Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of the world where the climate has us confused on where we live!  Is it The Philippines with heat, heavy humidity, storms with high winds and monsoons, or is it Iowa???  UGH!  Again, we are so grateful for air conditioning.

You may wonder why we say that so often, but you see we never lived in a house with air conditioning until we moved here in 1996.  There were many hot summer nights where we were challenged by the weather.  I remember one night in central Minnesota that Joel was sooooo hot he went out on the upper deck and slept on top of the picnic table to get a cool breeze.  Not kidding.  As kids we would sleep on the living room floor on sheets with windows and screen doors providing a breeze in our 1950's house. So, just saying?  We are grateful for A/C!!

Recently I heard someone talking about their "bucket list" and I pondered that title.  I decided we have a list titled "More Adventures With God".  I expect it is a bucket list, but I like our title better! Life is so unpredictable and at the same time so precious.  Those lists give us hope and move us forward!  Have you ever seen that movie, "The Bucket List"?  It is okay...........worth watching although not centered on God for sure.  Our list is not cuz we are dying, like in the movie, although I guess we all are going to.....but cuz we are still living!!!!

I am still reading more than usual.  The surgery for melanoma caused some muscle concerns in the middle back, which caused my lower back to go out around 10 days ago.  First time in 7-8 years.  I had to resort to using a cane to walk and spent a lot of time reading.  I think in the past month I have read 10 books, 9 being fiction.  Nothing worth mentioning, except for the nonfiction book, "The Seer's Path" by Ana Werner that speaks of the prophetic.  Joel and I read it aloud together and it was very insightful.  Amazing in fact.  It seems our passionate pursuit of more of God is our new normal.

Speaking of normal, there is really no definition for it except through our own experiences and perceptions.  Who gets to define what is normal?  The Bible tells us right and wrong and certainly the Word spoken gives us a definition for many circumstances, but normal is often in the eyes of the beholder.  Say you grew up in a chaotic home......that will seem normal to you until you experience how others live.  A commercial on TV defines it somewhat....a couple drive out into a national park to camp and in their tent that night they rant and rave about how quiet and peaceful it is.......but it is so extremely quiet to them, they can't sleep....and end up turning on an ap for "city noises" so they can get some rest!  Normal for them.  And getting back to the Bible ~  in the New Testament miracles and casting out demons are normal, but how many people see the miraculous as "normal" today?

Speaking of today, we grilled chicken and at the end of the grilling all of a sudden the crud on the bottom of our electric outdoor grill caught on fire.  It made a whosh sound and burned all the hair off of Joel's right arm before he could jump back.  What is up with that?!?  He had just cleaned it recently so it is a bit confusing.  We were going to grill peaches, but had to cancel that until later.  And, yes, food on the electric outdoor grill tastes as good as on a gas one!

Speaking of outdoors, our youngest daughter got caught in the bad storm that went through north Iowa on Wednesday afternoon.  She saw a tornado in front of her on the drive north and then it touched down briefly and debris was flying....then straight line winds hit.  She called us asking whether she should get into a ditch or stay in the car.  She saw a nearby farmhouse so Joel told her to drive in there and she slowly made her way in.  A truck with a man in it was following and drove in behind her.  No one was home so they rode it out in the yard.  A tree was across the road after the storm passed so the police came out. Our youngest was pretty scared and so were mom and dad, but we kept praying.  All ended well, and we certainly are giving thanks for that.

Giving thanks.  So important and so I end today giving thanks for family, for friends, for a cool house and comfy beds.  For the One who was, who is, and is to come.  For sunshine after the rain, for books and the libraries that house them.  For life and all the adventures it holds.  For Saturdays.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Roots Defined Differently

The topic of roots is always swirling around in my mind, as we have so often wrestled with it. Not wrestled like two sweaty bodies crawling around on a mat until one pins another,  but more like the pull and tug needed to make taffy.   Recently again, God brought it to the forefront ~ the roots and our desire to find those roots in a home. Home like house, land, community, city.  But I have learned that roots and home are not necessarily defined to include staying in one place.

Christie Purifoy has written a beautiful book titled, "Roots and Sky" that chronicles their first year in a new home, as they made the intentional effort to put down roots.  Today she posted a story written by Bekah DiFelice, who as the military spouse of a Marine, is "on the move" often.  Bekah has journaled her days and written a book about growing roots while being transient. ("Almost There:  Searching For Home While On The Move") She writes, "I have often wondered what it takes for them (roots) to wind through the ground beneath me and make me feel settled, at home."  She describes their family as "movable gardens and transplanted roots, asking what and where home is now and what else it could be."  Bekah writes that she has taken comfort in Christie Purifoy's statement that defines homecoming as a process rather than a moment.

I grew up on the move, living in 7 towns and 5 states before finishing first grade. When I was 7 my father died.  There were a couple more moves before settling in the town where I graduated from high school.  Joel grew up on the family farm, seldom leaving the community until he headed off to Bible College at age 20.   Soon after we were married Joel joined the Air Force and we spent 8 years moving around with the military before getting out so he could attend the seminary.  As a pastor and family we moved several times too.  Moving is familiar to us.  After 21 years in our current micro-tropolis, staying in one place has become more familiar.  Not necessarily always comfortable, but familiar.

So the roots thing.  It just keeps coming up, and as it does I am finding the process fascinating.  It is a revelation to discover that how we define roots is as simple or as complicated as the lives of each individual.

I have a blogger friend who, like me, battled Lyme and still lives with the damage it did in her body. She and her hubby just finished moving to another state....this their 36th move!  She, too, has longed for a home with roots, and in a recent post Lisa shared her understanding that Jesus is the door home, no matter where she lives.  She does love her new house and yard, but she knows Jesus is the door to her permanent Home.  A comforting thought.

There is that saying.............."Home is where the heart is".  And maybe that is all there is to it.  Still, those roots seem to beckon.  So, can you have roots and travel?  Just like the old, really old TV show said, "Have guns, will travel"......can you "have roots, will travel?"

We have observed dear friends as they begin their journey to a life of travel, bringing their home with them.  Not a home with a foundation going deep into the ground, nor the city they have lived in for nearly 3 decades, but yet a solid foundation with roots.  Roots on wheels.

When we were in the military we felt we had roots.  We have pondered this and decided it was because the military was our "home" no matter where we were stationed.  As a Pastor and family, when we moved on we  felt uprooted.  We left behind a piece of our heart and took with us our memories as we said yes to a new calling.

So I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe we have roots that go all the way to the Philippines, where we experienced a season of our lives that we hold close.  Maybe we have roots all the way into Montana, and certainly in Minnesota.  Our roots may not go vertically deep into one place, but more horizontally.  Roots defined differently.

We know so many pastors who moved so much in their ministry.  As retired or older seniors they have moved to new places to be close to some of their family.  Roots coming from the heart.  We know other people who have never left the town they grew up in or in later years returned to the place they spent their childhood.  Another kind of roots as the past calls.  All Roots defined differently but roots never-the-less.

This post probably means more to me than to anyone else, but as I hear what God has placed before me this week on the topic of home and roots, my understanding has deepened, broadened.  A peace has settled over me as more pieces of this puzzle have fallen into place.  I love how God opens our eyes and deepens our understanding out of His love for us.  He is good that way.

Where are your roots?  How do you define home?  How do you define roots?  Wishing you roots and sky, and not only a home to call your own, but a Home where Jesus welcomes you!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What Are We Magnifying?

While living in The Philippines, one night I was sitting in the living room watching TV.  The doors and windows were open to let in the breeze since we did not have air conditioning in our off base house.  All of a sudden I heard scratching on the locked screen door.  I listened quietly and heard it again.  It sounded like someone was trying to break in (my imagination working overtime) so I quickly called to Joel.  He came and went over to the door.  He discovered there was something, not someone trying to get in.  A rice beetle!  Rice beetles are sometimes a food source in the P.I. and other Asian countries.  They like to eat rice, and people catch them and boil them, breaking open their insides to suck out the rice.  Those who work in the rice fields have scars from their nasty bites.  Somehow this beetle made its way up on our patio, drawn to the light inside I expect.  The noise seemed loud, probably magnified by my fear, so that I was sure it was a person trying to get inside.  It turned out to be a bug.  They are nasty looking, but if you avoid their pinchers you will not be harmed!

Today I heard Joel Osteen say, "Magnify the promises of God, not your problems!"  This brought me back to that night in the Philippines when I thought for sure someone was breaking in and it turned out to be a bug.  My fear magnified the situation.  I actually felt that recently with a Melanoma diagnosis.  I have quit telling people about it unless they ask because when many hear the word, Melanoma, they react.  Just today a pastor asked me what I had surgery for and when I told him he replied, "Ohhhhhh" with a big eyed look.  I felt like he was magnifying the "problem" so to speak.  I don't need anyone to do that for me, I am pretty darn good at doing it for myself!

So maybe this magnifying the promises is not such a bad idea.  Magnifying the problem is definitely not helpful, so I'm thinking that if we take God's promises and put them under a big ol' magnifying glass things will look and feel pretty darn good!  At the least, hopeful.

There are so many promises of God to magnify, we would never run out of making our God bigger than our problem!  One of my favorite is the verse sent my way over 5 years ago now...."I will give you back your health and heal your wounds, says the Lord."  Jeremiah 30:17)  Another good one is....."Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight.  Indeed, do not rely on your own wisdom, and stay away from evil, then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones." (Prov. 3)

I expect there are promises we can magnify for just about every situation we encounter! God is good that way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Not So Much...........

Limb on our Roof

We woke up around midnight Sunday night to thunder, lightening, and some very strong winds.  The wind was "loud", making sounds like I have never heard before.  When I got out of bed and looked out the window I could see the trees bending to the ground and turning from side to side.  Just then something hit the roof hard, waking Joel and causing me to jump and duck.  In agreement we headed downstairs to a safer level.  The storm passed quickly, and Joel went out in the dark to assess the damage, commenting that the branch was not as big as he thought it would be considering the noise it made.  We decided it could all wait until morning and headed back to bed.

Split tree on walking path

In the daylight we woke to a mess of small branches and twigs covering the yard, driveway, and street.  Several neighbors had branches down in their yards and one had a large part of the tree that split down the side.  On our walking path I saw a thick limb that had split least 25-30 feet long.  Just east of us a mile or so another association was hit hard.  Trees across the road, electrical lines down and lots of green debris, everywhere.  The newscaster said there were 75 mph straight line winds.  They did not look or act like straight line winds here in our back yard, but they sure were strong........and loud!  It took Joel 8 hours to pick up all the branches, leaves, and debris.

neighbor's tree

In the dead of night, it all sounded so scary, but the next morning when we opened doors and stepped out into the neighborhood along with others, we realized things could have been so much worse.  The branch hitting our roof sounded like a cannon going off.  We thought maybe a tree came down, but not so.  In the daylight hours we could see it was not as bad as it sounded and our house and roof were intact.

Today Joel was over to the neighbor's helping her cut up a big limb that split off her tree.  She had already removed all the branches off so Joel just took a chain saw to it.  She thanked him over and over, but his sincere response was "Hey, I was able to use my tools!"  Did I mention that she is 87 and still mows, mulches, landscapes, and tends her garden?  She can add cutting and carrying limbs to her resume now too.  Yeah.....J. is a powerhouse who loves to be outside and working!  At 87.  Wowza.

This storm reminded me of the storms that come suddenly in life.  We've had a few ~ you too?  One minute all is good and then suddenly it is not.  And sometimes the challenges we face sound sooooo darn loud!  They scream at us,  and look so powerful.  They shake us in the valley of darkness, but when God's light shines on them, we are able to see them differently. Do we tell God how big our problems are or do we tell our problems how big God is!  What looks insurmountable, is diminished when Jesus walks with us. What looks and sounds ginormous .....not so much in the Presence of Jesus.  Not so much.

Friday, July 7, 2017

In The Heat and Humidity, Memories Surface

It was hot and muggy here in our corner of the world, and this kind of weather always takes me back to the two years we lived in The Philippine Islands.  Joel, a lieutenant in the Air Force was forecasting weather for pilots at Clark Air Base and because it was an "accompanying" tour, we moved there in July of 1974.

Barrio in P.I.

 I can remember clearly the intense humidity, heat, and smells that hit us when we got off the plane. It seemed difficult to get a full breath, the air was so heavy.  Eventually our bodies adjusted enough to tolerate it, but these upper midwesterners never did come to love the climate, like some.

We did grow to love the Filipino people we met, though.  As part of an unspoken government policy there, we hired local Filipinos to work for us while living there~  doing yard work, making our clothes or even living with families as full time maids.  Most rental houses off base had rooms for maids right off the kitchen.  We became very close to our first maid, Ampharo (Amphy).  She was such a feisty, tiny, little thing whom we grew to love.  When we were there Marcos was President and Marshall Law was in place.  You could not leave your home after 10 pm or risk being shot.  Our maid Amphy whispered his name, if she ever talked about him.......fear was that embedded in the people.  He, like their present day leader was not someone you wanted to cross.  For the most part, caution came more for those who roamed the jungle.  I recall being at the Baptist Servicemen's Club off base and talking with some missionaries who were there.  They had been driven out of the area where they were doing mission work by those who were then called, "guerrillas".  What today we probably call terrorists.  Their lives were at risk so they had left the jungle village they called home.  Sometimes we could hear gunfire at night from our home off base.  These guerrillas would often shoot at our planes as they took off from the base airport where Joel worked.  I don't know who the Filipino feared most......their leader or those who roamed the jungles.  As Dorothy told Toto....."We were not in Kansas anymore!"  (Or Minnesota)

Living in a third world country with deep poverty and political turmoil had a profound affect on our lives.  The war was winding down in Viet Nam and Clark had an active part in what took place.  It was a chaotic and unpredictable time.  Two of our neighbors were in undercover work off base.  and some of the stories we heard from them were scary, although we never had any trouble to speak of.  I do recall our oldest daughter saying to me one day recently, "You know it was not normal to go to preschool with bars and wire on the windows of the school bus!"  Sometimes I wonder what we were thinking to let them go anywhere!  But off they went, both Beth and Matt and have their own stories to tell about their preschool days off base.

Everyone hired 24/7 guards who walked around with rifles.  I am not so sure they were helpful, but we also lived with bars on all our windows in the house we rented.  The house had a cement fence surrounding it and a metal gate that locked at night so no one could steal your car.  There was more than once that our son Matt woke us to tell us people were outside the window speaking a language he did not understand.  He was 3 at the time.  Security lights, thick heavy metal bars, and heavy doors with bolts that went into the floor helped us stay safe.  We had no phone.  No cells around at that time and no land line for us off base.  When Joel worked nights I did not sleep so well, but otherwise I felt pretty safe at home.  I will say, if your car stalled along the way to Clark Air Base, it was better to stay with it and wait for another American to come by than to find help among the locals.  At the time, many of the young Filipino men did not like Americans.  It was just the way it was.

I will repeat, though, that we loved the Filipino people we were friends with, and also their help to acclimate to the culture.  We visited Amphy's family in the barrio a few times and went to the home of our "sew woman" during Good Friday rituals down in Angeles City.  We shopped in a local open market, and traveled on 3 crazy journeys to Mania while in the process of adopting.  More than once we drove narrow winding roads up to a military resort area in the mountains.   I truly think God had special angels that followed us around when I look back and remember all the things that did, or almost did happen.  Lots of interventions took place, keeping us all safe.

Our favorite painting from the P.I.
A father and son..........

And maybe that is the point of this rambling blog post of memories that surfaced in the heat and humidity of summer.  God was with us keeping us safe. We had amazing experiences ~ the good far outweighing any of the bad.  Our family grew by two, and friends we met there still hold a place in our hearts.  God walked with us continually, and we know without a doubt it was all part of His plan for us~~ living in the Philippines those two years.  Forty-three years later, we still speak of it.  Only God.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Don't You See It?!

Forget the past............see, I am doing a new thing!  
Can you not see it?   

Today I read through Isaiah 43, after one verse popped up on Facebook.  I had been searching for a scripture, for something to wrap itself around my heart and calm the internal shaking as I waited for one more doctor appointment and one more test result.  Everything about this journey has been unpredictable, so I was holding my breath in anticipation of what was to come.  My, always hopeful, always steady, always strong hubby was showing some defeat as he walked with me through another cancer journey.  He was just as weary as I was, which had a sobering affect on me.  I hate when he is burdened with my stuff, but when you have been married 49 years that is what happens.  

So I grabbed on to Isaiah 43:19 that said,

"Look at the new thing I am going to do.  
It is already happening. 
 Don't you see it?  
I will make a road in the desert, 
I will make rivers in the dry land." ''

 Yes......we were ready for that.  A new thing......Just walking out life carefree and healthy.  In a devotional today I read..........."You will never be in complete control of your life.  It just isn't possible.  You want to feel completely safe and secure.  But even if you plan out every detail, the world will mess up your plans So just stop trying to be in control.  Stop trying to make your life completely safe and predictable.....and boring.  Instead grab My hand and jump in with both feet."   (Sarah Young, "Jesus Calling".)

It is what we want, isn't it.  Just to feel safe and secure as we live each day.  Yeah.  But our world is broken, and we need only watch the news or read a newspaper, tweet, or Facebook to see just how broken it is.  In the midst of us trying to control what is uncontrollable, Jesus says............Come on!  I am doing a new thing....See it???  Take my hand and lets jump into this together.

I am all for adventures in faithful living.  Oh, yeah.  Where do you want us to go Jesus.....we'll go!  What do you want us to do, Papa?  We will do it.  Come Holy, come!  It all sounds easy.........

Unfortunately, the enemy does not want us to surrender and jump in.  He wants us defeated and at times he throws so much crap our way that we lose our focus.  We just want to survive another day without melting into a puddle that has us surrendering not to God but to Satan's antics.  Joel and I have found it very difficult to move forward in hope lately.  And that is okay.  No condemnation and all that.  We have been taking breathers from the battles.......letting Papa and His angel armies fight for us.  I have read 6 lightweight mysteries in the past 10 days.  Joel has "putzed"  and napped more. Today's news made us stand a little straighter and injected us with more hope.  There is always hope.

The doctor's report was that the "big chunk" (doctor language) taken from my back had wide "clear" borders.  Yes!  Stitches were removed and the redness and bubbling on skin was just a reaction to the stitches.  Healing continues~ I go back every 3 months for 2 years and then every 6 months.  Good news.  We were so ready for good news from the world of white coats and stethoscopes.  We were putting our hope in the words from the doctor.  Necessary, but also not the final report.  The final reports come from God's Word.  And today His word came to us from Isaiah 43.

"Look at the new thing I am going to do.  
It is already happening. 
 Don't you see it?  
I will make a road in the desert, 
I will make rivers in the dry land." 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Saturday's Scribbles Revisted

It is Saturday morning and the sun is shining here in our corner of the world.  Joel is off biking and I am enjoying the beautiful view from our living room window while I read another "Cat sitter mystery".  Yep, you heard me right.  I went to the library this week to pick up some fiction books to read, hoping to pass the time as my back and body heal from yet another surgery.  I found a book about a lady ex-detective "cat sitter" who helps solve crimes.....of course she does!  (Giggle)   I like lightweight mysteries and these fit the bill.  I am on my third book now in 6 days.  Yeah.......this is partly why I do not read fiction much, I get into a book and can't get my nose out of it until I finish it!

I also get into the characters in a book, so I am very careful what I read or watch.  It affects me big time.  I like the characters in this series, so I have been walking around or laying around with my nose in a book, grateful for the distraction as I rest and restore.

One of our granddaughters is over in Europe right now as part of a Leadership Conference combining cooking classes with looking at ways to solve world hunger.  So proud of her and praying she has a wonderful time visiting London, Paris, Rome, Florence, and Milan in the next two weeks.  It is an amazing adventure for someone so young!

I wanted to share a couple of pictures of what our front garden looked like this year.  I say looked like because the deer came two nights ago and again last night and ate every day lily but one lone bloom.  We had been putting Irish Spring soap shavings around everything and nothing had been touched, until now.  Sigh.  I asked Joel what we should try now to keep them away and he replied...."How about a shotgun!"  Okay, then.

The mosquitoes are just now showing up here.  I often wish our porch was screened in.  We would be able to spend a lot more time sitting outside if it was.  Still, we are grateful for the green space we have and the views from our deck, porch, and extra large windows.  I can't help but think back to our carefree childhood days when laying in the grass did not require a " tick check" and we did not even think about mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases.  We spent countless hours at the lake laying in the sun using Coppertone lotion or baby oil mixed with iodine to darken our skin to a nice tan.  Well, we know how that turned out for me I guess.  I can still smell the lilacs in our back yard and see the peony bushes heavy with blooms.  The laundry hung on the line and Saturday nights were "bath nights" getting us ready for Sunday mornings.  My siblings, myself, and Gr. Jo were texting and laughing about our Sat. night trips to the A&W root beer stand in our hometown this past week.  We would be in our P.J.'s and sometimes have rollers in our hair and head out for a special treat of root beer in frosty mugs and bags of popcorn.  We stayed in the car of course.  I was a young teen but don't recall feeling embarrassed at all.  Just a family ritual I found comforting at the   time.  You could even buy a big jug of it and bring it home to have root beer floats.  Yum!  Do any of you remember or still visit A&W root beer stands?  There are a few left around.

Here is hoping your weekend is filled with great old memories and plenty of new ones as we welcome July!  Here's to root beer floats, parades, fireworks, and friend/family gatherings. Here is to good books, recumbent bikes, and sunshine!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Forty-nine and Celebrating!

Joel and I are celebrating our 49th anniversary tomorrow.  Forty-nine years together with God walking with us every step of the way.  After all, He ordained our marriage.....we were brought together through prayer, a story I have told often and can be read HERE.

Our 49th had me thinking back about our first anniversary, celebrated at a small place in Champaign, Illinois.  First dinner and then a movie ~ a big deal on an airman's salary.  I was also about 4 weeks pregnant and sooooooo excited that I was already wearing maternity clothes.  In those days everything was stretchy in the belly and flowing on top.  That night I wore navy pants and a red white and blue stripped top.  I certainly did not need them (giggle) but was eager to show off being a mama-to-be.  Of course I did not realize I would carry both of our birth children 10 months instead of 9 or I may have waited on the maternity wear!

There have been so many anniversaries since then.  All of them celebrated together, in sickness and in health. Too many in sickness, but, still, we have treasured every single one together.  Often I tell Joel how thankful I am for him loving me.....he always responds....."it is the easiest thing I do."  I feel the same way about him.   Keeping God in the middle makes it so, I expect.

When I was having surgery last week, my doctor asked me about Joel.  He had met him when he went in for a body scan and the nurse had told him before entering the room..."There is one feisty retired pastor in there!"  I don't think he knew what to expect.  So, during my surgery he asked me questions......about our we met......I was able to share our faith journey in response to his questions.  Then he said, "Well, he must be pretty good, since people look past how he a cowboy."  I could have been offended, but considering this 33 year old doctor was from L. A. and had lived in Manhattan, I saw him as naive, so I just let that go.  Poor kid, he has never experienced the country I expect.  I did share that we were celebrating our 49th anniversary and that Joel is an amazing man of God, who is kind and good-hearted, loves to laugh, help others, and preach the Gospel.

Those boots, vests,  and hats he wears are how he likes to dress.....for himself not others.  He is not trying to be a "cowboy" he just likes boots, hats, and vests.  This man of God who sits across the table from me, who holds my hand when we walk, who cares for me when I am sick, who fills my heart with joy ~~ This "cowboy" preacher as others and now myself have labeled him ?   I am so blessed to call him mine.  I often say that I know how much God loves me because He brought Joel into my life.

We have been blessed to spend so many years walking through life together.  We met at The Lutheran Bible Institute often nicknamed, The Lutheran Bridal Institute!  Always and forever thankful for the prayers that united us. We were married two weeks after graduation and have raised 7 plus kids, hugged on a dozen grands, and welcomed in-loves into our family.  What an adventure in faithful living!   Happy Anniversary Joel!  I will love you from here to eternity................

Monday, June 26, 2017

So, Now What?

When you tell someone you have had surgery for a Melanoma, you get a couple of different reactions.  If they know of people who had surgery and no further is not such a big deal.  If they know of someone who had it move into organs and they died from it.....they respond quite differently.   I have known both.

I am working on recovering, surprised at how much the surgery took out of me.  I am only starting to think about what this all means, knowing I will need to go in every three months to be checked.  Those appointments added to the radiology oncologist and regular doctor visits along with the eye specialist give me pause.  So has the fact that in the past 21 months I have had 5 surgeries, 30 days of radiation, and 1 broken toe to walk through and recover from.

Crap.  Yes, crap.  So, now what?  This is not how I was seeing my future.  Fear or sadness can sneak up on you, ya know? With effort I am keeping my eyes on Jesus and remembering His promises.  I intentionally look back on the many times He has walked with us and the 69 years I have opened my eyes each morning with the privilege to proclaim...."This IS the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Yeah....the realizing that every day is a gift to treasure cannot be just a cliche. Lord, give me more of Jesus.

I find myself doing that more often, realizing and believing that every day is a gift.  Treasuring a laugh with our girls, phone calls with our sons, watching grands receive their high school diplomas. Recently I enjoyed a game of Scrabble with a young grand who has amazing skills and we celebrated with Joel's 105 year old Aunt Harriet.  And the freedom to worship with the songs that make my heart sing blesses me greatly. Treasures to hold close.

Today I saw a friend post something about her son who died several years ago in an accident. So tragic.  Our own son died over 12 years ago ~ he would have been 38 this month.  It had me remembering too many friends dying before their time.  If only we truly took to heart how precious life is...the good, bad, and even at times the ugly.

I am going to "sing a familiar song" here and express my beliefs while walking this journey.  God did not do this to me.  God does not want us sick.  He wants us well, that is why His son died, for our salvation ~ wholeness, Sozo ~ saving us from sin and sickness.  Will he use this for His glory?  I asked Him to, so I sure hope so!  In fact, I think He already has started.....when one of those involved in the surgery kept asking me questions about God and our "strong faith".  Lord, lets give them Jesus.....

We headed to church yesterday, worshiping outside under a wool blanket that did little to keep me warm in these "fall" temperatures.   It did tire me out, and as soon as we came home I slept for an hour.  So why go?  Because Jesus is what it is all about.  What life is about, what death is about, and what our future is about.  Jesus.   He is more than our Savior.  He is the answer for the question, "So, now what?"  Give me Jesus.

Emotional plea....."give me Jesus"

He fights for us, did you know?  He loves us, do you feel it?  He died for us, have you received it? No matter what lies ahead in my life or yours, Jesus is with us~~ In a doctor's office, by the side of a son's grave, while recovering from surgery, or worshiping under a wool blanket on a cold Sunday morning.  Jesus.  Give me Jesus.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Birthday Party 105 Years In The Making and a Surgery Ahead

This past weekend we went up north into Minnesota to join Joel's family in celebrating his Aunt Harriet's 105th birthday.  She looks amazing, doesn't she!  Her mind is sharp and even from her wheelchair she has quite a social life at the nursing home.  She is blessed to have her three sons visit her daily.

Harriet and Joel

We had plans to stay in a hotel at a town about 50 miles from Joel's home but it is tourist season and hotels were all full, so after a very interesting evening service by a singer/preacher from the Twin Cities ~~ in a church we had never heard of~~ with Pentecostal preaching ~~we quietly left after 3 hours.....and drove to Joel's brother's cabin in the woods on a lake.  Can I just say it took some praying to get me there...........sooooooooo many opportunities for ticks.  It was beautiful although while driving in the dark, on a hilly, bumpy grass path to the cabin with woods heavy around us, I told Joel, "Someone could kill us out here and know one would find us for months!  Too much TV, right?

 dirt road before grass path to cabin

view from deck

The next morning after a short quiet night, we enjoyed the beautiful view and then headed to a church we had heard about which was only 15 minutes away.  After another lively service we headed into town and the birthday bash.  It is always nice to see Joel's family and to be able to go to Harriet's party was fun.  After more miles on the road, we arrived at one of our family's homes, where we enjoyed our grands, good food, and a good visit.  Monday Joel went off to find his favorite bike trail, riding 20 miles in familiar home territory, then visiting his family church and graveyard.  We arrived home last night after a stop in the Twin Cities to see my sister, Gr. Jo to our kids.

We are both a bit tired today, but getting ready for tomorrow, when I go in to the dermatologist for more surgery.  Five weeks ago I had a biopsy on my back which resulted in a surgical excision.  They tested what was removed and could not come to a general consensus of what it was, so sent it to Mayo Clinic in MN.  They diagnosed it as a Melanoma.  It is shallow so at this point I will not need chemo, radiation or node removal.  But I will need a bigger chunk removed and will end up with a six inch scar.  If that takes care of this, it will be worth it.  This is my third diagnosis of some kind of cancer in 7 years and it has more than shaken us up.  Especially me.  I am coming to terms with it, but it does seem unusual that someone who has not seen the sun for 40 plus years ends up with Melanoma.  I was told by my regular doctor it was precancerous, no worry, and no hurry......Then I was told after the biopsy that it was NOT Melanoma.  After the excision I waited 3 weeks to get a diagnosis ~ Melanoma.  Throughout this time God has been speaking to me, and asking me to trust Him.  I have received the verse or forms of the verse in Exodus 14:14  at least 39 times in the past four months.

"The Lord will fight for you, just stay calm."
"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still".
Exodus 14:14

This morning when I was meditating I saw "little Renee" skipping and climbing over slate rocks and and hilly ground.  She beckoned me to follow.  Then she took Jesus' hand and they walked together with me holding her other hand.  Jesus patted little Renee's head,  looked at me and said, "I was with her".  Then while walking,  He put little Renee on His shoulder and took my hand, saying, "I am will you now, too."

When I look back at how Papa God has cared for me my whole life, I really owe Him my trust.  Tomorrow we pray they find nothing else on my skin, that the surgery goes well, and we give thanks to God for His faithfulness. Will you join us in praying?  And we give thanks for the 105 years Harriet has had on earth and the many people she has blessed throughout her life.  It all is an adventure in faithful living.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tuesday Scribbles

As we traveled home yesterday from a weekend of celebrations, we took in the world around us. June brings so much beauty in nature.  Everything is so green in the Midwest and the overcast gray/blue sky was filled with birds. Much of the land was hilly and the farmers were busy with "farm work" out in the fields.  We stopped at our favorite popcorn store that draws people from quite a distance.  It is a wonderful place with a variety of things to shop for.  Joel came away with popcorn and I came away with a pair of earrings.  After lunch in a worn out McDonald's, we visited about the gathering we had been a part of.

I love observing how our children do life in their own corners of the world.  This past weekend we went to our oldest grandson, Evan's graduation.  We traveled 5 plus hours to get together with other family and their friends to celebrate this young man's accomplishments.  He will head off to college this August.  I am so grateful we were able to help them celebrate, as we did at our oldest granddaughter Grace's graduation party a month ago.  Our oldest daughter and their family are busy, hardworking, well-liked people who love Jesus, life, friends, family, church, and hockey!  They enjoy living life to the fullest! They put down roots after a long ago move from Chicago, and their beautiful little community is blessed to have them there.  (Although I could be a bit prejudice. Let me think....hmmm  nope.)

Coming back to our quiet home was both nice and not so nice.  We like our routines, but we miss all the hugging on loved ones.  Isn't that the way it is.  So while there I found myself listening and observing. Recording a video in my mind of what went on around me, to bring it forth at a later date when loneliness creeps in.  Sometimes the videos hold conflict, but since it is mine to record I can filter out what I want, right?!  Ha.....

These times with family are treasures to hold close.  Life is short, precious, and the cliche that every day is a gift is very true.  While we were gone our friend's mother died, and another friend we have had since seminary emailed to let us know his dad had died. The cycle of life.  Both loved the Lord and I know that brings our friends great comfort.   Death looks so far away when we are young.  Reaching the ages we are now, and experiencing some of what we have makes it look a lot closer.  It looses its sting when we know where we are going.  Victory is ours.

But today I write about life, and doing it well.  There are no do-overs so what we do each day is pretty important.  For our grands, graduation from HS is leading into college and a whole new world without the home sanctuary.  There whole lives are ahead of them, and they are eager to get started on the next phase of their journey.  I hope they learn quickly to live life to the fullest, cherish the days before them, and remember that each one is a gift.

It is a lesson we all need to learn whether 18 or 81.  Each day is a gift to be opened and enjoyed.  A mystery unfolding before us filled with good, bad, and sometimes even the ugly.  And if you are blessed, you have family, friends, and a solid community of believers to walk with you along the way. And no matter what comes?  Victory is ours.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

When God Called Us To Go West!

In 1976 Joel left the Air Force and began attending Luther Seminary in St. Paul MN.  We moved with our 4 kids and 2 cats near Como Park not too far from the seminary, living in a big, old house that we bought contract-for-deed.  After two years of study, Joel would be sent on an Internship, where he would be given a church to work in for his third year.  The pastor there would be his supervisor and mentor. After Internship he would return for his final year at the seminary.

 At that time there were not many second career seminary students, so there were only 3 locations available to a family of six for Internship.  One was a very small town up in Northern Minnesota, another was in my home town in southern MN and the third was located in Malta Montana.  We ruled out my hometown right away, as everything would be too easy....too familiar with family there.  The northern MN Internship did not feel right for us either, so we chose the Montana Internship, heading out West for a new adventure.  It was the best thing we ever did, but it almost did not happen.

Joel was dragging his feet about leaving the financial security of the home we owned.  I had no ties to the house that harbored a professionally estimated 250 bats in the attic.  I also strongly believed that if we were going to learn all we could from the Internship available to us, we needed to take this Internship and head West.
 Joel had a list of logical reasons why we should stay, worrying about where we would live when we came back for his final year.  It took quite a bit of persuading by his cousin Luther and myself to get him looking at things differently.  It was when I challenged him about his reasons for staying put, that his fear lost the battle.  I reminded him of his calling, and that if he really wanted to be a minister and go to new places, he needed to trust God and GO.  I believed God was guiding this decision and selling our house and moving West was the right thing to do.  God moved in his heart too, he agreed, said yes to the Internship, and we sold our house, and headed West.

So that summer of 1978 found us driving through Minnesota and North Dakota and into the middle of Montana for one of the greatest adventures of our lives.  Because we did not let fear or worry get in the way,  and because we said YES to God's plan for our family, our lives were richly blessed with all He had in store for us.

Malta was a small town of about 2,000 in northwest central MT.  The Malta Lutheran Parish consisted of 4 churches in a 150 mile radius, with services also being conducted at a hot springs and at the small mining town of Zortman up in the Little Rockies.  Joel was assigned the two churches farthest north in Whitewater and Loring MT.  He/we would drive up north 75 miles into beautiful scenery with eagles and deer in abundance.  Often we would never see another car.  Whitewater was off the beaten track on gravel roads and people came from over 50 miles away to worship.  A skunk lived under the church, so at times the aroma was a bit overwhelming, and often church started "when people got there".  Loring was located right off a paved highway, a bit bigger, with a cafe and bar in town!  Once a month he served the churches of Malta and Dodsen.   He had a great mentor in Pastor Merv Olson who became, along with his family, long time friends.

We moved into what we affectionately called "The Internage" which was next door to the Parsonage.  It was an older house they had moved in from a ranch, and it had an add on kitchen.  When you walked from the dining room to the kitchen you went down about a foot on a slant.  There were not enough bedrooms so our oldest, Bethany, slept in the large hallway on a twin bed.  She liked that since she could read by the downstairs light at night when she was supposed to be sleeping.  There was a makeshift shower in the basement and a lime green claw foot tub in the upstairs bathroom.  A porch made for a nice place to sit on summer days when mosquitoes were in abundance outdoors. There was always a warm feeling in that house that held so many memories of the families that had lived there.

Joel was involved in every aspect of ministry; preaching, teaching, counseling, and more.  The only part of ministry Joel did not have any prior experience in was officiating at funerals, but early that fall tragedy struck with 8 funerals taking place in less than 3 weeks.  Three were murder victims from the northern churches Joel served.

Three men from California were trying to escape the crimes they committed there, and while driving through Loring to the Canadian border they went into the bar where they raped and murdered a woman, then killed her husband and another man who was in there at the time.  It was devastating to the town, and when they were caught the men were kept under 24/7 armed guards in Malta by many officers because there was some fear of vigilante justice.

One of the first weekends we were there the fair and rodeo was going on, so Joel went with Pastor Merv to help at their Sunday "church".  It was a bit chaotic with bull riding going on nearby ~ one rider being knocked unconscious, a cat chasing a rabbit, a small plain flying overhead,  and the train making itself known as it traveled through.  Joel was definitely not in the Midwest anymore!  He  rode horseback with a wagon train and preached at their Sunday service where a drunk cowboy came through on his horse.  He also participated in a round up while we were there, and as a family we helped new friends brand cattle.

Joel in the red hat

Our favorite Christmas service has been written about before...........Christmas Eve at Zortman in the Little Rockies where we climbed a hilly path up to the church.  A pot bellied stove was our only heat source on a bitterly cold night as we sang familiar hymns with lantern light reflecting off the walls.  Beautiful memory.

We learned so much there about serving a congregation.  We were the 19th Intern the Parish had welcomed into their community, they knew how to take care of their Interns.   It was one of the best experiences of our entire lives, and we are so grateful that God led us to this small town in Montana.  It is a reminder that when we listen to His voice, and heed His calling, amazing things happen!

And Joel's concern about a place for us to live during his final year?  We received a phone call a couple of months before going back to the seminary from a student who was going on his Internship and he wanted to know if we wanted to rent his house while he was gone.  He told us he would share the profits when they sold their home, for the year we were there.  Only God!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Who Do You See in the Mirror?

"I am especially fond of you."
(The Shack)

Is that hard to believe?  That God finds you delightful, perfect in every way, and is crazy about you? Or at least "especially fond" of you?  It is true you know, and He would love it if we would see ourselves the way He sees us.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I am very aware that we are all a work in progress and God is shaping us on a daily basis, but He does so because He already sees us complete through Jesus.  Because Jesus lives in us, we need not need to cling to our "old wine skin".  We have been made brand spanking new.  Oh how we are loved.

Lost in the eyes of Jesus we see the depth of His vast, so electric with color, taste, touch, aroma, and melodic sound.  His love invades all our senses and creates in us an abundance of joy, peace, and love for ourselves and others.  Yes, for ourselves.  And when we see ourselves the way God does, we do not have to live a camouflage lifestyle, hiding behind the lies that we are not enough.  We can have the courage to boldly be who we are.  It sets us free!

I have a husband who thinks I am beautiful on the inside and outside.  He looks through eyes of love at this gray-haired, aging, overweight, apple shaped woman and sees someone beautiful.  It always amazes me.  It is not what I see when I look in the mirror (grin).  He tells me I am strong, courageous, compassionate, loving, creative, and much more.  He sees me through eyes of love and I am so grateful.  I see him the same way.  We always tried to see the best in our children, too, encouraging them to think big, take risks, and follow God's calling on their lives.  We tried to help them realize how amazing they were.  With that being said, I am able to understand more how God sees me.  He looks at me, at us, as changed by the blood of Jesus, and His love IS unfathomable for us, His kids.

So, lets be honest here, how many of us are able to look in the mirror and see someone as awesome as God does............or those who love us.  Can we truly see ourselves with eyes of love ?

When I listened to Wm. Paul Young, author of "The Shack" speak online, he made a statement that for me was quite thought provoking.  He grew up with the Dani tribe in the highlands of New Guinea. The tribe really raised him the first few years of his life because his parents were so busy with mission work.  The Dani language was his first language, so when he went off to boarding school at age 6 he had a shocking realization.  He was white.  He had never thought of himself as white nor American.  He thought he was like the Dani tribe members. He believed he was a Dani.   That experience changed his identity, and how he saw himself.

Jesus did that for us in a positive way.  He suffered and died for us, His Spirit lives in us, and our identity comes from what He has done for us and what He says about us as His beloved children.

What do you believe about yourself?  Were lies whispered over you as a child or an adult?  Do you think you are someone you are not?  I confess, that how I see myself and what I believe about myself is a work in progress.  I still want to camouflage myself at times on the outside and the inside, like the air-brushed photos we see, or the persona we share on social media.  But we can only be complete when we are authentic about who we are............and Whose we are.  We are His kids, and He is especially fond of us.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Roots, Screen Doors, And A Calling

It is quite awhile ago now that a sweet friend shared with me their desire to buy a large, older home near where their children went to a charter school.   Prayer was requested on whether this was God's plan or not.  As I prayed, I saw screen doors!  Old fashioned screen doors.  It was an odd thing to see, but I shared it with my friend, asking her if there were any screen doors in the house.  She told me there were 5 doors!  Five doors.  I could almost hear them slam as I visualized her kids running in and out in the summertime.  After much prayer and confirmation on their part, K. and her husband stepped out in faith and bought the large, in need of repair, stately home with so many doors.  I dream of visiting them some day, standing in their place of nesting to see how they have made it theirs, and see all God is doing as they continue on their family journey in a home with 5 doors.


At the time, I was reading Christie Purifoy's book, "Roots and Sky:  A Journey Home In Four Seasons"  The book tells the story of Christie and her family as they move back to PA and purchase a large, older home in need of repairs, with stately trees and gardens to tend.  Maplehurst is the place where they found beauty, are creating beauty, and in the process are putting down roots.  It was not lost on me that my friend is doing the same thing.  Nor was it lost on me that Joel and I, after then 48 years of marriage were still seeking roots in a land we could call our own.  We were in the taffy-pull place of processing my journey with breast cancer and not moving to AZ.  God is very good at weaving things together for us, if we are listening.

"We did not put down roots in a place, but in a calling."

I have shared before that wherever Joel was serving was where we called home.  In the military we called, Illinois, New Mexico, Utah, Minnesota, and the Philippine Islands home.  In the ministry we called St. Paul, MN, Malta MT, Medicine Lake MT, Zimmerman MN, Donnelly MN, Mason City IA, New Hampton IA, and again, Mason City IA home.  In our early years, our community was centered on the military base where we were located.  As a minister and family, our community has always been centered around the church Joel served.  We did not put down roots in a place, but in a calling.

Our oldest son told me the other day that when someone asks where he is from, he tells them..."Well, I moved 13 times......"  Nine of those were with us.  Where he graduated from H.S. is where the home town is, I expect.  I believe all the moving gave our kids an expanded world view, but it also made for few opportunities to plant deep roots.  The older four, who did the most moving with us, have all as adults put down roots now on land they call their own, in cities they call home, and in community and church living. Their children are experiencing a life so different than theirs.  One of our son-in-law's once said to our daughter...."Why is it when your parents hear about a new place they wonder what it would be like to live there.....instead of just visit?"  Good question.

Each of you have stories to share about your own homes, cities, communities.  You have either embraced the gypsy lifestyle as part of you, or planted deep roots in a place you have called home for years or even generations.  Life is an adventure for everyone, written by us and by God.

Talking with my friend K. last week brought the roots theme into the light again.  We do recognize a few roots we have here, in a place we did not think would hold 21 years of our lives.  Mostly they are planted in people, churches, and in our neighborhood.  We love our association, and are grateful for good neighbors, great walking paths, and green spaces.

Our future may not hold a large house with 5 screen doors, in fact I can almost guarantee that, putting aside any surprises Papa God throws our way.  It may not hold the deep roots of those who spend a lifetime in one place, but we have come to the conclusion that our roots are deep in Papa God. And some day He will reveal to us the land, the city, the place where we are called to dig deep.  It may require travel and it may not.  And that place we long for?  If is it not here on earth, then it will be in our Heavenly home where our spiritual roots are strong, anchored in our Father's love.  I wonder if there are any screen doors or rose gardens in Heaven?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Shack Within Us All

Wm Paul Young, author of The Shack, spoke at a recent Bethel conference on creativity.  He was a powerful speaker, even with his tendency to wander off on a rabbit trail.  I expect that is the creative side of him.  He shared quite a bit of his story, which made an impact on all his listeners.  His parents were missionaries in the highlands of New Guinea with the Dani tribe that had it's own language, worshiped spirits, and practiced cannibalism. He was raised til age 6 mostly by the tribe, as his parents were busy doing mission work.  He remembered hearing the tribe members discuss whether or not to kill his parents, but said he never felt afraid because he considered himself to be part of the tribe!  His first language was the language of the tribe they lived among.  Sadly, the tribe had as part of their secret culture, sexual abuse, and he did not escape that.  It continued when at age 6 he went away to boarding school, where abuse occurred by some of the older boys in the dormitory.  Being away from his parents, and his "people" was very difficult.

Besides the sexual abuse, having a strict, physically abusive father added to his belief that he was a bad person, who was never perfect enough for his dad or anyone else.   He believed the lie that all that happened to him was "his fault".  He kept all this secret from his family.  Finally, at the age of 38, after struggling with addictions and his wife discovering his 3 month affair with her best friend, he hit rock bottom and all his secrets poured out. From this place at the bottom he began his healing journey.  His history and 11 years of healing from his past gave him an unusual perspective of God.  His wife suggested he write his personal faith story so his children would understand who he is and how he thinks.  The result was "The Shack", written originally just for his family and a few close friends.  God had other plans, though, and the rest is history with more than 20 million books having been sold to this date.

Paul Young's story is important to hear because you can see the redemption in it.  His story holds within it the power of the cross.  All our stories do.  During the conference he told everyone that the shack in his book represents the inner person within each of us.  It was an "aha" moment for both Joel and myself and resolved some of the mystery of his novel.   Just like the book and movie reveals, I believe that the "shack" within us is where Papa God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit meet us to provide healing, love, forgiveness, and new life in Christ.

It may for some, be difficult to uncover what the "shack" within holds close to the heart.  We may believe the lies that our story shared will make people think less of us, uncovering our history will be too painful or selfish, or we will be misunderstood.  Hiding our stories gives us a false sense of living in a perfect, air-brushed, Instagram/Facebook world. It leaves us living with an inner shack that is falling down around us.  Let your story be told!  Sharing our stories is not done to point the finger, gain sympathy, or encourage us to live as a victim.  Just the opposite.  There may be a fine line between dwelling on your past and using your past to show God's love for you then and now, but God tells us our stories are very important because He walks in the midst of them and through our history the power of the cross is seen.  Giving Him the glory reveals our redemption and victory in Papa God!

Mac, in the book and movie, was able to find healing within after tragedy.  Wm. Paul Young was able to find healing, redemption, and a deeper relationship with Papa God by walking through his own "valley".   Their stories beckon us to share our own, seeking the Healer and the healing needed with Papa guiding the way.  May God's love and healing power be revealed in the story of each of His children.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God Loving On Us

Resting in the love of Jesus .........this has been my focus for the past three weeks as I have been part of Bonnie Gray's book launch team.  She is the author of the book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace"  and an inspirational speaker and retreat leader, helping thousands as she shares from her own journey,  her insights into God's love and desires for His children.

 Bonnie's new book, "Whispers of His Rest" is a 40 day devotional offering the readers opportunities to become closer to God and learn how to embrace His love, and rest in His arms as we journey through this life. There are many opportunities within the covers of her devotional to deeply experience Jesus' presence, His love, and what His plans are for you, His beloved.  Just let Bonnie guide you through each day, as you say "yes" and receive all God has to offer.

Our world is a busy place and busyness becomes not only a way of life, but in my thinking, an affirmation to ourselves that we are significant.  Our significance comes from what God thinks of us, not the world, and this devotional provides an open doorway into the Father's heart.  It gives us the opportunity to step out of our busy day and into a time of rest with God.  I would highly recommend "Whispers of Rest" to each of you.  It will bless your soul and bring you into a deeper relationship with our Jesus.  Just say yes............

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Highway of Praise

It is no secret that I struggle with what appears to be the endless need for medical intervention in my life.  I have never liked going to doctors, and am often irritated when they are necessary.  My first choice is healing through prayer, then essential oils, and as a last resort I walk through the doors of the medical world.  The past two years I have had more than my share of people in white coats poking and probing and giving me reports I do not want to hear.  I am not sure why the world of doctors is traumatic for me, I expect it could be unraveled somewhere within.

So when I had to have a biopsy for a spot on my back, anxiety flared.  The results were good.....on the edge, but still good.  Still, I needed a surgical excision, so on Wednesday I had "more" removed around the spot.  We were surprised that such a small area is now a 3 inch incision with 7 stitches.  They needed to make sure that there were no more severe dysplastic cells left. Even those words sound menacing, don't they.

I believe that this "next thing" I went through is covered by the same verse that God has given me so many times. (28+)

"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."

 It is also the reason that God gave me a flurry of devotionals and quotes about praise early this week.  Praise has the power to heal, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to fight Satan's desire for destruction in our our bodies/ Seriously, I know that sometimes a cold is just a cold, but sometimes the enemy uses sickness and disease to discourage and destroy God's children.  Praise and worship is a good weapon of warfare.  Evangelist Ruth Heftin said, "A voice of praise is always a voice of victory.  That is why the enemy hates it when we praise."

Praise is not only a weapon, it is a place we rest.  This praise, is a place of remembering who God is and how much He loves and fights for us,  It is where we can take a deep breath and just lean back into our Papa God's arms no matter what is going on around us.  I cherish these moments, while declaring this place will be a way of living for me, for all of us.

This procedure and results may seem minimal to you readers, and it has been expressed that way to me.  At first my response was that maybe this person has not walked in my shoes.  Then shame surfaced.  I could list a number of reasons and even excuses for the anxiety I have felt again in the past week.  I won't.  I also refuse to carry the shame that surfaces when fear rises.  They both are a lie from the enemy.  I will instead share honestly my continual journey with releasing fear and rising from those ashes into a spirit of power, love, and sound mind.  Transforming the mind.

God wants us to live a life connected to Him and His promises, so he provides the way for us to live in victory.  Praise is one of the ways Jesus has called me to counter the fear I feel in this area of my life.  And in praise I encounter God!  We all do.  Praise becomes worship, and worship brings us into the Presence. And in the Presence we find rest, trusting the One who is trustworthy.  We praise you Jesus that you are with us, in us, around us.  We praise you Jesus as our Healer, our Provider, our Protector. We praise you Jesus, we love you Jesus. Oh yes we do!

I love using music to praise God....Worship music that touches the soul, whether it be hymns,  praise music, or the latest from Hillsong or Bethel, which is where I lean mostly.  Praising through music creates worship and worship is a way to be intimate with God.  According to Ruth Heftin worship brings His glory~ His presence in many ways.  "Glory is to Heaven's atmosphere the way air is to earth's atmosphere."

Another form of praise is in prayer.....and using a prayer language if you have one.  Speaking in tongues edifies us and builds us up.  It also connects our spirit to God's in love and worship.

It is no secret that sometimes a person just does not feel like praising God and that is okay.  I will say though, that if God wants praise from us, it will only benefit us if we are obedient in giving Him praise.  Even if it is a sacrifice of praise like the Bible mentions.  It becomes a way of life, and the side effects of praise are all good!!

Yesterday I read from Dr. Brian Simmons a great Facebook "whisper" that mentioned being on a "Highway of Praise".  Can't you just visualize that?!  I love it.  We walk through life on a highway of praise.  What a wonderful way to live in His presence.  Praise is one of the keys that brings us into relationship with God in the now.  There is nothing more we really need beyond that, is there. Intimacy with our Papa God brings us into a beautiful relationship with the Him, and having a relationship with Papa, enables us to abandon ourselves to trusting the One who is trustworthy, no matter the circumstances.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Moms Make The World Go Round

It is in the mid 70's. the skies are blue. and the world is filled with shades of green.  Pops of color draw our attention as the tulips, apple blossoms, and lilacs show off their beauty.  Two rabbits have built a nest under our back deck, and a wren has returned to her familiar birdhouse hanging in our tree.  She sings to us throughout the day a joyful song.  Hopefully, Mrs. Robin found herself another place to nest, having been shooed away from the porch by the residents of this house!

It is a beautiful time of year.  Spring brings with it new life and watching the mother birds, ducks, and rabbits nesting makes me smile and remember when our nest was filled with oodles of kids.  All those homemade Mother's Day gifts still make me smile.  Mother's Day may keep Hallmark in business, but those homemade specialties are treasured forever.

Our daughters and daughter-in-law have their own homemade Mother's Day gifts to cherish.  They, along with the dads, have made nests for their children, nourished them and encouraged them to learn to fly.  So many of our grands are now in their teens, and two will be heading off to college next fall.  And so it begins, the road to the empty nest. Difficult, and different, but as mothers and fathers this is our goal.  Not unlike the baby robins who are nourished and cared for until it is time for them to leave the nest and fly!  It is our "job" to teach our children to fly.

The Philippines


Some favorite photos of kids

For most parents, and especially moms, this is not an easy journey.  I came across a book recently with a title that caught my attention:  "Release Your Grip:  Hope For A Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly" by Kami Gilmour.  She speaks of the "sacred season of parenthood" and the changes that come with adult children going off into the world.  I remember those days well.  Lots of tears flowed from this Mama.  Lots of prayers from both Mom and Dad.  Our hearts and prayers are with our two sets of parents beginning this well worn pathway, and with all our children and spouses as they prepare their families to fly.  Good thing God has it all covered.

Reflecting on Mothers, they certainly come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.  They are all races, all nationalities. They are defined through birth and adoption, foster care, Aunties and friends, sisters, and even teachers nurturing those in their care.    I am reading a book about the missionary, Lillie Trasher,  who had an orphanage in Egypt, with thousands of children over the years who called her Mama.  Moms make the world go round.

SO thankful for the 47 years I have been blessed to be a mother.  I am grateful for the love and support of my hubby~ what a great dad he is~ , the love and forgiveness of my kids when I did not get it right.  The fantastic people they are now!  So proud.  Looking back, my heart is full, living in present, my heart is grateful, and looking to the future my heart is hopeful.  It is all good.  God has it all covered.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rest In The Knowing

I have now received Exodus 14:14 or some version of it over twenty-six times.  It just keeps coming and along with it more and more understanding of what God is telling me.

While being part of Bonnie Gray's launch team for her latest book, "Whispers of Rest". I have realized that resting is a powerful way to battle the enemy. Not the lay down and nap kind of resting, but the trusting.  Trusting God in the the the the knowing.

I have known that one of the ways I do life is as a warrior.  It began early on in childhood I expect, and continued on through other circumstances as a way to do life.  Staying hyper-vigilant, I know how to do battle very well.  How is that working?   Not so much.  Jesus keeps calling me to it over and over again with a gentle, loving persistence to rest in Him.

Bonnie Gray knows the journey well....her own story not unlike mine and so many others.....Different people, different locations, different circumstances but yet the same.  All having the need to rest in the arms of our Jesus and trusting Him with our life.  Trusting Him to fight for us when necessary while we rest in the knowing that all is well, that we are not alone.

Recently during my meditation time, God showed me a beautiful white stallion, almost surreal in his beauty.  Then I noticed an angelic rider holding a sword.  Immediately a long row of white horses appeared all with angelic riders carrying shiny silver swords.  Across from them was a row of black horses and hooded black faceless riders carrying dark gray swords.  The Lord's angel armies fighting the enemy's soldiers.  In what God was showing me, Joel and I walked down the row and turned to face the darkness.  Then we backed up so we were standing near the flanks protected by God's spiritual army.  I then heard the chorus....."Our God is an awesome God....He reigns from Heaven above....With wisdom power and love...our God is an awesome God. (Michael W. Smith).

Certainly there is comfort in knowing God reigns from Heaven above and He intercedes for us behind the scenes. I cannot help but think about our friend Linny, and the battle she is in.  Her body fights autoimmune diseases making this liver issue even harder to win.......BUT God.  God is God and He is fighting her battle.....we know that we know that we know that.

I think about two of our grands graduating this year.  Both of them heading off on their own to college, no longer under the daily care of their moms and dads.  We can see the turmoil in the parents as they face the changes ahead, trying not to worry or keep hold of those leaving the nest.  God will be with them, fighting for them.  Just stay calm.
Trips to the doctors, hearing words like biopsy or cancer, heart disease or Lupus.........they strike fear into our hearts.  Yet we are not alone, and we can stand firm in believing God does not want us suffering with disease.  He fights for us, and protects us under the shelter of His wings.  Just stay my in the knowing.

Recently I heard someone say, "I am so weary of the battle"........And I believe God would reply......"I am fighting for you, my child, just stay calm.  Trust me .......surrender your need to fight and just rest in me. I've got this.  After all, I am your Father. the knowing."

Sometimes we gear up for battle, wearing God's armor we are "dressed to kill" as Rick Renner has titled his book on spiritual warfare.  We use the tools God gives us to face the enemy.  Other times our armor is just to rest in the knowledge that God is fighting for us, and responding to that knowing with praise and thanksgiving believing we already have the victory.  We rest in the knowing.