Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Finding Gold in the Dirt

I was listening to Kris Vallotton speak recently and he made a statement that resonated with me. 

"We need to find the gold in the dirt of each others lives. "  

The next day I listened to Eric Johnson speak about his grandpa and the church he served in Redding CA.  The same church where Eric is now pastor, and yet a different church than when his grandfather first began serving Bethel.  There are 5 generations of pastors in this family.  A great legacy!

During the time of the hippies in the 60's and 70's Eric's grandfather opened the church to those who were not as clean or "holy" looking as the church members.  Many in the congregation rebelled and gave him an ultimatum.  His life was actually threatened over this.  He held his ground~~ The church is for all.  Eternal life is for all.  So, as a result many members left the church.  Eric's grandfather did not separate people into "us" and "them" categories, but saw everyone as a "we".  He saw the gold in the dirt of all peoples lives.  Here is the gospel lived out! "Come! Be a part of our family and worship Jesus with us!"

Why is it so easy to see the dirt in someone's life or even in our own? Could it be as easy to see the gold?  In the lives of others.....in ourselves?  There is gold in everyone's life.  God sees it, and because of Jesus we have opportunities to do so, too.

Finding the gold in God's treasures......and we are all His treasures.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from rainy Iowa.  Rain has been coming down on a daily basis and is forecast for the next few days to come......certainly not the flooding we see in Texas, but definitely lots of rain.  And humidity.  yuk

It is the annual band festival weekend here, when families gather to remember memorial day, and celebrate with a festival to honor Meredith Wilson and his musical "Music Man".  He was born here and people feel his musical was based on his life.  There is always a great parade, lots of bands, a carnival and food booths. Music Man Square is open to the public and is a nice little place to visit.  I expect the rain will put a damper on much of the festivities this year.

Last Sunday Joel preached 1 hr and 20 minutes away from here in northeastern Iowa and then headed northwest to an ordination of a colleague's son before getting home 20 minutes before Bible study Sunday night. A full day with spending 4 of the 12 hours he was gone on the road.  Like the old days.....Most of the week we were able to walk outside between showers, and Joel managed a couple of long bike rides.  We went out to eat with friends Wednesday night, otherwise the week was spent washing windows, mowing the lawn, buying a few flowers, and getting into the Spring cleaning.

Joel and I researched getting a Smart TV but decided our TV works well enough, so we ended up purchasing a Roku stick on sale.  I set it up Sunday, and it has given me the opportunity to watch a Bethel conference live in LA, watch Andrew Wommack speak a series on "Spirit, Soul, and Body", and hook up the Roku to the Netflix channel we had with the Wii ($7.99 a month) while adding a few other channels that are free like GOD TV, The Smithsonian Channel, and Daystar.  Nice.

I saw the eye doctor this week and the visual issue I have been struggling with since our second day of traveling to AZ is not coming from my eyes.  It is my brain trying to adjust to the lens implants and bright light I see now and is more than likely "vascular" and will go away.  I confess I have walked in fear at times with this since it affects my vision at night when there is no light on.  I also have felt pretty discouraged at times that my "pristine and perfect eyes" had this shift occur.  The Dr. is not worried and can see nothing going on in my eyes......so we stand in prayer that this quirky thing, as the Dr. called it, will be healed and all will be well.  I have had to buy a spendy pair of "fit over" 95% UV protected sunglasses to use while outside.  Another season of walking in faith and not fear. Fear paralyzes.  Faith mobilizes.  ( read that on Facebook and love it!)

I don't write much about politics, and you would not know how we vote since that is personal for us.  I will say that this coming election will be interesting.  I find myself wanting to say........."Hang on tight , it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Did you hear about the man killed by bees in Arizona while out hiking?  Over 1,000 bee stings.  It reminded me of when we were visiting my sister and brother-in-law there and the neighbor stopped over to tell us to be aware, as a large swarm of bees had landed in his tree.  The next day they took off for who knows where.  (shudder)

This week my sister's grandson was bit by a squirrel while delivering mail.  He is now in the process of getting rabies shots!  That reminded me of when my then boyfriend, Ron, and I were chased nearly two blocks by a squirrel while walking home from school.  We were 16 at the time......and boy did we run!  I have been cautious around that little rodent ever since, enjoying their antics only from afar.

Last night Joel and I watched the movie, "The Martian".  It was really good.  Intriguing to watch how this one astronaut survived being stranded on Mars.

Joel and I have been watching the new game show, 500 Questions.  First of all, it certainly makes us feel we know n.o.t.h.i.n.g.  Yikes!  It is a good show though, and helps us to stretch our brains and pull out any little bit of information we may have stored there!  Everyone on their has high IQ's and several degrees or is just plain over-the-top smart.  Fun show!

Joel and I are reading together The Prayer of Jabez and I am still reading the books I mentioned last week.  I have listened to many teachings to keep my focus on God, and I have been coloring in my color book for big kids that my daughter and her family gave me.  What are you up to?

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Holding On To The Promises In Loss

Tuesday long time friends shared that their oldest grandchild was killed in a moped accident.  She was only 28, enjoying life, exploring the world.  And her life abruptly ended.  The pain the family is going through is beyond description.

We expect death to come in our lives.  Our parents, grandparents, even ourselves as we age.  But we do not expect to bury children ~ours or others.  And grandchildren are off limits.  But living in a broken world means the rules we live by can be broken.  The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

I remember when our son Kevin died.  He would have been 37 next week.  It was a difficult time for us and for his siblings. It is hard to describe what you feel at the time, and it is not even manageable without God to lean on.  We take comfort in knowing our loved ones are in heaven, but it does not stop us from feeling loss.

As a pastor, Joel has stood by the gravesides of so many who were bearing great loss. Horrific circumstances from murder, accidents, still births, disease, fire, and of course, old age.  It is never easy for those who gather, but especially when a child is involved.  He/we have stood at the graveside of too many children.

Some people believe that it is God's plan for loved ones to die, that He allows or causes accidents, disease, destruction.  It was "their time" to die.  Some people take comfort in believing that their suffering is ordained by God to give him glory.  I often question if you believe God puts sickness on you for his glory......why do you go to doctors to get well?  If you visit here often enough, you know that we are not in agreement with those beliefs.  None of us would want our children to be in tragic circumstances. Why would God?  Our Father in heaven delights in us and wants to bless His children.  He is our loving Papa God.  In response to the devil's desire to kill, steal, and destroy, Jesus came to give us life and to give it to us more abundantly!

In death and loss we hold on to God's Word and promises.  We will see loved ones again and we hold that promise close. And in the midst of it we have hope for that day while living life as a precious gift day by day here.  

Bless them in their loss, Lord.  Bless all who grieve.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cruise Control

I have listened twice this week to a Sunday sermon on faith by Eric Johnson at Bethel Church. The Hebrews 11 faith we read about in the scriptures.  During his teaching he asked this question ~ are we living our lives on cruise control?

When Joel and I went to a conference in CT in 2013 we quickly realized that even after spending our lives believing and serving, there was so much we still needed to learn about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, faith, healing, and more.  It is now 2016 and we are still in the process of learning more. It is a life long process.  Some of what we have learned has come through sitting under the teachings of others, whether online, in church or in a book.  Some of our learning has come through seeking God, and some has come as a result of circumstances and challenges that have caused us discouragement, confusion, and more.  In Eric's sermon he said that when challenges from the enemy come into our lives, we need to ask God to "increase our faith".  If we are feeling defeated, turn that around and use it as a motivator to move forward in our faith journey. And don't make continually living on "cruise control" an option.  Increase our faith, Lord. As we learn, as we seek, as we face challenges.......increase our faith.

Eric's teaching reminded me of the book "The Prayer of Jabez" by Bruce Wilkerson.  It has been around for many years but recently God brought it to light once again..  We were at my sister Jan and BIL Lanny's home in Mesa and Joel was looking for the magazine he kept in the bathroom.  I had confiscated it to read for myself, so he picked up a small book on the back of the toilet.  It was the book, "The Prayer of Jabez".  He began to read it once again with new eyes and was so drawn in that when we got home he took it our copy off the bookshelf to read.  We have been going through it here at home for devotions, while praying the prayer of Jabez on a daily basis.

"Oh that You would bless me indeed!  
and enlarge my territory, 
that you hand would be with me, 
and You would keep me from evil
that I may not cause pain."
I Chronicles 4:9,10

This is a simple prayer that seeks God and desires to live beyond any limits.  It is an insightful, deeply honest request from a Biblical character who is only mentioned once and who's name means "to cause pain". Jabez felt he was living a life on cruise control, and he wanted more.  He was seeking more of God.

I believe we all have an inner desire to seek God.  An inner desire to have a closer relationship with Him, on all levels.  But life gets in the way.  Fear gets in the way.  I feel the need to repeat that one......fear gets in the way.  False Evidence Appearing Real gets in the way. I think pastor Eric Johnson is right on when he says to use those challenges or difficulties as a motivator, asking God to increase our faith as we walk forward through life.  No more cruise control!  Increase!  And like Jabaz we can pray.......Oh that you would bless me indeed!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Coloring Outside The Lines

My daughter Beth and her family gave me a great Christian, for-big-kids, coloring book for my birthday and I have been spending time off and on adding color to a few pages with my pencils.  I love paper....no news there.  I love writing on paper (or now keyboarding on the white pages of documents online).  I used to get excited when it was time to purchase notebooks for the school year~ all that crisp clean paper!  I did learn this week that I don't like coloring out of the lines.  I'm 68 years old and I get annoyed when I accidentally color outside the lines. I want the pencils to be sharp and the picture to look perfect~okay, I said it!  Perfect.

Now, I am very aware, that in regards to what we believe about healing and Holy Spirit, we have colored outside the lines of our Lutheran heritage.  Of many denominational "lines".  And I am loving our life in that regard. But am I still struggling with staying inside the lines?  Hmmmm

This aha moment with the coloring book took me way back to when I was an Interpreter for the Deaf in a special needs preschool in MN.  I had two little guys I worked with who were both named Charlie and both were profoundly deaf and needed hearing aids and an interpreter.  I was blessed to spend one school year with them..........they taught me a lot!  Ha....

Recently I heard someone say that by age 8-10 most kids have lost a large percentage of their creativity while going to school.  No coloring outside the lines, please.  And can you blame teachers when they have such large classrooms or standards to follow. Unlike some of my family, I am not a teacher, but I remember well the day one of my Charlies wanted to color the bird in the picture he was given a bright yellow.  The teacher was very upset because I let him color a bluebird yellow.  It just was not okay. He needed to know it was blue because it was a bluebird.  I did not know her argument behind it, and she could have been justified in her persistence to get it into his head, but it seemed over the top for me, and certainly stifled his creativity.  I can still see his face. He knew it was a blue bird. He was not being defiant, he just wanted it to be the color of sunshine.

How often do we stifle creativity in the church body?  During worship?  How often do we hear, "We have always done it THIS way."  How often do we look at someone a little different in their thinking, in their way of worshiping Jesus and we judge that.  How many of us don't want the judgement of others so we stop coloring outside the lines?  Yeah.....

When we were in Arizona we went to a large Methodist church in Gold Canyon.  We were worshiping in the contemporary service and I noticed the music leaders were raising their hands at times.....as were we.  But when I turned to the side and saw a few others raising their hands while singing to our Lord, I noticed I felt relief that I could be who I am and would not stand out.  Some stood to sing. Some sat.  Some raised their hands.  Some did not.  Some swayed with the music. Some did not. The sweet 80 plus woman sitting next to Joel often said, "Praise the Lord" and when we left she leaned over and gave me a big kiss on the cheek, saying, "I am sooooo glad you came. I hope we will see you again!"  And it was all A-okay.

In school we are taught to stay in the lines and learn all that is presented to us, but when we come before God to worship we don't all have to color in the lines of someone else's making. We don't all have to be alike, worship alike, dress alike, pray alike.  How boring would that be.

Don't we all see things differently?  Maybe we see things according to the gifts God has placed inside of us.  Sometimes those gifts are never revealed or used because we are kept within the lines of someone else's making. Gifts kept hidden because of judgement or our own insecurity.

Today I listened online to a young boy around 8 years old get up in front of a large congregation to share his story.  While singing God told him he needed to buy 20 Bibles and give them to the homeless. He decided that was too many to buy so he aimed for 15.  He did listen to God's voice, encouraged by his mom and dad, and he decided to have a race and people could donate money for the Bibles from the kids who were running.  He did so, and they raised over $1,000.  He was able to take not 15 Bibles, but 87 Bibles down to the homeless shelter and they were able to share the Gospel with several there.  A few came to know Jesus and a few were healed BECAUSE an 8 year old boy heard God speak to him and was allowed to color outside the lines and do what God asked of him.

Speaking for ourselves, Joel and I have been challenged to step outside of our comfort zones, not once but many times and it is not always easy.  God just keeps revealing more, asking more, showing up more in ways that sometimes color outside the lines.  For His purpose.  It is all for His purpose and His glory.   He loves all His creation so much He wants them all to know Jesus and He desires a close relationship with His children. Sometimes that includes coloring outside the lines.  Always it means using the gifts God has given you to worship Him, to serve Him, and to love others.  Lets not get in the way of others doing so by judging or limiting them from coloring outside the lines.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from a town of 28,000 in north Iowa that we have called home now for 20 years.  Hard to believe, since we have never lived anywhere else more than 6 1/2 years in the nearly 48 years we have been married.  Did we think we would spend this much time here? Nope.  Did we think that in retirement we would be here?  Nope.  We thought we would be in Minnesota where we come from, or as we believed the past year, we would be in Arizona.  There is that quote............"life is what happens while you are making other plans..............'

Joel has been able to get out and bike some this week and we have walked several days.  The weather has been nice......not too hot nor too cold.  Sunshine or partly cloudy.   We have picked up one red hanging geranium to brighten up the front mini-garden, but the rest will wait for now. It is always nice to add color to our green environment.

Last Saturday we headed up to Edina MN (Mpls. area) to a birthday party for my older sister who helped raise me.  She turned 83 and had invited a lot of people from the area to gather at Davonni's, a pizza bistro.  Our son Mark went with us.  First we stopped at a Christian bookstore and I found a new easy to carry Bible while Joel picked up a book to help in his Bible 101 study he is writing.  Then we headed to Trader Joe's to stock up on a few essentials that we can buy for nearly half the price of here in our local stores.  Around 24 came to the party.  It was a nice time, with many stories being shared about where people were in their lives....especially the grands and great-grands.  Gr. Jo loves her family and is so proud of all of them and what they accomplish in their lives.

On Sunday night we headed to a new Bible study by John Ortberg on "The Me I Want To Be". Tuesday night we went to the final Bible study on Romans.  A nice group gathered at both. Otherwise we have been catching up on things around home.  Joel heads out early tomorrow to preach in NE Iowa at two churches where his friend Dan serves.  One hour and 20 minutes to drive to one and then he will head to the other before then going another 1 and 1/2 hrs west to an ordination of the son of another colleague, Randy.  Tomorrow night we have Bible study.  A long day for my hubby.

Sadly, Morley Safer died this week.  I can remember him on the news since the beginning of time...........well my adult time at least.  Ha.   I think he was on 60 Minutes for 40 plus years. Wow.

Our friend Barb is finishing up 6 months of chemo this next week.  We are so happy that this phase of her treatment is going to be over.  She has shown great courage on her journey battling cancer. We are praying she will continue to be cancer free.  I remember the last day of radiation.  When I left, there was a bell to ring and several of the staff stood and clapped while tears ran down my face.  And chemo is so much tougher.  I hope they celebrate!  They plan to go camping in N. MN so restoration will begin in nature for her.  For them.  Peace, friends.  Peace and joy!

Speaking of nature, we have already talked to one couple about Lyme this Spring, trying to answer their questions. Another couple who both suffer with chronic Lyme want to meet with us again.  I say again, because we connected with the woman when we gave the seminar on Lyme and healing last April 2015.  Be aware, check for ticks diligently, while enjoying the warmer weather!

I have been listening to some of Bethel's conference this past week on creativity and the arts.  It was great and helpful.  I have also taken in a few teachings on renewing your mind, and am reading the book The Shack again, along with Under The Tuscan Son.  What are you reading?

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

Thursday, May 19, 2016

And Then God.......Only God!

On the side of our house stands a dying tree.  When we first moved here this crab apple tree would be full of pink blooms each Spring.  It was so pretty.  And then sometime over the years as Joel and I took up residence in our chairs fighting Lyme trying to find some sense of normalcy in each day, the tree became sick and old.  It bloomed less and less and last year took a "last stand" as we spoke to the tree and prayed over it.  (It is living after all, and we do have dominion over nature.) Well, our praying did not change the outcome.  It is barely standing and will need to come down this Spring.

It grieves us.  As I stood and stared at the beached wood, sparse branches with no sign of green or pink anywhere, I felt sadness well up inside.  And gratitude.  So much gratitude.  Gratitude that we are not like this dying tree.  When I saw the Lyme specialist in 2007 she told me my body was functioning at around 20%.  I was slowly dying.  When Joel was diagnosed he was functioning at 45% and had to go on disability for 3 years.  He managed 15 hours a week of work at a church where people treated him with such grace.  Bless you St. Peter's Lutheran.  Bless you.

During that season of our lives, Joel slept 9 hours a night and napped 4 hours a day to function.  I spent a great deal of my days laying on the sofa or in bed.  Our sweet dog Levi was our only company most of the time.  Just fixing meals was an effort.  It. was. scary.

And then..........thanks to our friend Katherine's suggestion and a teaching by Andrew Wommack, our world changed overnight.  Joel was miraculously healed and I began the process of healing.  I am not where I want to be, but I am not where I was.  I am healed and have been set free, and I expect all symptoms to leave as God promises in His Word.

 Unlike our apple tree, life returned to us and we were able to flourish.  We never want to forget the precious restored gift of life that we were given.  We have plans to wear out, not rust out, serving God as He guides us, sharing who He is!

Our poor apple tree has succumbed to age and disease, but I will remember its beauty in Springtime, the way God created it.  And I will remember that we once looked like this dying tree, and then God............only God.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Just Make A Decision!

On Tuesday Joel and I declared to each other something God and our children have known for quite a while..............at times we have a difficult time making major decisions.  Making the "right choice".  When we were in the military the Air Force told us where we would go, when we go, and how long we would stay in one location.  When Joel was serving churches as a pastor, he believed if he interviewed somewhere and they sent him a call, he was to go.  He never refused a call because he felt if it came it was ordained by God.  At this season of our lives it is not so black and white.

So here we are, once again in the throws of making a decision on whether we are to move or to stay.  Cancer, radiation, two cataract surgeries and a long recovery threw our move to Arizona into reverse, and we have been re-visiting that lately.

We are blessed to have our children tell us they do not want us to move so far away. We don't live near any of them, but we do see them more since our healing.  We are blessed to be part of a community where neighbors and friends have expressed they don't want us to move.  We are blessed to be part of a church where we have grown and been nourished in body, soul, and Spirit the past nine months.  It would be hard to walk away from where we feel we belong.

Recently we have had two separate people at different times speak over us words they believe came from God.  Both spoke about a new ministry for us and new gifts that we have been seeing come into fruition.  We also were told by one person that we would be here only a short time before God called us elsewhere.  Two prophetic friends have told us similar things in the past year.

We have been praying and meditating and praying some more as we discuss staying here or moving to Arizona.  Both ideas raised the stress levels in us.

Yesterday while Joel was riding his bike and talking with God, God said to him...."If you are going to go, GO!"  And while Joel was off biking I read a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt that spoke to me.  "The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for the new and richer experience."  Later I watched a brief video of Andrew Wommack on Facebook and the title was "Just make a decision!"

So what holds us back?  That is the million dollar question, isn't it.  What is holding us back? Speaking for myself, is it fear of making the wrong decision?  Is it fear of being disobedient to God and His plan?  Is it fear of leaving all that is familiar behind or fear of staying in the comfortable and missing out on the more God has for us?  Do you notice that all the questions I wrote have the word fear in them? Yeah.  There is that ugly little four letter word again.  Fear.  Just being honest here.

Yesterday God brought attention to a video about someone's healing from the symptoms I still battle.  It resonated within me.  I had Joel watch the video.  Then I said to him, "I think we are to stay here until God speaks to us so that we know that we know that we know, where His purpose will unfold.   Joel's reply, "I was just thinking the same thing."  We talked it over and soon realized God was giving us the answer we were asking for.  He has more for us to learn here, He has more for us to do here.  He has more healing for us here.  All we wanted was to be obedient, and truthfully we felt that both decisions would be blessed by God.  Yet this one brought us the most peace.  Not total peace, but the most peace for now.  And peace replaces fear.

Do any of you ever struggle with making major decisions?  Does fear get in the way?  Do the feelings of others get in the way? Does peace come with a decision?

God pretty much said to Joel, "Just make a decision"!  God pretty much said to me through Andrew Wommack, "just make a decision".  After much discussion and pray over the couple of months, hearing God's voice yesterday brought us to a decision.  If it is not from God, we will know soon enough, but for now, in this season, at this time, we are asking God to open the doors to the new ministry that has been spoken over us while living here in our town in northern Iowa.

Will we call the desert home some day?  It is a good possibility with all that has been spoken over us and how we feel when there.  We cannot discount the words of knowledge spoke to us. For now we do believe there are reasons we are still here and we are going to embrace them. Open the doors Lord. Come, Holy, come!

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Thank You To Those Who Protect And Serve

Matt with Dad and Mom 2014

It is National Police Week.  It is during this time of year that we set aside a few minutes to show appreciation to all the great officers in our nation that serve and protect.  It is especially a time for us to honor our son Matt who has been a police officer for going on 20 years now.  We are proud of all of our children and their callings, but today we share how proud we are of Matt and his determination to fulfill his calling to protect and serve as best he can in a world filled with brokenness.  

Thank you Matt for wearing your badge with honor and integrity.  Thank you to his partner Michelle and friend Steve who do the same.  Thank you to all officers who serve well, making difficult decisions every day while hoping to go home to their family at the end of their shifts. Thank you.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Come, Holy, Come!

It is Pentecost Sunday........a time to remember just what happened when Holy Spirit came down with tongues of fire on all the people gathered.  We read about it in the book of Acts.  In some churches people wear the color red to church, and often services focus on Holy Spirit.

Until four years ago I did not fully understand Holy and His importance in my life.  Now I cannot imagine going through a day without chatting with Him, calling upon Him, opening myself up to be filled and empowered by Him.  He is part of the Trinity, He is not an "it", He is our Comforter, the One who fills us with power.....the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.  Yeah, that power.

Recently we heard a great definition of being "baptized in the Holy Spirit".  As Christians we know that when we are baptized as children, Holy Spirit comes into us.  When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, Holy is able to move through us and in others.  It is just a time of asking for Holy to empower us.  Often, but not always, the gift of a prayer language comes with this prayer.

Joel was given the gift of a prayer language when he was healed.  Several colleagues he knows had the same type of experience.  They did not ask for it, but it came to them during a time of prayer or of healing. Some people think it is not of God, this gift.  Fear and caution gets in the way of a different and deeper kind of relationship.  Not better, not more important, but just "something more" that is available to everyone.

Holy Spirit often manifests Himself with laughter, tears, a physical heaviness, or even falling in the Spirit. This has happened to both Joel and me.  Often there comes with this presence a sense of being loved and cared for.  A sense of deep peace.  Sometimes new insights from God.

We use the speaking in tongues to build up ourselves as the Bible states and we use it when we do not know how to pray for someone.  I sometimes sing in the Spirit.  There is an amazing amount of controversy that comes with this gift.  I am not sure why, but it can send people to question if it is real or not.  Only you and God can decide if what His Word speaks is truth and is for you.

We are grateful for God shaking up our world so dramatically just over 4 years ago. Grateful for all the gifts of the Spirit.  Grateful for His Word.  Grateful for Pentecost! Not just to celebrate one Sunday a year, but every day.  Come, Holy Spirit, Come.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

It is a cold Saturday morning here in our corner of the world, where we are waking up to the low 30's and looking for a high of 50 degrees.  Really?  We have had quite a few days with rain and clouds. Everything is green here, many shades of it in fact, but not too many have their flowers out or planted.  We have not bought any flowers yet because it is soooo cold at night.

Speaking of flowers, we like to shop at the local HyVee nursery or a place called Anderson's where they bring in a lot of plants grown by the Amish.  Beautiful, vivid, and full they add so much to our yard. Our trees shade our backyard so much that it is hard for grass to grow.  We may be trimming back more branches so we can get some extra sunshine into the house.  With all the windows we have, our views are beautiful, but after being back in Arizona where sunshine dominated the forecasts, we are missing the bright sunlight!

Our trip to Arizona this year was journaled here this past week.  What do we miss about Arizona now that we are back in the Midwest?  Of course we miss the fellowship with my sister and BIL. (although they are back in South Dakota for the summer)  We miss the vacation feel..........no set schedule...........and the dry hot climate.  The dry heat felt so gooooood.  Of course it was not 114 every day like in the summer months.  It was in the 80's and A/C was not needed most of the time we were there.

Gr. Jo, Papa Joel, grandson Noah, Grandma Na, son Mark

Last Saturday our grandson Noah was confirmed at Hosanna church in Lakeville, MN.  We enjoyed the day very much, seeing some family and being there when Noah confirmed his faith in Jesus.  This spring we have attended two confirmations, first for our granddaughter Abbi in WI and after our return from AZ, confirmation for our grandson Noah in MN.

Papa Joel, Abbi, Grandma Na

 It has been a busy time, and today we head up to the Twin Cities to attend a birthday party for Gr. Jo.  She turned 83 this year and we will gather at Davonni's for a celebration. We have not gone for a few years to her annual party, so will head up for this one!

This past week I saw the radiology oncologist and all looks well.  He was very happy with how the scars look, that there is no pain, and that the skin has healed.  One area was challenging but when I used coconut oil instead of the moisturizing cream they suggested, it healed quickly.  I still have some swelling but he was not concerned, found nothing suspicious, and I don't have to go back to see him for 6 months.  Yay!

Our city just voted down a family owned pork processing plant that wanted to build here.  Lots of conflict over several aspects of this and how it would change our community, environment, etc. We were surprised that it was voted down by the city council as it would bring a lot of money here.  People had strong opinions about it on both sides of the debate.

We headed out for lunch on Wednesday to a place called "Telluwut" in the town of Osage about half hour from here.  Our neighbors wanted to take us out for lunch after Joel spent a good amount of time fixing her mom's wooden framed bedstead.  Joel enjoyed doing it, and creating a new piece for it, and this precious lady was delighted to have it fixed!  We enjoyed the time of fellowship. This place is always packed and has great food!

Joel is not filling in anywhere right now, so we have been going to Praise Church.  Our Mother's Day was pretty quiet, with a few phone calls, a needed nap, and a short walk.  I went to Bible study Thursday morning, and last night we supped with friends for a long overdue time of food and fellowship.

This week I have been listening to Andrew Wommack's teachings on "God Wants You Well"  and a couple of Kris's at Bethel Church.  He spoke on Gideon this past Sunday and so did Jeff at Praise, so we were doubly blessed.

I am reading the book, "Under the Tuscan Sun" that our oldest and her family gave me for Mother's Day.  I love that movie and am sure I will love the book too.  What are you reading??

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

Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday's Foods, Faith, and Fellowship

We ate out often while traveling and a few times while staying with my sister Jan and BIL Lanny. I think the place we enjoyed the most was a place in Mesa called "Kneaders Bakery and Cafe" Anywhere we eat out I order either oven roasted chicken, or a salad because I eat mostly Paleo foods so am off of grains, most dairy, sugars, etc.  Kneaders has great breads, and salads!  Yum! Joel said the sandwiches were great and I loved the salads.  The atmosphere was fun and staff friendly, and you can take home baked goods.......Another place we enjoyed was in Amarillo TX.  McAlister's Deli was another place with great salads and sandwiches.  And a large size drink was.....in fact Texas size large!  The hosts and hostesses were so gracious and waiting on people hand and foot.  A great atmosphere for sure.

extra large glasses and free refills

We picked up a homemade cinnamon roll and farm eggs at the Amish Country Store.  We also went to a great place called Sprouts Farmer's Market in Mesa. My sister said I was like a kid in a candy store as I loaded up on fresh organic fruits and veggies for often half the price of what we pay here.  They carried bulk items also.  I was a happy girl.....

Main building at Gold Canyon Methodist Church

The first Sunday we were there we went to church in the association center where my sister and BIL live.  It was a nice service officiated by two retired pastors.  The second Sunday we headed to Gold Canyon to the large Methodist church there...one Jan and Lanny have gone to many times. We went to the contemporary service which Joel and I loved.  Fantastic worship, and great sermon, too!  The churches in the area have a different type of congregation with snow birds tripling their numbers in the winter months. Fascinating demographic, because where do these snow birds give their tithes and how do the churches survive when they are gone 7 months of the year?   Interesting dilemma...

Lanny and Jan

Joel and Renee

We always enjoy spending time with my sister Jan and BIL Lanny.  We never run out of things to talk and laugh about.  We spent one evening at their friend Julianne's in Gold Canyon.  We enjoyed a very nice meal and fellowship.  One Friday we went out to eat with my high school classmates, who are Beth's Godparents, and our long time friends ~~Linda and Jim who live in Mesa full time with their son, and daughter and grands just 5 houses away!  The best of all worlds!!  We had to cancel one day's visit with some people we know from Praise because I was too sick, and we also could not work out a time to see my friend Linny and her family!

It was a wonderful trip, even with the long hours in the car.  We had 46 hours driving time, not including bathroom and lunch breaks.  We were blessed to stay in Jan and Lanny's Townhome two of the 4 nights on the road, making only two nights in hotels necessary.  Our time in AZ was great. Needless to say it was hard to come back to cold damp weather!  We exchanged the brown desert for the green Midwest, but we also exchanged 80's and sunshine for the low 50's and rain.

Arizona 2016 was short but sweet and I am so glad we went.  We are looking forward to our next adventure!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thursday's Tales of Travel

This year we made the trip down in three days, doing the same on the way back.  I am not able to drive yet, so Joel is behind the wheel the whole time.  We stop every 2 hours to get out and walk and take bathroom breaks.  It makes the days last around 10 hours IF you do not have car issues.  On the way down we kept getting a low tie sensor flashing.  We stopped in the small town of Liberal Kansas way off the beaten track and the mechanics at the Wal-Mart auto repair tried hard to find the problem.  They did not find anything so therefore they did not charge us!  That was nice.....and eating in the parking lot out back by the shop was not so bad.  At least we had forks to use.  One time I packed us salads when traveling to South Dakota and forgot the forks.  So we ate Filipino style....or at least the way they ate rice....with their fingers.  Eating salads with our fingers was an adventure, one Joel hopes not to repeat!  On the way back we had the same issue with the sensor coming on, so we had to stop again....in Tucumcari  NM this time and a mechanic was nice enough to check the tires and balance them out with more air.  We also had our brakes fixed in Mesa....they were shaking and vibrating the van so bad by the time we got down the 6,000 ft. descent from Flagstaff to Phoenix that it was darn right scary.

We saw some beautiful scenery in New Mexico and Arizona.  A variety of mountains were available for us to view.......some dark blue with snow on the peaks, others red, and yet other brown desert mountains with saguaros growing out of them on the smallest of ledges.  Once we entered into east Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa we noticed how green everything was again.  So many shades of green to see.

Iowa green..........and Amish mode of travel

We did not visit with many people on the way down or back, but Joel found a guy who was driving a Tesla electric car.  The hotel we were at actually had places for the electric cars to plug in and charge up.  This guy had driven from California, so he and Joel had quite a visit about, costs, conveniences, and more.

As I said before, a few were clean, but most bathrooms were unclean and some were appalling.  I know they get a lot of traffic in and out, but I would think that keeping them clean would be important.  Sigh...........

We always enjoy hearing the different accents as we travel from location to location.  When we were in Amarillo TX I asked a woman a question about ordering in a deli we were in and when she replied it was in a drawn out Texas drawl.  While we ate lunch you could hear many talking the same....Joel said to me, "Listen to the accents!"  I replied, 'In here we are the only ones with an accent!"  Wonder if it is hard for others to understand us the way it sometimes is for us to understand?

We saw lots of trucks on the road, many suvs and vans, and quite a few 5th wheelers heading home from the warmer climates I expect.  One day when Joel was weary of Interstate travel we heading north on a nice two lane road that took us into Enid Oklahoma...where there is an Air Force Base.  Being Joel was in the Air Force 8 years, we are always drawn to bases and such.
We had not been in Enid OK or Amarillo TX so it was fun to get a feel for those places.  There are so many places to experience in our big and beautiful country.

If we did not have to take Joel's recumbent bike, we would not have driven down to AZ this year, we would have flown as it takes so much less time out of our planned visits.  We did have lots of time to visit and lots of time to check out the scenery or listen to music and tapes if we wished.

We have a few places on our bucket list that would require some traveling on America's highways.  It is always fun to see someplace new and take in all that God has created along the way.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Wednesday's "Walking the Land"

Our trip to Arizona this year was more of a last minute idea as we felt God telling us to "walk the land" as Joshua and Caleb had done.  We did very little touristy things.....just one trip to Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest located a half hour from Mesa.  It was a beautiful lake set in the mountains.

Besides our one excursion. we spent time observing and living life in the desert.  We checked out grocery stores, drove around the area and throughout Gold Canyon for several hours, and went to a few open houses to get a feel for the houses.

Joel had a meeting with an Assistant Bishop in the ELCA synod to talk about Interim or fill in work. He called a pastor of a Lutheran church duo campus in Mesa and Gold Canyon and visited with him.  He is friends with a friend of Joel's who is the Bishop in NW MN.  He misunderstood Joel and did not realize we were already in AZ and told him when he "got down to Mesa to give him a call".  But on our way back from Saguaro Lake we were going to stop at a grocery store and missed the turn.  I pointed to a church parking lot and suggested we turn around in there.  We did and Joel realized this might be the church of the pastor he had just spoken to a couple days earlier. So he went it, it was, and we had a visit with him.  Only God.

My sister and BIL were gone to a wedding for 4 days and 3 nights so we briefly experienced what it would be like to live there alone.  We did a lot of praying, talking, and walking the land.  We still do not know if we will be moving across the country, we have no firm answer as of yet , but coming home and having prophetic words spoken over us again, and an offer to interview for a "job" teaching locally gave us some insights into the process.  Somes yeses and some nos.  It has surly been a process.  Mostly because last year's diagnosis of breast cancer threw everything off in our lives, so we are being cautious as we move forward.

Why so cautious?  Mostly, it is family.  Living far from family.  Missing out on some of the events that would be an easy day's drive from our current location.  Life is precious, and we don't want to miss those special moments.  We miss many still, but we would probably miss even more.  And then there is the whole idea that we are comfortable here, it is familiar, and we like Praise Church and the people we interact with.  Joel is still active with colleagues and conferences in the ELCA here. We would leave behind friendships and family.  And of course is this God's purpose for us? Yeah.

Why go?  God.  Being obedient to God and His plan.  A climate that makes biking, walking, and sunshine nearly a year round opportunity.  My sister and BIL are there 5 months of the year.  New adventures. New ministries.

So, we walked the land, and we came home to continue to listen for God's Voice....and remember our visit with my sister Jan ad BIL Lanny, supper with friends Linda and Jim, the desert landscape, and warm weather.  And of course the biking!!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday's Take on Mesa

My sister Jan and her husband Lanny moved from Gold Canyon to Mesa last fall.  They wanted to be in the midst of a 55 and older community where everything they needed is within 15-20 minutes drive on the side roads and off of the busy highways.  Their community/association has 2400 houses, with many amenities available including church services on Sunday. It is like a small town of 5,000 but with no grocery stores....they do have a restaurant and golf courses though.

flowering bush

blooming saguaro

The vegetation in the desert is so beautiful.  Flowers, cacti and even a few desert trees grace the area.  The quail and morning doves are everywhere.....on the roofs, running across the roads, and in the desert yards.  Joel had a great time watching the quail while sitting outside or riding his recumbent bike.  Speaking of that, Joel rode over 150 miles while in AZ.  He biked a few times in the area, a few more in Gold Canyon, and a few along the canals in Mesa.  He came home with a good tan!
barrel cactus


pipe (?) cactus


palms and barrel cacti

desert pines

I was able to walk most every day for 15-20 minutes.  The first day we arrived in was 100 degrees but after that it dropped down to the 70's and low 80's.  In the 7% humidity, it did not require the A/C to run much, if at all.  We experienced one front come in with high winds, lots of dust, and a few minutes of rain which left the cars dirty.  Interesting.  Dust is everywhere and of course so is sunshine!

The desert has it's own beauty for sure, and Mesa likes to show off with all the flowering cacti this time of year.  Orange, grapefruit, lime, and lemon trees grace the yards, eager to share their fruit with those who reach out their hands for the taking.  That season seemed to have passed by the time we arrived, but we can testify that my sister's lemon pies are amazing.....even more so when the lemons come from your own yard~!

another cactus

Gold Canyon still draws us both into it's own kind of rugged beauty with the mountains so close and the many washes filled with desert vegetation.  It is quieter, greener, and boasts more animals...those you enjoy and those you would prefer did not come around.  It is spendy in that corner of the world, as it is as far east as you can get from downtown Phoenix.  If you want to find clothing or organic stores you need to head west....doctors and pharmacies the same........  Now golf courses are numbering around 16 so if you like golf.................(which we do not) you are in luck.

We took in some open houses to "walk the land" and one realtor told us after I was mesmerized by the mountain view that he finds there are people who are just attracted to mountains and can't get enough of their views.  I am thinking I am one of those as I was always looking for the mountains no matter where we were or where we were going.  Maybe it goes back to my ancestors, or my early childhood days in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota.  I just know I would never become complacent with the view, and if I did, shame on me!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Monday's Musings on Arizona 2016

This trip to Arizona was more about "walking the land" once again to see if we felt the same way about Gold Canyon that we did last year at this time when we made the decision to move there. Circumstances took us off course and three surgeries and too many weeks of radiation, and my lack of energy had us questioning what we thought was God's plan for us.  So, we did not plan on any sight-seeing on this trip.  We did however enjoy the views along the way.  Three days of driving going down and returning brought us views that were amazing.  And of course the Superstition Mountains, and Tonto National Forest in Arizona never disappoint.

We drove through some pretty run down towns and barren landscapes as we left Wichita and traveled through SW Kansas, the panhandle of Oklahoma, northern Texas, and New Mexico......all in one long long day.  We had van trouble and ended up at the Walmart where we had a mechanic checking over the tires before moving on.  So eating in the parking lot was our only option if we wanted to keep track of all our stuff in the van.  Everyone was very nice in the auto shop and they did not even charge us since they found no reason for the low tire warning.  The store bathrooms in the store were so dirty, though, and two of the four stalls were broken.  In fact I found most of the bathrooms we stopped at to be disgusting.....very few were clean or stocked with what was necessary. In one place in Oklahoma the bathroom was filthy, and they had a wet bar of soap sitting on the counter and NO paper towels to wipe your hands on.  The bathroom basket was caked with dirt.  Ugh......and ugh again.  But I regress...........

Parking lot lunch in Kansas

Once we got into New Mexico, we found the atmosphere changed and the views along Interstate 40 were beautiful.  Northern New Mexico has it's own beauty to share.  We also drove through Albuquerque and saw the signs for Kirkland AF Base.  Our oldest was born there when Joel was in the military.  We had brake trouble going down the 6000 ft. descent from Flagstaff to Phoenix area.  It was prettying scary, with the whole van shaking when Joel applied the brakes.  Needless to say we had them replaced soon after we arrived.  Here are a few pictures of our three day, 8-10 hours a day in the car trip south to Arizona.

New Mexico

New Mexico

Black Lava Rocks in NM

Beautiful snow covered mountains

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of the world where temperatures reached 88 degrees yesterday and a cold front came through in the night so that today's forecast is for 70.  We'll take it. We woke to 37 degrees the morning after we arrived home from Arizona.  Ugh...

We got home Wednesday night and have not been able to walk or ride since we drove in the driveway.  Busy unpacking, heading to a worship service Thursday night, and catching up on laundry, etc. before heading to Minnesota this morning for our grandson Noah's confirmation. Yay Noah!  We will come back home this evening.  Looking forward to seeing some family and celebrating this special time with our grandson.

Everything is so green here......a big difference from the browns of the desert.  There is green to be found in the trees and bushes, but if you see grass lawns anywhere, it looks a bit odd.....especially if it is artificial.

We have hardly watched any TV, and little news for the past two weeks, but we have not missed much in the world of politics or world wide crises except for the terrible fires raging in Canada....our prayers go out to all those who have lost their houses and even much of their town.

Life has been shaking things up for us.......prophetic words spoken over us, possibilities for part time jobs for Joel, and all that our trip involved.............I plan to write about it all next week. Still digesting all that has come into play.

It is Mother's Day weekend.  It snuck up on us, with the trip to Arizona, and it is early this year. We are grateful for our mothers who have gone to join Jesus in Heaven.  We honor them this weekend.  And my two older sisters Jo and Jan who helped parent me, nurture me, and bless me with their love.  Giving thanks for our daughters and daughter-in-law who are are a blessing to their own children.

Hope you have a super weekend...........Happy Mother's Day to all!!!!!!

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