Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from Iowa where winter is back, although I am not so sure it has made up it's mind whether it is staying or not. Or maybe that is just wishful thinking.  We had virtually no snow for Christmas, and no sunshine either for that matter.  Yesterday we started out with sun, then it went to fog and freezing drizzle and ended with snow.  So, we have snow on the ground again, probably 3-4 inches,  with bitter cold temps on the way.  Single digits for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. 

We did walk outside on Christmas Day as it was 39 degrees here.  We walked at dusk last night too, but only twice this past week due to the Crud that has challenged my body, and I am walking about half the distance I was.  For now.

Christmas Eve

Speaking of Christmas, we talked to three treasures Christmas Eve Day morning and our youngest daughter Sarah called.  We left the house by 4:45 pm Christmas Eve as Joel had services at 6pm.  It was so nice to be in church.  The poinsettias, candles, tree, and lights made it all look so beautiful, singing traditional hymns brought back memories of Christmases past, and Joel had a wonderful sermon.  We arrived back home by 8:30 and after getting into our PJ's we had pie, and then visited with our oldest son Matt.  A tradition we enjoy.  Christmas Day was just us again but we had a really nice meal and enjoyed more pie!  We did visit with grandson Noah, and the three "G's" Grace, Grant, and Greta along with our son Matt Christmas Day night.  IF I had been feeling 100% and IF Joel was not working we would NOT have been sitting home alone.  It gets old.  We had quite a deep discussion about it all yesterday, and plan to implement changes for the future.  We do look forward to Sunday when we will gather with Gr. Jo and siblings at my brother Todd and SIL Jeannie's home in SE MN. 

I made Joel a natural creamer for his coffee as one of his gifts.  It turned out quite well, but I had to laugh at the chaos that went with making it.  I was not feeling so great last Tuesday, but Joel headed to the store last minute and so I knew it was my window of opportunity to get it made.  Easy recipe, if your body and brain are working well.....I was making half a recipe and it was going great until I realized I had put the full amount of two ingredients in.  So then I had to go back and put the full amount in of everything.  I was trying to open more coconut milk, but our can opener makes it challenging to open anything first try.  After using the can opener, I tried to pry the lid off, and it slipped and the coconut milk went all over me, the floor, the counter.....you get the picture.  After cleaning that up I put what was needed in the food processor, but it was so full it shot out the hole in the top when I started it, so once again another mess to clean up.  After getting it made I put it in jars and hide it in the fridge.  Then I cleaned up the mess that was everywhere and got the food processor parts washed up and dried before Joel came home, so it looked like I did not use it.  ALL this in about 30 minutes.  The good news is that Joel loved the creamer and we had a good laugh over it later.

This past week God blessed us with at least 6 male Cardinals coming into the back yard with their mates.  It was amazing.  We decided they were probably heading home for the holidays and needed a break! So thankful they chose our yard for their pit stop!

I read a few fiction books this past week as I bonded with the sofa.   (Ugh. Too much like the old days).  Joel gave me Jan Karon's latest book about Father Tim for Christmas, which I am saving for now since I am reading a fiction book by Monica Ferris and I started the other book he gave me, "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.  The movie just came out starring Reese Witherspoon.  Along with the non-fiction books on my end table,  I think they total 7.  Reading seven books at a time?  Something is wrong with that picture.......so I now taking control of the situation and reading two at a time.  One fiction, one non.

I have been feeling lately like everything I write is mundane or repetitive, so I am taking a "Blogation".   I need to get into Scriptures more to study and meditate on what God desires for me with the written word and life in general. 

Blogation!
Okay, maybe we are not on the beach
like my sister Jan and Lanny this Christmas
....and maybe I am not pondering life from a beach chair,
but blogation it is!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with the love of family, friends, and good health.
Hugs from our corner of the world....

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Love Came Down!

The fourth Week of Advent we light the candle of love.  Love came down at Christmas!  King of Kings born in a stable.  We can only imagine what Mary held in her heart as she watched her son, His Son,
become a toddler, a boy, a man.

God so loved the world.........Jesus so loved His Heavenly Father.....His mother.....the world.   His first cry shook the world, as did His last.  All in love.  For God so loved.....

Liz Curtis Higgs says in the first chapter of her book, "The Women of Christmas":

"Long before silver bells jingled, Christmas lights twinkled, and horse drawn sleighs went dashing through the snow, God reached down from heaven with the best gift of all.  LOVE wrapped in swaddling clothes."

Imagine Mary's thoughts...watching her son as He turned water into wine, opened the eyes of the blind, delivered the tormented.  As He suffered and died for us.  For God so loved.......


I love the song "Mary Did You Know". sung beautifully here by Pentatonix.  

As we remember that Love came down wrapped in swaddling clothes, as we worship through word and song, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.......We wish you a very Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas
Love
Joel and Renee

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

It has been a dreary, damp, cold week with only one day of sunshine gracing our corner of the world.  We certainly are not getting any Vitamin D this time of year.  Very little light when we get up at 7am and it is dark by 5 at night.  Like I said, dreary. It did not help that we both spent the week fighting the Influenza A virus that just won't let go. We both felt better for a few days and then bam!  Tuesday Joel had a fever and spent his 5th night sleeping in a recliner.  Wednesday he felt 60% better and went back to most of his activities..  I was down Wednesday and Thursday but able to walk a bit Friday and grocery shop before crashing with chills and headache again.  So many are sick with it.  Prayer, tea, soup, rest, prayer, soup, tea, rest.......that's our course of action.  Sickness has invaded our home but it is an unwelcome guest and won't be taking up residence.

This week I wrapped a couple gifts, sent out a few loose cards, made homemade soup, bread, etc.  I plan to bake pies and bars next week.  It is just the two of us so we won't need much.  Wednesday I was so darn weak I kept company with the sofa, so I picked up a fiction book by Joanne Fluke that a friend borrowed me, and I read the whole thing.  Have not done that is a long time!  Thursday's highlight was a long phone call with my sweet friend Katherine from New Hampshire.  I just love our visits!  Friday our daughter Sarah stopped by for a couple of hours waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up and head north to his family's home for Christmas.

Katherine and me...at the
healing conference in CT
October 2013


Christmas cards are coming in from friends and family, catching us up on their news.  It is always fun to see the pictures everyone sends out.  Pentatonix and Lady Antebellum have been filling the air with Christmas music along with James Taylor, Kenny G, and Celtic Woman.  Our Christmas tree is also filling the house with much needed light and joy as the sunless days continue.  Our days may be sunless but they are not SONless!  He alone is the Light of the world!

TV specials, HGTV, NCIS, and a few Andrew Wommack teachings have kept us entertained, along with early bed most nights!  I am reading Derek Prince's book, "God's Word Heals" and Ann Voskamp's Advent book, "The Greatest Gift". 

Praying each of you have a weekend filled with God's peace as you prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior.  It is the reason for this season! 

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oh, The Places We'll Go!

"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"

God often speaks to me through repetition.  When I get the same verses or "theme" over and over in a short period of time, I pay attention.  Like in the fall of 2012 when I heard Matthew 11:28-30 an estimated 26 times in 5 weeks. That was over the top!

"Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest. 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

I believe Jesus was waiting for me to fully understand, so He kept repeating and repeating the come-rest-in-me thing...until I did.  It still is not an easy concept for me, but I understand the rest idea much better than before.  It is a matter of trust.

Recently I have been getting the a "theme" again from different sources,  so I once again started giving God my full attention.  Last night I listened to Kris Vallotton from Bethel Church in CA. He made several statements that connected to what I had been reading in Rick Warren's email devotionals, Derek Prince's book, "God's Word Heals", and Andrew Wommack's latest series, "Don't Limit God", plus more.  Time to pay attention, Renee!!!  Kris was speaking about destiny, and the vision you have for your life --The vision God has!  I have been reflecting on his words and those of others that God has been using to speak to us. 

 "The greatest failure in life is to succeed without God. 
You climb to the top of the mountain and then realize you have climbed the wrong mountain!"
"God has given us a vision--
we just need to get to a place where we know
we cannot do it without Him. 
 (That is when He can use us the most!) 
"When you don't have a vision, you end up with the enemy's vision"
I am not so sure we always like the way God works here.  IF we feel we are not capable of doing what He has called us to do, then that is when we know we are on the right path?  Yikes!  Food for thought.  When I speak to God and step out in faith, surrendering my will to His, I can get butterflies in my stomach. When I say, I surrender God to all that you have for my life...wherever, whatever, whenever, I admit it causes me some anxiety and I want to take the words back.   At least for a moment.

In the fall of 2013 the story of Elijah and the ravens kept coming up as we prepared for our journey to the East coast to attend a healing conference and take our first vacation in decades.  A big step for me with many unknowns.  A matter of trust.

The Elijah story in 1 Kings 17 is back once again.  Today alone, two different devotionals spoke about Elijah and the ravens.  God told Elijah where to go and let him know He would provide for Him...and He did....food, shelter, and healing power.   God is speaking again and we are waiting with expectation.....and okay, maybe a little apprehension.

Letting go of the reins, or being asked to do something out of my comfort zone or understanding is both exciting and scary, but I truly don't want to live any other way.  I don't want to miss anything God has ahead for me. 

Remember the Dr. Seuss book, "Oh the Places You'll Go" ?  That is what God wants to say to you...to me.  "If you will just step out in faith, trusting Me...if you will follow me.....surrender to Me.....OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!

Why is that so hard?  Why does it give me butterflies?  Am I......are we afraid of what we will have to give up?  Are we afraid we will fail?  As Andrew Wommack says, "Don't limit God!  If you fail at something, just fail forward.  God has so much more planned for your life than you can even imagine."    When we put God in a box.....we end up being the only one in the box!  We cannot box God....but we can limit what He desires to do in our lives. 

Relying on past experience, I believe this  "theme" is going to continue for a while...This, "don't limit God--impossible without God--surrender in obedience to God's vision" will continue as He opens our hearts to His plan and as it is birthed in and through us.  We are excited.  We are scared.  We are ready for something more.  Another adventure with God!  Oh the places we'll go!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Joy, Joy, Joy!

We light the third candle of the Advent wreath this week, the candle of Joy.  Reflecting on joy has had me thinking about the song the kids used to sing in church.
 
"I've got the joy, joy, joy joy
Down in my heart.....
Where?  Down in the my heart?
Down in my heart........
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay!"

It goes on to say, "I've got the love of Jesus...love of Jesus...down in my heart.  A few other verses round out the song.  Joy and Jesus seem to go together!

We have needed that reminder!  This past week we have been fighting a virus that crossed the "no weapon formed against us will prosper" barriers into our home and into our bodies.  ugh.  The battle continues, but we are winning! This past week we have also been grieving the 10th anniversary of our son Kevin's death.  We have been dealing with very foggy, damp, weather.  The sun has been absent and the air a bit polluted even in our small city.  It is so dark all day long that our outside lights stay on. We have never seen it like this here before.  We were unable to say yes to an invitation to go see three of our grandchildren in their Christmas program this past weekend.  It saddened us.  The house is so quiet since our family gathered for Thanksgiving this year.  Too quiet.  An accumulation of minor difficulties dampened our spirits.

Needless to say we have been digging deep to find our joy!  Happiness may have left the building, but joy is always available.  Circumstances may be challenging, but we still can make a choice in how we respond.

And most days we choose joy.  The joy of the Lord.  "The joy of the Lord is our strength".  The Christmas tree has brightened the dark days.  Pictures texted to us of the treasures all ready for their program brought smiles. Christmas and praise music have lifted our hearts.  We rejoice that our son is with God's son.  Our devotionals have urged us to focus on the One.  And that is where we find joy.  To summarize Ann Voskamp's devotional on the third week of Advent......Joy comes with Jesus and Jesus is always with us, so therefore, joy is always at our disposal.  Yes.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you that even when, no, especially when circumstances come against us , a storm rages, or a battle wages, in the stillness we can open our hearts and rejoice because of the baby born in a manger.  We rejoice in, not for, but in all circumstances.  He is always with us.  Always here.  Jesus!  "We've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in our hearts to stay!"

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ten Years Gone

December 13th holds special significance in our lives.  It was 10 years ago yesterday....at 3:30 in the morning that we received a phone call from a hospital in CO telling us our 25 year old son, Kevin, had died of heart failure.  A virus attacked his heart and put him into congestive heart failure.

This past week we have been experiencing more sadness than usual.  As a pastor and pastor's wife we know that certain anniversaries intensify grief.  Still, it surprised us. We know that our son is in a much better place.  We adopted Kevin when he was 3, and he had gone through a horrific early childhood.  As his oldest sister, our Beth, said at the time of his death, he died of a broken heart, both physically and emotionally.  So we grieve, but we grieve with hope, knowing Kevin is with Jesus and is whole and healthy.  Whole and healthy!  And time does lessen the loss...it really does. 

Here is an article I wrote about Kevin years ago.  Fast Shoes And A Broken Heart.  He has been ten years gone, but also ten years whole and healthy.  And for that, we give thanks.  We will see him again some day!   We still grieve,  but we do so knowing where he is.  With Jesus. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning from our corner of the world where the sun has been absent for too many days.  We are experiencing fog, heavy, damp weather. Gray skies having us turning on lights to brighten the days.  We are expected to have temps in the high forties...and 53 tomorrow.  Crazy for December, although we remember bringing home our tree early in December in 1997 and the neighbor was out mowing his lawn!

We have been able to walk outside more, which is nice.  The river road has given us nature at it's best with hawks, a possum, lots of deer and yesterday at least 200 geese fly overhead.  Noisy feathered friends gracing our walk with God's blessings.

Speaking of walking, this is what we pass on the way.  We have chucked and chuckled as our new neighbor displayed his 10 foot tall wooden cactus all decked out first in a pilgrims' hat and drumstick and now Santa's hat and lights.  When I first noticed it I called Joel into the kitchen to ask him if I was seeing things correctly...a cactus???   Later he visited with our new neighbor and just had to tease him about what "the religious significance was" in having a cactus (giggle), since he is also a Lutheran pastor here in town!  The neighbor shared that he saw it one day driving to his previous home and told his wife about it.  She said..."you are not bringing that home"......but  he did.  We are enjoying it and I think his wife likes it now too.  It grows on you!  I think it is especially funny since we are heading to cactus country in just a few weeks!

Neighbor's cactus Christmas display
 
Night time glow
 
Monday night we headed over to a town around an hour from home to watch our grandson Jonas sing in his school concert.  It was fun!  We shopped a bit on Tuesday, groceries bought on Wednesday and Thursday I sorted through the toys we have had in the family room for the grands.  Most everything is going to a second hand shop along with some clothing we needed to get rid of.  It was a bit sad to think they are now too old for the toys their parents played with!

Jonas (on left) with his friend
ready to go sing!

The Christmas cards are done and with our gifts purchased and given out at Thanksgiving, we are able to just enjoy the next two weeks with little preparation.  It is very peaceful to just sit back at night and enjoy the glowing lights as shown in this picture of our living room.  We feel so blessed.

Taken from top of the stairs
 
"O Christmas Tree"

We watched the movie "God's Not Dead" last Sunday night.  It was really good, especially the arguments the student presented in the classroom......but one thing that disturbed me.  They showed how the pastor's friend from Africa stepped out in faith for the car starting...saying, "Just put the suitcases in the trunk" and step out in faith for the car to start(after lots of car trouble)  BUT they did not step out in faith for healing with the woman who had cancer, etc.  AND the woman who was a Christian but was living with her atheist boyfriend?  What is up with that?  So the movie was good but inconsistent for me.

Speaking of stepping out in faith, we are speaking against a funky virus that is trying to take hold in the two of us.  I expect it came home with us from the store, where the guy packing our groceries was sicker than a dog and touching all our items as he packed the bags.  Really?  Just stay home!  Prayers and our special tea are evident today in the house....and open windows too.  Our special tea?  It has cayenne pepper, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and gingerroot along with honey to sweeten.  Simmer it all, and drink under a warm blanket.  It tastes terrible, but it is potent and works.  More importantly, so does speaking against the viruses.....they have not place in our bodies!

Joel and I have been listening to our favorite group this year, Pentatonix.  Love their music!  Just listen below...."Mary Did You Know" is so beautiful!  The words speak His Word in a powerful way.


I have been reading Derek Prince's book, "God's Word Heals", listening to a few online teachings, and watching our usual TV shows.  Hope you are having a good weekend, friends......

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Consider This....

The last time Joel and I spoke about our healings and about the power of Holy Spirit, we asked the listeners to "consider this"  Consider that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside you...healing power.  Consider that God loves you so much He wants you well.  Just consider it.....

Our words came to mind today when I read the words of a devotional entitled, "What Are You Considering?" The verses that were used came from Romans 4 and since this was the second time today that I read them, I felt I was to mediate on them.  Roman 4 speaks about the faith of Abraham.  His faithfulness is such a good example for all of us.

"Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping. believing that He would become the father of many nations.  For God had said to him, that is how many descendants you will have. And Abraham's faith did not waiver, even though at around 100 years he figured his body was as good as dead-and so was Sarah's womb.  Abraham never waivered in believing God's promise. In fact his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.  He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever He promises."
Romans 4: 18-21
 
It looked impossible in the natural--having a son when you were way past child bearing years. When life was winding down.  Becoming the father of all nations when he did not have a legal heir.  Only God. Only God could fulfill His promise.  Abraham ignored the doubts.  Can you imagine what others said to them or about them?  Abraham ignored what he saw in the natural, he focused on God and His promises.  He did no focus ont what looked impossible, but considered that with God all things are possible.

What are you waiting for today?  What am I?  What looks impossible? And what promises are we standing on?  Consider this.....don't limit God with your limited thinking.  Don't limit God, nor brush off the promises found in His Word.  Keep on hoping, keep on believing.  Consider, .meditate.  Open your heart to the "more than we could ever imagine or think" that the Bible speaks of. 

Open the Book to Romans 4 and...........consider this..............

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our Path To Peace

The second week of Advent we light the candle of Peace.  Peace.  We all long for it.  That feeling of calm and serenity as the world around you vibrates like a hummingbird.  The sense of knowing that all is well when the enemy whispers in your ear a different message.
Peace.  Where do we find this elusive peace?  Isaiah 26:3 shares the secret with us. 
"I will be in perfect peace when my mind is focused on You, Jesus, because I trust in you."  (paraphrased) 
I have a dear friend who tells me that when anxiety rears it's ugly head, she stops and takes deep breaths, saying, "Jesus in.....anxiety out."  For her this practice shifts her focus.  It does not take long until the anxiety is just as she says.  Out... and gone. 

Some nights when I am unable to get back to sleep, I whisper over and over one word.  Jesus.  If my mind wants to continue on in motion, I visualize myself going into the garden of my heart where I rest my head on Jesus' lap, safe and secure.  Sleep comes when  my focus is on the One who is Peace. 

The One who is Peace listens to our petitions of the heart.  Prayer brings peace when we leave our concerns with Jesus.  Praise and worship keeps our hands lifted high.  To God be the glory. 

No matter where we being on our path to peace, we come full circle back to Isaiah 26:3:

"I will be in perfect peace when my mind is focused on You, Jesus, because I trust in You."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Another December day with temperatures in the mid thirties.  Next week?  Near 50 and rain.  Strange winter so far, but the warmer weather is not so bad after the bitter November we had.  We have walked several days outside along the river, and one day I walked around the church while Joel was teaching confirmation.  This morning while we were walking Joel spotted a mink out on the ice.   The little guy went in and out of the water, ran a long way on the ice, and then scurried into his den. They are usually nocturnal, so Joel was delighted with this rare sighting.

Last Sunday we stayed after church to help decorate.  They have been doing it for years and are like a well oiled machine. ! Interesting to observe. Their tree is huge...so pretty.  Monday and Tuesday we caught up on sleep and getting re-organized after the family left.  I think Joel ate leftovers for several days....the leftover Lime Pear Salad, cranberry relish, pie, etc.   Good thing we both like having leftovers! 

Wednesday evening I lead the womens Bible study...about David, Uriah, and Bathsheba.  A complicated story for some....the wrath of God....the big time sinning of a King...a baby's death.   I did text with our daughter Bethany picking her brain some since she has her Masters in Old Testament Theology from Luther Seminary.  I had Joel's input too!  I love learning, and I like teaching too.

Thursday I finished writing our Christmas newsletter and started Christmas cards.  We send out around 120 I think.  It gets costly with the price of stamps and cards, but we still enjoy receiving cards, photos and letters from others, so the tradition continues~!

Friday we went tree shopping,  We did not feel good about spending a great deal of money on a tree, so I put aside my desires for a Fir, and we bought a nice Scotch Pine instead.  Of all places, we found one we liked at Ace Hardware for less than half the price of the Fir.  Yay!  We got the lights on last night and will decorate this evening.  Isn't it nice?

Our tree --lights only until tonight!

Speaking of trees, when we lived in the Philippines the military flew Christmas trees over for us.  It was really nice to have a tree, but they were soooo dry by the time we got them we were always instructed not to decorate with lights!  I can remember standing in line out in the 85 degree sunshine and high humidity, waiting to buy our tree.....for $2.00.  You just took the one handed to you and kept going!  There were always long lines for everything....groceries, clothing, doctors, and even Christmas trees! 

Today we went to St. Ansgar Iowa to look around a couple of unique shops they have.   It was a nice day to travel and we enjoyed looking around, but came home empty-handed, which is okay!  How much stuff do we need....it is just stuff!

Joel and I have been reading Ann Voskamp's book, "The Greatest Gift" for part of our Advent devotionals, and are enjoying it!  I am actually reading a fiction book by Joanne Fluke, and still reading Frances Chan's book on the Forgotten God (Holy Spirit).  It is excellent!  A few Christmas specials, Hallmark Christmas movies, and online teachings have rounded out the week. 

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Waiting With Expectation

December is upon us....a cold one here in our part of the world.  We have been using the fireplace off and on throughout the daylight hours and into evening, making our home cozy and warm inside.  As I have been preparing for a Bible study I will lead on Wednesday evening, I have been thinking about Advent.  A time of waiting....of hope.  A time of expectation.

Advent.  We wait for the coming of Christ.....reflecting on that time over 2,000 years ago when Jesus came to earth as a babe.  There was great expectation for this King...the Messiah.  The world held its breath, nature alert and silent, the people unknowingly yearning for a Savior.  And He showed up, in a manger, in a baby's cry.  Now, we anticipate His return some day......living here on earth.  We pray as the Lord's Prayer says, "Thy will be done here ON EARTH as it is in Heaven.  We wait.

There are many times in our lives when we wait.  We wait for the birth of a baby....we wait for the weather to change....for suffering to end, for a job to be available.  Today we waited with expectation for a family member's tests performed on a pancreatic cyst to come back.  We pray, we hope, and we expect God to show up.  In the suffering and in the joy.  And He does.  A "no cancer" text sent up praises to God today!  The waiting is over and we are filled with joy this day. There are so many times on so many different levels that we wait.

Waiting.......expecting......hoping..........they are all verbs.  Actions we take even when it feels like we are sitting still. Even when it feels like the world has forgotten to take a breath.  We wait with wonder. We expect.  We hope.  Movements within while being still without, but we never wait alone.

As we begin Advent, we rejoice in the waiting, giving thanks in the moment, reflecting on the sweet mom of the King, who young and innocent, waited in obedience for her child .....HIS son to be born.  Of course we know the end of the story.  We know that Jesus comes and salvation is ours, but during this season, during this time we call Advent, we remember and we look forward with wonder, expecting with hope the coming of the King.  Our King!  May we never lose our wonder!

Wonder by Amanda Cook
Bethel Church

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday afternoon, the sun is shining and it is a balmy 46 degrees.  We just came back from a nice long walk outside.  So nice to get a little fresh air.  It has been another week of roller coaster temperatures including one snow storm that challenged most of our family as they traveled through it to get here on Wedneday.  Our home is awfully quiet now since the family packed up and headed back to their homes after lunch.  We love having them come....it usually takes us a short while to adjust to the noise level, and then after they all leave it takes us awhile to adjust to the silence!  We are so grateful they are willing to spend time here with the grandparents.  We miss them already. 

I am not sharing pictures today, as I need to sort through and see if I have any that do not include our one family who does not want their faces shown on my blog.

We planned on going to church Wednesday evening, but the weather did not cooperate and church was cancelled due to blowing snow and slippery roads.  Faith Lutheran is located out in the middle of farm country and most people drive a distance to attend, so when the weather is bad, church does not happen.  We were looking forward to going, so we had a short service right here in our living room with several grandkids participating.  That was fun!

Thursday was a big dinner for 21, family photos, cribbage games, Wii games, and lots of visiting.  Thursday night they all headed back to the hotel and swam at the pool while the guys played more cribbage and the gals caught up.  Friday was the Thanksgiving football game, since it was way too cold to be outside Thursday.  Even with 24 degrees it was chilly but they toughed it out and had a good time!
  
We also opened Christmas gifts on Friday.   Later in the day our daughter Sarah, boyfriend Derek and grandson Jonas went home and so did our son Matt, Michele and their three.  I headed to Joann Fabrics and Kohls later in the day with two other daughters, avoiding almost all the Black Friday crowds.  It was Buffalo Wild wings for supper.  While we were gone the guys put together Joel's new sound bar for the TV.  Nothing is as easy as it seems, but it is now working well!  Our daughter Bethany and granddaughter Abbi had spent hours and hours over the past year putting  together our old slides on a flash drive, so we all sat and watched them.  It had been at least 20 years since we had looked at the slides!  The grandkids really enjoyed seeing their parents as little kids, their grandparents young (and skinny), plus our slides from the Philippines. 

Saturday was more games, talking, and pizza for lunch before we said our goodbyes to the rest of the family. The time flew by and was packed full of good memories. 

How was your Thanksgiving? 

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


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude: A Season --A Lifestyle


This is the season for giving thanks, my favorite holiday of the year.  Thanksgiving will soon arrive along with our children, in-loves, grands, and one granddog, Tucker.   Having our family under one roof is a blessing, one we do not take lightly. 

For the past few days we have been preparing for the gathering.  Meals planned, groceries bought, emails and texts going back and forth, turkeys thawing, bathrooms cleaned, and fresh smells coming from the kitchen as I bake bread, cookies, and pies to grace our tables.  We are so thankful that our home will be bursting at the seams with love and laughter when 11 adults and 10 grandkids come home. 

Thankful.  We are so very thankful for each and every one and what they bring to the mix.  Each of our children and their families live life a little differently.  Each one has made their own way in the world that surrounds us, making choices and staying busy with all that defines family, so on the rare occasion that we come together as one unit Joel and I feel a deep sense of gratitude. 

We also remember those who are not here, including our son Kevin who has been gone nearly 10 years now.  We remember, too, the years that Lyme disease stole from us....but we do not dwell there.  We spend our time grateful that those years are behind us.  We give thanks that our children are whole and healthy.  We give thanks that they know who God is and call Jesus their Savior!  Oh, yes, we are humbly grateful.

We have so much to give praise for.  Our blessings overflow during this season and throughout the year. Ann Voskamp has written a powerful book about counting our blessings.  "One Thousand Gifts" ~She shares that it is in the gratitude that we find joy, peace, grace. An every single day choice for gratitude.   Gratitude is a lifestyle, not only a day filled with family, friends, food and football. 

Most of you will gather with family or with your memories during this season of giving thanks.  I pray you have an abundance of blessings to lift in praise.  I pray you have the love of God and family to warm your hearts.  I pray your table, your home, and your heart is full.  And I give thanks for you who visit my cyber home.  See you Saturday!


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday morning here in our corner of the world, and we are blanketed by fog as temperatures rise once again.  Tomorrow we are going to see 48 degrees which should melt the rest of the snow.  I can't help but think about parts of northern New York where they are dealing with so many feet of snow.  It hard to comprehend from the pictures posted.  And now a melt?  Yikes. 

Joel and I just returned from walking outside on the association paths.  The fresh air was heavenly!  We have also walked in the Mall, at a church, and once I walked around our main level here which was really difficult to do now that I walk faster and longer.  I only walked 25 minutes but at least I was able to exercise.  

We along with a few neighbors decided to turn our Christmas lights on early this year.  It is so nice to look out and see the porch lit up, along with neighbor houses.  Maybe it is the bitter cold that moved us into the season before Thanksgiving.  No tree yet though.  Nada.  Nor Christmas music....just the lights illuminating the darkness. 

We are busy getting ready for the family coming for Thanksgiving.  I made my annual pumpkin bread for everyone to take home.  I triple the recipe and use mini pans to bake in.  I think I started making this recipe 40 years ago. 


Our Christmas shopping is mostly done since we celebrate the day after Thanksgiving this year. As the kids get older we need more space for eating, so this year we are borrowing a table from the church to go with our dining table, plus lots of chairs.  So thankful our dining room holds two tables.

I have been reading the same books, watching the same shows....and listening to the same preacher/teachers this week.  The cold weather has me trapped inside, the return of nasty pain, has me in a funk, and I am thinking Phoenix cannot come fast enough.  Okay, there it is.  The "I wish winter was over before it begins" complaint.  Sigh......So today I am making cookies, and shaking up the house with praise music.  I plan to turn on the Hallmark channel and get myself into a festive mood. Here is hoping your week has been filled with joy, good health, good weather, and plenty of Hallmark movies to make you smile and get ready for the holidays. Until next time............

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Safe In Our Daddy's Arms

The little girl ran up to her daddy, giggling with joy as he lifted her up in his arms and swung her around.  His eyes were brimming with the love he felt for his child,  His laughter filled the air, he was so delighted with her presence.  As they walked towards home, the little girl rested in her daddy's arms, trusting his love for her.  They were connected on the deepest level, heart to heart, spirit to spirit  She knew who she was and whose she was.

What if this were us?  What if we ran into our daddy's, our Papa God's arms laughing with joy as He lifted us up, swinging us around.  Can you see His eyes brimming with all the love He feels for you, His child?  Can you hear His laughter filling the air because He is so delighted with His precious one?  Will you walk with Him towards home, resting in your Daddy God's arms, trusting His love for you.  Knowing who you are and Whose you are.

When we read God's Word, we hear the truth of how He feels about us.  He tells us in Zephaniah that He delights in us.  He rejoices over us with singing.  The Word tells us that He sent His only son....Jesus...for us.   For you....for me.  He has a deep love for us and desires us to have abundant life.  He is our Papa, our Daddy, our Heavenly Father....and as His children we are loved beyond our understanding.  Safe in our Daddy's arms.

"The Lord your God is with you
He is mighty to save
He takes delight in you
He will calm you with His love
He will rejoice over you with singing"
Zephaniah 3:17


Monday, November 17, 2014

Not One Prison

 
"There is not one prison
that God wants you to stay captive in."
Abi Stumvoll

Falling asleep last night I prayed for quiet peaceful dreams to come.  I woke up at 2am from a nightmare where once again, safety was an issue.  We were in a car, my son Matt, who is a police officer in real life, was outside the car being shot at by a man dressed all in black wearing a ski mask and carrying an AK47.  Matt was unarmed, so he crawled around the side of the car and climbed in the back.  He told me to reach under the front seat and take out the 9 millimeter he kept there.  I did, and he instructed me on how to take the safety off.  For some reason, as dreams go, Matt could not get to the gun so it was in my hands.  As the man came up to the side window pointing the gun at Matt with the intention of killing him,  I lifted the gun up, aimed, and pulled the trigger, once, twice, three times.  As he lay dying I put my face in my hands and repented of killing someone while at the same time giving thanks that we were safe.  Double edge sword. 

Waking from the nightmare, my heart was pounding and safety alarms were starting to go off in my body, so I visualized Jesus with me, and spoke aloud Isaiah 26:3 until sleep came.  At 5am I woke up alert from yet another crazy dream, feeling the old unsafe fears wanting to resurface.  Really?  I prayed for peaceful dreams to replace the "always busy doing" dreams and ended up with nightmares!  I was ticked.  I am no longer captive to this stuff.  I know where these nasty dreams come from so I spoke aloud to the enemy.   "I refuse to partner with you anymore.  I am not believing your lies.  I send you to the foot of  the cross and I receive peace in place of fear.  Jesus is here and I am being held safely in His arms."  Satan slithered away, sleep came again and the nightmares stopped. 

Today I went to Bethels website and saw an unfamiliar face of a younger woman named Abbi Stumvoll, who had preached on Friday night.  I decided to see what she had to say, and as God often does, what she shared was just what I needed to hear.  She spoke about her own journey with inner healing.  Life had been difficult for her as she believed the lies spoken over her as a child and young adult.  Four years after discovering God's deep love for her and His desire to bring her healing she said,  "Being set free from fear, anger, or whatever chains hold you, seldom comes as the "suddenly" we read about in the Bible. We cannot force God to give us our "suddenly".  It usually comes as a process moving us to a place where we are fully persuaded God will do what He has promised in His Word.  It is our responsibility to hear and trust the truth....trust the process and step out in faith.  It is God who sets us free to be who He has always planned us to be."  Amen!!  This is good news for all of us isn't it!

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
Luke 4:18,19
(Isaiah 61)

There is not one prison that God wants you to be captive in.  Not one.  He sent Jesus to set the captives free!!!  Free!!!  Sometimes it is difficult to face the pain so we run from it, but that only gives it more power.  The power we desire is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and lives inside of us.  So, when we turn and face those fears...the pain......even pursuing them, God shows up with Heaven's armies to do battle with us, bringing us out of captivity.  It may not happen suddenly but it will happen.

It is for freedom that Christ sets us free.  No chains.  No prison walls of fear, anger, sickness, bitterness, unforgiveness, childhood trauma, poverty, or more.  Not one prison. 

"It is for freedom that Christ set us free.
So stand firm then and never again
be burdened by a yoke of slavery/bondage."
Galatians 5:1

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of the world where we are waking up to a balmy 18 degrees with several inches of snow forecast for the day.  Winter has arrived via the arctic vortex and I expect we won't see the ground again til Spring.  I keep telling Joel, it is 22 here and.... 80 in Phoenix....it is 19 here and..........wait for it.......80 in Phoenix!   It must have been a shock to those living in Oklahoma City when they enjoyed a warm 80 degrees one day and a high of 30 the next. Yikes.  That is so wrong!  Certainly we have not eased into winter here in our corner of the world, but it seems the whole country is being challenged by bitter cold and record snows already!

We had to walk in the Mall a couple of times this week, but when the paths and road were free of ice we walked outside even when it was cold! I actually wore two pair of pants, a hooded sweatshirt under my winter coat and wool socks with my tennies the one day!  We like the fresh air!  I just had to share the beautiful pictures Joel took with his phone on one of our walks.  The sun was setting and God was busy painting the sky as only He can do!

Beautiful!

Everything looks afire with God's glory!

The clouds look like cotton balls
 
Love the reflection on the water
 

Last Sunday my sister and BIL came over for a nice visit.  Monday Joel worked outside to finish up leaves, etc. and we did a little Christmas shopping.  Wednesday Joel headed out at 8:30 am for a Synod/ Pastors meeting and luncheon and he got home in time to grab the supper I had ready for him to take to church as he had to teach confirmation and then followed that with a pre-baptism meeting and then a worship committee meeting.  Phew!  Add all that together along with over three hours of driving, and when he came home close to 10 he sat down in the chair and promptly fell asleep!

 I had spent the day getting ready for our speaking engagement at Trinity Lutheran church here in town.   A few months ago we were asked to speak on our healing on Thursday November 13th.   It was a nice, small gathering with 4 pastors in attendance, including Joel.  We love to share what God has done in our lives, we were able to pray for someone's healing, and we heard from others who shared how God has blessed their lives with the miraculous. 

 Joel had headed out to pick up our bulk food order early in the morning before the luncheon, and then after supper he went to another Lutheran church here in town to help them with a "mock" interview as they prepare the call committee to interview candidates for the position of Senior Pastor.  He has done this before for a couple of other churches.  When the mock interview was nearly over, a man there said, "We want to hire YOU!"  It made us laugh, but was a compliment of course.  That's my cowboy preacher!!  Friday we grocery shopped, took a long walk in a 10 degrees wind chill, and after lunch took a long nap!  Tomorrow Joel has a funeral/graveside after church.  Busy week.

I am still finishing up the photo album and journal for our second oldest daughter.  I also took some of our favorite photos of grandkids and had 5x7 black and whites made to be framed for the dining room wall.  I had picked up box frames at IKEA, copying our oldest daughter's idea for her own home.

Our kitchen sink is ceramic and had gotten badly stained over the years.  Our cleaning lady wanted to bring bleach in to clean it and we said no.  I used a mixture of baking soda, borax, and salt but it did not come off.  Finally I thought about what people can use to whiten their teeth....a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste.  I used that and it all came off.  It looks new!!!!  So there is an idea for anyone who has the same issue going on.  I am going to try it on grout next.

I have been reading Kris Vollottan's book, "The Supernatural Ways of Royalty".  Very thought provoking on how we see ourselves vs how God sees us.  Are we paupers or royalty?  As God's children we are royalty.  I also have been using the Passion translation of the book of Psalms for part of my morning readings.  I really like Dr. Brian Simmons translation.  We taped (yes we still use our VCR/DVD player to tape shows) several shows that we were too busy to watch this past week, and vegged in front of the TV last night catching up.  We still finding Madam Secretary the best new show on TV.  So what is going on with you?

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Story To Share

Today Joel and I went to the large Lutheran church here in town to speak during a luncheon.  We had been asked to speak on our healings and it was great fun to do so.  Well, after I got over being nervous about it anyway.  It was a small gathering of people, mostly around our age, who listened to us speak for about an hour.  Counting Joel, four pastors were in attendance.

After we finished speaking, more than one person came up to share their own stories of a healing, Holy Spirit encounters, or receiving the gift of a prayer language.  No one spoke of it to the group, only one-on-one with us.  In our Lutheran world, visions, speaking in tongues, and healings are not really talked about very much, but what we are learning is that God is working behind the scenes in mainstream churches.....people are just too uncomfortable to talk about it.  Maybe like me, they wonder how others will respond to what they have to share.  It makes me sad but it also makes me more determined to keep sharing our own stories and reaching out to others to listen to theirs.  Our stories are His stories too. 

After most of the group left we prayed with a woman who had asked Joel for prayer earlier.   She is an aquaintance Joel has known a long time.  We prayed, laying hands on her, and speaking to her health concern.  I confess, I love doing this.  I love commanding sickness to get out in Jesus name.  I love when Jesus lets us be a part of seeing His healing power at work.

We have done so just a few times so far.  One man came over to our home and asked for prayer for pain in his hip, leg, and lower back.  He could not bend or sit on anything soft, and he walked with a limp, challenged by stairs.  He was in constant pain.  He told us he was ready to be healed.  He did not leave disappointed as Jesus healed him from hip, leg, and lower back pain.  His whole body was tingling all over as we laid hands on him.  Only God.  He was soon running around our dining room and bending down and touching his toes.  Tears were shed as we gave God praise for this man's healing.  God is amazing!

We have prayed for others and they have had pain leave, or experienced improvement, and one person broke out in a sweat as we Prayed with his wife, commanding his body to heal....he believed his body was responding and it was working hard as it healed causing him to be soaked in sweat.  Only God!

Joel has asked people at the church where he is Interim to share stories of God's touch in their lives.  A couple of weeks ago a woman shared her story of having Jesus come to her while she struggled with an infection that required surgery.  Laying in the hospital deathly ill, Jesus came and held her hand, filling her with peace.  She had a long journey to healing, but she did not worry after that.  Isn't God amazing?

I share these stories because we believe they are HIS story.  Just like every healing written in the Bible, just like every story of healing told throughout the centuries,  every healing that occurs through a doctor, a surgery, or speaking to the disease using the same power that raised Jesus from the dead....God is the healer!  Only God!

Yes, we love sharing our story from debilitating disease to health and healing......overnight for one and a process for another.....and we love hearing the stories of others.  We love it when Holy Spirit lets us be a small part of the healing....using our hands, our words.  It is humbling.  It is exciting.  It is amazing.  Only God!

Do you have a story to share?  I would love to hear it~!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Military Memories

Today is Veteran's day and it has had me remembering the 8 years Joel served in the Air Force and how much it shaped our lives.  When Joel was 18 he went to Junior College to get a two year degree in Wildlife management after which he decided to go to Bible College at The Lutheran Bible Institute (which became Golden Valley Lutheran College our second year).  We met while both attending, and were married just a few weeks after we graduated from their two year program. 

Joel was pretty sure he wanted to be a minister but when he received his draft notice right before our wedding, he did not feel right about getting a deferment.  He also knew he did not want to go into the Army, so he enlisted in the Air Force.  He went to basic training in Texas and then we moved to Rantoul, Illinois where he went to more training.  We then moved across the country to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work on the planes that were collecting data to be used for intelligence.  This is where our oldest daughter, Beth was born. 

While stationed in NM Joel heard about an education program he could apply for, which sounded great.  Even though they tried to discourage him, saying most of his credits from his 4 previous years of school would not transfer, he still applied and 96% transferred!  The program was set up so that if Joel qualified for further education, which he did, they would send him to get his college degree and then he would serve them 4 more years in the field of their choosing.  They asked what our first choice was for college.  .......we said  the University of Wisconsin.  They sent us to Salt Lake City Utah!  Pretty typical of the military at that time.  Salt Lake is where our oldest son Matt was born. 

The Air Force sent him to the University of Utah to be a meteorologist.  The math was tough, but he did well..  He enlisted as an Airman, then while in college they bumped him up to a sergeant.  When he graduated, he went to officers training and became a Lieutenant!  Unusual way to be promoted, but all part of God's plan.

After officers training we were stationed in Duluth MN where he forecast weather for pilots.  It was nice to be in our home state and spend more time with family, but after nearly two years there, Joel was due for a remote transfer where family would not be allowed to go.  Several times Joel was called by the office that sent out orders, and "asked" about certain openings they had.  We had never heard of anyone asking....just telling you where you would go, so we felt God was making sure His plan unfolded.  There was a place in Korea, one off the coast of Alaska, and one base in Nam but Joel said no to all of those since we could not go as a family.  It was at this time that we talked about him getting out early out to attend seminary, but when he went in to apply they told him he had orders for Clark Air Force Base in The Philippine Islands.  His only question was "accompanied or unaccompanied?"  It was a relief to hear the family could go with. 

We left Duluth in 1974, drove to CA and then flew to The Philippines where Joel spent 2 years forecasting weather for pilots, many of which were going to Nam.  We were at Clark when Saigon fell, and I helped in the Baby Lift when hundreds of children were taken out of the country to be adopted by families in the states and around the world.  It was a wonderful experience for me to be a part of.  When we first heard we were going overseas, we immediately began praying about adopting.  It had always been in our hearts to do so, and while we were in the P.I. God blessed us with our two middle children, Mark, and our daughter, N.  (she prefers to remain anonymous on my blog).  I just love how God works things out according to His plan.

After 8 years in the Air Force, Joel still felt strongly he wanted to go to seminary, so he left the Air Force and we headed back to MN in the spring of 1976. 

Those 8 years shaped our world in many ways.  We met so many people from different places and we experienced living in a third world country.  Our four older children were welcomed home through birth and through adoption during those years. We saw first hand how our soldiers were sacrificing to help others and keep our country free.   We lived in  4 states and 1 third world country during those years.  We are so grateful for it all.

So today, I give thanks for those who sacrifice to make our world here so much easier.  I/we give thanks for how God guided our lives every step of the way.  We give thanks for our family.  We give thanks for the life long friends we made during those years.  And we remember......with joy....with pride...with thankfulness. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of Iowa where the winds are blowing hard, the temperatures are going down, and snow is forecast for Monday as the Arctic Vortex is threatening to visit us again.  North of us in our home state of Minnesota they will feel winter's blast more than us, even though we have been enjoying our gas fireplace once in awhile already!  Recently I read a post that spoke about the top 25 cities to avoid in the winter.  All of them were up in our corner of the world!  Seriously, why do we live here? 

Speaking of one big reason why we hang around here, our children, in-loves, and grands will be home for Thanksgiving this year.  We look forward to celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas on the same weekend.  Yesterday we went shopping for gift cards, and I ordered a few online.  Can't wait to have everyone together.  We treasure those times.

Joel has had a long, busy week.  He is holding individual congregational interviews afternoons and evenings where people can share their thoughts, ideas, complaints, and hopes for the future of their congregation.  They are eager to move forward, which is a good thing because that is Joel's job as Interim!

Speaking of church, Wednesday I went with Joel to work so I could attend the evening women's Bible study later.  They are reading and studying the series "The Story".  I have enjoyed the study and getting to know some of the women better.

Friday we went shopping while the house was being cleaned, and ate lunch at Ruby Tuesday's before heading to the eye doctor again.  This time I received good news!  The pressure has gone down in both eyes....the laser on my right eye is working.  It was very interesting that the pressure was down lower than it has been in years in my left eye, which has not had laser surgery.  The doctor was a bit surprised but we were doing a happy dance.  We have been praying for both eyes!  So grateful.  Only God!

Talked with my sister Jan yesterday.  We will head south to see her and our BIL in Arizona next year, leaving winter behind.  Yay!  We are looking forward to another adventure-- visiting with them, friends I have known since middle school, sweet Linny and her family, and email/internet/phone friends from Canada that we hope to hug in person for the first time.

I have been putting together a photo book for one of our daughter's who just turned 40.  It has been great fun to look back and enjoy those moments caught on a camera.  I know that digital is the rage, but for me having a book to hold is much more intimate.  I hope our children feel the same way.

Another election is over.  I do not write about politics or share who we vote for.  It has always been our decision to keep our political views to ourselves because Joel is a pastor.  We do not believe it is ethical for him to speak politics from the pulpit.  I am glad the election is over,  but I do not have much hope for things to change.  It always seems to be about Washington, not the people. 

Speaking of change......this time change always takes me awhile to adjust to.  I am so tired by 9 every night, but making myself stay up most nights til 10.  Like that is late!!  Ha..  Joel manages it well, me, not so much.  Neither one of us like it getting dark so early.  Ugh.  Who likes that?? 

I finished the Beni Johnson book "The Happy Intercessor" and am reading Kris Vollaton's book, "The Supernatural Ways of Royalty" now.  December/Christmas magazines are coming in the mail, but I am trying to hold off until after Thanksgiving!  A few teachings, TV shows, and music CDs filled my rest time. Speaking of teachings, I checked out a recent conference at Bethel and found a session by Beni on Intercession! Love when God weaves it all together, affirming what I am hearing so I know I am on the right path.  By the way, we are loving the show, "Madam Secretary" on Sunday nights!!!  So what is new in your world?

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What Next?

Yesterday I wrote a post about intercessory prayer and I am not liking some of the words that graced my post.  I rewrote it and rewrote it but I could not get it to a place where I was satisfied.  I was challenged to fully express what was swirling around in my mind and heart.  I have noticed that this struggle comes mostly when I am making myself vulnerable to my readers or when I am sharing something that could bring criticism or rejection.  The need for approval is what I felt and what came through for me in some of what I wrote.  Do I please man or God?  Only God.  Only God.

Sometimes God asks us to do things that make us look foolish in the eyes of the world or even those close.  God really desires that we seek only Him, being obedient to what He asks, where He leads, what we need to embrace or release.  Like drinking from a spring on Amish land in the middle of Indiana......or Holy Spirit hugs that bring laughter.......or sharing the deepest parts of me as I walk with Jesus.  Only God.

You know, I am closing in on 67 in a few months and still have so much to learn and experience.  Since my body reversed its course to an early death, I now look forward to many more adventures with God.  Even when I will need to step out of my comfort zone to embrace them.   Those adventures include the call to be all He has called me to be as He beckons me into a deeper relationship with Him.

We are all one of a kind.  Unique, special, created for His purpose.  No one is like you or me.  One of a kind.  God created us to be free to be who we are and Whose we are, pleasing only Him.  Whether that be just a little to the right of crazy ( I still love that definition of our lives) or not.  Sure, I want to be accepted and embraced for who I am, but more importantly I continue to be open and looking for that "something more " with my Savior that has me asking,  "What next?"   Only God!  Only God!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pray, Release, Trust

I have been reading Beni Johnson's book, "The Happy Intercessor" this past week.  As I said earlier, this book has at times taken me out of my comfort zone --through Beni's words and stories, God has been stretching and reshaping me.  I am one to discern what I read, sometimes running things by Joel for his thoughts and Holy Spirit to make sure I am receiving solid information.  It is a good policy to confirm what you read, hear, or receive as being from God or anointed by God.  Especially when it challenges our beliefs.  As we know, God does not leave us where we are because He wants us to grow in our faith and in our actions, often changing or expanding our beliefs.  He desires so much for us and I don't want to miss out on what God has for me because I am uncomfortable stepping out of comfort zone or complacent about broadening my Christian faith.

Case in point---this book on Intercessory Prayer.  Certainly I have heard of Intercessors....those burdened to pray for others on many levels as God leads, but I knew little about this kind of prayer.  I do oversee a group of close to 150 women from around the world for my friend Linny.  The Knee Team prays over requests that come in.  It is such a privilege to lead this group of faithful prayer warriors, so I really was interested to see if there was a difference between prayer warriors and intercessors. I am not sure I can separate the two nor have need to.  I am still processing what I have read, but I have found "The Happy Intercessor" has helped me in important ways.

Beni Johnson shared that she has the gift of discernment of spirits that the Bible speaks about,  but for many years she did not know that was what it was called.  She shared how she could walk into a room and "feel" the needs of others.  Feel their sadness or anger, pain, etc. and it was sometimes difficult to not take on their energy.  Often she would end up taking on the energy of those she was drawn to.  It was a heavy weight on her emotionally.  At that time she did not know she was to pray for those people and then release them into God's hands.  She learned that much later as she embraced the gift of being an Intercessor and discerner of spirits for her husband Bill Johnson, their church, community, state and country. 

This was encouraging for me because I also can walk into a room and feel the energy, pain of some people or the atmosphere.  Not always, but sometimes it permeates the air and makes me anxious, restless, and on alert.  I have never been able to explain it, except to say I don't have any filters when I am around others. Not a bad thing when the people are expressing the joy of the Lord, but not so good when the enemy has them in his grip.   So, it was helpful and really an "aha" moment when I read this. 

Beni went on to say, we, as Christians, are on God's team.  We do not worry about the enemy's strategies because we are on His offensive team and we pray from a place of victory.  I like that!  We pray from a place of victory because we know who wins! Barry Bennett from Charis Bible College says much the same.  We know who wins!  We do!  We have His Word that speaks of victory over sins, diseases, and the enemy! We don't need to beg, plead, or pray from a place of fear or lack.  NO, we pray from a place of peace and victory!  We have the truth of God's Word and His Word shows us His heart.  We can stand firm on what we read within its pages.  Isn't that great knowledge to have?!

I have spent time speaking with God about this book and what He wanted me to glean from it.  I believe there is more that will come from what I read, but yesterday as I was meditating on what I read, I heard these words:

"Pray....Release....Trust"

We pray, then release that deep need into God's hands, trusting that He has it all worked out for good.  Pray, Release, Trust.  So often I want to take back what I have given to God.  I worry over it, which is meditation on the negative!  Fear creeps in when I want an outcome that is good for someone I love and care about.  This action to release is so important because it involves trusting God for the outcome.

There really is a lot to this prayer business.  It is not just going before God with a list.  Bill Johnson was asked how he prayers.  His response was powerful .  "If I have an hour to pray, I spend 45 minutes in praise and worship, and then give my requests the last 15 minutes.  Certainly my requests can't take longer than that on any given day!"  I know that as I pray now, I am more conscious of my agenda.  I am making more of an effort to lift my eyes in prayer to the One who holds the power. Taking action to release the outcome into His hands, and then trusting God, which brings my focus back to Him, the One who loves us with a perfect love.

Pray............Release...........Trust


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saturday;s Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you, on this the first day of November!  We are finally experiencing close to normal temperatures with frosty mornings and highs in the 40's.  Yesterday was Halloween, and with the colder weather we had less than the usual amount of trick-or-treaters.  We did see our youngest grandson, Jonas for a few minutes when he came by with his cousin. 

I had to laugh yesterday when the phone rang and it was a local mortuary.  Being a pastor's wife I expected them to speak to Joel concerning a parishner's death.  Nope.  The perky young woman asked if we had looked over the material they had sent (I must have tossed it) and if we wanted to begin preplanning our funerals.  Seriously?  I said no.  I wanted to ask her if she realized there was something weird about calling on Halloween, but I did not.  I know many people pre-plan but we don't know where we are going to retire yet. It is not on our radar to make funeral plans.

We have been walking daily, even with wind chills, but try to go later when it warms up some. Yesterday I went by myself while Joel was off working, and  I had to smile as I watched a woman with her golden retriever.  Joel always tells me people have complete control of their big dogs and not to worry, but this one saw three squirrels and the lady was holding on tight as the dog dragged her across someone's lawn!!  Beautiful dog.....really wanted those squirrels!

We have spent a great deal of time this week reminiscing about our trip out East last year....On November 1st 2013 we were in Shipshewana Indiana, at our, now favorite hotel.  It is an Amish community, the town is small but brings in many tourists.  The hotel we stayed at is friendly, quiet, and lovely.  We have plans to go back again. 

November 1st was the day that God led us to a natural spring so that I could drink the water.  Let me explain. You see, long before we were on our way out East to the conference on healing, Holy Spirit had been talking to a friend in Canada about me literally drinking from a natural spring.  She did not want to tell me as it sounded so "strange" but Holy Spirit was relentless with her, so she eventually talked to me about it on the phone.  Since Joel and I had been getting the theme "rivers of living water" over and over for weeks before the journey began, we believed this was from God.  Out of obedience we searched for springs in every state we went through.  We turned up nothing close to our locations, so when we were in northern New York on our way home we told God, if He wanted us to go to a natural spring, He needed to lead us to it!  Making it hard for God and easy for us......as if anything is hard for God!

When back in Shipshewana, just 8 hours from home, God led Joel to ask about a spring while he was at the front desk of the hotel.  They told him there was a spring that the Amish used but they were not sure where it was located.  Later while Joel was paying for the gas after filling up the car, an Amish man came in.  Yes.  Into a gas station even though their buggies sure don't need filling--at least not with gas!  Joel started a conversation with him and asked about a spring.  He told him where it was!  Then he and Joel had a theological discussion about healing....this man knew his Bible well, so he and Joel had a great talk until his less than happy wife came in to get him. 

So off we went to find the spring.  We had trouble locating it but after about a half hour of driving the same gravel roads, we asked God to show us both where it was.  We came over a big hill and both of us said at the same time, there it is!  I stepped out in faith as we filled a glass bottle and mug with the running water from that spring in the middle of  Indiana.  A spring that was used for cattle...... Before I drank I asked Joel to ask Holy Spirit if He was sure I was to drink from this....and he told Joel, "I brought you here, now drink it!"  Okay, then.  So I did. (from the spigot, not the trough)  Even though we believe this was more about obedience and trust than anything else, several weeks after that experience we realized the chronic UTI's I had been experiencing for over 9 months were gone.  Thank you Jesus.

 
Our trip last fall was a beautiful journey with God that we will always be grateful for.  He blessed us greatly, and healing came to us in more ways than we can share.  We are so grateful.

This week I have been reading a book by Beni Johnson entitled "Happy Intercessor".  It has been very interesting and at times taken me out of my comfort zone.  God is reshaping my thinking once again.  I have listened to a few teachings, we have watched a bit of TV, and played some Minnesota Rummy card games together.  Life is good.....God is amazing. 

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




Thursday, October 30, 2014

God Puts His Super in Your Natural!

Yesterday I stopped over to my friend Linny's blog, A Place Called Simplicity and read a deeply honest and heartfelt post on dealing with fear.  She shared how difficult it was for her to fly alone from Arizona to Uganda. She was immobilized and frightened as she dealt with a life long fear that rose to the surface-- being alone.  But God provided.  Over the years God has released her fears of being alone in her home to flying alone across the ocean.  Letting go became  "an obedience thing" and in obedience she has walked through them all into freedom.  Her story is a wonderful testimony to God's goodness and healing power. 

Over the years Linny has also helped me through my own journey with fear. When she shared yesterday that being alone for her means not being safe......that when you are alone bad things happen to you....  It caught my attention as that is exactly what I unknowingly believed.  God has been healing me from those beliefs and I have been walking in freedom, but recently Holy Spirit has been rooting out more of what needs releasing deep inside, and once again being alone at night has become challenging for me. I know in my heart Jesus is with me.....I understand I am not that little girl anymore.  I know I am safe, and yet my body wants to respond like the child I once was.

Last night Joel was gone for the evening and as soon as I closed up the house the old feelings surfaced.  The key here is that they are old feelings that no longer speak the truth.  They cannot be my focus.  So, I turned on praise music and decided to watch a teaching by Havilah Cunnington at Bethel Church.  I had to laugh when she said she was going to speak about fear!  Linny's post and Havilah's teaching!  Just what I needed......Only God!

2 Timothy 1:7 tells us we do not have a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.  Notice that fear is called a spirit.  A spirit sent by the enemy to cause us harm.  But the Bible rejects that and tells us we have a spirit of power....the same power that raised Jesus from the dead...right inside us.  And a spirit of love.....and a sound mind!  The Bible says "do not be afraid" at least once for every day of the year.  "Do not be afraid" was spoken to Moses, to Mary, Joshua and more!  Guess it must be pretty common to deal with fears of one kind or another, but out of love God does not leave us unprepared.

Whether you are afraid to be alone, afraid of spiders, elevators, or the dark, God wants you set free.  He knows the power fear can have in our lives and He reminds us to "fear not, for I am with you always."  And He means it.  

Fear is mostly just False Evidence Appearing Real.  It is a spirit.  It is an open door to the enemy.  Fear is used by the devil against us and is not to be tolerated.  Left alone, it just grows bigger until it consumes your life.

Ann Voskamp, who blogs at A Holy Experience, could not leave her home for years due to fear.  It consumed her life.  She still is challenged by it at times, but with God's help and out of obedience she trusts His Word, and is a mover and a shaker in the world.  As Havilah Cunnington said last night,

"When we obey God He begins to put the super in your natural! 

Figured out your fears?  Just remember, when we trust and obey God, He puts the super in our natural.  He sets us free to be who He created us to be!  Only God!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What You Need When The Ride Is Bumpy

A few weeks ago I found something interesting on Dayspring.com. "Letterpress word blocks".   I love ordering from Dayspring ~ they send everything FedEx, shipping is free over $50, and they stand behind their products.   With these letterpress word blocks you can create your own words with different fonts and letter sizes.  We knew just the place to hang the art, so we started talking about what word to create.  I kept coming back to the word trust, and Joel was good with that. 

T. r. u. s. t.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that God has been teaching me a great deal about trust in the past few years.  I am so grateful for His patience as we walk this journey together.  Trusting Him requires letting go....it requires entering His rest... it requires obedience,,,it requires stepping out in faith believing He has a plan for good and not for evil.  To give us a future and a hope.  T.r.u.s.t.
  
The letters arrived just two days after I ordered them. I was excited to put them up but when I opened  the box marked with the "U"  I found a "V" inside!  It made me laugh.....of course there was a V in the U box!  (giggle)   I called Dayspring and within a couple days I had the needed U....no cost to me.

 
When we first connected the letters for hanging I had them all straight across on the bottom.  But as I studied the hanging more and more, it just did not look right.  Yesterday morning as I looked at them on the wall, I said to Joel, "We don't need to trust God if everything is all in line...nice and straight....everything in place.  BUT we do need to exercise our faith and trust God when circumstances  are unpredictable or out of our control."   Oh, yeah.  So we rearranged the letters and now it looks right to us.  Yes.  Trust is required when there is going to be a bumpy ride......when we are not in control.....when our circumstances look impossible.  When storms rage or we walk through the desert.  T.r.u.s.t.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~

"TrUsT in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding...
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will make your paths straight..."
Proverbs 3:4,5
 
"In quietness and TrUsT  is your strength"
Isaiah 3o:15b