Monday, December 31, 2012

An Adventure In Faithful Living

As many do, I have been reflecting on the past year as it comes to an end.  It has truly been an incredible year for Joel and me, and we have much to rejoice over and be grateful for as we close out 2012. 

As you who visit my blog have read ~more than once~ Joel was healed overnight on January 24th 2012.  It rocked our world and put us on a quest not only for my healing, but also to learn all we could about this new adventure God had for us.  A big earthquake-like shift took place not only in Joel's body but in our minds and hearts.  We could never go back to the before, after experiencing what what we are learning now in the "after".  It was one of those precious times that defines you.

In retrospect, we can see how God slowly guided us for 3 years, providing information through people, books, teachings, and the Bible. I think He must have sighed and shook His head more than once at us and finally just decided to shake our world upside down with His power, so we could move deeper into our relationship with Him and His will for us. 

Yes it has been quite a year.  Up and down, round and round, and often just being still, we have stretched and grown in faith and understanding, coming closer to Father/God in ways we did not know we needed. 

Joel has been healed of Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Sleep Apnea, Hypothyroidism, Arthritis, and a number of debilitating symptoms occurring with those diseases. Just writing all those nasty illnesses and conditions out gives me pause and I can only bow my head and give thanks to God!  Joel is active and working again and LOVING IT!  He is riding his bike again and LOVING IT.  Yes, it has been an amazing year.

2012 has also brought us to our knees in obedience and patience as we struggled with why my healing did not happen "overnight".  Yet when we look back, we have seen so many changes....mostly deep inside of me.  Dealing with and healing from some PTSD as a result of the surfacing of repressed memories of sexual abuse has brought me closer to God and changed my relationship with Him in many positive ways.  I am physically stronger, able to manage exposures fragrances, etc. much more, and we are seeing some big physical changes take place.  I am rejoicing in all that I have been able to do in the past 6 months.  I am also impatient, but learning to rest in the Lord (Matt. 11:28-30),  trusting Jesus in the process.  His plan is always best as are His ways. 

Our family has been blessed this year for the most part with good health, good provisions, and protection.  They live in faith, and for that we are so grateful!

Certainly, life is not all roses and sunshine.  Death comes to those we love and care about, and so does pain and suffering.  Our country struggles with paying its bills, our communities seem fractured, and as human beings we cannot grasp why innocent children die at the hands of others.  It is with effort that we move our eyes and focus away from those things and keep our eyes on Jesus.  It is with joy that we take hold of the many blessings we have and treasure each one knowing that in this broken and fallen world, God is with us.

Today, with the close of 2012, we give thanks that this year has been such a treasure chest of blessings for us and we rejoice that God walked with us through such a wonderful adventure in faithful living!  We hope and pray the same for all of us in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

God Weaves The Patterns

On Christmas Eve day Joel brought the mail in and handed me a package from the state of Georgia.  I looked at him and asked, "Did you order me a gift?"  He shook his head no.  I did not know anyone in Georgia, so with interest I opened the envelope.  Inside was this beautiful matted writing of Matthew 11:28.

There is was again.....the verse that God has been sharing with me for over 3 months now!  I had just read a devotional that morning by Rick Warren that spoke about how God wants us to come home to Him this Christmas.... A place where we will find peace.  And then he quoted the first part of Matthew 11:28.  Now just a few hours later I opened a gift that arrived in God's perfect timing and read what has become a powerful message sent from God countless times for me.

This friend who sent me this beautiful creation of art?  I have never met her in person, but God brought us together.  About 2 years ago we belonged to a nation wide conference call prayer group who prayed for over 500 people who suffered with Lyme.  Kim was struggling with the same illnesses I was.  During a 40 day type of fast/prayer time that we participated in, God revealed to me something for Kim, so I emailed her and told her what I thought were words of knowledge from God.  She replied, and our friendship began.  Then I found her blog by "accident" and she started reading mine too. We connected on Facebook, and continue to pray for each other today. 

Kim is young, and I will be age 65 in March.  She just married, and Joel and I have been married over 44 years.  They live and work in the hustle and bustle of New York.  We live in the state of Iowa with its cornfields and farms.  She has cats and we have a dog.  :)  We are an unusual match I expect, except for what draws us together outweighs all the other differences.  We both desire to serve our Lord, live in obedience to Him, pray for others believing God hears and answers our prayers,  and also believe that He has a plan for our lives that includes healing. 

I just love how God weaves the patterns of our lives together for His purpose.   And every time I look over to my right and see this special creation of art sitting on the end table,  I give thanks for K. and the blessings she brings into my life.  I give thanks that God loves us so much He is in every detail of every day we have here on earth.  He is in the gift sent from a far away friend.  I am blessed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Church In The Foothills


Zortman Montana Church

Every year about this time I reflect on a special Christmas service our family attended in 1978.  I have shared this before, but thought I would re-post as a story I wrote for our local newspaper a few years ago.

When my husband was in the seminary we spent his Internship year in North Central Montana. Malta’s Parish consisted of four main Lutheran churches, a hot springs resort chapel, and a tiny church in Zortman, Mt. ~ a historic mining town nestled in the foothills of the Little Rocky Mountains. Joel and his internship pastor ministered to all of these areas.

The services at Zortman were held once a month, with most people driving around 75 miles across gravel roads to attend church and worship together. The small Catholic church sat on the top of a high hill and was one of only a few buidlings in this small town. I believe at that time there were 9 full time residents in the place. People from the surrounding area often came to enjoy what the Little Rockies had to offer, and the small café/bar provided nourishment when they visited. We had the privilege of being a part of the Christmas service the year we were there, and it is stored away in our memories forever.

Our family drove the long distance through snow and freezing temperatures that December, arriving with many others shortly before the service. Everyone gathered at the local cafe beforehand, with all of us dressed for the bitter cold in snowmobile suits, snowsuits, insulated underwear, heavy boots, scarves, and warm mittens. When it was time for the services to begin, everything in the little town closed up. It was dark outside, and as we left the cafe many of us were given lanterns to carry up the long hill to the church. We were one of the last families to leave, and in doing so we were able to watch the glowing lights move up the steep winding path as the people walked the trail to the church. As each person carrying a lantern entered the sanctuary, the church filled up with light. What a beautiful sight to see!

Once we arrived in the sanctuary, we all huddled together on benches to keep warm. The wood burning potbelly stove, which stood in the corner of the room, gave off a warm glow and provided the only heat in the church. Our hymns of Christmas joy were especially meaningful as we sang along to thee old pump organ. Joel's breath was visible as he preached the Christmas message.  For many reasons, the Christmas story of Jesus being born in a humble stable held special meaning for us that night.

When services were over, we all walked back down the hill guided by the lanterns and moonlit sky. All those who attended went into the local bar/café for coffee, dessert, and more fellowship together, before heading back out into the cold and traveling home.

The service in the Little Rockies is forever a beautiful memory etched on our minds. Across the world people were coming together to worship our Lord and Savior and celebrate His birth. It did not matter whether we were worshiping in a big cathedral in New York City,  or a tiny “borrowed”  Catholic church in a small historic mining town in Montana. The focus was the same ~ giving glory to God for the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord!


Friday, December 21, 2012

The Father's Love

With Christmas just a few days away, I cannot help but reflect on how much our Heavenly Father loves us. The visible proof of that love came in the form of a baby.  A baby born in a stable in Bethlehem for us.  FOR YOU AND FOR ME.

Knowing fully the love of my Heavenly Father did not really come to pass until this past week.  I knew He loved me, but I guess I did not "know that I know that I know?"....that kind of knowing that goes deep into your soul and fills you to overflowing.  The kind of knowing that has given me the trust needed to believe Him when He says, "I am with you." I want you to know how wide and how long and how deep my love is for you."  Going through the Sozo healing session was so amazing, and one of the most astonishing results was the deep unconditional love flowing through me from my Father.  It went from a head knowledge to a heart knowledge, and changed me.

Jesus does the same for each of us.  He came into the world out of love....created from a loving Heavenly Father....and He changed the world!   A Savior came for you and for me, and by His stripes we are saved and we are healed.

As we celebrate Christmas, may we each know and experience fully that great love ~ wider, deeper, and higher than we can ever imagine.  And may we turn around and share it with everyone we meet!  Wrap yourselves up in our Father's love and give thanks for that tiny baby, born of Mary, who came to change the world. And did.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Quietness And Trust

"In quietness and trust shall be your strength"
Isaiah 30:15

On Tuesday Joel and I drove through a nasty snow storm up to the Twin Cities in MN. to go to Sozo Ministry sessions for inner healing.  Joel did this as part of his training for Sozo Ministries which deals with inner healing and deliverance,  and I went because we believed this type of Holy Spirit/Jesus guided counseling would be very helpful for me in releasing any childhood trauma.  The people who meet with you meditate ahead of time on your names.  Both of us experienced a deep peace and confirmation when they shared with us (separately) what the Holy Spirit revealed to them to tell us.  They knew nothing about us, but GOD DID, and His words came across clearly. 

One of the three women who were with me shared a  verse and some words that came to her as she was meditating......."In quietness and trust shall be your strength"  which God has given to me one morning just a few days ago while I was meditating and visiting the garden with visualization.  Then she said, The Father says, "Come and rest.  Let me hold you, do not fear."

Well, needless to say, with having received Matt 11:28-30 twenty-three times this fall, I knew the "come and rest" was a confirmation that Sozo ministry was for me!  It was very helpful and a bit tiring since my session lasted 3 1/2 hours!  Joel had a good nap while he waited.

I am sharing some of my experience because I believe there are others who can find help, release, joy, healing, freedom, and a deeper relationship with our Father/God through this type of ministry.  It was so amazing, and the physical energy that came for me afterwards has  delighted us.  Healing took place and for that we are doing a happy dance :).

As we were leaving the session one of the women who helped moderate my session asked me to sit on the hard chair against the wall, so she could pray for me.  She had heard from the HS that I had been in an accident (which I had many years ago and then just a couple years ago).  She said she wanted to pray for my legs to be the same length.  Joel stood by her and watched as she prayed.  I felt my leg move from the hip and upper thigh area and Joel saw my right leg lengthen until it was even with my left.  She then said to me, "Jesus is the only chiropractor I need now."   Pretty cool!

God desires to make us whole.  Being whole, means we are healthy not only physically but emotionally and mentally too.  Every part of us is touched in some way when Jesus heals.  I certainly did find a new sense of quietness and trust on Tuesday and am so grateful my friend encouraged me to go.  In quietness and trust (in God) will be my strength.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lord, Hear Our Prayers

My dear friend Linny, over at A Place Called Simplicity is having a day of prayer and fasting tomorrow for all those who are in need of prayer.  You can leave your own requests, pray for others who leave requests and continue to lift up in prayer those who lost loved ones in the Newtown CT shootings and the 22 children who were stabbed at a school in China on the same day. 

Speaking of Newtown, another blogger, Anita, shared a post that her friend from there wrote on her own blog about the kind of place Newtown is and why they love living there.  You can read about it Here.

It is one week until Christmas.  Our world hungers for peace  and comfort at this time and that is where we can find a manger, in the form of a tiny baby.  Jesus.... Our Savior, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Comforter.  He brings peace to our broken world.

We have the privilege of praying anywhere and any time in our country.  Let's continue to lift our voices to Heaven.  Lord, hear our prayers.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday's Scripture

"Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep"
Romans 12:15b

This past week we received Christmas newsletters where sorrow and brokenness were shared. A friend Joel worked with in a former parish had died and his wife shared about his journey.  Dear friends shared that their two daughters are both fighting cancer, and another friend shared about the death of their loved one.  Yesterday Joel was visiting with yet another friend who is grieving the loss of his wife to cancer.  I just heard that an internet friend had a mild stroke after having dental surgery.  Our hearts break for them.

We also heard from others about the joys of new babies, grandchildren, new jobs, trips they have taken, and the good health they are enjoying.  There is much to rejoice about, too, but this week's news seems especially heavy on our hearts.

We weep with those whose children and loved ones died in Newtown CT.  We grieve with hope, knowing that they are being held in the arms of Jesus, while remembering that families will be united again in Heaven. It gives us comfort during difficult times.

We weep for the violence that permeates our communities.  We weep for those who are tormented and disturbed, and for the devastation it causes in the lives of others.  We weep for the innocent.

Let us remember in prayer all those whose Christmases might not be so joyful this year.  When Christ lives in us, it is what we are called to do.  Love one another, rejoice with those who rejoice and grieve with those who grieve.  We are called to reach out in prayer, encouragement and support.  We rejoice that God has given us this privilege.  We rejoice that God is faithful, and loving, delighting in us......rejoicing with us.......weeping with us.  We are blessed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

God's Heart Is Filled with Pain

"The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth,
and His heart was filled with pain."
Genesis 6:6
The tragedy in Newtown CT is beyond our comprehension.  It has stunned the world that someone could go into a classroom of precious little children and methodically kill them.  Innocent little ones with only a few years of their lives lived.  So much much pain and sorrow.  So much trauma in those left behind. 
Lord have mercy.

I could not help but think of this verse today.  I expect at times God still grieves that He ever made man on the earth.  His heart must fill with pain at the horrors we humans inflict on each other.  And He has a special place in His heart for children.
Today many little children were welcomed into the Lord's arms.  Not only in CT. but around the world.  Evil takes many forms........But today we focus on the shocking tragedy that unfolded before our eyes.. The children.  Who could do this to children.   It is pure evil.  E.V.I.L   Only cowards go after children.....and Satan is a coward.
Today we are all angry over this senseless act of evil.  There will not be any answers that satisfy us as the story of this gunman unfolds.  Today we are saddened and mourn the loss of so many innocent children and the teachers who loved them.  Our hearts break and we hug each other a little more and a little longer.  
This tragedy is NOT God's will.  He did not ordain this.  God grieves as we grieve the loss of life here.  This happened because we live in a fallen world.  God grieves with us all this day and His heart is filled with pain.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Levi's Worst Case Scenario

Levi with our youngest grandson Jonas

Whenever we are going to broil turkey burgers, our dog Levi gets nervous.  We put the kitchen fan on, put the burgers under the broiler, and Levi heads for the smallest room on the main floor to hide~ the bathroom.  If I am in my chair he heads over to me, jumps up and shakes so hard he has us both vibrating.  Oh how he hates to hear that kitchen fan going.......He is expecting the worst.

It seems that more than once in the past the broiler has set off the fire alarms.  All three on the main level.  It is a bit challenging for our human ears, yet alone a dog's.  He hears the fan, he smells the meat, and he is expecting the alarms to pierce his ears. He is sure the worst is coming and his body starts reacting well before the alarm goes off.

We talk to him in a soft voice, we coax him, soothe him, but to no avail.  All he can think about is that piercing noise that is coming......2+2  always =4  ~ right??

I think we can relate to this scenario at times.  Something comes up, and we are right back into the past and expecting the worst to happen.  The past warns us.........and we are so ready to listen, expecting bad news.   God whispers in our ear, soothes our soul and tells us it will be okay, but we have a difficult time taking our focus off the circumstances.  We may even react before the dreaded "thing" arrives....we just know it is going to rock our world again and we respond from a place within that is connected to our past, to our humanness.

The difference between our dog Levi and us is the ability to reason things out.  The ability to turn to God's Word and trust His promises.  We can make that choice!  We know that all will be okay because God tells us it will. 

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

We can find the peace we need because God tells us how in Isaiah.

"The Lord wil keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Him
because he trusts in Him."
Isaiah 26:3

We need not let fear rule our lives.  We know we have what we need for every situation.

"We have not been given a spirit of fear,
but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind."
2 Tim 1:7

 We need not expect the worst to happen.   God has promised us the best!

"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord,
plans for good and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11
Levi, our "little guy" turns to us for safety.  Who do we turn to for safety?  God of course!  We find assurance and peace in His Word and His promises.  Always. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

PTS Revisited

Recently I came across an article written by Bonnie Gray, a writer for (In)Courage, a wonderful site where women share devotionals and encouraging words with their readers.  Bonnie had written a post referring back to another post she wrote on her own blog, Faith Barista.  It is a powerful story of how after years as a successful career woman with a love for the Lord, she found herself in the depths of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from re-surfacing childhood trauma. I recommend you take the time to read it.

She held my attention as she shared how her body responded physically to events that had occurred in her childhood.  Events she had kept hidden inside.  The top notch therapist she saw told her that PSTD happens not only to vets, or others who go through physical or sexual abuse or events in their lives like 9-11, but that it occurs in those who experience emotional or verbal abuse also.  He told her that PTS and anxiety attacks like she was experiencing usually happen in the strong.  In those who have conquered life in spite of what they went through.  It usually comes up in their 40's and is triggered by another person or event.  This world expert therapist told her it was good news.  WHY?  Because, as he stated, "God is loving the hidden parts of you back to life."

I know that I know that I know God guided me to this post by Bonnie Gray. It was as if  this therapist was speaking to me, or more importantly GOD was speaking to me.  Lately He has been walking me through the traumas of my own childhood, most of which I thought of as minor.  I believed that the abuse was the only cause of the PTS my doctor diagnosed me with,  until she told me that I was not only experiencing issues from the abuse, but from some of those "minor" events too.  My argument was that others had it so much worse.  My argument was that I knew I was loved.  I blamed myself for my reactions and  tried to erase the diagnosis of PTSD itself.  Really?  Come on!  Yet time and time again something would come up and is still surfacing, and I am always stunned by how my body reacts and then shuts down in response when it does not feel safe.  In my head it is all reasoned out and understood and my faith is strong. I get it.  I move forward in courage knowing this is not real for today, but the body's response?  Over the top! 

Reading Bonnie Gray's open and honest post of her own journey has helped me to understand, accept and share with transparency some of my own journey, hoping it will help others the way Bonnie's story has helped me. 

Just like in Bonnie, God wants to heal the hidden and broken parts of me too.  It is why I am to rest in His love.  It is one of the reasons He brought to my attention Matthew 11:28-30 more than 23 times in 6 weeks.  He desires me to give Him my burdens.   God wants to heal the broken parts of all of us.  You may not struggle with PTS, but we all need restoration in one way or another.  It is not easy but with God's love and guidance we find the courage to heal and be free.

"It is for freedom that Christ set us free. 
Stand firm, therefore, and do not let yourselves
be burdened again with a yoke of slavery."
Galatians 5:1

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent: Waiting

It is the first Sunday in Advent and having been raised in a Lutheran church and being married to a Lutheran pastor for over 44 years, Advent has been an important part of the Christmas season for me as long as I can remember.  Advent....a time of waiting in anticipation for the coming of our Savior. 

When our children were at home we focused on Advent every night, lighting candles, opening the individual "doors" on an Advent calendar, reading our advent devotionals, and singing Christmas hymns and praying.  Our nest has been empty a long time now, but Joel and I still open the doors of an Advent calendar~~an online one sent from Jacque Larson's site by our friends Marie and Lyn , and we have daily devotions bringing Advent into that time with God.  It returns our focus to the reason why we celebrate Christmas.  A tiny baby in a manger.

Advent is a time of waiting and preparation, but I admit I have felt like this whole year has been a time of waiting.  Ever since we started on this healing journey with Joel, I have been waiting for my full healing to come to pass.  All my striving has not brought me to wholeness, but it has brought me to a place of rest because God has been telling me the past few months to rest in in His love.  Waiting...trusting.....letting go of the notion that my healing will be accomplished by my own effort. 

So this year for Advent I am doing a study on resting in God's love as I continue to draw closer to the Healer and take my focus off of healing.  I started my adventure last week when I watched a video at Wommack's ministries on resting in God's love,  and today I decided that, like my friend Kim, I was going to combine my study on God's love with Advent. The Bible has quite a bit to say on God's love and on resting, and they often cross paths.  Today He already began to bless my journey.

I usually watch Rick Warren on Sunday mornings since I am still unable to attend church.  I could not get the online service feed to work for me so began searching for something else to watch.  By accident(?) I came across a Heidi Baker video on Lavish Grace.  The first time I ever watched Heidi Baker I was completely freaked out.  She was way out of my comfort zone, but I have come to realize that she is the real deal, even when her actions seem over the top.  I have never been one of the "frozen chosen" as I have heard Lutherans so biasly described, but I have not been a Heidi Baker either.  Somewhere in-between.  In fact, 2 yrs ago when I read her book "Always Enough" I could not finish it.  I tucked it behind some other books on a shelf and just recently I found myself searching for it  She certainly is a mighty servant of God with a heart for Jesus. That is evident in the 10,000 churches she and her husband have planted in Mozambique.

Today she talked about having a father-daughter relationship with God. When we say yes to God we are no longer orphan spirits, but daughters and sons of God. She talked about how much He loves us, and how we can rest in that love.

Which brings it right back to being a matter of the heart.  A matter of trust. Resting is a matter of trust and so is waiting.  Whether we are waiting for a healing to manifest, a relationship to heal, or a baby in a tiny manger.  It is a matter of trusting God. 

And I would challenge you in your you think God is waiting for us too?  Waiting for us to come to Him, lay down our burdens and take on His yoke?   Accept His plan for our lives?  Is He waiting for us to trust Him?  To climb up on His lap as His child and say, I love you Father/Abba/Daddy.  To rest in His arms knowing that He loves and delights in us, His daughters and sons.  Advent..........centered on love and a time of waiting......our waiting and God's.

"The Lord your God is with you
The mighty One will save
He will rejoice over you
You will rest in His love
he will sing and be joyful about you." 
Zephaniah 3:17