Leon realized he was going to die, they called and asked Joel to come back and officiate at his upcoming funeral. It was a sad time for all and especially his family as the large tumor began to block his ability to breath or swallow. Even though his time was near, he hoped to live through Christmas to be with his whole family, and he did.

As January arrived we waited for the phone call telling us of his death....but it did not come....and did not come. We began to wonder what was happening. A phone call eventually did come and instead of tears of sadness, we all had tears of joy! Leon began to feel better after Christmas, and when he went in to his doctor for a check up they did a CT to check on the tumor...but they could not find it! The tumor had disappeared. More tests gave them the same results.....the cancer was gone. One of his doctors had a scientific name for this....spontaneous remission.....BUT we ALL know why the cancer was gone. GOD is HIS power and love granted Leon more life. He alone healed Leon of the cancer!

More than six years later Leon is still doing well and living a full life. Let us never forget God's healing power and what He can and WILL do in our lives!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday's Wonders Of Nature

These pictures were all taken from inside our house, from the yard or in the yard. I thought I would share our autumn views I am blessed to enjoy from my sanctuary. Have a wonderful day!
"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it."
Psalm 24:1









Saturday, October 16, 2010

We Are The People


Come let us sing to the Lord!

Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our Salvation.

Let us come to Him with thanksgiving.

Let us sing Psalms of praise to him,

For the Lord is a great God.

a great King above all gods.


He holds in his hands the depths of the earth

and the mightiest mountains.

The sea belongs to him, for he made it.

His hands formed the dry land too....

Come let us worship and bow down

Let us kneel before the Lord our maker

for he is our God.


We are the people he watches over

the flock under his care.

Psalm 95

This past week was a bit challenging with another CT Scan to rule out lymphoma on Monday and an appointment with the oncologist on Thursday. As each day passed I found myself fluxuating between peace and anxiety, assurance I was fine and worry that the cancer had returned. My faith in God did not waver, but my peace of mind did. It turns out my report was good, and there is no lymphoma to be seen. All is well...all is well. Praise God!

Looking back on my times of worry, the above verses sang out to me today. They reminded me that no matter what the results would have shown, God would still be God and all creation would still be His! He is my Rock, the one sure thing in my life. Through trials, tribulations or death, I would be watched over and kept in His care.

I belong to a conference call prayer group of "Lymies" ~ People battling Lyme Disease. We gather by phone every two weeks and pray for over 250 people. When I hear about all the suffering people are going through just in this group requesting prayer, I bend my knees and plead for God's mercy. It would be easy to be discouraged or feel overwhelmed...

Except........

When we open our Bible and pour over the scriptures our eyes focus on our Lord and our hope rises! The scriptures fill us with the promises of God, and as Psalm 95 tells us~

We ARE the people God watches over...the flock under His care. No matter what any of us are facing today, no matter what changes come for us ~ God is our Rock! "Come let us worship and bow down!"


Stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays and post a link or read inspirational posts. www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Gun And God's Grace

Memorial Box Mondays was created by Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity. Every Monday you can link up at her blog and share memories of how God blessed your life with His love, faithfulness and miracles. It is great to read all the times God intervenes in our lives. Several of us have a special Memorial Box we keep special things of significance in as reminders of God's grace in their lives.

Today, after praying about what to post, I am sharing about when God protected Joel and our family from harm, watching over us and providing the help needed to get through a very stressful time.

When my husband was serving a congregation in Zimmerman MN he would often hug all the people when they left church. One day he hugged an elderly lady and this changed our lives forever. Her husband, who we found out later was a violent alcoholic, became enraged by this and decided Joel and his 70 yr old wife were having an affair. He made plans to kill my husband. Unbeknown to us he would have his wife call our home and instruct her to tell Joel she needed him to come over and he planned to " shoot and gut the pastor" when he arrived. Several times we received phone calls, but he would have her hang up before she spoke.

One night the phone rang at 10:30pm and the police were on the line telling us that this man had just shot up his brother-in-law's house where his wife was staying and then left there on his way to come kill "the pastor". They told us they were on their way and to sit tight. Needless to say we were worried, as the split-level parsonage where we lived had big windows at basement level where some of the kids slept and also throughout the house. We woke all of our kids and had them lay on our bedroom floor upstairs. Having grown up hunting and also spending 8 yrs in the Air Force, Joel was an expert markman, and he loaded his rifle and stood by the front door watching out the window there, while I stood at the upstairs window peeking out to watch the road several hundred yards away. We prayed and stood watch while periodically I checked in on the kids, trying to reassure them that they would be okay. Protecting our family was utmost on our mind.

Soon, 4 police cars arrived at our home. The police decided we needed to leave town so we contacted my sister and her husband and let them know we were coming and to pray for our safety. Then an officer took our oldest daughter, age 14, around the house collecting clothing for the kids while we got them ready to leave. We were taken under armed guard out into the garage and the kids were told to lay down in the car, and then two of the police vehicles escorted us out of town and drove with us for over a half hour towards our destination.

The man did not get to our home, the police went searching for this man and arrested him. We had no clue all the plans he had made to "kill the pastor", but learned of them later. He continued to have a personal vendetta with Joel and even called our home from jail to threaten us again. Eventually this man was let out of jail because his wife would not testify against him and as a pastor, Joel could not share what the wife had told both of us the day after her husband was arrested because it was said "in confidence". They also could not prosecute BECAUSE HE DID NOT SUCCEED IN HARMING US!

Our ordeal did not end with his arrest...He had a restraining order to be a certain amount of space away from Joel so he would drive up and sit on the road and watch our home. After a while he called and threatened me and our children and then assaulted a police officer so he was arrested again, but eventually let out. Our older children did not want to move and after a lot of prayer asking for God's plan, we made a difficult but obedient decision to stay in this congregation for 4 more years, learning to do what we needed to protect ourselves while trusting God to care for our family. W e never left our children alone without an adult in our home for over a year, and the schools and congregation were aware of this situation. Even after we left there and moved three hours away we would get hang up calls that we believed were from this man. God continued to protect us until the time of his death.

After this occurred we contacted our synod which was at that time part of the Mpls/St. Paul ELCA synod. We asked for help, but were not really given any. The synod president at that time actually said to us, " Gosh, be careful, this guy is dangerous.." or something to that affect. By God's guidance we were led to the president of the seminary Joel had graduated from 4 years earlier, and he took us under his wing ~ counseling with us and getting us a lawyer free of charge to consult with. The president of the sem became a good friend and walked with us through this journey. Another blessing from God.

So how is this a good memory? Much of it is NOT, but the way God protected us is! IF the wife of this man would have told Joel he needed her help he would have immediately gone there to help. I believe God stopped her and her husband every single time. We were protected from harm the night the police came. We were protected the following 4 yrs. and learned to trust God and stay where he wanted us to stay and leave when He told us to leave.

Honestly, this effected our whole family for years. It changed how we had to live, and took away our children's sense of security in their own home for a long time. It took years for all of us to completely heal......but God was with us. He went ahead of us....He walked beside us....He walked behind us. And he still does.....

I think I will add a picture of a gun to our Memory Box along with a cross. We were protected and God in His amazing love and faithfulness brought us through to the other side of this journey. In fact, when we heard years later that this man had died....and his funeral was at the same church he had been banned from by police while we lived there.......we were thankful that he had gone back to church. Maybe, he had changed his ways....Maybe he allowed God's grace and love to enter into his life too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Who Do We Trust?

In the last couple of days I have read portions of Psalm 20 in a book by Donna Partow, Psalm 20:7 in my Daily Light scriptures book and while reading prayers requests on Linny's blog, A Place Called Simplicity, and heard it read on Joyce Meyer's program. As I have said before, when things come in threes or more...I pay extra attention.

"May He give you the desire of your heart

and make all your plans succeed.

We will shout for joy when you are victorious

and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed;

he answers him from his holy heaven

with the saving power of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses

but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

They are brought to their knees and fall

but we will rise up and stand firm."

Psalm 20: 4-8 (NIV)


This Psalm was written as a liturgy of prayer for a King just before he goes out to battle against a threatening force. Do you ever feel like you are doing battle with a threatening force? Maybe you are dealing with disease, broken relationships, financial ruin, or even negative thoughts that keep you ensnared in fear.

In David's time an army relied on their chariots and horses to lead them through the battle, but it says in verse 7 that "some" trust in these things, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God! Can you think of any "chariots and horses" that you may depend on when battling a threatening force? I can for myself. Yet, we are told not to put our trust in them, but in the name of the Lord our God! We do battle in the name of our Lord! We can rely on Him to answer our prayers....to give us victory!

This past Sunday Joel Osteen asked a question of his congregation. Do you speak victory with your words.......or do you speak defeat? This question goes along with the verses in Psalm 20 that have come to my attention. I confess that at times it is easy for me to speak defeat. Life can be very challenging in my corner of Iowa, in our country, in this vast world at large. We often hear not only the groans of those suffering, but of the earth itself. It can be overwhelming.....and when it starts to become so, we need to remember to stand firm, putting our trust in GOD who will make us victorious. The Lord saves his anointed. Through Jesus Christ our battle is won! Psalm 20 tells us the victory is ours!
~
Stop over to Spiritual Sundays and visit Charlotte and Ginger to read or leave an inspirational post. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thankful Thursday Thoughts

This morning I turned on Joyce Meyer before getting out of bed, and watched her morning Bible Study. Somehow God had whispered in her ear that she needed to talk to me about my attitude. I know this because every word coming out of her mouth was meant for me. She talked about loving life and making the decision to live every day to the fullest with joy in our hearts no matter what our circumstances. Okay, God, I got the message!

The past couple of days I have been very crabby, and have let my hubby know how much I hate being here alone. You see, he has had the privilege of going 5 1/2 hours north of here to visit his mom, brothers, and extended family while also staying at the home of our daughter and her family. I was resentful and I was angry because I cannot travel and had to stay home. I have not been back in that area for 14 years, and I have not been able to travel and stay at someone else's home in 6 years but for some reason it hit me hard this time around and I was making sure everyone knew I was unhappy.

This was not an easy trip for Joel due to his health problems. He stopped every 1 1/2 -2 hrs on the way up to sleep for an hour just so he could get up there. Then he scheduled his visits to include naps and early bedtime. Driving home will be the same thing. We have talked 2-3 times a day and have had devotions over the phone together each morning. He has shared all the joy he has felt seeing everyone and being back "home" in an area of the country he loves. I have been very happy for him, but it has been clouded with feeling sorry for myself!

So, how is that working for you Renee? Ummmmm not so well. And God let me know today through the ministry of Joyce Meyer. I have a choice here...to enjoy the days alone or to grumble and complain. Starting today I am enjoying every day and plan to keep working on enjoying every single minute of my life ~ I have so much to be thankful for!

Thank you God that Joel is able to reconnect with his family, spend time with his 93 yr old mother, and give those MN grandbabies some hugs. Thank you Lord for a loving husband who wants to share each of these moments with me, and who misses me as much as I miss him. Thank you Lord that he will be home soon.....Thank you God for having a nice home to live in with our dog Levi for company. Thank you for cell phones, Internet, and TV to help pass the time. Thank you that I feel good enough to be up and about the house and take care of myself. Thank you Lord for loving me enough to bring my negative attitude to my attention. Thank you Lord for forgiveness......

Thank you Lord for a beautiful fall "Indian Summer" day! Let me rejoice in it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Trust

I am not so good at waiting, but thankfully God is very patient with me, and so is my husband. ;) Lately we have been talking quite a bit about when and where to retire. This is a big decision for us, so it does not help that we are not sure of the when or where! We have moved so much in our lives, but with over 20 moves we still are not sure where we want to "spend the rest of our lives". When we were in the Air Force they decided where we should go, and in ministry we always prayed for God to lead us to the right call ~ the church He desired us to serve. For some reason putting this decison totally in our hands seemed daunting.

We decided to pray about where God wants us to "retire". We have always followed His guidance for our lives, and see no reason not to now. But, after months of prayer, He has not led us to one area yet. I want answers...yesterday. We seem to be spending a long time in a "waiting" mode. I have looked at houses in several different towns and more than one state...trying to figure out the where part of this equation. There seems to be so much to worry about ~ what would be best for our health ~ do we need more outdoor space....less indoor space....is it safe for me with all my allergies....It does not take long to work myself into a stressful state of mind.

Today as I prayed once again for God's guidance in this matter, Psalms 37:9 came up in our daily devotional "Those who wait upon the Lord with inherit the land." There is that word again!

Reading Joan's post today at Reflections, I heard God's voice in her words...."Do you trust me?" Yes, Lord I trust you, but.... " I seem to end a lot of my answers to God with the word "but".

I need to keep reminding myself that God knows what He is doing. God knows what is best for us...the place....the time....the right house. I don't have to worry, I can leave it all in His hands! We have asked and He will answer. What is required from us is trust.

One of my favorite verses comes to mind: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5,6

I expect I will need to revisit this again, but hopefully each time I do I will learn more about trusting God with our future....and about waiting for His perfect timing.

To read inspirational posts, stop over and visit Ginger and Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Burning Hut

I thought I would share a story I came across again in some of my notes. It is a good reminder of how God often uses our circumstances to "grace us".

The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. He eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food he arrived home to find his hut in flames, with smoke rolling up into the sky. The worst had happened, and now everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out to God, "How could you do this to me?" He eventually fell into an exhausted sleep.

Early the next morning he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island. It had come to rescue him! When the rescuers came ashore he asked how they knew he was here. "We saw your smoke signal" they said.

The moral of the story: It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we need not lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Remember the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground, it just may be the smoke signal God is using to rescue you!
To read or share inspirational posts, please visit Ginger and Charlotte over at Spiritual Sundays. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: God's Perfect Plan


My story for Memorial Box Monday is really one of looking back and seeing the aha moments. Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity has a link on Mondays where people connect and share stories showing God's love and faithfulness in their lives. Remembering strengthens our faith and inspires others. Join us at MBM, http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/ to read or share your own stories.

Four years ago my husband Joel felt God's urging to look for another church to serve. Reluctantly, he put his name in with our synod and waited. He received an inquiry, and interviewed at a large church an hour from here, where he was offered the position of Senior Pastor. His salary would increase quite a bit, although that was never an important issue for us. (We had taken calls that gave us less money in the past because we felt called to the congregation.) He did accept this call, and we prepared to sell our home and move.
I have shared before how we bought a house over in the other town where the church was located but due to a hidden chemical smell I was never able to live in it for more than one month. This present house had an offer that fell through so we were able to move back to a "safe" home for me. Unfortunately Joel had to commute the 104 miles daily for 3 years, or stay overnight there sleeping in the church office. It was a very stressful situation due to my poor health, and we spent much time in prayer never understanding why we were in this situation. Did we misread God's call? Did he really want us to be apart so much of the time? So many times God provided money for us to make the two house payments, etc. until the other house sold 15 months later. Still, we wondered if we had made a costly mistake.....until....recently when things came together.

You see, Joel is on disability due to also being diagnosed with Lyme Disease and co-infections. Around 14 months ago he took 3 months off to concentrating on improving his health and then planned to go back to work, once again commuting. His health did not improve and our doctor told him he was not healthy enough to work. He eventually resigned his call and 3 months later at the exact time the doctor said he could go back to working 15-20 hrs a week......an interim position came up ONLY 9 miles from where we live! They already knew Joel, and were very happy about having him fill in for their pastor who had just left. So, Joel's disability covers 70% of his salary, and the part time call covers the rest of what he was making as Senior Pastor. He has been there now for 10 months and it is going well. Praise God and His perfect timing!

Now, here is the aha moment ~ IF he had stayed at our other congregation and not taken the new call, our salary would have been considerably less and we would not have been able to cover medical costs, etc. and stay in our home. The call as Senior Pastor was a big increase in his salary....and God KNEW we would need that to stay afloat with Lyme treatment medical costs that are mostly NOT covered by insurance.

Isn't God awesome? I am going to put a picture of the congregation where Joel was called in my memorial box, to remind us of how when we are confused or questioning what God has allowed into our lives, we are able to hang on to the fact that God knows the future for all of us, and we can TRUST God will work all things out for good for those who love Him!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Blend Of Sorrows, Trials, And Joy

We don't begin to understand all the whys and how-to's of the plans God has for our lives, but we do know from experience that life is a blend of sorrow and joy.

There are many who talk about the journey of life being in our control. The New Age mantras talk of the Law of Attraction and the "fact" that we create our own destiny. We make ourselves sick and we can make ourselves well. There are evangelists and pastors who preach the gospel of prosperity, and tell us that if we desire it, we can have it because God's favor is upon His children. Just think positive! Just believe. There are others who say it is an honor to "suffer" for God. They may see God in His kitchen, dumping a quart of sorrow, a cup or two of trials, and a few drops of joy into His big blender in the sky~ when it is all blended together, out pours our life. If you get the mixture with more sorrow than others, be thankful. You are blessed to suffer for God. My husband, among others, believes that mostly because we live in a fallen world, there is suffering. The question might not be, "Why me?"...but... "Why not me."

More than likely in some degree or another, the reasons for our trials and sorrows lie in all the above. Sometimes our choices cause us undo suffering, sometimes the fallen world dumps junk on us, and some of our trials are to teach us and glorify God. I don't believe God mixes up a blender full for each life, but He does allow suffering to occur in our lives. I don't understand all the whys, and am not sure I ever will or need to while here on earth. Trusting God means we don't need to have all the answers.

What we can do during times of trials is talk to God about them, sharing our honest feelings, praying for healing, for release, and for understanding. We can spend our time focusing on His love for us, His promises given in Scriptures, and deliberately search out and identify all the joys of each and every day. We can wake up each day and say, "Good morning Lord!" or we can say, "Good Lord, it's morning!" That is a choice we do have control over.

Yes, life is pretty much a blend of sorrows, trials, and joys. Along the way we are blessed not to be on this journey alone, for God often says in His Word,

"And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world."
Matthew 28:20


Stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or share one. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wednesday Wonders of Nature

We took these photos in S.E. Minnesota this week on our way to our Lyme Doctor. I am always amazed how we can go a short distance and leave flat farm land behind for cliffs, valleys, and winding roads. God has created a vast universe with such a variety of beauty to enjoy. The views below remind me of the hymn that starts out~
"For the beauty of the earth....
For the glory of the skies....."

Minnesota farm
Down in the Valley
Cliffs
Rugged beauty

Lake in town where we had a picnic lunch
There is so much beauty around us to enjoy. May you find beauty in your corner of the world today and have the time to enjoy it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: Winning The Battle


What I am sharing for Memorial Box Monday just happened today. It may seem insignificant to some, but not to me. It is God's way of letting me know I am not fighting my battle with Lyme Disease alone. I often feel like I am in a war and never sure who is "winning". Today God assured me the victory is His.

The past two months have been very difficult with nerve pain so intense that there have been times I have asked God to either heal me or let me die. My hair has been falling out, fluid has been forming pockets in my lower legs, headaches have been intense at times, I broke out in sores all over my chest, arms, and back that are still visible 5 weeks later, my body has continual tremors, and the all over neuropathy has caused even clothing to feel raw on my skin. This has all been from die off of Lyme and Bartonella bacteria in my body. Nasty stuff.

I need to go back and say that I did not call my Lyme Doctor when all this was going on, I just assumed I needed to tough it out and get to the other side where things would get better. I chose to go it alone.

On my way to my 3 month Lyme appointment today I found myself very anxious, not knowing what was ahead. I have felt so exhausted from fighting this enemy within for the past 3 years, especially after going through cancer surgery this past spring. My husband also has Lyme disease and is on part time disablility because of it.
~
I brought our devotion books along on the 3 hour ride, and when I opened the Daily Guidepost to today's devotional, this verse was at the top of the page.

"Don't be afraid of your enemies, always be courageous, and this will prove to them that they will lose, and that you will win. because it is God who gives you the victory."

Philippians 1:28


As soon as I read this verse, tears filled my eyes and peace filled my soul. God was telling me not to be afraid of the Lyme and what it could do to my body. He reassured me that I do not need to fight this battle alone...that I cannot fight it alone.....but I CAN win because God is going to give me victory. He has provided us with the best doctor ever, who as a Christian brings God into her practice on a daily basis. She has survived both cancer and Lyme herself just like me, and she has deep concern for her patients.

Today my Lyme doctor told me I was fighting too hard on my own. That we could win this as a team, with a little patience, a lot less medication, and a lot less intense die off. The relief I feel is palpable. She gently reminded me that she is there for me and not to wait to get help next time. God reminded me that she is using her gifts to help her patients and I need to let her!
~
This is not the first time God has had to remind me that I need to trust Him and surrender to His plan for my life. It is not the first time that He has reminded me that the victory is His in defeating the enemies we face ~ whatever they may be. He brought me through cancer surgery and He will walk with me through this too. I don't have to do this alone ~ He has provided so many people to help me win this battle.....and the victory will be His. He reminded me that I have already won the victory through with when His son died for my sins.
I think I will put a written copy of this verse in my Memorial Box along with a little toy soldier to remind me that the victory is the Lord's.

Stop over and visit Linny at http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/ to read other Memorial Box Monday stories of God's faithfulness or link up your own.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Extravagant Love

This past week I have been thinking about God's love and remembering the many times He has revealed it to me in powerful ways. I have been in awe of His guidance and grace in my life and the lives of those I hold close. After reading a post last week by one of the Spiritual Sunday bloggers, one phrase has been resonating in my mind. "We may not feel worthy of God's extravagant love, but He thinks we are!"

Isn't that amazing? Doesn't it feel beyond description to know that God, the Creator of this vast universe has a deep, abiding, and extravagant love for us?

He loves us so much He sacrificed His only Son, Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. He loves us so much He knows how many hairs are on our heads. He loves us so much He has written a book to guide our lives. He loves us so much He provides for all our needs and even knows what we need before we do.

When we realize how much God loves us it deepens our relationship with Him and empowers us to not only love and trust Him completely, but also truly love others as He commanded.

My friend Linny has a phrase she uses to describe God and I am going to borrow it to share it with you~ We serve a Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God! How blessed we are to do so. How blessed we are to be loved by a Miracle-making, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God!



**Stop by and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: Extravagant Love

This week Linny, over at A Place Called Simplicity, decided to to have Memorial Box Monday on Wednesday, as many who visit her blog are fasting and praying for the orphan this day and she is linking the two together. MBM is a way of looking back and remembering the many times in our lives we have been blessed by God's love and faithfulness. I have been praying about what to write and today's story happened just this week.

Recently I have been praying,meditating, and "working" on issues from my past that would bring about inner healing. One of those issues involves feeling unworthy. a trapped emotion that has caused some stress periodically.

Just this week I began to realize I needed to completely let go and let God heal me of this negative feeling..... and God agrees with me! The past couple of days I have received affirmations from God on this issue. One email devotional by Joel Osteen spoke about how much God loves us and thinks we are of great value, so valuable He sacrificed His son for us! A blog post I read on Monday spoke about how a person "may not feel worthy of God's extravagant love, but He believes we are worthy".
~
The words that have come my way have deeply blessed me and reminded me that God loves me with an amazing and extravagant love. As His child I am worthy of that love and forgiveness. God also brought to mind the many times as a child and adult that His love protected me from harm, and how He works all things out for good for me.

How does this connect to orphans? There is more than one way to be an orphan. During one period of time in my life after my father had died, and my mother was having difficulty coping with life, I was very lonely and did not feel safe, loved or wanted. God laid on my heart today that this is what the orphans feel too on a much deeper level. They harbor a deep desire for a safe home, for someone to love them, and to be wanted. As Linny says, God has a deep love and compassion for the orphan, and He reveals that in the scriptures. We need to pay attention.

Today, I ask anyone who reads this post to pray for the orphans and for the families who desire to bring them home. And I ask that if you are unable to bring home an orphan, that you would be willing to open your hearts and pocketbooks, and find an organization that supports them.

I will need to add something special to my Memorial Box to remind me of God's love for me.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

God's Faithful Servants

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations

Baptising them in the name of the

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Matthew 28:19


On August 16, 2010 Rev. David Simonson died at his home in Arusha Tanzania, with his wife Eunice holding him in her arms. He was 80 years old. His death has caused merely a ripple in the world at large, but for his family and loved ones, the Massai people, Tanzania, and Africa as a whole, they are grieving the loss of a great man of God. We have followed their lives closely, not only because it was our dream to be missionaries in Africa, but because David was my husband Joel's second cousin.

David and Eunice were missionaries in Africa for nearly 50 years, and retired there on land given to them by the Massai tribe out of their great love for them. They worked hard to bring the tribal people to Christ, establishing churches, a clinic/hospital, and many schools for the Massai boys, and the first schools for the Massai girls too! Operation Bootstrap began that work in 1995 and continues today. They strongly believed that meeting the needs of the people was part of their calling along with proclaiming Christ as Savior.

David was a large, robust man, a character who sometimes was like a bull to be reckoned with. It served him well on the mission field. His "first" task as a missionary gave him the opportunity to be welcomed into the villages he evangelized. And what was that task? To kill a man-eating lion that was "rogue" and killing cattle and people alike. You can read about their lives in Tanzania in Jim Klobuchar's book, The Cross Under The Acacia Tree. A fascinating read.

The missionaries who serve our world are servants of God called to a special task. As Christians we are all called by God to serve in special ways. If you have a passion that God has placed in your heart, and it is according to His plan for your life, He will give you the strength to fullfill it, just as he did for David and Eunice Simonson.

Join Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts and share your own too! www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com is waiting for you to visit.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: The Phone Call


This post is part of Memorial Box Monday which Linny started over at A Place Called Simplicity. Stop over to http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/ and read other stories of God's faithfulness in the lives of others as they share their memories. You can join us and link up too!

In 1976 my husband entered the seminary after serving in the Air Force for 8 years. We moved our family of 6 to St. Paul MN so he could go to school. After two years of study it was time for his Internship. With our large family there were few places outside of the Twin Cities that could accommodate us, thus only three were offered. A church in northern MN., a church in my hometown of SE Minnesota and a parish out in north central Montana. It would have been so easy to stay in our home in St. Paul, and it would have been easy to go back home to family and friends, or even stay in Minnesota but we wanted to do what God felt was best for us, and felt drawn to Montana. With prayer and much discussion we did end up going to Malta, Montana for Joel's internship.
~
Getting there was a bit of a challenge, as we owned our home, and even though the attic of this old house was literally infested with over 200 bats, my husband did not want to sell it. His feet were in cement and at first he was unwilling to discuss it mostly because he was worried about where we would live when we returned for his final year at the seminary. I felt strongly that God would provide, and besides that I was ready to leave that house and the bats behind, so we were definitely at odds with what to do. After much prayer and then a few good talks, we came to the conclusion that God wanted us to sell the house. Just a short time later it sold ~ even with us telling the buyer about the bats. We packed up our U-Haul, 4 kids, 2 cats, and 9 plants, and began our Montana adventure. I drove our little hornet station wagon with 3 of the kids, the cats, and plants in tow, and Joel drove the truck with our oldest son as a passenger.
~
Stepping out in faith and moving to Montana for a year was a great decision for us. We met wonderful people, learned a great deal from the Pastor and his wife, and had a fantastic year!

Oh, and the house we needed on our return? Well, about 1 month before we were to return, with my hubby beginning to worry about where we would live......we received a phone call from a seminary student who owned his own home and was going on internship just as we were returning. Someone at the seminary had told him about us, and he and his wife wondered if we wanted to live in their home the year they were gone~! And besides that...if we paid the mortgage, then when they sold the house we would get that year's portion!
~
Isn't God amazing. We trusted His guidance, and a shower of blessings came into our lives! Our memories of that year still warm our hearts 32 years later! I think I will need to put a picture of the home provided for us into my Memorial Box as a reminder of God's faithfulness!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Bearing Fruit

"I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful"

John 15:2

This past week I watched the neighbor right behind us prune part of the lilac bushes that separate their property from ours. The middle section went from about 12 feet to 2 feet high! I now have a clear view onto their deck, into their dining room and living room and right out their front window to the house across their street. Needless to say, this made me feel sad, and a bit exposed too.

My husband Joel, ever the optimist, told me that pruning the lilacs was necessary and will result in them growing back fuller. He did express his dismay at how low they pruned them, but assured me they will grow back more beautiful than ever with more blossoms than before. All I can do now is accept the situation and make the best of it while we wait for this bushes to grow once again.

In John we read how the Lord also prunes us so that we will bear more fruit. He gets rid of that which is not fruitful, and nurtures that which is! Sometimes it is difficult to go through a time of pruning, and we may wonder if we will ever be healthy and fruitful again. During these times in our lives we need to trust God. He is the Master Gardener and He knows what he is doing. In due season we will be more fruitful, and just like the lilac bushes others will enjoy the results!
~
****Stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up and share your own. www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com This week several are linking up for a special woman, Colette, and her journey to healing. Guidepost magazine had a story on her in the Sept. issue and thanks to Kelee Katillac, Colette now has a new "healing room"! Stop over at http://www.katillacshack.com/ and read more.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thankful Thursday Thinking

Last Friday our oldest daughter, son-in-love, and 2 grandchildren came for a 24 hour visit. Our children do not usually stay longer than that right now, because of the effect it has on our health. We try to talk them into a two day visit, but they are "strict" with us about sticking to these rules. We are hopeful that will change for us soon.

It was such a blessing to see them again after 8 months. We packed a lot of hugs, game playing, visiting, and food fellowship into those 24 hours! I am so grateful today for being able to connect with them once again. And I am so grateful for their willingness to drive over 5 hours one way to see us and turn right around the next day and drive home. We are blessed.

"Love, love love
Thats what its all about
God loves us, we love each other
Mother, Father, sister, brother
Everybody sing and shout
Cause that's what it's all about
It's about love, love, love,
It's about love.."
Sunday School song

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday Wonders of Nature

This basket of blooming ivy geraniums can be seen from our living room window. My husband Joel gave it to me for Mother's Day and after the first blooming, we never saw another flower. With tender loving care the leaves grew big and strong, but there were no blossoms for weeks and weeks....and then all of a sudden the flowers started blooming a week ago, and came back in two different shades as you can see above. They are more beautiful than ever and are heavy with buds that will soon flower!


Sometimes we are like this flowering plant. We look good and have beauty we share, but we need a lot of nuturing to grow deep roots and sturdy shoots and leaves before we blossom. When we take the time to delve deep into God's Word and become stronger in our faith through time, learning, and experience, we are able to blossom~ established and rooted in love, and glorifying God in ways we never thought possible! We, too, are able to be our best with God's help!

"I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with the saints......"
Ephesians 3:16-18

Monday, August 23, 2010

MBM: A Hand Full of Hair


Memorial Box Monday was started by Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity. On Mondays we link up to share our stories of God's love and faithfulness in our lives. These stories always inspire and strengthen my faith of everyone who reads them. Join us or link up and share your own stories at http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/.


Today I would like to share a story of how God protected our son, who was two at the time. We were camping at the Bible camp our friends helped manage up in Canada, and had taken canoes out on the lake to a special rocky point to have a picnic. Our two children ages 3 and 2 were playing near the edge of the water. (I had already prayed for our protection, since being on the water is not my favorite place, and our son had been afraid of water since he was an infant.)


What we did not realize is that the rocky area they were playing on was the top of an underwater cliff, and the water was very deep. I kept an eye on the kids as we talked, so I was the one who saw Matt fall in the water. I jumped up immediately and ran over to grab him, but when I got there he was hardly visible and was being pulled under the cliff top by a strong current. I reached down into the water and came in contact with Matt's hair. His hair was very long and curly...so long people thought he was a girl, but I had been reluctant to cut it. That long hair saved his life that day! I kept a firm grip onto his long hair and pulled him back out from under the cliff and into my arms.


I know that my reluctance to cut his hair was part of God's plan that came together that day and saved our son's life. It helps to remember that story when our son, now a police officer, puts his life in danger every day. God has a plan for his life, too, and will protect him now just like he did as a child. His life is in God's hands.


I will need to put a picture of us from that day into my Memorial Box to remind me of how God loves and protects his children, and hears our prayers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Something Beautiful

"Therefore, thus says the Lord

If you return, then I will restore you~~

Before me you will stand;

And if you extract the precious from the worthless

You will become my spokesman."
Jeremiah 15: 19

I would like to share a story from Donna Partow's book, "Standing Firm" that speaks to the subject of how our broken places can make us strong.

In Eastern Europe there is a factory that crafts exquisite vases that sell for thousands of dollars. They use a fascinating technique. First the potters spin clay into almost paper thin vases. The vase is so fragile that if you ding it with your fingers it will break. If the vase is flawless, it is turned over to an artist who delicately paints a one-of-a-kind work of art on the surface. When he is finished he lovingly holds up his masterpiece, and then drops it into a large metal box. It smashes into hundreds of tiny pieces!

Another workman takes the box and for days painstakingly glues the vase back together. But no matter how hard he tries, the vase looks ugly. There is no way to hide the cracks. The vase is still fragile, though stronger that it was before the glue.

Finally another artist takes over. This artist works with pounded gold and carefully paints over each and every crack in the vase. The result is not only an exquisite work of art, but a vase that is so strong it is virtually unbreakable.

God is our master craftsman and has formed us exactly the way He wants us to be. At times this means letting us drop, momentarily, and shatter into many pieces. Then, with a deep and abiding love, he puts us back together stronger than ever.

As His children, let's allow Him to make something beautiful from each and every broken place in our lives.

Join Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read other inspirational posts or link up and share you own. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thankful Thursday Thinking

We take so much technology for granted in 2010. Blackberries, iPods, cell phones, Facebook, Skype...the list goes on and on. I think about all those people who are lonely and unable to connect with their loved ones and I feel so very blessed that I can. But how do I do that from my living room? Being home most of the time due to Lyme and chemical sensitivities/allergies, my interactions take place a lot on the phone or now Skype. The other day I was able to visit with my sister in South Dakota and "see" her again, and about once a month we are "skyping" with our oldest and her family. We see them only once or twice a year, so this is great. Our neighbors have been able to watch their first grandbaby grow week by week with Skype. What a blessing!

Recently I joined a conference call prayer group consisting of several people with Lyme disease who gather by phone twice a month to pray. I love this opportunity to pray as a group once again.

The online homes of bloggers have given me the blessing of many new friends, a ton of information, and the joy of expanding my world.

Isn't it all just amazing?! Today I am giving thanks for all the technology that has opened my world to online blogger friends, prayer groups, and "seeing" our loved ones with Skype. It is all a good thing!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday Wonders of Nature

"Jesus said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let Him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him"

John 7: 37b, 38


Living water

the Holy Spirit....

Empowering our bodies

blessing our souls

Gifts

freely given

freely accepted

Eternal life

The Holy Spirit

Thank you

Jesus

Monday, August 16, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: "The Lost is Found"

Memorial Box Monday was started by Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity. We share stories of God's faithfulness to remind us how good and loving our Heavenly Father is. When times get tough, we can always go look in our memorial boxes to be reminded that God loves and blesses His children.

My Memorial Box Monday this week is about something that just occurred a couple of days ago. I have been gathering pictures to turn into photo albums for our children and started with our oldest daughter's album. I needed to gather together 40 years of photos and it took me more than a year. Recently when sorting through our daughter's pile of pictures, I realized all her baby and toddler pictures were missing. I looked through all the tubs of photo books and loose pictures, but could not find them. After searching my memory and every place I could think of to find them, they did not turn up. My energy is limited and Saturday I sat down with a plunk on the sofa and said to God..."Okay God, I know you have more important things to do, but this is really important to me, so if you could just tell me where they are, I would really appreciate it!" Immediately the thought came into my head...."They are behind the large blue chair in the office." Joel went up to the office, moved the big blue chair and there they were! In two smaller photo boxes I found every single picture I was looking for...and more! I had sorted them a year ago and tucked them away for "safe keeping". I just love it when God takes the time to help out the feeble minded!! Praise God for the pictures ~ the book will be done by the time they arrive this weekend!

I will add a picture of the album to my Memorial Box as a reminder of God's faithfulness in the big things and in the small!


For other Memorial Box Monday stories visit Linny at http://www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com/ or link up your own!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hope In The Lord

It has been a rough week for me due to the herbal antibiotics I am taking causing a lot of die off of Lyme bacteria. This die off leaves behind toxins that greatly increase symptoms. After an emotional meltdown last Monday, I turned to my Bible for support. My Bible fell open midway, to Isaiah 40 and this underlined verse ~#31~caught my attention.


"Those who hope in the Lord
will soar on wings like eagles
they will run and not grow weary
they will walk and not faint."
~
I found a great deal of comfort in repeating this verse out loud throughout the morning. Later while reading a devotional these verses popped up, and when I went online to read a few blogs, I came across one from Spiritual Sundays that started with this same verse. The title of the post was "Don't Quit". Isn't God wonderful! You see, I was ready to quit the treatment due to the horrible all over neuropathy/nerve pain from die off. Reading this post and the scripture above gave me courage to keep going. I found hope that the suffering would eventually end and I would not feel weary.
~
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation that brings us to our knees and we wonder if we have the strength to keep going. We don't. Not by ourselves. But God does have what we need, and His strength is available for us at our asking. When we trust God and put our hope in Him, we WILL soar on wings like eagles. What a great promise He has given us!!
~
If anyone has a loved one with Chronic or Late Stage Lyme Disease, you are invited to read my other blog, Renee's Reflections, where I share my journey with this disease.
~
*Please join Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own. http://www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com/