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 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.

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...


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.

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 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.

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 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


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 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.