Friday, September 1, 2017

Feathers From God

We have been making plans for our trip out West to Bethel Church in Redding CA.  As we prepare to drive 28 hours toward's the # 1 place on our "Adventures In God" list, anxiety has risen up in little ol' me. All the preparation to go, plus the what ifs, the finances, the hotels, etc.  God is not surprised by the worry that rises up.  He has made it perfectly clear that He is leading the way.

We will be sitting under Bethel's ministry for 10 days, staying in a church member's guest home called "His Healing Wings"......renting a room and having access to the living and cooking space, etc.  A new adventure to share a house with others who desire to sit under this ministry that draws thousands from around the world.

I have been asking God for a verse to hold on to during this time of planning, traveling, encountering, and experiencing new places and new people, and more of God.   The verse God gave me comes from Psalm 91....... He sent me this verse when I was going through radiation and I wrote about it HERE.  I printed off a picture sent to me by a friend in 2015 that brought this verse to light.  It still is taped to our cupboard.

 He has once again sent me verse 4 of Psalm 91 several times.  First on Facebook and then through a Pinterest email that sent me several different Bible journaling pictures of the same verse all at once AND not at my request.  I just know they came from God.

One of the Pinterest pins sent to me

God also reminded me of His promise this week when Joel came into the house carrying a big feather.  "Look what was outside the door", he said!  It was a feather from an owl that has been taking up residence in our yard.  Today, yet another feather, this one small and dainty. Do you remember that the name of the home we are staying in is "Healing in His Wings"?   Those same wings that cover us and keep us safe.    Isn't God just amazing?

God's reminders

God knows me well, and being safe is a big issue for me.  Sozo ministry has broken the chains that bound me to a fear that controlled my life in ways only Joel knows about, but there are still moments in time when it resurfaces.  God in His infinite patience and love keeps reminding me of His promises....He is my place of safety........

He is your place of safety too.  Your refuge as you experience your own adventures with life.....and new adventures with God.  It is a promise for every one of us to hold on to.

When we do head out the door and climb into our comfy new-to-us SUV, we will be bringing along the feather He provided, as a reminder that He does cover us with His wings.  He is our place of refuge.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Floodgates

The water just keeps rising....record floods.....record rain falls.......causing record 911 calls......record rescues.... yes, the water just keeps rising.  It is heartbreaking to watch homes hidden under dark liquid that is relentless in it's pursuit to go where it wills.  I am caught up in the stories shared by those rescued, and the willingness of volunteers to risk their own lives to save those who are desperate for help.  We hear and read about such a "us against them" mentality in our country, it is comforting to see people put politics and prejudice aside to do what they can to help those in their city.

I expect there are some who question where God is in this disaster.  Some may believe He has caused it and that is certainly not close to being true.  Ann Voskamp spoke of God's tears mingled in with those of His children during this or any terrible catastrophe.  He is not surprised by this, but He did not orchestrate it.  Our world is broken, choices are made, nature gets out of control, weather is affected by climate change and more.  He weeps with His children.

It is still going on, this relentless storm that keeps circling Texas, going out over water and gaining power and then heading back to land.  It is hard to comprehend the 50 plus inches of rain and I cannot imagine the despair in places like Rockport TX where everything is gone.  The landscape has changed to the point that citizens are grieving a world that no longer exists.  God have mercy.

I read a post today about a Baptist college professor who is in his home with his wife and five young children.  Triplets under age 1, an 8 year old and 5 year old.  They are staying in their master bedroom, watching the water close in on their home.  Tornado warnings find them in the bedroom closet.  It is heartbreaking to hear him question, "If we flood, how can I get on my roof with 3 babies and two young kids?  Lisa Buffaloe has written about her own family in Texas and Beth Moore has written a beautiful article about "her Houston".  She mentions agencies where people can offer help of all kinds. Wonderful relief agencies are heading to Texas, and there are many reputable ones where you can give from your pocketbook if you cannot give of yourselves.

Our hearts ache for Texas, and parts of Louisiana.  The challenges ahead for everyone will be long lasting and so so difficult.  It may be hard for people to believe that God is with them.  It brings to mind the woman who was separated from her teenage girls.  She was rescued from the water by volunteers with a boat and reunited with her girls.  She kept saying, "God is good.  God is so good."

It may be difficult to grasp in the midst of tragedy, but God is bending His ear to hear the prayers,  and God is releasing His love and power for all those walking through this valley.  When I watched the endless stream of people walking through water to dry land, the boats rescuing people from their homes, and the helicopters rescuing desperate people from their rooftops, I could not help but see God working through the people who are reaching out their hands.  Thank you God for the goodness of people.

The floodgates have been opened with a 500 year flood.  As we join together in prayer I believe God will continue to open HIS floodgates, His blessings over His created ones.  Hurricane Harvey has  been persistent in his destruction.........but God.  God will be persistent in His blessings.  We live in the hope for a better day ahead.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ordinary or Extraordinary?

As I read Ann Voskamp's blog post describing her journey with unexpected heart failure, two words resonated with me....."ordinary glory". Ordinary glory.....finding the glory of our Papa God in the ordinary ~ the laughter of children, the rising or setting of the sun, the beating of our own hearts.  As I shared with Joel her written words he responded with....."There really is no ordinary glory". This does ring true.  The glory of the Lord comes into our ordinary and makes it all extraordinary.

When we walk through the valley and find ourselves looking back on that season, it is important to use our spiritual eyes to see how God released His love and wove His goodness, His glory into each step along the way. He makes the ordinary extraordinary.

And what is the ordinary?  Well, I mentioned a few above.....the laughter of children, the beating of our own hearts.........the rising or setting sun.  I guess it is those things we take for granted in life, like our next breath.......or the food set before us.  Yeah.

When we traveled West through all the wide open spaces in the winter of 2015, I noticed all the different sunsets...and began to photograph them as I realized each one held it's own beauty.  In our neighborhood it is hard to find the sunset or sunrise with all the trees and houses that block the view. Not so on our favorite farm where I can wake early and view the sunrise from the window that brings it right to me on the upstairs landing.  It never fails to bring gratitude to my heart.  So, too, the sunset over our favorite Iowa lake.

Our favorite Iowa lake at sunset

The sunset we saw in Kansas was different than those we experienced in Arizona.  I hope I never tire of pausing to experience God's ending to another day created for our enjoyment.  We were not able to see the eclipse here with our overcast skies, but even watching it on our TV, we were completely in awe of this unusual occurrence.  Our Creator's intricate detail and power displayed!  Those events do amaze us and should!   But I throw out there the idea that the ordinary can amaze us too.

Bill Johnson in his book, The Supernatural Power of the Transformed Mind, said we need to live in the "everyday miraculous". and it should just be the norm.  Miracles seen as there's an idea worth contemplating.

Ann Voskamp has encouraged millions of people to write down every single thing they are thankful for in each changed her life, and when she shared her story with the rest of the world it has changed others too.  Being grateful for it all....because we are here to experience it.  Because we are here to receive it from our Papa God and share it with others.  Because when we do give thanks for the ordinary it does become something more.

So, maybe there is no ordinary when we let God into our lives.  Maybe it is all extraordinary.......and maybe when the Lord's Prayer reads.....thy Kingdom come on EARTH as it is in Heaven.....that here on earth does include the everyday miraculous.  And the extraordinary includes not only a rare eclipse, but the every day sunrise and sunset.   Thank you Papa for making the ordinary extraordinary!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fine Tuning Our Focus

For the last several months we have driven down a busy street in our "micropolitan" city, passing by a confederate flag flying high on a flag pole in the front yard of a small house.  It seems out of place up here in the upper Midwest.  We don't know who lives in the house, and are not curious to find out.  Sometimes we pray for whoever lives there....other times we pass by in silence.  Just kitty-corner across the street is a church.  An apostolic church where many of the faces inside on Sunday morning are not white.  These are black Christians who would deeply feel the historic significance of this banner waving their way.  Sobering.  Especially after the past couple of weeks.  Sobering.

This week a good friend of our oldest and her family grieves the loss of two fellow police officers in his department in Florida.  I watched a TV video yesterday of this man washing and sweeping the blood off the street where the police officers were ambushed.  Washing the blood of his good friend off the street.  A symbol of deep compassion, solidarity and respect.  A family of blue coming together to grieve the loss of two of their own who were called to serve and protect.  Our son in blue has experienced this kind of loss just last year in the department he works for.  It is all so sad.   Sobering.

Just a couple of days ago I was reading author and speaker Ann Voskamp's blog where she shared that she is in the midst of recovering from what was a minor surgery and quickly evolved into the beginning of heart failure. A shocking "suddenly" that turned their world upside down.  Sobering.

Ann's story brought me to that of my sister's.  A little over three weeks ago she had a heart attack and ended up having 6 bypasses.  She is a walking miracle.  We just went up to spend a day and night with her as the siblings take turns keeping her company this week. The doctor said she will experience 1% improvement a day ......6 months will bring full recovery.   She is doing so well, but the scars are vivid reminders of all she has gone through.  It is all sobering.

When life throws such circumstances our way it is so very hard not to focus on the hate....or the horror.....the shock...or the trauma.  So darn hard to walk through the valley of the shadow, but we never walk alone.  Never.  It is important to keep our focus on the truth the Word holds for us.  We don't deny what is going on, but we don't empower it either.  We need to fine tune our focus.  We choose to empower what we know about our Lord, what He promises. The sobering events may leave us wounded and in pain, but God is still with us.  God is still faithful in our broken world.  He weeps with us, He walks with us, He listens, He reminds us Who He is.  The Lord who provides........protects.........sees.........heals.............fights for us. Yeah, that is who God is.

"He gives us beauty for ashes
the oil of joy for mourning
the garment of praise 
for the spirit of heaviness."
Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Heavy Rain, Heavy Hearts

Yesterday the rain came down heavy.  No wind to speak of, no thunder or lightening, just a sudden downpour that continued for about an hour or so.  Once again it reminded me of our years in The Philippine Islands.  The monsoon season would bring the quiet heavy rain with humidity so thick it would make it harder to get a breath.  Then it would just stop, the sun would come out and the steam would rise off the ground.  I would like to tell you that we adjusted to that kind of weather, but we "northerners" did not.

We had the wooden Fischer Price puzzles that we brought with us, and they all split from the humidity.  Wood plaques and furniture warped.  Joel lost a lot of weight, I did not (surprise).  I did struggle with sinus headaches until we moved on base where we had air conditioning. did not quite keep the house dry and cool.  When the kids took their afternoon naps, I would lay them on one bed (our two oldest and the neighbor boy Kiko who lived with us more than his family) and blow the fan right on them so they could rest comfortably.  Our sheets always felt damp when you climbed into bed at night, and bugs had a good prolific life in that kind of weather.  I have had a deep appreciation and grateful heart for A/C ever since.

The memories of the Philippines and this weeks news had me thinking about the Burnhams.  When missionaries Gracia Burnham and her husband, Martin, were captured by terrorists they were in deep peril in the jungles of the P.I.   For over a year they lived among the Abu Sayyaf, fearing for their lives as they watched another captive beheaded, the single women used as sex slaves, and everyone sleeping on the ground with little to sustain them.  Eventually they were rescued by Filipino soldiers, but her husband was killed in the process.  She sustained a gunshot wound but was able to come home to her children.  She has spent her years since then writing and speaking about the ordeal and working for the Christian foundation she started in Martin's name.

Certainly we cannot compare the white supremacists and neo-Nazis to groups like the Abu Sayyaf.....or can we?  What has happened this past week in our country is hard to stomach.  We lived through the sixties and although it was pretty cushy up here in the north in our mostly "white world" we saw and heard about all the violence...and mourned the death of Kennedy, King Jr, and yet another Kennedy.  Civil rights were hard to come by.

Our family is a blend of Filipino, Korean, Spanish, Chinese, Northern Cheyenne, African American, Mexican,  Puerto Rican black, and whatever ancestry the "white" members bring to the table.  We experienced racism as a family, some of our children more so..........and still do. Here is the truth found in God's Word.  We cannot bring hate to the table and call ourselves Christians.  No way.  Hate for a country, for a religion for a skin color?  All of it goes against what our Savior brought into the world and preached and taught.  Don't kid yourself, Jesus does not condone hatred or prejudice of any kind.  His Heart is heavy today, as are ours.  We need to all look in the mirror and ask God to reveal to us what we need to cleanse from our own hearts.  Whether in the jungles of the Philippines or on the streets of our country, racism, hatred, and violence of any kind in word or deed has no place of acceptance.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Tuesday Scribble: GPS, Hawks, and House Slippers!

Today we headed west to a National wildlife reserve about 1 1/2 hours from here.  We are preparing for our trip to CA this fall, and wanted to get a "Lifetime Senior Pass" to all the national parks across the country.  They are only $10, but soon will cost $80.  So we packed a lunch and headed out about 10:30 am.  It took us 2 hours because we decided to use my phone's GPS which kept trying to send us right into the middle of the Union Slough.  Glub glubbbbb.................After listening to our lady tell us over and over to turn where there were no roads.....I googled the office to find the "address" of the Union Slough and we finally drove right to it.  Yep.  Well, at least that is our story and we are sticking to it.

Gold Eagle on Slough

When we arrived, Joel stepped out of the van and started to chuckle.  It seems he had forgotten to exchange his house "slippers" for his tennis shoes.  No one could really tell the difference, but us.  Maybe he just likes to wear slip-on's, ya know?  Along with his old cowboy hat for which I have no good feelings!  I would like to accidentally sit on it, but so far Joel has kept it far away from my reclining bum.

Between the GPS fiasco and the slippers incident, we decided we need to get our act together before the trip west or our kids will worry while we are gone.  It would not be the first time.........I remember when we were going to New York City and our oldest said, "My parents are going to get on a subway and never be heard from again!"  Of course we had not traveled for many years then due to Lyme, but I'm just sayin'.  On that same trip we "somehow" got off the interstate we were on and found ourselves heading straight into Chicago.  North instead of West.  I am the navigator Joel is the driver......we both were at fault.  Sigh...  We made an "urgent" call to our oldest and asked here the best route through the windy city since she and her family had lived there for 10 maybe she has reason to worry?

While at the Wildlife Refuge today we sat overlooking the slough watching the many kinds of ducks and birds.  Seeing an eagle and a hawk, heron, terns, geese, and more.  What I noticed was just how quiet it was.  The silence really speaks loudly at times, doesn't it.  As we sat eating our lunch and observing nature we talked about Joel's 4 years of summers working for the wildlife refuge in Minnesota.  His first two year degree was in wildlife management and he spent his days banding ducks, building fences or taking old fences out...........sometimes up to his neck in the water (hoping not to get "swimmer's itch".  So many years ago, yet so many memories surfacing.

Black-eyed Susans

While getting our passes Joel mentioned he once worked in a refuge in MN.  The clerk asked Joel how he ended up in Iowa and he told her he was in the military, then the seminary and his work as a pastor brought him to Iowa.  She replied, "What an interesting life!"  When we got outside I turned to Joel and replied, "She has no idea!"  It has definitely been an interesting life ~ good, bad, and a bit ugly.  Through it all God has been faithful.

With all that has gone in the family sister's heart attack and 6 bypasses, Gr. Jo's fall hitting the coffee table, my surgery for melanoma.......I think all our kids are looking ahead and pondering what the future holds and how the heck do "things" get handled from afar.  Yeah. No one plans to trip and suddenly need open heart have their world turn upside down.  It is not healthy to worry continually about those unexpected things, but it is good to think about and make some kind of plan for the what ifs or eventual needs.  Unless you are like our neighbor who continues to amaze us.  At 87 she is out raking, mowing, hauling rock in here wheelbarrow, trimming trees.....I love it!  She gives us all hope!

What a day..............We can only laugh and look forward to our next adventure with God making sure Holy comes along for the ride........and learning from our mistakes.  Like, don't forget your shoes!  And bring along an atlas cuz the GPS lady gets lost too!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Defining Normal

Joel and I are reading aloud the book, "The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind" by Pastor Bill Johnson.  It has given us a new perspective on the definition of "normal Christianity".  Always love the way God opens our eyes to more of Him.

I remember when we told a friend about our adventure in healing and speaking in tongues.  My friend's hubby replied...'Well, that is just a little to the right of crazy, isn't it."  It was just not normal in his mind.  We had a good chuckle over that and have used the term ourselves....cuz we have observed things that made us feel that same way.   What is normal to one is not necessarily normal to another!

Have you heard of the book, "Hillbilly Eulogy"  by J.D. Vance? I had to be put on a waiting list to get the book from our local library.  As I read into the book, I found it  not to my liking so I did not finish it.  I did think about Vance growing up in a hillbilly culture, though, and how our environment defines what is normal and familiar for us, at least until we observe something different.

Normal:  it used to describe a setting on our clothes dryers .........until computers and sensors made our washer and dryers into amazing machines.  Remember when it was normal to have a phone attached to the wall, when you had to get up to turn the TV channel?  Back in the day,  no one could comprehend soaring through the air.  I am sure that many thought the Wright brothers were just a little to the right of crazy!  And maybe they were.  Stepping out of the box moves us forward!

Lets look at our bodies.  When I was so very ill, walking across the room or up the stairs was exhausting for me.  My body adjusted and pretty much was comfortable with being so sick.  Then I was healed of Lyme and I started to walk....5 minutes...  10 minutes was a major milestone for me. The body had to be coaxed back to life.  Exercising then became normal to the point where if I don't walk daily I feel sluggish and out of sorts.   My body's perspective of normal has shifted.  It is still a work in progress, but walking is normal now.  Thank God.

So all this to contemplate that what Jesus commands in the Bible..........GO preach the gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, raise the dead, speak in new tongues................I am thinking that these commands from Jesus are to be followed and defined as normal Christianity.  The supernatural power of God for us is normal.  It is food for thought.  Bringing the kingdom to earth....."They kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven".  Yeah.  On earth.  Wouldn't it be amazing if we saw the works of Jesus come through us..........remember He lives IN us..........remember He said we would do greater things than He did with Holy Spirit in us.....Normal Christianity.  Wow.  Just sayin'

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"That's Who I Am"

“If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. 

If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it.

 He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning...

 Face it, friend. He is crazy about you! ”

Max Lucado

God really is crazy about us. That whole, love you beyond understanding thing going on.  A love that casts out fear.  One that sacrifices.  I recently heard a pastor say he has always prayed for his children to grow up to marry someone who loves God more than they love them.......and vice versa. Interesting, don't you think?  And powerful.  It is so important to have a loving relationship with our Papa God and He is so ready for us.  Waiting for us to love Him back!

We have seen a lot of God's love being expressed this past week through those who gathered in her presence or in prayer as she spent her days in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery. Like I said before, we are a praying family and we are giving thanks to God for her waking each morning to greet another day.

I just read about a woman who struggled greatly with ongoing negative thoughts that were relentless.  She was going to be speaking at a conference and felt like the enemy was coming against her, using her mind.  While worshiping on the first night of the conference she found herself totally focused on the song..."You are a good good Father"  As she worshiped the thoughts that had been bombarding her mind lifted off.  The one stanza that stood out for her (and for me) was about Papa's love.....

"You're a good good Father
That's who you are, who you are....
And I know You love me
That's who I am.....who I am"

His love for us defines who we are.  His child.  His beloved son or daughter.  We can rest in that truth.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rejoicing Over The Ashes Miracle

Sunday afternoon we went to the lake to sit by the water, stroll the walkway,  and just relax.  At five we headed over to the Central Gardens to watch an outdoor concert.  Such a fun afternoon.  We went to bed that night relaxed and thinking "all is well" with no clue there was a "suddenly" coming.

At 7 am my phone rang, waking me to the news that my sister Janelle had had a heart attack, was at the hospital and having tests.  Soon we were told she would need emergency open heart surgery. After many hours of surgery she was in ICU after having 6 bypasses.  At age 62.  Yesterday we drove up to see her for a short visit.  She is surrounded by her four girls, and good health care. It is still hard to digest, the suddenly of open heart surgery when the day before she had been out walking and running around her favorite lake.

Suddenly.  Too often we have to deal with the suddenlys of life.  All is good until it is not.  Then what.  Well, for my family today's suddenly put everyone "on their knees" in prayer.  We are a praying family and for that I am so thankful.  We reach out to pray for each other and pick up our phones to text prayer groups like The Knee Team to ask for prayers when needed. There is both power and peace found in prayer.  Jesus our Healer!

All day long Monday I kept hearing a hymn in my head, and found myself humming and singing...."Great is they faithfulness....." "great is thy faithfulness.......morning by morning new mercies I see...."  It reminded me of the verses that God has been highlighting for me out of Isaiah 61, joy for mourning, beauty for ashes and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness.  The beauty for ashes came first from Joel, then again as I was meditating......later it was on a TV teaching and then a song.  Beauty for ashes.  New mercy!

While I was meditating Sunday morning God showed me sweeping with a broom a bunch of dirt and grim off the floor.  I questioned what it was, and heard...."symptoms".  I picked them up in a dustpan and was going to put them in the garbage and I heard, "put them on the fire".  I looked to my right and saw a fire smoldering, so I dumped them there and then heard....."beauty for ashes".  Beauty for ashes.

As promised we do receive from God, beauty for ashes and I am declaring that for my sister as she goes through months of recovery and changes after this "suddenly" in her life.  Long story, short, it is a miracle that she is still here and we are on our knees with humble thanksgiving. Janelle is a strong woman and will walk through this journey carried by love, prayer, and her own determination.  But I am also praying and giving thanks for all the beauty that will come from this.  Overwhelmed with gratitude that God is giving her beauty for ashes.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday's Scribbles: Mixing Things Up

My hubby likes to make daily life an adventure, finding joy in the small things.......even the concoctions he comes up with when making his own meals.  We kind of have a routine here.....we fix what we want for our breakfasts, I plan lunch and suppers.  Sunday nights we are on our own.  For as long as I can remember, what you see in this photo(with a few variations) is Sunday morning breakfast for Joel.  He lays it all out the night before because he is usually preaching and it takes less time......He has oatmeal every Sunday morning.  pretty boring, right?  But you might imagine it is pretty doctored up when you look at all the ingredients in the photo.  He adds cocoa, honey, dried cranberries, cinnamon, sunflower seeds, salt, ground flax seed and half a banana!  Sometimes blueberries and a few other surprises.  Nothing boring here!  Of course a cup of coffee follows.

Joel's breakfast adventure

Joel has always mixed things up, whether it is his order for "2/3 tea and 1/3 Sprite" drink in a restaurant or taking what he can find in the fridge and putting it together to slap on a soft tortilla shell. Our kids used to cringe if they heard dad was fixing supper, and one of their favorite groan and moan stories is about when he had them pick wild asparagus from the ditches of Montana which he used in a hot dish along with whatever else was leftover in the fridge.  It still makes them shudder!

Joel is good at creating his own meals, and creating his own joy in life.  Everything has his own "touch" added to it!  It is one of the things I love about him.  This past winter some of that joy was hard to come by for a variety of reasons.  I was right with him, just feeling pretty beaten up.   A couple of weeks ago we talked about what was at the top of our adventure list with God....kinda like a bucket list, but no one is dying here, so we made it an adventure list!  At the top of our list was a trip to CA to Bethel Church so we could sit under their ministry.  We are in the midst of making plans for that trip right now.  Mixing things up and seeking a new adventure with God.

49th Anniversary

Speaking of adventures, if you want to read a good book about living a radical, laid-down life for Jesus, pick up my friend Linny Saunders new book, "The Memorial Box".  In it she shares many big and small adventures with God that will have you smiling and giving thanks for His faithfulness. Their family of 14, with 9 still at home is an adventure enough, but you can add to that their non-profit ministry for the orphans.   I had a hard time putting it down ~ finishing it in 24 hours.  The Saunders know how to mix things up and with their family I would say every day is one big adventure.

A couple of weeks ago Joel and I were driving to another town so he could preach on a Saturday night.  As we went through a small village on the backroads there was a truck in front of us pulling a small open trailer ~ a mini version of a trailer like you would see in a parade.  There were six middle aged people sitting on the trailer, three up top and three below, all staring back at us.  We stopped at a stop sign and one of the guys said something pointing to his neck and moving across it and then pointing at us.  We knew he was talking about Joel's shirt...he was wearing a clerical collar.  I kept wanting to giggle as we continued on, having to follow them at a snail's pace through the town.  They just kept staring the whole time.  I picked up a book and put it in front of my face because I could not stop from laughing. It did not help......when I lowered the book they were still staring at us blankly. What a relief a couple of minutes later when Joel was able to pass them, smiling and waving as we did so.   Then we laughed all the way to the church a good 20 minutes away.  Sometimes God has such a sense of humor ~ our attitude was a bit snarly when we left home, but changed quickly when God mixed things up,  making a regular routine more of an adventure.  Giggle......

How do you mix things up?  I hope you are as blessed as I am to live with someone who can find or create joy in your day to day living.  It is there to be found, and from what I have learned God loves to join in!  He delights in it and in us!  We are already praying for our trip West and asking Papa God to "mix things up" for us!  We'll go along for the ride, seeking joy in the process.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Making My Pen A Weapon

It is not my intention to dwell on Satan and his followers, but at the same time we need to be prepared for what he sends our way.  Certainly the scriptures don't brush aside his desire to kill steal and destroy us. (John 10:10).  God in all His wisdom has provided us weapons of warfare for the spirit realm such as found in Ephesians chapter six. We can also add to the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, sword of the spirit, shoes of peace, shield of faith and belt of truth those of praise and prayer.  A wonderful book explaining the weapons found in Ephesians is "Dressed To Kill" by Rick Renner.

Yesterday I read an article that opened my eyes to yet another weapon of warfare we can add to our arsenal. That weapon is a pen.  Or in today's world a keyboard!  It never dawned on me that by writing what Holy Spirit leads us to write, we are actually fighting against the enemy's strategy.  Like I mentioned before, his  purpose is to kill, steal, and destroy.  Period and exclamation point.  God's purpose is to bring his children Home.  As writers, our purpose is to let others experience God through our words, between the pages of a book or across the Internet world.  Words as weapons of warfare against the enemy's deceptions..

"Putting pen to paper lights more fires than ashes could ever do."

We already know that God's Word is living and "sharper than any two edged sword".  We know that His scriptures "brings life to those who find them and healing to their whole body".  That God "sent His word and healed others".  Words are powerful.  In any shape or form, to build up or tear down, words hold power.  If we have the gift of writing, whether it be books, blogs, songs, or poetry, when we use that gift for God's glory, that in itself fights against Satan's plans for evil.

Today I am addressing pens as weapons, but I believe any gift we have, when used for God's purpose, is a weapon.  Like to paint?  Enjoy singing?  Love to teach?  Each time we step out in faith to use our gifts, I believe Heaven rejoices and hell trembles!  Not all weapons of warfare put us in a battle stance, but they do bring Heaven to earth and joy to our Lord.  What is your weapon?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Lifetime of Saturdays

I have been re-reading a book by Susie Davis entitled, "Unafraid:  Trusting God In An Unsafe World" It is her own story of moving out of a life controlled for decades by fear and into a life of trusting God in all circumstances.  In one section of the book she shares an amazing analogy surrounding Easter weekend as Christians speak of it, and how we do life today.

On Good Friday we remember how Jesus suffered and died on the cross while His disciples and His family watched in horror.  On Saturday we remember how they mourned His loss and feared for their own lives........Saturday was a day of "what ifs" and discouragements....fears.  Silence from the tomb.  And then Sunday came~ Jesus rose from the dead and left the tomb!  Victory reigns!  We know this well and base our faith on the Resurrection.

Susie then talked about how she sees Friday as representing the really bad things that come into in our lives.  Things that bring physical, emotional or spiritual trauma and pain.  On those "Fridays" we focus on surviving.  Then Saturday comes and we find ourselves asking "What the heck just happened?" Fear knots our stomach and we worry....we  look for ways to cope, ways to keep it from happening again.  But ALL the worries and fears hold us in the limbo of Saturday, not understanding that Saturday is not a place of wholeness or wellness.  We get stuck in it, and Sunday never comes. Somewhere deep inside we long for the joy of Sunday where God makes all things new, we long for Sunday where resurrection power brings us hope and healing.  Yeah....But how do we get there from a place of fear?   Maybe we just intentionally step into it one day at a time.  During Susie Davis's journey to freedom she realized that she had been living a lifetime of Saturdays.   Fear was controlling her day to day living.  John Hayford once asked, "How would you treat a friend who lies to you as often as your fears do?"  Yeah..........fears can keep us trapped in a lifetime of Saturdays.

Even though I had read this book before, I found myself caught up in the stillness of knowing you have just read something profound, something that is going to reshape your life.  You have this choice, you can look back or look around and be lead to stay in the Saturdays or you can take a leap of faith into Sunday!  And this Friday ~ Saturday~ Sunday cycle?  It will happen often.  It is just part of the broken world we live in, but Sunday is our goal, it is where we step out in trust.  After what Jesus did for us on Good Friday, how can we not help but trust Him!

I confess I have gotten stuck in Saturdays,  the trauma of a "Friday" event bringing to the surface the questions of Saturday...."What the heck just happened?" Joel and I have said it more than once in the past two years, and yet often our search for answers actually holds us captive.  It is when we look to Jesus and remember that Sunday holds victory, that peace reigns.  When we tried to reason, answer or figure out the whys of Friday events, "Sunday" living is far away.

During Susie Davis's journey to freedom from a life of fear, she realized that she had been living a lifetime of Saturdays, while deep inside she hungered for Sundays with Jesus.  There is a great video on YouTube that speaks of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  The man's words tell the story of Jesus crucifixion, the suffering He endured.  At the end of each sentence spoken of the darkness of that day, the preacher says...."but Sunday's a coming!"  I love that reminder that on the day the covenant split in half, we know that Sunday is coming!  The Resurrection!  The Victory!  It is for us, too.

If you find yourself in the midst of a "Friday" event or situation, there is hope.  The journey from Friday to Sunday is a process we go through.  The opportune words here are "go through".  We  remember how often fear "lies" to us, and we speak God's truth over our situation, reaching for Sunday's victories.  One day at a time.

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.