Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning  to all as we embrace Fall in all it's beauty from our corner of the world.  Frost glistened off the neighbor's roof as I write this.  The morning sun will quickly warm things up, but for now we are grateful the furnace is taking the chill out of the house.

Speaking of Fall, yesterday I walked outside and the air was filled with the sound of geese overhead.  I never tire of seeing and hearing our feathered friends.  We also have a doe and a rare-for-this-time of-year-spotted fawn coming through our backyard.  The last of the geranium flower heads are gone thanks to their snacking!

Preparations are in full swing for our adventure in faithful living.  So much to do!  Even so we have managed to walk daily and enjoy the Autumn weather.  Another Holy Spirit encounter left me with yet more energy and I have been busy sewing, ironing, washing and drying, baking, shopping, and on and on.  Joel has his own list to accomplish.  We make a very good team!

We have been trying to work out a date for the family to come after Christmas this year.  Each year it gets a little more complicated, mostly because the grandkids get older and are committed to sports activities.  Sadly many of the programs are run by coaches who give no respect to family holidays......or family time either.  Our son reminded me that when he was in high school he, too, had practices the days before and after Christmas.  I did not recall that.  So, we will hope and pray all can come, but if not we will celebrate with those who do.  Maybe by a miracle of God we can find another time to have them all come home at the same time!  When they do, it fills our home.  10 grandkids and 10 adults grace our home with joy!  A treasure for Joel and me.

Speaking of homes, ours is too big.  It is great the one time a year we need the space, but otherwise it is just too big and our goal is to move to a smaller home, cozy and nice for two!  It is a matter of when is the best time to move, to sell, to go forward.  We are praying about where that will be, and as time goes by we realize God is preparing us for just that ~ where he wants us to go.  What plans He has as we tell him "we are all in" for His purpose during this senior season of our lives.  Exciting.  Another adventure in faithful living. 

Which brings me back to the current adventure we are preparing for.  I have decided that during preparation and in activation I am taking a blogation.   So I'll be back when it feels right........

Until next time.............

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The EnKouragers

"Therefore encourage one another
and build one another up, just as you are doing."
I Thessalonians 5:11

Several years ago, I was an editor and writer of a newsletter for people who were chronically ill.  Each month I mailed it out to around 150 people in the US and around the world.  The purpose was to proclaim Christ and encourage the readers, many of whom were home bound.  After five years my health began to go down hill, and eventually I had to turn the newsletter over to someone else. The newsletter was called "The Encourager".

Around three years ago I was part of a conference call prayer group that gathered via the phone to pray foe hundreds of people suffering with Lyme disease.  Through that group I became friends with two women, who like me. were praying for healing from Lyme for themselves, too.  As time went by, we connected more and more via email to pray for each other.  Recently we have connected by phone and we will meet for the first time on our trip East.  Joel and I will connect with one friend in CT and one in NYC!

Around two years ago I began leading an email prayer group, The Knee Team, for my friend Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity.   This is a group of around 150 women who commit to praying for the needs of others.  It is a great blessing to be a part of such a faithful group of women prayer warriors.  Through this group I became friends with one of the members.  Recently we have connected by phone and I truly hope some day to meet her for a good face-to-face hug and conversation.

All three of the women I mentioned are great prayer warriors who believe strongly in sharing the love of Jesus with others.  They also believe strongly in healing.  I am blessed to be on the receiving end of their prayers and faithfulness.  I have taken to calling them our "enKouragers".  Blending the Encourager group I wrote to so many years ago with the first letter of their names.

When I ask for their prayers, whether for sickness or a majorly mixed up hotel reservation, I have a sense of peace, knowing that they stand in agreement with me and they petition for the need. Their insights and wisdom, and words of knowledge from God bless us greatly.  I only hope I do the same in small ways for them.

We ALL need encouragers in our lives.  Those who build us up, who remind us of who we are and Whose we are.  Those who love us in spite of and because of who we are.  Those sent by God as HIS messengers to not only live out Christ but use that power within them.....the same power that raised Jesus from the come before God and against the enemy for us.

Certainly there are many in my life I turn to for prayer and insights.  We form a community of friends and family and I can reach out to them as they can reach out to me/us.  What is unusual is our connection with these women I mentioned.   How these enKouragers, the three "K's" came into Joel's and my lives is beyond our own understanding.  Behind the scenes God was weaving a tapestry that has bound us together here on earth and for eternity.    Our connections have us saying "only God!"   To God be the glory~~ for friends, for family, for prayer warriors, for those He brings into our lives for His purpose, for His deep love for His children.  We are blessed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Little Girl's Blessing

The pastor shared the peace of God with the congregation and then asked the people to greet others by "passing the peace".  We stood up and greeted those in front of us and behind us with handshakes, brief eye contact and a "peace be with you.".  Not many moved up and down the aisles in this particular church, so in short order we were all sitting back down in our pews.......except for one young girl who was around 4 years old. 

As we watched, she continued to come down the aisle and shake hands with those on the end of the pews.  Her face lit up with joy with every handshake.  She shook Joel's hand and moved on.  Very quickly I felt a little tap on my shoulder and turned to see her small little hand reaching out to me from the pew behind.   I turned and took her hand, blessing her, before she moved on.

It was not long before her mom came down the aisle and took her hand, whispering to her.  As moms do, she firmly tried to get her to go back to their seat.  The little one stubbornly stood firm until mom picked her up.  The dismay on her sweet face let us know she was not happy about being interrupted from her morning task of reaching out to all the people she could and blessing them with the peace of God.

As I looked at her mom, I thought.....yes, that would have been me or Joel when our kids were small.  Keep still, don't disrupt, and don't draw attention to yourself.  But as a grandparent we saw things differently..  Truthfully, this child brought more life and joy to the service than anyone else had that morning!  She was doing "the Father's business" by reaching out and putting a smile on everyone's face she greeted.

Such a simple way to share God's love.  Blessing someone else with God's peace.  Sometimes it may be the only verbal blessing a person receives on a given day.  Often it is the only touch for those who live alone.  And as it was with this little girl, she blessed these grandparents and probably a few more with an added dose of joy on a missing-our-family type of Sunday morning.  I believe we were all changed in a small way by this child's desire to share the peace of God.

That is all it takes.  A smile.  Eye contact.  A voice.  A gentle  touch.  We were blessed to see the Father's love in the eyes of a child, passing the peace of God to all she could reach.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Satureday's Scribbles

It has been a beautiful fall week here in our corner of the world with warm temperatures and sunshine for the most part. Cold weather is coming our way, but for now we are soaking it all in.

The path we take down to the river.  All the trees are along the river road.

Speaking of the weather, we have managed to walk daily and admire God's handiwork in all the fall colors.  Geese are always flying overhead and the squirrels are storing their winter food supply.  One day Joel noticed three deer across the river while we were walking, and we stood quietly and watched them for a few minutes before they scampered off.  We thought they must have noticed us, but then we heard a bunch of middle school kids yelling and talking as they tramped through the wooded trail right behind the deer.  Seems the school which is located in that area had taken them for a nature walk and the deer heard them long before we did.  We have forgotten how loud a group of exuberant young teens can be!  So much joy!

Joel really enjoyed his Rendezvous days adventure.  He spent quite a bit of time chatting with those who participate in the events and one man who lives year round in his tepee.  Amazing.   He took plenty of pictures for me to see.  Joel and I are alike in so many of our interests and passions, but this is one area that is all his!  He came home happy, tired, smoky, and full of good food . 

He spent most of this week outside working in his shop and climbing up on our tall steep roof to fix eves troughs and clean them out.  He encountered a wasp's nest, but just prayed for them to ignore him and not sting him. No problem.  Yesterday he power washed the back deck and today he is staining it.

Earlier this week I did some mending and hemming of clothes and yesterday I took bedroom curtains and shortened them as they had shrunk quite a bit after washing and no longer could be used as floor length.   I then ironed 4 new sheets to use for curtains.  Just clipped them to rings and had panels for the windows!  Look pretty good.  I also made bread, cooked meals, helped with the wash, walked a mile, and spent more time booking hotels for the trip out to CT.  Blessed to put in a full day.

Speaking of the trip, the farther east we head the more expensive the hotels.  I was wondering about the big jump in cost and fact that hotels were booked up pretty solid and then realized it is Fall with peak autumn colors AND we were looking for places to stay that were located in tourist/ mountain areas!  Ha!  I am rusty on this trip planning and where-to-stay stuff.  I am also fussy.  Always have been.  Cleanliness is key so I have taken the time to pour over reviews, adding a prayer to just "know" what is best.  We also plan ahead due to needing a microwave/fridge and rooms where we request that no air fresheners are used. 

We are looking forward to finding great places to walk on our trip in Amish country......the Appalachian trail.....the Poconos......Long Island Sound....NYC!!  What fun!  Around 18 months ago I felt strongly that God told me to walk out my healing.  More than once I heard and read ......"Walk out your healing."  Literally and spiritually.  So in obedience I am walking every day if possible.  I heard a young woman speak of her healing this past summer and she said God had told her she would be healed and she was in a powerful way. What she said next really resonated with me.  "When God says something, He really means it."  How do we know that?  The Bible tells us so!  So, I walk.  I started out being able to walk 3 minutes only.  Now I walk 30 minutes.  Can't deny the change.  So I walk.

Well, the government continues to play games with each other and the people who voted them ALL in to office.  It looks like we may not get to the Statue of Liberty or National Parks if it continues.  So it goes.  We have to let go of what we cannot control.  A lesson for our government too, I expect.

We watched our usual shows this week and added in a few Biblical teachings. No few that seem worth watching.  I am still reading the same books as before~ A lighthouse mystery by Guideposts and Hearing 101 by Faith Batchford. What are you reading?

How was your week?

Until next time...............

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Journeying with Jesus To The East Coast

We are going on vacation. As I mentioned before, it is our first vacation since the late 1980's.  It is taking a lot of organizing, planning, and anxiety to prepare for two weeks of travel.  Yes.......I did say anxiety.

Certainly someone has to worry and lose sleep over finding the cleanest and safest places to stay, the food I will need on my limited diet, the bedding, air purifier and more that "might" be needed.  Like a good scout, we like to be prepared!

I have spent hours on the Internet mapping distances, searching for accommodations, and looking for places that we would enjoy seeing along the way.  Once we arrive will be staying 6 days in Westport CT. ~ 1283 miles from our home.  Ahhhhh there is that anxiety again. 

The Healing Conference is Friday~ Sunday noon.  Short in length and small in size.  We like that, and are very excited to attend.  Before it starts and after it is over we will be visiting New York City.  Trains, subways, buses and hopefully only a few taxis later we will have seen the sights and experienced the hustle bustle of NYC. We have lived in a few big cities over the years, and traveled far and wide, but the East Coast is new territory for us~especially me,  and out of our comfort zone.  Butterflies are rising!

Unfortunately for the past month I have been challenged once again by an increased reaction to some exposures.  Staying in a hotel exposes me to air fresheners and cleaning supplies.  The traveling challenges the pain levels I am experiencing.  It would be easy to just stay home and wait until I am better, right?

It would be easy, but it would be wrong.

We are going because we feel strongly that God guided us to attend this conference.  We prayed and prayed about it, we asked for confirmations, we laid out a fleece ~ twice.  All confirmed.  We are to go.  Yet the anxiety was increasing instead of decreasing.

After having a meltdown two night ago due to pain levels and stress,  I picked up a newsletter from Andrew Wommack in which he wrote about the prophet Elijah.  His words were the comfort and push I needed to stop worrying and put my trust in God.  In 1 Kings 17 God tells Elijah where he is to go.  Elijah does not know how he will do this, but God tells him not to worry....He will provide.  He just needs to take that step of faith and go where God has directed.  The rest will be taken care of by his Lord.  These words from Andrew resonated with me deep inside.  "God is sending the provisions you will need, not to where you are, but to where He told you to go.' 

Earlier Joel had prayed about our trip and my anxiety over going and he felt God whisper to him, "Just make plans and go, I will work out everything."  And now, through a newsletter that arrived in the mail, God confirmed those words He spoke to Joel. 

So, I am talking a leap of faith, doing what I can to prepare, but without the anxiety..... and leaving the rest in God's hands.  He has told us to go and we will be obedience. It is a matter of trust.   I look forward to sharing it all with you at the end of our journey with Jesus to the East Coast.  We are expecting Him to rock our world and supply all our needs along the way.  After all we are going where He told us to go.

"Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid. 
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday afternoon to you all!  It is a typical fall day here today, although yesterday we had thunderstorms, humidity, and a bit of hail.  I saw on the news that the Black Hills had over 4 feet of snow!  Yikes!  60 degrees sounds down right balmy when the alternative could be waking up to a year's accumulation of white stuff!

Speaking of weather, Joel went out the door this morning layered in clothes as he headed up to Minnesota for his annual Rendezvous Days adventure.  He will get his fill of wood smoke, folksy music, kettle corn, smoked turkey legs, fry bread, visiting, and more before coming home tonight.  Rain, snow, cold or heat ~~ just like the mailman.....nothing stops him!

Speaking of the Black Hills, I lived in Deadwood as a young child.  It is where I went to kindergarten.  My uncle was sheriff there.  My grandmother lived in a long cabin nestled in Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills.  All alone.  She was one feisty lady I hear.  My mom told me she remembered visiting there overnight at "wee house" as they called it, and having wolves come and scratch on the door because they smelled the food inside. This was in the thirties.

As I wrote in yesterday's post, on Thursday we had old friends come by.  Joel and Dan were in the seminary together back in the late 70's.  Barb and Dan are retired now, living close to their children and grandchildren.  We were blessed to have them with their cute doodle, Daisy, for lunch and a visit.

We managed a trip to the Farmers Market this week for more squash to bake and freeze for the winter.  Also picked up strawberries from our favorite local berry farmer.  Delish!!!!  Mostly we stayed home this week.  Joel worked in his shop most days while I found things to do inside. Several neighbors had their yards sprayed so being outside was not always an option.  We are amazed at how much people pay to have their yards sprayed, especially when our yard looks no different than theirs and we don't use any pesticides at all! 

I cannot let this Saturday's scribbles go by without mentioning our governmental stand-off.  The way all the members elected by the people are acting is beyond ridiculous.  It seems to me that no longer are the officials working for the people.....they are working only for the party and power.  It is plain frustrating, embarrassing, and I am so over all the puffing up of chests and hateful hoopla I hear spoken by them.  I also do not understand those people who proclaims Christ on one hand while spewing hate with the other.  Not okay.  There.  Now I feel better.

I am reading a new book by Julia Loren titled, "Claim Your Anointing".  Also reading another Guidepost lighthouse series book and Faith Blatchford's book, "Hearing 101".  What are you reading?

We watched the movie, "Parental Guidance" for a second was both funny and sad for us, just like before.  I am really enjoying the Fall TV line-up.  I enjoy Blue Bloods so much but Joel does not like watching it because of our son who is a police officer and puts his life on the line over and over again.  We watch HGTV House Hunters and International House Hunters too, but it gets me in the mood to move.  So many places to experience in the world!

What are you watching and reading?

Until next time.............

Friday, October 4, 2013

Talking with Old Friends

Yesterday our old friends, Dan and Barb,  came by.  Joel and Dan met nearly 38 years ago while they were attending seminary.  They connected on several levels and the friendship with them and as couples has only strengthened over time.  Dan recently retired as a ELCA pastor and Barb retired as a school teacher.  They had planned to stay in northern Minnesota in their lake cabin, but their kids had other plans.  They asked them to consider moving down to the Twin Cities where two of their three daughters live, and of course their only grandchildren!  It did not take much persuading for them to find a new nesting place near the kids.  They now are "busy"  in retirement with their kids and grandkids, keeping an eye on Barb's mom who moved down into the area, travel, and living life in a big city.

It was great fun to spend the day with them....we talked steady for 6 hours while on a walk to the river, from  our cozy living room and during our meal at the dining table.  None stop chatter.

I am always amazed at how we can go a year or ten without seeing old friends and then when we do, it is like we just pick up the conversation right where we left off.  It was so energizing!

It got me thinking.

This is how it is with God too. He waits for us to connect and when we do, we are able to just pick up the conversation where we left off, talking none stop.  He is always willing to listen, and if we take time to be still, He speaks to us too. 

I remember a story about Pastor Rick Warren.  A man wanted to speak to him before services but when he went up to the room Rick was in he heard Pastor Warren speaking to someone so he waited outside, not wanting to interrupt.  Turns out Rick was having a conversation with God.  It did not sound like a typical was just two old friends talking!  How refreshing!  That is available for us too. 

 I am reading a book by Faith Blatchford titled, Hearing 101.  It is a great little book on how to open our hearts to hearing God speak to us.  Holy Spirit is right inside of us and His voice can be heard if we quiet our minds and clean out the emotional baggage.  He loves talking to us and with us!

I am sure our conversations with our Friend  will be just as energizing and joy-filled as our friends Dan and Barb.  Maybe even more so~~ Can you hear God beckoning you?  He would love to chat.

"My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk to me." 
 And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."
Psalm 27:8

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

His Most Beautiful Creation

Friday night we watched the season premiere of Blue Bloods on CBS.  I have shared before that I like this show because it centers around family relationships.  Whether it is the extended family that sits around the table every Sunday for a meal, or the family dressed in blue down at the precinct.  They don't always agree, but they respect each other, forgive grievances, and move forward.  It may be only a TV show, but it works in real life too. 

 The show got me thinking about the importance of family relationships, and I scribbled back to a time in my thirties when I was going to college to be an interpreter for the deaf in a medical setting.  Part of my training was to visit with people in a high rise nursing home.  I was assigned two women.  One was deaf and blind but could speak.  I communicated with her by signing every letter of American Sign Language into her hand. The other was a retired missionary woman who was very ill and spent her days in a darkened room.  I sat quietly with her speaking in gentle tones.  Presence was more important than talking.  The one year on Christmas day, our whole family, including five kids and my mom, drove down to the Twin Cities for an extended family gathering.  Before going we attended church and then offered to take poinsettia plants over to the nursing home where I volunteered.  The people were so grateful for our visit that we could hardly get out of there.  Hundreds of people and so many without anyone to come see them~~~ even on Christmas.

What happened to the families of these people?  Were relationships broken beyond repair?  Was it just easier to walk away than resolve conflicts?  Were their families ALL living far away or "too busy" to visit loved ones?

Yesterday we were reading a devotional where a young man shared about his family trip to Alaska.  His mom had planned the trip for everyone and on the last day they were going to spend 14 hours  on a school bus...on gravel roads....driving through a national park. It did not sound like fun!   He said he enjoyed seeing God's creation outside the windows the first few hours, but towards the end when every mountain looked the same, he realized he was having a greater time with his family......even on a school bus....on a gravel road.  He came to understand this:

"God's most beautiful creation,
as it turns out,
 is a loving family."
This one sentence spoke volumes to us. 

Joel has been an ordained pastor for 33 years.  He has counseled hundreds of people surrounding the issues of broken relationships.   Even though he/we saw many people who were very connected to their loved ones, we have also known of many who were all alone with little or no contact with family. We, as a couple, have watched many families fractured by unforgiveness and misunderstandings over the years.  We have seen that in our own families.  We have recognized it in ourselves. 

Don't misunderstand me.  I realize that there are abusive family relationships that need to hold strong boundaries, but I am not speaking of those here.
Getting back to Blue Bloods, this past episode the family was at odds with each other.  Differences of opinions over something work related brought conflict at the Sunday dinner table.  But they eventually worked it out.  Why?  Because it was important.  I realize family challenges are not resolved in an hour!  I also realize that not many are blessed to have their children and grandchildren live near enough to gather for Sunday dinners....... But the message on this show was similar to the devotional we read.  God's creation of a loving family is one of His greatest works.  

So what is a loving family?  The definition of family has faded and morphed into something different since we grew up in the 50's and 60's, yet, I cannot help but come back to what we believe.  Family is family.  A loving family is one that works things out.   It makes the effort to maintain relationships that are sometimes difficult but so important.  Staying close to those we love means sacrifice, forgiveness, unselfishness, and lots of love.  It means remembering that God created family for a purpose.  It is one of His most beautiful creations!