Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from or corner of the world.  We are having great walking weather today and managed 1.5 miles this morning.  The high is going to be 41 degrees...Yay!  Snow forecast for Monday, but today we are basking in sunshine, calm winds and warmer temps.

Speaking of walking we have managed to go a mile nearly every day, we even walked some on Thanksgiving Day although that was more out of necessity.  We were at my sister Janelle's for the day and offered to take her wild little dog, Scout, out for a walk.  We miss our Levi!  He picked up a chicken bone in the neighbor's driveway and while Joel was trying to get it out of his mouth, he slipped his leash and took off running.  This dog can run!  We took chase, with me yelling, "Stop him Joel!"  Joel kept telling me not to worry, but I was not about to let their dog get hit by a car on our watch, so kept saying "Run, Joel, run! Catch him!!!"  Our son Mark and grandson Noah were with us, laughing at mom's antics.  Come to think of it, they should have been running too!  Anyway Joel grabbed him once but he got away so the next time Joel was able to get in front of him and when he came around a bush he grabbed  a big handful of fir!  Whew.  Disaster averted!  And we got our exercise too :)...........

Grandpa and Grandma with Noah
Joel and our son Mark
Speaking of Thanksgiving, my sister Kay and BIL Dan rode with us up to the Twin Cities and we spent the day with Gr. Jo who had the stroke 12 days ago....along with some of Janelle's family.
Gr. Jo is out of the rehab center and back home!  Amazing doctors are in awe.  Thank you Lord!  We drove back home the same night and then the next morning drove the two hours back up their to meet with three of our children and their families for lunch at Whole Foods,  shopping at a Barnes and Noble we used to frequent years ago, and then a stop at Gr Jo's apartment near by to give hugs and visit for a little over an hour.  Joel and I then headed back home stopping at McDonalds on the way so Joel could get some protein.  We were happy to be back home safe and sound.

Around eight last night we settled into our chairs with pie and Garth Brook.  He had his Vegas show on for two hours live on CBS.  Interesting.  I used to listen to his music in the 90's and then he sort of disappeared......His one man one guitar show was good, but he had to be bleeped in a few spots for language which is just another reasons going to Vegas is last on my bucket list. 

We came back from our walk today to a flooded laundry room...ugh......something plugged in the sewer.  Needless to say it was not in Joel's plan to be sucking up gallons of water in the basement and from the carpet.  Not cool.  Instead of relaxing after two days of traveling, and working to prepare his sermon for tomorrow, he is working to get our sewer system working.  Oh boy.

Speaking of sermons, this past week Joel had two interviews for interim positions, but we have not heard from either yet.  We are truly okay with what comes or doesn't is in God's hands! 

Hard to believe we came back from our trip a month ago today.  Amazing!  We met so many interesting people, I may have to blog about them.  Don't you find people fascinating? 

I have been reading a book, "A More Excellent Way" by Pastor Henry Wright.  Also watched a few Hallmark Christmas movies while working on the Christmas newsletter, etc.  Plan on getting decorations out tomorrow to start making the house "festive".  How was your Thanksgiving?  Do you have your tree up yet?

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks


Welcome to our home!  We are linking up to Linny's over at A Place Called Simplicity to share how we spend our Thanksgiving. 

Usually we are home, with our children, in-loves, and grandchildren coming every other year.  We have turkey with all the trimmings, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, plus a family specialty ~~Lime Pear Salad which is not really a salad at all, but has cream cheese, whipping cream, lime jello, pears, and pecans for ingredients!  We enjoy another family staple, lefse ~~a Norwegian potato flatbread, plus pumpkin, apple, pecan, and chocolate pies.  We set two tables to make it possible for 20 of us to gather.  We pray together, eat together, laugh together, and of course add in a little football on TV and games for everything to play.  There is an annual family touch football game outside too.  We also celebrate Christmas the day after Thanksgiving the years the family is home,  so it is a double holiday for us. 

We love Thanksgiving for many reasons....less pressure than Christmas.....focus on giving thanks.....and now as empty nesters it is the only actual holiday our children are here for.  But this is not their year to be home, so normally we would be here as a twosome.......and yet this year things have changed!  We will not be here for Thanksgiving, as we are traveling two hours north to Minnesota  to spend it with some of my family.  This includes my sister, Jo who helped raised me..  She suffered a mild stroke just 12 days ago and is already home, so we are giving thanks!
Sisters Jo and Jan
Family Football
Cribbage, and cards games here with the older grandkids

Our hearts are filled with so much joy this year because of how things have changed for us in past 18 months.  My health has improved to the point that for the first time in 10 years we are able to go together to church, to the store, to visit our children and their families in their homes, to family gatherings, and even to a conference on healing in CT which turned into a vacation traveling over 3,000 miles into 10 states.  ( I wrote all about it here)

We have so much to be thankful for.  And today I am giving thanks for Linny and all of you friends who visit our cyber homes.  God bless you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

After spending the morning at Niagara Falls viewing God's masterpiece, we headed down through Buffalo NY, then Cleveland Ohio where construction had us there for 1 and 1/2 hours, before we drove through rain into Indiana.  We went back to our favorite hotel and resting spot~ Shipshewana.  We arrived there Halloween night, which was a good place to be ~ in Amish country!  We decided to stay there two nights, spending time relaxing, eating out, shopping, walking, vegging in front of the TV, and going to a natural spring. 

Saturday morning we packed up our bags and headed home.  Thinking we were being smart, we decided to stop at the last travel plaza on the Tollway to get gas and take a break.  As I wrote before, we somehow got on I-90 heading straight into Chicago when we left that plaza.  We were upset and stressed at first, so I texted Bethany for the easiest and fastest route through the third largest city in the country!  It was really pretty easy since Saturday traffic was so light.  Once we had an affirmation from daughter dear to stay on I-90 until we got to Rockford, the rest went fine.  We did enjoy a different view on the way home.  It is very hilly and beautiful in NW Illinois ~especially the Galena area.

I had to laugh when we got close to home, though.  The land became more and more level.  Flat
prairie land with wind turbines that go on forever.  What a change after two weeks in rugged mountains, hills, valleys, and forested areas.  Joel often says he misses the rolling landscape where he grew up in Minnesota.  The difference was quite evident to me when we came back home to northern Iowa's corn country.   Not all of Iowa is flat, especially on the east or west borders, but where we are is definitely one of those areas where the roads are as straight as the rows of corn stalks in summer! 

Wind turbines
We enjoyed a beautiful sunset 
welcoming us home 
It was good to get home.  Sitting in our comfy chairs that evening, we felt relief and gratitude for all the hours and miles we had traveled safely.  We still are giving thanks and praise for being able to go and experience so much.  Coming home to such a beautiful sunset, we could not help but say, "there's no place like home."  What an adventure!  Only God.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Come Rain Or Come Wind!

We woke up to heavy rain and high winds the morning of our trip to the Falls.  After fortifying ourselves with a hot breakfast and then packing up the car, we headed out to our next adventure!  We knew this would be the only time we would see this amazing water show, so we were determined to go come rain or wind!  Oh, yeah, that was the forecast....rain and sustained winds at 40 mph!  It was supposed to reach 66 degrees though, so we were not too worried about being cold......just wet.
View walking down to river and falls
When we arrived at the park to view Horseshoe Falls on the American side, there was only one other car in the parking lot!  Seems we had the place to ourselves, which was not all bad.  We put on hats and hoods and headed out.  We could definitely hear the falls before we could see them.  The sound was so loud it heightened all our senses.  It felt like it was vibrating in our ears and chests.  And just like God, by the time we walked down into the area, the rain had stopped.  Yay!  Thank you, Lord!  I confess the names of the Falls, the American side......the Canadian side....kept me confused, but there was no missing their power!  To me it did not really matter what we had named them, I was more thankful for Who had created them.  Only God.  Only God.

Looking at Horseshoe Falls below

We were so impressed with the power this water held.  Joel had been there before many years ago, and tried to describe it to me, but until I saw, felt, smelled, and heard it for myself, it was hard to imagine. Scary and exciting at the same time.  We did run into one other couple there and we asked them to take pictures of us and we would do the same for them....worked out well! My pink tennies went with me here too!

This couple from Louisiana told us to be sure to go down in the Cave of the Winds, so after viewing Horseshoe Falls from every angle we could we headed up the many stairs back to the park area and over to the building where we purchased tickets and were given yellow plastic ponchos to wear.  We waited briefly for a tour guide and then headed off.  Things were winding down and workers were actually starting to take apart some of the walkway, but we were able to take the elevator 175 feet down through rock (which was dug out by hand) and then we walked through a tunnel to come out by the Niagara River and not far from Bridal Veil Falls.  We were amazed once again at the sounds we heard and the power of the water.  The guide offered to take pictures of us together.

The long tunnel we walked down from the elevator

Bridal Veil Falls
We were so glad we went down into the Cave of the Winds.  It was another great adventure.  After heading back to our van, we drove over to the other park so we could go up on the Observation Deck and view the falls from that vantage point. There were a few more people here.  The winds were so powerful!  Every time I lifted my arms to take a picture with the camera I would go back a few steps from its force.  Amazing!

Observation Bridge in background
View of the Falls from the Observation Bridge
It was a great adventure for the two of us.  Seeing this powerful source of nature was humbling.  To see what our Creator has done was truly amazing and we could not help but praise God for it all. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of Iowa where winter is making itself known with wind, snow, and temperatures dipping into the low teens.  The high today is 13 degrees with a low of -3 for tonight.  Yikes!

Speaking of cold weather, we have been walking in the Mall this week due to wind chills. I think after 5 days of walking past stores decorated with sale signs and snowflakes, we are now officially Mall Walkers joining our tennies with the over 60 crowd!  We are missing the fresh air of the river road and walking paths, but grateful we have somewhere to put in our 35 to 40 minutes of daily exercise. We recognize the faces of other regulars now, and I try not to feel like a turtle when the hares pass me at record speeds.  Our destination is the same, right?  We did walk down the river road yesterday....wind chill was 20 so not too bad, but the mile and a half seemed longer with the cold making itself known.

Speaking more about weather, what about all those tornadoes in the Midwest last Sunday?  Wow.  It truly seems like the weather is getting more unpredictable than ever with bigger storms.....bigger tornadoes....bigger typhoons.....My once upon a time meteorologist now cowboy preacher husband has some thoughts on all of it!

This has been a challenging and busy week.  On Sunday morning we drove 35 minutes to the church Joel is filling in at.  It is a beautiful church with great people, making it a fun job for Joel.  He will spend three more Sundays there.  When church was over we stayed for coffee and were visiting with someone when I felt the need to check my phone.  In my head I thought, "No, it would be rude to check for messages when this man is talking to Joel and me", but the urge came back so I checked.  I had 4 phone calls and one text!  Turns out my sister Joanne, who helped raised me had suffered a stroke and was being taken by ambulance to a local hospital in the Twin Cities.  We headed home to eat and change and then drove two hours to the hospital.  The bad news is that she had a small stroke in the cerebellum so her balance and coordination were affected.  The good news is that it was small, and she is already doing so well she will be home by Thanksgiving!  Lots of prayer and good strong genes have her heading for a full recovery.  We drove back home the same night so felt a bit tired on Monday.

Tuesday we had a phone call from Joel's brother that he and his wife were only 30 minutes away and wanted to stop by.  We ended up having a great day visiting and eating out before shopping at the antique stores in a nearby town and then heading to a large country quilt shop a few more miles away.  It was a nice day and we explored places we had not seen before.  I would love to quilt, but after seeing what it costs to purchase kits, patterns, etc. I think I better find a less expensive hobby.

Thursday was Joel's monthly Pastor's conference and I went along this time.  We rode with another couple to the church 30 minutes away.  It was great fun to be able to attend and share about our trip and our healing journey once again.  Yesterday I made homemade soup and caught up on placing orders for things we needed and for Christmas.  I had hoped to get the Christmas newsletter written but time got away from me! 

Joel is going to be interviewing in the coming days for two Interim positions.  Things seem to be falling into place for one that is close to home.  That would be nice, but it is all in God's hands.  He knows what is best.  I don't look forward to him being gone again, but I do know how much he loves his calling.

I talked and texted with my sister Jan a few times this week about our sister Jo and also about coming down to see her and her hubby in Arizona in the coming year.  I also chatted with a high school friend who moved there this past June.  Looks like our next adventure will be to the southwest!

Speaking of adventures, I am nearly finished sharing our two weeks of traveling here.  It has been fun to recap everything and we are still smiling from the great time we had.  Hard to believe we left a month ago tomorrow!

I have not been reading much this week.  We did enjoy our usual TV shows and a Hallmark movie last weekend.  Our Thanksgiving will be a quiet one, but we may go see my sister Jo for a few hours.   What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winding Roads, Moose Sighting, Unfriendly People, and Apple Cider Donuts!

The day after our marathon in New York City we packed up and prepared to head north, through NW Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and into the southwest corner of Vermont.  We decided to stop at the Whole Foods in Westport to pick up food and eat lunch before heading out. 

We put the address in Joel's phone so "lady long way" could get us there.  Wishful thinking!  We followed her directions exactly and ended up in a beautiful area of Westport  looking at a mulit-million dollar home.  Alrighty then.  We put the address in again, thinking we had typed it in wrong.........same destination.  So we finally drove to a business area, and pulled into a parking lot.  I saw a woman walking across the lot so Joel got out and asked her if she knew where Whole Foods was.  She stayed her distance until she saw our Iowa plates and me in the car.  She replied, "Oh no wonder you can't find it, you are from Iowa! Let me tell you how to get there."  She asked us why we were in Westport which led to the conference on healing which led to our day in New York City, which led to the 9-11 Memorial.  She shared with deep emotion how some of their friends had died in the towers and that she and her husband, who was retired, were unable to go see the memorial.  She said it was just too painful.  So sad.

With her instructions, we found the store right away.  I really like Whole Foods and what they offer at their deli.  I found some very tasty veggies which I had been craving and steamed brown rice.  We picked up more roasted chicken and other supplies and headed off leaving Westport behind.  I confess, doing so brought tears.

Roasted Sweet Potato wedges,
steamed beans, broccoli, and brown rice.  Delish!

NW CT is very rugged and the highway we took was a back road,  so it was winding and slow...but with beautiful views.  I am not so sure Joel enjoyed it as much as I did from the driver's seat!  Massachusetts had it's own beauty to display.  Then  we went into Vermont....where we noticed the trees were mostly bare already.  We stayed in the small town of Bennington VT. with plans to look around the next day before heading to Niagara Falls. 

Massachsetts covered bridge
We were so fascinated with this bridge we just had to
go through it!
Northwestern Connecticut  

We found Bennington VT a bit unfriendly. Maybe it was the end of the season for tourists, maybe it was a bad hair day, but all the people we encountered were aloof and unfriendly.   No biggy.  We still had fun checking out a few stores and picking up some apple cider donuts, blueberry jelly, etc. at one called the Apple Barn.  They had a special place for Joel to park up front!!
"Cowboy Parking Only"
All others will be branded!

Everything seemed to be decorated with moose, but when we asked if they had a lot of moose in the area we were told no. We did spot one moose we wanted to share with all of you.  It was the only one we saw the whole trip.  :)

This moose was sculpted half in and half out of
 the window of the store.  So funky!

We headed out of Vermont and into New York later in the morning with the hope of getting to Niagara Falls in time to see the Falls before dark and after, when it was all lit up.  It turned out to be a challenging day, though, and we struggled with staying positive.  We eventually got to Niagara Falls but missed the exit to the Park to view the falls.  Ugh.  Then we backtracked, etc. and ended up stopping for directions which took us through a very scary part of town.  I must say, we were very surprised that the city was not only unattractive, but rundown. Discouraged and tired, we decided to just go check in at the hotel, which was easier to find.   The desk clerk had maps she marked for us and told us exactly how to get to the Falls in the morning.  While she was showing us where to go we realized we had been in the area of NF that she now told us to avoid.  Of course!   

We knew that high winds and rain were forecast for the next day but we went to sleep that night thinking positive and believing tomorrow would be a better day!  Like "Annie" says, "tomorrow, tomorrow, there's always's only a day away."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New York, New York!

Our great adventure took us into New York City the day after the conference ended.  We were up and ready with tennies on our feet for walking, a camera, phones, and instructions from my friend Kim and our son-in-law's sister.

Commuter Train to NYC

The hotel shuttle took us to the train station, but the wrong entrance.... so we promptly got lost trying to find the right train into the city.  Seriously.  But we persevered, found help, and were able to make the train heading from Westport into NYC, which took about 45 minutes.

Subway ride to Battery Park

Getting off in Grand Central Station was a bit of a cultural shock.  So busy, so many levels, so many trains and subways.  All our senses were rocking from the noise, people, lights, levels!!  Getting tickets for the subway from the machine was a learning process but before long with directions from my friend Kim we were heading to Battery Park.  Once again we struck up conversations with people on the subway.  One woman I sat by told us how far it was to our destination and then asked me what had brought us to CT and NYC.  I shared we had been to a healing conference and she told me she was in the "healing field" as a person who did cranial adjustment work.  It brought us into a conversation about Lyme and the many clients she treats who have not gotten the help they needed from western medicine to recover.  She asked me how I had been healed from Lyme and so I told our stories.  She asked me several questions and seemed genuinely interested.   Life is stranger in fiction, isn't it.  Or maybe not.  I heard recently a wonderful statement:  If you want to walk with God you need to go where He is going.  Sometimes that means a conversation on divine healing in a NYC subway.

Once we got to Battery Park we walked to the ticket place for the Ferry to Liberty and Ellis Island.  This is where we ran into a glitch.  Major.  We did not buy tickets ahead of time, so stood in line for 2 and 1/2 hours before we were able to get on the ferry.  Lines to get a ticket and lines to get through the security checkpoint, lines to get on the ferry.....lines to get off the ferry...and lines to return.  Frustrating to say the least.  BUT we did enjoy seeing the Statue of Liberty and seeing Ellis Island from afar. (Sadly we did not have time to go there)  Besides chatting with those in line we also had a conversation on our ferry ride back to Battery Park with a nice couple from Hampshire England. People are fascinating, don't you think?!!

Arriving at Liberty Island
Very Impressive!
Well, it turns out I do not have as Joel called it "sea legs".  I did not have good subway legs either, but it was the ferry that made me feel off balance.  If I sat down I was fine.  We laughed about it but truthfully I prefer having my feet on solid ground.  Interestingly enough, having gray hair and being 65 had its advantages for having seats offered to me in both circumstances.  I gladly took what was offered and put my bum down on a solid seat while the subways and ferry were in motion.

Walking to 9-11 Memorial
Freedom Tower in background

Returning to Battery Park we took off walking towards the 9-11 memorial.  Much of it is still under construction, but we were able to go through security to get inside the park where the pools and engraved names are.  It was a nice and certainly sobering place with a beautiful view of the Freedom Tower.  Joel had been there six months after 9-11 when he went as a representative of our synod to be a relief pastor for a weekend in an exchange program the ELCA had.  Our son Matt went along and the area then was still a massive hole in the ground. 

Freedom Tower
So many names
 After spending about an hour or more at the 9-11 memorial we took a subway back towards Grand Central Station.  While waiting for a subway we chatted with some people about where the red line would take us and this lady about my age or older said in a perfectly delightful New York accent, "Oh honey, you really need a subway map to get around NYC!"  She was very helpful and told us how to get on the free Shuttle they call the "S" that would go straight to Grand Central.  She did tell us where to see Time Square which I was hoping to do. 
I really liked the subway experience.  It was a blast!  Both Joel and I thought it was great fun to people watch as we rode and were amazed with two young women who stood holding heavy college books open with one arm while hanging on to the subway pole in the other.  They read the whole time we were on the, I do not know.  Impressive! 
When we got off the subway at the end of the line we had a choice to get on the free "S" to Grand Central or leave the area and head up to Time Square.  Of course I wanted to go up and out into the throng of people, but Joel briefly had a financial breakdown as he argued we would have to pay $6.00 more to get back inside to ride the "S".  I reminded him what it was costing us for the trip, and that $6.00 more was not going to break us!  I was determined to experience Time Square, so up we went out into streets with people everywhere and an amazing light show.  Another shock to our senses but at the same time so exciting!  We walked around for about 20 minutes before heading back to the station.  I suggested we eat at Hard Rock CafĂ© but Joel was worried about time, so we vetoed that idea. 
 Getting the "S" was pretty easy and we were able to ride quickly to Grand Central Station. Once we arrived we were once again spinning our wheels trying to find Main Concourse and Food Courts where we planned to meet my friend Kim. We would go down one area and end up at another subway...then go up the stairs and still be unable to find our way.  We must have looked pretty lost as we stood in the middle of the floor with people rushing past to catch their rides home.  Suddenly a man stopped off to the side and said to us, "Do you need help?"  I said, "Oh , we do.  We are soooooooooo lost.  We need to get to the food court and we cannot find our way out of here!"  He laughed and said, "You are so cute!" then quickly gave us directions and off we went. 
Joel, Kim, and Renee
We were able to finally sit down and eat something before heading up yet another level to the main area where the clock is.  That was where we were to meet Kim.  Kim, like Katherine was part of the conference call prayer group for people with Lyme.  We got to know each while in the group, then email, and phone/texting. This was our first face to face meeting!  What fun.  She came from work, and told us she recognized my hot pink tennies before she recognized me!!  We sat and visited for nearly 2 hours and had such a good time.  Bless you Kim.  You are a delight!  Once again we never thought we would meet in person until Heaven, but God had other plans.  Only God.
Throughout our day in NYC we found ourselves repeating the same scenarios:  Talking with strangers, asking people for help, walking around in circles with a lost look, searching for bathrooms, staring at the sights with amazement, and chuckling over all the things I just listed!  When it was time to get on the train for CT another scenario played out that had us giggling!
 Joel kept going up to the woman at the Metro North info center and asking her when the train left for CT.  She would give him a time and then we would end up talking to Kim longer and miss the train so he would then go back to ask again.  Finally when we were ready to go he said, we only have a few minutes to catch the 8:32 train so I better go ask her for the next one.  When he walked up to the woman clerk he said, "I am back"......."Can you tell me the time for the next train as I am going to miss this one too."  She looked at him and said with impatience...."You HAVE two minutes to get there"  then turned and pointed her finger in the direction we were to go and said, "GO~ GO~ GO!!!!"

Joel grabbed my hand and off we went moving as fast as we could to hop on the train for Westport.  We made it but had to sit separately.  I soon was in conversation with a young woman who was on her way home from work....and had 1 1/2 hours to ride.  Joel sat with a man who was also traveling farther than us.  They visited awhile and soon I heard him sharing with Joel about how he was all alone, etc.,  and Joel encouraging him by saying, "There is someone out there for you.  Be patient, God will send someone special into your life."  Only Joel.  Only God.
We were back in our hotel by 10 and in bed by 10:30 exhausted but happy.  It was such a fun day for us.  We took to hotel shuttles to the train station, two commuter trains traveling an hour each way, three subway rides, a ferry, walked over 5 miles and saw the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island, Battery Park, 9-11 Memorial, Time Square, Grand Central Station, and were able to meet our sweet friend Kim. 
Two years ago I could not go into a store without reactions.  I could not visit my family in their own homes.  I could walk only 3 minutes without being exhausted.  I was frightened that nothing would ever change.  And then Katherine introduced us into the Word on healing.  And Andrew opened our eyes.  And Joel was healed overnight.  And I began the process of healing.  And then we found ourselves on a marathon day trip in NYC enjoying an adventure that was beyond our imagination.  We feel asleep with a smile on our faces and gratitude in our hearts.  Only God.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of the world here in Iowa.  The past three days we have had temperatures in the nice for November.  The snow is gone so everyone in the neighborhood finished up the fall outside work in preparation for winter.

Speaking of winter we had a couple of days with a high of 25 and windchills....Windchills already.....sigh.....We walked around the mall and in the gymnasium of a church here in town for those days and this morning in the mall again, otherwise we walked by the river and in the neighborhood!  Walking at the Mall on a Saturday is iffy, due to so many people shopping. Hoping we can find a better place to walk this ARIZONA?!  Haha

I have started to organize pictures from our trip in the hope of finding a few good ones for our Christmas photo card.  It has been fun to look back, but we are still laughing at how many photos of trees I have!  Joel kept telling me that I would not be able to pick out which trees were from which state, but that is easy!  They go in order :)............I enjoyed seeing all the fall colors and could not resist taking photos.  This is one of my favorites taken at the Delaware Water Gap.

It is so difficult to see the devastation in the Philippines.  Our hearts break for the people who survived the typhoon only to be starving or afraid for their lives due to sickness or robbers.  So sad.  When we lived there Marshall Law was till in affect.  No one could be out after midnight with an armed escort.  One time Bethany had an ear infection and we did not get out of the ER in time to get home before 12.  The military guards at the base gate had to call local guards to come and escort us home.  As I have shared in the past, while living off the base we had a home with bars on our windows, lights on every corner of our home, heavy doors that bolted into the floor, cement block fences with barbed wire or broken glass on top along with a steel padlocked gate for the car to come through, and 24 hour armed guards we paid to watch the area.  Since we did not have a phone and cell phones were not in existence, I would struggle with sleeping when Joel worked the night long ago now.  The two years we lived in the PI were a life-changing experience, and 95%for the positive.

Speaking of life-changing, if you have been readin g my blog the past two weeks, you know that our trip out East was just that~ life changing.  It has been fun to recall the time spent at the conference, the places we saw, the new experiences we have tucked away in our memory banks.  I told Joel today, it is still hard to be back home without an agenda and he agreed.  Although he is busier now with his next four Sundays filled. 

I have a few more days of our trip to share, starting with our marathon day in NYC.   Stay tuned!

I am excited about Christmas already.  I put out our "winter" decorations and today I put on Christmas music just to get a taste.....we have purchased a few gifts and are making plans for when the family comes after Christmas.  I am going to write the Christmas newsletter next week and order cards.  Hoping to bake up some pumpkin bread for the neighbors, too.

I have been reading Michael Koulianous's book, "The Jesus Book" and skimming through a book called The More Excellent Way by Henry Wright.  We have listened to a few teachings, and plan to watch a Hallmark movie tonight.  What are you up to?

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

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rivers of Living Water, Natural Springs, and Obedience

We went to conference on healing out of obedience to God.  A couple months before we even decided to go I kept receiving the words, "rivers of living/flowing water" over and over again in scriptures, devotionals, etc.  As we talked about attending the conference we kept feeling like God was using the waters reference as a sign.  We were reading Teske's book, "Healing For Today" out loud to each other at the time.  I had read it over a year ago, and felt strongly at the time that Joel would connect with this man and what he had to say.  Fast forward 15 months later and while reading Teskes book we came across the title of one chapter that blew us away......"Rivers of Living Water".  Paul Teske's wife is named Rivers!  There it was, another sign.  So being the good "let's make sure" kind of people we are, we laid out a fleece.  This is not something we do very often, but we laid out a fleece and said to God...."Okay, God, IF you want us to drive clear across country to attend a small conference at a church we have never heard of with a pastor we have never met, you need to send us two or maybe three more times....the words Rivers of flowing water.  He did.  Within two days.  So, with more than a little anxiety I registered us for the conference and began making plans.

As my regular readers know, this was a huge step for me.  I had not stayed in a hotel for 15 years due to reactions.  Then there was all the traveling.....and the conference...and.....the food I would need....and .....and..... 

I cannot tell you how often friends prayed and even fasted for us before this trip.  And how often God spoke to me to calm my fears and move us forward on this journey.  God loves us so much He wants our cups to overflow with the blessings He has waiting.

God gave me the Elijah story where God tells him he needs to go to brook in a certain location and that the ravens will provide for his needs once he steps out in faith and goes.  The provision was not going to come where he was, but where God had told him to go!  This is exactly what happened with us.  There were two times on the trip where I started to become ill.  I shared the first, where we sat and prayed and the symptoms left for the whole trip.  Then the Wednesday night we went to the healing service I was prayed over too, and afterwards when we walked out into the parking lot I was hit with a nauseating headache.  This is not the way I get sinus headaches.  They come on slowly....we felt this was spiritual and just stood our ground with it.  I am unable to use any meds to help so God's Word was the medicine I used.  The next morning we kept our plans for the beach and I held up most of the day.....but it was Friday morning that it suddenly left, never to return.  We just kept standing on God's promise to provide our every need and he did. 

During this time when I was receiving the waters references, a dear friend was praying for the trip and kept hearing Holy Spirit say that she was to tell me to drink from a natural spring.  She kept
arguing with God and saying, "I can't do that, she will think I am crazy.!"  The message would not leave so eventually she did share with me what she had been told.  I remember saying, "Uhhhhh,  you mean like literally drinking from a spring?"  I was not feeling it at the time. Joel and I prayed about it and he said he believed it too.  We were to find a spring to drink from.  On the trip we researched where they were located (you can actually google ~ find a spring~ and come up with a website).  Nothing was easy as we searched, so eventually Joel just told God, "Okay, God, make this easy on us and hard on you" and we quit looking.

On our way home we stayed once again at Shipshewana, this time for a couple of nights before heading to Iowa.  When Joel was at the front desk he felt he should ask the clerk if she knew of any artesian well in the area, and she told him she would do some research for him!  Turns out the custodian knew of a spring the Amish used that was just a few miles away he thought.  Joel prayed for a confirmation, and later when Joel went to the gas station there was an Amish man on a bike that came in.  Joel asked him if he knew of a spring.  The man wanted to know where we were from and why we wanted to find one, so Joel shared his healing story and also shared that out of obedience we were going to this spring.  Joel and the man had a great conversation on healing, the Bible, and being obedient to God.  Of course Joel loved having a theological discussion with an Amish man....and as I shared before, he knew his Bible!  Turns out the spring was just 4 miles away so off we went. 

I wish I could say I walked right up to that pipe sticking out of the ground and said, "Thank you Jesus", taking a big gulp of water, but alas I looked at that pipe coming out of the ground and pumping a steady stream of water for the cattle and whatever humans were coming by to fill up their jugs and I freaked.  I was sure I was going to get some strange parasite or bacteria....I said to Joel, "I think you better ask Holy Spirit if we are to boil this first!" 

Joel laughed so hard, but did pray about it and then laughed harder.  He said to me, "What I am hearing is this~~~~  I brought you here, now drink it!!!"   Alrighty, then.......  So I drank.  **Please understand I did not drink from the metal tank you see, I drank from the faucet with the steady stream of spring water pouring forth!  I wish I could say I felt something, but I did not.  I truly think this was about obedience................although later we both came to a prayerful conclusion that some healing I did experience came from that step of obedience.

Stepping out in faith and going on this trip was liberating.  The conference was life changing.  Powerful.  Drinking from the well brought us closer to God.  We were blessed beyond expectation and the rest of the trip was much the same way.  Amazing, fun, and we are still talking about it.  I can hardly wait to tell you about NYC! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Encountering Old Friends, New Friends, and The Holy Spirit

The "Healing For Today" Conference was held at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Westport CT where Pastor Paul Teske serves as senior pastor.  Paul travels with his wife Rivers all over the world sharing his story of healing from a stroke.  In obedience to God he now has a healing ministry while also serving his congregation.  St Paul Westport is a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, so his ministry is unorthodox to say the least.  From what I understand, most Missouri Lutheran churches are very strict about who is able to commune at their church or even pray with them.  They are a conservative side of the Lutheran denomination, so we were curious as to how Paul Teske would present the conference in an inclusive manner.  He presented the conference and the church services with love and grace~ we were so blessed by Pastor Paul and the congregation while worshiping, communing, praying, and fellowshipping with others.

The Wednesday before the conference started, Joel and I attended their weekly healing service.  It was a very special time and certainly blessed by God.  Not only did Joel experience falling under the power of God or some people call it being slain in the Spirit, but after the service we were able to spend 45 minutes speaking with Paul Teske about his ministry and how Joel can bring what God has shown him into his own ministry for the people he holds close to his heart.  It was a great evening and God opened the doors for Joel and Paul to have a relationship that will continue on as Pastor Paul offered to mentor Joel on our journey.

Katherine and me

 Friday evening was extra exciting because we were able to meet in person my dear friend Katherine.  Katherine and I were in a conference call prayer group for people with Lyme Disease a couple years ago.  From this group came an email and then Facebook connection and eventually we picked up the phone and began talking.  Thanks to God we are prayer partners and friends on this journey in healing.  Now we were able to actually meet! 

Joel, Katherine, Renee
 Katherine holds a very special place in our hearts.  She is the angel from God who suggested we listen to Andrew Wommack's teaching on "God Wants You Well" and through that teaching Joel realized that we have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead inside of us.  He prayed that same night as he was going to bed~  commanding his body to heal..........and he was healed.  I recommended Paul Teske's book to Katherine and she read it, then let us know Teske was holding his first conference in Westport.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Katherine was able to come from a nearby state to attend the conference, and we drove from Iowa to attend.  I don't think we ever thought we would meet in person, but God had other plans.  Thank you Jesus!
The worship was outstanding and the teachings helpful and inspiring.  Paul spoke several times along with evangelist Michael Koulianos, who wrote The Jesus Book and George Brandon who runs a ministry called "The Filling Station".  An impartation was given for healing ministries, many were prayed over for healing and several were healed, and new friendships were made. 

Joel, Jonathan, and Gertrude

We became acquainted with a couple, Jonathan and Gertrude, who are from Namibia but now live in CT and attend the church.  Jonathan went to Wartburg Seminary in Iowa to be an ELCA pastor and is a chaplain at a rescue mission and also a missionary at large for St. Paul's.  He is in Namibia right now on a mission trip.  We also got to know a man named Prebin, born in Denmark, a retired NYC foreign money broker, who loves the Lord and is anointed by God as a powerful prayer minister. 

Prebin and me
We visited with people from Sweden, Germany, and states across the country.  It was great fun to get to know others who are on the same journey.

On Saturday evening Michael called people forward to pray or listen to their testimonies of healing.  Of the 300 people there only about 10 were called out.  I was the last one.  I confess I did not hear what I wanted to hear, but I do know it was from God partly because the words he shared were similar to those of Daniel at the healing service we attended last June in Mpls.  We know now that Michael was speaking to my heart when he said,  "You have been very faithful.  You have been praying for a long time and God wants you to know he has heard every prayer. Do NOT give up!" 

Only God!

It is hard to explain how you could feel the presence of God there that Saturday night. There was almost a warm heaviness in the air.  On Sunday I experienced that when Prebin prayed for me.  He kept telling me we needed to pray together throughout the weekend, and about a half hour after the service on Sunday when I was thanking Pastor Paul's wife Rivers for sharing her story, Prebin waved me forward to where he had been praying for others. 

What happened to me is very personal, but I do feel it is important to share parts of it.  When Preben started to pray he asked the power of God to come upon me.  He blew on my face gently and I literally flew back with such force that Joel, Preben and I were quite startled.  Thankfully, Joel was able to catch me before I hit the ground.  I laid on the floor for a period of time while Preben got down on the floor to sit beside me and pray.  A feeling of deep peace and joy came over me , and yet a sleepy heaviness that kept me from being able to get up.  Joel agreed that his experience was much the same but for a shorter amount of time and less intense .  I tried to get up a couple of times, but just went back down, especially when Prebin would try to help me.  The Spirit moves through him in a mighty way.  My description is that it is like being hugged by God.  Powerful!!  I can see it on my face in the picture above, that sleepy joyful feeling. This has happened to me once before but not at all to this extent.  The interesting thing is, it leaves me with more energy.  It is like the Holy Spirit moves through my body and healing takes place increasing my energy levels.  That was evident when we went to NYC.

In obedience to God we went to this conference.(more on that tomorrow)  In obedience to God I am opening myself up to you here.  It sounds confusing, maybe scary, and maybe even a bit off the wall unless you have seen or experienced it, I suspect.  For me (and for Joel) it was an encounter with the Holy Spirit that I will not forget.  What a beautiful way to end the conference.  Only God.  Thank you Jesus.

Sanctuary at St. Paul Westport