Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Swiftly Go The Years

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

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!

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.

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!