Thursday, April 30, 2015


When in doubt?  Then worship and praise the One who is the Way and the Truth!
When you find yourself a slave to fear?  Worship and praise our Protector
When the world is in chaos around you?  Worship and praise the God of peace.
When prayers go unanswered?  Worship and praise the One who answers our prayers.
When the doctor's report is bad?  Worship and praise our Physician and Healer!
When death knocks on your door?  Worship and praise the giver of life eternal!
When friends betray us?  Worship and praise the Friend that always stands with us.
When depression covers you like a dark cloud?  Worship and Praise Jesus who is the Light.
When grief fills your heart.....Worship and Praise in grief the One who understands.

When sunshine fills your days...Worship and Praise the Son.

When joy fills your hearts....Worship and Praise the Giver.

When abundance is overflowing....Worship and Praise our Provider.

When our hearts rejoice.....Worship and Praise the One who delights in you!



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Purging Brings Freedom!

What are all our closets and cupboards filled to overflowing with?  How many fancy bowls, Tupperware containers, old bedding, or blue T-shirts do we need?  Why do we hang on to things?  Sentimental value?  A rainy day?  Just in case.......or security?

We've been sorting and purging here. Well, mostly I am sorting and purging, since Joel finds this process a bit challenging. He's working on it!  It is amazing what you can let go of when you know you are moving 2,000 miles away into a house with no basement.  We don't have a house yet, but homes in that part of the country do not have basements.  Storage is limited.

Abraham and Sarah packed up when they were around our age, heading out into the desert at God's direction.  Sound familiar?  The old...the desert...the "go" from God.  I wonder if they spent time sorting and purging before strapping on their sandals and heading out.  Did they struggle with the process?

I went through the linen closet yesterday.  Why was I hanging on to old sun-faded green drapes?  Those flannel top sheets for a twin bed?  We haven't had a twin bed for at least 15 years.  And then there are the threadbare towels that we might be able to use for rags.  Except we already have two big tins full of more rags than we will ever need!  So, I took a deep breath, put on some praise music, and went to work.  Before long I had a big pile for the goodwill, a very small pile for the linen closet and extra space on the shelves to put everything in order. 

I have already tackled my closet and Joel is working on his.  I've gone through the large cupboards in the dining room, sorting, purging, and boxing as I go along.  I like this sorting and purging business.  It feels good to get rid of stuff that has just been taking up valuable space.  It is somehow freeing.

Speaking of freeing, I have shared here before that Joel and I use the Sozo Ministry techniques to help bring about inner healing.  It is a Christian, Holy Spirit guided ministry that quickly releases issues for people. When I began having flashbacks of repressed childhood memories, God guided me to this ministry, and I experienced the release of past abuse and trauma so quickly I was all in.  There is no way I want to hang on to soul wounds that take up space and keep me from living a great life, so this week when an "issue" rose to the surface I scheduled a Sozo session with my favorite cowboy preacher. 

Sozo is not much different than the sorting and purging I have been doing here in our closets and cupboards.  God wants us to live a whole and healthy life and often "stuff" from our past get in the way.  Not only in our relationships with others, but also our relationship with God. When we are able to sort through and purge those experiences in life that cause us to walk with an emotional limp, it is soooo freeing.  God is a good God and He wants good for us.  Sorting and purging is part of that goodness because through the process freedom comes.

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

I'm linking up today with Bonnie over at Faith Barista.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Our Nutty Robin

Do you know what the definition of insanity is?  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. 

We have a robin that defines this definition perfectly.  Seriously.  It is mating season here and this irritating bird is trying to protect his territory from other males.  He perches in a tree by our tall window on our landing, keeping watch.  Unfortunately for us, he keeps seeing his reflection in the glass and so he attacks the bird he thinks he sees.  Hitting our window with his beak and his body.  Over and over again.....and again...ALL day long.  He is acting out the definition of insanity while slowly driving Joel and I crazy in the process. 

How many of us can identify with this nutty robin?  Not with the need to protect territory, but in the actions we take.  How many of us keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? 

Yeah.  We have all been there.  We may not want to reveal those patterns of insanity we all experience, but if we take off the shades and look into our hearts, we can see them. 

Maybe it is how we view the world.  Maybe it is how we interact with people, or in relationships.  Maybe it is how we live life.  We do the same thing over and over again.....hoping for different results.

In the Bible, Jesus really shook things up.  He did not speak one way, He did not heal one way, He did not live a predictable life.  He did what His Father called Him to do and He asked the same of His followers.   Scary, right?  But if we follow Jesus, if we are obedient and surrender to His will, opening our ears and our hearts to hear Him?  Maybe, just maybe a breakthrough will come in one of those areas where our actions define insanity.

Truth be told, we may still look a bit crazy or west of weird, but we won't be living like our nutty robin outside the window.  Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday evening, and the day has been damp and chilly here in Iowa.  We arrived home to grey skies, drizzle, dampness, wind, and cool temperatures.  Just one of those days.

We were up in NW Minnesota attending the funeral of Joel's 108 year old Aunt Pearl who died this week from pneumonia, a complication of the "crud" which went through the nursing home where she resided.  Her sister, Harriet, is the last living sibling, and will soon be 103.  It was a lovely service, and we both are very grateful we could attend.  Joel had the privilege of helping with part of the service. Pearl is buried in the cemetery of the church her grandfather gave the land for and helped build.  There was a deep connection there of past generations remembered and new generations to carry on the legacy. 

It fascinates me, this community of deeply rooted people.  It is something I do not quite understand myself, having moved so often as a child and throughout my life.  People bound to the land and to their history there in the woods and farmland of Minnesota.  I respect it, I just have never experienced it.  And Joel has been gone so long.........but every road we traveled, every grove of trees we passed, the farms and homes we saw once again.....they bring back so many good memories for him.  So much history.  The foundation from which he has lived his life, surrounding him on these too far apart visits.

After the funeral we drove south quite a distance to watch three of our treasures perform in a school musical.  It was such fun to be there!  And a perfect way to end the day.  Grieving the loss of a life well lived, and celebrating the lives of our grands who have barely begun their own journeys. 

Besides the musical and the funeral, we were able to stop and visit with Gr. Jo on the way up and have lunch with our son Mark and grandson Noah on the way back.  We packed a lot into the 2.5 days and 2 nights we were gone!  Our visit to the north country was short, since Joel needs to be in the pulpit for Sunday morning.

I am behind on my reading, internet teachings, and housecleaning.  Guess I know what I will be doing this coming week!

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rhubarb Pies, Birdhouses, And A Bike

Joel's Aunt Pearl died yesterday from complications due to pneumonia.  The crud ~ that upper respiratory infection so many had this year,  went through the nursing home where she resided and she got it.  Pneumonia set it and her body began shutting down.  She went to be with Jesus yesterday at the amazing age of 108.  Yes, I typed that correctly.  She was 108.   She was one of six siblings, and  leaves behind her younger sister who is "only" 102.

Pearl had been a school teacher for 40 years in NE Minnesota, going back to a homestead consisting of a few acres (only a mile from the place she grew up near Fergus Falls MN) many weekends and in the summers. When she retired she lived their full time. She was Joel's aunt on his mom's side and she "dated" Joel's uncle on his dad's side for years, but they never married.  Two great people who loved family, God, and evidently their independence.

Unlike many of the family who still live in the area, we did not spend as much time with Pearl once we married and life took us so many places, but we enjoyed her very much when we did see her, and Joel kept in touch with phone calls.  She was in many ways a character.  We do remember she was a smart dresser, wore the same hair style as long as I can remember, and never drank anything but water.  She was proud of her car and kept it immaculate.  She made great rhubarb pies and built hundreds of bird houses.  She rode her stationary bike into her nineties.  She lived on her homestead until she moved into an apartment and then at age 100, she decided she wanted to be in a nursing home. She loved to travel......Oh the places she went and the people she met!!  And now she has met Jesus, while being embraced by family who went before her!.  What a life!  108.

We have one life to live and it is up to us to live it well.  At the end of our 108 years...more or less.....I hope each of us leaves behind a Godly legacy and takes with us the deep love of family. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Journey Orchestrated By God

It has been ten days since I posted anything here at my cyber home.  Most of those days were spent preparing for a seminar we presented on healing last Saturday outside a small town in SW Minnesota where around 25-30 gathered to hear our healing stories and the Biblical principles we teach on healing.  The ALC Lutheran church we were at flows in the Holy Spirit and has an active inner healing ministry.  That in itself was wonderful to experience. 

So, hours of prep time, writing and re-writing, praying, discussing, and even an interview on a Christian radio station out of SW MN, plus Joel's night meetings and work, and our youngest having major surgery on Friday?  Yeah.  The week was a bit full!

We spoke from 10-12 and 1-3, then we had a worship and prayer service that lasted from 3-4:30. It was a long day with the 3 hours of driving time added in, but well worth it. 

How this seminar came about can only be described as a God-incidence.  When Joel was filling in at a church in Northern Iowa, a retired pastor heard him speak on his healing story.  He told Joel about his daughter and her family who have been diagnosed with Lyme and are fighting a hard battle.  He told his daughter about Joel and she remembered meeting him at a Sozo training center in St. Paul nearly a year before her diagnosis.  She emailed Joel 9 months later and we communicated back and forth with her.  Then she talked to her pastor about us coming to the church to speak.  Her pastor called us to see if we were interested in sharing our stories and the principles of healing we teach.  We said yes!  Only God.

So, what touched us most deeply was the deep pain and suffering we saw and felt in so many of the people there.  Many are suffering with Lyme and co-infections.  It is where we used to live.  Hard to listen, difficult to watch.  It made us angry, this disease that has only one destroy the body, soul, and spirit.  All I could think of was that God came to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.  Oh, Lord, use us to teach others Your Word on healing.....use us to release healing in the brokenhearted. In Your name.  Only in Your name.

While we were teaching, a man in the back got up, walked over to the pastor of the church, and showed him a tick he had just found crawling up his arm.  Really?  We were talking about healing from Lyme and a tick just happens to be in the church?  Thinking the enemy was at work...just sayin'. 

Lyme is a disease of fear.  It is truly evil, destroying the body and affecting everyone involved.  This area of SW Mn seems to have more than their share of people diagnosed with it.  It. was. everywhere.  It was visible to us in the way people moved, sat, talked.  It was visible in the dark circles under their eyes, the heavy blanket they seemed to move under.  A casual observer might think they were depressed, but they are not.  They are oppressed people.  Oppressed by the horrible bacteria carried in a tiny tick that eats away at the brain, the body, the soul.   They were people trying hard to find normalcy in a life that was hijacked by a disease that is not from God.  Never from God.

The seminar?  Rewarding.  Appreciated.  Restorative.  They expressed to us that they were blessed.  We know we were blessed.  We heard Holy Spirit and saw Jesus at work.  We received more than we gave.  God orchestrated this event and for that we are so grateful. 

I think the most eye opening part of this day was learning that there are more than one or two Lutheran churches out there who feel like we do about Holy Spirit and believe how we believe about healing.  People who continue to look for that something more.  People just a little to the right of crazy?  Hmmmm nice to know we are not alone. 

The seminar only made us want to do more, say more, pray more, learn more.  The people we met and grew to quickly care about only made us feel more determined than ever to continue on this journey.  A journey orchestrated by God. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

It is another Saturday, and the sun is shining once again.  It has been a roller coaster ride in our corner of the world this past week with weather and with our health.  Snow, sleet, rain, and sunshine have all come to visit, but not stay long.  Today it is calm, and everything is finally returning to normal, which is really a matter of perception, isn't it.  I could reflect a long time on the definition of normal!

Last Saturday Joel was so ill, I knew it had to be God who would get him through Easter Sunday.  Well, God did more than just get him through!  Joel took 5 naps Saturday, used essential oils and aspirin and headed to bed with a fever of nearly 102, hacking, chills, aching, and just plain feeling awful.  He did ask someone to help him with liturgy on Easter since he was coughing so much, but he strongly believed he would be better in the morning.  At 4am he woke up soaked in a sweat as the fever finally broke.  It seems 4am is his time.....that is what time he woke up when he was miraculously healed 3 years ago!  The cough subsided, the fever and pain left, and the energy returned.  We were all amazed to watch him run around on Sunday, keeping the service moving, and preach a great sermon!  Only God!!!  He even went for a walk Sunday afternoon.  Yippee!!

We had a nice time with our daughter and family here.  Enjoyed being with the grands, and I loved having someone to sit with during worship.  I miss that the most on Sunday.  For dinner we had pork and ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and fruit salad,  with strawberry shortcake for dessert.  We were able to put deck chairs out and sit in the sun, go for a walk, and enjoy the fellowship with family.  Nice.  They headed home Monday morning and we walked again, and putzed to keep from missing them, but by that night I was feeling a bit off.  Tuesday, Wednesday, and most of Thursday I was under my Woolie (wool comforter) in PJ's, going through a box and a half of Kleenix, and heading to bed by 8pm.  Friday I felt like I was coming back to the land of the living and today I am able to type sentences that make sense (giggle) and go for a short walk.   It will be warm enough to open windows and get the fresh air in and germs out.  Seriously, this has been a challenging season of sickness here and we are so over it!

Now that we have told people we are going to Gold Canyon, we are learning how small our world is as so many winter there or know others who do!  It seems half the Midwest heads to Arizona when the snow is high and the temperatures are low.  Wonder how many visitors we will have?!

Next Saturday Joel and I will be doing a seminar on healing at a Lutheran church in a small SW Minnesota town.  A lot of people in their area battle Lyme Disease and a few wanted to hear our Lyme stories of healing.  It is one of those....a retired pastor heard Joel preach one Sunday a year ago about our healing and he told his daughter whose whole family battles Lyme.  She called Joel, and then she told their pastor......he told the church council and they approved us coming.  We will have a morning session, lunch, then an afternoon session ending with a worship and healing service.  It is both exciting and a bit scary since this type of format is new for us.  We have spoken at a luncheon, and we taught a 9  week Bible Study on healing at a church Joel was doing staff support for last year.  God has given us another opportunity to share our stories and speak His Word on healing. so we will do so.   Yippee.

Someone might be thinking, "Hmmm How can they speak on healing when they both were so sick with influenza.  You may think, see, this proves God does not want everyone well....but even in sickness, we believe God wants us well.  He does not choose who will be healed, and who will not.  He does not punish us with sickness, nor put it on people so it can be used for His glory.  If that is true, why go to a doctor as that would be going against God!  We stand on what we have learned, believe, and have experienced on healing no matter what comes our way.  Sickness does not come from God.  It is the devil who has come to steal, kill, and destroy!  We live in a broken world.......  Enough preaching, now Renee......move along!

Speaking of preaching, I watched a guest speaker at Bethel this past week who made me not only smile but giggle.  She is 84 years young and was such a vibrant woman as she spoke about God's Word and the power within.  With her red hair blazing, she preached in her jeans and turquoise cowboy boots.  What a hoot!!!  I loved it....Seriously, 84 is not so old...come about Abraham and Sarah....Moses.....

I have been reading a couple of light mysteries by Monica Ferris while under the covers this week.  It is all I could manage, but it has helped pass the time and occupy my mind.  I certainly watched less TV and fewer teachings, but ramped up the praise music.  My favorite CD right now is "We Will Not Be Shaken" by Bethel Music.  How did you spend your Easter?

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

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Sometimes The "Why" Questions Get In The Way

"If asking questions does not lead you to Jesus, then stop asking questions."  I heard this quote while watching a Sunday service, and it resonated in me since I am one who is always asking the questions "Why"  Or "What"  The answers I seek in the asking, can take me away from Jesus and into myself.  I have known this, but I still struggle with the questions.  When it is God I am asking, it can become a matter of trust.  There it is again.  Trust.

When we heard this sermon online, Joel and I both thought back to a time just 7 years ago, when he went through a season of doubting God.  We had purchased a house in the town where Joel had taken a new call at a Lutheran church.  We looked for 6 months and then settled too quickly on a house that turned out to have a hidden chemical smell.  We put thousands of dollars into making it a house I could tolerate with all my allergies, and sicknesses, but I still could not live there.  We had sold our other home right away, but the deal fell through, (thank you Jesus) so we were able to move back to our old home an hour away and Joel commuted for 3 years. We had two house mortgages for 17 months. which was very challenging.  I was very ill with the Lyme and the treatments were costing us a great deal of money out of pocket.  Then we were in a terrible car accident and both of us took ambulance rides to the hospital.  Joel ended up with 6 months of chiropractic work and also having to borrow a car until ours could be fixed.  He also had emergency eye surgery on BOTH eyes in Mpls. MN 2 hours from our home.  It.  was. tough.  With the long commute, sometimes sleeping on a sofa in his office nights, taking care of a very sick homebound and often bedbound wife, doing all the shopping and most of the cooking,  and trying to manage as senior pastor at a larger congregation........he was exhausted and unbeknown to him, fighting Lyme Disease himself.

He began to doubt if God cared.  He asked God all the why questions and in the process of using his human reasoning, he began to doubt not only God's plan, but if God really existed.  He opened the door to the enemy when he took His eyes off of God.  One day as he was driving to the church he asked, "Okay, God, do you really even exist?"  As soon as he asked that question, he thought....'Well, that is dumb.  I am wondering if God exists and asking God Himself if He does!" 

The questions stopped and the doubt ended. The gratefulness began, and through 3 more very tough years where we both were extremely ill, Joel was on disability, and our days consisted of medications, herbs, hours of chair sitting, and long hours of sleep, he did not dwell on the "Why" questions.  We kept our eyes of Jesus praying and believing He would provide one day at a time.  And He did.  We can look back now and see how God wove blessings into our lives in the midst of the storm.  We can see provision, strength, encouragement and prayers from others, and healing.

Proverbs 3 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not rely on our own understanding.  There it is....our own human reasoning.  That is what kept the disciples on the Emmaus road from recognizing Jesus.  Human reasoning closed their eyes to what they were seeing before them, the risen Savior.

Not always, but often the why questions end up separating us from our Lord.  Pastor Eric Johnson says, "The space between us and Jesus gets wider when we use human reasoning"  We lose sight of Jesus. Our relationship with Jesus is more important than having the answers to all our questions.  We need to be aware that sometimes the "why" questions get in the way.  In trusting our Lord, we are more able to recognize Jesus on our own Emmaus roads.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

I like to start out my Saturday's Scribbles posts by talking about the weather.  We are weather nuts around here, partly because Joel comes from generations of farmers, and partly because he had his bachelor's degree in meteorology and was a weather forecaster for the Air Force back in the day.  When I was bound to my sofa with illness, I would sometimes watch the weather channel and think about all those places they mentioned.  I never imagined I would some day feel well enough to leave my home again and travel.  Thank you God.

Speaking of travel, my sister Janelle and her whole family went to Hawaii for her 60th birthday.  The family wanted to take her there to celebrate!  What a special time for them.  Joel and I have Hawaii on our bucket list.  When we came back from The Philippines we switched planes there, but we did not get out of the airport area.  With 4 kids, 2 of which were not yet American citizens, and 9 pieces of luggage  (we rode on a military plane), we spent a great deal of time going through customs!  So we would love to go back some day to see the islands.

We are at the end of Holy Week and to make it a bit more challenging, Joel and I have both been fighting sickness.  Again.  Nasty influenza came back to visit.  Joel still had services Thursday and Friday night and he will be at two tomorrow morning.  Easter is here, and worship must go on!  I can remember when he preached from a chair because he fractured his hip.....and once with a fever of 102.  I have done the liturgy for him in the past when he was fighting sickness...God always provides .....His strength and Joel's determination are a great combination, even though it has hit him hard today and we are speaking to the mountains, using essential oils, and he is drinking the tea that helps but everyone hates.  It is gingerroot, cayenne pepper, garlic cloves, lemon and honey to sweeten.  It has a powerful kick to it.  We gave it to our sick son-in-love once and he asks us if we were trying to kill him!  He had to admit, though, that it helped.

Our second oldest daughter, son-in-love, and treasures will arrive this afternoon for the weekend.  Even with sickness stinking up the atmosphere they wanted to come, so the grands could hear Papa preach before he leaves this last Interim position.  We certainly have mixed feelings as the days pass by and the end of 35 years as an ordained minister draws near.  Of course he could end up filling in on Sunday's in Arizona, but it's not on our agenda right now.

Krispy Eggs

I saw a recipe for Krispy Eggs on Facebook, so made a few for the grands.  It has been 20 years since I made Rice Krispie bars and it may be another 20!  I filled half an oiled plastic egg with the mixture and put chocolate in middle.  I filled the other half of the egg, pushed them together and held it firmly and that was it.  I removed it from the plastic and had an egg shaped bar!  Hope they taste good.  

Praying you all have a blessed Easter worshipping and celebrating our Risen King! 

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

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Who Do You Say You Are?

Joel and I were watching Kris Vallotton preach online at Bethel the other night, and he shared a story about a period of time in his life when he was going through a tough battle.  He went to speak to a person on the pastoral staff at Bethel church who listened intently as Kris poured out his heart.  When he was finished speaking the pastor said to him, "I have a book I want you to read.  It is a book that will speak to your situation."  Kris said, "I will read anything if it will help."  With that response the man gave him the title of the book, "The Supernatural Ways of Royalty".  It is a book that Kris Valloton had written himself!  Then this man said to Kris, "You have forgotten who you are.  You have forgotten Whose you are.  You are royalty.  You are a son of the King." 

This story is one I can relate to.  Over the past 3 years God has been teaching me more and more about who I am.  Whose I am.   God wants us to know who we are in Christ because.... "We will always act out who we believe we are.  .....When we know the name the Lord has given us, we can live out that identity.  We tend to reproduce what we feast our thoughts on."  These quotes are from the book.  It is sitting on my end table.

What do we feast our thoughts on?  Deep down inside who do we believe we are?  What comes out of our mouth when we are struggling?  Whose do we say we are?  T he answers are found in what God speaks over us.

Bonnie Gray began to find healing from her abusive childhood, PTSD, and the panic attacks that came on as an adult, when she embraced who God said she was.  His beloved.  She has written a powerful book entitled, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, that is impacting thousands of lives because she listened and internalized who God said she was.  She realized Whose she is.  His beloved. 

The journey is not always easy, but God does not want us to stay stuck in those places that cause us to lose sight of who we are.  Maybe they began in childhood....maybe they began with what other people we loved spoke over us as adults.  The lies whispered, the words manipulating and confusing, the emotional and physical pain inflicted.  There is so much that can come against the true identity of who we are.

Or maybe it is what we speak over ourselves that limits us.  There is a tendency out there to believe that as Christians we need to think of ourselves as lower than the lowest. That humility means degrading yourself or speaking only about what a sinful person you are.  Maybe it is time to remember who lives in us.  Who empowers us.  Who calls us His beloved.   The One who encourages us to look in the mirror and see how awesome we are because of Jesus.

Do we see ourselves as God sees us?  Sons and daughters of the King?   We are the redeemed.  We are the forgiven. We are can we not be when our Heavenly Father, the Lord Almighty delights in us!  When Jesus lives in us and Holy Spirit empowers us!

It is Maunday Thursday.  A time when Jesus brought together his disciples for the Lord's Supper. A time when the old covenant ended and the new covenant came to life with Jesus, his body....His blood shed for us.  Let us, this day, remember who we are because of Jesus.  Let's remember Whose we are.  Sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord!  To God be the glory.