Monday, October 31, 2016

Pathways Defined, Insights Revealed

Joel and I have been reading a book called Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas.  It is an in depth look at defining our spiritual temperaments, which in turn helps us understand what feeds our souls in worship and in our relationship with God.  There are nine different temperaments Thomas presents to his readers and through studying and answering some basic questions you can see what defines you. It has been very helpful for us!

We have definitely learned more about ourselves and what we are drawn to in worship. We have a strong foundation of faith in the Lutheran Church.  Baptized, confirmed, married, all within it's doors. I graduated from a Lutheran Bible College where I met Joel.  My great grandparents gave the land for their Lutheran church.  Joel's did the same!  We raised our children in the Lutheran tradition, with Joel being an ordained pastor for the past 36 1/2 years.

Still, back in 1972 we would find ourselves at the Lutheran church on Sunday morning and an Assembly of God Tabernacle on Sunday night.  They were certainly different forms of worship, and I felt completely at home with both.  The Philippines found us worshiping in an Interdenominational Church on Clark Air Base and I was involved in a large group of women who gathered to pray for the needs of others, and for healing on a weekly basis.  We sang songs, sometimes chanting Psalms, we prayed and received prayers. We were a group of women who came from different parts of the US and who came from different denominations, but with two things in common.  We were military wives and we believed in Jesus. Women who loved the Lord.  I loved this group!  I still long for such a gathering of diverse Christians who just love on each other and welcome Holy Spirit to be in the midst of it all.  After Joel became a Lutheran minister, those diverse groups were behind us.  Over the years periodically I would find comfort in the familiar and yet struggle with it at the same time.  When I expressed what I was feeling it would sometimes hurt those whom I loved the most.  I did not know how to justify or appropriately share what I felt.  I did not know how to combine the two of me into one style of worship....the enthusiast with the traditionalist.

And then I was introduced to this book that identified temperaments like the traditionalist, enthusiast, sensate, and more. Our friends Mary Lou and Keith brought the book to our attention, we began reading it and it all started to make sense to me.  My spiritual temperament fits into a church that raises it's hands to the Heavens, sings loud praise music, and looks for the supernatural and Holy Spirit to show up and shake up the scheduled service .......or at the least. my heart.  It would be why my top spiritual temperament is as an "enthusiast".  There I was.  Right there in print.  A typical enthusiast.  This is what feeds my soul and awakens my heart in such ways that I could burst with love for my God.  God always works things out!

I began to find this form of worship online at Bethel Church when I was first on the road to healing. And last summer we found a church here in town that fed both our souls in worship and teaching.  As time went by though, we realized we did not quite belong as Lutheran charismatic prophetic Christians.  So easy to find, right?  So we have been going to mostly Lutheran services again, especially when Joel is filling in.  Great people, great churches, and solid traditional services.

So, this place in our journey found us three Sundays ago at our son Mark's church in Lakeville MN. Hosanna is a "once upon a time Lutheran" congregation of 20,000 members with their own coffee shop, book store, assisted living buildings, and more.  Mega.  As we worshiped with Mark and our grandson Noah, and Jada,  I immediately felt my soul fill up once again with God's presence.  I quietly wept with joy that I could be in a "sorta Lutheran, prays for healing, charismatic, hands raised in praise" Sunday worship.  It. nourished. my. soul.

And because of the book God placed in front of us through dear friends, I was able to understand that this is exactly how I meet with God best, not only in church, but in devotions and prayer.   I need not criticize other forms of worship or desire others to be "like me".   I also need not feel guilty because my Lutheran heritage has widened its boundaries and is nourished more by a different form of worship, as an enthusiast who loves to encounter Holy Spirit and the supernatural.  My soul gets fed through relationships, enthusiastic worship, supernatural encounters, and feeling what I experience with Holy Spirit.  There is definitely room for all forms of worship in God's world.  We are all Christians....having unity in our diversity.

I am still exploring how to blend it all together.  The most important thing may not be where we worship, for God, after all, called Joel to be a Lutheran pastor.  The most important thing may be to learn how I relate best to our Papa God and make sure I take those minutes or hours to nourish my soul as an enthusiast.  I find it so amazing that God in His infinite wisdom created us all unique not only in body, but in soul and spirit. He created each of us, so our spiritual temperaments are also from Him and for His purpose.  And he created us to stretch and grow from other temperaments as well.  I have seen that with Joel, who scored high as a person who relates to God and worships well in nature.  I was not into nature much when I met him, but certainly seek it out now.  It is not at the top of my temperament list, but it has its place in my life.

Certainly, as with all books, we discern and glean from what we read, deciding what applies for us as individuals.  It was fun and enlightening to see our spiritual temperaments defined, revealing deeper insights and some inner peace as to what nourishes our souls.   I love how God guides us along the path He has for our lives, making all things work together for good as He shapes us.  Isn't He amazing!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our small corner of the world.  Yesterday it was 74 here and we were able to open doors and windows and bring in the fresh air.  Loving Fall! The trees were singing their autumn sounds as the crisp leaves moved with the wind.  Our resident rabbit was out in the yard grazing and the squirrels kept busy in preparation, as they always do this time of year.  The doe and two fawns we have been seeing lately, are still eating corn out of the neighbor's yard.  It has been nice walking weather, but yesterday was extra nice, giving us hope to hang on to Fall.

Speaking of hanging on,  I have been doing Saturday's Scribbles for around 7 years now.  It worked so well when I was coming out 27 years of fighting Lyme Disease, and getting back into the world.  I celebrated every thing I was able to do, and for those who have known me longer than 5 years, you understand why!

Each time I ventured into a store, or went to see our grandkids, or out grocery shopping we considered it a victory.  And our trips East and celebrated with me/us that we could travel and be out in the world again.  Yay!  You have walked with me through Lyme, Uterine Cancer, Breast Cancer and Cataract surgeries.   Of course you rejoiced with me as we welcomed grandchildren, celebrated birthdays and weddings, and family gatherings, too.  But I am so grateful that you have encouraged us along our journey from Lyme to Living!

At this time it feels like I need to put to rest my usual Saturday "journaling" and move forward.  I have thought about what I could replace this weekly "scribbling" of our lives with and I am thinking......ummmm....maybe I just randomly write about a topic that comes to mind.  Or turn it into a column since I have longed to be a columnist like my favorite one~ Sharon Randall.  Oh...........she is sooooo good.  Certainly I don't need to keep a running commentary on what I am now able to do.

Today I want to thank you for following me through all the Saturday Scribbles that have graced this page.  With the two blogs I figure I have been writing them for around 7 years, although the last 5 have been more about what I have been accomplishing in the normal world! That comes to around around 365 Saturday posts give or take a few.  It just might be time for a shift......ya think?!

Speaking of thinking..........I do try to do that once in awhile.  In fact some close to me might say I over think!  Yeah, guilty of that too......but speaking of thinking, have you all noticed that the news is zeroed in on the election like a laser beam?  Around the world and around our country other things may be in turmoil, but every other word out of the mouths of every other person is Trump or Clinton.  Even in Canada.  Our friends went on a long trip through Nova Scotia in late summer and when people found out they were from the good ol' USA they wanted to talk politics.  They had great concerns about who would be elected and what that would mean for them and the world.  They were focused in on one candidate of whom I will not name.  Our country affects all countries, so it stands to reason that we as individuals affect all people.  It makes for a more intentional way to live, doesn't it. Definitely food for thought on this beautiful Fall weekend!

Once again, readers and friends, thank you for your encouragement on our journey. We continually go through change in life.  Charles Swindoll says, "If you are not experiencing change, you are no longer living!"  May the changes you are experiencing today, bring you joy.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Passions Run Deep

Last night we watched a special on PBS about giraffes.  They are so graceful, beautiful and gentle. The population of giraffes has gone down 40% in the last twenty years and they are already extinct in 7 African countries.  These graceful, beautiful creatures are disappearing.  How do these things happen?  Sadly, through famine, war, indifference, greed.

Fifteen years ago a man named Julian, who thought he wanted to be a stock broker, learned about the challenges facing his favorite animal, and ended up moved his family from Australia to Africa to study and save the giraffe.  He was so in love with this graceful animal that he moved to where he could live among them.  I found it interesting that three Christian pastors are among his team who help him out in his quest.  His passion is strong as he works hard to save this fragile population.

Christine Caine is a powerful speaker, teacher and author, who also advocates for those who are caught up in sex trafficking.  Having been a victim of sexual abuse in her childhood, she felt the pain of those young girls that are sold into sex slavery around the world, including America.  She did not start out thinking this is how her life would unfold, but her passion runs deep to end this terrible abuse of human life.  The worst of who we are as humans comes to the surface in the sex slave trade, but those driven to do something about it, are stepping forward.  A21 and other non profit organizations are making a difference in the name of our Lord.

Our friends Linny and Dw have developed an organization to help orphans in Uganda and other countries.  They left behind their jobs as pastors and started International Voice of the Orphan.  Their sweet 21 year old daughter, Emma, has wanted to be a missionary since she was a young girl.  She would pray every night that God would let her be the one to help the orphans in Africa.  By age 13 she had talked her dad into taking her to Uganda on their first mission trip.  Now in her early twenties, Emma has a home for medically fragile special needs orphans in Uganda.  Her husband knew that if he married Emma, he would be "marrying" into her life's passion.  It is a difficult journey, they have grieved the loss of little ones who have died despite the care they have given them.  They have seen orphans starving and others covered in scars from their blood being used in Satanic sacrifices....... because they were not "perfect". They have a deep God given desire to care for and love on each child that comes into their home, The Gem Foundation.   Linny and Dw have risked their lives to go and help save the children and teach hungry pastors more about their calling. Their passion for the orphans has them saying yes to a home full of great kids. Their passion for God's own has created The Gem Foundation Home in Uganda, and has them feeding thousands of homeless children through International Voice of the Orphans.

I can think of many who live with this same deep passion.  Among them Joel's second cousin David Simonson who is buried in Tanzania after over 50 years of missionary work to bring Christ to the Masai tribes.  Heidi and Rolland Baker, who have given their lives to take care of the children in Mozambique, bringing the gospel to people in Africa and South America.  And those whose names may not bring notice, but who live out their passions on a smaller but no less important scale~ whether it is to translate the Bible, feed the homeless, teach God's Word. Love on their families, care for the sick. raise Godly children, and more.  Those whose passions run quiet but deep.

I just read about the "Nine Nanas" from Tennessee who decided nearly 3 decades ago to find a way to secretly reach out to others in need.  They founds ways to save money and pooled what they saved, to give anonymously to someone who needed help.  And they also made hundreds of pound cakes to give away.  Even their husbands did not know about the early morning adventures in faithful living for many of the years they quietly loved on others.  I love it!  Behind the scenes they followed through on a passion they felt, and reached out to those in need.

Most of those who have this deep drive, this passion, are willing to sacrifice, and most of the time they do not see what they do as a sacrifice at all.  They feel grateful they have the opportunity to do what they are doing.  It is deeply satisfying, especially when God is in the center of it all.  When I told my friend Linny that I was in awe of her being a mom to so many even as she wore the hat of grandma, she replied with deep emotion ~ "It is my privilege to parent my children."  She feels she was chosen by God to do this and she is so thankful He chose her and Dw!

So, I asked Joel what was his passion, already knowing the answer.  He quickly replied ~ to preach and to teach.  Like Emma, he started having dreams about his passion when he was a young child. He used to dream at night about being a pastor.  Unbeknownst to him, his dad was praying throughout his childhood that he would serve God as a pastor.  Joel has been standing in a pulpit since I have known him.  He has been given the opportunity to preach since around 1966, 14 years before he was ordained.  He has almost always felt drawn to smaller congregations, the country style churches he was raised in. He has a deep passion to "fill" those who grace the pews on Sunday morning with more of God's love and revelation, as his own understanding grows.  That has expanded beyond the pews to all those in need of God's love and gifts.

So, of course, I have been asking myself, what is my passion in this season of my life?  What stirs me?  What drives me?  I can focus in on a couple of areas.....writing....more of Holy Spirit....healing. And now I ask, What stirs you?  What passion keeps you coming back, working hard, determined and focused?  I believe we all, unique in our own gifts, have been given a passion that lives within. Sometimes it gets stifled, sometimes it gets waylaid, sometimes it shifts, but each of us have a passion from our loving God, a unique entrustment, a responsibility given by God.

Author and speaker Lisa Bevere's questions caught my attention......"Starting today, how might God use you?  How might you love the unlovable?  How might you use your passion to serve God?  Still seeking to know your passion?  Ask God.  He is more than willing to reveal it to you!

Our deep and holy passion comes from God.  Whether it leads you to the orphans in Uganda, the Masai tribes of Tanzania, the pulpit of a country church, or your written and inspired words, the call of God is on your heart as your passion leads you.  Embrace that passion that runs deep and rest in knowing God will bless you on the journey.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The "Why" Questions

Joel and I were talking about our journey over the past 58 months and reflecting on our experiences. \ It has been nearly 5 years since Holy Spirit shook up our world, since our veer we took to the right with Joel's overnight miracle. A veer is a change in course or direction and we definitely have experienced that.  Joel told me that while in this season of revelation he has asked God, "Why did this come to us so late in life?"  Yes, why now Lord?

Speaker and teacher Graham Cooke has stated that why questions are never answered here on earth, that why questions are asked from a victim stance.   He considers them invalid.  They make us invalids.......and often victims of our circumstances.  Something to think about.  Joel has often said to me that we have no answers for the "whys", so maybe we we would be better off asking God, "What does this mean? What do we do now?"

Looking back we know we began this journey with Holy Spirit 44 years ago when we went with persistent friends to their church in Duluth Minnesota.  We would go to Sunday morning services at our Lutheran church and with friends Sunday night to their Assembly of God congregation, The Tabernacle.  I really enjoyed going there and felt right at home, while Joel found it a bit uncomfortable......not knowing what to expect. Joel told me recently that we kept going because I wanted to.  I did not know that, but I knew I had been searching for a deeper relationship with God.

At the Tabernacle I recall their vast auditorium with wooden seats and a full orchestra for worship.  It was amazing to sing along with the piano and orchestra.  I also hold close two special God experiences while we were there.  One was an encounter with Jesus or an angel.  I cannot tell you who, but I can tell you it happened.  As I went up front to kneel at the altar in prayer, I had my hands folded and eyes closed.  I felt someone cover my hands with their warm ones, then my hands were taken apart and lifted up in the air.  I remember smiling and opening my eyes to see who was cradling my hands, and was completely surprised to find I was all alone at the altar. There was no one in the natural world holding my hands, "only" that special Someone in the spirit world.  

At that time in my life I was struggling with some childhood issues.  I was experiencing anxiety when Joel left home for work, whether day or night.  I struggled with fear and a deep sadness that a therapist was able to pinpoint as a grieving over my father's death.  I was 7 when he died, and my sister and mom were so worried about how distraught I was that we pretended my dad was away on a trip.  We pretended he would be home soon.....that pretending kept me in a place of grief that was showing up in my daily life when my hubby left for his own "trip" to work each day.  Once we were able to connect the grief in my 20's with my loss at age 7, the doors to that healing opened.  God knew I was in need of His touch on my life and it came literally at the altar one Sunday night.   I was hungry for something more during that season of growth in 1972 and God provided that.

Going to The Tabernacle also opened a door that took me 40 years to walk through.  As I have said before, this church is where I first heard the gift of speaking in tongues.  Several women went into a prayer room and I went along with them.  I sat on a chair and watched them all get down on their knees and pray....first quietly in English and then in their prayer languages.  While sitting there listening, I felt such a deep sense of peace come over me ~ which I know now was the presence of God.  Leaving the church that night, I began a quest for myself and spent a few weeks trying to receive this gift before coming to the conclusion that it must not be for me.  I was unable to seek more understanding with our friends, because Joel was assigned to Clark Air Base, so we left Duluth and headed across the ocean to The Philippines.

While living in The Philippines I also became involved with an Interdenominational prayer group of women who's husbands were in the military.  We prayed, sang, and while there I experienced my first healing.  I had been dealing with boils and had a large one under my arm.  The first time they lanced the boil and stuffed it with gauze Joel could hear me yell from down the hall.  I had to go back and have it drained again and repacked and two women prayed for me before I left the group. While the Dr. worked I never felt a thing.  The nurse who was holding my arm tightly over my head kept asking me if I could feel what they were doing......they had expected some reactions to the intense pain that comes with such a procedure.  I said no.  They were confused, but I told them..."I was prayed for and God took away the pain".  He certainly did!

Even with two of my friends in the Philippines having the gift of tongues, and even with the women's group I was part of sharing Holy Spirit, and even with my healing experience,  I did not walk through the door into my own encounters with Holy Spirit for so many years.  How grateful I am for His patience!

It was 40 years later that I did receive the gift of a prayer language.  It was 40 years later that I encountered Holy Spirit.  I find irony in the 40 year marker........seems like that is an important number in Bible history.

It was while looking back at all this that Joel and I pondered if God was patient and persistent with us, or if it was His timing.  Maybe a little of both.  When the "why" questions rise to the surface we try to leave them at the feet of Jesus, so we are doing that in regards to our own long journey through the wilderness.  We are receiving all that God has for us now in our adventures with Papa, Jesus and Holy. Grateful, so grateful for where He has led us the last 44 years and where He is leading us now.

Monday, October 24, 2016

When God Hijacks The Sermon

Yesterday Joel was filling in at a beautiful country church about 40 miles south of us, and spent quite a bit of time writing a sermon for the service.  He just couldn't get that sermon to go exactly the way he wanted it to, but left Sunday morning expecting Holy Spirit to guide him as he preached. Little did he know what Holy had planned.  While he was there getting comfortable with new surroundings, he started visiting with two of the Deacons of the church, who were ushering that day.  Something one of them mentioned led Joel to tell them he had been miraculously healed overnight.  The couple both wanted to hear about it, and they wanted the congregation to hear about it too......but the service was ready to start so he said he would ask the congregation what they preferred.  At the beginning of the service he asked the people, around 60 in attendance, if they wanted to hear his healing story or if he should preach the sermon he had prepared.  He warned them his healing story/sermon would mean the service would run longer. They quickly responded, asking him to tell his healing story!  So, one more time he was able to share his story, and like so many of those other times, God led the way. Many thanked him for sharing and hoped he would come back to fill in again, as there pastor has just retired.  And to top it off,  the choir's anthem yesterday?  "I Love To Tell The Story"!!  Only God.

It is just 2 month shy of 5 years ago that Joel was healed overnight.  January 24th, 2012.  I have shared his story on my blog more than once, but in case you have not read it you can go HERE.  Joel has shared it whenever Holy Spirit nudges him to do so.   Once he ended up praying with a woman clerk in the aisle of Menard's because she had started a conversation with Joel asking him a question about Joyce Meyer. I sat outside in the hot sun waiting for him that day, and was frustrated, letting him know about it when he came outside.  His response at that time was this...."I cannot keep silent about my miraculous healing and what we have learned about healing in general.  God wants me to share my story and I need to obey."  Amen.  No matter what people think, say, or do, we both feel called to share not only the gospel but our healing stories.  Usually it is on a Sunday morning, but sometimes God whispers in our ears in unusual riding a subway in NYC, Menard's, an Amish store, a gas station, a hotel lobby, hosptial surgery holding room, grocery store, and more.

The response of people who hear Joel's story is varied. Most people want to know more, and ask Joel or the two of us to pray with them.  Sometimes others get hung up on his gift of speaking in tongues that came with the healing. Sometimes we can see the eyes of those listening glaze over because they do not believe in miraculous healing. Some are curious, some even annoyed or condescending~how "silly" you believe God wants you well. Some have thought us just a little "west of weird".  I have even experienced the response of anger from more than one who has lived with chronic illness and feels it is from God. That He is somehow glorified by their suffering.  We respect others, but also obey God no matter how people respond.  We are not to please man............but God.

The Bible tells us to share our testimony, giving God the glory.  The Bible is clear on healing, too. Jesus does not ask his disciples to pray for healing, He commands them to heal the sick. He tells us all to speak to our mountains.  The Bible tells us that by His stripes we are healed.

So Joel continues to share his story as he feels led, and especially if God takes over and hijacks a Sunday morning sermon because He wants someone in the congregation to hear about Joel's healing......about GOD'S healing for us.  It is all about God and it is only God.  That was pretty evident yesterday morning when Joel put aside that sermon he never felt comfortable with to share his own story of God healing a cowboy preacher at 4 in the morning.  To God be all the glory.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from a crisp fall day here in northern Iowa.  We woke up to 27 degrees today, but the sun is shining, and our high should reach around 65.  We will take it! Especially the sunshine that warms the house and highlights Autumn at its best.  This morning we had three deer in our front yard.  A doe and two yearlings were looking for foliage as they sauntered through.  There is not much left of our front garden, the frost took the flowers when we were gone last week.

Front yard visitors

Last week, we had quite a journey ~ first a Sunday wedding in Stillwater, MN on the Mississippi, then heading north to family.  Mid week Joel officiated at a Dahlen family friend's funeral, and Saturday morning we headed south to Red Wing MN to another wedding.  In between we watched a grand run in cross country and another play soccer.  We watched harvest taking place outside our window, talked way too much, laughed just enough, and shed tears just a little.  I wrote about our week here, A Funeral, Two Weddings, and a Baby.

We arrived home Sunday afternoon and settled in to our quiet house.  By Wednesday I was feeling pretty punk and have continued to fight some kind of virus.  Our grands and son Mark were all a bit unwell, so expect I picked something up.  Actually, I would never intentionally pick it up, it just latched on to me.  Ha.  I have been sleeping, napping, reading, not really that sick, but not that well either.  Prayer and essential oils are certainly helping.
Joel has been riding when he can, hoping winter will hold off until December this year. While up north he rode his favorite biking path, the Central Lakes Trail, which goes from Fergus Falls to a smaller town south. You only cross three roads, and ride mostly through woods and prairie on paved paths.  I believe the trail is 62 miles long, but he rode from FF to a small town 11 miles south and then turned around, making his ride that day 22 miles.  He loves to ride!

While up north, as usual, we never watched TV.  I did not see the news at all. When I first arrive at the farm I usually go through some "nightly news withdrawal", but by the time we leave, my stress levels are down and I am quite relaxed.  When we came home this time, Joel wondered aloud if we just needed to get rid of the TV.  My response was, "No we just need to manage what we watch and not let the TV manage us"!

After the last "debate" we decided no more election news.  The drama of it all is very enticing. We seem drawn to it like a moth to a flame, but it is not healthy for us, and we know who we are voting for.  Soon, people, soon this will be over.  Joel keeps saying we need to do what England does and have two weeks of campaigning instead of two years!  Sounds good to me!

We always enjoy going back to Joel's roots, the home farm, and his country church just a couple blocks away.  You can see the steeple high above the trees before you arrive at your destination.  The cemetery surrounds the church, and at this time 17 Dahlens are buried there.  We, too, will someday lay our ashes there near his parents.  When we were first married we lived in town and drove the 15 miles out to services at his home congregation, Aastad Lutheran.  I taught Sunday School for a couple of months and sang in the choir before the military sent us another direction. It was a full church at that time, and many of Joel's family sat in those pews. The congregation has gotten smaller and smaller over the years as fewer grown kids stick around and farms are fewer to behold, but it's history is rich and it's present time and future important to those who still worship as a congregation.  

Aastad Lutheran as seen
from the family farm

We have watched only a  couple of teachings this week and a few TV shows.  I have been reading the same books as last week, so that tells you I am not getting much reading done!  Joel is off preaching in a congregation south of us tomorrow, so he has spent some time writing a sermon.  He has hundreds to choose from, but prefers writing new ones.  Not much going on in our corner of the world.  So what have you been up to this week?  Any new books to recommend?  Hope you are enjoying the beauty of October wherever you live.....

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

Friday, October 21, 2016

Friday Photo Reflection: Walking

Our daughter took this photo as we were walking to our car after the wedding and reception of our niece and her husband.  It reminds me so much of our life together.  We met in the fall of 1966, and began dating in January 1967.  We married the end of June 1968, and what a journey we have been on! 

It is truly a surprise to me when I see our images reflected in a photo or the mirror.  We are so different that those young kids who said I do.  I was 20 and Joel just 22 as we walked down the aisle of my home church and out into the world.  And here we are, 48 1/2 years later, still walking out into the world and still crazy about each other.  I cannot image this journey with anyone else.

So many years stretched out together to make our marriage, so many joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.  Sickness stole time, death bruised our hearts, loss grieved us deeply..........but God.  God never left us.  God gave us beauty for ashes, He restored health, He showered us with His love.  He blessed us with children and then in-loves, and the grandchildren that grace our home and bless our lives.  He gave us purpose and so many great adventures in the many places we have called home.  He offered His Son and Holy Spirit.  

We are so grateful that we are able to continue to walk together on God's path for us.  Never alone.  God always guides and directs us.  He lights the way!  

"Your Word is a lamp unto my feet
 and a light unto my path."
Psalm 119:105

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Autumn Preparations

Our backyard is covered with locust leaves, while our Maple and a few other neighborhood trees hold on tightly to their beauty.  Gold, orange, green, and favorite colors of Autumn.

Our favorite neighborhood tree

The squirrels scurry through the crisp leaves blanketing the ground, looking for tidbits to bury as they prepare for what is coming.  Winter.  A few days ago our trees were filled with robins gathering for their journey South.  We are seeing a lot more geese, too.  Eating in our association field, filling our skies with their beauty, and the sounds.....oh my.  We had to chuckle as one with a cold flew over us. He had to have had a cold, because he sounded all plugged up and throaty!  The only thing missing was the cough.

Nature is in preparation.  And so, I have observed, is our neighborhood..  In between raking yards, trees are being trimmed, windows cleaned, and snowblowers and furnaces are getting a readiness check-up.  One neighbor is quickly building a 3 season and just had the house painted.  Rakes are out, gardens winterized, and eves cleaned.  Soon Joel will fix our neighbor's basement window covers, he has already started the endless process of bagging leaves in our front yard. It is mid October so there is still time to get ready, but being prepared is a good idea. Snow can surprise us in October too.

It is always good to be prepared for the winter seasons.  In nature and in life. I have been re-reading Rick Renner's book, "Dressed to Kill", which speaks of putting on the full armor of God in preparation for what comes our way.  Those winter seasons that can take so much out of us.  Just how do we prepare?  In so many ways!!  Besides the armor the Word speaks of in Ephesians, Sunday worship services, Bible Study and reading, connections with fellow church members, devotions, and devoted prayer times are ways we prepare for any winter seasons that come our way.  And remembering.....remembering that God is always with us.  We do not walk through life alone.

I am not looking forward to winter, but we will be prepared for whenever it comes.  I don't look forward to those winter seasons that come into our lives either, but we do what we can to prepare and we trust God with the rest.  We trust God and we remember "Lo, I am with you always...."

And speaking of the earth, we continue to take in Autumn and all it's vibrant colors while getting ready for winter white.  Such beauty to feast our eyes on, including the porch pumpkins.  We took in so much of Autumn while driving last week to various parts of Minnesota.  God certainly uses His artist brush lavishly in the Fall.  And for that we are grateful.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Funeral, Two Weddings, and A Baby

Yesterday we arrived home after being gone for 8 days.  It was good to get back and settle in, while at the same time also noticing that our home seemed so quiet and empty of family voices.

Last Sunday morning we left early for Minnesota, first going to worship with our son Mark and grandson Noah at their awesome church.  So satisfying for a thirsty soul.  After lunch we headed east to Stillwater MN for our great-niece's wedding.  Katie is my sister Jan's granddaughter and my nephew Bob's girl.  It was a chilly day and the wedding service and reception was on the top of the Stillwater library.  Even with the need for coats it was a lovely venue for a wedding with a view of the Mississippi River.

A beautiful view with the Mississippi
River speckled by boats in the distance

Bride Katie with dad Bob

We spent the night at a hotel in Hudson, another great little river town, having brunch the next morning with family at a nice local cafe and bakery.  We headed north soon after,but first we made our way over to another town to watch a treasure run in cross country at a local golf course. Fun! Tuesday I stuck around the farm and later was able to see another treasure play soccer, while Joel went on a 22 mile bike ride on a great trail connected to his home town.  Then he went to the visitation of a Dahlen family friend who had died.  Bob S. had one request before his death, that Joel officiate at his funeral, so Wednesday morning we went to Joel's home church.  My husband has a gift in this area, and it was a beautiful service.

We had plans to head home Thursday to get ready for the next wedding by Red Wing MN. (Another river town), but the grands talked us into staying, although it did not take much encouragement!  So Thursday Joel went riding on another trail and I continued observing the harvest going on outside. There is something beautiful and so right about the work being done, the fields changing as the crops yield their bounty, the farmer focused on the task at hand....covered in corn dust as he stops in for a quick meal.

Friday morning we headed back to Joel's home town for a few hours.  Saturday we all took off for the wedding and arrived 4 plus hours later at our hotel in Red Wing.  Beautiful little town, with great history and of course they are well known for their Red Wing Pottery and Red Wing shoes/boots.  We shared a hotel room with our daughter and her treasures.....they were great roomies!

Another beautiful wedding. this one set out on a farm~ an open venue with chickens, sheep, and one affectionate cat joining in on the celebration.  The pews were out on the grass overlooking a field and hills.....It was lovely and the weather cooperated.  My brother Todd not only saw his oldest daughter being married, but celebrated that same day the birth of his first grandchild, a boy. His other daughter, who was to be in the wedding, was in the hospital instead birthing her first child. An amazing day all around!

Some of the wedding guests

Heather and Dan

As I look back on the past week, I cannot help but reflect on life and on death.  Two couples making a commitment to each other "til death do us part".  A funeral where we celebrated a life while grieving a loss through death.  And a new baby coming into this world in the midst of his Auntie's wedding plans. A little boy, precious to his parents and so many others, with a life full of adventures ahead of him. Time marches on, as we can attest to this past week.

In this season of our life, while looking with clarity at what is eventually to come, the last week has us in deep discussion.  We ask ourselves, what do we desire, what adventures lay ahead for us, what challenges?  Life can be complicated and often, so is death. There are those mundane days that make us restless, and those action packed days that make us long for the mundane.  Breathing in and breathing out, this journey called life.

Walking this journey called life

It was a good week with family and friends.  Celebrations of many kinds, with tears of joy and tears of sadness, our quota of hugs well met.  Filled with memories we step back into our daily living and give thanks for a life well lived, two marriages starting, and a new life beginning.  We give thanks for each sunrise. All and all it was a good week.



Friday, October 14, 2016

Be A Voice: Sexual Assault

As I hugged on two of our granddaughters this morning, my thoughts turned to this past weekend's latest vulgarity against women.  Donald Trump talking to Billy Bush several years ago about how he abuses women due to his position of power.

I am so weary of it all.  Yes, I'm weary of the political arena playing out 24/7 on TV, radio, and social media, but this is about what we, as women are STILL coming up against.  I am saddened by the predatory roles some men take with women, and how often they get away with it.

Sexual assault is assault.  Sexual harassment is what it says it is.  Sexual abuse is abuse. The world suffers each time a child or a woman suffers at the hands of a sexual predator.  It is NOT acceptable to brush it aside.  It is not acceptable to blame the victim.  It is not acceptable to flippantly excuse it with a "boys will be boys" or "locker room banter" attitude.  And I'm saying here that an apology is not enough.  It is not enough.

I was sexually abused as a child by a cousin and by a friend of my dad's.  I was sexually assaulted by a classmate in high school.....too often.  I was sexually harassed as a young woman.  I have way too many friends who share similar stories.  It is never okay and there are never any excuses that take away the trauma it causes.

And our daughters and granddaughters are waiting for those they love and trust to speak out for them, for others.  They are watching and learning by the actions and reactions of all whether or not they are loved and respected by those in their world as much as God loves and respects then.

Are they valued?  Are they esteemed?  Are they ever going to be safe in a society that preys on the innocent or closes their eyes to what is happening to young children, girls, women?

Too many people in positions of authority or power prey on others because they can.  Too many people are brushing it aside or closing their eyes to what's happening here and around the world because of their own agenda.

I want our granddaughters to live in a better world.  It begins by holding people accountable who prey on our innocent.  It begins by each of us speaking out and against those who verbally and physically prey on others.  There are those who are daring to make their voices heard.  Today I join with them again.  Be a voice!  Be God's Voice!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of Iowa where crisp and chilly air graces us each morning. The ground is covered with locust leaves after Thursday night's winds, but other trees are holding on to their bounty as their leaves turn Autumn colors.  The geese are gathering and flying overhead throughout each day.  The squirrels are burying corn kernels from the neighbor's yard and adding to that anything else they can find to store up for winter.  Our yard was full of robins for a couple of days respite before they all took off South again.  Fall is making itself known.  There is nothing I dislike about this most beautiful time of year in the Upper Midwest.  I think God prepares us for Winter with the gift of Fall.

It has been a quiet week here in our own Lake Woebegone.  Last Sunday Joel filled in at a church in Clear Lake Iowa.  I went along to Galilean Lutheran, a place we have been before.  We attended a group Tuesday night where we are discussing the book "Spiritual Awakenings".  Otherwise our days have been filled with walking, writing, listening, learning, and for me, resting.  It has been a quieter week in our world too.  A hurricane caused terrible destruction, which seems more understandable and reasonable to us than human again human destruction.  By the way, it is not an "act of God".  It is an act of nature! I have been pondering why people choose to stay behind rather than evacuate when asked to do so.  It makes no sense to me, with water being such a powerful source of destruction.  I can't figure out if they are strong, stubborn, or silly. Maybe a little of each!  Each to their own I guess.

Joel is preparing for a funeral of a friend of his family.  He grew up in the same farm community as this man, and considers it an honor that B. wanted Joel to officiate at his funeral.  He seldom goes back to any place we "used to live", but he will stand in the pulpit of his home church once again and speak of life, death, and Jesus.  Such a privilege.

Another grandchild has their license.  Our oldest grandchild is now 18, two are seniors in high school, and come November we will have 8 who are teenagers.  I truly feel like it was just yesterday they were babes.  I can look with longing at our neighbors across the street who see their kids almost on a daily basis.  And our neighbor June who has her daughter come every Sunday for dinner. And my sister Kay and her husband Dan see their kids about every two weeks.  With having had so many kids, you would think we would live by one, but as a pastor we have moved so much and as they went off to college they did not have the home they grew up in, or their "hometown" to return to.  I think it is smarter now the way pastors usually stay longer in one place, and yet we raised them to go out into the world and make their way,  living a life of adventure in faithful living wherever God sent them.  Speaking of sending, we are sending congrats to Abbi on passing her test and joining the drivers of our world.  Stay safe.......stay safe.

I have been watching the "Open Heavens Conference" at Bethel this week.  As always, inspirational. I have been reading Andrew Wommack's book, "You've Already Got It" in regards to our spirit where Jesus and all His promises dwell.  Joel and I are reading the book of Daniel, too.  I have taken in a few TV shows and picked up my pencils to color.....  What have you been up to?

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Welcomed As "Framily"

Our Savior's Lutheran
Salt Lake City, Utah

Joel and I have walked through the doors of many different churches over the past 50 years.  From the time we attended The Lutheran Bible Institute until present day, we have worshiped in Cathedrals to country chapels~ all houses of God with one purpose. A place to worship Jesus.   Most are friendly, some not so much, and those few that hold a rare quality that people seek.

All the pulpit hopping Joel has been engaging in lately has had me thinking back on one of those churches that stood out as having the rare quality of making you feel you belong when you step in the door .  While Joel was attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City we found a smaller Lutheran church a good 25 minutes by Interstate from our apartment near the campus.  What drew us in was not the fact that there were few Lutherans in that city....or in the whole state!  What drew us in was how welcoming everyone was.  It was beyond friendly, to warm and inviting.  We remember walking in the door and having people greet us with hugs and even having someone come up, grabbing Bethany out of my arms and exclaiming what a beautiful baby she was!  We were treated like "framily".  Old friends and family combined.  We still have good friends from that church and amazing memories.  We were so young, and taken under the wings of older members, who shared their wisdom, love, and even gently used furniture!  When our son Matt was born, members came and took care of Beth, showing up at midnight so I could go to the hospital.  After we had been there about a year Joel filled in as their preaching pastor for 9 months while they went through the process of calling a new pastor.  The chaplain on the university's campus officiated at communion, weddings, funerals, and Joel did the rest as a lay person.  He received only encouragement from the congregation.  Little do they know how much they paved the way for him in ministry.

This congregation had that rare quality of having a strong core of people who were sincerely warm, friendly, and welcoming.  As soon as you walked in the door you felt surrounded by love and acceptance.  That love.....the love that comes from intentionally being Jesus with skin on and seeing others through the eyes of our Savior... Oh people our churches need to be Jesus with skin on. Welcoming with open arms those in need.  And are we not all in need in some way?

Isn't that what we are looking for in life ~ love and acceptance?  It is not always easy.  I see this quality to love and embrace people where they are at with friends we admire. There are those who do it well, and we can emulate them.   It is pretty clear that this is what Jesus commands us to do.  Love one your neighbor as yourself.  Hospitality, love, acceptance.  These are not suggestions.   Love those around you.  And don't forget about loving yourself.  Loving others is made more possible when we can love on ourselves.

We owe so much to Marge, Dick, Skip, LeRoy, Lee. and many others who embraced us so long ago as we walked in as strangers and were welcomed into their church, their homes, their lives as framily.

Monday, October 3, 2016


When we arrived at Clark Air Base, The Philippines in late July 1974, we had to stay in a hotel for a couple weeks while searching for a home off base.  It was an unwritten policy to hire staff to work for you, and we actually hired a maid before we even had a home. She came highly recommended to us and she was a delight.  Ampharo (Amphy) taught us quite a bit about the culture and what we needed to know to survive well in her world.  She was a live-in maid, and she did most of the work.  I would try to help but she was not comfortable with that. We worked it out with me telling her I would clean and take care of the master bedroom, and she could do the rest of the house.  True to her culture, she highly respected the man in the family.  If I answered a question she asked,  she would always look to Joel to make sure he agreed!  When he came home from work she would insist on getting him something cold to drink right away. She was a tiny thing with a big personality.  We not only relied on her greatly, but grew to love her very quickly.

After almost a year of living with us, Amphy told us she had been raped by her cousin Pepito when home on a visit.  We were absolutely stunned. She went on to say she would "have to marry him now" and that she was expecting a baby.  Some may have wondered if she had just been "fooling around" and got into trouble, but in the coming days there was no doubt that she was indeed telling the truth.  She asked us to go with her when she told her parents so we agreed to do so.

Little did we know her reasoning behind such a request.  We drove her out to the barrio where her parents lived and Pepito met us there. The stick built two room house was up on stilts with the animals tethered underneath.  Her father and mother came into the room and we were introduced.  The rest of the conversation was in Tagalog so we did not understand what was going on, but we could certainly sense the tension in the air and see the tears flowing.

When we were leaving, Amphy's father came up to Joel and shook his hand.  He spoke to him in Tagalog and Amphy translated.  He had said, "Thank you for coming here today with my daughter. What has happened is a terrible thing, and if you were not here I would have killed Pepito for what he has done."   Well, then.  Now we understood why Amphy had wanted us there.

Beautiful Amphy with little Maria Louisa

We felt blessed to pay for her wedding and she chose to be married in a blue dress which we had made.  It was not a happy occasion with Amphy in tears and never smiling once.  Her family responded the same way.  Pepito was in love with Ampharo and wanted to marry her.  He had forced himself on her knowing that this is what would happen...she would have to marry him to save face in her family.  We were so sad for them all.  She continued to work for us until it was close to the time her baby would be born.  We were able to visit her after little Maria Louisa arrived and attended her baptism a few weeks later, paying the church "fee" for her to be baptized in the front of the church.  Then we went as a family and celebrated at her parents barrio home.   Our oldest daughter Bethany, then age 6, was one of her godmothers.  One side note was the the story that came from our dinner that day.  They had butchered a pig for this special occasion and the head of that pig was sitting on the table with garnishes around it.  As both Beth and Matt walked by to pick up food, Matt leaned over to Beth and said, "Did you see that?  The pig's eyes stared right at me, and his mouth and teeth chomped up and down as we passed."  I think our Matt had a vivid imagination!

We had a small cement house built for Pepito and Amphy at little cost, and we stayed in touch for several years before our letters came back "returned to sender".  We have often wondered what happened to them and pray they are doing well.  We are so grateful for having known Amphy and have her be a part of our "adventures in faithful living."  We were blessed by having her in our lives.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you all from our corner of Iowa where we are enjoying Fall weather.  This time of year I declare a repetitive statement .....I love Fall!!  This morning I watched it rain leaves off the locust trees.  The squirrels are storing up winter food, and the robins are gathering as they fly south.  Yesterday we saw so many resting in the trees as we were walking.  The geese are also flying more and filling up our empty field here in the association.  Sadly, they are going to take our one planted field and build houses there soon.  The air is quite chilly in the mornings so I have been able to dig out my wool comforter and enjoy sleeping with our windows open.  We are convinced that wool really has healing properties~~ I have been sleeping this whole week 9 to 10 hours as I snuggle in under Woolie, my comforter.  When Joel had arthritis he wore fingerless wool gloves to sleep at night and his hands felt so much better.  I'm telling you, wool is a gift from God!

Joel has been riding some and he and the neighbor were able to see a coyote on one of their recent rides.  In 2015 I saw one walk a few yards in front of me in Arizona as we walked on a sidewalk down a very busy street.  It rendered me speechless, I could only point and say....oh....oh!  We hear them once in awhile here, but seldom see them.

Speaking of Arizona, our friend Dw, Linny's hubby, was stung by an Arizona Bark scorpion this past week.  They are the most venomous and he was in excruciating pain for over 24 hours.  Several days later his foot is still completely numb!  He and their older daughter helped him search it out and kill it.  They found yet another and 6 on their outside walls.  Okay then.  The neighbor said they search them out and found 18 outside one night on their property.  Must be that time of year, but I'm telling you, they give me the creeps.  Thank God it did not get one of the kids!

Speaking of Joel, he is off to Minnesota (an hour away) to his favorite day of the year..Rendezvous Days.  He spends the day stepping back in history and enjoys watching muzzle loader competitions, talking to some of the people who are there, and also listening to some great music.  The food always is enjoyable, too.  It is one of the few places he blends in with his boots and hat!

Speaking of boots and hats, last night's segment on CBS with Steve Hartman was so great.  It took place in Oregon when a "real life cowboy" rode his horse in to the local Wal-Mart.  As he was going inside he heard a woman scream and yell out, "he stole my bike!".  As he looked around he saw a young man speeding by on a bike.  He went to his horse, jumped on and took out after the young man....when he got close he took his lasso and "roped" the guy, bringing him down and tying him to a metal post.  He then called 911 and told them to send the police to pick him up.  What a conversation that was!  I'm thinking we need more cowboys to ride up and rope some thieves,  rescuing damsels in distress......giggle......

Yesterday we went to the Farmer's Market.  We have noticed this year that prices have gone up and up.  We decided to buy ourselves a special treat from our favorite organic vendors, so we came home with cinnamon rolls.  I try to eat one thing with sugar or regular flour only twice a month, usually a scone.  Serious about that.  I don't like what sugar does to me or my body.  Anyway we came home and for the first time ever it tasted horrible!   We ended up tossing them in the garbage.  We did pick up a squash and hope we have better luck with that!

Last week our 87 year old neighbor asked Joel if we were interested in her treadmill, since she did not use it anymore.  She just wanted to get rid of it.  It excited me since we have wanted one for the bitterly cold winter days.  We went and looked at it and then she told us she was getting rid of her one coffee/sofa table and end table, too.  They were beautiful and in good shape.  She had a loveseat we said no to and that went to Salvation Army, but we said yes to the new-to-us sofa and end tables.  Don't they look great?!  They blend well with our other furniture too.  Joel will help her with fixing the outside covers of her basement windows and we plan to give her a gift card as a thank you.  So delighted by this out of the blue surprise.

end table

sofa table

We have been reading the book "Spiritual Awakenings" which has given us insight to our relationship with God and what ways we like to worship. They mention several temperaments, nine I believe.  My top three, as told to me by the test I took, are enthusiast, contemplative, and sensate.  No surprise I guess, but great to read Gary Thomas's thoughts on these and others.  Of course we discern his thoughts, but have learned quite a bit from this exercise.

I am back to coloring again to relax, watching Charis and Bethel teachings, and am actually reading a fiction book by Anne Perry that I picked up at the library....slow moving....intentional for this hyper-sensitive lady. .  What are you reading?

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