Saturday, July 30, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from tropical Iowa where humidity and dew points continue to make life a bit uncomfortable and having me longing for fall.  It is definitely the lazy, hazy days of summer which is not so bad unless your joints complain.  Air conditioning is our friend!

I have been able to walk 1/2 mile all but one day this week.  One of those days, as I came up a small hill I was startled by a doe running down the hill.  My first thought there a fawn she wants to protect?  But she veered away from me and kept going.  The hazards of walking in our association seems to be making room for the deer.  They are everywhere.

On Tuesday we purchased a new laptop for me.  I had a price set in mind, a sound I desired, and a size I felt would work best for me.  After looking for a couple of weeks one came up on sale as a promo and we bought it.  Unfortunately the Internet was as slooooow as molasses.  I could not figure out how to change it.  We also had to purchase Windows office 10 which was very pricey. At my request, when Joel was at his colleague group he asked if anyone there knew how to help with our dilemma. Sure enough two of the pastors did, and one came over and spent nearly 3 hours helping me not only get rid of what was slowing down the new laptop, but he also downloaded his own Microsoft Word which he had purchased for their home and church and was able to have 50 others use it too.  So, we took Microsoft Office 10 back as it had not been opened.  They not only credited us the lower "price with a laptop purchase" BUT gave us $20.00 more credit.  Say, what? Joel argued with them about it, telling them they credited us too much, but they said this is how it went through the computer and just to accept it.  Okay, then.  WOW!  I am happily setting up my new laptop........and the added blessing was a nice touch!

It has been a tough week for our family, since Gr. Jo fell backwards landing in travel, just missing hitting her head on cement.  She was in a lot of pain so Janelle took her to urgent care.  She had to sit a long time...not good....x-rays did not show anything but Dr. sent her hospital for a CT and to get her blood pressure down, and she was put in an "observation room"......a new thing with Medicare.  The new doctor checked her out and made her do mobility tests including jumping if she could.  Of course she did try and he said, okay, you don't need a CT scan, and sent her home without pain medication, telling her to go back to her Tai Chi class.  By the next day Janelle had to call an ambulance to take her to ER because of the excruciating pain.  The CT taken by yet another new doctor showed a fracture in her back!!  Her blood pressure was 214/114!  The past couple of days they have worked at managing the pain, lowering the blood pressure and fitting her with a back brace.  An MRI let them know she was not a good candidate for "cement" being put around the vertebrae.  At age 83 she will go to rehab for PT and pain management tomorrow.  It was a dance with Medicare and insurance which really rule over doctors and hospitals.  Sad.  And that doctor that sent her home?  He should be fired.

Our oldest son turned 45 this week.  It is always sobering when we think about what the next 10 years will bring......4 kids over 50, all our grands grown up, and us 78 and 80.  It is a gift to still be here, yes, but it makes you want to grab every moment in time and hold on to it as the treasure it is.  It makes me mentally write a bucket list and has me pondering what kind of a legacy I am making for my grands and great-grands to come.

I have spent more than a little time trying to figure out my new laptop and as I sit here typing on the old one and listening to music on the new, I am grateful for such a privilege to have the money to buy what we deem necessary.  We are rich, as my Joel says.  We may not have a lot of material possessions, "toys",  or much discretionary money yet compared with many others in America but seriously, we are well off.  Just go live in a third world country for awhile and you will get it.   We are prosperous because we live in a nice home that we own, drive a nice car that is paid for, sleep in a comfy bed at night with full bellies, plop in front of a big flat screen TV with a remote in hand, and have more technology and clothes than we need..... We have the privilege of owning as many Bibles as we wish, going to church wherever and whenever we want, and our rights are protected.  We have children who stand firm in their faith, grands that are amazing, and a marriage that just celebrated 48 years the end of June.  We are rich.....richly blessed, rich indeed.

I have been reading Lionness Arising by Lisa Bevere, listening to a few Bethel and one Charis teachings, watching some Madam Secretary on Roku and texting a lot with our kids and my siblings and sister Jan regarding Gr. Jo. We watched the movie, "Raising Izzie" on Netflix, it was pretty good!  So, how has your week been, friend?

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Be A Voice, Not An Echo

Somewhere in the depths of my captive memories I held tight to the lie that my voice held no power.  I expect it started in early childhood, but knowing the root cause may remain a mystery and is really not important.  What I do know is that it took up residence and I spent too much of my life echoing the thoughts of others, believing my voice held no power.

A great example of this was displayed early in our marriage.  During the first ten years,  I would always start opinions or responses with..."Joel says..........."  If Joel said something, that was the way it was. He did not demand that at all, I just believed his words held more weight than mine.  Then Joel's cousin Luther helped me understand what I was doing.  While he was getting his doctorate in the Twin Cities he used to come and spend a great deal of time with me and the family. Joel was working long hours at a hospital, attending classes, and studying hard at night, so he did not have much free time.  Luther saw this pattern I had of quoting Joel.  He began to say to me, "I don't want to know what Joel thinks, I want to know what YOU think!"  Things began to change inside, and honestly, it took some adjusting for both Joel and myself.  After 10 years of marriage I began to voice my own thoughts and give them value.

Even though I have been writing for others for the past 16 years, finding my voice and believing in it has continued to be a slow journey.  This growth process really excelled into the fast lane when I started Sozo Ministry for inner healing the end of 2012.  In fact, Sozo has played a pivotal roll in my healing story.  During my first visit, before I had ever met the women in charge of my session, they had prayed about me and had some things to tell me.  The first thing they shared was that Holy Spirit had told them to tell me~~ "You. have. a. voice."  They told me that God listens to my voice, He wants to hear what I have to say, and that He wants me to use my voice.  They went on to share a couple of Bible verses, the same ones God had been highlighting to me all week.   I was stunned by their words, but quickly realized that God was at work here.  Part of the inner healing that took place was finding my voice.  I am so grateful that God has asked me to use my written words to speak about Him.  Grateful I am to be a voice for God and not an echo for someone else. We all are called to be a voice.

The original quote, "Be a voice, not an echo",  is by Albert Einstein.  Kris Vallotton expanded on it in his book, "Heavy Rain", with words I wanted to share here.

"I have been called to be a voice, not an echo."  
"I refuse to be reduced to a political affiliation, a denomination, a generation, 
a geographic location, my sexual orientation or my ordination.  
I will not settle for becoming a cheap imitation of another 
instead of an original of myself.  ......" 
"On the other hand, it is not my desire to become a maverick 
who exchanges the solid foundation of time-tested truth
 for the test tube of isolation.  
Therefore I will allow the Holy Spirit 
to lead me, guide me, and correct me..... be a voice and not an echo"

Recently I watched Diane Sawyer's interview with Jaycee Duger on ABC.  Diane asked Jaycee's counselor if she thought she should tell her it was time to move on and stop talking about what happened to her.  (She has written a second book about her long horrific ordeal. ) The counselor made a profound statement. She told Diane that Jaycee had been held captive with no freedom to make her own choices for 18 years.  She would not begin to tell her what to do.  Jaycee would know when it was time to move on.  Jaycee's voice had been taken away, all her freedom had be taken away for so long, and it was important that no one tell her what to do or say now that she was free.  It was important that she be heard.  She now had a voice.

Finding our voice is a true gift.  We are all unique and so are our lives, so is our journey.  We are all called to be a voice, not an echo.  Along the way it is easy to settle, to keep silent, to be an echo, but God has created us to rise up and be His voice.  His voice crying out in the wilderness....His voice proclaiming the gospel...........His voice speaking love and truth.  His voice. Our voice.  We are to be a voice, not an echo!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bunka Boats, Bailing Cans, and Prayer

While living in The Philippines in 1974-76, we went on a tour of Corregidor Island in Manila Bay, part of Luzon Island where Joel was stationed at Clark Air Base.  The island is famous for when America fought with Japan, and for being a fortified place of defense protecting the entrance of Manila Bay and the city of Manila.  Our tour included seeing the old mile long barracks, American and Japanese artillery guns, tunnels, and more.

Joel standing on the American artillery gun

Waiting to get on our small bunka boats with outriggers

Going across the ocean

In order to get to the island we had to take bunka boats across the ocean bay.  This was not my idea of fun, but Joel and I found ourselves seated in a boat with a small lawn mower size motor with a young boy no older than 16 in charge.  Several other boats were filled two by two with American military, then we set out across the water.  I was wearing a life jacket "just in case".  We laugh about it now because it was a child's life jacket and barely would have held up this girl!  Still it gave me some sense of security. The trip over was uneventful, but our trip home held a bit more excitement for us.

About half way back, our tiny little motor stopped working.  The young Filipino boy could not speak English, but we knew he was frantically trying to start the motor as we watched the other boats get farther and farther away.  In between trying to fix the motor, he was bailing water out of the boat.  It seems it had a major leak!  Joel kept reassuring me we were fine, but when the boy handed us both our own empty cans and motioned for us to start bailing, we decided it was time to pray.

I'm looking back here for help.......
(Remember there were no cell phones at this time.)

The whole time we prayed we scooped out small cans of water.  After about 10 minutes of bailing and praying out loud while waves rocked the boat, we noticed another bunka boat coming back for us!!  It seemed like it took forever to arrive, but in another 10 minutes or so, we were tied by a rope to the boat of God's "angel without wings" and we were able to get across the bay, while continuing to scoop water out of the bottom of the boat and thanking God for hearing our prayers.

Over the years I have thought about that day and applied it to our lives many times over.  We did what we could in a bad situation and prayed for God's intervention at the same time.  We were limited in what we could do, but God was not.  He never is.  So it stands today.  We do what we can, pray for God's help and rest in the knowledge that we may be limited in what we can do, but God is not!!!!  We trust Him to be with us, rescue us, restore us.

We will never forget that day.  It was scary at the time, but also a great adventure with God!  It built our trust in our God, while at the same time helped us realize we are strong and courageous because of who lives in us and is always with us.  Even in bunka boats on the sea!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

It is a sweltering, hot, miserable Saturday here in Iowa.  The temperatures have been in the high 80"s to low 90's, the dew points in the high 70's and the heat index?  Up to 110.  Seriously?? Sadly, this is happening across a lot of our country.  You know it is hot when a friend in Mesa tells us her weather is not so bad compared to here!  Ugh....

This weather reminds me of the hot summer nights growing up.  When the heat upstairs became unbearable, we used to bring sheets down and lay them on the living room floor so we could get the outside breezes that came through the open windows and screen door.   No air conditioning and only one fan meant for a few restless nights. When we lived off base in the Philippines, we had only a window air conditioner for our bedroom.  Otherwise we had fans to help move the hot and humid air around the house. It was miserable at times, especially during the monsoon season.  The sheets always felt wet, our clothes felt damp. and even the kids wooden puzzles split from the humidity.  We also lived in many parsonages over the years and not one had central air.  We are so grateful for central air in our home now, and can't imagine living without it!

As I write this I am saddened once again to speak about Friday's attack in Munich Germany. The Baton Rouge officers being shot and killed last Sunday morning.  Today at least 80 killed in Kabul by ISIS during a peaceful protest.  Endless violence.  Yeah.....I don't know what more to say.  I don't begin to think I have any answers.  I can only turn to Papa God in prayer.  He alone has the power.........

Our neighbor likes to feed the deer.  You can look over across the street and see deer and squirrels munching on the ears of corn he has tossed into his yard.  It does not stay in his yard, though.  We now have  voluntary corn trying to grow in our yard that we mow down each week.  I am not crazy about the critters that gather.  Ticks and all.  Joel likes watching them....this week it has been a doe and her fawn.

I picked up an African Violet at the store Wednesday.  Our niece Becky had shared photos of her's that actually came from Joel's mom several years ago.  Mom T. could grow the most amazing violets!  Seeing one in the store brought this memory rushing back once again, so I picked up a small one to grace our table.  I have not done so well with them in the past but I am hoping I can nurture this one!

It has been to hot and humid to walk much, too hot and humid to cook much, too hot and humid to be outside on the porch much.  We have tightened down the hatches and are writing, reading, watching TV, cleaning,  and venturing out into other chilly buildings only when necessary.  We are still searching for a new laptop for me since mine is on it's last leg, as my mom would have said. We had friends for supper one night and caught up on each other's adventures.  I am still reading the same books as last week and still spending too much time resting.  Joel is filling in at churches 3 Sundays in July and all of August so he drives at least an hour one way to do so.  He likes to preach so that is the draw.  He did get a couple bike rides in. We continue to enjoy summer in the Midwest in spite of the weather.  Winter will come soon enough.  What have you been up to?

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The 40 Year Wait

desert wilderness

It was in 1972, while living in Duluth Minnesota, that some friends invited us to go with them to their church on a Sunday night.  We worshiped with those at the Gospel Tabernacle and then  while the children went off for their own time of teaching, the men and women separated for a time of prayer.  The ladies headed to a smaller room on the right side of the altar area.  I clearly remember sitting on a chair in this room listening to the women in prayer.  They were all on their knees, hands folded and heads bowed as they prayed to God quietly in their individual prayer languages.  It was the first time I had ever heard "speaking in tongues" and I was fascinated with it. Very quickly I began to feel such a peace around and in me that it was almost palpable.  I went home that night with a deep desire to have that special gift of speaking in tongues.  I wanted to experience again what I know now to be the presence of God.

So I went home and asked God for the gift and I did receive it, but not that night.  It was not until 40 years later in February of 2012 that I was given the gift of a prayer language.

Forty years!  One friend said to me, "you had forty years in the wilderness just like the Israelites!" Forty is a significant number in the Bible, and I expect there is some significance to the 40 year wait.  I know I waited a long time to be connected with Holy Spirit in such a way, not because He did not want me to have this gift, but because I was not ready.

It was not the only time I had heard people speaking in tongues, but that night in Duluth was the first.  In the Philippines I had two good friends who both had the gift.  Again, I prayed for it but believed at the time that only a few actually receive the gift, that it is not for all.  I learned later that was not the truth.  Joel was never really open to having this gift and I did not really pursue it once he started seminary.  And yet, he received a prayer language before me.  It came as an affirmation of his overnight healing from Lyme Disease and two co-infections, from arthritis, sleep apnea, recurrent corneal erosion, thyroid disease and Parkinson's-like neurological problems from the Lyme in his brain.  Yeah......a miracle to behold!

I had asked Joel the night before his healing if he would ever want the gift of speaking in tongues and his reply had been, "I am Lutheran, what would I do with that?!"  So he did not ask for the gift, but God bestowed it on him as a confirmation of his healing.  I think God has quite a sense of humor!  Once Joel had the gift I felt the door open for me, and I pursued having a prayer language until blessed with it just a month later.

So what is the purpose of this gift?  The Bible says it edifies and builds up, it intercedes for us when we don't know what to pray(I Corth./Romans).  Paul also tells us that it is the least of the gifts, but goes on to say he uses it more than anyone else. (I Corth. 14) I had one family member tell us it was the least of the gifts in very dismissive tone,  but I replied that IF I receive such joy and strength from the least of the gifts, I am richly blessed and willing to pursue them all~ just imagine what the others will do to deepen our relationship with God.

Some people wonder whether when you have the gift you have control over when you use it, when to start it and when to stop.  It is always available, waiting to bubble out of you, but only if you choose to use it.  It is definitely spirit speaking to Spirit as you do not decide what to say, nor understand the language you are using.  A great book to read about it was written by John Sherrill, a writer/author for Guideposts, who set out to discount it and after a great deal of research realized it was real.  Needless to say, he uses the gift himself and has since the 60's.  I have also heard a counterfeit language while living in the Philippines.  Someone stood up to speak in tongues and when this man started to pray my friend and I both had a strong feeling this was not from God and we walked out of the meeting. The devil always tries to counterfeit God's gifts to us, but we can discern what is good and what is not.   A couple of months ago I heard a woman speak in tongues and have it interpreted.  When she prayed her voice sounded so melodic and pure, and the peace of God descended like a warm blanket over me.  Yes, it is real.

God provides the gifts of the Spirit for our benefit and for others, and having the gift of a prayer language is just one of the many gifts He shares with His children.  I suggest that if you are open to it, do your own research, and talk to God about it.  He desires to bring you into a closer relationship with Him, and this is one of the many ways.

I am so grateful that God put me in that room with those women. He blessed me greatly and sent me on a long journey that continues today, seeking more of Him.  I give thanks, even with the 40 year wait.

Monday, July 18, 2016

We Are Allowed To Break

"We are allowed to break".  These words were written at InCourage on Friday by a woman who is grieving the sudden death of her father.  So much loss, so much sadness overwhelming her.  Her pastor had the good wisdom to tell her it is okay.

"This is going to take time, and it’s okay to crumble on the living room floor, 
to weep and to cry out when the pain runs deep"
It is okay to fall apart when a loved one dies. We are allowed to break.  So often people believe that because we are Christians we need to rejoice when a loved one dies.  After all, they are with Jesus. This is true, but it does not take away the loss those left here on earth experience.  During times of loss, we are allowed to break.

We are allowed to break, and our God understands.  He understands love and loss.  He created us us to express our emotions, to express our sadness.  We know our God is the God who comforts. Our God is the One who restores. Our God is the One who heals our brokenness, He does not ask us to deny our brokenness.  He whispers..........."Come to Me........."

Joel and I have both stood at the graves of our dads in childhood, and of our moms not so many years ago. We have buried our son Kevin, and grieved the loss of friends and other loved ones. Joel has presided over countless funerals and stood by death beds watching people take their last breath. He has helped a family say good-bye to their dad and husband who had been burned over 95% of his body, helped another family prepare their dead baby for burial.  He has sought to find words to comfort family members who question why their loved one was raped and murdered.  At times life can be difficult and death can be brutal.

There are all kinds of losses that cause us grief. There certainly was a loss of life and security when 9-11 occurred.  We grieve the senseless death and violence happening in our country right now. We grieve the loss of innocence that we are safe and sound on American soil. On some level Joel and I have experienced grief this past year with our plans to move falling apart, a diagnosis of breast cancer taking our breath away, radiation results beating up my body.  We grieve what was lost and what appears to be lost.   I would venture to say that nearly every person alive has experienced loss and grief. Besides the death of a loved one, maybe it is job or financial security that is taken away, the loss of a home or a beloved pet.  Maybe it is a loss of trust in a marriage or in relationships.

Grieving is part of life, and there are times we will break, we will fall apart.  It is okay.  God will bend down and wrap His loving arms around us and shelter us.  He will never leave us as we walk through the shadow of the valley of death.  As we grieve the losses in our lives, having our roots buried deep in our faith will be what sustains us.  We grieve with hope, knowing that we can stand on the truth of God's Word.  We hold tight to His promises, one by one and we trust God to come to us in our brokenness and put us back together.  

Grief and loss are a part of life.  We are allowed to break, yet we need to remember Who we turn to. We remember Who comforts, shields, heals, who puts us back together with tender loving care. We listen to His Voice calling us.........."come to me..........".

"Come To Me" by Jenn Johnson

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to all of you from our corner of the world where the corn is growing, the flowers are blooming, the grass is green, and the heat of summer makes us grateful for A/C.  I am thankful that the weather has been great here the past few days~ love the open windows. We are always aware of the weather in our house~ Joel grew up on a farm and then was educated by the Air Force to become a meteorologist.  He forecast weather for Air Force pilots for 4 years, first in Duluth MN and then in The Philippine Islands.  We have weather apps on our phones and The Weather Channel has been known to be on our TV for viewing more than a few times.  Ha....

Porch sitting in Minnesota

Beautiful day lilies 

Last Saturday we headed north into Minnesota to see one of our kids and the family.  We enjoyed some good chats, church, cribbage playing, and the movie, "Inside Out".  We both found the movie sobering due to how often we moved our kids around.  They are great kids, and have done well, but moving is not on their bucket lists as adults.  I went into a major crash on Monday so Joel went off alone to see his family, friends, and the Bishop in Moorhead, MN.  Disappointing to say the least.  We headed home Wednesday.

The past 10 days have been disturbing in our country.  So much violence, anger, hatred, fear.  There are no easy answers but something needs to change.  Then there is the latest terrorist attack in France carried out by one man in a truck, and the coup in Turkey yesterday. Good grief!  I don't even know what to say.  Pray, people, pray!

I was able to head to the farmer's market yesterday afternoon.  Our favorite venders were there and we brought home fresh veggies, strawberries and a special treat~ homemade lemon poppyseed scones.

I have watched a teaching by Bill Johnson, Seth Dahl, and Randy Clark this week.  I am reading Lisa Bevere's book, "Lioness Arising".  So good!  I am still catching episodes of the British series, "Rosemary and Thyme".  What have you been up to?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Ups and Downs, The Facts and The Truth

It is a beautiful day here in northern Iowa and I am enjoying the warm breezes, open windows, and the birds singing.  I managed a very short walk around our cul-de-sac today and I checked on our flowers, before heading for the sofa.  We just returned from a trip to Minnesota where we stayed with our daughter, SIL, and grands. We had plans to visit Joel's family in Fergus Falls, friends in Fargo, an acquaintance in the ELCA synod office, and then friends and family on the way home. None of that happened for me, but Joel was able to take it all in except for the visits on the way home. I spent Monday and part of Tuesday doing little more than a few minutes of porch sitting and a lot of horizontal meditating!  Hugging on the kids and visiting with our daughter and son-in-love was a major blessing, as we digested my situation.

My present state of health is more than a little disturbing, but when I'm feeling concerned I remember what I read about "cancer-related fatigue".  I seem to be a textbook case.  Those are the facts, it helps answer the whys, but I can't dwell on it.  What I focus on is important as I move forward. I don't deny what is going on, but I refuse to partner with it.  It takes effort, but instead of focusing on what is happening, we pray, and I go back and remember what God's Word says and what He has promised me, and this gives me hope and confidence that this too will pass.  I focus on the truth, not the facts.  His Word is a great reminder that CRF is NOT bigger than my God. God is bigger than any problem any of us have. He is mighty to save.  He heals, protects, provides, and loves.  Oh how He loves us!  How great is our God!

The past couple of weeks our country has been in great turmoil.  So much blood shed, so many protests ending in violence, so many tears shed.  If one is affected, we are all affected.  We are concerned for our son who is identified as "black" and we are concerned for our son who is a "white" police officer. We are all affected in some way by what is happening around us, whether in our neighborhood or miles away.  We are all affected by what we see and hear.  The world seems to be flooded by fear, anger, hatred, disbelief, outrage and more.  It is more necessary than ever to remember how great our God is!

So, today, as I listen to the leaves rustling in the trees, the birds singing, a lawn mower as I quietly soak in the sunshine and all around beauty of the day, I rest on His promises and I give thanks for what I can do, and for the past few days of hugs and laughter, tears, and discussions with loved ones.  I remember playing cards with one grand, walking outside with another grand, and coloring on my phone app with yet another. I remember talking and listening, great meals around the table, and gathering around a computer screen to watch the movie "Inside Out". I remember to trust our Lord as I ask Him to protect our sons and heal our country.  And I remember the promises~ how great our God is!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday morning here in our corner of the world where the corn is getting tall, the flowers are in full bloom, and the grass is growing so fast mowing once a week is not quite enough.  The weather has been hot with high day the dew point was at 76.  Ugh.  The corn likes the humidity and probably produces it here in Iowa.  I don't mind warm temperatures, but it is amazing how humidity affects the body.  I would not fair well in the deep south.  Here, we actually have a dehumidifier in the basement that gets emptied twice a day!

We have a persistent wren who sings most days from the birdhouse Joel has hanging in the lilac bushes.  On the days we can have the windows open we enjoy hearing this wren sing a joyful song!
The wren was not happy when Joel was out back trimming trees.  I was not happy when Joel was up on an extension ladder cutting and sawing limbs and branches away, either!  He ended up working 36-40 hours over the course of a week and had 35 bundles of limbs and sticks that the city garbage carted away.

It has been another week of tragedy in our country. We have a son living in a big city who would be identified as African American and we have a Caucasian son who is a police officer in another big city.  Needless to say, it is difficult to not worry..  We are concerned about the world our grandchildren are growing up in.  I hate how divided it has become or continues to be, and I don't just mean with these tragic events that have taken place.  I mean in all areas. Religion.  Economy. Politics.  Race.  There is no easy answer and it is so discouraging to watch our country implode. So much anger.  So much violence.  So much hatred.  So much fear. Please keep our country in prayer.

Speaking of our country, we enjoyed spending part of the 4th with my sister and her hubby, and of course could not miss the fireworks since they are set off near by and go right over our heads.  The windows shook and lots of the debris landed in the yards on our cul-de-sac.  It was a nice day to celebrate the birthday of our country.  

I have been reading a book by Steve Backlund called "Declarations" that has been very insightful! I He is one of the teaching pastors at Bethel Church in CA.  We have watched a few teachings and I have gotten into a British series on Netflix called "Rosemary and Thyme" about two older women who solve crimes.  It is a light mystery type of show which is great for me.  Sadly, I only have a few episodes left to watch!

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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Best Is Yet To Come

This past Saturday night we listened to the last broadcast of "Prairie Home Companion" on public radio.  Garrison Keillor has been producing this show for the past 42 years and we have been listening the majority of Saturday nights since 1983.  As we got older we would have pancakes or waffles on those nights while listening to the tales told. We don't eat pancakes weekly anymore but we do still enjoy having pancakes periodically while listening to Keillor speak about Lake Woebegone, "where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and the children are all above average."  A place filled with a lot of Lutherans, church suppers, and faithful people with character.

The foundation for our faith comes from the Lutheran churches we were raised in.  I like to say that Joel was raised with the Waltons in Lake Woebegone.  If you are too young to remember the Waltons or are not familiar with Garrison Keillor and his stories of Lake Woebegone, do a google search and you will understand.  Joel's family church, Aastad Lutheran, was less than a quarter mile from the farm he grew up on.  He remembers fondly the church community, mowing the yard and graveyard as a kid, Lutifisk suppers, and all the fellowship that took place there during congregational gatherings.  He credits his pastor with answering his many questions as he went through confirmation, a time to learn about and confirm his faith in God.  He was between the ages of 6-8 when he started having dreams at night where he was preaching.  God chose him at an early age to be a "proclaimer of God"~ which is what his name means.  Prayers were prayed, the Bible was read, and their faith was lived out in their daily lives.  It was a good place to live, with the Waltons in Lake Woebegone.

My foundation came a bit later in my childhood.  My sister Jan took both of us to be baptized at the Lutheran church where we lived when I was around 6 and she was 17.  We seldom went to church then, but when I moved in with my older sister Jo at age 12, St. Olaf Lutheran Church became a major part of my life.  We always attended Sunday services, were involved in Sunday School, youth groups, Vacation Bible School, Lenten services, Bible studies, and served in the community surrounding us.  I confirmed in my faith along with over 100 others when I was in 9th grade.  My sister Jo worked at the church and it became like a second home, a very comfortable place for me.   Joel and I met at the Lutheran Bible Institute in Golden Valley MN. This foundation of our faith has served us well.

Four and one half years ago, God opened up the doors of healing and more of Holy Spirit to us.  It has taken us on a journey that has blessed us in so many ways.  We really have had no desire to leave the Lutheran church where Joel has served as a minister for 36 years, but after being shaken and stirred, Holy Spirit has led us on a slightly different pathway.  It has brought us to this time of transitioning. What we would love to have is a church that embraces and practices the gifts of the Spirit, healing as for all, and an openness and acceptance for what is alike about us all and what is different.

We did experience that at Gold Canyon Methodist Church in Gold Canyon AZ.  It was great to hear the senior pastor embrace other denominations and tell the congregation that we have something to learn from each and every one of them.  His illustration on this was so powerful that we were astonished by it.......and blessed.  I  think I shared it before, but felt it was worth repeating. Pastor Fred had everyone stand and then asked them to think about another denomination other than theirs but not say it aloud until the count of three. At three everyone said what they were thinking and we heard a variety of denominations named. Then he asked everyone to say at the count of three who all these denominations worshiped and believed for salvation.  At three everyone said.............JESUS.  Yes............Jesus.  Many doctrines and traditions rise out of many denominations, but Who we worship and believe for salvation is only one.  The One.  Jesus. Pastor Fred went on to say that every denomination that had Jesus at the center had something to offer us as Christians.  I remember him saying that the Catholics bring ritual, the Lutherans tradition, the Pentecostals, Holy Spirit, etc. etc.  What do we have to offer?

This illustration has been held close to our hearts as we transition into who Christ has called us to be.  I just love how He is guiding us.  I don't necessarily like the stretching and shaping, or the pruning that is going on, but I love how God is guiding us as He prepares us for this "Senior Season" of our lives.  I am so glad we went with my sister and BIL to the church they frequent while in Arizona.  I am so grateful for what the pastor had to say.  It confirmed what we have been thinking, and it certainly was from God.

Joel does not live in Lake Woebegone anymore.  It was a good place to be, but we have traveled quite a bit since living there in 1968.  I no longer think of St. Olaf Lutheran as my second home, either. We are not sure we belong in the Lutheran traditional church anymore nor are we comfortable out of it.  We are not sure where we fit in yet as we journey along this bumpy pathway, but we do know that with Jesus in the forefront, all will be well.  We have had many adventures with God leading the way, and this one also has a guaranteed outcome!  The best is yet to come!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

We Are Blessed

We were sitting out on the front porch chatting. Joel, myself, and three of our kids.  We had ordered pizza and were waiting until it was time to pick it up.  Meanwhile the grands were inside playing a game of cribbage.  Or so we thought.  The girls had decided to get ready for lunch, and by the time we came in the table was set, the rest of the food was out, and all we had to do was make room for the pizza boxes.

We are blessed.

There are six of our grands that come together and connect quite a bit at family weddings, reunions, and celebrations.  They range in ages from 17 to 8, and are a great example of working and playing together no matter what stage of life they are in.  They live in different places, live somewhat different lives, and yet are a fine example of how to  get along and just "do life".

We are blessed.

As I observed the grands interact with us, I could only give God praise.  There was an exchange of love and trust that cannot be taken for granted.  They chatted often, played games, colored, and watched old slides.  They love seeing their parents as kids and are stunned that their grandparents were once young and had black hair.....or more hair!  Ha....These are memories we cherish, the give and take.

We wish we could see all our grands more often, but we give thanks for those who come together. We love seeing our family enjoy each other.  This gathering was for Joel's 70th birthday. Nothing big planned with the heat and humidity keeping us inside, but my hubby was happy as a lark declaring it was "the best birthday!"

We are blessed.

Do any of you watch the show "Blue Bloods"?  We watch for several reasons~ our son is a police officer, we like actor Tom Selleck, and we like the Reagan family that comes together.  Each a unique personality, living life differently, but yet respectful and caring for each other even when they disagree!  Oh how I would love to do dinner as a whole family on a weekly basis.  With our kids scattered around the Midwest, it is not an option, but will always remain on our wish list.

Life is precious, and remembering to give thanks for our annual family gathering, the fellowship of sibs and cousins during other celebrations, and our home echoing with the sounds of laughter of sweet grandchildren is so important.

We are blessed.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you this fine July 4th weekend.  Hope you are celebrating this great country from Maine to Hawaii.  It is beautiful to behold.  We are enjoying the beauty of our small flower garden this year.  The rain has fed all the plants and they are so gorgeous.  Here are the day lilies we have up front along with our hanging geranium-black-eyed Susan ivy.

Last week Joel planted some perennials in our small flower garden and then after laying down heavy plastic he covered it in rock.  Looks so nice.  This week Joel has spent much of the week trimming away dead branches and some tree limbs that are infringing on the neighbors yard too much.  He purchased a small electric chainsaw that has shortened the time needed to cut up all the limbs for bundling.  We have so much shade here that we could never grow any veggies.  The shade is nice for cooling off the house though.  

The weather has been nice this week after last Saturday's blast of heat and humidity that kept us inside for Joel's birthday weekend with family.  Four of the kids were here with several of the grands. Lots of visiting, porch sitting, cribbage, and celebrating went on.  We are blessed to have such great grands to enjoy.

Joel turned 70 last week, although with him it is definitely just a number.  He is so healthy and able to do hours of physical work.  Still, it is a milestone, this age 70 thing.  We also celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary.  Between the two I have found myself asking questions of Joel suc.h as, "What is on your bucket list?  What do you want to do or see in this senior season of your life?" Where do you want to be? To call home?"  Expect this is part of our "transitioning" time.

I was able to visit on the phone this week with my friend Katherine from New Hampshire.  I am definitely old enough to be her mom, she is younger than most of my kids, but she is wise and wonderful and I wish I could stop over to see her and her delightful family.  God brought us together in such a unique way, and He continues to bless our relationship.  He is so good.

It is once again that time of year....a time to celebrate our country and what it means to live in freedom.  Having spent 8 years with Joel in the Air Force, I can remember going to a theater on base.  The national anthem would start and the whole place would stand with all military at attention, saluting, until it finished playing.  I have never forgotten the respect the flag and song was given and the pride we felt.  Two of our children were nationalized on the 4th of July one year when we lived in Minnesota.  Another proud and exciting moment for our family. The flag flies at our home, and with the fireworks so close by, we can watch them from our living room window!  

I have been watching a PBS British mystery series on Netflix called  "Rosemary and Thyme".  It is a "B" type show, but light and enjoyable.  It kept me occupied as I rested more this week for several reasons.  We also watched a couple of teachings from Bethel Church and I am reading a book about the miracles at Azuza Street in CA that occurred during the first decade of 1900.  It is very interesting!  What have you been up to?

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