Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Friend Indeed

Lana and I at their cabin, 2014

As the time for my 50 year high school reunion nears, I have been thinking a great deal about my years in what I call my home town.  I moved so often as a child, but spent 8 years there....the longest I lived anywhere until our last move to Iowa.  It is a mixed bag of memories.....good, bad, and ugly.....Mostly good memories, but a couple of tough years before moving in with my older sister and her family.

During those tough times, a dear friend and her mother took me under their wings.  Dear sweet Lana used to bring me home for lunch, as we went to grade school together.  Lana and her mom loved on me with kindness, and I would stay there once in awhile too.  I am sure they noticed my clothes were not always clean, nor did they fit properly.  In fifth grade I skipped school more than I want to admit, and did not always have lunch money when I did go.  Although they never said anything to me, they knew things were tough at home and they alone reached out to me during those two years. We have been friends ever since. We don't often see each other, but when I think about that time in my life and the past 57 years of friendship, it warms my heart.  God placed her and her mom in my life and I am forever grateful that they responded to God with a yes.

Lana also played an important role in me accepting Jesus into my heart.  I can see Lana and myself sitting together in a large recliner at a friend's home.  She was talking about Jesus to me.  Somewhere in the conversation she asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus as my Savior and I said yes.  We prayed together and so began my journey in earnest of walking with God.  It still is amazing to me that such a young girl would be bold enough to share the gospel and ask me the most important question of my life.  Only God.

I am sure over the years there have been many other people that Lana has reached out to and still does.  She has lived a life of faith, often going through her own tough times.  Very difficult times, in fact, where her faith sustained her and she was an example for the rest of us to follow.

Do you have people in your life who have been a pivotal part of your journey? Someone who has a heart for God and a heart for others?  Today I honor my friend Lana, and give thanks to God for her faith, her friendship, and her big heart.  She is the definition of friend, a friend indeed!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from a wet and gray day Iowa.  Seriously sick of the humidity and rain that keeps saturating the area...so far our ground is holding it well and we are not seeing any flooding here like way east of us this week.  So much flooding everywhere! And tornados?  Oh my.  Okay, time to stop complaining.

Speaking of complaining, yesterday Joel and I decided to not complain once all day.  It did not take us long to figure out that it is easy to complain...in small ways.....subtle ways like how hot is was..or how a car pulled out...or......so we did a lot of catching ourselves and correcting our words.  We did not think it would be so difficult to not complain, in fact we thought we were pretty good at being positive!

The other night we sat on the porch, noticing that it gets dark earlier and earlier.  Summer light is fading.  The bats were starting to dive for bugs, and I hate bats so  was going in when I noticed three deer come across the front and go into the neighbor's yard.  He feeds the animals corn cobs.  Remember?  We have corn that tries to grow in our yard cuz the squirrels bring it here.  A momma deer and twin fawns were across the street enjoying a feast.  It was fun to watch them, even though it is common place here where deer have the run of things.

I watched a 20/20 special last night on Kayla Mueller, a humanitarian aid worker who was kidnapped by ISIS in 2013 and killed in a Jordanian airstrike in 2015.  She worked in Turkey but went with a boyfriend to Syria for an overnight with his work.  She was kidnapped, tortured, made a "sex slave" and went through horrific trauma because she was an American and because she would not renounce her Christian faith.  If all that was presented last night was true, I can't help but feel everyone in authority let her down.  Our government, the FBI, Doctors Without Borders, etc.  I can't comprehend the evil that defines this group.  When we think of one person acting out such horrors we feel sickened, but when it is a whole group of radical brainwashed men and some women who have gone over into the dark side,  it absolutely blows our minds.  So hard to comprehend.

Someone was telling me about a house their relatives were building.  A big house.  It made me think back about places Joel and I lived as kids.  Joel's parents first lived in an old grain building on their farm place.  They pulled an old small pig barn up to the side for a lean-to kitchen.  There was no heat in the upstairs where Joel and his brothers slept except for the stove pipe that came through and vented out the roof.  They had an outhouse and no running water until his teen years when a small house was brought in to replace the old makeshift home.  Joel never felt "poor" or that he was missing out on anything.  He never thought, "When I grow up I will live in a big place with lots of this or that."  Nope.  This was his home.  He was loved, had food and clothing, a community, and his church just down the road.  I moved a lot with my family, at age three I would call the car "home" and in some places we lived I slept on a sofa with my sister or later alone on a sofa as my bed.  At 12 I moved in with my older sister and her family and three of us girls shared a double bed for three years before we each got our own single bed.  That happened because of smoke damage from a fire.  Boys in one bedroom, girls in the other.  I loved our home, big or small.  Lots of good memories were made in that place. Times have changed.  Now Joel and I live in a house that is way too big for two people!  It is just the right size when the kids all come home which is only 1-2 times a year.  Otherwise, wasted space.  We certainly are blessed, but will eventually be downsizing as soon as God gives us the word. It is amazing how much most of us in America do have.

We rearranged the living room this week.  After the tree limb broke off more sun comes in the window and reflected on the TV so we moved things around.  I like to do that periodically.  I used to say, if we can't move, I rearrange or it gets to dull.  More than once years ago Joel would come home from a meeting and trip over things I had been busy rearranging while he was gone!  Now I need his help so there are no surprises!

I am almost finished with Joy Dawson's book, "Forever Ruined For The Ordinary".  I learned so much from this 90 year old woman's teachings!  I have a new heavyweight devotional by Rick Renner that I am starting.  Heavy like in weighing 4 lbs at least and heavy in like each day is a deep study in itself and takes time....So far it is worth it!  Joel and I are beginning to read a book called, "Spiritual Pathways" by Gary Thomas.  It is interesting and helps you identify where you are most comfortable in worshiping and in your relationship with God,  It is going to be used in a study group we are joining. Joel continues to preach, ride, and write.  I continue to write and walk, this week 3/4 mile each day.  The porch calls our name at night.  We are blessed.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My True Identity

I will be heading to my 50 year class reunion before long.  Fifty years ago I was one of 500 in my class that graduated from high school and headed off into the world. Some went on to college, like me, and others went into the work force or the military draft board came calling.

I don't often think about my high school years, but I do enjoy staying in touch with friends.  High school was, well, high school with all that involved.  Classes, homework, and the social media of it's time.....connecting at our lockers, while walking to classes, and at games.  We talked on the phone a lot, which was connected to the wall in our house.  I always sat on the counter and chatted.  One phone for 7 people.  On the wall.  Shocking in today's world.  But I digress...........

Lately God has been speaking to me about my identity, and reunion stuff had me thinking about where I received my identity in my teenage years.  My family and my church were a solid part of my life, but I can't help but smile when I remember how great I felt in my saddle shoes, mohair sweater, and white pleated skirts. ( no pants allowed for girls at that time).  Even my saddle shoes helped identify who I was.  Or so I thought at the time.  I do remember wanting to fit in, desiring the right clothes, the support of friends, and for me a boyfriend that not only cared about me but (subconsciously) made me feel safe.  In the sixties there were only the after school intramural teams for girls, and such activities as cheerleading, and school "clubs" to join.  Seeking acceptance was so everything as I walked through what was called junior high and high school.

Recently, God has been guiding me to ask where I get my identity.  I confess there are still moments in time when I wonder if someone will like me, how will this aging overweight lady be viewed, or even if what I write will be understood and embraced.  I am tempted to identify myself by what I do or don't do, or maybe how I look.  Yikes.  I am tempted to identify myself by how others view me, so is there still a bit of that teenage girl inside of me looking for approval? Maybe in all of us?

Dr. Brian Simmons has a Facebook page on his Passion Translation of the Bible.  He often posts something he calls "I hear Him whisper" which are prophetic words from God.  Today's was "I hear Him Whisper:  I (God) am your identity."  Needless to say, he had my attention. God is not subtle when He wants to me "get" something.  He often overloads me with the message, and this time was no different.  Several books have been coming to my attention and even though the topic is not about just defining who we are,  I have been drawn to their words on "identity".  Lisa Bevere, in her book, "Lioness Arising", talks about how we are each created unique by God.  We cannot be anyone but ourselves in life.  Each of us created for a purpose, with Christ residing in us to give us all we need to accomplish that plan.  Lisa's latest book, "Without Rival" is  about how to embrace your identity and purpose in an age of confusion and comparison.  (To compare is to despair).  Kris Vallotton asks how we see ourselves ~as a prince/princess or a pauper in his book, "The Supernatural Ways of Royalty".  And let me not forget what God's Word says about His children.  Yeah, God is definitely at work here!

We do identify ourselves by wearing many hats in life.  For me, that of daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, and writer.  They are all parts of the whole me, but deep inside, God is asking, do you see?  Do you really see that I am your true identity.  I live in you.  You are a new creation in Me.  Your body is my temple!  Your spirit filled with my Spirit. You are a daughter of the King! King Jesus!  You are not to please others, you are to please Me. You are not to fear others, you are to fear( be in awe) me.  I love you as if there was only you, my child.  My beloved.  You can rest in this truth of where we find our identity.

Many in life are seeking to belong, to be accepted, and they may change themselves to blend in, to fit it.  I am not talking about just kids here, I am talking about adults who "go along with the crowd" whether that crowd is found in a church pew or on a bar stool.  Oh how it must sadden our Papa God.  He created us to be unique and find our identity in Him alone.  He wants us to embrace who we are on our journey to be Christ like.

Kris Vallotton says, "We all act according to who we believe we are, so it is vital that we hear who the Lord says we are.  When we hear God's name for us, we can allow that name to define our identity. We need not ask the question, "Who am I".  God has already answered that!

Like all of you I am blessed to wear many hats, several listed above.  But I am even more blessed to know that I am a daughter of the King.   I can rest and be at peace in the knowledge of my true identity. We all can.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I Had Forgotten

"Renee will heal in this house"

It was a year ago that we put our house on the market.  We were leaving behind the past and moving into our future in Arizona.  Then our plans changed abruptly with a diagnosis.  I have grieved much in the past 12 months, including the fact that we are still living in this house.

 I spent 8 of the past 12 years viewing the world from inside my domain.  Among other things Lyme Disease kept me bound to my sofa, to my home.  I viewed the world with longing, unable to participate in anything much but phone calls, the Internet, and usually one visit a year from our kids, which involved lots of recovery time.  I went weeks without face-to-face, skin-on-skin interactions with anyone but my loving Joel.  Then Joel joined me for 3 1/2 years of the Lyme battle, himself. It is a sad story, and it is one I want to leave behind me.

After I was healed of Lyme and more, I was able to get out again in the world.  I could travel, see the houses our kids, in-laws, and grands lived in.  We could experience a normal life.  Yet, the memories I have from before the healing would come up again unexpectedly here in the house that kept me safe for so long, but also so very isolated.  I connected illness to the house and was so ready to leave the house behind along with the sickness that was part of my past.  I had stepped into freedom and out into the world and I was ready for a new dwelling place.

In the past year I have dealt with many tests, surgeries, and radiation, treatment fatigue and sobering losses, making it feel like I was once again surviving in what I identified as a house of sickness.  But over time I realized that this is not the truth.  The house that was a place of sickness needs to be acknowledged now as a place of healing.

I had forgotten.  You see, when Joel was out biking 12 years ago he drove past the area and noticed the owners were having an open house. He went inside and looked around before going out on to the back deck where God impressed something on his heart.  He heard, "Renee will heal in this house."  Joel had also dreamed about the layout of this house more than once before he ever stepped in the door, so seemed right to him for us to live here.  He had to talk me into this house, though, as it was not my favorite. It has a lot of stairs and levels and it really needed an enormous amount of work.  Joel and others did a great deal to fix the house, and then we moved here 12 years ago in October.  Unfortunately, I just got worse......and worse......At times Joel began to question what he had heard, but hung on to God's words with hope.  And then in 2012 healing came................

I had forgotten.  I had forgotten those words and I was letting the years of sickness and last year's health challenges take my eyes off of God's promise to Joel. Like the Israelites I was forgetting all God has provided.

It certainly is not our intention to retire in this house, it is too big and it has too many stairs.  And we are still waiting to hear a solid answer from God regarding a move, so we are not sure how long we will be here, but what I do know is that God is asking me to remember that this is a house of healing, and our house of healing has its foundation built on the promises of God. A promise given to Joel 12 years ago when he just "happened" upon an open house, and it changed our history.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from the upper Midwest where the weather continues to remind us that we are having a wet and humid summer.  Strangely, our flowers are not liking it, but everything is nice and green and we cannot complain because we are not flooding here.....flood warnings once in awhile, but nothing like 9 years ago when our city lost 400 plus homes to flooding, and certainly nothing like Louisiana or the fires in CA!  Prayers needed for the people in those areas!

We have been watching the Olympics, mostly our favorite events......like diving, gymnastics, some track and field, women's beach volleyball, and for me synchronized swimming. We can't mention the Olympics this week without the whole Ryan Lochete drama....but I will not give it much time here.  Just saying, his behavior is not a representation of all the athletes, but only a few.

Last Tuesday we headed up to the Twin Cities and visited my sister who raised me who continues to heal at the rehab center.  We met my sister Janelle at Gr. Jo's apt. where our son Mark helped Joel fix her bed headboard/frame while our grandson Noah helped Janelle with a few things.We headed home later in the afternoon and hit a pretty heavy rain storm that had us going down the Interstate at less than 30 miles an hour.  Yikes!

Speaking of kids and grands we had a short visit with our daughter Sarah and her son Jonas this week.  He is getting so tall.  And speaking of tall, we received a text photo of our grandson Eli, Kevin's son. He is starting 8th grade this year.  We also received a picture of our oldest grandson Evan who is starting his senior year.  I won't share that one here because his football shirt states where he lives and the world at large can read my blog, but he is one handsome young man.  We have another granddaughter who is a senior too.  In just 10 years all our grands will be 18 or older. Yikes!!  Time marches on!

Jonas age 8 with mom

Eli age 14

When we came home from Minnesota the tree guys had been here and removed the big limb and the dead apple tree that was way too big for Joel to go after.  Everything was all cleaned up tidy. Joel was disappointed to have missed all the action, but I was happy to not be around for their work.

We went to the deli and had supper with friends on Wednesday night.  Three hours later we headed for home, long after the deli quit serving. We had a lot to catch up on. God made us for relationships.  Not just with Him but with others.  We are not meant to be alone.

I have been reading a book called, "Forever Ruined For The Ordinary" by Joy Dawson.  It is about hearing and obeying God's voice.  Joy Dawson and her husband were New Zealand Missionaries, and she is a Bible teacher, and a conference speaker.  She is probably in her 80's and is quite a character.  The book certainly has my attention as Joel and I desire to hear more from God.  What have you been reading?

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

What More Am I Here For, God?

I was listening to a teaching two weeks ago where the pastor talked on the popular topic of how God has a purpose for each of us.  This is not news, of course. The pastor went on to say that often the purpose is revealed after an encounter with God, the testimony someone shares, or how we observe others living.  Experiences shape us, whether ours or someone else's.

Last week Pastor Eric Johnson from Bethel talked about the fact that as we seek our purpose, we are  "building a house" every day of our lives, using Luke 6 to base it on.  It was an interesting perspective on a well known scripture~ building our house on rock or sand.  He stated that we, ourselves, make the decision on how to build our "house" for God.   Are we sitting at home watching too much TV? Are we spending all our time on ourselves or the things of the world? Then that is what we are building.   Have we identified our passion and are we moving forward with a sense of purpose in our God given passion?  Are we building our house on that purpose?  On the desires of our heart?  Another thought.....our lives affect the next generation whether we are building our house on a rock or on the sand, so what legacy will we leave our grandchildren, great grandchildren....future generations. We are always building our "house" so we need to decide where we are going to establish our house...on the Rock, or on sand.

I am also reading the book, "Lioness Arising" by Lisa Bevere and she, too, talks about our unique purpose, as daughters of the King.  Each of us have a purpose and play a part of God's plans for His world.  As she wrote about those who have the courage to move into the legacy God has for them, I could not help but think of examples in my life.  One is my friend, Linny.  You want an example of a Godly woman who arose from the ashes of a life of fear, abuse, and illness to find her passion, her purpose and an unbelievably strong faith in her sweet Jesus?  That is Linny, mom to 14 (so far), several married with children of their own, and 9 still at home.  Some "lifers".  Her hubby left a career as a lawyer to go back to seminary to be a pastor....they both were working as pastors, but knew that a prophecy given over their lives years before would eventually come in God's timing.  That prophecy came into fruition when they decided a few years ago to begin a non-profit organization for the orphans. International Voice of the Orphans feeds thousands of kids in Uganda and other places, and one of their daughters and her hubby parent and care for many special needs kids as missionaries in Uganda at The Gem Foundation. Linny and Dw are seriously passionate about their calling.  At. any. cost. What Linny and her husband Dw do. what their daughter and her husband do,  all stems from prayerful obedience. They would be the first to say they could not do what they do without God providing in all areas of their lives.  They are building their house on a rock!  THE Rock.  He beckoned, they answered and they have never looked back.

I have known others with the same God given passion, those who do "give up their lives to find it". It may not require opening your home to over a dozen kids in your "retirement years", but God has a purpose for you.  For me.   Sometimes people have a passion for helping their neighbors, or volunteering at a shelter.  It may be they are called to care for loved ones, or bring comfort to others.  Our passion does not necessarily light up the sky with a thousand stars....it may be one light in the darkness.  The point is, we all have a purpose and what lights your fire is often part of God's plan!

Joel and I experienced some of that passion when we were healed from Lyme Disease.  We learned all we could about healing through prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It consumed our lives for over 3 years before breast cancer. During the past year of surgery, radiation, and two eye surgeries I confess that my passion waned due to the distractions.  I began to question what God had in store for me.

As I pondered, I started writing about our lives and while looking back I began to ask God "what am I here for"?  Not in a negative way, but in regards to the 27 years of Lyme, two bouts with cancer, and the struggle for healing of my damaged body. Because I am still here, praise God, I am seriously asking, "What am I here for, God"?  "What do you want to build in me, in us?"  And I am asking myself, "In my choices, what kind of house am I building?"  I know some of the answers, but what more, Lord....what more??

One of our daughters tells me I "think to much".  I have no doubt that this is true, but God works with it.  He knows me well.  He is in the midst of the questions I am asking...."What more am I here for, God?"  He has a purpose, and many plans to get us there.  His purpose for each of us are often subject to change, too.  They may be only for a season of our lives. Yet His love for His children is always the same along with His desire that we build our house on a rock.  On THE Rock, Jesus Christ.

Have you ever found yourself asking God these questions?  What is my purpose now in this season of my life?  What is Your plan?  A good place to start is focusing on what we know.  What passion drives us?  What desires fill our hearts?  What is God's voice saying to our hearts?  Who does God say we are?  How does He want to use our unique gifts?  Am I building my "house" on the Rock?  Right now, in the present, what more am I here for, God?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

You Know The Mayor?

This old photo of our four oldest
was taken 40 years ago
still melts my heart....

When we lived in the Philippines we welcomed two of our children home through adoption.  We went through two court hearings and endless confusing paper work in order to get the official documents.  Just a couple weeks before we were to leave Clark Air Base, we still had not received our final papers from the Filipino lawyer regarding our adoptions of our daughter and son.  We kept calling and visiting the lawyer's office with no results.  If those papers did not arrive by our scheduled departure date,  I would be left behind with the two babies, while Joel went home with our older two.  It was more than a bit stressful to think about.

We had been praying because we knew this Filipino lawyer wanted money under the table before he would hand over the papers.  Problem was, we were not willing to do that for more than one reason.  First of all it was unethical and second of all, Joel could be put on "international hold" for agreeing to such a thing.

With just a week left before we flew home, I headed to my Interdenominational prayer group which was being held at the base commander's house on Clark.  Around 35 women gathered that day and I explained our dilemma, asking for prayers that it be resolved quickly.  We needed to all go home together!

During prayer time the base commander's wife came over and tapped me on the shoulder beckoning me to follow her.  We went upstairs to the bedroom and she handed me the phone saying she had called the Embassy in Manila and I was going to talk to the Ambassador.  The base commander's wife carried some clout!  I did explain our situation to him and he told me he really could not help me, that we needed to contact someone like the mayor in Angeles City where the lawyer was located. They would be able to get it resolved.  So the base commander's wife got on the phone again and called the Mayor of Angeles City. I soon was talking to him and telling him our situation and the name of the lawyer.

Two days later Joel received a phone call from the lawyer telling us the papers were ready and we could come pick them up!  When Joel went into the office, the lawyer apologized for the delay.  He then asked, "You know the Mayor?"  Joel replied, "No."  The lawyer went on to say....."You did not tell me you knew the Mayor....I did not know you knew the Mayor!"  Evidently this dishonest lawyer had gotten into trouble with the Mayor and he could not figure out how we even knew the guy.

We left Clark Air Base on schedule with our 4 children in tow.  We have never forgotten how God intervened and used a woman of faith, who happened to be the base commander's wife, and made it possible for me to talk with the Ambassador and the Mayor who got things resolved quickly.  God is sooooo good.

Monday, August 15, 2016

All Ages Gathering In The Water

About 10 days ago Joel had a Sunday off and we headed back to Faith Lutheran in the village of Miller Iowa where we attended services and held fellowship with the people there.  It was great fun to worship and see many of the people we came to know and care about.  After services and coffee we helped get backpacks ready for kids in need.  It was a well spent hour visiting, laughing, helping. When we left the church we headed to our favorite lake, one of only a few in Iowa.  We walked along the shoreline and came across a large gathering of people.  We ventured closer and discovered that the Lutheran church that worships summers in the park was baptizing people in the lake. We could not miss that, so we stood and watched adults, babies, children, and some in need of healing go into the lake to be baptized.  All ages gathering in the water.......carried by mom or dad, walking on their own, some helping the ill.  It was a blessing just to observe and give thanks to those making a commitment to Jesus.

Today as I was watching Bethel Church baptize children through oldsters, with each one speaking about why they wanted to be baptized, I remembered our trip to the Lake and how delightful that was.  As a pastor's wife I certainly have seen many baptisms...mostly babies, some children and adults.  Today as I watched a man in his 70's, shaking from Parkinson's, get into that baptismal tank at Bethel I could not help but weep with joy for him, and pray that he receives not only his Savior but his healing.  Yes Jesus...come......

Life can be so broken, so fragile, so difficult........but with Jesus all is good!  Jesus is the only answer to it all.  Some blame Him for what has happened in their lives, others believe he chooses special people to "suffer" for Him, chosen by God to give glory to Him that way.  Others believe that sickness and disease and early death are not from God at all, but the enemy.

We don't have all the answers tightly wrapped up and kept in a box about God and His ways, but we do know what the Bible says.........and God is so good and loves us soooooo much He gave His only Son to die on a cross so that we can believe, be baptized and be saved.  We know that Christ suffered for our sins on that cross....including sickness and disease.  On bended knee we worship Him and give thanks for all that Jesus has done for us.  We take steps in faith acting on what we believe, receiving His gifts with open arms, just like those who were gathering in the water.  Come, Jesus come.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday again from the tropics of Iowa where dew points and humidity were high all week and the rain just keep on a-coming.  Monsoon season in Iowa?  Today, though, the windows are open again, breezes are coming in and the dew point is more reasonable.  Yes!

We had quite an adventure this week when Joel woke up at 2:45 am Friday morning after hearing a big boom outside.  He got up to check and discovered we had a huge limb break off our backyard Locust tree outside the living room window. I only woke up when he opened the door to go outside.  That got my attention! I can sleep through storms and tree limbs shaking the ground, but someone open a door to the house and I'm awake! Ha!

There must have been a weak spot in the tree, and the 30 foot long limb that was mostly horizontal, became heavy with rain and wear, causing the break.  It came down on our neighbor's yard. It looked like the roof, siding and wooden fence must be damaged along with a metal fence and veggie garden.  The tree rescuers came the same afternoon and removed it all from the neighbor's yard.  They said they were surprised that it would be weak there.  Looking at everything after it was gone, we could not find any damage to the siding, roof, or wood fence.  Their wire fence and veggie garden are flattened. What a relief that damage was minimal.  Our neighbor is going to check to make sure, but it appears that which looked bad was not!  Thank you God!

Taken from our living room window

Bushes, garden, fence, and garage hit
but little damage....Yay!

Speaking of "yay", the Olympics are going full force and USA's Women's gymnastic team has done so super.  Yay!  They are a powerhouse group of five, for sure.  Michael Phelps has a great comeback story......and  so many others have done so well.  I enjoy watching Women's Beach Volleyball and have managed to find a few matches.  Archery has drawn Joel's attention and some of the swimming.  The pictures of Rio's coast are beautiful to look at, but I have heard something about sewage in the water?  Or is that somewhere else...... We enjoyed watching the parents in the stands too. Sooooo funny!  I would be just like them!  I can remember when our oldest son played T-ball and I would walk up and down the sidelines chewing on sunflower seeds to keep calm....that pretty much carried over into all the kids sports, musical competitions, etc.

The flooding in Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama is awful.  How sad.  This endless rain is crazy.
The low pressure system just keeps spinning and spinning over that area.  Wowza.  Makes me grateful our ground is holding it's own, flood watches only, and nothing like the South.  I am ready for fall, but that does not surprise people.  Fall always beckons me and then leaves too quickly after we embrace.  Sigh......

Joel is busy preaching and writing and riding.  He enjoys them all, but I am not sure in what order. I have been walking 1/2 mile every day this week and a couple of 3/4 mile days, which feels good. I have been reading, writing some, and reflecting a lot on our time in The Philippines.  Just scroll down and you will find the post I wrote here.  As I said before, those two years were life changing.

Another neighbor moved out and a new family moved in.  I think we will miss the family who sold their home so quietly and quickly.  They are building somewhere on the edge of town.  Their little ones reminded us of our Des Moines grands when they were little, and were delightful to visit it. So, three new neighbors in the past few months.  This past week our next door neighbor's bike was stolen in the night.  He had forgotten to shut and lock the garage door.  He heard a noise but by the time he figured out it was in the garage they were gone.  Joel heard a car idling but thought someone was delivering papers.  We all try to keep track here if garage doors are not closed or something seems odd, but he had come home late and we all were in bed I expect. We always lock the door from the garage into the house, too.  Many don't because they think if the garage doors are locked all is okay, but seriously why not lock the door into the house too,  just in case??

Cicadas are here.  They are so loud, big and ugly.  And they bring with them a certain kind of wasp that likes to eat them.  Another reason I am ready for fall.  It is just not that buggy in our part of the world, so when they come, we don't tolerate them well.  I remember summers as a kid with June bugs around.  Yuk!!

This has been a week of pondering life as we know it.  Ever have that?  Like, why does what we desire always cost more than we have?  And the the friends thing....and finding the best church for us to belong to.......and of course our forever undecided question of where we are to be and what are we to be doing in this season of our lives?  With the high dew points and humidity this week my body has been telling me to go where it is dry.  I am sure people get sick of us talking about it.....try living it!  Haha

Is anyone else ready for the election to just be over so we can get on with life?!?!  I am not holding my breath on who gets elected, nor do I put all into my candidate, believing they will solve all the problems and make my life wonderful.  Seriously not going to happen if we go by our lifetime of history.  We need to make our lives wonderful, by our choices, beliefs, and trusting in God.

I have been watching some of Charis Bible College's yearly healing conference this week, catching up on some reading, and tuning mostly in to the Olympics.  I am being stirred by Lioness Arising (Lisa Bevere) and am drawn once again to Christie Purifoy's book, "Roots and Sky".

Well, I hope you pulled up a chair and are drinking a cup of coffee as you visit my cyber home.  I enjoy our Saturday chats, especially when you chat back with me!  Stop by again.....and tell me what you are up to!

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

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Philippines: A Third World Adventure

Filipino kids gathering for a picture

Our two years in the Philippines were an adventure of two kinds.  It was the mid 70's, the Viet Nam war was still ongoing not that far away, we were living under Marshall Law with Marcos still running the country, and let's face it, living in a third world had it's challenges. The heat, humidity, disease, and poverty were oppressive. Our off base houses were protected by 24/7 hired security guards, bars on our windows and cement block walls with broken glass on top.   Adding to that a metal security gate into our property, and heavy wood sliding doors that locked down into the cement floors.  It did not create an atmosphere of safety.  More than once we woke up at night with Filipino men in our yard, hoping to find a way inside and "guerrilla warfare" was common out in some of the barrios.  They would sometimes shoot at our planes as they took off at night, and we talked to a missionary family once who told us periodically they left their place of mission work when the guerrillas were known to be roaming near where they lived.  We had no phone in our off base home and no cell phones at that time.  Our oldest two children rode a mini bus to preschool and there were bars on the windows and the door to the bus.  We were not allowed out after 10 pm without military escort, and we did not venture out after dark.  I will say I don't recall knowing anyone who was harmed while we lived there, but our two neighbors were both in undercover military security work and we know that there was more than one military family that was rushed in the dead of night out of the country for protection, besides other not so nice stuff was going on. We had little to no contact with our families back in the states, with letters being our only means of communication besides one costly phone call where we had to say "roger" at the end of every sentence.   Yeah, it was challenging.............

Then there were the bugs.....huge roaches that RAID would hardly kill, biting red ants, rice Beetles, house lizards (Geckos), cobras and boa constrictors, bats, and of course my encounter with a huge monitor lizard one morning in our yard!

BUT our time there was mostly amazing and delightful.

We made a point of getting to know and subsequently care about the people we had working for us, and went to visit our first and last maid's homes and also our "sew girl's" home.  We attending a wedding and a baptism with our first maid, Ampharo,  and our oldest daughter is a Godmother for her first child Maria Lousia.  We also celebrated Holy week with our sew girl down in Angeles City. Let me add here that it was a government policy that we hire maids, yard boys, sew girls, etc. while living there as military.  It was strange to us at first, but much appreciated!!  You really do your weekly cleaning every day there due to the bugs, etc.  We also were able to have three houses built for people we cared about (very inexpensive there), paid for a wedding and baptism, and helped some people with food when needed.  It was fun to be able to help others and certainly a joy to get to know, observe, and be a small part of the Filipino culture.

Our adventures in Baguio, a respite/resort town up in the mountains were always interesting, adopting two our of children while there was amazing, and driving to Manila and of course the Corregidor Island trip were exciting to say the least. We did fly to Taiwan and do the tourist thing for 4 days once, but stayed pretty close to home because we were in the adoption process.

We were there when Saigon fell and we were able to be a part of Operation Baby Lift, which had a powerful impact on my life.

We met some great military people and are still friends with a couple from those days.  They live in South Carolina now and we stay in touch through the social media and texting which is great.  It was in the Philippines that I was part of an interdenominational prayer group headed by the base commander's wife.  About 30-40 of us women would get together to worship and pray.  We also attended an interdenominational church on base and were part of a Baptist Serviceman's club off base.

Clark Air Base was like a small city with around 40,000 military personal and families assigned there.  They had a college, several schools, chapels, cafes, military clubs, grocery and clothing BX and a library.

We left The Philippines and the military in May of 1976 after 8 years of service, and Joel started seminary that summer.

Over the past 48 years of marriage we have moved often and certain events have changed our lives,  but our two years in The Philippines really impacted us, and God used  those two years to help shape and mold us in powerful ways. Forty years later we still talk about that time.  It was definitely a third world adventure of great proportions that will never be forgotten.

I hope as I reflect on our time in The Philippine Islands, it recalls for you adventures in your own lives and how they impacted and shaped you.  Life is an adventure in faithful living!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shake, Rattle, And Roll

In 1974 we headed to The Philippine Islands where Joel was being stationed to forecast weather for the base and military pilots. As a family of four, we flew in a plane for 18 hours over mostly water. Before getting on a plane, we drove to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento and then had our car shipped over.  From there we flew from San Francisco to Fairbanks Alaska and then to Japan.  From Japan we flew into Clark Air Base, Angeles City, The Philippines. Landing on the island of Luzon required expertise skills. While landing at Clark, the pilot had to reverse the engines, making the plane shake hard.  As it vibrated I looked over at Joel for reassurance, trying to keep the panic out of my eyes, but he looked a bit apprehensive himself.  It really felt like the plane was shaking apart!  The vibrating continued for what seemed like forever, and then we zipped down, landing on the runway.  Even with the oppressive humidity and heat hitting us like a brick wall when we stepped off the plane, we were so grateful to be on the ground!

Clark Air Field and Mt. Pinatubo 
(volcano that erupted in 1991 destroying the base)

I have never forgotten that experience.  It has come to mind often over the years and I have used it as an analogy for life a few times.  Often we are going along at a good pace, thinking we will soon arrive at our destination, reaching our goals, and then all of a sudden, things began to abruptly come to a halt.  We feel like we are standing still and our world is shaking apart.  We are sure we are going to crash and burn..........and then what looks like a disaster in the making or the end of our hopes and dreams,  our Lord ends up using to help us come in for a safe landing.  When we look to him, we find our peace.

Since that day in the Philippines we have had many experiences that relate to that one shaking plane.  The death of a son, a threat on Joel's life, our years of disabling Lyme Disease, financial challenges, are just a few.  Certainly, if you have followed my blog you know that this past year has been a lot like the first shake-up we had in the plane.  We were going along with a goal in mind, moving to Gold Canyon Arizona.  We believed God was directing us there, we had prayed, and laid a fleece, all with answers coming that kept us going forward. And then breast cancer.  We were in mid air with the "plane" shaking and we were worried a crash was imminent.   And yet, while on that "shaking plane" God came and calmed us.  He walked us through the crisis one day at a time, the "plane" landed and we found solid ground to stand on.  God's promises, a good surgeon, the prayers of others, a best case diagnosis, and the support of friends and family all  gave us strength.

Our plane ride and scary landing in The Philippines is a great story to share, but so are the stories that speak of God walking with us through tough times.  They are all wonderful examples of how our journey through life requires the help of Papa God.  We can trust that we will not be left alone and to our own devices when surprises come our way. Even when things seem to shake, rattle, and roll, He is with us and the "plane" will land.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

It is the first Saturday in August here in our corner of the world.  After a week of high humidity and dew points in the 70's, a cold front came through early yesterday morning whisking away the Filipino like weather and leaving us with temps in the 70's and dew points in the 50's.  We are loving it!  Windows are open, fresh air is clearing out the stale, and we are just all around more comfy~ the porch is calling our name.

On Friday we headed to our local Farmer's Market and picked up some fresh strawberries, yellow squash and zucchini and some great cucumbers.  There is nothing like fresh fruits and veggies that come right out of the garden onto our table.  Yum.  We have enjoyed mangoes this week too.  I think next to blueberries mangoes are my favorite.  In fact living on Roatan off the coast of Honduras would guarantee being able to have mango trees right in my yard...yeah...dew points in high 70's, but tropical breezes and fresh mangoes?  It is tempting!

Joel has been riding 20 miles at a time for several days a week. He is tan and fit!  He has lost 15 lbs. by not eating after supper...a 12 hr fast....and having salads for most evening meals.  I followed suit and lost the same 2 lbs over and over again.  I'm trying to figure out something else now. I just need to grow 6 inches, right?!  Ha.....

On the health side of things I continue to struggle with the cancer-related fatigue and try to "manage" it.    I have been walking 1/2 mile when I walk.  This too shall pass.  It is funky what has come since radiation.  I don't have proof connecting radiation to the hair on my arms being white or my eyebrows turning white or my hair on my head getting unruly in some places, but my hairdresser told me that she has seen others who have had radiation have a big change in their hair.  Interesting.

Last Monday we headed up to the Twin Cities to see my older sister Jo, who helped raise me.  She had fallen and fractured her back.  We were able to visit a while at the hospital and then head over to her new location, we by car and her by ambulance, to a very nice rehab center closer to her place.  The atmosphere was wonderful in the new place and I expect her healing to move forward. My sister Janelle deserves a shout out for all she does to care and advocate for her.

It has been a week of more political drama...I keep thinking it cannot get worse, but it does.  The opening ceremonies for the summer Olympics were on Friday night, but lots of chaos before hand, and why aren't they ready? ....... and then there is the Zika virus........and more wacked-out people wanting to get their 15 minutes of fame through violent acts.  Enough garbage......

So where is the good news around the world?  It is there, but we almost need to search for it cuz it is so easy to focus on the negative.  How about the young Olympic swimmer who swam with her sister for over three hours in the ocean pushing a dinghy full of people to escape Syria, besides climbing mountains, etc.  She is now one of the refugee athletes competing under the Olympic flag. A great story of survival!

We watched the opening ceremonies last night for about 1 and 1/2 hrs but then turned it off to watch "Miracles From Heaven", a movie based on a true story about just what the title says....a miracle.  We felt they spent way too much time on the illness and not enough time on the miracle, but it was still a great movie, and a great story of God's healing power.

Today I will watch women's beach volleyball.  Strangely, it is one of my favorite summer Olympic events.  Just women's volleyball.  Joel asked me what I like about it and after some thought I decided I like the idea of two strong women competing.  I prefer sports where there are only a few players.  And for the past several weeks I have been drawn to sand...and beach.......no clue why. So I will keep watching HGTV's house-hunting-on-an-island shows and tune in to beach volleyball.

Besides the Olympic ceremony and movie we watched a couple of teachings this week and I am still reading the same books.....in the summer I am not as eager to pick up a book as when the outdoors warrants staying inside away from the snow and cold.  What have you been up to?

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bad Behavior Magnified

Recently I was watching the news about a professional baseball player who went on a tirade and cut up other players "throwback" uniform shirts because he did not want to wear them. It sounds so bizarre and just plain crazy, but it took me back to a situation in my life that occurred when I was around 21.

Joel was assigned to Rantoul, Illinois for 9 months of training in the Air Force.  We were living on $200 a month (I am not kidding) and so I took a job doing day care at the house of a Sgt. and his family. The first few days went okay and then the Sgt. came home for lunch unexpectedly.  I had already fed the kids, but he was not there for them.  I was sitting in the living room and he came and sat by me, and let me know in a manipulative creepy manner that IF I did not do what he wanted me to do, if I did not have sex with him, he would make sure Joel got in trouble.  Joel was only an airman first class at the time and this guy was a Sgt. so he could have made things miserable for Joel.  I got up and left the room, saying I had to go check on the kids.  Soon after he stormed out into the kitchen and opened the cupboard, taking out a large can of cocoa.  He proceeded to dump the cocoa all over the kitchen floor and then took a half gallon of milk out of the fridge and poured it all over the cocoa!  Yeah, crazy. Then he told me to clean it up, slamming the door as he left the house.  It appeared to be normal behavior to his kids as they were not surprised and showed no reaction to this stunt.  After he was gone I proceeded to wipe up the mess on the floor.

I went home after work, told Joel what had happened and quit that day.  I never said anything to anyone in authority, nor did Joel.  We prayed the Sgt. would not attempt to get Joel into trouble, and he did not. You may think that the officer/enlisted stuff is not a big deal, but it was at the time. I remember one time when we were shopping in the grocery store and I had just picked up the last package of pork chops.  A woman came over and grabbed it right out of my hands.  She said, "I am a Colonial's wife and I want those."  Alrighty, then......We just walked away.  Yeah............

When I recalled that first story of the cocoa and milk, I wonder how those kids grew up.  Certainly living in such a household had to have a negative affect on them.  How awful!  And I wondered about the many people in authority acting out of control and no one tries to stop them.  Seriously, whether the authority comes with money, class, power, or more, it seems to suppress many of those who are being submitted to the bad behavior magnified maybe because they feel beneath those who are acting out. Maybe out of fear of reprisal.  I would hope we would responded differently today to that Sgt. and his disgusting behavior.

And getting back to the story of the pitcher who cut up everyone's baseball shirts?  He was given a suspension......How about a little counseling to go along with that?!  Seriously.  Is he married?  Are his kids experiencing such behavior at home when he can't have his way?

Why in the world do we put up with such bad behavior from others? I don't have the answers, do you?  Whatever the answers, and I expect there would be many, we need to stand firm in our faith, discerning with prayer how to respond to the bad behavior magnified that goes on around us.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Shoes We Were Made To Wear

A couple of weeks ago as I was praying, God gave me a wonderful vision.  I am always delighted when God unexpectedly shows up this way. I saw myself sitting on a bench in a beautiful garden, and Jesus bent down on one knee and placed on my feet very delicate and finely woven shoes made out of gold. He then looked up at me and said, "You were made to wear shoes of peace."

I have pondered those words ever since.  Certainly, inner peace is something I long for, that place of rest, as the Bible speaks of.  Joyce Meyers mentioned in one of her teachings that we do not need to seek peace or even ask for it, because Jesus lives in us and He is peace.  We ask for the peace to be released in us.  It is there, we just need to access this gift.

I also know the Bible defines shoes of peace as part of the full armor of God in Ephesians 6. Last April while reading and studying Rick Renner's book, "Dressed To Kill", I began to understand that when we are putting on the full armor of God to fight our battles with the enemy, the shoes we wear are very important.  In Roman times the shoes worn by those fighting in battle had long spikes on the soles that went deep into the ground, holding them upright as they fought. The soldiers were too vulnerable when falling down, so these shoes were used as an extension of their weaponry.  Paul defined the Word of God as another weapon because like the spikes, they provide us with a solid firm sense of peace in a battle.  We won't "fall down" and be vulnerable to the enemy, nor to the world when we wear shoes of peace.  The Gospel.

So it seems that reading the Word and staying grounded in it is what releases the peace we need.  It is easy to feel anxious or fearful in present times with so much tension and discourse palpable in the air, but when we encounter fear and the atmosphere of chaos and discourse, we can take a deep breath and remember what kind of shoes we wear! Our shoes are created from peace, and our peace comes from not only reading the Word, but relying on it and trusting that what it says is true. We remain calm in the promises of God.

Certainly, I was humbled by having Jesus put these shoes on my feet.  Such beautiful delicate but strong shoes, made from gold. The words He spoke to me I am declaring over myself on a daily basis.  I am not taking it lightly.  I was made for these shoes.  I was made to wear shoes of peace. We all are.  We.  all.  are.