Friday, December 23, 2011

So Glad You Could Stop By

asked if she could drop by and visit us 
So I would like to invite all of you
to come by for a visit
as we prepare to celebrate
the birth of our Savior


So glad you could stop by!

We are empty nesters
so our family is not here right now

So for now, Joel and I would love
to have you come in and sit a spell!
Look around if you would like.
We are blessed to have a lot of 
windows which comes in handy
with all the time I spend
in my sofa sanctuary 

Our dog Levi keeps us company
Here is our tiny angel tree

 Our other tree graces our deck since I am allergic to pine

I love churches and cardinals
so they fill our home at
Christmas and throughout the year

So glad you came by to visit.
Come back anytime
You are always welcome~


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Love And Joy Abounds

I have been reading many posts today and in each one love comes through...sometimes softly, sometimes loudly  but it is there....the love people have for God and the love God has for people.  Sometimes you can almost taste fills your being when you read their posts.  Two such examples are from dear cyber friends Shannon and Linny.

Shannon shared over at Throwing Our Arms Open Wide how radically challenged, changed and blessed they have been while working in an orphanage in Mexico.  They have taken their family down there to give of their time and of their love to the children.  A blessing for those children I believe.  God is blessing their willingness to serve Him in so many ways.  Love and joy abounds!

Today Linny wrote on her blog, A Place Called Simplicity about their latest adventure to Denver to have their 5 youngest become citizen of the USA.  Out of love and obedience to God they have adopted many children and helped children over in Uganda.  They have moved from their lovely home in CO to Phoenix so that their newest member can be close to the medical care she will constantly need.  A radical change and a big step of faith.  Love and joy abounds in that family!  Check them out!

There are many other blogs I visit that fill my heart with joy and spill over with love for God and others.  Today I give thanks to Jesus for giving me the opportunity to be inspired by those who love Him and are willing to serve beyond measure in order to love others and bring God the glory.  I am blessed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Memorial Box Monday: "You Will Hear A Voice"

Today is Memorial Box Monday and I am sharing a story of God's faithfulness that I wrote for Spiritual Sundays in October of this year.  It has been  a good reminder for me of how God hears our prayers and goes to great lengths to protect and guide us.  It is a comfort to me when I am feeling unsafe or God's voice seems far away.  If you wish to read more Memorial Box Monday stories, stop over and visit Linny at A Place Called Simplicity.

"Your own ears will hear him,
right behind you a voice will say,
"This is the way yo should go,
whether to the right or to the left."
Isaiah 30: 21

In 1976 we were living in The Philippine Islands where Joel was stationed as a meteorologist with the US Air Force. We would soon be leaving Clark AFB and heading home, so selling our car was a priority and we listed it in the base paper that was also read by local Filipinos. Cars were hard to come by and we knew it would be easier and smarter to sell it rather than ship it back home to the states.

Joel and I had prayed about selling the car, asking God to guide and direct us in the process. Shortly after placing the for sale notice, Joel received a call at work that someone wanted to look at our car, so he set up a time and place to meet the prospective buyer in Angeles City outside the base. Two men got in the car ~ one in front and one in back and Joel began driving to let them see how the car was working. They started giving Joel directions on where to go, and when they came to an area that was unfamiliar to Joel and somewhat isolated, one of the men said, "Turn left here.". As Joel prepared to turn he heard a voice say from deep inside,


He hesitated and he heard again,

"Go NOT turn."

The voice was so clear in his head he knew it was God speaking, so he went straight and drove into a heavily populated area and parked the car, quickly getting out and asking the men to leave the vehicle. The men did leave, stealing the calculator Joel had in the front seat. He firmly told them to put it back, sensing he needed to keep his distance from them as he spoke. They complied and left, at which point Joel got back in the car and drove home.

A couple of days later Joel heard about an officer who was in the hospital after being stabbed repeatedly by two men who he thought were going to check out his car for purchase. They had given him directions on where to drive and he ended up in an isolated area alone with the two men. It was sobering to realize that this could have been Joel. The men were able to steal this officer's car and had left him for dead.

There are times when hearing God's voice and obeying it can save our lives in a dramatic way. God gave Joel specific directions and Joel listened to the voice of God, which kept him from harm. We never forgot this, and have tried to be obedient to God's voice whether it comes loudly or in a whisper. He knows our future and He knows what is best for us. Just like that day so long ago, it is a comfort to know that God is with us just as He promised, hearing our prayers, guiding our steps, and watching over us night and day.

Remembering God's faithfulness and the promises in His Word

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Room Full of Gifts

Yesterday I wrote a short post on the most wonderful gift anyone has ever been given~ the gift of salvation that came to us in the form of a tiny baby...Jesus...our King of Kings as a blogger friend described him....and Lord of Lords!  A gift of love~

"For God so loved the world He gave His one and only Son,
that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16

While reading inspirational posts this morning the subject of gifts came up again and I could not help but reflect on the many many blessings God gives to us each and every single day of our lives.

I think that is the first gift I am grateful for today, that each morning I open my eyes to the light of another day.   Having had Lyme Disease for so many years, and cancer nearly two years ago, I am so thankful to still be here to make the most of every day.  Of course, we don't have to have a disease to feel grateful as we greet the day ahead. 

"This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 18:24

Another gift I often take for granted is the gift of a warm and cozy home with lots of windows and good neighbors.  We never go hungry, we travel in a nice van, and we always have enough...  thank you Jehovah Jireh for your abundant provisions.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19

During the Christmas season family and friends are at the top of our list, aren't they!  Their love, support, encouragement, and did I say love.....are a blessing we are so grateful for.

"Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family],
precedence and showing honor to one another."
Romans 12: 10

Some gifts come in ugly wrappings, but what they hold inside and what they teach us are things we are grateful for.  Trials, storms, unwanted circumstances may be hard to receive, but sometimes they do bring the most precious gifts of all.  Trust....Hope.....Faith....Patience....Love....Forgiveness...

"All things work together for good to those who love the Lord."
Romans 8:28

And then there are those gifts we do not even know about.  Gifts from our Lord just waiting to be received and unwrapped. I once heard a story about a man who when up to Heaven where St. Peter greeted him and  showed him around.  They came to one room and when Peter opened the door it was filled to the brim with beautifully wrapped gifts.  The man asked, "Whose gifts are these?" to which St Peter replied, "Oh, these are gifts that God had waiting for you, that you never asked for!" 

"Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find,
knock and the door will be opened."
Matthew 7:7

Gifts~ fun to give and fun to receive. They come in all different sizes, shapes, and wrappings and they bring us joy, excitement and sometimes even sorrow.  Enjoy these treasures, and be sure to unwrap all the gifts God has for you!

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read more inspirational posts or link up your own.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Indescribable Gift

I have been wrapping Christmas gifts today for our grandchildren.  I always enjoy buying them a present, and then later picking out the paper, ribbons,and name cards for each.  It is fun to watch their faces when they open their gifts. 

Thinking about gifts, takes me back to the very first Christmas....the birth of baby Jesus.  The gift of salvation ~ eternal life.....offered to the whole world.  What a precious, and as it says above, indescribable gift.  What joy!  What excitement!  There are not enough thank yous for God's gift.  Just for us.  Thanks be to God!

Monday, December 12, 2011

MBM: An Urgent Message

My Memorial Box Monday story today just took place in the past few weeks.  I am sharing how God whispered in my ear the urgency for Joel to go home and see his mom...and what followed.
In October Joel and I talked about the need for him to get back home to see his mom as it had been a year!  With both of us dealing with late stage Lyme Disease, a lot of planning is required for a trip.  I felt that Joel should go home for Thanksgiving, but he did not want to leave me alone and I was not too crazy about idea either. 

Still, the thought would not leave my mind.

In fact I felt an urgency about it, but tried to ignore those feelings when Joel decided he would go in early Nov.  He went for a  4 day visit right after Halloween and was not back home a week when his mom ended up in the ER.  While there they discovered a large aneurysm next to her heart.  She was not told about it though. 

After some serious discussion we knew that the urgency I felt was from God so  Joel decided he would go home for Thanksgiving.  He left on a Tues. and spent all day Wed. with her, going out for lunch, driving around the country to look at the farm where she grew up, and visiting out at Joel's brother's cabin where he was staying.  They had a wonderful full day together. 

Mom mentioned that day that  she did not think she would be living very long.  When Joel asked her why she was saying that, she just replied that she did not know, but that is what she thought.  Joel then asked his mom, "Are you ready to die mom?" She replied, "Yes, I am ready ~when the good Lord says it is time." 

 Later that evening when Mom was back in her apt. and Joel was getting ready for bed at the cabin , the phone rang and his mom had been taken to ER in terrible pain.  While there they discovered a perforated ulcer. With the aneurysm and her age of 93, surgery was not an option.  Joel told her what was happening and said to her, "Mom you will likely die from this."  She said, "Okay.  I am ready." 

They put her on antibiotics and she started to improve enough that Joel came back home.  He was home a week when the phone rang and his brother told him that they did not expect her to last the night.  It was her 94th  birthday.  We packed Joel up as fast as we could, and off he went again for the  8+ hr drive north.  When Joel arrived she seemed to rally once again, although she never regained consciousness.

Joel spent most of his time by his mom's side.  The hearing is the last sense to go, so he talked to her about many things, read her favorite scriptures to her and prayed with her often.  She died on Monday evening quietly and at peace.  Being there was a blessing for him. 

There were many blessings and provisions that occurred as God in His loving mercy worked all things out for Joel, his mom, and me here at home.

~God whispered in my ear more than once that Joel NEEDED to go home at Thanksgiving.  And because Joel was there, mom got what she needed in the hospital and Joel was able to spend even more time visiting with her and comforting her when she was in pain. 

~Joel was supposed to fill in for a pastor in the pulpit on Dec. 4th, but was able to call and have that taken care of on the 3rd so he could leave to be with his mom.

~Since I have a childhood fear of being alone overnight, God wanted me to know this was important for Joel and his mom so the voice of God spoke to me, not  Joel.   I needed to know it was God's will with the many nights Joel would have to be gone. 

~Joel is on disability and not working, so he was free to spend all the time that was needed with his mom.

~Joel is a pastor, so he has been at the bedside of hundreds of dying people.  He was able to make sure she got all the care she needed and was comfortable and at peace.

~ God provided Joel with amazing stamina and strength for the week he was there...and he also provided a quiet peaceful place on the lake for rest.  When things were stressful, he could sit looking out over the lake and find a sense of peace.  He slept better at night than he has in years !! The Lyme symptoms were not intense and many subsided for those days.

~At home God provided not one but two people to shovel out the driveway and steps after 5 inches of snow fell here.  God provided a neighbor behind me who kept an eye on me...even calling one morning when lights were on late at night and early in the morning~

~ I had to take the dog out later at night which I dreaded, BUT it was not dark out due to all the neighbor's Christmas lights lighting up the block.  And after a few times...I realized I kind of liked the quiet that filled the night when I stood out on our porch. 

~ God provided me with a Bible verse that I just knew was from Him.  Psalm 4:8  "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."  I felt so loved and protected when God gave me that verse. 

~Money is very tight due to being on disability and having high medical costs BUT God provided money in the form of a payment someone owed us AND a surprise gift so that the costs of traveling and eating during those three trips has been covered. 

God loves us so much.  He cares for us, he provides for us.  He works all things together for good for those who love the Lord.  He is awesome.

If you want to read more Memorial Box Monday inspirational stories of God's faithfulness stop over and visit Linny at A Place Called Simplicity

Friday, December 9, 2011

Are You Ready?

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has
 prepared for those who love Him." 
1 Corinthians 2:9

It seems during the weeks before Christmas we often here people asking each other, "Are you ready?"  There are so many preparations being made for the holidays.  Shopping, baking, writing out cards or the family newsletter, wrapping the gifts, and the list goes on.  With a sense of intensity, people would ask~ "Are you ready?" 

During Advent ~ while waiting~ the same question can be asked as we prepare for the coming of baby Jesus.  We take time to pause in this busy season and bring our focus back to the birth of our Savior by asking, "Are you ready?"

This past week my mother-in-law died.  At Thanksgiving Joel went to visit her and she told him she felt she would not live very long.  When Joel asked her why, she said she did not know, but felt it was true.  As they sat at his brother's lake home overlooking the woods and water, he asked her, "Mom, are you ready?"  She replied, "Yes, I am ready to go when the good Lord decides it is time."  It was not much longer before she was welcomed home by those who went before her.  This year she will be celebrating Christmas in Heaven!   

I have been pondering Joel's question to her, especially during this time of preparing for the birth of our Savior.  A Savior who came to save the world.  Mom T. knew she would go to Heaven.  She was ready for death because she new about life everlasting.  She was ready.  She was at peace. 

While we shop, wrap, and bake....while we celebrate with special church services, carols and hymns, and advent wreaths and devotions, we prepare our homes and our hearts for Christmas.  Yes, this is a good time to ponder a very important question for today and for our tomorrows.  Are you ready?

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up you own.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Memorial Box Monday: A Special Gift From Santa Who?

It has been quite some time since I posted a Memorial Box Monday story.  Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity thought it was time again for us to share stories of God's provision for His children.  She has based her MBM on the Biblical account found in Joshua 4,  where God instructs Joshua  to build a memorial with 12 large stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel.  In obedience Joshua gather and instructs 12 men to carry the stones and lay them in front of the Ark to remind the people of God's goodness. Linny and many of us who participate have our own special box or cupboard that holds items that remind us of times when God provided for us.  When trials come, and they will~ it is always helpful to look back and remember those times. To read more stories of God's love and goodness or link up your own, visit Linny at the link above.

And now my story~~~

When Joel and I were first married he received his draft notice (1968)and to avoid the draft he joined the Air Force.  He could have taken a seminary deferment, but did not feel right about that, so he enlisted and started out as a private in the Air Force.  After basic training and some specialized training we moved to Albuquerque New Mexico where he was stationed at Sandia Army Base.  Money was very scarce and I think his salary was around $200 a month.  It was a long time ago!  We found a two room apt. where other military lived, and settled in to await the arrival of our first child, Bethany. 

When Christmas came around that year we used what little money we had to make ceramic gifts ( the base provided everything but the paints and postage) and we sent them home to family.  It was hard to be so far from all of them during the holidays.  After getting everything sent off to our family we knew we would not have enough money for a tree, gifts for each other, or a special dinner, but we would be together and not go hungry!

About 4 days before Christmas we received a card in the mail with $25 in it!  There was no return address and it was signed in unfamiliar writing~ "Merry Christmas From Santa!  For us this was a lot of money....we only paid $25 for our first (used)TV!  We were so surprised and so very grateful.  We found a small tree to put our ornaments on, bought each other a $5 gift, and purchased enough food to have a nice Christmas dinner for ourselves and a few other soldiers who had no where to go for the holidays.  I was even able to make a few cookies.

We had our suspicions, but we never did find out who sent us the money, we just know that once again God provided us with just what we needed to make our Christmas special.  That day we thanked God for whispering our needs to someone who became our Secret Santa, and for a gift we have never forgotten.  God always provides and often surprises us with more than enough to share.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Waiting With Anticipation

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!  Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage.  Wait for the Lord!"
Psalm 27: 13, 14 (ESV)

Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of baby Jesus.  It is a time of waiting.  As we enter into the second week of this tradition, I have been reflecting on all the waiting we do in our lives.  We feel it is a time of doing nothing, but waiting is after all a verb.  And in our relationship with God it is an action we are called to take as part of our faith journey.

When our children were young they would be so excited for Christmas. Every day the waiting seemed endless and it felt like that special day would never come!  Even though our focus was on the Christ Child, there was anticipation for Christmas morning when they would be able to open their gifts.  It was soooo hard to wait.

Sometimes I find myself in the same place as my children so many years ago.  Waiting impatiently to open a few of my gifts from our Lord...waiting for my prayers to be answered.....waiting for healing to take place....waiting for God's promises to come to pass.  Sometimes I wait with anticipation, but often I wait with impatience, which makes the journey much less joyful.  It is hard to wait.

I wonder if God gets impatient waiting for us.  Waiting for us to come to Him in prayer....waiting for us to surrender to His will....waiting for us to be still in His His word....obey His commands.  I think God has a lot more patience than we do!  He lovingly waits with open arms, a listening ear, and a loving heart for us, His children to come to Him.  I wonder if He ever finds it hard to wait.

Lord, forgive me for keeping you waiting....

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Advent: Remembering And Waiting

Advent began this past Sunday.  Our Advent wreath is out, and the candles are in place. The four candles are labeled promise, light, love, and hope. Since 1976 we have been reading from the same small advent devotional book entitled "We Light The Candles".  Looking through it's pages today took me back to the many times when our family gathered for Advent devotions.  As the kids got older each one would take turns reading devotions and opening a door on our Advent calendar.  There was excitement in their eyes as they opened the tiny door to see what was behind it. 

This was a time we set aside in the otherwise busy home of a pastor with a large family.  Lots of concerts, Christmas programs, services, and of course the usual school events.  The calendar would fill up pretty quickly with 7 kids at home!  But this time right after supper was sacred, where we would gather together, read, open the calendar, sing a song and pray.  I remember it fondly.

The house is quiet now with all the kids grown with families of their own.  Joel and I have our devotions together ~ usually with our dog Levi snuggled up between us!  We still have our advent wreath we had made special when we lived in the Philippines.  We still have candles to light and songs to sing and our prayer time.  Advent still plays an important part of our Christmas preparation as we wait to celebrate the birth of Christ.  For us at this time in our lives, it is not only a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of baby Jesus, but it also a time of remembering.

Come Lord Jesus~

"You shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will called the Son of the Most High.  And
the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father, David."

Luke 1:31-32

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Battlefield Of The Miind

Joyce Meyer has a great book she has written entitled "The Battlefield of the Mind" that I highly recommend.  Recently I watched her speak about this subject on early morning TV. It was just what I needed to hear!

Joyce shared that the first 15 minutes of the day are often the time Satan goes after our minds.  For me this is true.  When I wake up I find myself taking inventory of my aches and pains, and with Lyme Disease that can take awhile!  I will often find myself worrying too, ~worrying about my health, Joel's health, finances, the family, etc. etc. etc.  Oh dear!  I confess, worrying is second nature for me and I have to work at turning all those things spinning around in my mind over to Him.  I guess that is why Joyce's book resonates with me.

I am learning what helps change my mindset, and I hope you find it helpful for you too.

Giving Thanks and Praise:  Giving thanks to God for each day I wake up to see the morning is a gift, and giving thanks and praise helps me to put aside my worries.  Every time I start to think about something negative or the worry wheel starts spinning, I praise God instead.

Pray:  Lifting up my worries and aches and pains to the Lord and again thanking Him for the healing that is to come.

Remembering:  It is reassuring when we look back and remember what He has done for us in the past.  It is good to look back and remember the worries that never came to pass...or the trials that He guided us through, the victories we have had with the Lord's help.   Joshua built an altar to the Lord made of stones to always be a reminder to the people of God's goodness. I have a memory box to store mine.

Trusting:  When we give thanks, when we pray, and when we remember it affirms that we can trust our Lord with our today's and our tomorrows.  We know that He loves us and He is always with us. 

Reading and Speaking Scriptures aloud:  Yes, God's word is filled with messages and promises for each of us.  The Bible instructs us on how to keep our thoughts pure and on God and His goodness.  Speaking scriptures aloud keeps the Enemy at bay.  When we speak scriptures aloud, he cannot stick around. 

Giving Thanks...again!:  This brings us around full circle ~ we giving thanks, we pray, we remember, we trust, we speak and read His Word, and we know that with God all things are possible..including victory over the battlefield of our mind!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stuck On The "I Can"

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Philippians 4:13
"I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me"
or paraphrased~
"I can do all things through Christ who continually pours His strength into me"

What I have learned about myself is that I often get stuck on the first few words of this well known verse.  "I can do all things"....and I tend to forget that what I can do is only possible if Christ continually pours HIS strength into me.

Recently I read about a woman with a debilitating chronic illness, who prayed and gave thanks for God's strength throughout her days.  If she was making breakfast she prayed for strength for that task.  While caring for her children she prayed for strength to do so.  Every single task took great effort and she had learned that without Christ's strength being continually poured into her she could not accomplish these things.  Without Christ's strength being renewed on a task to task basis, she was too weak to function as she needed to.  What an amazing testimony!

I believe that the "I can" attitude keeps us from giving and receiving some of God's greatest blessings!  We are not in this life alone. When we rely on Christ not only in our times of need, but every single day in every single way, we are able to be used more for HIS glory, and we become closer to Him.  We know without a doubt, that He loves us and we are blessed!

I can??


HE can!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Attitude of Baditude

"Praise the Lord......"
Psalm 150: 1-6

I was watching Joyce Meyer Friday morning and when she looked at her audience and firmly said,
Your problem is NOT your problem....your attitude and perception are your problem",  I felt the earth shake and tremble. Okay, not really, but her words resonated in me!  Problems will come, but how we respond to those problems will make a big difference in our daily lives. 

Sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by the way the storms of  Lyme Disease beat upon our lives.  I can easily be swept away by the mighty winds of illness and loss which sets me up for an attitude of baditude...instead of gratitude.  You know...the "poor me....poor me...." song that brings about a change of posture~ my nose in my bellybutton~ which blocks out all the Sonlight!

God never leaves me in that place for long.  He reminds me that He is with me, He loves me, and that He wants me to have an attitude of praise and gratitude.  Lately I have been hearinig from a number of sources the need for me to praise God in all circumstances...more praise...more gratitude...never too much praise!  Get rid of that baditude, girl!

Do any of you find yourselves with a baditude attitude?  If so, ramp up the praise and thanksgiving, not just this week, but year round.   And remember Joyce Meyer's words~ Your problem is NOT your problem~your attitude is your problem! 

Stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays and read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Regular Monsoon

I have not been here much lately. I apologize for you readers and to God, who gave me the gift of writing to use for His glory.  Today I write from a place of transparency.  Life is not always a bed of roses, which everyone knows if they live for any length of time!  Today I share with you from my heart.....and ask for prayers for Joel and myself, and for those I will list at the end of my post.  Storms are raging in the lives of many.......but Jesus can calm the storm. 

The sun is shining, the sky is clear but it is storming here. It is raining hard. The house is warm, the windows are closed, but it is storming inside our abode. It is raining in sheets. A regular monsoon.

Joel and I are both feeling the storms...soaked and chilled to the bone by the heavy rain. We are hunkered down, subdued, worried and trying not to be. I am very very tired. So weary. I want to ask the same old questions that come to me too often of late.....the "whys" and "hows" that reverberate in the air and are never answered to my satisfaction.  I remember the words....

LIFE is not about waiting for the storms to pass,
it is learning how to DANCE in the rain.

We are trying Lord.
Please pray for others in the midst of storms:
Georgia who is having heart problems again.
Leon and Marilyn~ Leon's cancer spreading and Marilyn is having heart problems
Ruby Grace~ in need of several surgeries from hydrocephalus and healing from a PICC line that was misplaced
Linda~ healing from flu and needing a new caregiver and place to live
Rose~ in need of a special wheelchair so she can get outside
Autumn~ brain tumor
T and L ~ healing from divorce
Hear our Prayers O Lord....Jehovah Rapha
In Jesus name

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Her First Bible

"You have been taught the holy scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 3:15

Our granddaughter Isabel is in 2nd grade and this year she was presented with her first Bible during church a few weeks ago.  She was soooo excited she went home and spent that Sunday afternoon reading the "how to read your Bible" instructions that came with her Spark Bible, made just for children.  She even told the family she needed quiet time so she could read!  Last I heard she was in the 8th chapter of Genesis. 

Isabel could hardly wait to tell Papa and Grandma Na about the Bible.   Her excitement was palpable when we talked to her on the phone.  She also shared at the same time that her Sunday School class was memorizing all  the books of the Bible.  Yikes!  I think I was 12 when I did that.

I have been pondering Isabel's excitement.  Here in America we take it for granted... we can find a variety of Bible translations, concordances, and more to be purchased easily online or in a bookstore.  There are countries in this world where that would not be true.  I wonder, do I appreciate the freedom I have to read from the Word of God so easily and openly?

I also was reflecting on how I feel when I open my Bible.  Do I have the excitement Izzy has? Do I look forward to exploring its pages?  Am I determined to take or make the time to open its cover every day and discover what God has to share with me? 

Oh, Lord, thank you for using the excitement of a child to remind me of the blessings Your Word holds for me.  Let me never forget to be excited when I open Your book, and let me always be reminded of what a privilege to share the gifts of what is within with others.  Amen.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All I Can Do Is Nothing?

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still."
Exodus 14:14

I was reading a post written by a friend today and one sentence she shared took on special meaning for me as she spoke about her chronic illness.   "All I can do is nothing".  Do you ever feel like that?  I know I do.  Sometimes we come to a place where we feel we can do absolutely nothing to change our circumstances, like when life has handed us a huge challenge, and we do all we can to fight the battle for as long as it takes, even becoming exhausted from our own efforts ~ But nothing changes.  So we try another tactic...hanging on with sheer determination and endurance.  But nothing changes.  We ask God for help in our cause.  But nothing changes.

There is nothing left to do..."All we can do is nothing",  so we let go, crumbling into a heap, weeping in sorrow and frustration, giving up the battle.  Surrender.  Surrender to our circumstances, surrender to our God who tells us in Exodus that there are times when all we need to do is be still and let the Lord fight our battle for us!   A place of acceptance like my friend spoke about.  A place of surrender.

I have been at this place many times over the years, but I have trouble staying there.  I rest, pick myself back up and spend all my energy trying to change my circumstances ~ thinking~ " I can do this!"  I search for answers, for cures, for ways to change my situation.  with sheer determination I plod forward.   I wonder how often I get in the way of what God wants for my life by not shifting my focus,  by not sitting still before God and hearing His voice and embracing peace in where I find myself. 

All I can do is nothing?  What does that mean?  Giving up?  Not hardly.  It means I let go of my plans,  my timing, my actions and reactions so I can be obedient to His.  It means sitting still before God and surrendering my will to His, living from a place of acceptance with hope.  It may seem like we are doing nothing..but we are really doing something...surrendering to the most powerful Someone in our lives. Letting Him fight our battles when we are weary.  Trusting in His love for me and His plan for my life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Let Our Light Shine

"For God who said, 'Let there be light in darkness', has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ."
2 Corinthians 4:6

Recently my husband Joel went out in the dark and took pictures of the flowers in our yard.  Everything looked dark when he focused the camera on this hot pink geranium, but when the light from the camera flash hit the flower, it's beauty was visible. What a difference the light made!

It is the same for us who come to know Christ.  The darkness of sin, the broken world we live in, and the emptiness we feel all leaves when we let Christ into our hearts.  Our sins are forgiven and we become people who live in the world but are no longer of the world.  With His light shining on and in us, our beauty becomes visible too! 

A chorus that comes to mind for me..
"Let our light shine is glory....glory
Let our light shine in glory to the Lord

Stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read more inspirational posts or link up your own.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Power of Words

As a child I remember hearing this phrase ~ " Sticks and stone may brake my bones but words will never hurt me."  I don't know who wrote this, but they were not very enlightened!  Words are powerful and can be very hurtful.  You cannot take them back once they come out of our mouths.  They have the power to build up and the power to break down.  Words can be as cutting as a sword, or as healing as medicine.  They are a precious gift to be used with care....they tell people alot about who we are and whose we are.

As children of God, we have the privilege to use our words to pray. To lift up our voices in praise and in petition before our heavenly Father. Today I am giving thanks for a sweet little girl who wants to help orphans (she herself having been one).  Ravenna has a web site where her mom is helping her to raise money again this year to help buy food and Bibles for children who live in an orphanage in Mexico.  You can find her story here at   Kids Blessing Kids.  I am giving thanks for Ruby Grace now officially belonging to her forever family, for a visit with my sister Jan and her husband, for being able to wish our daughter happy birthday, for continued healing for Nick, Tron, Karl, Ruby, Ravenna, Georgia, Jubilee, and many others.  Thank you Lord for the words of others that encourage and express love and for your written words ~ The WORD of God, the Bible.

We lift up to you today, those in need of healing...physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  We lift up to you today ourselves, surrendering our will for Yours, surrendering our plans for Yours,   surrendering our life to You.  Thank you Jesus, our Jehovah Jehri ( provider) our Jehovah Rapha ( our healer).  With the words you lay on our heart, may we be a blessing to others.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Son Is Shining!

Good Sunday morning to you from our corner of the world in the Midwest!  The sun is shining and we are heading for a nice fall day with temperatures rising into the lower sixties.  Nice for mid October! 

It is also Sonday morning here~ Being homebound, I enjoy worshiping God from my living room...watching morning services on TV and later on the Internet with Rick Warren.  The music, the scripture readings, and the sermons all glorify us pure SONshine to fill our souls. 

The  sermon I heard today spoke of remembering, recognizing, recounting and rejoicing over all the miracles God has brought into our lives. Like Joshua, we need to remember and rejoice over what God has done for us.  It is a wonderful way to bring SONshine into our souls.  How can we help but smile when we look back at the precious promises of God coming true for us and those we care about.  Thank you Jesus!

Today, as sunshine fills our homes, let us give thanks for the SONshine that fills our home too. We are richly blessed!

Let the Sunshine....let the SONshine!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Resting On His Promises

As I sat before my Lord, petitioning in prayer for the many requests that come my way, I was humbled and grateful that God asks us to bring all our burdens to him.  So grateful that He bends a listening ear and promises to answer our prayers.  We can rest on His promises as we bring before our Lord needs and the needs of others.  We can rejoice in the knowledge that He is there for us....always.

I am giving thanks for Karl who is doing so well after His brain injury, for Tron who has been able to come back to his hometown now and be near family during his brain injury recovery.  Prayers of praise for Nick who is doing so very well after his accident that I wrote about a few weeks ago....for Georgia who continues to do well.....for Leon who is still living life to the fullest, for our Sarah who had successful surgery, for God bringing Andrew off the ventilator and into recovery, for God protecting our friend Linny from being grabbed as she was walking back to the guest house in Uganda, for a visit with old friends. I am rejoicing and giving thanks that Linny has been able to get through all the paperwork for adopting Ruby Grace and she is now officially theirs to bring home from Uganda~!

We come before you lifting up the following people Lord~

Dominique's dad ~ full healing from heart surgery
Ravenna ~ a rare blood disorder
Deb's mom over at Jeremiah 29:11 blog
Leon ~ cancer
My brother and family

We rest on Your promises.   Lord we ask that we may your holy name...Amen

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Then Shall We Live?

There is a time to be born and a time to die....
Ecc. 3:2

I have been reading a book by Wayne Mueller entitled, "How Then Shall I Live?" and today's chapter asked the question,
 "Knowing we will die, how shall we live?" 

 Pastor Wayne Mueller works with many people who are at the end of their life from cancer, kidney failure, AIDS, etc. and he found that they changed how they viewed life once they knew they were dying. Suddenly everything they did in their remaining days becomes precious.  Relationships became very important and such things as money and material goods did not.

The thing is, we are all going to die. We just don't know when or how.  So living each day from the perspective of knowing that we will die makes every sunrise amazing.  Like many of you who have faced illness, when I got cancer in early 2010 I was frightened.  I already felt like I was fighting for my life with Lyme Disease, and then along came the big "C".  Life became more precious.  Oh, it has taken me awhile to not live in fear of it returning and there are still times I become anxious about that possibility.  It took awhile for me to not be looking behind me, or running into the future trying to grab hold of all life has to hold.  I am learning to accept where I am on my journey with Lyme Disease and as a cancer survivor.  Slowly I am learning that today is all I have and it is precious from the moment the sun rises until it sets in the evening.  Mindful living.  Focused on God and those I love and care about.  It is a process during which I am finding this book and its questions very helpful.

Maybe we need to ask ourselves some important questions?  How do we want to live the rest of our lives?  Do we want to be kinder?  Do we want to be more loving?  Do we desire to serve Jesus in a special way?  Do we hunger to worry less and laugh more?  So many questions for us to answer as we contemplate the fact that death will come to all of us. 

So, I ask the question one more time....

Knowing we will die, how shall we live?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tugging On God's Arm

"Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, "This is the way you should go," whether to the right or to the left."
Isaiah 30:21

A year ago Joel and I decided it was time to make plans for our retirement move.  Joel is on ELCA disability until he is 66 due to Lyme Disease and CFS, so we thought it was a good time to move.  We started talking about where to retire, packed a box here and there, and prayed hard for direction, asking for this house to sell and the right house to buy.We made the decision to move back to Joel's home town to be close to his aging mother, and contacted his cousin and a realtor. We prayed, read scripture, and prayed some more all the while working hard at moving forward in our plan.  We were sure we would be moving this summer and we just knew God was on board!

Even though we were looking online at houses, not one felt "right".  Then the end of May I had a strong reaction to a new treatment that kept me mostly horizontal for 2 months. I finally started to get better in August and at my last appointment the doctor was seeing good improvements in me ~ and Joel?  He had regressed and our doctor suggested he not work even 15 hrs a week.  We know treating chronic Lyme is a roller coaster ride, but we were still very disappointed.

We began to reassess our plans.  Sitting still before God this week, we suddenly could clearly see how we each were acting like an impatient child ~ you know~ a child who has hold of his or her daddy's hand and is trying hard to pull them forward.  "Come on Dad...hurry up!"  A child that was impatient to get where he or she wanted to go. 

With the patience and guidance of a loving Father, we had an aha moment of understanding and came to a place of acceptance.  This is where God wants us to be for now.  From a practical point of view it makes sense.  The economy is down, the housing market is bad here, our health is still at a challenging level, and if Joel does get well enough to take another pastoral interim position, this would be a good place for that.  More importantly for us is God's point of view.......HIS plan.  And we believe His plan is for us to stay put.  Sometimes God must just shake His head at how hard we try to "make things happen"!

Certainly, we all have times in our lives where are impatient for our plans to fall into place.  Sometimes we believe we are in God's will, and find out later that our own desires were getting in the way. Maybe we are so eager to move forward that we don't take the time to sit quietly before God, and listen for His guidance.  Thankfully, if we are asking for His guidance He will close doors and open windows,  as He tells us to "go to the left...or go to the right...or "be still".  He does know best. 

"Be still and know that I am God"
Psalm 46:10
Guess it is time to unpack those Christmas dishes!  And I plan to sing praises while doing so~ believing that we are right where we are supposed to be, and in His perfect ways when it is time to move He will lead the way.  I am guessing we won't need to tug on His arm at all!

Stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays and read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Laughter Lightens The Load

"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy."

Psalm 126:2a

Joel and I deliberately bring laughter into every day.  Life can get pretty heavy at times with our health issues, finances, loss of ministry work, our country's economical crisis and loss of unity, and then there is the world at large.  Oh, boy!  It is endless drama and so easy to get caught up in it.

Laughter lightens the load.  It boosts the serotonin levels in our body, it changes our perception of life, and it is just plain good for a person. When we do something ridiculous or forget something we usually just sigh, say..."Lyme brain" and laugh it off.  We tease each other often, and last night Joel did something that could only be attributed to brain fog and we giggled about it for most of the night. No one else would find it funny and some would think, "oh no, dementia is not far behind..."  We laughed....and laughed....and laughed!   Somewhat like the people below that did a laughing meditation at their Christian Bible camp!   Remember laughter is good for the soul!

Friday, October 7, 2011

You Will Hear A Voice

"Your own ears will hear him,
right behind you a voice will say,
"This is the way yo should go,
whether to the right or to the left." 
 Isaiah 30: 21

In 1976 we were living in The Philippine Islands where Joel was stationed as a meteorologist with the US Air Force.  We would soon be leaving Clark AFB and heading home, so selling our car was a priority and we listed it in the base paper that was also read by local Filipinos.  Cars were hard to come by and we knew it would be easier and smarter to sell it rather than ship it back home to the states.

Joel and I had prayed about selling the car, asking God to guide and direct us in the process.  Shortly after placing the for sale notice, Joel received a call at work that someone wanted to look at our car, so he set up a time and place to meet the prospective buyer in Angeles City outside the base.  Two men got in the car ~ one in front and one in back and Joel began driving to let them see how the car was working.  They started giving Joel directions on where to go, and when they came to an area that was unfamiliar to Joel and somewhat isolated,  one of the men said, "Turn left here.".  As Joel prepared to turn he heard a voice say from deep inside, "DO NOT TURN."  He hesitated and he heard again, "Go NOT turn."  The voice was so clear in his head he knew it was God speaking, so he went straight and drove into a heavily populated area and parked the car, quickly getting out and asking the men to leave the vehicle.   The men did leave, stealing the calculator Joel had in the front seat.  He firmly told them to put it back, sensing he needed to keep his distance from them as he spoke.  They complied and left, at which point Joel got back in the car and drove home.

A couple of days later Joel heard about an officer who was in the hospital after being stabbed repeatedly by two men who he thought were going to check out his car for purchase.  They had given him directions on where to drive and he ended up in an isolated area alone with the two men.   It was sobering to realize that this could have been Joel.  The men were able to steal this officer's car and had left him for dead. 

There are times when hearing God's voice and obeying it can save our lives in a dramatic way.  God gave Joel specific directions and Joel listened to the voice of God, which kept him from harm.  We never forgot this, and have tried to be obedient to God's voice whether it comes loudly or in a whisper. He knows our future and He knows what is best for us.   Just like that day so long ago, it is  a comfort to know that God is with us just as He promised, hearing our prayers, guiding our steps, and watching over us night and day.

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mountain Moving Miracles

Moving a mountain is impossible for anyone but God,
but nothing is impossible for God!

Lately Joel and I have been praising God for some amazing mountain-moving miracles!  A former parishner, Nick, had only a small chance to live after a horrible accident that damaged many organs and required 90 units of blood. (that is right, 90)  His recovery has astounded the Mayo Clinic doctors and they are calling him a walking miracle.  Karl continues to heal from his traumatic brain injury after a bad accident, thanks to God's mercy, and the two month prayer vigil involving people from around the world.  My son's friend and fellow police officer, Tron, continues to recover from a severe head injury and resulting stroke even though doctors told his wife he would probably not make it.  Mountains moving!!   Our friend Linny is over in Uganda bringing home two precious daughters to add to their loving family, and the way God has moved to bring this to pass can only be called a miracle! Sweet little Jubilee Promise had surgery to remove tumors in her head....BUT they could find none when they went inside! 

Mountains were moved. Boulders crumbled.  The earth shook under God's command.

Dominique is back to being active and even dancing after 8 months of being homebound and very ill ~ move mountains, move!  Sweet little Georgia (side bar)  has her parents doing the happy dance with the changes in her since her heart procedure.  The doctors went in and opened up a valve that was nearly closed and Georgia is becoming healthier every day.  This surgery was very risky, but all is well.  A mountain moved!  Our neighbor Roger was diagnosed with Leukemia and had his first PET scan after only a few weeks of the months of chemo ahead...there is NO SIGN OF CANCER!  Doctors are amazed!  Praise God for another mountain-moving miracle!!!

God is mighty to save.  God is our Jehovah Rapha.  God is a mountain-moving God!  On bended knee I give thanks for His loving mercy and the hope it gives all of us.  Let us never forget the words of Ephesians 3:20 in The Message.
"God can do anything you know....far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request
in your wildest dreams."
Ephesians 3: 20

Please stop over and visit Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Pace of Grace

I have been re-reading the book, "A Pace of Grace" by Linda Kavelin Popov, who is also an  international speaker on The Virtues Project.  Amongst other things in this book, she shares how a medical crisis brought her to a place of living an easy, grace-filled life.  She challenges us to become  loving stewards of our own energy, to find joy in the simple pleasures of life.

I often ponder when the idea of over extending ourselves became so "normal".  When did we start wearing a badge of honor for being "sooooo busy"?  When did the lazy hazy days of summer disappear? 

When I was active in the world outside my door, I took great pride in over extending myself.  The more I had to do, the better I felt about myself. I had a list for every single day, and would drop into bed exhausted as night came calling.  I even went to college full time at night while raising 5 children, keeping the house up, sitting on community boards, and staying active as a pastor's wife.   I took the mantra, "We are what we do" very seriously.  Unfortunately, it led me down a path to poor health and a stressful life.  And certainly, it did not all bring me joy ~ and what about my family?  I am sure at times God just shook His head as I crammed a month's worth of activity into a week. 

Today's families are busier than ever.  Life rushes by with school or work, music lessons, year round sports with school and outside of school, sleep overs, play dates, meetings to attend and social events to look forward to.  Seriously, when I observe my children and their families I wonder when there ever is any down time. 

And yet, God asks us to "Be still and know that I am God."  Be still and take a breath,,, care for yourself...leave time to ponder a flower or snuggle with loved ones.  It still is possible.  It may have to be scheduled like everything else in the daily routines of those who are on the move, but it is possible.  It is necessary.  It is renewing.

Maybe it is my age, maybe it is my illnesses, or maybe it is just looking back and seeing how little time I took to be still~ probably it is all three!  I know that I am grateful for the time I have now.  And I am hopeful that in this season of my life I can live with a pace of grace~ I certainly have plenty of opportunities!   I hope we all take the time to live life with a pace of grace.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn's Amazing Attributes

"Praise and thanksgiving, Father we offer
for all things living, you have made good.

Harvest of sown fields, fruits of the orchard,
hay from the mown fields, blossom and wood."

Even though God has created beauty for us to enjoy in each and every season the of the year, fall is my favorite!  I just love all the colors~ oranges, rusts, and golds.  I love the smells outside...the dry crisp air~ and I love the sounds of the dry leaves rustling, the squirrels hunting for food to store and the geese flying overhead on their way from the river at the end of our block to the nearby field and lake. Of course fall is also a time for gathering what the farmers and ranchers have sown. Harvest.  And what's not to love about pumpkins, gourds, and squash picked from our gardens, too.  Autumn has so many attributes to offer us.

It is so beautiful up here in the upper Midwest, I would like autumn to last 6 months of the year. Yet, God in all his majesty, has created the 4 seasons for us to enjoy.  I just enjoy fall a little more than the others!   It is a time to pause and give thanks for the beauty of God's creation and the bounty of our farmers and ranchers hard work.  Thank you Lord for another fall season that is filled with your glory!

Please stop over and visit Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays to read more inspirational posts or link up your own.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Now Thank We All Our God

I love that hymn, "Now thank we all our God....With heart and hands and voices..."

Giving thanks today for so many blessings~ Thank you Lord that sweet Georgia came through her heart procedure and is doing well!  Thank you Lord that Karl continues to make progress with his traumatic brain injury, and that Tron is making progress with his TBI also.  Thank you Lord that Linny made it to Uganda safely with Emma, and thank you Lord for moving mountains in their desire to bring home their daughters.  Thank you Lord for Nick's improvement each week...a walking miracle!  Thank you Lord for the release of the two young men held prisoner for 2 years in Iran.  Thank you Lord for the many blessings you bestow upon us with provisions and you unconditional love.

Continued prayers for:

Karl~ Traumatic brain injury from accident
Tron~ Traumatic brain injury and stroke
Nick~ recovering from severe injury to organs
Jubilee Promise~ surgery went well..healing from infection inside head
Ruby Grace and Sarah Jane able to come to their forever home
Georgia's recovery from heart procedure
Leon and Marilyn~ cancer and brain injury
Roger ~ chemo
Grant~ personal
Ciel~ chemical imbalance
Katherine~  healing from Lyme and coinfections

We lift up to you all those our readers are keeping close in their heart. 

Lord God, Jehovah Rapha, we bring before you all these people and more, asking for your healing touch. We give thanks for the miracles you are sharing with your children and we wait with expectation for more....after all you are our miracle-making God as Linny says. In Jesus Name...Amen

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

One Cash Only Day At A Time

Lately Joel and I have been spending time in prayer over the subject of money...and it has gone right along with the Sunday morning sermons I listen to online with Saddleback Church and Rick Warren.  This past week a guest preacher spoke on Malachi 3:10 and how we cannot outgive God and how and when he blesses us. Malachi is the only place in the Bible where God says, "Test me on this!"
 Pastor Morris made one comment that really spoke to Joel and I.  TITHING is the money we return to God (and His ministry)....GIVING is beyond the tithing.  It is giving from our heart to those in need.   I just love when I learn something knew or get a new perspective on something! 

This is a good subject for us right now as we also learn to live on Joel's ELCA disability salary.  He has gotten worse the past few months and the doctor did not feel he should be working even part time..just healing.  It was sobering to hear, and of course we wondered how we would manage with 1/3 less income and so many out of pocket medical treatments bills.

To go along with this, the disability check came and was $500 short this month!

And here is the real kicker! Do to our large out of pocket medical expenses for two Lymies, we had recently made a decision to NOT buy anything we could not pay cash for~ part of our get out of debt plan ~ and then our newer dehumidifer broke, the 20 yr old washer started leaking, the the bathroom faucet broke, and both of our 27 in. TVs broke all within two weeks!!  Seriously!!!!  We actually got the giggles as we figured "this was a test"!!! 

We knew God would provide.  He always has, and He always will.  We just wondered how. ( Don't misunderstand me~ God blessses us continually in many ways, not just with what we need financially....but today I am speaking on the subject of provisions.)

Like most people, we have more things than we need.  We  were able to find the old dehumidifer and use that, fix the faucet, AND bring out the 20 yr old 19 in. TV.   I have cataracts so we just put it closer to the middle of the floor and it worked fine!  Then two weeks later, it turned out our son and daughter-in-love could not imagine us watching that small of TV, so they came for a visit and brought with them a gift ~ a 40 in. TV from their family room!  (Being I have severe allergies, a new TV would cause me lung problems for quite awhile.)  We went from a 19 in. to a 40 in. TV ~ our only form of entertainment since I am homebound.  We were grateful for their generosity and more than a little overwhelmed by the gift.

And then an unexpected check came in the mail!

Yes, we cannot outgive God!  He always provides!  He has us doing the happy dance and wondering what surprises await us!  We look forward to figuring out how to be debt free on less money~ just like the two fishes and 5 loaves of bread we look for it to happen!  We look forward to all God has to teach us on this part of life's journey. One cash only day at a time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

"It may not be well with our circumstances,
but with Jesus it is always well with our soul!"

Recently I read this quote in the comment section from a blog linked up to Spiritual Sundays.  It came to mind for me today as I recalled all the posts and emails I have read this week where friends have asked for prayers as they go through great trials and emotional and mental health struggles. Add to that news this week from a long time friend who has had her cancer return after 6 yrs. along with another friend who is once again battling cancer. It saddens us to know what these dear people are going through.  Our circumstances can shake us to our very core, and because we live in a broken world, we can expect life to hold more than a few of those shake-ups for each of us. 

Yet we know we are not alone.  We know that with Jesus by our side, we can do all things through Christ who continually pours His strength into us. (Phil.4:13)  We know that even though the world around us is in turmoil, and our own circumstances seem overwhelming, with Jesus ALL is well with our soul.

God loves us unconditionally.  His son, our Savior, died for our sins.  And accepting Jesus into our lives brings to us eternal life.  No matter what comes our way, eternal life awaits us at the end of our earthly journey.  It is well with our soul.  With Jesus it is always well with our soul.

  When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
it is well, it is well with my soul.

Please stop over and visit Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Beauty From The Ashes

The 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country has created a flurry of TV shows, magazine articles, and news broadcasts that have us reliving that terrible day.  I don't know about you, but my husband and I find ourselves experiencing many of the same emotions we had on Sept. 9th and after, and in many ways it is physically and emotionally draining.  My heart is heavy for those who lost loved ones in NYC, the Pentagon, or the field in PA.  It must be so difficult for them to move on from an event that changed not only their lives, but the lives of our country...the world.
Six months after the terrorist attacks, Joel and our son Matt went to NYC to participate in a national gathering of Lutheran pastors who wanted to show their support.  Our synod asked Joel to be a representative for our synod, speaking with and preaching at a congregation in the New York area. Hundreds of clergy joined together in worship with the people of NYC and then were sent out to churches.  Not only were they able to show support and listen to congregational members tell their stories, but they were able to give overburdened pastors some time off. Needless to say, this was an experience that Joel and our son will never forget.  They both felt blessed to be able to participate.

As time passed a couple of the people Joel met would email him and share what was going on in their lives ~ how they were finding joy once again as they walked  through tough, tough times. We have also watched others share their stories of finding joy once again this past week.  It reminded me so much of the verse in Isaiah 61:3~

"To all who mourn in Zion
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes
a joyous blessing instead of mourning
festive praise instead of despair."

Watching the news coverage once again of the towers falling, the Pentagon burning, and the scorched field in PA, I cannot help but lift this verse up as a prayer for all those who were personally touched by this horrific event.  God keeps his promises, and I pray this day for all those who mourn...May they all have beauty now for those ashes ten years ago...may they be blessed with joy instead of mourning...

Amen and Amen..

Stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read encouraging posts or link up your own.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Miracles From A Miracle Making God!

Recently Joel and I have been a part of three different stories of people we know and know only from the internet that has us giving thanks and praise for the awesome way God has worked in their lives.  If you want to be inspired by God's love and power just read the tidbits of these stories below.

Karl ~ Karl is a young man who was in a terrible motorcycle accident when an elderly couple crossed in front of him on a highway in CO. A number of God-incidences brought him through and saved his life when he should have died according to doctors. His traumatic brain injury is major, but the doctors keep seeing unexplained and impressive strides as he stabalized and lived and is now in rehab. I was able to be part of an online prayer vigil where thousands of people around the world prayed round the clock for him. AMAZING GRACE!

 Jubilee Promise is a little girl from China ( recently adopted) who just had major surgery on her head. Her parents took her to San Diego for this surgery as only 2 surgeons in the country can do it. They had seen several growths on the CAT scan and the family was told there was also infection and possibley cancer. After hours of surgery the parents were told that there were NO tumors found at all.   Anywhere. They were gone. She had major infection and is still fighting some of that, but we are all praising God for this miracle...Isn't God amazing!

 A member of one of Joel's former parishes was in a freak accident while nowing the ditches on his farm. He was in an old tractor without a cab and somehow a fence stable got caught up in the mower and went like a projectile into Nicks body. It went through an artery in his back through his liver into his heart tearing an inch and 1/2 rip into his heart and then through the nerve in his chest wall. A neighbor found him and they rushed him to the small town hospital...where they stablized him and gave him some blood and medivaced him to St. Mary's in Rochester. The doctors gave him over 90 units of blood!!!!!!!! They told his wife he should NOT have lived.. Told her, God still wants Nick other reason for him to have lived!!! He is home and a walking miracle that the doctors are shaking their heads over. God is a miracle-making, mountain-moving God as my sweet friend Linny says..

Lets give thanks for these stories of healing and miracles and add a few more to our list.  Please pray for:

Georgia who will have heart surgery on this coming Monday
Ravenna her sister who has a rare as of now undiagnosed blood disorder
Ruby Grace who is in need of a surgery for her brain
Linny who will fly to Africa to try to get Ruby Grace home for surgery.
Elaine's husband Rob went in for an angiogram and expected heart surgery after he failed a stress test...NO surgery needed!!!  Praise God!
Dominique's health has improved a great deal and she is up and about again!  Praise God!!
Renee's health continues to improve and strength is returning~ Praise God!
Joel's energy is coming back slow but sure.  ~ Praise God!
Leon, a good friend is in need of prayers as his cancer has returned and is growing.
Marilyn his wife needs prayers for strength and continued healing
Jan, Renee's sister and her husband are flying to Europe on Sept. 11th.

Lord God, Jehovah Rapha, we bring before you all these people and more, asking for your healing touch.  We give thanks for the miracles you are sharing with your children and we wait with expectation for more....after all you are our miracle-making God as Linny says.  In Jesus Name...Amen

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feeling The Love?

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—
not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
No power in the sky above or in the earth below—
indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God
that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 38,39

I was watching one of my favorite shows the other night, and one of the characters turned to his crime solving partner and said, "I'm not feeling it."  "Feeling what? his partner asked.  He replied, "I am not feeling the love".  It struck me funny at the time, but the more I thought about it the more I realized the truth in this statement. 

There are many times throughout our lives where we do not feel the love...the love of our family or friends, our community, the world, or even the love God tells us to have for ourselves.  Aren't we often our worst critics?  In our broken world, we will not always feel the love...but what about with God?

God's love is never ending, it is unconditional, it is perfect. When we open ourselves up to His presence in our lives...we can ALWAYS feel the love!  Can you feel the love??  The past few months when I have my morning quiet meditation time, I "enter" into a garden to sit with Jesus.  I often visualize Jesus saying, "I love you Renee", and I always respond back, "Oh I love you too Jesus!"  This practice is a good reminder of how much God loves and cares for matter what the day may bring.

"For God so LOVED the world He have His only begotten son,
that whosoever believes in Him will not parish,
but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

When we are going through a trial or challenges come into our lives, we may find ourselves questioning God's love. The answers for why God allows adversity in our lives may be "shrouded in mystery" as Sarah Young says in her devotional "Jesus Calling",  BUT God has promised to always be with us and to always love us. No question about it.  His love never ends and is unfailing.  Amen.  It is so.

I am feeling the love!

Please stop over and visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Shelter In The Storm

"God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the sea,
though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.
 The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold."
Psalm 46: 1-3, 7

Watching all the news coverage on the hurricane bearing down on the East Coast has had me remembering when we lived in the Philippine Islands during the late 70's.  Typhoon season was in the late fall through November, and the first year we were there we went through several typhoons in just a matter of weeks.  One was particularly strong, and although our home was safe during the storm,  we ended up living several days without electricity or tap water.  Even with the continual warnings of what was coming, we were not well prepared and our first Thanksgiving dinner there consisted of jello, chips, and luncheon meat! 

There have been many times in my life where I have not been prepared for the storms that have blown in.  God's word gives us ample warnings of what could lie ahead, and also tells us how to prepare, but I have not always taking the warnings seriously, or completely trusted God to shelter me and walk with me through the storms.  The result was often unnecessary hardship interwoven with worry, fear and anxiety. 

It is so important to fill our minds with God's promises, rejoice in all circumstances, and lean on Him to see us through all the challenges that come our way.  We do not always have time to prepare for life's storms like we do for a hurricane, but if we stay close to God at all times and let Him be our shelter, we will be ready to weather what comes our way.  Believing in God's promises, we will be prepared.

Stop over to visit Charlotte and Ginger at Spiritual Sundays to read inspirational posts or link up your own.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Miracles In The Making

I have been rejoicing over the miracles taking place in the lives of a young man named Karl ~ you can read his story at A Place Called Simplicity.  Karl was on his way to pick up his girlfriend for church when the actions of someone else brought him to the hospital fighting for his life.  The way God has orchestrated His plan for Karl's life and recovery from a motorcycle accident is amazing, humbling, and faith building.  What a might God we serve.

We are also giving thanks today for my son's friend and fellow police officer who was hit by a drunk driver while on duty,  and is in critical but stable condition right now.  He has a terrible head injury and we are so thankful he has survived and is getting excellent care. We continue to pray for Tron and for a miraculous recovery!

We lift up to God today with praise,  a past parishioner, Nick, who was in a strange accident where a nail went through his back and through an artery, through his liver and up into his heart and out again to lodge in his chest wall.  He was in critical condition and not expected to live, but he is defying the odds and God's response to the prayers of many are bringing him back to health! Thank you Jesus for this miracle!

We also lift up to you our friend Leon who has had a return of cancer after a miraculous disappearance of it several years ago.  Prayers are going up for another miracle!  And for his wife Marilyn who walks with him on this journey.

God is the God of miracles!  We have heard about quite a few this week....and we continue to petition for more. You have told us to "ask and we shall receive!"

We pray for more and more miracles, Lord.  We pray for Your healing in the lives of the people listed below.
Elaine and her husband
Dominique, Laurel, Gail, and Linda
Ruby Grace and Sarah Jane

Thank you Jehovah Rapha~ Our God of healing.