Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Climate of Faith

"I lift up my eyes to the hills~

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

the Maker of Heaven and earth.
Psalm 121: 1,2

This past week I read a book by Charla Pereau entitled, "Charla's Children". It follows Charla and her husband's journey in founding an orphanage and mission center in Mexico and how God guided and directed them throughout this unique adventure in faithful living. It was very inspirational to read all the daily miracles that occurred when they lived by faith believing God would help them to fulfill His plan for their lives, and provide for the orphans. They have not been disappointed!

This book came to mind when I was reading a quote by Christian Psychiatrist, Paul Tournier,where he spoke about living in a climate of faith. These powerful words have taken up residence in my mind since I first read them. Tournier wrote that after years of working in therapy with people who struggle with a variety of problems, he has come to realize that a climate of faith provides a new perspective and opportunity for healing. This occurs, he says, when we rely on God's grace and love for His children instead of just human solutions. The Bible certainly tells us the same thing. Among other scriptures, Psalm 121 says it clearly. Where does our help come from? Our help comes from the Lord!

No matter the problem or the circumstances...big or small, God is in the details of our lives and with His deep love and abiding grace for His children and our willingness to live in a climate of faith ~ all will be well!

Join Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays ( for inspirational posts or to share one with others. God bless.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: Double Portions

This past week scriptures, email devotionals and even a sermon have all talked about "Double Portions". I struggled with this concept as I wrote in my last post, but today realized that we have experienced this often in our lives. I just have not described it as such! I really felt the need to write my Memorial Box Mondays about a time we received a huge number of double portions from God.

Nearly three and a half years ago my husband Joel accepted a call to a congregation in a church 54 miles east of here. In July 2007 he began working as Senior Pastor of a larger congregation in a small town. We were excited about the move, but worried about finding a house that would be "safe" for me due to my chemicals sensitivities and allergies. After 3 months of Joel commuting to work and hours spent looking for a house, we found a small ranch and bought it 2 hours later. Long story short, we put a lot of money into this house, taking out a loan to do so because we were so sure this house had been provided by God. We had downsized in space and price, and knew we would have enough money to cover things once our home sold. After all, we had sold our other home early on, and although that sale fell through, we believed another buyer was on the way. We went ahead and fixed this new house for me. Then the bottom fell out of our plan, when a hidden chemical spill in the basement of the house was discovered. Just one month after we moved over to the new home, we packed up a few essentials and tearfully headed back to our other home. Three months later we realized we could not fix the other home, and for the next 15 months we spent more money than we had trying to stay afloat as we paid two mortgages, two utility bills, etc. every month. In the middle of all of this I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and I began treatments for that. Our insurance denied more than a month' s coverage and our medical expenses began to pile up. Joel ended up having emergency eye laser surgery, we were in a car accident and took or first ride to the hospital in an ambulance, and during all this Joel continued to commute the 108 miles a day~ keeping us apart much of the time. Joel spent all 3 years, minus one month, commuting and fighting his own undiagnosed illness. I don't think there was a time in our life where we were more challenged, beat up or confused by this turn of events.

During those three years , we experienced a number of double portions that were showered upon us. We know now, that buying that home was a mistake on our part. AND God also knew it ~ that is why the sale of our other home, the one we came back to live in 3 years ago, did not go through. That is why it did not sell in the 9 months it was on the market. God knew we would need a safe place to come back to.

The car accident? It was not our fault ~ the driver was following too close to us and when we had to break for a family of skunks he hit us from behind going 55mph! Joel had a still neck for several months, but due to the fact the doctor had me on a muscle relaxer, I had NO serious problems. An amazing thing since I live in constant pain and with several chronic illnesses. Our dog came out okay too.... The double portion? The driver's insurance company called US and said, we want to pay you $10,000 (so we would not sue them). We had no intention of suing, and did not know if we should accept the money, but after getting legal guidance we accepted the "settlement" they offered. This money helped pay off our debt from the other home.

The medical bills? A member of the congregation gave us a check to cover the costs of my medical bills! We said no at first, but they felt led by God to do so...we graciously accepted and paid off that debt. Now to add to this double portion, the National ELCA synod gave Joel a gift of money to help with medical and other expenses, due to the "hardships" we had endured. We were doubly blessed even when some of our financial debt was of our own making. God is gracious and forgiving.

Oh, and Joel's eye? It is doing much better than before the surgery!

We felt overwhelmed with gratitude for all the gifts God showered upon us during that time. It gave us the strength and hope to cope with being apart....and speaking of that? When Joel had to resign due to his diagnosis of Lyme and need to be on disability...God worked that out for good too ~ but that is another story.

I think I need to put an index card with the scriptures on "double portions" in my Memorial Box to remind me that God loves His children so much he blesses us doubly...over and over again!

Feel free to link up with Linny at: and read other stories of God's faithfulness or write your own.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Double What?

Do you remember the little TV ditty, "Double your pleasure...double your fun....With Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum!" And of course there are other times the word double comes to for "double up" when bunking two people together....or "double meaning" when a statement has more than one meaning~ often with one being hidden. When our dog goes outside we tell him to go "double duty" explanation necessary for that one! I have heard it said when someone is getting an ice cream cone...or even a drink..."Make mine a double." There is also that age old saying to describe someone as "double trouble."

There are plenty of times the word double comes to mind, but lately it has been coming up regarding the "double portions" you read about in the Bible. I will tell right from the start that I have trouble with this concept. And yet it is Biblical. I think what makes me uncomfortable is the prosperity Gospel that is so popular right now. God is going to give you~~favor..prosperity..abundance....promotions.... and more~ IF you are obedient to God. That seems to put a lot of pressure on us, God's children. It also does not give me a clear picture of a loving and fair God. I have much to learn concerning this topic...much to learn. And if this past week tells me anything, God has plenty He wants to teach me.

This past week the idea of double portions has surfaced in our devotional book, scriptures, an email, and on TV. As I have said before, when I am bombarded from several sources on a certain topic, or verse, etc. I pay attention. These 3 scripture verses came to my attention this week.
Zechariah 9:12 "Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have hope. This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you."
Isaiah 61: 7 "Instead of shame, you will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance, and will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs."
Job 42:10 "The Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."
A couple of sermons and devotionals have opened my eyes to the blessings God has for us, and it brought to mind a story I read once. A man went to heaven and St. Peter showed him a room filled with beautifully wrapped gifts. When the man asked Peter who all the gifts were for, St. Peter said, "Well, they were for you when you were on earth, but you never opened any of them!"
Double portions: Hmmmm I have so much to learn and so little time! I am excited to see where God leads on this topic.
I am linking this up with Ginger and Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wednesday Wonders of Nature

Wild Tigerlilies
Burgundy impatiens peeking out.

Morning dew on a Mexican Wedding Plant bloom.
A geranium shares it's beauty!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: Gas Money!

Last week money was more than a little tight, and my husband was worried about whether we would have enough if he gave our normal offering. Would we have enough money to put gas in the van? On Sunday as he prepared for the service at church, he prayed about whether he should put the full tithing amount in the offering plate, and felt strongly he was to do so. So he did, trusting God to provide for the week. We had little left in the checking account, but knew we could get by with what food we had at home, just not so sure where the money for other things would come from.

Monday came and went, but on Tuesday he got a card in the mail from the grandmother of the child he had baptised two weeks ago. Enclosed in the card was a twenty dollar bill. She shared how much the service had meant to their family and that she was putting twenty dollars in "for gas money". She had no clue that Joel was concerned about where our gas money would come from. But God did! He provided just what we needed and even told us what the money was for!

I think I will need to put a gas receipt in our Memorial Box as a reminder of how God provided for us. God is our provider, but He also blessed Joel's commitment to tithe with just what we needed ~~gas money!

Please be sure to stop over to A Place Called Simplicity to read other Memorial Box Mondays posts and read of God's love and faithfulness!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don't Forget Your Armor

I have been re-reading Donna Partow's book/study, "Standing Firm" and was reminded today of how sly Satan is with all the lies he whispers in our ears.
John 8:44 says in Jesus' words, "When he lies he speaks his native language, for he is a liar, and the father of lies."

Like all of you, I have seen his lies at work. Maybe it has been in a child who believes he is bad, an adult who tells themselves they are a failure, and in myself when I am discouraged. We are all susceptible to his lies, as I am sure you can attest to.

Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the full armor of God to enable us to stand firm in every battle. It is available to us for protection from the enemy. We are told to wear the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God. God loves us so much that He has provided just what we need to protect ourselves! So, when you get up in the morning and get ready to start your day, don't forget your armor!
Please visit Charlotte and Ginger at to read other inspirational posts and join in.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Memorial Box Monday: Prayed Together

I am linking this post to A Place Called Simplicity, where Linny started Memorial Box Mondays to help remind us of God's love and faithfulness. The stories written share those times in our lives where we have experienced God creating miracles, blessings, and strength just when we needed it. Today I am re-posting the story of how God brought my husband Joel and I together through the prayers of others.

When I was eighteen I left home to attend Bible college. The Lutheran Bible Institute, later known as Golden Valley Lutheran College, was a small 2 year college with around 250 students attending. It was nestled down in a valley of a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. Kids came mostly from the Midwest and I was no different. It was a great atmosphere to live in and I enjoyed my two years there very much as we studied the Bible and I grew in my faith.

One parents weekend, my older sister, who helped raise me, and her good friend came for a visit. They toured the campus and then met me on the second floor of the commons building, near the chapel. We visited for a short while before they announced that they had "found the guy I was going to marry". I was more than a bit stunned, but listened quietly as they went on about how nice he was, and that he wanted to be a missionary in Africa just like his cousin David Simonson. They told me that they could "just see us married, living in Africa and working for God as missionaries". Of course, I had been thinking about mission work for years, but was not so sure about them picking out my husband! I finally asked who this guy was and just when they were going to tell me, my sister said, "Oh, there he is! He just walked in the door!!"

Now,my first impression of Joel had not been very good, so when I looked down to see who it was I was shocked, and said in a loud voice, "You have got to be kidding! He is loud, obnoxious, AND he wears BOOTS! (I was a city girl and he was a country boy after all...). My sister and her friend just smiled, and said, "We will pray about it."

Six months later we started dating and 18 months later we were married with my sister's friend singing The Lord's Prayer at our wedding service! We have been married 42 years now and Joel still wears his cowboy boots. No matter where we have lived ~ in the West, Midwest, or across the ocean~ whether he is at home, in the pulpit, or performing a wedding ceremony~ his boots are on his feet. I have come to love those boots along with his western hat, jeans, and denim shirts. And I would much rather be a country girl that a city girl any day.

We like to say we were prayed together, AND those who are prayed together stay together! God had a plan for our lives that including marriage vows that brought us together for quite an adventure in faithful living. Because of that plan, and of course my sweet Joel, cowboy boots will always hold a special place in my heart.

I am looking for a miniature pair of cowboy boots to put in my memorial Box to remind us of of God's goodness in our lives. I often say, I know God loves me because he brought Joel into my life. I just had to share this story today ~ I hope God blesses you with it in some small way.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thankful Thursday

The past few days have been hot and humid here.. Oh, not like the East Coast, but plenty hot and sticky, with dew points in the 70's, and the air like soup. It reminds me of when we lived in The Philippines. Hot and humid was the norm and during the monsoon season everything was always damp in our house because we did not have air conditioning for the first year we lived there. Being we were a cold weather crew, I am not so sure we every adjusted to it.

So today I am thankful for air conditioners. Those powerful little machines that bring cool air into our homes with the touch of a button, and make it possible to manage the heat. Square boxes that keep my body temperature regulated, and my emotional temperature even! And while I am at it I am thankful for the inventor of these wonderful pieces of technology....William Haviland Carrier from New York, who created the very first one in 1902. Thank you Mr. Carrier, and thank you God for giving Mr. Carrier the ability to do so!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Sooooooo Big!

When my children were little babies I used to play a game with them where I would ask them the question...."How big are you?" And in reply, they would raise their arms high and I would say, "Sooooooo big!" They loved this silly little game and would smile and giggle when we played it.

Today I was reminded of how big our God is. Lately I have had a return of the dreaded neuropathy that can spin my world out of control as I try to cope with the intense nerve pain all over my body. It has not been this bad in 3 years and I found myself overwhelmed by its presence. Besides that, my husband and I are on a new treatment program for our Lyme Disease and co-infections, and we both have been feeling awful. Spending yet another holiday alone and isolated due to our illnesses was disheartening. All my joy was being depleted, depression was setting in, and I began to focus only on our problems, instead of focusing on our God.

I cannot deny what is happening in our lives, but the best way to get through it is to take my eyes off the problem and keep then on God. God is soooooooooooo BIG! He is mighty, powerful, loving, compassionate, and nothing is too big for God. Nothing. Just like when my children were babies, I can ask myself, "How big is God?" And with a smile on my face I can reply...."He is SOOOOO BIG!"