Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mountain Speaking

I had been struggling with a nasty upper respiratory virus for over 4 weeks.  It began the last week of radiation therapy when my immune system was weakened from the daily treatments and the burns that covered so much of the area.  My body was fighting hard to restore itself, but just a couple days after Christmas I hit a wall.  I was sleeping 9-10 hours a night, and would fall asleep sitting up in my chair 2-3 times a day.  I had little energy to do anything.  I was coughing a lot, dizzy when I laid down and again when I sat up.  I had sinus issues and felt short of breath.  It was relentless and did not seem to improve from day to day.

One day I told Joel I believed we needed to do more than just pray over this, we needed to ask Holy Spirit to reveal to us what was needed.  While Joel was praying over me, he felt Holy Spirit revealed to him that I had an actual spirit of sickness oppressing me. Not possessing me, but troubling me.  (All sickness comes from the enemy).  So, just like Jesus and the disciples did in the Bible, Joel spoke to the spirit of sickness and commanded it to leave in Jesus' powerful name.  I began coughing and coughed so hard I nearly threw up.  And then I felt it.  I felt a weight come off of me and the weakness left.  I felt better right away.

In the next few days my energy improved greatly, the cough left, and I stopped sleeping all the time. I was able to help cook, clean, and get out of the house.  I started walking again, first for 10 minutes, and then more until I am now back to walking a mile.  The virus left.  My immune system is now healed from the radiation and I am back on track.

Jesus told us to speak to our mountains.  He was clear on that.  

"For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 
Be removed and be cast into the sea, 
and does not doubt in his heart, 
but believes that those things he says will be done, 
he will have whatever he says."
Mark 11:23

I don't know what you readers believe about this, but I do know that by being obedient to Holy Spirit and rebuking sickness from my body, I saw healing come!  When we read the gospels we see many instances where Jesus commanded, rebuked, and spoke over people.  He did what the Father told Him to do. And He healed ALL who were sick and tormented.  And He told us we would do what He had done and more......... How can we?  Because of Who lives in us.  We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit.  That same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of us. Inside of you. Inside of me.

Sometimes the healing is immediate and sometimes we see healing come over time.  I have seen both. The Lyme died immediately when I was prayed over, for the chemical sensitivites it was a process.  I prayed for a cyst on my leg to be gone off and on for over 2 years and the other day I noticed it is gone.  Gone.  My healing came for breast cancer through surgery ~when they went in and took out that tissue surrounding the small tumor they found nothing more. The radiation was a "just in case" measure.  The message here is, God wants you well.  He does not put sickness on us. Jesus died for our sins and for sickness. (Isaiah 53) The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give us abundant life.

Is everyone healed?  Even those who believe "by His stripes we are healed" see sickness and death. Death comes to us all, as we know from the Bible.  But it does not change the truth of His Word.  He tells us to speak to our mountains.....command and rebuke as He did........and those mountains will be cast into the sea........

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday from our corner of the world.  Today we are supposed to have temperatures in the thirties with a possibility of ice and freezing rain.  Again.  I am not complaining about the warmer weather, no way.  We will deal with the rain and ice if it comes.  We are also supposed to be heading into heavy snow for Tuesday, but who knows?!  Tracking a storm can be unpredictable.  The closer it gets the more information the forecasters will have, but alas, weather seems to have a mind of its own.  Kinda like some of life!  We did get to walk outside a couple of days, but mostly we are heading to a small strip mall in the afternoons where the carpet softens our steps and we hardly see anyone.  5 times around makes a mile.

Speaking of miles, Joel is putting a few on the car driving to the church he is filling in at twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays, and it looks like it will continue for February.  He enjoys preaching and the people enjoy having him.  A win-win situation.

My brother Todd dedicated his coaching to his mom, sister Kay, and me this week at their Paint the gym Pink event.  Jeannie, his wife, is a teacher and their school helped paint the gym pink too.  Todd is a teacher and also coaches girls varsity basketball.  So nice of him and the girls who dedicated their game, too.  Pretty cool, right?

Speaking of cool, I got a new phone this week.  It is actually my birthday present from last year, but I kept putting off getting a new one.  We got a sweet promo deal with Verizon and I now have a new android phone and a Verizon tablet.  It turns out both were "free" and the only cost was for the tablet case and screen cover!  The iPad our DIL gave us still works well enough, but a few glitches were showing up and we had been talking about a new one since I use it 24/7 to listen to teachings, music, etc.  I can just cart it around the house with me everywhere I go.  I am liking the new phone even though I am adjusting to the larger size!

Several days ago we had 8 deer in the yard.  We had not seen any deer all winter, and that morning 8 came into the yard and the neighbors yard grazing on bushes and actually pawing through the ice on the bird feeder to drink.  We stood quietly watching God's creation for quite awhile, but of course we had to take a few pictures!

Deer are to left and next to pine tree

This deer studied us as much as we
studied her

Last Sunday we celebrated Joel's 4th Anniversary of his overnight miraculous healing!  I made him a southwestern salad he loves plus a pumpkin pie.  We reflected on God's goodness and the healing He wants for ALL of us.  Such an amazing "suddenly" that changed our lives forever!
"The joy of the Lord is my strength"
Nehemiah 8:10

It was a year ago we were in Arizona on such a fun adventure that also changed our lives forever. We left a piece of our hearts in Gold Canyon.  We don't know why things unfolded as they did for us....but we know God is good, God loves us, He has a purpose for us.  Our future and where we lay down our heads to sleep at night is in His hands ~~ where we have placed it.  We have surrendered this season to Him, only asking for more of Him.  More of His presence, His purpose, His amazing love.

Tonto National Forest near Gold Canyon 

Things are a bit crazy here in Iowa with the caucuses going strong in the final days.  Ads saturate the TV and the phone seems to ring a lot more.  We never watch any ads on TV, as most are about what could be wrong with you and what miracle drug you can take......along with an endless list of side effects.  I'm not against medication, I use it when I need to for sure,  but I'm weary of it being pushed down our throats by pharma. Okay, did I just say that?  Hmmm  Anyway, we are watching all the hoopla with fascination and interest from afar......

Tuesday night we held Bible study here, Thursday morning I headed off to Bible Study at Praise church.  Friday night we had supper here with friends who are such a blessing.  Laughter and reflection are good for the soul!

We have been reading aloud Barry Bennett's book, "Hearing God" this week, I am finishing up a light mystery, and I have watched a few Bethel Church's teachings and a couple of Heidi Baker's too.  It is good to fill the soul......What is filling your soul?

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Listening Heart

Today I stopped over to  Bonnie Gray's blog and read her post for OneWordCoffee Wednesday.  She wrote a beautiful post about stepping out of our need to feel safe and following God as His beloved. She included scripture found in the first chapter of Mark.

As Jesus was going along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” Immediately, they left their nets and followed Him.
Going on a little farther, He saw James and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending their nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.” Mark 1:16-20
It is the second time today that this passage has come to me, so God has my attention.  Bonnie asked us once again to pick out a word that stood out in the passage.......and once again I could not pick just one word. Just too many to focus on!

Looking at the passage we see that Jesus was on a mission to find disciples to follow Him in His ministry.  Did he know Simon and Andrew at all or did His heavenly Father whisper in His ear who He should choose.  And just what did Simon, Andrew, and the others see in this man from Galilee? What drew them in so quickly that they cast down their nets and followed Him at His beckoning.  If He appeared and asked us to "put down our nets" and follow Him, would we?

He does, you know.  He asks us to put down our lives, surrender all, and follow Him.  Accepting Jesus as our Savior, we follow Him.  A simple yet powerful yes to opening our heart to the Son of God.

But there are other ways we are asked to follow Him and that is where I feel drawn to.  Yesterday I wrote a post about where we find our passion.  For us it is not in sports, politics, or more.....but at this time in our lives, it is in healing and Holy Spirit.   As we move into the "retired but re-fired" season of our lives, as we leave my battle with breast cancer behind, and as we continue to walk out our healing by Jesus from Lyme Disease and more, we have been asking, seeking, and knocking.  We have been surrendering, and listening.  Listening for Jesus to say, "Come, follow Me". He will say it.  We know that Holy Spirit is stirring, and we believe He still has purpose for us in ministry.  A ministry of His choosing.  We know He will say, "Follow Me." What we don't know for sure is where or when.  So, as excitement builds, we are doing as I like to imagine Simon and Andrew did, we are living daily with our hearts open, waiting to hear............"Come, follow Me".


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Passion, A Hair Cut, and Holy Spirit

Yesterday I had my hair cut.  I am blessed to have my hairdresser come to my home, even though I probably could go into a salon at this point and not react.  We know her well, and enjoy visiting during the hour she comes every few weeks.

I had told her I wanted my hair to be longer now, not going for a summer cut.  But as we talked she became very passionate about her political views and before I knew it, my hair was short......very short.  After a few hours of lamenting, I let it go, knowing it would grow back quickly.  In fact, I believe when i woke up this morning it was already longer!  Seriously, I prayed for it to grow, and I'm thinking it did.  Overnight. (giggle).

I was pondering her passionate opinions on the upcoming caucus here in Iowa and could not help but think about what stirs people up for good and for bad.   Certainly sports do. I have watched parents get pretty much out of hand when their kid does not get to play in the game. But then let's not forget the families who watch football or basketball from their living rooms with dedication and intensity. Excitement abounds and most sports fans would not miss a game and don't have to thanks to DVR's, etc.   How fun! And then of course there is the 2016 election ~~we are getting to hear an abundance of political viewpoints that are in part divisive and filled with hate, fear, with some truth mixed in between. Don't get me wrong, there are many who are involved in this process who are positive, passionate people who love to be involved in politics.  Eventually we will see celebrations of joy for who sits next in the oval office.

Joel and I have political views, but we are pretty quiet about them.  It has always been our belief that as a pastor and family we are not to use the pulpit for our political agenda.  Not everyone agrees, and that is what makes our country great.  We don't watch sports, even though we are trying ~~ we watched two Vikings games this year.  Yay us!  Not much passion for us there yet.

Passion.  I remember when Joel was healed overnight and we began this amazing journey.  We were so passionate I think we scared a few people.  One close high school friend told me, "Renee, don't ever lose your passion!"  A cousin of Joel's told us we kind of scared him because we were sooooo excited and passionate over our healings and our encounters with Holy Spirit.  We were over the top with excitement, passion, and new thoughts on what we were learning.

Recently I noticed our passion was waning. I suppose we can expect that, but really, the passion found in sports fans does not wane. They are loyal to their teams, and dedicated to going or watching games with a passion that keeps them focused on those on the field or court.

Cancer came to visit and changed our focus for awhile, using all our energy to fight the battle.  Yet, in the midst of that battle God reigned.  Holy Spirit, as the gentleman he is, waited for us to step back into what He has for us.  And our passion is back.  And we are asking for more encounters, more of hearing His voice, more purpose.  More teachings.  More conferences.  This is what brings us joy. This is what makes us laugh, and hunger for more.  This is our passion.  

We would look pretty silly in cheerleading uniforms with pom poms, in fact it is a terrible visual, but right now we are cheering for God and chanting, "Here we go, Holy, here we go!"  Holy Spirit is stirring in us, and we look forward with excitement to what is coming!!  A new adventures.....Passion!

Note to self:  Do not talk about politics with your hairdresser until she is done cutting your hair. (giggle).  Love you, D.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Four Years of Amazing Adventures With God!

Today, January 24th 2014 we are celebrating the 4th anniversary of Joel's healing from Lyme Disease and 2 co-infections, thyroid disease, recurring corneal erosion of the eye, gluten intolerance, pre-Parkinson's, sleep apnea, and arthritis.  Many of these conditions and diseases vanished with a "microwave" healing (instantly) as our friend Linny calls them, and the rest came "crockpot" a process taking just a few months.  Anyway you look at it, he experienced a miraculous healing.  

To God be the glory!

On the night of January 23rd 2012 Joel and I watched a teaching titled "God Wants You Well" by Andrew Wommack that had been recommended by our friend Katherine.  After the teaching, we discussed what we had heard.  I remember asking Joel what he thought about Andrew's beliefs on healing and if he thought we would be healed here on earth.  We were both very sick at the time with Lyme Disease plus more.   Joel replied, "The teaching on healing is theologically sound and makes sense."  I then asked him about speaking in tongues, which was also addressed in the teaching, and a gift of the Spirit I had desired for years....His reply, "I am going to have to think about that one.  I'm Lutheran you know.  What would I do with it?"

We went to bed pondering what we had heard, but Joel prayed quietly the way Andrew Wommack had~ not asking, but commanding sickness to die in the name of Jesus.  He woke at 4am and the first words out of his mouth were, "I am healed!"  He just knew in every fiber of his being that he. was. healed.  He then said, "And I can speak in tongues too, and he did!

To God be the glory!

He did not share this with me right away, as he tried to absorb all that had happened, but later in the evening as we were going to bed  I said to him, "Something is different about you, Joel.  What has happened?"  It was visible on his face, and his whole demeanor had changed.  He then told me about his middle of the  night healing and gift of tongues as confirmation, and we rejoiced together laughing and crying with amazement.

On that day our lives changed forever.  Since that early morning wake-up call from God, I have been on my own healing journey.  Mine has been mostly a "crockpot" healing both physically and emotionally with a few microwave healings thrown in. Many sicknesses are gone through prayer alone ~ Lyme, co-infections, MCS, CFS, thyroid disease, etc.  Others like breast cancer are gone through surgery and radiation.  We are so thankful for them all. We have been and continue on an amazing journey.

To God be the glory!
 To God be the glory! 

So, today we celebrate Joel's healing and give thanks to God for this amazing adventure He has placed us on.  We are so very blessed and feel strongly that we need to share Joel's testimony with the world. As I meditated on Joel this morning, God gave me a vision of him kneeling on the ground with his hands raised in the air praising God.  Around him were many people.  I thought they were people who had influenced Joel's life, but when I saw a clerk from Menard's in the group I realized they were people who were influenced by Joel's healing story.  Thank you God!  I then heard God say, "Joel has been anointed to preach the gospel, heal the sick.  "The joy of the Lord is his strength". (Nehemiah 8:10) 

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

 We tell the story because God tells us in His Word to do so, but we also tell the story because we believe healing is for everyone.  Isaiah 53:4,5 makes that clear. We tell the story out of obedience and joy!  

Today I made Joel's favorite southwestern salad and another favorite of his ~ pumpkin pie.  We are celebrating what God has done in his body, soul and spirit. Will you join us in giving thanks for the miracle that came into Joel's life?  The miracles God has for all of us?

To God be the glory!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Another winter day filled with snow, lack of sun, and temperatures that keep us from walking outside. We are pretty bummed ~~a year ago today we were in Gold Canyon, AZ visiting my sister Jan and brother-in-law Lanny.  What a wonderful time we had! The only days we wore winter coats in the three weeks we were gone was the day we left and the last day on the road to get home.  We are so weary of winter. Of winters, plural.  Warmer weather sounds sooooo inviting!

Last night we visited with friends over a great meal in the comfort of their cozy home.  Our conversation was interrupted only by their beautiful cat's need for a little attention.  We laughed and pondered life and discussed the present moment and the future.  A good time.

It had me thinking about the importance of friendship. We have met so many great people over the years as we cross-crossed the country and even flew across water to make the Philippine Islands our home for two years.  Twenty-two moves in 48 years (and we have lived here the last 20 years).  So many people who have been a part of our life story, some fading away, and some who have remained on our hearts for decades.  And then there are the years where I lived in mostly isolation and loneliness, and Joel ended up in the same place.  Living with Lyme was living a limited life. Friendship.  A true gift from God.

Besides a fun evening with friends this week, we went to a Bible study Tuesday evening, and I also went to a women's study Thursday morning. There was a Healing and Impartation conference with Randy Clark at Bethel Wednesday through Friday and we watched much of that live-stream or on video. Always a favorite.

A blogger friend has decided to close her blog indefinitely.  I will miss her thoughtful posts and beautiful photos she shares.  Whenever I would visit her cyber home I could feel myself relax.  She has that gift, I believe.  Isn't it amazing how well we can get to "know" people we have never met?  It used to be my only way of having friends....through the cyber world...... and I was so grateful for it.

My mom would be fascinated by all the technology available now at our fingertips. calls that do not cost us per minute.......laptops, iPads, tablets, and computers!  And cell phones.  They are gifts, and yet they can be distractions.  I know I need to be intentional about not letting the noises my phone makes distract me from the present moment.  I love the instant connections with those we love, but the rest of it needs to be low on my priority list.

I seem to have little to share this week, but as I watch Joel dozing in his recliner, I am feeling the need to rest myself.  Hope your weekend is inviting you into open spaces where you can doze off, reflect on the years behind you, ponder your future, and connect with those you love and care about.

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Some Questions Are Never Answered

Sunday night we were watching an episode of Blue Bloods and the Police Commissioner, played by Tom Selleck, made a statement that resonated within me.  "Some questions are never answered."  I am one who always has matter who I am talking to, whether it be Joel, Holy Spirit, or someone in the grocery store.....questions are a part of my conversation.

I have had plenty in the past 4 months as we were hit with a tsunami wave of cancer that brought our plans for moving to a screeching halt.  Joel would often respond to my "why" questions with, "I don't have any answers for the whys..."

Today we ran into friends from a former parish while eating lunch at the local grocery store deli.  After hugs all around, the husband told us he had been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. He was getting treated here after a second opinion with Mayo Clinic, and his journey with chemo and radiation had just begun.  We talked, answered their questions about my recent journey, and promised to pray for them.

I am so sick of cancer invading the lives of people.  At my appointment last week my radiology oncologist told me that in AMERICA breast cancer is an epidemic.  Seriously.  Why?  And what do we do about it?  We all know so many who are affected by a disease that tries so hard to kill, steal, and destroy.  Does that sound familiar?  John 10:10 tells us, "The thief (Satan) has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come to give you life and to give it to you more abundantly."   The enemy has used cancer for far too long to take the lives of God's people.  Ugh.

I have learned on this journey that we do not get to have all the answers to our questions with God.   We all can nod our heads in agreement, I am sure. But when those times come and questions are hanging in the air where we are confused, downtrodden, or fearful, we need to go back to the answers we do have.  The answers found in the words we read in our Bible.  God is faithful.  Jesus died on the cross for iniquities and diseases.  He is the God who heals you.  He is our guide. God loves us.  What we know for sure, that is where we stand firm.  On the solid rock of knowing what we know and leaving the mysteries as mysteries.  And we know that He delights in us, the way a parent delights in his child.  He is our mighty Warrior.

We may never have the answers for why our move was interrupted, why cancer came calling, why I was healed through prayer by Lyme, but through surgery for cancer.  We may never have the answers why bad things happen to good people like the friends we ran into today. But we do know who we can turn to, trust, and rely on.  We know where we are to rest when hit by tsunamis or storms in life.  Yeah, some questions are never answered, but many more are.  Important ones like how are we saved?  What are His promises?  Is healing for today?  What does His Word say?  We can take comfort in the One who walks with us each day of this crazy life, whether we know the answers to our whys or not.

I am linking up with Bonnie Gray today for onewordcoffeeWednesday.  She asked us to pick a word out of Zephaniah 3:17 to speak about.  I love this verse that tells us how much God loves us. When you are not feeling loved, or safe, or sure about what life is throwing your way, here is a great verse that speaks over us all with such powerful truth.  Hold it close as you ponder those questions that are never answered.

The Lord your God is in your midst. 
He is a mighty Warrior who saves you
He will take great delight in you; 
He will quiet you by his love; 
He will rejoice over you with singing.” 
Zephaniah 3:17

Monday, January 18, 2016

Stop Striving

My words to meditate on this year are from Isaiah 46,  "Be still and know".  I shared in an earlier post how God spoke to me about this and the great reminder of God's words that hang above our church pew in the entry way.  "Be still and know".

This past week while we were reading aloud the book "Contact:  The Practical Science of Hearing From God" by Rev. David Stine, pastor of D.C. Metro church, we learned about one of the ways we prepare ourselves for hearing from God ~~by being still before Him.  Pastor Stine went on to say that the Hebrew word for "be still" is raphah,  which means "stop striving".  So Isaiah 46:10 could be translated "Stop striving and know that I am God."  He said it is more a stillness of the soul Isaiah is talking about here, not so much a physical stillness.  When we are still before God, it reminds us that God is God.

Stop striving.  In November we were at a Wednesday night service and I started having heart palpitations. They went on for about an hour, so I made the decision to ask for a word of knowledge from the pastor not telling him what my symptom was.  A lot was going on in my life, so I felt strongly it was related to stress and that God would affirm this through the words spoken over me.  I went up front during prayer time and asked for words of knowledge over symptoms I did not want to share. Within a minute or two the pastor began to tell me he was seeing me sitting on the bank of a river with my feet in the water, all relaxed and enjoying the outdoors.  He then said, "God wants you to stop striving.  He has this covered.  Just relax.  He went on to tell me he felt I had some turmoil going on, some anxiety, and God was saying, "I've got this."

It was just what I was needing to hear.  He and Joel prayed over me and I went home without the palpitations.  They have been 98% gone since, only returning when I am really anxious.

It is not the first time God has spoken these words to me through others or the written word.  Stop striving.  Stop trying to make things happen.  Stop thinking you are not doing enough, or doing it right, or being enough.  Just stop striving and trust God.

Can any of you relate here?   Often we pray and then take over thinking we need to get the answers to our prayers through our own efforts.  Maybe we follow the course of "Do all you can and then let God do the rest."  Yeah.....this striving thing seems to start in school and stays with us throughout our lives.  It is good to have goals, to be successful, to do our best, but if it develops into perfectionism or a performance based life, we are in trouble.  We begin to believe that we are in charge and yet we are never doing enough......  Just some food for thought here.

So, here I am meditating on the words, "Be still and know"  "Stop striving, and know".  And when I need to I'm going into the garden of my heart and sitting by the pond Jesus led me to there, or I'm going back to the visual Pastor Jeff saw of me sitting by the river, with my feet in the water, my body and soul all relaxed, knowing God has this.  He has this moment, this hour, this day. He has me.  He has you.  So, stop striving and know that He is God.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Another cold Saturday here in our corner of the Arctic Midwest.  It will be -17 tonight with a high tomorrow of -7 and wind chills at 30 to 40 below zero.  Yikes!  We walked inside a small strip mall yesterday for over 15 minutes and will try for 20 minutes today.   I am slowing building back up to a mile plus as energy increases.  Yes!

Speaking of energy, mine has returned quite a bit.  I went to Bible study Tuesday night, grocery shopped Wednesday and visited with friends in the afternoon.  Thursday morning I went to a woman's Bible study, saw two doctors and had lab work in the two 2 1/2 hours at the cancer center in the afternoon, and then went to church for a worship service Thursday night.  We shopped Friday twice and we walked. I am a happy girl to be active again.  Yay!

This cold weather reminds me of one of the coldest winters we have been through.  When Joel Interned at Malta Montana in 1978-79 we woke up one late October morning to -27 degrees.  What a shock.  At that moment we learned there was no heat in the kids off we went to purchase electric wall heaters.  We loved that old house we affectionately called "The Internage" Many Interns had come and gone from there and the house reflected that.  So small in some ways with an add on kitchen.  When you went from the dining room to kitchen the entry slanted downwards into the larger add on kitchen.  It appeared they had brought in two houses and stuck them together.  There was a very small bedroom downstairs but we all slept upstairs.  Three kids in one room, Joel and I in the other and our oldest slept in the hallway which was big enough for a bed.  She loved having her bed there because she could read by the downstairs light at night after she was tucked in and was supposed to be sleeping. Ha...  That girl still always has a book in her hand.  We really are a reading family.  All of us love the written word.  My brother Todd once said, "You can always tell you are in a Dahlen house, because they even have bookshelves in the bathrooms!"

Back to the Internage.......the bathroom held a really old claw foot tub and the only shower was way down the basement, so Joel used to get up in the cold mornings and hurry as fast as he could down to the basement in his underwear to shower.  Our middle girl told her pre-school class for show and tell that her daddy "jogged around the house in his underwear!"  We still giggle over that one....the pastor jogging around the house in his underwear.  A great visual for her teacher who was a member of the church in Malta.

Yes, we loved that little old was a warm place, and oh the adventures we had that year in Malta. We loved it all....well except for Joel being gone all the time!  That was a big adjustment for me.  It was a four point parish with services held monthly also at a hot springs and at Zortman in the Little Rockies.  Joel and his great mentor, Pastor Merv Olson covered it all.  We enjoyed the vast rocky breaks of Montana as we traveled long distances to services. We always saw more eagles and deer that cars and people .  Such rugged beauty.  We participated in a cattle branding, a "nut and gut" feed, airplane rides to check cattle, dances in the little town of Loring, and so much more. Among other things, Joel helped with services at a rodeo and on a wagon train.   There were 8 funerals in 2 1/2 weeks in the fall of that year and two of those Joel officiated at were murder victims. That experience helped him to become a very gifted pastor in that area of ministry.   I learned so much about being a pastor's wife and how to direct Christmas programs since they told me that was my job!  Ha...For a while the kids and I were also the janitors for the church.  The extra money was nice since we were trying to live on $500 a month.  A family of 6.  The people were generous, holding a welcome shower for us and putting meat in our freezer.  We met some great people there and fell in love with the West.

Speaking of the West we have been discussing at great length the curtailed move to Arizona, and just what direction we are going.  We are putting pen to paper as we look at options, desires, purposes, health issues, and most importantly hearing God's voice.   It is all part of the puzzle we call life and knowing what pieces we need to put where.

We have watched a few teachings this week, and we are finishing up the book we are reading aloud together on how to hear God's voice.  We watched some TV and are starting a new puzzle as we hunker down for another cold spell. How are you getting through winter?  Do you like the cold?

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Finding Our Quiet Place


I am linking up today with Bonnie Gray and her OneWordCoffeeWednesday.  Bonnie wrote a great book called "Finding Spiritual Whitespace" that has changed the lives of many.  I was able to be one of the first 100 to read it and present it on my blog.  It is a wonderful read and great fun to be part of her team.

Today Bonnie asked us to look at a verse and write about one word that stood out for us in it.

"Come away with me by yourselves, to a quiet place and rest awhile."
Mark 6:31

Actually, two words stood out for me today in this verse...."quiet place".  Four months ago an earthquake hit our world when I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram showed a very small tumor.  Our house was on the market and we were planning to move to Arizona at the time.  We immediately took the house off the market and began to prepare for what was ahead.  Many doctor visits, surgery, recovery, six weeks of radiation, and another month of recovery followed.  It has not been easy, and the journey is not over yet.  Decisions need to be made regarding medications, etc.  I have often found myself in need of a quiet place.

Today two of the pastors from the church we have been attending came by for a visit to see how I was doing.  Their church, Praise Community, has been a quiet place for me during this journey, and God provided us with this "quiet place" of His presence before I knew I would need it.

Last July, my cowboy preacher husband finished up his Interim at a lovely church around 40 minutes from home, and we celebrated his 35 years of ministry.  We were looking for a church to attend until we moved and we're looking for one that would be more Spirit powered, more prophetic and charismatic, and practiced healing prayers.   Our stove repairman told us about Praise when he was making a house call, and we visited that Sunday.  We were there a few minutes when I knew this was a good place.  I remember saying to Joel after that first worship, "Why did God answer our prayers with this church now when we are moving?"  Two weeks later I was diagnosed and the move was out of the picture.  God provided this "quiet place" knowing we would not be moving and would need support for what was ahead.  Nothing surprises our loving God.  

Praise is an active, friendly, church with great worship and powerful teachings, so you would not describe it as a quiet place.  The quiet place is what happens in my soul when we are there.  I am centered, God's presence is palpable, and the worship and praise keep my mind right where it needs to be...on Jesus.  The worship, prayers for healing, words of knowledge, teachings on Jesus, and friendly atmosphere all create a quiet place deep in my soul. 

A quiet place.  "Be still and know".  We all need that whether we are dealing with an earthquake or not.  It comes in many ways, places, and surroundings, and for me one of those places during this journey has been at church while worshiping our Lord.

No matter where we find our quiet place, God will be there and circumstances do not need to take us away from what we know to be true.   Keeping our selves centered on Jesus is what gives us peace, creating our quiet place. That quiet place where we can "be still and know."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Putting The Puzzle Together

Another chapter in my journey with breast cancer.  I hope you see yourself in the midst of my struggles, joys, storms, and days of adventure.  It is my prayer that you can relate them to your own journey, knowing that no matter the circumstances, God is faithful and Jesus walks with us.  We are never alone.

When our oldest daughter was here she brought a 1000 piece puzzle along to work on.  It tweeked my interest, so as soon as I felt up to it Joel and I headed out to Hobby Lobby to buy a puzzle.  I found a 500 piece one that was a country fall favorite season of the year!

We put the last pieces in place just last night after working on it off and on for a couple of weeks. Joel and I sometimes worked on it together so when there was only 20 pieces left I invited him to come put the finishing touches on the puzzle with me. First we both commented that it did not look like we had enough pieces to finish and then we noticed that even with just a few pieces left, we were struggling with getting them in place.  We had to turn, twist, study, and try more than once to make them fit.  There was a sense of accomplishment when we finished, and it was a pretty scene to enjoy.

Later Joel mentioned how the past few months of my life have been like a puzzle.  After the storm named breast cancer hit, all the pieces of our lives were tossed in the air and we had to start over putting the pieces together.  The border of a puzzle is pretty easy to put in place, but finding where each piece goes takes time and effort.  So it was with the tsunami wave, as Ann Voskamp would call it.  The medical world gave us the facts and the options we needed.  This formed the border.  Tests, surgery, recovery, and radiation were pieces of the puzzle that needed to be put into place for the best outcome.  At times is was not easy, it was just plain awful, but we kept going.

Now we are down to the last 20 pieces of the puzzle.  Thursday I go in to see the radiology oncologist to make sure all is looking well.  It is and I am sure I will have the green light to go ahead and wear a bra, use deoderant, and stop the three times a day treatments of the skin.  More pieces in place!

The final 10 pieces will require prayer, research, and hearing from God.  I see the clinical oncologist the same day to discuss hormone therapy since the cancer I had was hormone positive.  The medication has several tough common side effects and because it puts you at risk for fractures and bone loss, the Dr. wants me to take a drug for that too.  The side effects for that are really scary. There are several inhibitor drugs to try, if one causes issues, the next might work, etc. etc.  The Dr. pretty much told me she does not know if I can take them but we will just keep trying.

It is difficult to see how those final pieces will fit.  I have facts, statistics, possibilities, and more, but no one can tell me if I will be one of the ones who the med works for.  I looked up one well know cancer center out east and the doctor said that each patient needs to make this decision for themselves weighing in side effects and percentages, etc.  I did not feel that was an option when I went to the cancer center here.  Just what the doctor thought was best.  I am grateful for her expertise, but know that the final decision is up to Joel, me and God.

I have been pretty stressed about this lately.  Fear fueling the what ifs and maybes, etc.  Today, it all came to a head, and after talking with Joel we came to the conclusion that with prayer, listening for God's voice and His Word, research on percentages, the doctors words, and finding out if any alternative treatments are out there, I am sure we will be able to complete this puzzle and enjoy the results.  One day at a time!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our bitterly cold Arctic home.  Okay, it is not that cold.....yet.   It has been pretty warm the past few days, but we reached our high of 11 degrees early this morning and are now in single digits for today with winds giving us a wind chill.  I know we won't come close to winning any awards for " coldest place in the Midwest" this weekend.  Seems North Dakota will be having -60 wind chills and ours will be only -30.  Yes, -30 below wind chills when Joel heads off to preach with a 45 minute commute Sunday morning.  We are grateful today, that the cold front has cleared out the fog and we are having sunshine!

Joel has spent a great deal of time this week chipping away at the ice on our driveway, and with the warmer temps and rain earlier on, he has had to deal with slush, too.  It is good exercise, but I am not seeing any fun for him in the process.  Needless  to say, we are lamenting being stuck here when the desert is so inviting in winter.

For me it has been another quiet week here with lots of resting, a few naps and 9 hours of sleep at night, but I am finally seeing improvement!  The nasty upper respiratory thingy is winding down, energy is slowly returning, my voice is back, the burns all have new skin, and the cloud of discouragement has lifted.  Hallelujah!

We said good-bye to our Christmas tree this past Monday and it has joined a few others on our block as they wait for pick-up next week.  We like having a real tree, but this year's had a strong pine smell, and now that is gone so have my sniffles and sneezing.  Hmmmm  I slowly put away all the decorations, which makes the house look stark in comparison now.  Kinda like January..stark.

After the kids were here this time, they came up with a list (with me) for what we need to our cutting board.....potato peelers, pots (our one dances on the flat top stove while it heats), a new manual can opener, etc.  In fact, I have been adding to the "I have been meaning to replace" list in the past week.  It is time.

Speaking of time, it is time for the political ads to all go away.  Ugh....And for our phone to stop ringing here in Iowa as the caucus draws near.  It is time.

Our oldest daughter and her family gave us a new set of seasons canvases that we hung on our living room wall.  What is cool about these is that they were all taken from slides Joel took over the years. Beth and Abbi, our granddaughter, had spent hours putting all the slides on a USB and used these four to have pictures made for our wall.  The winter scene was taken in Montana in 1980!  Love it!

Are you Downton Abbey fans?  It started last week, and we both like to watch.  Madam Secretary still holds a top spot for us along with NCIS and Blue Bloods.  That's about it with TV, although we still are interested in Tiny Houses on HGTV.  Joel has always wanted to build a house.  When he goes to bed at night. to relax he visualizes building a house.  We wonder if it may be time to fulfill that dream......

We are reading aloud a book called "Contact" on how we hear the voice of God, and I am reading a mindless fiction light mystery plus Beni Johnson's book on health.  The hearing God's voice is something Joel and I are both seeking more of this year.  Discerning it from ours or the enemy's.....hearing it clearly......and in the many ways it comes.  Through His Word, through the voices of friends or colleagues, through the spoken or written words of others.  I have also watched a few teachings and am still working on a puzzle that takes up half the dining room table.  It is definitely not a winter scene!  ha... It is actually a fall scene, my favorite season of the year.

Hope and pray your 2016 has had a great start.....
Until next time..............

Thursday, January 7, 2016

More Light, More Peace

It is almost dark outside as I put "pen to paper". The white snow is a stark contrast to the dark bare tree limbs that fill our windows, and fog and rain are adding another layer of ice to the road outside our home.  I have candles lit on the table in front of me, and the fireplace is not only bringing warmth to the damp air, but more light to the room......and my soul.

The land line phone rings often these days as Iowa gears up for the caucus.  I don't answer, nor do I read the fear or hate filled posts on Facebook or other media sites.  Already I see arguments spilling over and anger rising. The media loves drama.  And so, it appears, do we.  We know worst-case scenarios sell and garner votes. Mostly we are drawn in to the right or to the left because we agree with the words being spoken, or we are looking for answers to our many questions.  We want a world that will make us feel safe, protected, prosperous, and even superior.  Yeah.  Nothing brings out our humanness more that politics or the fear of death. Words hold power.

Words have held me captive for a few months now.  Doctor after doctor, pages and pages of medical reports, words spilling over giving me worst-case scenarios and and reports of percentages and what ifs or could-be's.  Words giving cancer a whole heck of a lot of power.  I got lost in all the alphabet letters spoken over me.  The daily trips to the cancer center, radiation burning out the "possibility" of other cancer cells lurking.  The radiation burning me.   Even with the kind and caring people I connected with, I was deeply affected in body, soul, and spirit.  I still cannot describe fully what happened to me inside, but in focusing and believing only what the medical world's best were telling me (which is their job) my soul began to shrivel up and my Spirit was silenced.   I got caught up in the desperate need to survive.  I  lost my power, or I gave it away.

This morning I began researching the medications the oncologist wants me to "try".  The side effects are major.  The doctor even told me, she was not sure I could take them, as they will increase my pain and other symptoms.  Thus the "trying" part.  I was looking for what was being said by patients and doctors about the drugs, and trying to made an informed decision on what to do.  Fear began to take up residence.  More bad guys might be coming.......  Even the medications can cause what we are trying to prevent.  Really?

Fear makes it hard to clearly hear the truth and live in peace, whether it is fear of ISIS, fear of who is in the White House, or fear of cancer coming back.  Us oldsters have seen many presidents come and go. We have lost friends in their 30's and watched others live long full lives after battling great adversities that should have killed them.  There have always been bad guys whether they are named ISIS, a political party, or cancer.  Even with so much more knowledge or weapons of warfare at our disposal, there are no definitive answers or results that bring us peace of mind.

So what does?  What gives us peace?

For the past few days God has been opening my eyes and ears to the word.  It has jumped out at me on Facebook, blogs, and in a teaching I listened to by Pastor Eric Johnson at Bethel Church in CA.
Eric made a few statements that caught my attention.  "The greatest weapon I have against the enemy is peace".  Hmmmm  "One of the ways peace comes to us is when we praise the Lord in spite of the battle going on around us.  When we can say, Praise the Lord, His mercies endure for ever,  it helps us win the battle before it is even over."  Victory.  Winning the battle before it is even over.

We are often confronted with the need to choose......peace or fear.  Maybe we can practice the sacrifice of praise in our lives concerning that which we battle because we know that we have the final victory!  Easier said than done, my friends.  It has taken me awhile, but as the wounds heal inside and out, my body becomes strong again,  and as I refuse to partner with fear, I am slowly coming back to life and lifting my arms in gratitude and praise.

It's dark outside now, and what I see out the window is a reflection of the light inside my home.  We are much the same.  Even when circumstances darken our world, we can make a choice to reflect God's light in our praise and in our refusal to let fear of cancer, ISIS, or the latest bad guy quiet our Spirit.  Let His light shine.......let peace come.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Midnight Blue Water

About a week ago, I went into the Garden of my Heart, the "secret place" where I meet with God. The garden has welcomed me for over three years now, even though lately I have neglected this time alone with the Trinity.  This day God led me somewhere new, but let me back up a bit...........

I have been pondering the word God wants me to focus on in 2016 for a few weeks now.  For a while I thought it was "peace"......I sure could use some of that.  Then I wondered if it was promises....I have not quite come to terms with His promise of being my shield ~ just where was that shield when I was so burned? (sigh)   Joel and I both have been wondering about our "purpose" now so maybe that was the word.  I just could not settle on one.

I was so busy looking for it behind every bush so to speak, that I nearly missed His word....or words for me.  In His Infinite wisdom He actually began to speak to me a few months ago when I saw on Facebook a wood plaque from a company called or com.  One of those, anyway.  The plaque spoke to me so strongly I went right to the site online and ordered it.  On sale of course.  It did not arrive for several weeks, so I wondered if I had been ripped off by purchasing something from a place I have never heard of.  Eventually it did arrive, and when we opened it I felt like I was welcoming home a living, breathing, piece of art.  It hangs above our church pew in the entry way of our home.

From then on I seemed to receive this Bible verse on almost a daily basis.  And yet it was not until I thought about what our granddaughter Abbi told me over Christmas~~ that she really liked the wood plaque above the church pew~~ that I began to think God was highlighting this verse because it was His answer to my question, "What word do you want me to focus on for this year?"  The word was actually a verse!

"Be still and know.............that I am God" is what is giving me a foundation to stand on right now as I find my way back to health and wholeness.  Be still and know......Which takes me back to my garden. I went in feeling exhausted....with the virus from hades challenging me in so many ways....and God led me over to a quiet still pond...almost a deep midnight blue in ripples except right in the middle where one drop of water seemed to fall slowly into the pond.  I sat along the side with my legs up and one arm crossed over my knees, using my other hand to gently move the dark pure liquid.  I heard, "Be still".  My thought was, "this is my quiet place.....a place to be still with God and lean into Him."

So, the word/words I will focus on this year are from Psalm 46:10:

"Be still and know that I am God"  

Each word has meaning and I am excited to learn what God reveals to me on this journey.  For now I am holding tight to the verse as my body continues to restore and repair and rebuild. Today as we asked Holy what I should do, how we should pray for healing to come, Joel heard, "Just rest in Me".   Yeah, that is a hard one for me.  Just still......let go......let God.  But when I start to feel frustrated, unsteady, or in need of yet another nap, I look over at the wood plaque above our church pew and remember that His Word is LIVING and brings healing to the whole body.  The Bible tells us in the Psalms that He sent His Word and healed them from all their destruction.

Need healing?  Need quiet time with God?  Do you have your own quiet place to sit and listen to His Word, letting it breathe life into your spirit, soul, and body?  He is waiting to share His love with each of still...........and know.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from Iowa on this wintry 2nd day of January, 2016!    2016.....already.  We received 9 inches of snow last Monday and our temperatures have dipped down into the single digits at night....wind chills below zero.  Yes, winter has arrived.  We actually had a dusting of snow for Christmas along with ice that arrived on the 26th.  Our son and his family did some two handed focused driving to get here that day.  The other kids were all staying at a local hotel and spent a good deal of time chipping ice off of their cars before carefully driving across town for the family celebration.

Speaking of that, we had 13 for Christmas Eve and I was able to go to church with them, coming home to eat a great meal together.  It has been at least 12 years since we worshiped on Christmas as a family.  Christmas Day we had a nice meal with 18 here, played a lot of cribbage and other games, and the grandkids were able to go swimming at the hotel that evening.  I was pretty sick by then with the virus that won't let go, so they left early and I went to bed and slept 9.5 hours which helped. Saturday we had a nice meal, visited with the family, many of whom played cribbage again along with games on Play Station 4.  I even tried "guitar hero" but did not have the energy to play very long. And I was lousy at it! The family from Des Moines were here for a few hours before heading home again and our youngest and her family headed home that day,too.  The rest stayed overnight a third night and we all met at the hotel for breakfast before they headed to their perspective homes in MN and WI.  It was so great to have them here on Christmas.  A rare occasion.

Joel is busy preparing for all the preaching he will be doing in January.  He will preach 3 of 5 Sunday's and 5 Wednesday night's at a church 45 minutes away from home.  He has been snow blowing, grocery shopping, keeping the house in order, and caring for his wife when necessary.  I love this cowboy preacher of mine!

I crashed from the virus Sunday, and did not really come back to life until New Year's Eve when I could watch a movie and not doze off....We saw "5 Flights Up" with Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman.  It was very interesting and thought provoking for these two who are nearing 70.  We discussed it at length the next day along with those "what-do-you-want-to-do-with-the-rest-of-your-life" questions that come up at our age, at the closing of another year, and especially after dealing with cancer the past 4 months.  Yep.  Each day seems mighty precious right now.

Speaking of cancer, here is an update:  I really am not able to put into words all I have felt the past 4 weeks. The pain, the exhaustion, the effort it took to keep going in for radiation.  I am relieved it is over, and still a bit shaken by it.  The good news is that 98% of the burns now have their first layer of skin. This also means that I am not dealing with pain when they are open to the air.  I know the virus hit me so hard because my immune system was weakened by the radiation.  So, I am still sleeping 9-10 hours a night!  Also napping but down to only once a day.  I am feeling better and so grateful.  Thank you all for your prayers.

Joel and I also watched another movie, "90 Minutes In Heaven" and sadly it was one of the slowest, most boring movies we have seen in a long time.  Great story, told poorly.  I have read some, watched only 1 teaching this week, and have worked on a puzzle a little each day, as energy allowed. I have not walked for a month, which is so difficult for me.  I am really looking forward to putting on my tennies and hitting the pavement again.

So, here it is, another new year, another new beginning, another fresh start.  I look forward to catching up on your blogs, on Facebook, and with emails and texts.  We pray that your 2016 will e filled with joy, love, peace, and purpose.  And we find all of that when we keep our eyes on Jesus, don't we.

Happy New Year!  Until next time..............