Monday, June 30, 2014

Prayed, Stayed, and Celebrating!

Joel and Renee
June 30th 1968

I was standing on the second floor of my college commons building with my older sister Jo and her friend Marion.  They had just informed me that they found the guy I was "going to marry".  He wanted to be a missionary, too, and they could just see us in Africa together.  At that moment Joel walked in the door below and one of them pointed him out, saying "There he is!"  When I saw Joel I said, "You have got to be kidding!  He is loud, obnoxious, and he wears boots!"  They both replied with smiles, "We will pray about it."  Just 18 months later we were married!  We were prayed together, and today, on our anniversary 46 years later,  we continue to give thanks for those prayers.  Those who are prayed together stay together :). 

There is power in prayer.  I read these words written by our friend Linny's husband DW yesterday on Facebook ~ "Prayer works.  What I mean by that is when you pray, prayer goes to work."  Prayer went to work so many years ago and Joel and I were united in marriage as part of God's plan.  What an adventure it has been!

Looking back on our life we can see how God has continually walked with us through 26 moves in 6 states and The Philippine Islands.  We raised seven children and one foster daughter for four years.  Joel spent 8 years in the Air Force and we just celebrated his 34th ordination anniversary.  My cowboy preacher! We have welcomed in-loves and grandchildren, and grieved the death of one son and the self-destruction and alienation of another.   We battled sickness for over half our married lives until healed two and a half years ago from Lyme Disease.  We have experienced many exciting adventures and a few we would rather forget about.  We have lived ~~ In faith.  In joy.  In hope.  In love.  We are so blessed.  Happy Anniversary Joel!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Another Saturday here, another week of rain mixed in with a little sunshine.  We have managed walking every day for the usual 1.5 miles and 2 miles on Thursday.  Friday's walk was interrupted by rain twice.  We were soaked by the time we got home but we got our walk in! 

Speaking of walking, we headed over to a state park 8 miles away to walk on Tuesday and then spent time by the lake relaxing both Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Sunday after church we headed over to the lake stopping in to our favorite place, Cabin Coffee for smoothies, before enjoying the water view.  We are grateful to have a lake to enjoy.  In Minnesota there are thousands, but here in Iowa ~~very few.

Walking the State Park road

Our view from the bench at a nearby lake.

A "selfie" taken at the state park

Friday afternoon Joel's cousin Luther came by with his son Andrew for a visit on their way home to MN.  from Santa Fe NM.  We had a great time catching up, and shared a meal together at Ruby Tuesday's.  This eating out thing is getting out of hand. Ha ha...We have eaten out three times in the past month, a big deal for me.

Speaking of big deals, Joel turned 68 this week!  He (we) enjoyed a day of walking, Cabin Coffee, shopping, and phone calls.  I made him a rhubarb pie, his favorite.  He had someone at the gas station near our home ask him what his secret was for looking and staying so young.  He said, "I know who I am and Whose I am".  She replied, I know one of those....."  which led into Joel's healing story.  That's my cowboy preacher!
We have been doing some purging here at home, getting rid of some clothing and things we don't need or use anymore.  Joel is back to writing his book, and we are hoping to get a couple more things done around the house before he begins work on July 15th. 
I am still reading Liz Curtis Higgs book "The Girl's Still Got It" about Ruth (Bible).  I don't have much time to read or watch TV  it seems.  I told Joel, "Being healthy is exhausting!"   And fun!
Until next time..............

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Space To Breathe

This week Bonnie Gray over at Faith Barista asked her readers to write about an experience with spending time in quietness. Bonnie wrote a book I have talked about here often as part of her launch team ~~"Finding Spiritual Whitespace:  Awakening Your Soul To Rest".  Whitespace is that space where we rest with God as His beloved.  Finding joy in the quiet places.

When I read Bonnie's prompt, I immediately saw in my mind a recent moment of quietness.  Joel and I were channel surfing one evening and could not find anything worthwhile to watch on the screen from our comfy chairs.  After a few minutes Joel stood up and said, "I am not going to sit and watch lousy TV another night.  Let's do something!  Let's go to the lake".  Iowa has very few lakes but there is one only a 20 minute drive from us that we enjoy going to.  We grabbed our sunglasses and hats and off we went.

Soon we found ourselves sitting on a bench in front of the lake.  The sun was warm and low on the horizon and the winds were gentle.  Several people were strolling together along the walkway and others were sitting on the beautiful stone wall built during the depression era. Boats, pontoons and jet skies criss-crossed through the water as it reflected the sun's light.  Families stood out on the docks fishing.  Far across the horizon the "Lady of the Lake" double-decker paddlewheel boat was taking people for a evening ride.

As we sat together arm in arm, I could feel my body relax.  Large bodies of water seems to have that affect on people, or at least on us.  We spent a glorious hour de-stressing while enjoying the view.  Conversation was optional as we sat quietly watching a screen only nature could create.  It was such an enjoyable evening we have gone back a few more times. 

It is so important to take time for quiet spaces, for whitespaces where we rest with God.  Where we stop doing and embrace being.  Bonnie's book, "Finding Whitespace" is a wonderful guide for moving into that place of rest, of trusting God while sitting in quietness. 

I am linking up today with Bonnie and her Whitespace Link Up.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Saturday's Bargaining And Sunday's Sermon

As we settled in for Sunday's sermon, the pastor confessed that he had left out the last 8 verses of the Gospel lesson found in Matthew 10 because he wanted to focus on the positive part of the passage and not the difficult.  He focused on the verses that tell us that even the hairs on our heads our numbered and that not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing ~  and are we not of more value than a sparrow?  Comforting words, right?

The verses he avoided at the end of the chapter speak of following Jesus at all cost:

“If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it"

As Joel's mom would say, 'Uffda"   (kind of like, good grief! )

This past Saturday, not for the first time, I was talking to God about the path Joel and I are following.  I found myself bargaining and pleading with Him because, well, when we said yes to this adventure in Holy Spirit and God-wants-you-well healing, we made a far turn to the right away from the beliefs of most family and friends.  Uffda.

Following where Jesus leads can be difficult.  Sometimes being a little to the right of crazy is a hard place to be.  Some people would say it has been our choice, but it is where God has called us and in obedience we have said yes, even though at times I feel stretched tight between what was and what is. But then I remember the past when we were housebound with a disease that robbed us of life.  And where we are now--enjoying a full life~~ and I can't go back.

Maybe we were naïve in thinking others would embrace for themselves our adventures with Holy Spirit and God's healing power.  I know I never expected to be where we are now.  I love it, but I also understand it has a cost.  That is where the bargaining came in last Saturday.  At times the cost seems too much, until I look at Jesus on the tree.  And I see the real cost of obedience.  His shed blood for me, for you. 

God's response to Saturday's pleading came in Sunday's sermon.  Follow Him.  And reading those verses a second time I see that Jesus gives us a promise in these verses....when we give up our life, we will find it.  It.  Life abundantly.  Eternal life.  It may look differently for each one of us, this giving up our life.  The life of surrender.  It is according to God's plan and purpose and our hunger for more.  Not always easy, not always clear, but always good because God is good.......and patient....even when one of His children resorts to bargaining.  Uffda!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Remembering A Friend And A Year That Shaped Our Lives

 A long time friend of ours died a week ago.  Pastor Merv Olson was a man who lived life with gusto, a man who had a heart for the people of God and the Gospel.  He was 77 years old and leaves behind his wife Joyce, and three children and their families.

In 1978, after two years of seminary Joel needed to go on Internship, spending his third of four years "out in the field" learning the skills of a pastor.  We were a big family and there were only three places that could support a family of six.  Malta Montana is the one we chose.  Malta Parish consisted of 4 churches in 4 towns, plus summer worship in a hot springs resort area and services in the small mining village of Zortman located in the Little Rockies.  We have never regretted the decision to sell our home and step out in faith, heading West.  Our year in Malta shaped our lives in so many ways and so did Merv and his family. We still talk about the adventures we experienced, where we participated in cattle drives, branding cattle, rodeos, services in the little Rockies, and long drives to worship in the small northern Montana churches Joel was assigned.  Often on those drives we would never meet another car, but only encounter eagles, antelope, and the best of nature.  We can add to those adventures eight funerals in a little over 2 weeks, of which three were victims of crime when some evil men drove through the state trying to escape to Canada and murdered three people who lived in one of the very small towns Joel served.  Joel had been preaching and teaching in churches over the years long before he was ordained, but he had never officiated at a funeral.  He learned quickly during those two weeks.

Merv gave Joel the guidance and support he needed, while letting him know he trusted his abilities, and he never said no when Joel needed advice late at night while writing a sermon.  He played a major role in Joel's seminary education and he even came to Minnesota to be a part of Joel's ordination service in 1980.   We have remained friends with Merv and his family as we moved on and life took over.  He even came to Minnesota to be a part of Joel's ordination service in 1980.  There are people who impact our lives in a big way, and Merv was one. 

Reflecting on Merv's death, we could not help but give thanks for this man and what he brought into our lives and the lives of countless others during his 50 years of ministry.  We could not help but look back and remember all that we learned during our year in Malta Mt~~the people we met, the state we grew to love, the experiences that shaped our world.  We count it all joy!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday afternoon all!  Today's forecast calls for a high of 82 with scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms, but thankfully the sun is shining brightly right now. We are still recovering from the storms, tornadoes and torrential rains that started Monday night!  Our river road is still dry, but the river is over the banks in our small park,  and flooding the large park here in town.  Still nothing like my brother and SIL who texted a picture of someone kayaking in their back yard where water from a large creek has flooded.  They even had a snapping turtle lay eggs by their deck!   Weather across the country seems to be so extreme.

Monday we headed to Mn to my home town where we visited with several of my family.  Joel was surprised with a birthday cake while there.  One daughter and her three treasures came and then followed us home.  We had just made a pizza for supper when the tornado sirens went off so we ate in the basement.  It was quite a stormy night.  They planned to stay until Thursday morning but flash flood warnings and closed roads kept them here until Friday.  A bonus for us!

So Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we shopped, played on the Wii, watched the movie Frozen, did a craft, snuggled a lot, and stayed up late talking.  What fun to have our house filled with the voices of children, and one on one time with our girl.

Wednesday our youngest and her boyfriend came and we celebrated her 28th birthday with supper and cupcakes.  Our oldest is 44 and our youngest is now 28....and that makes us......?  Young parents, right?  Not.  But certainly young at heart.

While walking this morning we watched a doe off to the side of the river road.  She was not afraid of our presence (maybe the same deer that was in our yard!), so we snapped a few pictures.  They are beautiful animals, aren't they!

Joel is getting a few projects done around the house, but also taking time to relax and enjoy the time off.  We hope to get more purging done too.  Judas Priest!   How much stuff can two people have?  46 years worth, I guess.
I am still reading Liz Curtis Higgs book about Ruth and we now have Netflix so we watched an old episode of Magnum PI last night.  We have not watched TV all week with family here, but played quite a few games on the Wii with the kids!
Until next time..........

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday's Saturday Scribbles

Good Sunday afternoon! We had a good old fashioned thunderstorm yesterday, and more is forecast for today, but after a week of sunshine and warmth, the rain will bring needed nourishment to all that is growing.  It is nice to walk outside with all the green.  We have managed walking 1.5 miles daily and one day 2 mile jaunt again.  Yippee!

Speaking of nature, I spent a half hour Friday afternoon trying to get a deer out of our yard and the neighbors.  She had no fear!  I waved my arms, yelled, and even banged on something while walking towards her.  She would just saunter away and then come back when I went up n the deck.  Ugh.  They are out of control here.  The other day a friend saw one downtown crossing the street.  The city we live has a population of around 30,000....certainly enough people to keep the deer away?  We did find out that just a half block from us a woman feeds the deer and raccoons.  Seriously.  Not good.

We have a wren nesting in the birdhouse Joel put up in the lilac bush out back.  They have a pretty song they sing!  I have not seen much of our resident cardinals this summer, but a few Baltimore Orioles have been around.

Last Sunday was Joel's last at St. James.   The temperature was only 50 degrees with winds at 15mph and we sat outside for worship.  Cold!  Second service was not any better but the third was inside so I did not need my coat or quilt!  They had a nice cake for the farewell.   Later in the afternoon we went over to friends for a visit.  Tuesday we went to the last quilters coffee at the church.  Tuesday evening we went over to a lake around 8 miles from here and watched the boats, jet ski's, and people.  We walked along the boardwalk and sat on benches taking in the sunshine and serenity that a body of water seems to bring.  Wednesday morning Joel taught at his last Mens church breakfast Bible study, and Wednesday noon we went to Ruby Tuesday's with the staff.  Joel will take a month off before starting the Interim at Faith in a small town 35 minutes from home.

This weekend Joel has been at our synod's assembly as a representative for retired clergy.  Ummmm, yes he is officially retired, but also yes...he is still working!  He came home every night since it was being held only an hour from home, and he likes sleeping in his own bed.  Today I went down with him for morning worship and lunch.  There is nothing like hearing a chapel full of pastors sing.  Fantastic!  I spent Friday and Saturday reading, watching online teachings or worship, plus DVD teachings, ironing, baking, TV, etc.  Sure is quiet around here when my cowboy preacher is gone!

Today is Father's Day.  Both Joel's and my fathers died while we were still kids, but Joel was blessed with a step-father and I with a brother-in-law that helped raise me.  They are gone, too, but we give thanks for them all.  Joel is a great father.  He was gone too much in ministry, missing too many games and events, and fun times with our children (his words) , but he is a man of integrity and faith, with a deep love for his family.  Our kids are blessed to call this cowboy preacher dad.  Happy Father's Day!

I finished Bonnie Gray's book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace:Awakening Your Soul to Rest" and wrote a review about it here.  It is a very good book!  I am now reading Liz Curtis Higgs book, "The Girl's Still Got It", about Ruth (in Bible).  Higgs writes wonderful books that grab your attention.  Joel and I are reading his cousin, David Simonson's book aloud to each other...."The Cross Under The Acacia Tree".  David was a lifelong missionary in Tanzania and is buried near his home on the land given to him by the Masai tribe.  His wife and several children and grandchildren all live there.  What have you been reading?

Short chat this week....
Until next time......

Friday, June 13, 2014

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: A Review

Over the past three weeks I have been reading Bonnie Gray's new book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace:  Awakening Your Soul To Rest".  Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista and has had her work featured on Dayspring's (in)Courage site and  After graduating from UCLA she served as a missionary, missionary entrepreneur, and Silicon high-tech professional.  She now lives in northern CA with her husband and two sons.

As part of Bonnie's launch team, I received the book before it's release and was required to write an honest review after reading it.  I am linking my review up to Faith Barista's Blog Tour where you can read many reviews and posts centered around this fascinating book.

As an avid reader, I expected to read the book quickly, and breeze right into the review, but God had other plans.  When I opened the pages of her book, I found myself caught up in her story, His story, and my own.   Bonnie, a strong, confident woman of God, was suddenly overcome with repressed childhood memories surfacing, debilitating panic attacks, and more.  She was diagnosed with PTSD and went into therapy with a top PTSD therapist where with courage, she began to process and heal from her traumatic childhood.  The result of her journey is her book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace", where she shares her walk on the printed page with grace, vulnerability and honesty.   Each chapter gives us glimpses into her personal story, and how Jesus walks with her, guiding, directing and healing her past.  In this process Jesus beckons Bonnie to rest in and with Him because He knows that the resting is where the soul is nourished and healing comes.   Bonnie says,

"When we step into whitespace, we are no longer holding on to our old ways
of coping managing, and doing.  We are only holding on to Jesus."  

At the end of each chapter we are invited to participate in the exercises provided, which will guide you into your own places of rest with Jesus, those places you may have hidden deep within that are in need of His healing touch.  This book is not only a memoir, but so much more.  We are given permission here to be our authentic selves, stop avoiding or covering the pain in our lives with busyness and activity, and embrace a full and intimate relationship with Jesus as His beloved. Bonnie invites us to stop and find God in the quiet places within.

On a personal note, my quick read turned into a three week adventure into my own hidden places.  I was only a couple chapters into the book when I began to experience nightmares and flashbacks that revealed more repressed childhood memories.  God was calling me to let Him be with me, as is....trusting His plan for me.  Even though it can be difficult,  I know that "awakening my soul to rest", the unearthing within, is bringing healing and the freedom Jesus speaks of.  "It is for freedom Christ sets us free..." (Gal.5:1) 

I have read hundreds of books over the years, and I can honestly say this book is very special and one I will return to again and again. The journey with Bonnie to find spiritual whitespace brings us into our own. We find Jesus there in the whitespaces as He beckons us~~ "Come to Me.......I will give you rest..." (Matthew 11:28-30)  I truly believe this book by Bonnie Gray is anointed by God to open hearts and restore souls.   "Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest" is a powerful read and I recommend it to everyone.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dear Little Renee

Today's prompt from Bonnie over at Faith Barista is to write a letter to our self when we were a child.  She asks us to write what we would say to her, knowing what we know now. This has been very difficult for me to do, although I am not sure of all the reasons why.  I think partly because I still struggle with the need-for-approval demon and partly because I still am processing the raw memories that surfaced whiled reading Bonnie's book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace".   I have learned, though, that sometimes the only way out is through.

Dear Little Renee,

There are so many things I want to tell you, most importantly that you have a voice.  A voice that is a force to be reckoned with.  That even when the people around you were not listening, Someone was.  Someone is. Jesus hears your voice and He delights in it.  He believes what you say, Little Renee.  Remember, you have a voice....  

It also is very important that no matter how you feel, you know deep in your heart and soul that are not alone.  Never, ever.  Papa God has been with you since the day you were conceived as part of His creation.  He has called you His beloved, and has never left your side.  When it is just you in the skin-on-skin and you don't feel safe, you are still not alone.  Jesus was with you in the silence, in the pain, the grief, the endless battles to combat fear.  Jesus was with you crying when you cried, laughing when you laughed, urging you to climb up on His lap to rest.   Jesus wants you to know that His lap is safe.  Little Renee, He wants you to know that resting in His arms is a secure place to be and you can trust Him always.  You are good at surviving, but you can be good at resting too.  Resting meaning trusting.  You can trust Papa God, Little Renee, He will not hurt you.  He does not lie or break His promises. 

What you have gone through does not have to be buried or hidden any longer.  You do not have to pretend all is well or smile when you would rather frown.  You do not have to make others happy by avoiding or ignoring your own pain.  It is not your job to tell others they will be okay when your seven year old world is falling apart inside.  Being strong is being truthful.  You do not have to always be the good little girl because you believe that if you are good nothing bad will happen. 

Here is what I know now in the latter years of my/our life.  We are never alone.  We have a voice worth listening to.  There is power in our voice because Jesus with His power lives in us.  We are important but not any more important than anyone else.  We are amazing in God's eyes.  We are enough.  We. are. e.n.o.u.g.h.   Being perfect is better left to Jesus.  Papa God's joy is our strength.  We are loved.  Oh, yes, we are loved.   So, we can rest.   Just rest, just rest.

 I am linking up with Bonnie over at Faith Barista

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Just Walking Through

I have been reading Bonnie Gray's book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace" and linking my posts up to Bonnie's Blog Tour  I plan to write a review for tomorrow, although I am sure readers know how I feel already!  Reading Bonnie's story has been a bit like opening Pandora's box for me.

Bonnie has been seeing one of the leading PTSD therapists in the country to help her along her journey with PTSD and childhood traumas surfacing.  He is a Christian man with great wisdom, and the bits and pieces of Dr. P.'s insights she has shared have been helpful for me, too.  In one section Bonnie wrote about the intense and sometimes subtle physical symptoms that occur when she is remembering or reliving a traumatic memory.   When reading her words I found myself nodding my head in agreement.  Confirmation came off those pages for me.

You see, when I was healed by Jesus from Lyme Disease, many things changed for me.  I have written about it here often.  But some symptoms hung around and would get worse when I was dealing with certain kinds of stress, or memories surfacing from childhood traumas.  When I began to have flashbacks with  PTS two years ago,  I decided to seek help through Sozo ministry which is a Holy Spirit guided inner healing ministry.   After several sessions I was doing very well, so I decided the PTS the doctors had diagnosed me with was wrong.....or at least now gone.   But even though the flashbacks were minimal to none, certain physical symptoms would increase or come back periodically.  Then Holy Spirit gently guided me to the a cause and affect connection.  Thankfully, over time as healing occurs, physical responses have lessened and I am now better equipped to acknowledge and walk through those times pretty quickly.  If not, I know in time this too shall pass.  Reading Bonnie's book, (thank you Jesus) has confirmed what I was experiencing and has given me new insights.  I was empowered by what she says about PTSD. 

"Maybe PTSD isn't who I really am.
Maybe it is just what I am walking through. 
 Maybe "beloved" is who I really am."
                                                                                                   Bonnie Gray

It is the truth that sets us free. And where do we find the truth?  In God's Word.  We are not a label, or a diagnosis.  We are just walking through those things.  What we are is God's beloved.  His b.e.l.o.v.e.d.  The truth, the TRUTH we find in HIS Word sets us free from the past.....from a diagnosis.....from being held captive to old memories and events that still try to define us.  I have received amazing physical and emotional healing in the past 18 months as Holy Spirit has unearthed that which was hidden and I have learned to trust the Healer more and more.  I, too, am just walking through!  Bonnie's book has been an amazing part of my journey and I am grateful for the truth she speaks.  The Truth sets us free.  The Truth says all His promises are yes and amen.  And the Truth says God delights in us.  He thinks we are amazing.  We are HIS beloved.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Our Story Is His Story

There is a heavy weight of stress we carry when we attempt to keep our story hidden from ourselves and from others.  When we are afraid to face the truth about ourselves.....what we have done or what has been done to us.

Bonnie Gray shares these insights in her book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace", which  counter balances the "just get over it" mentality echoed from a segment of our society.  A mentality that seems to come from a belief that we need to deal with our brokenness by burying, pushing past, denying, glossing over, or ignoring it.  This is so not healthy and I don't believe it is part of God's plan either.  Burying  parts of our past does not make us strong,  it actually weakens us.  It takes great courage to embrace and speak about our personal stories and then step out in faith, trusting God for the healing that will come when we realize that "God's mission field is your heart." (Bonnie Gray)

Not everyone chooses to write out their story in a public fashion.  We are vulnerable when we put our heart out on the Internet.....(Lysa TerKeurst) or as Bonnie has in the form of a powerful book.  I  believe that being able to voice that which holds us captive is cathartic and empowering.  Hopefully it is not anyone's intention to hurt someone, but to help others.  I know that when I share my story my goal, like Bonnie's, is to empower others and give God praise for how He has walked with me on my journey to wellness.

Bonnie is a well educated and professional woman.  She was a wife, mom, author, and speaker when in an instant her life took a dramatic turn.  A sudden panic attack left her confused and shaken, eventually leading to a diagnosis of PTSD from a traumatic childhood.  For many years she had been "strong" and dealt with her past by denying, forgetting, or pushing past that which hounded her.  Until she had no choice....until Jesus met her in the middle of her mess of PTSD and repressed memories bubbling to the surface.  He took her hand and walked with her into the light. 

Courage. Bonnie had the courage to seek help and she has the courage to listen to what Jesus tells embrace her inner child and let Him love her.  And to let Him walk with her and the little wounded girl inside as they journey into all that He has for her.  Healing........freedom.

We all have a story to share.....and how realistic or healthy is it for our children, loved ones, or others if we only acknowledge the good....and deny or erase the bad, or even the ugly?    Our story is God's story...of truth, of brokenness, of healing, of redemption, of success and failure, of God's desire to heal our hearts.  Our story is His story.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning all!  We are enjoying another beautiful day here in corn country.  I am sharing a few more pictures...these were taken along the river road we walk.  Managed 1.5 miles every day except for last Monday.

This corn field is along the road and borders our association.
Wasn't the sky beautiful?!

This wildflower is so pretty

Every once in awhile we take a selfie to send
to the was Friday's!
I am wearing a new hat in the picture.  I needed something that kept the sun off my face for the most part and protected my eyes a bit more.  Hats do nothing for me, so I asked Joel to pick one he liked on my big head.  This was it.  Actually, there was one more~ a cowboy hat like his...I vetoed that.  If we still lived in Montana I would have considered it, but here in the Midwest?  One cowboy in the family is enough!  A lot of drama over a hat, right?!
The other day I was upstairs changing when Joel came up and coaxed me into splashing in the rain with, with thunder rumbling overhead and rain coming down we went out and walked barefoot in the rain.  Water was rushing down the side of the curb fast and at least a few inches deep.  It was more fun that I wanted to admit to my crazy hubby!

We decided to do what the rest of the world does and eat out.  We went to Ruby Tuesday's on Thursday night before heading to Target.  I came home and told Joel that was nice, but once every 4 months is enough for me. He then reminded me the staff at St. James are taking him/us out for lunch next week.  (giggle)  Eating out twice in one week!  Wowza!!  I know it sounds strange to most people, but I have always preferred eating at home...I mean really, think about it.  You go to a place where your food comes to the table cooked by someone you never see and don't eat totally surrounded by strangers.....and you pay enough money to cover quite a few meals.  Okay it is not really that bad, but I just felt the need to present a different perspective.  It just came to mind that I used to hate staying in hotels and now enjoy it.  Hmmmmm There is hope for me yet!

Now, when I I was a baby my parents owned a café in WA.....and I think another in MN before I arrived.  Small café in a small town.  I used to spend time in a crib put in the kitchen while they cooked the food for local patrons.  I expect they knew everyone who came in the door~!  We lived in a small town like that in Montana where you knew most everyone.  We actually would attend the sporting events because the whole town went.  If you know how little we know about or enjoy sports you would find that amazing:).  It was a good place to visit with people!

Speaking of food.....the local Farmer's Market is up and running so we are heading there to see what is available. Hoping to find some June berries soon.  We STILL have blueberries in the freezer from last year's 60lbs we purchased.  Almost out of maple syrup, though.  It is great to have a freezer.  This one was purchased in 1976 so I think we got our money's worth.  I just have to say it...."They don't make things to last like they used to!"

Joel will preach his last sermons tomorrow at St. James.  It is actually a time of questions.  He has does this several times with good success.  The people come with questions and his answers come from the Bible, the Synod, or as a Joelism.  If needed his answer will be "I don't know."  I love his honesty and integrity.  My cowboy preacher tops my list in case you couldn't tell!  We will miss the people at St. James. 

Joel has accepted a call as Interim to a small church in a small town around 35 minutes from here.  He filled in there last November and December and officiated at their confirmation service in May.  They are the small church with a big heart.  Love to sing, and the energy there is so positive.  Not sure how long we will be there, but they are eager for Joel to guide them as they make some changes and decisions in moving forward.

Today is our grandson Jonas's 6th birthday.  He will be in first grade next fall and is our youngest grandchild!  Happy Birthday Jonas!  No more babies until the great-grands come along and we hope that is another ten years or longer since our oldest grands are only going into 10th grade!

I have been reading Bonnie Gray's book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace:  awakening your soul to rest".  It is a powerful read!  I have been writing about it here as part of her launch team.  We watched the movie, "Frozen" last night!  Yes we did!  It was actually pretty good, and we enjoyed the humor.  We are waiting for several summer shows to start again, but really prefer porch sitting!  What have you been up to?

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

To Unearth Will Heal

 to unearth:  to find something that has been lost or hidden
to discover or disclose
to uncover

I have been reading Bonnie Gray's book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace", taking my time so as to reflect and journal some of the questions and ideas she shares at the end of each chapter.  She has opened her heart, sharing not only her story of childhood repressed memories that have surfaced with PTSD, but of how Jesus is walking her through to a place of healing. Her courage and insights have been life changing. 

Bonnie's book is a very powerful read and for me it has unearthed some old childhood memories.  That which has been hidden for 60 years has been disclosed, uncovered.  In some ways it has been tough to re-experience these memories long buried, but I know God sent this book into my life as another step in my own healing journey.  The unearthing has made me sad, and it has taken my cowboy preacher to a rare place of anger, but it has also been cathartic.  I know Jesus is wanting me to be set free from the past and I take comfort in knowing that He was with me so long ago, just as he is today. 

I have found it difficult to write about.....too raw yet to put into words.  But I believe that everyone who opens the pages of Bonnie's book will be changed for the better, and from the posts I have read that were written by others on the launch team, it appears so.  This book has been anointed by God and Bonnie's courage to write with such openness and honesty from beginning to end will touch you with the Father's love that comes through each chapter. 

I am linking up today with Bonnie for Whitespace Thursday.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Monday, June 2, 2014

Leaving Normal For Amazing!

This past week Maya Angelou died at age 86.  She will be missed greatly for the many gifts she shared with the world, even as her legacy continues.  One of her quotes I heard this week has given me pause.

"If you are always trying to be normal,
you will never know how amazing you really are"

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was lamenting to my cowboy preacher about not being "normal",  or feeling normal.  Okay, maybe I was having a bit of a pity party over it.  I will spare you all the birth to age 66 details, but suffice to say, the path I was taken down as a kid and the path Joel and I have traveled as adults has not been close to "normal".  Or at least the world's idea of it. This day I pondered the direction God has been taking us the past two years.  This new journey with supernatural healing and encounters with Holy Spirit. The one that has us just a little to the right of crazy!

Don't misunderstand me, at this time in our lives we are delighted to have our faith stretched and shaped by new experiences and a deeper relationship with Papa God.  But there are moments I desire to just fit in.  Moments I long to be among others with skin on who "get" where we find ourselves.  Others who think that just a little to the right of crazy is "normal".  Less lonely?  Ready for that.  We would never sit down and refuse to go where God is calling us, but in our mainstream denomination we no longer blend in.  We are not just Lutherans.  We are Lutherans with an add on.  We speak in tongues, believe God wants you well and that sickness was covered by Jesus' death on the cross.  (Please note that I am fully aware that most mainstream churches don't embrace these ideas or gifts either.)

So far, the only place where I have felt normal in the sense of blending in was at St Paul's (Lutheran) Westport in Westport CT.  A long, long drive to church from northern Iowa!   I don't think a move East is in our future, so maybe what I need to be do is let go of the need to be normal....which comes with the need for approval.  Both are destructive.

"If you are always trying to be normal,
 you will never know how amazing you are!"

I am God's eyes.  And if in God's eyes then I better embrace it!  I am amazing.  YOU are amazing!  We can shake off the need to be normal...the need for any one's approval but God's.   I am still holding on for friends who echo our journey and I believe God will provide them, but normal is just a setting on my dishwasher.  I'm ready to leave it there, embrace our just a little to the right of  crazy 100%, and move into amazing!

Yesterday I was upstairs getting ready to change when my hubby came up barefoot, wearing shorts, a red windbreaker and his cowboy hat.  Yes, he looked a bit silly.  He invited me to go outside with him and slosh through the rainwater running fast and deep down the side curb of our street.  I declined, but he coaxed me out into the rain, and we walked up and down the street as the water washed over our feet and the thunder rumbled overhead.  Once I quite worrying about what the neighbors would think and let myself remember how much I loved this as a child, I had a delightful time playing in the rainwater!  

"If you are always trying to be normal
you will never know how amazing you really are"!
Maya Angelou

 I am giving thanks today for the supernatural, for not being normal, and for being amazing in God's eyes.  I am counting it all joy as I link up with Ann over at A Holy Experience.