Thursday, March 31, 2016

They Didn't Make It?

Yesterday Joel and I watched, via the internet, the funeral service of Officer Susan Farrell held at a church we have attended with our son and his family in the southern part of our state.  It was packed with officers from Iowa, surrounding states, and a few around the country and from Canada.  Officers honoring one of their sisters in blue. (Her partner who died in the crash will be laid to rest on Friday.)

The chief of police, Dana Wingert, gave a powerful and moving speech.  He began with these words....
"They didn't make it."  The words spoken  to him when he was informed of the horrific crash that killed  two of his officers.  He went on in his talk to speak about officer Farrell and her calling, and addressed her husband, a fellow officer, and the family.   At the end of his talk he brought it back to the words he first spoke...."They didn't make it."  And then he said, "I stand here before you to argue that statement because they did make it and now they reside in God's house.  And they will watch over us the rest of our days.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

Later one of Susan and her husband Jesse's friends spoke.  He is a friend, pastor, and police officer who was asked to talk about Susan,  and he also spoke to her husband and little daughter, the love they shared, and how God will continue to be with them.  I loved hearing these respected men in blue speak about our Lord, reading scriptures, praying, declaring faith.  Thank you Jesus.

"They didn't make it?"  No, they did make it......they made it to a life eternal and now reside in Heaven with our Jesus.....

Life is unpredictable at best.  Life is what happens while we are making other plans.  The man who hit them head on while going the wrong direction on the Interstate, was drunk and driving at an estimated 100 mph......  Yes, life is unpredictable, so it is very very important to be right with not put off what God is asking of us......We think we have all the tomorrows before us so we often put off those things we know that we know that we know.  Maybe we need to commit to studying God's praying more......getting to church........speaking to that someone we have been angry at.  Seek to heal that relationship......lose that that neighbor........forgive that person......spend time listening to our Lord.  Say yes to our Papa God at any cost.

God is always waiting to hear from us.  He never turns us away, but waits patiently for us to live the life he has planned for us.   Sometimes life gets in the way of that plan.  Sometimes death.  Bad choices result in bad consequences.  This 25 year old young man made a bad decision that ended innocent lives and his own, and changed the lives of so many others.  Lord have mercy.  Let us not put off listening to God's voice beckoning us to a life filled with His presence here on earth and in Heaven.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sunday Came And We Remember And Rejoice!

Holy Week is important to us and good Friday brings with it the overwhelming reminder of what Jesus did for us.  The reading about the death of Jesus on YouTube kept reminding everyone that "Sunday is a coming". If you have not heard it, take the time to read my former post where I have it downloaded.

I thought about the "It is Friday, but Sunday is coming" when we were up and out the door at 5:45 Easter morning driving through fog on two- lane roads and on the Interstate.  Going past the casino with too many cars for such a day as this, we headed to worship, gathering with other Christians.  Yes, Sunday came and "He is risen" echoed in the sanctuary as dawn arrived!

And even on Easter morning, or maybe especially on Easter morning adventures with God take place to delight, amuse, and remind us of God being God.  I had only gone to this church with Joel one other time and so I sat half way down in the sanctuary, thinking others would be filling in around me.  It did not happen.  As Joel walked to the back of the church before the service started he stopped and whispered...."You must be new here, you are sitting down front", and then quietly chuckled as he walked away.  What a stinker!  It seems that he forgot to tell me that at the first service everyone sits way to the back. Since only 75 were there that was possible.  It is a widely known that many Lutherans prefer the back pews but my family never got that memo...nor did Joel's.  I'm grateful for that.

After church I visited with a couple.  They told me they were going to miss Joel, and then then husband asked me questions...."Did I command for healing too?  Did it work?" I answered and he continued....and where did you get Lyme?  In North Dakota?  I replied and he asked, "Well, then, was it North Dakota that your husband got the idea to wear boots?"  I told him Joel has always worn boots and we never lived in ND.  Was he thinking of Montana?  "Well, then, was it in Montana that he got the idea...."  I told him no.  He always wore boots.......but the hat came from our years in Montana.  He seemed satisfied with that answer and moved on.  I am still amused (mostly) at how some people get stuck on Joel's attire.  I do find it cute when a child like the little girl at church walked by Joel and said...."Mommy, a cowboy!"

During the second service I sat downstairs in an alcove near the entryway.  I could hear the service but did not need to be among the 420 worshiping.  While there a dad came with his young teen son.  The boy looked sick and my first thought was~ flu~ so I avoided him.  Then the dad called 911.  The boy had been stung by a wasp in church and had many allergies.  I felt I was to pray for the boy but tried to ignore the urge.   I could not so I stood and asked if I could pray for him.  The boy said yes and the dad asked me to watch him while he looked for mom.  I laid my hand on his head and prayed for the symptoms to leave, commanding his body to stop reacting and for healing to come and reminded the boy that God was protecting him.  He thanks me and he got better, the dad and mom returned, the police showed up and then the ambulance.  The EMTs checked him over and he was fine. I felt very blessed to be able to pray for him and see God move in his body.  That is all we can do.....listen, obey, pray, and leave the rest in God's hands.  When I was done praying I realized that Joel was preaching about the salvation-healing connection at that moment.   I think God was sending me a message, and hopefully this boy will remember the ways God showed up when he needed help.

It was a special Easter morning, and definitely "Sunday Came".  We remember and we rejoice!  The devil was defeated.....Jesus rose from the dead.  And the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and out of that tomb lives inside of us.

Phone calls, texting with siblings, a nap, and ham dinner for two rounded out our day.  We experienced delight in worship, amusement in the questions, the excitement that comes from praying for someone, and the love of family.  I am so grateful that our older children have church homes and celebrate Resurrection Day!  And I am grateful for the adventures that come with faithful living!  Yes, Sunday is not only coming but it came!  He is Risen!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday morning and there is just a small reminder of the winter storm we went through Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.  We ended up getting rain, sleet, corn snow( kind of like hail), ice, and then 6 inches of snow,  but the warmer temperatures returned and it is all melting away.  Yay!  I have just started walking again, so we have managed short walks outside on the dry streets.

It is the end of Holy Week with Easter coming!  There is a great reading on Youtube that speaks of Jesus betrayal, suffering, and death but keeps stating that "Sunday is coming".  Yes....Sunday is coming! I posted it at the end of my writing for your enjoyment.   Joel ( and hopefully myself) will head out early, around 5:45 am to get to the church at 6:30 before services start at 7 am.  I am thinking I will try to go if my body cooperates.

On Maundy Thursday we went to services at Trinity Lutheran here is town and watched a live presentation of the Last Supper followed by communion.  It was so powerful for me.  I am a visual person and it was amazing to watch.  The man playing Jesus looked the part and he was the one who served everyone the wine/grape juice at communion.  That itself brought tears......On Good Friday we went to Praise Community for worship.  Both services were impacting.

The other day our oldest son and I were talking and he was recalling in detail the bunny cake we used to make for Easter.  He has an amazing detailed memory.  Sometimes I miss those days of coloring and dying Easter eggs, spending Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights at church with all the kids, and filling and hiding baskets for Easter morning.  The kids usually got a book in their baskets along with plenty of candy and dyed eggs.  Easter morning we were always up early for Sunrise services and of course a big ham dinner to follow.  We always had an Easter egg hunt.  If the weather was bad it was inside.  I would count the eggs so there would not be one that was not found until it smelled!  One year that did happen but only one year.  Ha.....It is pretty quiet in this house now on Easter, although we recall with smiles last year when one of our daughters and her family came.  Joel''s early morning schedule and preaching two services will mean a long afternoon nap I am sure.

Early this morning we heard from our oldest son, to let us know he is okay.  Two officers were transporting a prisoner and while driving on the Interstate a car came down the wrong way and hit them head on killing all involved.  It was a fiery crash.  Horrible.  Our hearts are with the families of those involved and of course with the  family of the department's men in blue. God be with them all.

I saw the eye specialist Wednesday and it was all good news.  My eyes look great and the eye pressure is the lowest it has been since I started seeing him.  He believes it is because the cataracts are gone and they are no longer putting pressure on the drainage tubes in my eyes.  Yippee!  I talked the Dr. into the steroid drop being every other day so I am beginning to feel better.  My vision is 20/20 with a bit of a astigmatism still present so I plan to get prescription glasses. I don't like taking the readers off and on all the time and they lens made the 20/20 a bit clearer.  I am coming to the end of this long journey and look forward being healthier than ever.

Bible study continues on Tuesday nights, but this week there was so Wed. service or Thursday morning study.  I have continued with the Rick Renner book~ it is like a textbook, to quote a friend.  Very good.

I love the video,  "Sunday is Coming"  I planned to share it yesterday, but will post it today.  I hope you enjoy it!  Yes, Sunday is coming!  Have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Remembering His Promises

"He will cover you with His feathers
and under His wings you will find refuge."
Psalm 91:4

Last fall right before my surgery for breast cancer I wrote about God, feathers, and protection.  You can read about it HERE.  God has provided me with this verse many times, and it began when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Surgery followed by 6 weeks of radiation filled my calendar until December 17th.  Surgery went well, radiation was very difficult for me and I dealt with burns for several weeks during and after.  The verse above was my saving grace. I printed off the picture and verse and taped it  up around the house.  I did not understand the whys, but I could trust that God was with me.  Feathers became important as I took refuge under His wings often.

Not too long ago a friend texted me the amazing picture above that brought feathers to mind again. She had shared with me that when she saw this she thought of me because of the feather.  She is fighting her own health battle with such dignity and faith, and yet she took time to send me a precious reminder of God's promise. It was a great visual of God with us as I walked through yet another journey with cataract surgeries.

For my birthday our oldest daughter sent me a journal from her and her family with the most beautiful cover.  There it was, Psalm 91:4.  The day after my birthday as I settled in to rest in my recliner, this book brought to mind once again God's promises. Feathers have become that for me.......a reminder of God's love and protection.  How sweet that our daughter sent this!  I am once again looking for feathers everywhere.  I expect that each of you have your own reminder from God that brings to mind Who He is and what He promises.

Tonight we will go to Maunday Thursday services at a local church in town.  We will gather with other Christians as we remember and partake in the Last Supper.  Communion is about remembering, and as we walk through Holy Week into the celebration of Easter, we are reminded of what God has done for us.  Remembering His promises that were fulfilled through His Son.  We have so much to be grateful for.

God is faithful.  And He sends us reminders of that faithfulness in His Word, in His children, in Communion, and even in feathers.  Yes, we have so much to be grateful for.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

In The Midst Of The Chaos There Is Hope Rising In Jesus

Once again terrorists have attacked and the dead are counted and the numbers of injured are rising. Hearts are breaking, families are searching and grieving, and the atmosphere is electric with fear.

It is difficult to keep peace in front of us as images are played over and over across the TV screen. White sheets soaked in blood, parents holding tight to wailing children, medical personal bent over victims, authorities and police running to and fro.  To be in the midst of it must be numbing.

Yet in the midst of it all a sign appears.....the name of Jesus is firmly planted surrounded by flowers and candles and........hope.

And it is Holy Week.  Jesus rode into the city on a donkey and ended up hanging from a cross just a few days later.  He suffered and died for us all.  I have a bad taste in my mouth when I think He suffered and died for those who do the devil's dirty work of hatred and destruction.  It is hard for me to resolve the feelings I have for the cowards who hide behind the normal and kill the innocent.  They need Jesus, too. Still, the loving your enemies part is hard to digest in the aftermath.  Necessary, but difficult.

The world is weary and its people are broken.  Broken by lack, or by nature's wrath ,and by those who fight for their own agenda whether in the world of terrorism, the world of politics, or our own backyards.  Is there any good answer to the many questions that form every time we hear "breaking news"?

There is good to be found in Good Friday as it looms ahead, a solemn day for us as Christians.  A time to remember what Christ did for us.  Oh how He loved us.  He suffered greatly to fulfill God's plan for us, His children. Some choose to embrace Jesus as Savior, others do not.   With a grateful heart we followers say, Jesus we love you......oh how we love you.  This is where our focus needs to return as we try to digest a world around us that continues to show less than loving behavior.  The love that God calls us to.  Only with Jesus before us, beside us, behind us, and around us can we stand firm in hope when the world shakes so violently.  Jesus,we love You.....You are the One are hearts adore.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pythons and Prehistoric Animals

"This I will declare about the Lord:  
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; 
He is my fortress, my God and I trust Him."
Psalm 91:2

"It's 5 o'clock in the morning, Lord.  I could use a little more sleep".....  That would have been me this morning as God brought to mind a matter He would like me to "work on".  I sometimes wake to His voice around 4 am, but this morning it was 5:15.  I heard the words clearly in my mind, made a commitment to follow through, and tried to go back to sleep.  As I was drifting off, I saw myself totally wrapped up from head to toe by a big python.  (I had been writing this weekend about the python stories I wanted to share from our two years in the Philippine Islands.)  This python was constricting me tightly, slowly sucking the breath right out of me. I knew if I did nothing but lay still, it would kill me, but I also knew that if I moved to much it would constrict me even more and death would come quicker. I was able to get one arm free so I took the tail of the snake and began to slowly unwind it from my face and neck.  It took effort, but I was able to do it.  Still I knew I would need help to remove this death vice from my body, so I prayed for God's help.  It was not a pretty dream, but I felt it was significant.

I told Joel about the dream this morning and he asked me what I thought was wrapping me up or keeping me constricted?  Constricted.  Confined.  Wrapped up in.  Yeah, there could be a thing or two that I could come up with!  And yes, I would need God to help me break free from what is keeping me from God's full purpose for me life.  Thank you Jesus.

Now, back to the snake/python stories I have been writing about.  I remember one day on our way to the base we saw a woman walking fast along the road.  As an American woman, it was not so safe to be out about on foot and alone, even during the daytime, so we stopped and asked if she wanted a ride to the base.  When she got in we could tell she was really upset.  When we asked her what was wrong she shared her story.  She had been outside in her backyard hanging up a few clothes when she looked to her left and saw a huge python coming over the top of her cement wall very close to her.  It frightened her so much, she dropped everything, ran into the house, and right out the front door heading to the base. I expect to see her hubby!  Poor woman!  She probably was new to the P.I. and had not acclimated to the "wildlife".  One day we were driving on to the base and all traffic had come to a stand still. It seems a big ol' python was slowly going across the highway and everyone was at a stop waiting for it to pass.  Just part of life in the jungle.  I never experienced a close encounter with a python, nor any other kind of snake, even though we did check our yard daily before letting the kids go out and play.

But...... Early one morning I was out on the porch and driveway sweeping away the dirt and ants when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye.  I glanced over and just a few feet away was a ginormous prehistoric looking animal staring at me.  I don't know how it got in when we had a cement wall around the whole property and a metal driveway gate that was closed and locked.  When I saw it I screamed loudly, dropped the broom and ran into the house.  I went right into the bedroom where Joel was sleeping and shook him awake.  I told him, "There is a huge p-p-p-prehistoric animal in the yard!  Joel jumped up and went outside but it must have been scared away by my screams.  Later we discovered it was a very large monitor lizard.  Definitely, a prehistoric looking reptile!  Definitely not something you want to meet face to face, but thankfully it was as scared as I was!

Living in a third world country was a life changing experience.  At first we lived off base, under Marshall law with Marcos as leader, with bars on our windows and a heave wood door that slid sideways to close with a lock that bolted into the cement floor.  We hired 24/7 guards to protect the homes in our area  and lived without house OR cell phones.  This was the 70's after all, and smart phones were nonexistent. We sent our two oldest, who were in preschool, off to school in a bus with meshed wire and bars on the windows  for their protection.  We were always watchful with the kids. We had a maid named Ampharo who lived with us ( a unofficial government policy) and we could rely on her to educate us as we learned to navigate in a third world country.  (She became a dear friend and we kept in touch  with her and her family for years after we left the country.)  It could have easily been a place to let fear take hold.  We prayed a lot.

When we were able to move into base housing, there were towers everywhere with guards....the base of 40,000 was surrounded by a fence, and we did not have bars on our windows nor did we worry about the kids going to school.  We relaxed our vigil somewhat because we knew we were protected by the military and in a safer environment.

Looking back at those years and our many experiences ~ good, bad, and ugly~ we know God walked with us.  He was as vigilant as the guards  that lined the perimeter of the base.  He was watching over our family and keeping us safe and alert during risky circumstances.  Wildlife was to be respected as we took over their environment, and the worst we ever battled with were the biting fire ants, rice beetles, and flying roaches.   He gave us a deep love and respect for the local people we grew to know and care about.  Those two years shaped all of our lives.  We still recall them often and fondly.

God is our protector whether we live in middle America or in a third world country.  When He is fighting for us we can remain calm.  We know we are safe.  Whether from a python, the two legged kind of predators, Satan and His buddies, or our own fears.  We can stand on His promise to be our refuge and our place of safety.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our back-to-winter part of the world!  Ugh....I know it will soon melt but waking to snow was a bummer.  The flakes still keep coming......Tomorrow is the first day of Spring so it looks like Winter is trying to hold on for one last big hurrah before making way for Spring!

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday.  Our two oldest daughters were both baptized on Palm in 1970 and one in 1975.  We committed our girls to the Lord on their baptismal days, praying for them to grow in Christ and serve Him in all their ways and asking for the wisdom to raise them well. Our prayers have been answered above and beyond.  Thank you Jesus!  It is also the first day of Spring tomorrow which means we will be celebrating "someone's" 68th birthday.  I can remember when I was so sick, we were not sure I would be around to celebrate number 60.  Here I am, healthier and stronger and celebrating 68 years of life.  Thank you Jesus!  It is also our daughter-in-love's birthday tomorrow. We give thanks for her, the gift she is to our family, and the blessing she is in our oldest son's life and that of her family.  Thank you Jesus!

Update on eyes:  The good news.......My eyes are doing great!  I still am enjoying the vivid colors I can see and it is just delightful to see the details ~ like the white trim on the squirrels tails, the intricate details on the birds wings, the budding trees and bushes. I was able to renew my license this week and it is no longer restricted from night driving.  Yay.  I am not having any eye issues or inflammation, etc.   The bad news........I am having a reaction to the steroid drop in that it has increased my joint pain and fatigue.  I cannot walk due to pain, I am sleeping long hours, and spending energy trying not to focus on the pain.  I have 10 days left on this last drop.  I see the Dr. Wednesday and hopefully things will still be pristine and he will say, no more drops!  This too shall pass, right?!  

This week we did have Bible Study here, went to Wednesday night services, and Thursday Joel headed to Waterloo for the day and I went to Bible study at church.  I must tell you how Holy answered my "sort-of" prayer.  I was in a funk Wednesday night and told Holy, "I am not asking someone for a ride to Bible study tomorrow so if you want me to go, someone is going to have to call me and ask if I need a ride."  NO ONE has ever called and asked me as Joel takes me.........So Thursday morning I said good-bye to Joel and snuggled into my recliner hoping to stay warm as I waited for the pain to subside.  A few minutes later the phone rang, I did not recognize the number but answered it.  It was Pastor Jani, the leader of the study!  "I was calling to see if you needed a ride today to Bible study?"  Really?!  I laughed right out loud, explained to her what I had told Holy, and then said I will be ready when you come!  He made the effort, I better obey!!  Only God!

"Be yourself, everyone else is taken."  These words were on a wooden plaque I saw at a store called Phoenix.  This store is owned by Mercy Medical and has new and used things for sale.  Great stuff!  I love what this has to say.  God created us, unique and special.  Each one of us needs to be who God created us to be. If we try to be someone else, we are being a counterfeit.

What a week in the crazy world of politics.  The drama just continues and it is not pretty. Joel and I have watched quite a few elections come and go over our many years, this may be one of the wildest ones, but there are others that have had us shaking our heads too.   I just keep praying and remembering what I heard at church Wednesday night from one of the prayer intercessors who spoke over the congregation...."Don't be afraid.  No matter what is going on in government or our country, God is there."  Yes, God is there.  He is bigger than it all.

I have continued on reading Rick Renner's book "Dressed to Kill".  Deep study with lots of information to digest.  I have also been watching Bethel and Charis teachings, and I just have to say the new show,
"Little Big Shots" is a great show about talented kids.  Clean entertainment, which is nice to find on TV.  So what have you been up to?

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

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

You Can Have It All

You Can Have It All

Recently I wrote about Joel and I seeking roots during this season of our lives.  We have been living in this small city 20 years next month, so of course we have some roots here already just through experiencing 80 changes of seasons, the years of ministry, and of course the great people we have met and grown to care about.  And then there is the familiar.  There is something to be said for the familiar.

Roots are found in our families, in community, in our homes, careers/callings, in our houses of worship, those places where we feel accepted and embraced for who we are.  Even as we change. Especially as we change. There is something to be said for change, too.

Today it has re-surfaced...the seeking roots spiritually, in our faith journey.  It is another kind of season, where we find ourselves worshiping in two worlds....that of our foundational Lutheran denomination, and that "something more" which God has beckoned us into....leading us to a non-denominational church for such a time as this.

There is no doubt in our minds that God has called us into a place of the charismatic, the prophetic, and the supernatural healing.  Absolutely no doubt. Somewhere in this calling, this beckoning into more, is the place where God is leading us to put down roots.  We are not naive enough to believe we will find the perfect place to live or worship, but we know we will be led to the best for us according to God's plan.

I won't deny that there is a noticeable tension here, in this pause in our journey with God between the old and the new.  And I find I am saddened by those from our "old" world who choose to judge us by the path we have taken. On the other hand, over the past four years in our "new" world we have had to defend our mainstream denomination more times than I care to count.  We are still learning to define who we are now, so how can anyone else be allowed to define who we are or are not?  Only God.

Even with the struggle to re-define ourselves, we would never go back.  God shook our world to it's core four years ago with Joel's overnight healing and Holy Spirit shake-up, and there is no return to what was.  There is labor before birthing a baby and it feels like there is a labor we are experiencing now before birthing more of the new in our spiritual lives.  We are in this amazing, terrifying, exciting, and challenging process as we seek all God has for us.  We have told God He can have it all....every part of our we ask for "more" at any cost.  We may be experiencing some of that "at any cost" tension now.  

Bonnie Gray said today in her blog post "There is a place for us:  Jesus Himself."  It is a comfort to be reminded of where our heart calls home.  In Heavenly places, this is where we have eternal roots.  It is not to stop us from seeking a place to plant our feet deep into the damp soil of the ground, a community, a church.  We are created for relationship to the land, with ourselves and people, and with our Papa God.  Above all we seek the latter.  At any cost.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you!  It is going to be another warm one here in north Iowa.  We have had a few days in the 60's so the snow is gone.  Yes!  We have walked outside this week, although only about 20 minutes while I build myself back up after surgeries.  I have seen several deer come through our backyard on their way to the river.  They are beautiful, but knowing they carry ticks and Lyme takes away the joy of having them in our yard!  It is great to have the fresh air and sunshine once again. Certainly, this has been a short winter by Midwestern standards.  I can remember a huge snow storm in March just a couple of years ago.....but not this year.  Yay!

The second surgery went very well.  I saw the Dr. again this past Wednesday and wrote about it HERE. We are thrilled with the good report and doing a happy dance!!!!  I can now spend my energy and time focusing on improving my health.  The last 6 months have taken a lot out of this ol body.  I am doing fine, but there is room for improvement!

Speaking of eye surgery, the costs of the drops were astounding to us.  I had six bottles of drops for two eyes.  One kind of drop cost $250.00 per bottle.  Judas!  We had good insurance so ended up paying "only" $200 for the six bottles of drops, but what about those who do not have good insurance?

Speaking of improvement, Joel and I decided to do a partial Daniel Plan detox fast.  I kept getting the Daniel Fast coming across my media feeds and decided maybe God was trying to tell me something. We decided to eat fruits, veggies, and water for 4 days.  Easy, right?  We tried the green juice for one morning, but my stomach did not approve of the fiber rich raw greens when it was empty.  We had salads for lunch and roasted veggies for supper.  But only fruit, veggies and water.  It was interesting to note that Joel got really sick.  We thought it was the detoxing until I remembered how sick he got on the vegan diet.  He just needs more protein than the normal person, and he needs to get that from meat and eggs.  He ate eggs for breakfast for two of the days and felt more energy right away, so this kind of fast is not for him.  We both had aches and pains which we thought was from detoxing, and we both lost a few pounds.  We did learn we eat way too many nuts, even they are good, they are also fattening and high in calories.  We liked having just a small salad for lunch, too, so that is now on the daily menu. Even though we learned a bit from this, it was an adventure that we hope not to repeat for awhile. Ha....

We had Bible study here Tuesday night, Wednesday night we went to worship, and Thursday morning was the Women's Bible study and a pastor's conference for Joel, and Friday was a night spent with friends.  It is good to be back in the swing of things again.

Joel was looking back over the financial aspect of his years of ministry this week and learned a sobering fact about his first few calls to congregations.  He had never really recognized that his pay was so low that we were defined as the working poor.  Yes, we had parsonages to live in, and we were more than grateful for those homes.  But the amount of money we made was limited enough we were eligible for free school lunches for the kids and for food stamps.  I remember having to talk Joel into taking advantage of the free lunch program at one call, because we were struggling so much financially. We never did use food stamps as we felt that should be for those who really needed it. Yes, we had more than 2 kids, and I was ill and could not work and if I could have worked we would have had a second income and a second pension, it is true, but with Joel having 13 years of college and a master's degree?  It still did not help us financially.  As pastors you were expected to not want to make money, or really have more than enough even while working 60 hours a week, which Joel did often.... but that is really a sad way of thinking. I can remember Joel saying more than once, "I would just like to be able to buy a cup of coffee without worrying about spending the $1 to buy it"!  We were in debt because of the years we struggled....and then of course great medical debt due to the Lyme and insurance companies not covering long term treatments.  I will go on to say, we do not regret one church we served or the 36 years of ministry.  We would do it all again.  We always felt we were rich in the people we knew, and I am sure it was not always easy to hire pastors.  Especially when people do/did not tithe. (That is another sermon altogether).   God always found a way to provide for us, often through the people we served.  Joel worked during his vacation times baling for farmers and ranchers, sand blasting, and did other jobs just to make extra money.  Vacations were not an option for many years. Now we have lived debt free for three years, and we are so grateful. And Joel can have that coffee without worrying!  Today I just felt the need to bring to the attention of others the struggles pastors sometimes go through with the hope that people will realize that they for the most part they work hard to serve their congregations, are on call 24/7 and still would have it no other way.  The financial tension and struggles in churches has existed since the beginning of time I expect.

I have been reading Rick Renner's book "Dressed To Kill" which is, as one friend said, a "textbook" on the armor of God.  It is deep, chapters are long and intense, and it definitely is giving me new insights. I also am re-reading Christie Purifoy's book, "Roots and Sky" and have watched Charis and Bethel teachings and a conference at Bethel this week. We watched the last episode of Downton Abbey last Sunday and our usual few favs during the week.  So, what have you been up to?

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

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pristine and Perfect!

I went to the doctor yesterday morning and after a pressure and vision check and a good look into my eyes the doctor gave us good news..."The implants look pristine.  With your history of Lyme Disease and other things, doing anything to your eyes is like walking a tightrope, because we have no idea how the body will I am very happy to say your surgery went great, there is no sight of inflammation or proteins coming against the implants.  All looks perfect!"  Perfect and pristine.  We practically danced out of the office.  Yes!  Another hurdle passed.

The affect of his words on Joel and me got me thinking.  It is amazing how a few words spoken to or over us have the power to change our lives.  At Bible study today we discussed the power of words and how important it is to declare God's truth over us, no matter our circumstances.

I confess there have been times when life feels overwhelming, during which I head for what I call a "melt down", speaking negative and hopeless words.  Often Joel is within hearing distance.  One time when I was doing Satan's work for him by speaking negatively over my situation, Joel got up and walked out of the room and out of the house.  It certainly startled me, which was his intention.  When he came back he said, "You may choose to speak destructively but I refuse to listen or be a part of it."


Psalm 18:21 tells us we speak life or death with our words.  And we have a choice!  We also have a choice of whether we will listen to someone else speak death, like Joel when he made the choice to walk away from my words of self pity and destruction.  Yes, there is life or death in our words.

Certainly there are times when we do not hear what we want to hear,  but hopefully we seek God's truth for us during those situations......because it is there to be found in His Word.  We don't deny the diagnosis, painful situation, or loss. but we turn to God and His promises to see us through the valley or the storm.

I don't expect to hear the words pristine or perfect often, but maybe I should?!?  What I can expect to hear is "life" as it comes with intention from my mouth, the mouths of others, and the Word.   Life.  Joy.  Hope. Power. Truth.  It is a good way to live, because there is power in our words.  And in His.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Can't You See?

I had the strangest dream the other night.  I would not normally share such a dream with the whole world,  but when I woke from the dream at 4 a.m. God spoke to me clearly and told me to write about it.

In the dream I was walking around in my birthday suit.  Yep.  Not a stitch on and people were staring at me.  Of course they were.  Judas!  I did not feel any embarrassment, which is strange in and of itself, but then I began talking to a couple who was appalled at my lack of attire.  They just kept staring with their mouths wide open.  My response to them was,  "I know I am fat, saggy, and have wrinkles and gray hair, but my husband thinks I am beautiful.  Crazy, huh."

I woke up and immediately God whispered to me that Joel does see me through eyes of love and finds me beautiful!  He then said, "I look through eyes of love and see my children as beautiful. No matter your shape or size, no matter your quirks or flaws, no matter your imperfections, I see my children through My Son, through eyes of love."

After I had the cataract surgery I was able to see all my wrinkles, flawed skin, and gray hair a lot easier.  It was not pretty.  In all my loving kindness (?) I told Joel he looked older, grayer, more pale too.  He laughed and said, "I'm so glad you had your eyes done!"  giggle....

I was shaped like an hourglass when Joel and I married, but over the years I became as round as a gala apple.  There were a couple of times I went down in size, but in time my apple shape returned.  My sweet husband thought I was "so beautiful" when we met, and he still does.  I have plenty of quirks and flaws inside too, yet he views me through love, as I do him.  More importantly, God looks at our misshapen hearts and souls, our brokenness, our flaws, and He sees us as His children, forgiven and loved.  By grace He embraces us and holds us close, saying "You are so beautiful!"

A couple of weeks ago at church I heard a word to share with those were gathered.  I had been meditating along with everyone else, and saw God take His hands, place them on both sides of a certain woman's face, and with great love in His eyes, He sang, "You are so beautiful to me.......can't you see?" The love He had in His eyes covered this person with a radiant light.  She was soaking in His love and was all aglow.

So often God is presented as a God of wrath, or as a strict parent who deals with our sin with punishment and anger. I expect there are times God is angry, but I believe the consequences of our own choices bring us punishment, not God......He delights in us.  After all, He sent His only Son to die for us.  He loves us and calls us His beloved.  We may see ourselves as unfit, and even feel ashamed, guilt ridden, or rejected by who we see in the mirror, but God tells us we are His righteous children.  We are sons and daughters of the King.  He gives us beauty for ashes.  We are made whole, forgiven, and so beautiful in His eyes.  He may even sing over us...."You are so beautiful to me.....can't you see?!"

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning all!  Winter continues on here in our corner of the world, with vague promises of highs in the 50's forecast for next week.  We have been turning on the fireplace to bring extra warmth to the living room.  In days past this area was called a sitting room.....I am thinking that was a good definition of what we do in our living rooms.  Sit.  Too much sitting for me again this week, but that is ending soon enough.

This past Thursday I had cataract surgery on my right eye.  I saw the doctor on Tuesday and he said the left eye looked "pristine" so we could go ahead.  I had been having some major tightness in the chest along with a few other vague symptoms that puzzled the doctor with what to do with the eye drops.  He now has me taking the same dose but fewer times.  He also showed me how to put the drops in my eyes so less of it gets into the bloodstream.  It seems to have helped.  The surgery went well, but this time the anesthesiologist did not give me enough anesthesia and I was awake at first but could not say anything. The doctor noticed and they gave me more so that took some time and then the cataract was again "woody" and challenging.  I am sooooooooooo glad it is over.  It all went well, but was not as easy as I had heard.  My advice:  If you can, as soon as they tell you they are "ripe" have them out!  My eye pressure and then diagnosis of breast cancer kept that from happening.  Having an excellent surgeon made it all painless and I am totally rejoicing over what I can see.  Still amazed and still delighted to open my eyes each morning!

Joel and I were laughing about how I had to get to the surgical center by 5:30 am, have 15 drops put in my eye, an IV port put in, sedation and pain meds given, my eye washed out with chemicals, and a stubborn cataract removed. and implant put in............and Joel was so exhausted that he had to take three naps along with me!  Ha!  I guess he got tired with all I was going through....giggle.....reminds me of when I had radiation and he would take me there, I would have the treatment and come home and he would have to nap!  I guess we are partners in all things.

Beth and hubby, Kevin

Today is our daughter Bethany's birthday!  She arrived over 3 weeks late, weighing 8 1/2 lbs., with such beautiful skin and perfectly shaped head, etc.  The doctor said she came out looking like she was a month old...and she kinda was as she "baked" longer.  So did her brother.  He was 4 weeks late to the day.  Bethany is a delight!  So creative, artistic, passionate, and intelligent among other things.  She is a great teacher of Old Testament, and of sweet children too, also teaches piano, and plays keyboard, piano, and flute for her church.  She loves her family with a deep love.   She was our first born so our parenting skills left something to be desired I am sure......but the awe and love we felt for her as we held her for the first time is still the awe and love we hold for her today.  Thank you God for blessing us with her!  We are eternally grateful.......

Mom and Bethany

Beth with Dad

Today is also my sister Jan and brother-in-love Lanny's 5th wedding anniversary!  Have a super day you two!!  Enjoy the day, the year, your lives together!  Love you!

Last Sunday Joel had the day "off" so we went to Praise for worship.  We had Bible study here Tuesday night, but stayed home Wednesday night from church because of our early wake up call for Thursday.The rest of the week has been quiet with recovery and a regimenof drops to take several times a day.

I have been listening to Barry Bennett, Bill Johnson, and Kris Vallottin, this week.  Reading a bit, but adjusting to the big vision change so TV has been more entertaining.  Love "Fixer Upper" and our usual fav's.    What have you been up to?

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