Monday, March 31, 2014

The Tides,They Ebb And Flow

The Tides are here again, they ebb and flow, but they are back and bringing with a flood of sadness and a yearning that longs for more.  Not more things.  As Ann Voskamp shared today with her readers, "We don't need more things, we need more meaning".  No, this wanting of more brings with it a deep the heart.  We long with intensity to hold our family close.  There is a grieving that comes in with the Tides~ for that which we do not have, that which we miss.

None of our children, in-loves, or precious grandchildren live where we call home.  They are scattered near and far, lives full.  Unlike many of our neighbors, family, or friends, we cannot jump into the car to take in a sports event or concert.  We do not gather for Sunday dinner or birthday celebrations.  Our relationships are mainly nurtured via text, email, phone calls, or a rare "FaceTime" event on iPad. 

Our loving five families are all working at good jobs, active in community and school, have great friends and four of five are very involved in their churches.  And in all but one family the grand kids have other grandparents who are able to spend a great deal of time with them.  Having that comfortable interaction that comes with the familiar.  The "extra" is found in the ordinary, as Ann Voskamp says.

Our lives have changed a great deal lately, with the return of our health now making it possible for us to visit our family more.  Not weekly, not monthly, but being able to travel has made it possible for our once or twice a year in person connections to increase.  We are grateful.  Yet the Tides still come and we struggle with staying joyful in the loss of what we desire for what is real.  At times we are challenged to find the "extra" in the ordinary

What really stops the flow of sadness and brings the extra into the ordinary is counting it all joy.  Looking back and remembering......looking ahead and planning.....centering on the now.....and counting the many blessings with gratitude.

Giving thanks that our children are so blessed with full, healthy, vibrant lives....loving spouses, beautiful children, good jobs and nice homes.  We count it all joy that they have a strong relationship  with Jesus, their family, grandparents that are familiar, and good friends.  Full lives.

We count it all joy that technology, whether a phone or an iPad, makes it possible  for us to connect with loved ones.  And as I look over at my husband of nearly 46 years sitting in his favorite chair, I count it all joy that we have a deep and loving relationship with each other, a strong relationship with God, our health returned, and a future that raises up the opportunities for the extra in the ordinary.  Counting it all joy.   And with the counting the Tides of grief will ebb....and joy will replace the sadness.

I am linking up with Ann today....

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you!  Hope your weekend is turning out to be as nice as ours.  Heading up to 50 degrees today with sunshine and 65 for tomorrow!  Yes!!

Speaking of weather, I was talking to my sister Jan on the phone one day this week when she was driving to the airport in Phoenix.  She was observing the nasty dust storm out her windows that was later pictured in national news.  Nasty looking!  Dust storms, mudslides, snowstorms, and even tornadoes in California.  Just heard NW Minnesota is under a blizzard watch for next Monday and Tuesday with up to 9 inches of snow forecast.  Really?  One word for the weather this year ---extreme.

It has really been a quiet week here in Lake Woebegone.......except for burning the bread I made, breaking one of my favorite angel figurines, the cleaning lady breaking a second angel figurine, and taking a turn fighting the crud Joel dealt with last week.  Ugh.  We did a few short walks earlier this week, and I made it to a craft show at the mall on Friday by shear determination.  The craft show this year was very disappointing though, so we shopped at one store where I found a couple pair of shoes on clearance (60% off) and Joel found a good pair of winter boots in the same clearance area before I ran out of steam!  We did stop at the library and picked up 3 movies to hopefully distract me but that was before I saw there is a NCIS marathon on TV today :).    We had plans to celebrate my birthday this weekend since Joel was feeling crappy on my birthday, but it's not happening due to a lot of resting going on here for now.  Some serious sofa bonding which takes me back to memories I would rather forget, but I keep telling myself this is a virus not a lifestyle.  Come to think of it, we are making celebration a lifestyle now so don't really need special days to embrace 66 years here on earth.

Joel and I are still teaching the Adult Bible study on healing Sunday mornings.  His job as support pastor continues for now.  We are no closer to the whats, wheres, or whens, of retirement and refirement. Just know we do not want to rust out.....rather wear out.  We truly don't know yet what the future holds, but we know Who holds our future!  

We walked to the river and back today and it had me thinking....I can remember when walking 10 minutes was a major achievement and today I walked 10 minutes even though I have a list of unwelcome symptoms speaking loudly.  I am back on the sofa, but giving thanks for fresh air and oh yeah, tonight's pancakes with blueberries. Nothing like a little comfort food...........

Last night we watched one of the movies from the library ~ one called "Dancing Lughnasa" with Meryl takes place in Ireland in 1936.  It was so so so depressing.  Mostly one of those "life sucks and then you die" type of movies.  Ugh.  No recommendation here.

I finally finished the mystery book I was reading and watched my usual online teachings.  I am making this short due to the sofa calling my name once again.  If you want to be encouraged and inspired, stop over to Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience and read through her  "Only the good stuff: multivitamins for your weekend." 

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

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Restored And Reborn By His Wounds

"Surely He has borne our infirmities
and carried our diseases;
yet we counted him stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities,
upon Him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises (wounds) we are healed."
Isaiah 53:4,5 (NRSV)

Wounded.  Jesus was wounded and crushed for our sins and diseases.  He suffered beyond what we could ever imagine or comprehend.  Physically he was beaten, whipped, and killed.  Emotionally he was betrayed by one of His own, denied by another, and abandoned by the fearful.  He suffered and died for the world....the weary....the wounded.

The woman kept to herself, filled with shame and guilt over her past.  Alcoholism consumed her life for so many years, more important in the moment than anyone or anything.  Her body hungering for the liquid more than breath itself.  She lived wounded by disease and addiction.  Weary and broken, soaked in the stench of alcohol, shame and loss.  The loss of her dignity and her dreams, the loss of her child, and any fragment of hope for a future free of the chains that bound her.  And the shame that covered her like a thick fog permeated everything, a heavy burden to carry.

And then one cloudless day, after many blurry years of hopelessness, courage rose to the surface like long forgotten sunken treasure.  Courage to stop the insanity.  After many attempts, the desire for sobriety took hold deep inside and the days turned into months and the body's cravings became quieter and the desire to be sober and free grew louder until they vibrated into a new song.......a harmony of healing and of new birth. 

Restoration of a wounded soul merged with reconciliation of another and relationships were renewed and reborn.  Forgiveness began to take root, and dignity returned.  Yet shame kept her from the foot of the cross.  The cross where Jesus understood wounds and suffering.  The woman wondered how she could be forgiven by God when she could not forget the cost nor forgive herself.  But Jesus died for the wounds she suffered and those she inflicted.  He would not leave her where he found her, because He died to set her free.  By His own wounds. 

He began to bring into her the truth of the Living Word, nourishing the heart and transforming the mind with His love and the love of others.  Self-forgiveness eventually came with understanding and love.  Life took on a freshness, and joy came on morning wings.

The broken woman had walked wounded for so long.   Until Jesus.  Jesus, by His wounds healed hers.  When years later the pastor spoke the words "ashes to ashes" over her grave, family and friends gathered in numbers to remember with sorrow and joy, a life restored.  By His wounds.

I am linking up today with Bonnie over at Faith Barista Jam where today's prompt is the word "wounded".  I write this with love and remembrance for a courageous woman who's birthday is being celebrated in Heaven once again this year thanks to Jesus.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cultivating Gratitude

Recently I listened to a pastor talk about having an "attitude of gratitude".  We have all heard this little phrase, in fact I expect we may grow weary of  hearing it at times.  I confess, I wondered if I would  learn anything new on the topic.  After all, how many ways are there to talk about gratitude and thanksgiving?  But once again God opened my heart to treasures of His truth, and we all know it is the truth that sets us free, is it not ?

Daniel Armrudtz spoke about how the attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving is a powerful tool against the enemy.  The one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy hates praise and grateful hearts because this attitude leaves him powerless.  Powerless.  So an attitude of gratitude can become our voice of faith, give us strength and protect us as part of the armor of God! There were quite a few insights tossed my way, and the teaching I felt would be a yawner had me scribbling down notes to reflect on later.  Humble pie.  There is always something more God desires for us learn. 

This teaching coincided with another I watched where a woman shared that she sets her alarm on her phone to go off throughout the day as a reminder to stop and worship God for a few minutes.  So I decided this year to do the same during Lent, as a reminder of God's gift of a Savior. Every hour throughout the day and evening my phone alarm plays a few musical notes to remind me to stop, look up, and give thanks. I have been surprised first of all, by how quickly the hours go by!  At times I have been annoyed with the alarm and it's interruptions, but I have been truly delighted  by the added joy I am experiencing during this Lenten practice.  So much so, that I have decided to keep going after Easter. It is a great reminder of where my focus needs to be ~~blessing the Lord Oh my soul!

In giving thanks we are cultivating our relationship with God and proclaiming ~ We love you Lord! We give you glory!  The Bible tells us to give thanks in all things.  And we do that because we know the answer to all of life's problems is found in the One who's name is above all names....Jesus. 

God had much more He wanted to teach me that day I tuned in to yet "another teaching" on thanksgiving.  He loves us too much to leave us where we are at and for that I am grateful!  Now I better sign off as my phone alarm is singing!  Honestly, it is!  Time to go cultivate an attitude of praise and thanksgiving to an amazing God! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

God's Mysteries Require No Explanation.

For the past two months I have been having encounters with Holy Spirit which is resulting in more inner and physical healing and most importantly a closer relationship with God.  It is humbling and empowering as Holy Spirit makes His presence known to me in a physical way every day.  Counting it all joy.  I have tried to describe it to a few people, but it has been difficult to explain.

A few days ago while listening to a podcast at a church in CA, the pastor spoke of an amazing encounter he and three friends experienced with angelic presence during a worship and prayer time at church. He went on to say, "What I saw I do not need to explain....I can't really explain it.  It is the mystery of God.  When we talk about these encounters or experiences with God it is important not to try to explain what we do not understand."  Relief settled over me.  The pastor then reminded listeners of the healing of the blind man in the Bible.  The Pharisees heard about the man's healing and  were determined to get an explanation of what had happened.  They spoke to the man who had been blind more than once and even questioned his parents but they refused to talk about it, fearing for their lives.  When the Pharisees questioned the man who had been blind one more time and asked him what had happened he replied, "I don't know.  I only know that I was blind and now I see."   I was blind.  Now. I. see. 

It can be as simple and yet as profound as that. We are one way, encounter God, Jesus, or Holy Spirit, and then we are another way.  Similar to when we become Christians.  We are one way, but when we receive salvation and Holy Spirit comes, everything changes within.  There are mysteries of God we cannot explain, but encountering them does change us.  We cannot really explain the Mystery, so instead of explaining or analyzing, we lift our voices in praise to God, trusting Him in the experience.  Counting it all joy!

You know, sometimes we are frightened or disbelieving when we observe how others experience God's presence if it does line up with our own experiences. It may take us out of our comfort zone or challenge our beliefs. We have observed this at times when sharing Joel's story of overnight healing.  Most people are happy for Joel, but some are weary of us talking about it, even thinking we are bragging...while others try to make it fit into their own experiences.  Recently after Joel shared his miraculous healing with a pastor's wife, she then said, "So what do you attribute to you getting well?  Joel was astounded, but just said one word as explanation.  "Jesus".  Only Jesus.  Counting it all joy.

We are amazed and undone when we open up to the mysteries of God.....and there is such goodness to be found in them.  He has so much to show us, so much to share with us!  Today I have learned through the grace of God that I do not need to explain these personal encounters, just embrace
them.  Live in the mystery, and count it all joy.  When it involves God, the Mystery requires no explanation.

Linking up with Ann today over at A Holy Experience,  counting the gifts and counting it all joy.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of Iowa where the roller coaster ride with the weather continues.  It was near 50 here Thursday and Friday and now today we will be peaking at 25 degrees!  Ugh....Spring just can't get a hold this year, as you all know.  The brown grass is much more evident than the snow, but the white is still hanging around. 

Speaking of white, Joel and I were able to walk outside twice this week and when we went down by the river there were still huge ice chunks on the banks where they had been pushed up along with dead trees.  It was quite an ice jam this year.....I took a few pictures to share.

Along the river

Ice on banks

Joel standing next to an ice chunk on bank

Speaking of ice, we received a phone call this week from a neighbor who had fallen outside when his cane hit an icy patch.  This man has MD and a peg leg and had hit his face on the cement,  so needed a bit of help getting up .  I say a bit, because he does he more than most fully abled men in their seventies.  He gardens more easily now with the help of a stool Joel adjusted for him and he has a riding lawn mower.  Where there is a will there is a way, right?

Well, last week I shared how our water pipes froze.  Our 4 neighbors still have frozen pipes but Joel and I went out and prayed over the ground ( I know, strange, huh?) and the pipes opened and we have had water ever since.  Our water angel is back....We also got our first water bill from having it run 24/7 in one or two sinks?  It was nearly 4 TIMES the usual cost.  Ugh.......But we are grateful for water and the warmer weather that just has to come to stay soon.....After all, Spring is now officially here ~~on the calendar at least!

Even with the bitter cold temperatures hanging around, the robins are back in full force because they know it's Spring!  We have a house with 5 levels ( even with 2 levels only being a bedroom on each it is too big and thas oo many stairs) but only 9 windows in the whole place because they are big big windows.  Anyway, birds have a tendency to run into these big windows and we already had one knock himself silly.  I took a picture of the robin mostly because his feathers were ruffled to stay warm.  He sat quite awhile in the same spot until I opened the door, talked to him and startled him into action. 

Speaking of Spring, I celebrated another birthday this week.  I had big plans to get out somewhere since I spent so many years at home, but Joel got sick.  yep.  A nasty bug attacked.  Joel was so sweet in hunting down a pair of pink leather shoes that I really liked but that the store did not have in my size.  He went back later and ordered them for me after searching others places in town, and they arrived the day before my birthday. I was so surprised!  Problem was, they were too big.  They are a half size smaller than I usually wear and they are still way to big!  Felt so bad since he worked so hard to find them for me!  What a wonderful man I am married to.  I did walk that day on my own outside which was nice and enjoyed plenty of phone calls from family.  I am 66 years plus 2 days young now and grateful for every single sunrise!

Speaking of birthdays it was also time to renew my driver's license or it would expire, so we both went it to renew together.  I believe Iowa has the absolute worst license pictures in the country.  They make you take off your glasses and will not let you show your teeth when you smile.  My picture looks like a mug shot and Joel attempted to smile with his mouth closed so looks like a loopy clown!  The clerk kept calling Joel Mr. Giggles for some reason.  Maybe the photo.  We laughed so hard we had tears.  Seriously, it will be a lesson in humility to show these licenses as id's. 

The terrible mystery continues with the lost Malaysian plane. Closure will be difficult for loved ones. So sad.  So another reason not to fly over oceans anymore......we did that going and coming from the Philippines.  when we came home after two years it was an 18 hour trip, with stops in Guam and Hawaii, hours and hours over the ocean.....with a 6 and 5 year old and 2 babies and 9 pieces of luggage.  Seriously.  The kids were great, it was carting the luggage around that was challenging because those that would be of help were on strike at the airport.  We were so excited to be back in America I don't think we cared.  One funny story....we had to go through customs and immigration with the babies being Filipino, but when we put ALL the luggage up on the moving counters to be checked, and each of us walked up with a baby and a child in tow, they looked at us and said, "Just go on through..." (giggle)

This past Sunday afternoon we watched the movie, Captain Phillips.  It was so intense I had to get up and leave the room a few times.  When it was over we went for a long walk outside just to get rid of the pent up tension.  The movie was very well written and powerful.  Joel and I both loved it and Tom Hanks did a great job along with the Somali actor Barkhad Abdi.  We would recommend it to everyone,  if you are not faint of heart.  We also watched Dancing with the Stars...wooohoooo and the second episode of Resurrection.  We made a decision to no longer watch that show, though.  There is an evil undertone that we are not willing to partner with.  Castle was hysterically funny this week!  Joel and I laughed until tears were running down our faces. 

I made homemade chicken vegetable soup yesterday since Joel has been fighting some kind of cruddy bug and the cold returned,  but I am declaring it is the last of the cold weather soups we will need until next fall!  Spring is here............somewhere.

We also watched a conference held at Charis Bible College and a couple of sermons online.  My reading this week consisted mostly of my second time through Heidi Baker's book, "Birthing the Miraculous" and articles in the Guideposts, Mysterious Ways, and Angels Unaware magazines that are next to my bed.  What have you been reading?  Doing?

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Staying In The River of God

Deeper water.....God beckons us into deeper water.  Ezekiel spoke of it when he described his vision from God in chapter 47 of his Old Testament book.  In the vision an angel measured the water in the river coming from the Temple of God...first ankle deep, then knee deep, waist deep....still manageable.  Still in his control.  And then Ezekiel said, "He measured off another thousand and by now it was a river I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in~ a river that no one could cross."  Ezekiel 47:5

Way over his head.  The water.  The place where he had to depend on God to survive the deep.  It beckoned him....this place of surrender and trust.

I first reflected on Ezekiel's vision when we were planning a trip last fall to a conference on healing being held in CT.  With these and many other words from God on living waters and His provisions, I pondered what God was asking. As many of you know, a trip like this was a really big deal for me.  I had been homebound for 10 years, not traveling anywhere except to see the doctor treating me for Lyme Disease and other nasty bacteria.  Then God opened our eyes to His desire for us to be well, and my husband was healed overnight from Lyme and other health issues.  My healing has been  more of a process and I worried that I was not yet ready for such a big trip. 

Fear told me to stay home.  Just stay home.  Stay safe.....stay protected....stay within the borders.  The enemy also whispered lies, but God called me into deeper waters, asking me to trust Him.  I did.  He provided above and beyond what I could ask or think, and we had a life changing, powerful two weeks, making a vacation of it, traveling 3,000 miles, and attending a conference on healing.  Only God.

A few weeks ago, I began reading Heidi Baker's book, "Birthing The Miraculous" and came across the story in Ezekiel once again.  Deeper water.......where we cannot swim alone.  God calls us to a place of complete surrender.  While still reading the book, I also came across teachings on this vision that brought me to a "less of me and more of You" place  Deeper, deeper than I could ever imagined, my heart opened to Holy Spirit and I was immersed in His presence.  Undone by His love.

At times everything in me cried out......stay!  Stay on the bank of the river.  Wade don't dive.  It is safer here in the familiar.  You can manage your life as it is, and serve Him without full surrender.  Just stay, and avoid the risk.  My heart was willing and still is, but sometimes the flesh is weak.  Yet I am drawn to this "something more" He offers through intimacy, and I cannot resist His voice.  God is trustworthy, this I believe.  Holy Spirit knows what He is doing as He heals the inner crevices of my soul and offers more of God.  Trembling I whisper, "Spirit lead me to where my trust is without borders".

God calls us to a deeper relationship with Him and when we get past the fears and experience the deeper water we only want more.  Here we find life and healing as Ezekiel says in Ezekiel 47:6-9.  In the river, referred to in Ezekiel as the River of Healing,  we are immersed in His heart and He in ours.  We are cleansed, healed, blessed.  Blessed to be a blessing....

Stay. Come.  At times I still ponder the choices, but we are called to take a deep breath, dive in, let go, and embrace God.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him ( surrender, obedience, immersion) and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:4,5

Staying safe in "Renee's world" is no longer really an option for me, because the truth is, the. truth. is. being immersed in the river of God, saying yes to Him IS the safest place to be.  This is where I need to be.  Where He beckons us all.......

I am linking up today with Bonnie over at Faith Barista.  Her prompt word for today is "stay".

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Atmosphere, Captain Phillips, And Our Words

Ann, over at A Holy Experience, wrote today about the benefits of giving thanks.  She is the author of One Thousand Gifts, which tells her story about  how writing down all the blessings every day has changed her life.  Sounds so simple, and it is......but the effect is profound..

A professor asked his students to write letters of changed their lives.  A dying woman wrote down all she is grateful for and still lives.  The stories Ann receives about how her book changed the lives of others would have you picking up your pen and paper to write down your own list of gifts that grace your life.  It has and I do, counting it all joy.

Proverbs 18:21 says their is the power of life and death in our words.  Our words speak life or death ~ our choice.  It is the same for the written word.  Do our words change the atmosphere in our home?  Do our words put a smile or a frown on the face of a child?  Do our words bring peace or anger into the hearts of others.  Count it all joy.

Joel and I watched the movie Captain Phillips late yesterday afternoon.  Based on a true story, it was 2+ hours of sheer tension.  Excellent movie but oh my goodness, it is not for the faint of heart.  When it was over we put on our tennies and went for a long walk, discussing the movie while releasing the tension we felt.  Then last night we watched the second episode of the new series "Resurrection".  The difference in the two was profound, but not for reasons you may think.  After watching the slower paced Resurrection I turned to Joel and said, "I don't like this show.  There is something about it that makes me very evil undertone that we could feel sitting in our comfy chairs.  It was like watching this show shifted the atmosphere in our home in a very negative way.  That is what Hollywood does, it shifts the atmosphere around us with fast car chases, or romantic comedy, or tension filled scenarios like Captain Phillips.  One show made both of us tense but exhilarated while observing the humanity of all involved and the survival skills and goodness of the captain.  The other made us both feel a sense of evil and foreboding. 

We made a decision not to watch this TV show again.  Grateful that we can just turn off that big unsightly rectangle that lures us into complicity.  We have a choice.

Just like making a choice not to watch all that comes across our screen, we make choices about what comes out of our mouths too!  IF we believe the Scriptures, then we believe there is the power of life and death IN OUR WORDS.  So what are we speaking?  What are we writing?  What are we watching?  What are we allowing others to speak into us?

Today I am counting the blessings of  our US Seals rescuing Captain Phillips, a remote that has an off button, the power and guidance in God's Word, and the pen and paper within my reach to count the gifts and give God glory.  In doing so, joy reaches out to embrace me, and in return I am able to bless others.  Full circle, this gratitude thing.  For that, too, I count it all joy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday evening all!  Welcome to our small corner of the world where snowflakes have once again replaced sunshine for the weekend.  We enjoyed several days of 40 or 50 degrees and now we are back to 28 for a high...sigh...our river has a huge ice dam with enormous chunks of ice trying to move on down to other destinations.  Amazing to watch.

Speaking of watching, for some reason the missing Malaysian airliner has held my attention.  Just how does a plane disappear?  And what is with the stolen passports, the plane switching directions and turning off the communication boxes?  None of it makes any sense.  How tragic for all involved.

Joel had a busy week with the Wednesday men's breakfast Bible study at 7, church services, lunch, and a discussion of the sermon starting at 11am, and another repeat of the first service for 6:30 pm.
Thursday we went to the NE Iowa pastors conference monthly gathering, finishing up at the local Chinese restaurant.  After a late lunch we went shopping for a few things I need. Then yesterday we worked on the next session for the Healing class and shopped again!  Today we shopped one more time! Truth be told I am weary of it.  I am hoping to be done now for awhile. We walked most days at the church between 30-45 minutes. 

This past Monday we woke to frozen pipes.  When Joel checked at 4am and I used the bathroom at 5:30 am we had water, but at 7am every tap in house was dry!  Thankfully, the neighbor closest to us offered for us to run a hose from his house to ours and the water is just like before!  Hopefully our pipes will unfreeze soon!  Our other neighbor has been without water for 7 weeks!!!

Today I decided to polish my shoes with........banana peels!  I read about it in a magazine and thought I would try it on a pair of scuffed worked!  Hopefully I won't attract any monkeys when I wear them tomorrow!

We watched the new show Resurrection to see what it was like.  Kind of a sci-fi series I guess.  Over 20 million people watched the premiere.  Interesting.  TV has been pretty boring, but we did take in a few teachings online.  I am still reading The Jesus Book and catching up on magazines.  Our oldest gave me the HGTV magazine and it has been quite fun to read.  Great ideas!!  What is going on with you?  What are you reading?

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We Are All His Favorites

The word that God put on my heart to focus on this year is Jesus.  Jesus ~ our Savior, Friend, Healer, Provider. above all names - that Jesus.

I have felt close to Jesus for many years.  He has been by my side through life's ups and downs.  And as regular readers here know, Jesus and I go for walks together in the garden of my heart nearly every day.  Sometimes we sit quietly by a stream or in view of beautiful mountains and meadows, but mostly we walk.  We walk because life is journey and Jesus has much to teach me.  Walking by faith, trusting my Companion,  I treasure these times.  How do I create these garden visits?  I sit back, close my eyes, pray for the blood of Jesus to cover my garden and for Holy Spirit to control my thoughts and the images I see.  I am so blessed during these divine encounters.

Some people think it is just my imagination at work, that I make it all up.  Some may worry about the stability of my mind.  :-)   But in others there is the understanding that Jesus talks to us in a variety of ways~~ in His Word, the words of others, in our hearts, and even in divinely inspired images and visual encounters when we are open to them.  For me, in the garden I experience His presence and am deeply blessed by these personal experiences.

Recently I heard a story about an evangelist who envisioned Heaven.  He found himself in a line at Heaven's gate,  with Jesus standing at the front.  The man watched as a woman walked up to Jesus and Jesus took His nail-scarred hands and cupped her face, saying, "Oh, you are My favorite."  Then the next person in line walked up to Jesus and Jesus put His hands around their face as He said, "You are my favorite."  Then the next person....and the next the same.  Each person was His favorite.  

Joel and I tease each other about this.  One of us will say, "God loves you, but I'm His favorite!(giggle)  It is a reminder that we are powerfully loved by a mighty God of unconditional, unending, love.  We are ALL His favorites.  St. Augustine is known to have said, "God loves each of us as if there is only one of us."   Isn't that wonderful?!

We are deeply loved.  The Bible tells us we are delighted and rejoiced over.  Jesus who saves us.  The only begotten Son given in love for us.  Jesus....the name above all names...Jesus our Savior.  Jesus...the power in His name Jesus. He who loves with a perfect love.  Jesus.  We are all His favorites!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Lord Will Provide And Today That Is With Water!

We woke up today to frozen water pipes.  Four of our neighbors have been without water for up to 6 weeks.  Six weeks of no running water to shower, wash clothes, dishes, or the body.  Six weeks of carrying water to the house to flush toilets.  Six weeks of finding places to shower or even stay when weary of the efforts.

We were one of two around us who still had water.  We prayed, and our water angel kept the earth warm while we ran water 24/7 inside the house.  Then this weekend the temperatures were near 50 and our water temperature when tested was at 45!  So we lessened our vigil and stopped the 24/7 water trickling down the drain along with our money to keep it running.  Just one day...then two. 

Joel woke at 4am today and checked the water temperature.  It was down to 42 but for weeks it had been at 39 so he thought we were good.  At 5:30am I was up when nature called and there was still water to flush the toilet.  But at 7 am every tap in the house was dry.

Before Joel announced the news, I woke up and as is my pattern, I reached for my Daily Light book that shares morning and evening scriptures for each day of the year.  The first scripture for March 10th was "The Lord will provide."  I read through the scriptures for the day and just as I finished Joel came into the room and said, "I have bad news. No water."

Now, I need to add a side note here that every single month for the past 5 months we have had some kind of water crisis.  Seriously.  Every month for 5 months.....but back to this morning....

The first thing I said was, "Oh, no.  What will we do?  No place to shower, do dishes, wash clothes....Where was our water angel?"   After a few minutes of woe, I reached for our scripture book and read the one at the top of the page.  "The Lord will provide."

We knew we needed to be deliberate about how we responded to this.  GOD WILL PROVIDE.  We grabbed hold of this to stand on.  Joel began the day by walking house to house to tell neighbors one more of us had come up dry, just in case others were thinking the warmer weather would keep liquid flowing from the tap.   I put on praise music and went to my daily blog friends to see how God would reach out to us through His faithful believers.

A post from Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity restored calm as I read about how God told her to pray with expectancy, that HE WOULD PROVIDE.  Yes, provision was I began to give thanks to Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides, waiting to see how things would play out.

Before the next hour was up the neighbor behind us offered water to flush toilets and their home for showering.  Another neighbor down the block offered their place to shower in.  My BIL called in response to our early morning SOS, and said we could use their home while they are gone.  And then the provision doubled when our next door neighbor, the only one in us six who still had water, called and told Joel to just run a hose from his house to ours for water to come right into our home!!  Joel graciously said, thank you and stated he would pay for the water bill costs that would go up.  And I found myself giving thanks for the first time ever that the neighbor on that side is so close to us  :-)  making this easy to do.


We are so grateful that God has answered our needs before we knew we needed them with His Word,  and that He has provided above and beyond what we could ask or think today just as Linny shared.  He is amazing!

We are giving thanks and praise as we count the blessings today.....with humility and joy.  Counting the gifts along with Ann over at A Holy Experience, praying with expectancy, and rejoicing for the  more that came in the form of precious water!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you!  Iowa is finally thawing out with temperatures forecast for the thirties and forties in the days ahead.  Yes!  After snow again last week we are hoping winter has finally let go and is making room for Spring.  I know the Robins will be happy.  I told Joel I thought they came back early because the weather was so bad down south! 

Speaking of the south, relatives just came back from a vacation to Texas and more.  Envy is unbecoming..........sigh.   I took a vacation this week too.  From blogging.  A blogation just seemed necessary. Too bad my surroundings remained the same.  Cold.  Colder.  Snowy.  Snoweeeer?  (Is that a word?)  Two weeks til Spring!

Speaking of Spring, in our church tradition we attended Ash Wednesday services, the beginning of Lent.  I can remember going as a child to worship on Wednesday nights, and 56 years I am still doing the same.  After spending ten years homebound, it is so nice to be sitting in a pew again!

Speaking of Lent, often people give up something during this time, but after watching a teaching on worship I decided I was going to add something!  So, every hour my phone's alarm goes off and I stop for a  minute or two and worship.  I like it!  It brings my focus back where it needs to be.....on our Lord.  Who knew my phone had so many hidden talents.

We still have running water!  yay...Our water angel has been working overtime and the water now is giving us a temperature of 45 degrees so we are giving thanks and sharing with our neighbor "flushing water".  They are blessed to have children living in town so they can shower and eat at their homes.

Joel is off to a Home Show at the Fairgrounds today.  We walked earlier, and  have been walking 45 minutes most days at the church.  I have had a more challenging week, so have rested more as HS works through some inner healing.  Saying yes to God is sometimes difficult but never disappointing.

This past week our oldest had a birthday and I found myself thinking back not only on her birth and where the years have taken her (so proud), but also on where I was at her age.  When I was 44 she was turning 23 and in college.  In fact we had 2 in college and another soon ready to graduate high school.  We were living in a very small town in Minnesota, where Joel was pastor to two congregations, and life was very challenging with Lyme wrecking havoc on my body and the family.  What does not kill us makes us stronger? I certainly was not the person our B. is at 44.   I think I feel younger now than I did then.....I know I am wiser, more joyful and at peace, and closer to God.  Grateful.  So grateful.

I have been baking a bit....still using the Paleo plan for most of our meals.  I still eat 90% PaIeo, but Joel can eat anything and much to his wife's dismay, he often does! (giggle)  I made a Cinnamon swirl yeast free bread which Joel loves, plus a Paleo granola using pecans, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower kernels and raw honey.  That is sooooo good!  We eat it more as a snack, not breakfast cereal.  I continue to make our Paleo bread and bars along with cooking Paleo...fruits, veggies and meats.  I do not use all the fats or oils they suggest.  Almond and coconut flours are the basis for our baked products.  In fact we just picked up 25# of almond flour from the co-op we belong to....and I spent a bit of time putting it into containers for the freezer.  We still have some maple syrup left from the 4 gallons in the freezer and blueberries too from when we froze close to 60lbs last summer.  They are both so much better than store bought.

I have been watching a lot of teachings on healing and other topics, reading the rest of the Cleo Coyle mystery I started weeks ago, and am still working through The Jesus Book.  I find it too detailed to keep my interest, but during Lent I plan to focus more on Jesus, so I am listening, reading, and worshiping. 

So, how has your week been, and what are you up to?

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

PS.  Thank you Anita and Sharon for your encouraging comments on last week's post.  You are treasures that feed the souls of our cyber world.  Bless you.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

March 1st!  Seems like I just turned the calendar to February!  Another 3 inches of snow and subzero temperatures topped the week.  It is snowing as I write....Ugh.  It has been a never ending winter for everyone.....I heard on the news that this is the coldest winter in 35 years in Minnesota.  I expect it is the same for us here and so many other places, too. With March comes Daylight Savings Time.  I think it arrives earlier every year, but I will not complain with the extra hour of daylight. Yes!! 

Even with the continued cold, we still have water!  Remember last weekend's saga with the sewer backing up?  We could not get a drain man to come until Monday so we just kept praying over that sewer pipe out to the street and by the time the guy came on Monday he found nothing and we were back to washing clothes, etc.  Joel told the guy he thought we had a sewer angel...I call him our water angel, a better title.  Ha!

We walked mostly at the church this week and managed the usual 45 minutes. Joel was busy enough with a few meetings and his colleague group.  We have been teaching a Bible study on the topic of healing and that has been fun.  Next week Lent starts for us with Ash Wednesday.....which falls on our daughter's birthday.  With Lent there is hope for Spring!  

When I think about all the Lenten services over the years, all the Easter morning celebrations, it amazes me how much time has gone by.  We have worshiped in so many places.......Illinois, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa, Utah, New Mexico, and The Philippines.  Certainly, one Easter service stands out for us weather buffs when we lived in The Philippines.  We worshiped outside and sat on bleachers, but even attending the sunrise service, we were sweltering. Every morning by 7am it would be 85 degrees and so humid.  I don't think we ever adjusted to the humidity.  When we lived in New Mexico, Utah, and Montana I really liked the dry heat.  Of course, in Montana the wide open spaces and beauty of the west was breathtaking!

Did you watch the Season 4 finale of Downton Abbey?  It was great!  I have been re-reading another Ann Voskamp book, and we watched a live-streamed conference on the Internet for a few days this week. The TV seems to hold little interest right now....few good choices.

I have noticed my Saturday's Scribbles are getting boring (yawn).  Guess if I am going to keep them going we will need to bring more excitement into our lives so we have something to share.  I think I am in a winter slump.  So from my corner of the frozen endless winter of the north I wish you a good week filled with joy, sunshine, and better weather!

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