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 us...in 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 here...no 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 me....no 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.