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 world......in 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


Montana

Minnesota
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 battle....in the moment.....in the resting....in 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 calm....rest my child.....rest 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.  Come......rest........in 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.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Mrs. Robin vs Mr. Joel



Persistence pays off.  Or so our neighborhood robin keeps telling us with her actions.  She is busy with nest building, but unfortunately has decided on a location that is not acceptable.  The top of the vent on our porch!  It would make for some messy porch sitting.  Joel took down her first efforts and put something up top to deter her from bringing more supplies to her decided location.  She was not happy, and was not about to change her mind.  She flew back several times with materials in her beak.  She may now have decided to find a place in the garage.  Joel shooed her out of there and closed it up, but I have been waiting to see who's will win out.....Mrs. Robin or Mr. Joel.  It seems to be a battle of the wills.  Persistence and determination.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible on this topic is found in I Thessalonians 5:17........"Pray without ceasing."

And another verse translated from the Greek ( In Luke 11) says, "Ask and keep on asking.......seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you."

Persistence and determination.  There are those who have the belief that praying once is enough.  God hears and answers as He sees fit.  I agree to a point.  But I also believe that there is something to be said for persistence.  Especially when speaking to diseases, sicknesses, etc.  That business was all covered in the blood shed by Jesus.  It is a matter of body, soul, and spirit now.  So, we persist in speaking to our mountains...........persist in believing in God's promises.......persist in faith....persist in staying in the shelter of His wings.  Yes we do.

We are persisting in prayer for our friend Linny.  I would venture to say thousands are praying for her, because, besides friends and family, the blog she has draws a million viewers a year.  Faithfully we persist in standing firm for her healing.  We lift our voices in prayer and in praise knowing God is with her.

Mrs. Robin has been a reminder to me today to pray without ceasing.  Even though I have had to chuckle at her antics.  She sat our on porch railing this afternoon and I talked to her from inside the door.  She would listen, cocking her head to one side, as I told her she would be better off finding somewhere else to raise her up and coming family.  But she would have none of it.  She is determined.  Sometimes we just know that we know that we know.  So we persist in faith.  Yes we do.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Will You Join Me In Prayer?

My sweet friend, Linny from A Place Called Simplicity is very very sick and in need of our prayers.  In short, she was not feeling well for awhile, then things continually got worse and she ended up in ER.  A liver test revealed that her enzymes that should be at 20 are at 4,000.  The specialists are telling them she has an acute liver disease, at the minimum it is acute Hepatitis A.  They are still figuring out all the pieces.

Linny is a tiny little woman with a big heart for the orphans.  They have a non profit, International Voice of the Orphans, that supports kids around the world.  They are grandparents, while at the same time still raising 9 kids at home.  They have a total of 14 kids and oodles of grands.  Linny and her hubby, Dwight were called to live and love on the orphans, they love the Lord and serve Him faithfully.

We "met" online and I ran her Knee Team prayer group for many years.  We connected through phone calls, texts and emails until the winter of 2015 when we were able to go to see them while in Arizona.  What a delight to hug skin on skin.  Linny is a dear friend, and has played a big part in my healing journey.   I would expect that many others can testify to the same.



So, not for a minute do I believe that this is part of God's plan for her life.  This is the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy and I know Linny agrees with me.  Let's lift our hearts in prayer for Linny to have full recovery, rejoicing in the healing to come.  Let's pray her liver revitalizes;.....for NOTHING is impossible with God.  And please remember her family.....Dwight and the 9 kids at home.  

Thank you all.........

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I Just Know


There are more times than I can count on my fingers that Joel has responded to my question of "when" with his own "not yet".  When making decisions we would pray about them, and Joel just knew when it was the right time to move forward with the plan, the big purchase, the move.  Whatever it was, he would just "know" when it was time.  It used to frustrate me, because across the board he was right in the majority of those situations.  I would ask him how he knew....and he would say, "I really can't explain it, I just know."

Nearly 50 years later I had a light bulb moment while listening to Havilah Cunnington teach an E- class I'm taking on how we each hear God's voice.  She listed four of what she calls prophetic personalities and the first one listed was a Knower.  When she described how a Knower hears from God and that they just know in their mind and heart what is true,  I finally understood Joel's "not yets" and his"nows" over the years.  She calls this "having a Spiritual gut".  Your intuition from God. I get it now.  We both do!

I am not a Knower.  I am more of a Feeler and Seer, as shown to me in the quiz I took at the beginning of the class.  Bi-lingual in how God and I communicate.  :)  We are just getting into this section, so I'm looking forward to what I learn.  A Feeler can walk into a new environment and just sense the spiritual atmosphere.  They can feel God speaking often through emotions and see him at work throughout their day.  A Seer sees in pictures, dreams and visions.  I really thought everyone saw in pictures.  For me, when I am talking about something or listening to someone talk, I suddenly will see a picture or video concerning the words I am hearing or seeing.  When I meditate, I close my eyes and see visions or videos from God. This has happened at church, while driving in the car, or watching an online teacher.  Pictures pop into my head whether my eyes or closed or open.  Truthfully, I just thought I was hypersensitive and a little west of weird.  I still may be described that way, but now I know why.  God.

So, how do you and God communicate?  Do you hear a still small voice?  Do you see things that others do not?  Do you just know?  Do you feel things deeply?

You see, God wants to communicate with us.  He wants a close relationship with each of us and that is only possible through intimacy and communication.  He delights in His beloved.  He is especially fond of each one of us.  That is how He rolls!  He has a super duper purpose for each of our lives in relation to His Kingdom.  We all have a part to play!



We hear God's voice through knowing, seeing, feeling, and hearing and probably a dozen other ways woven within. What we see, hear, feel, and know is not just for ourselves, but for others. God has often shown me pictures and videos for Joel.  Sometimes they are in great detail, sometimes just in passing. Joel has told me things with such a strong conviction behind them.  One of our daughters told us after canceling our move to Arizona, that she never thought we were going to move there, never thought or made plans that way, because she never believed it was going to happen.  She just knew.

I think it is amazing how much Papa God does want to communicate with His kids. And how available He is to us through the unique gifts He has given us.  If we turn in to His way of communicating and realize this is from God, we open ourselves up to so much more!  And if you were to ask Joel, "How do you know he wants to communicate with us on such intimate levels?  He would answer, "I just know!"

Monday, April 24, 2017

Invitations From God

Last week we shared our healing stories with the community church group we are a part of.  They have been gathering for nearly 2 years, but we joined just last fall.  We were asked to share our stories, so we did!

Sometimes it is difficult to look back at those dark times in our life.  Especially when Joel and I were both so sick.  Sometimes I listen to the lies that have me running from what is already gone.  Fear can creep in when I look back on the wrong thing.  Yes, Lyme is evil.  The enemy uses it to kill, steal, and destroy, and it nearly destroyed both Joel and my lives.  But God!  Once we opened our eyes to the revelation of His Word on healing........everything changed.

I'll soon be reading and reviewing a book by Bonnie Gray, entitled, "Whispers of Rest".  Her first book, "Finding Spiritual Whitespace" has helped many people walk through difficult times.  Bonnie was a well educated and successful business woman who suddenly was controlled by panic attacks due to childhood trauma that surfaced.....but God had other plans.  God invited her to open her heart to healing and she stepped out into the more He offered and is now empowering others with what she learned on her journey.  Only God.

My friend Katherine was battling Lyme disease and the many antibiotics, supplements and herbs she was taking did not heal her broken body.  She listened to a teaching about God wanting us well, felt led by God, and took a bold step in obedience ~ throwing out the many bottles lining her counter, relying on prayer for healing.  She is now a mom of 5 beautiful babies, active in her church and community, and doing so well.  She opened her heart and her eyes to seeing God's Word in a new way..........and everything shifted.  She also shared her journey with us and for that we are eternally grateful.

I listened to a woman share her story of how she ended up living in Redding California.  She kept having dreams where she would see a city surrounded by mountains.  She was living in the south and her life was challenging at the time.  She kept seeing this place but had no idea where it was.  She heard about Bethel, decided to go to a conference there, and as she came into the city it took her breath away.  Here was the city of her dreams.  Against any arguments, she knew she was to follow God's calling.  She moved there and attended their school of ministry.  Her life changed at God's invitation.

Recently I shared a story her about how Holy Spirit invited me into "something more" with Him. The many weeks that we walked together in a divine encounter is hard to explain, but I did attempt to do so here.  People may be uncomfortable with what I shared, but God told me clearly that I am not to worry about what others think, or try to please man in anyway.  I am to obey Him.  This is a challenging invitation from God........letting go of what people think.  The need for approval from others.  I can look back and see some of the ways it is beginning to happen..........in what I write.......in what I share......in my creative worship dancing....in Bible journaling.  Only God.

What is God inviting you into right now?  He is always welcoming us into something!  Whether it is a closer relationship with Him, obedience, a new art, a new land, healing, or more.  We need to be keeping our ears and eyes open to His guidance and direction, His invitation for the more.  Can you hear Him beckoning you into more?










Friday, April 21, 2017

A Firm Grip

  We had been visiting Joel's folks at the farm.  I woke up and went downstairs to find his mom getting ready to cut our son Matt's hair.  I was not brave enough to say anything, but turned around and ran upstairs to get Joel.  He let his mom know she was not to cut our son's hair.  It was long, yes.....it was the 70's and Matt was sporting a thick mop of hair.  Lots of bangs!  We were very grateful for that hair just a few months later.

Joel, Beth, Matt, and myself were visiting friends in the Canadian bush that summer of 1973.  We had rented a tent camper and were spending a week at their Christian camp in the bush country.  It was a sunny day when we set out to explore, using canoes to paddle our way.  We stopped to eat our picnic lunch on a large rock area.  After eating, our son Matt, age 2, went to play by the water.  Suddenly he fell in and I ran as fast as I could to the water.  He had already disappeared, so I reached down into the water searching, and found his long hair.  I grabbed hold, pulling hard to get him to the surface.  I don't think I stopped shaking for the rest of the day.
Matt age 3


It seems that this lovely picnic sight, with the beautiful water and level rock surface was the top of what continued to be a cliff underneath where currents ran strong.  He was being pulled underneath into an area where we could not reach him when I grabbed him by that thick mop of hair.  How thankful we were that my wariness around water got me to Matt in record time....how grateful we were that Matt's thick blonde hair gave me something to grip when I wrestled with the current to bring him back to the surface and into my arms.  Only God.

A good analogy of how God cares for us, don't you think?  We believe we are in a good place and everything looks great, but there is danger hidden from us.....yet not from God.  He knows what is coming and He keeps His eye on us.  He has a "firm grip" on us as we read in the book of Isaiah.  Our Papa God, as a loving parent, watches over us, often rescuing us when necessary.

"Do not be afraid, neither be dismayed, 
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9  

"I'll give you strength.  I'll help you.  
I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."
Isaiah 41:10



Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adventures in Africa or Suburbia

My friend, Linny, has used YWAM's (Youth With A Mission) books about missionaries for many years, reading them to all their children.  Recently she talked about one book on her blog, A Place Called Simplicity and YWAM heard about it.  They offered her readers a special price on a set of 5 books, with 10% of the profit going to Linny and Dwight's ministry, International Voice of the Orphan.    There are some great stories about missionaries!

Today I listened to a man share his story on the Hillsong channel.  He and his wife had been missionaries in Saudi Arabia, starting many underground churches during the time that they lived with their family there. They were from India, but felt God call them to start underground churches in a Muslim country.

Years passed, their churches multiplied, and then the government found out what they were doing, and told them they would have to leave the country. The man and his wife sent their kids back to India right away, and they stayed behind to pack up.  Unfortunately, the man was arrested and taken to prison just 10 days before he was scheduled to leave.  He was in solitary isolation for 1 month, interrogated for hours at a time nearly daily, and spent 6 more months in prison before they released him.  He has no regrets because he did what he felt called to do.

It took me back to our days at The Lutheran Bible Institute.  Many of our teachers were once missionaries and one in particular had suffered greatly in a Japanese POW camp.  His fingers were all broken and not re-set so they now bent at angles....he had his finger nails removed too.  As a Christian he suffered greatly for his faith.  He was a faithful man of God who empowered all the students who sat in his classes.

I remembered Gracia and Martin Burnham, who were missionaries in The Philippines.  They were captured by terrorists and held captive for a year.  They survived many difficulties, but her husband died and she was shot when the Filipino military found the terrorists and assaulted the camp.  Gracia and her family loved living in the P.I. and felt called by God to do so.  Their son is in mission work, flying the same kind of plane his dad did.  Jim and Elisabeth Elliot went to South America in the late 50's where Jim and others were massacred by some of the tribe they had hoped to reach.  Later Elisabeth went back with her family to work with the very people who killed Jim.  There son has worked among them also.

Of course, Linny's daughter Emma and SIL are missionaries in Uganda where they take care of orphans with many special needs.  They are in the process of buying land to expand The Gem Foundation.

Joel's cousin, David Simonson, is buried on the land the Masai gave the family.  David and his wife Eunice spent over 50 years bringing Christ to the Masai tribe.  They started the first girls schools also. His wife and I believe 4 of their 5 kids still live and work in Tanzania.  Jim Klobuchar wrote a great book about their story, entitled The Cross And The Acacia Tree.  I am always so blessed by these stories. What courage to follow their calling.   Ordinary people who have changed the world by being obedient in God's plan for their lives.

There are times like today that I still "wish" we had gone into the mission field, but we believe it was not God's will.  God has a plan for every single one of us, and that plan is to help change the world.  It may not be across the seas.....it may not be as a pastor or a missionary.  It may be as a business man, musician or homemaker.  It may be you are the one in the kitchen serving others at the church....or in a shelter.  Whatever the plan, it is for His purpose.  What is required of us is obedience to that plan, that leading, that purpose.  We are all destined to fulfill His calling on our lives.  Whether on African soil, in the jungles of the Philippines, or in your own backyard in suburbia.  We need only lift our hearts and voices and say..........."Yes, Lord."  The adventures will follow!

Monday, April 17, 2017

He Is Risen!

"As air is in the atmosphere of the Earth, 
glory is in the atmosphere of Heaven.  
It lifts us above the earthly, 
into the very presence of God."
Ruth Heflin

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in our corner of the world.  The sun was shining, the skies were blue and it was warm enough to open doors and windows, as we welcomed in the fresh Spring air.  It was also Easter Sunday, for Christians who celebrate our risen Savior.  Oh Jesus......we love you!

Our youngest daughter and her son went with us to church where we worshiped with friends and raised our hands in praise and gratefulness for God's goodness.  Praising God.......Worshiping our Lord from a place of victory, embracing His presence ~His glory....rejoicing in His eternal gift to us.  Amazing grace.

Sarah and Jonas

Papa and Gr. Na


Yesterday's "He is Risen" service reminded me of a book I recently began reading.   A book by Ruth Heflin, titled "Glory:  Experiencing the Atmosphere of Heaven".  It came about because I have been seeking answers to define more clearly the glory of God.  How do we experience it?  Exactly what is it?  I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors and this woman's name came up.  I googled her, found out she had written several books on God's glory, and the rest is history.

Ruth Heflin was a woman evangelist who did a great deal of teaching on praise and worship.  She makes several great statements in her book.  She believes that the greatest instrument of praise we have is our voice.  That there is greater change that comes about through worship than through any other means.  When we praise God it becomes a time of worship and worship opens the doors to His powerful Presence.  His glory.

For each one of us it may be expressed a bit differently, but the Bible tells us consistently that we need to praise God.  Scriptures tell us that praise is a powerful tool of warfare, that praise opens the doors to God's Presence.  The Psalms are full of praise!  Praise puts our focus on God and off of ourselves.  It reminds us of His goodness.  Praise ~ Worship ~ His Glory....His Presence.

Not only on Easter, but every day of the year, let us give thanks and PRAISE our Lord Jesus!  Lets praise and worship Him, and as you do so, receive His Presence and glory in you....in the room...in the sanctuary.  His is Risen!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Gelatos, Pigment Pens, and the Resurrection Story

Proverbs 31


About a year ago a younger woman at church shared with me the art work she was painting in her Bible.  I was amazed at the beauty of it, but never thought it was something I could do.  I did not even know that it had a name......"Bible Journaling", nor did I imagine I would find it one of the greatest ways to meditate on the Word. Recently a friend mentioned that she was taking a class in Bible journaling, which sent me researching Google, Pinterest, and more.  The result of that first google search has turned into something delightful for me. The next day I began to freehand drawings in one of my older Bibles.  Taking a verse or verses from the Bible, then creating art on the pages of the Bible, has opened a door for me to a new kind of meditation on God's Word.  It feels like a form of worship.  All of our daily living is a kind of worship, as we work, play, read, connect.  It is all a form of worship as we connect with our Creator.  Today I am grateful for Bible Journaling, not doing this from a place of performance, or perfection ( as you can see!), but from communion with God and reflecting on His Word.

You are a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path....


Lately I have received 9 "open door" references, and I have been looking for those doors to open in areas I had already preconceived in my brain.  I quickly realized Bible Journaling is an open door from God that has totally surprised me.  I love it!  It brings me closer to my Lord, helps me soak in the Word, and gives me an expression of worship.  Thank you God!

On a side note, after visiting a few blogs I have come to realize that there are a few people out there who would never write or draw in their Bibles.  Others write all over their Bibles ......and now they draw what they see when reading God's Word.  I am in that latter category and so thankful for this way of visualizing God's Words.

Anyone can do this!  I am not an "artist" but I can visualize what God shows me.  I do need "help" in getting it drawn out so I have used Pinterest and other places to give me something to look at when I draw....I pray and think about what the verse means to me, to others......and then I pick up a pencil to pdraw....then use gelatos (not ice cream) and watercolor and colored pencils, pigment pens, etc.  Oh what fun!

So back to the open doors.....I wonder how many times God has sent me a message and because of my preconceived idea of what that should look like, I miss what He is showing me....giving me.....
My chains are gone....
I've been set free......

As I drew what I saw about Galatians 5:1 above, I was drawn back to Holy Week.  A week of great importance in the life of a Christian.  The last days before Jesus was crucified.  As we walk through this week let us sing with praise....let us speak with love.....let us worship in all we do.........focusing on the Resurrection Story........My chains are gone!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The More



It all began innocently enough.  She sat on her sofa searching for worship music on her laptop. Scrolling down the many videos available her eyes stopped on one by Heidi Baker and Ruth Fazel.  As she touched the keyboard the most beautiful music filled her ears.  Worship music to Jesus,,, soft, mellow, and so so intimate in ways she did not yet understand.

As she stood alone in her living room and sang along, she reached her arms skyward and asked for "more" from Holy Spirit.  More of the Presence in the room, in her body, in her heart.  It began slowly.  A gentle heaviness descended upon her making her move involuntarily.  Soon it was hard to stand so she sat and then it was hard to sit upright so she laid down, letting the Presence of God cover her like an heavy blanket.  A warmth filled her....a peace and sense of contentment and deep love that she longed to hold tightly to.


When this living, breathing blanket came, the Presence moved in.  As days passed there were times her husband needed to help her get around the house, as she continued to be under the Presence of God.  The encounter was at times frightening while at the same time so powerful she did not want it to end.  It was at times confusing while at the same time filled with clarity.  She was experiencing what she did not yet have words for, but knowing it was from God, she surrendered to His will.  Through the encounter, He began the process of the healing she longed for.

Four years later it continues to be difficult for her to describe what occurred during those weeks, as she daily opened her eyes to the glory.  His presence.  Time seemed suspended, yet went by so quickly.  The season of encounter was so intimate, so revealing, so healing as The Presence ebbed and flowed in intensity. doing a graceful dance in her, upon her.  She did not want to live or breathe without it, but slowly the Heavy Blanket subsided and eventually routines returned.  But not to normal.  Nothing could ever go back to what was.  With each sunrise she felt God was with her, but in remembering she could only seek more, ask for more, receive with open arms the More.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Home Is Where Your Story Begins


I looked over a friend's recent photos on her blog and saw a picture of a wooden bird house with one word written below.  Home.  I had just finished writing about "home" and how my favorite columnist Sharon Randall, defines it.

Seeing that birdhouse made me think of the house Joel made that graces our lilac trees in the backyard. A place wrens nest every year.  And our resident duck couple who come to nest in our neighbor's yard each Spring.  They come back to the neighborhood when the snow leaves, and we look forward to greeting them.  Yesterday we heard our residential female cardinal as she sang her familiar song. The same crazy robin seems to be back after a year of reprieve, a day after we had just talked about robins that continually bang against a window ~ maybe talking about it was a bad idea.  And the deer......our neighbor continues to feed them (sigh) and yesterday I went out on our deck and shooed them away, chasing 6 of them out of our yard and away from another neighbor's, where they were raiding his bird feeder.  I like deer......I do NOT like ticks.  Definitely the animals and birds are holding the belief that Spring is here to stay.

Regarding birds, I wondered why certain ones call Iowa home?  Why do they settle here and not head further north?  What calls them to our corner of the world and are they mostly snow birds returning to their "homes" along with their human counterparts?  Dr. Google says that most have a remarkable ability to come back to a particular place.  They may come back to the same back yard, and even the same tree.  They have cues they use to get there.  They are born with genetically encoded routes, timing, etc. in their brains.  Amazing, isn't it!  Only God.

One of our families has been on a great adventure across the sea, and will be soon be back to their own beds at night.  They have no genetically codes to lead them, but I am thinking they will be expressing the "home sweet home" phrase after plane and time changes and so many days of new places and new things.

Home.  Songs are written about it.  Christmas sentiments make us think of that place we each name. We are not like the birds with inbuilt honing devices to draw us back to the place we came from, yet often we are drawn back...........whether your home was a place of the good, the bad, or the ugly, that world brings up images and emotions for each of us.

I expect we all do our best to make our domestic nests welcoming, restful, and a good place to be. We may not always appreciate our home until we are away from it, though.   Looking around our current place of residence today, I am grateful for the familiar.....the sun streaming in the window across the floor....the cozy sofa with my pile of books close by.  The sound of the furnace as it kicks in to take off the chill.......the large windows that bring the outside in and from where I can view nature.....the sounds of my soulmate doing life.   May the place you lay your head tonight, bring you the peace and contentment longed for.  Home.  So many great quotes about it.

"He is happiest whether king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."

" The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back."

"Home is where the heart is."

"There is no place like home".

"Home is people, not a place."

"Home is where your story begins"



Monday, April 3, 2017

Welcome Home!


I was reading a post written by my favorite columnist, Sharon Randall, and she asked questions that she asks of many she meets, "Where are you from?"....and...."How do you define home?  It set me thinking.  It has been on my mind in this senior season of our lives, a time of wanting roots while hungering for the more.  Desiring something new while making the effort to embrace what is.  Where is home?  What is home?  Randall defines home as where her people and land co-exist.....so I pondered.

Joel grew up on the family farm, 1/8 mile from their country church.  Surrounding him were family and friends as far as the eye could see.  Yet at his mother's suggestion he left home at age 20 and headed down to The Lutheran Bible Institute smack in the middle of a big city.  We met there, graduated, married and headed out and away from anything or anyone we knew.

I moved a lot as a child, from house to house, town to town, state to state.  When I was three I called the car "home".  I expect it was a familiar place for me.  From age 12-18 I lived in a small three bedroom 1950's house with my newly defined family.  I moved in with my older sister and her husband in 6th grade and her children became my siblings while my two sisters remained my sisters. Complicated?  Not for me.  Even though I left home at 18 and have not lived there is 51 years, I can visualize every room, every closet, every corner of that house where I felt safe, loved, and happy. More than a few years ago now, that house was demolished along with many others that stood in a flood zone.  It rests in my memories.

After Joel and I married the Air Force sent us around the country and across the world.  When Joel became an ordained minister we continued to travel to new houses, new churches, new towns.  We enjoyed friends and congregations very much, but always put down shallow roots because we knew what the future held ~ another move.

Our children endured many moves with their parents.  I am not sure where our children call home, since none of them live where we reside.    Is it when we gather as a family once a year, or is is where they live and where each of them has put down roots, bypassing childhood visions of "home", for their people and land where roots run deep?   It makes sense.   Home is where the heart is............

And where does that put us?  We are coming up this month on the 21st year we have lived in this town. Joel has preached in 24 of the churches in the synod.  We have lived in three houses here, the last one for nearly 13 years.  Yet, our roots are still not very deep.  If a stranger asks us where we are from, my reply is "We are from Minnesota, but we live in Iowa for now."  No offense to those we know well here, but we have never felt this was a permanent place for us.

If you read my writings here, you know that this topic of where to call home, defining home, and seeking roots has pulled and tugged on us for awhile now.  Sharon Randall's questions stirred the waters, although to be honest our friends who, too soon for us, will venture out into a new definition of home, have inadvertently got us thinking again.  It does not take much.

So how do we define home?  Familiar land take us back to our hometowns, but we have been gone for over 50 years, only visiting briefly at times.  Mostly for us, home is defined with the people we love and care about.  Remember the siblings that came into my life at age 12?   "Home" has come with texting.  Crazy?  Maybe not so much.  When my older sister broke her back she was isolated often at home.  We all began texting to get information, but it continued on long after with a way to connect. We share pics, talk politics (we all lean one way), pass on information, and just chat.  A way to connect that has given me a feeling of "going home".   Roots run deep with them and my sisters who helped raise me.  Doubly blessed.

Joel and I talked yesterday about Randall's question, "Where do you call home?"  We both feel that home is where we both are.  Together.  There are always family roots that draw us in, on the farm, and in houses that reside now only in our memories.  There is always our family that brings a definition of who we are, and yet with circumstances and miles between,  in this season of our lives we are most drawn to each other.

I visited with the massage therapist today about her story.  I asked here if she has always lived here and she told me yes.  She even bought the house she grew up in and has lived there nearly 65 years.  I tried to fathom that.  I cannot, and honestly, it would not be on my bucket list.  Even thought it is not all roses by any means, I prefer a life of new adventures.  I guess we are all unique in the way we do life and where we live, but are we unique in how we define home?   I think my favorite columnist has it right.....home is mostly about the people we love and for some the land beneath our feet.

Where are you from?  How do you define "home"?  For some it may be an easy answer....for others complicated.  Whether you are are well rooted, or feel the pull and tug of desiring more,  we know without doubt our final home will be a place of continual joy, rest, glory, and Presence.  And when we arrive we will hear our Papa God say....."welcome home!"

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Let There Be Light

 

It is the first day of April and there is hope that Spring is making it's way into our corner of the world. There is a rumor going around that the sun is coming out to gift us with some natural light.  Seriously necessary after another week of gray skies and damp, cold temperatures.

I did some research and found out that there are an average of 152 sunny days per year in Seattle Washington. That place where rain is as common as the air we breathe.  In our corner of Iowa there are an average of 188.  Joel and I have often said we could never live on Washington's coast where "the sun don't shine"....but our little city is not faring much better.  What is up with that?  Denver has 300 sunny days a year.  Come on!  That is amazing and makes me wonder if all that sunshine is why the cost of living is so high there?  

We can turn on all the lights in the house, (and we have) and we can put on peppy music to brighten the short winter days of drab, but lack of sun makes for lack of sunny in my hubby.  With all the healing that took place in Joel's body, seasonal affect disorder still holds its grip and with this past winter's continual grayness, it took effort to keep his energizer bunny going.  It was obvious to me when we had that one week of warm weather and sunshine in early March.  He was out riding his bike, racking up 80 miles in no time.  Most importantly his energy and his effortless smile were back.  
I have pondered how it must be to live in Alaska where lack of light in the winter is then replaced by lack of dark in the summer.  I expect people and bodies adjust, but then there is the higher rate of alcoholism and depression that goes along with the bitter cold and darkness there.  The strong survive not only the cold and the lack, but I expect the strong just get stronger.

Getting back to "gray skies, nothing but gray skies from now on....."  Some people prefer cloudy skies and melancholy infused artificial light.  It suits them.  We are not those "some people".  We need light!  Let there be light!

Jesus often speaks of light in the written Word.  Light coming into darkness...a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  Light.  He is described as the Light.  He describes Himself as the Light.  "I am the light of the world.  Whosoever follows me will not walk in darkness."  And just like sunshine bringing out the energy and joy in my hubby, so Jesus' light brings out our joy!  "The joy of the Lord is our strength".  Jesus brings out the best in us, His Spirit empowering us....brightening our inner and outer beings.  Come sunshine.....Let there be light!   Come Jesus come.......Let there be the Light!



Thursday, March 30, 2017

In The Hallway



While scrolling Facebook yesterday morning a quote on Start Your Day With Jesus caught my attention.  "Don't stress over closed doors behind you.  God has NEW doors opening for you if you just keep moving forward."  It caught my attention because I had just read something else about closed doors from Dr. Brian Simmons who writes "I Hear Him Whisper".  He is also the author of the Passion Translation of the Bible.  The title of yesterday's "I Hear Him Whisper" was "The Right Door Will Open".   Then during morning devotions, up popped the closed doors theme once again.  Three times within an hour.

Today I listened to two separate teachings at Bethel.  One on the Holy Spirit and one on the story of Esther.  During each of those teachings "open doors" came up again.  God definitely has our attention.

Sometimes doors open wide, and we are able to see how God has made the way for us.  I remember when our oldest daughter Beth and her husband were living and working in the Twin Cities.  Bethany had been working at a church in a suburb there, when an opportunity for her to apply for a job at a church in Chicago came up.  I saw this opportunity and felt a strong urge from God to tell her about it.  A couple interviews and a job opening for her husband later, and they were on their way to Chicago.....many miles and hours away from us.  There were times I wished I had never seen that want ad in our ELCA's national magazine, but that would have been wrong. This was part of God's plan for their lives, and the 10 years they spent there were life changing.  Only God.

When doors close it can be difficult to see this as God.  A closed door can be discouraging in the moment.  When Joel was stationed in Duluth MN we visited friends at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Joel knew he wanted to be a pastor, and he knew that there was a good chance he could get an early out of the Air Force.  We were so sure that this is what God wanted for us, that we even looked at buying a house only a few blocks from the seminary.  When we returned from our visit, Joel went in to the base to apply for early out.  Much to his surprise, he was told that he could not apply since he had "orders" pending.  What orders??  He soon discovered he was being sent to The Philippines.........and thankfully, we could all go with him.  That door closed hard, and we went to the P.I. for two years. Those two years were life changing in so many wonderful ways, and brought into our lives two of our children.  What blessings they are.  Only God.  And seminary?  It was still part of the plan.........but when God opened the door.

Sometimes we stand before a door, and we long for it to be open.  We look around for any sign that we are before the right door, holding the right key, any sign that God is hearing us....and we are met with silence or only hear one word.  Wait.  Waiting for the right door to open at the right time can be excruciating.  We find ourselves in the wilderness, which is just a place we don't want to be.  In this place we need to take our eyes off of our efforts and our desires and put them on Jesus. So, we praise Him in the hallway.

We praise Him in the hallway because we know all His promises in the Bible are yes and amen.  We praise Him because He has a plan for us....for good and not evil.  We praise Him because of what Jesus did for us, what He still does for us.  We praise Him in the hallway until the next door opens at exactly the right time.  Even in the hallway we are not alone.   We learn to rest in the hallway, and while we rest we praise Him!




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Take A Breath and Stay Calm

#17

When God sends me a verse 3 or more times, I pay attention.  I have been consistently getting "The Lord will fight for you, just stay calm (or be still) from Exodus 14 for a month now.  The seventeenth one found above arrived Sunday night via Facebook and Start Your Day With Jesus.

When this popped up, I showed it to Joel right away, but instead of feeling at peace about it, we both felt a bit apprehensive.  You, see, # 16 had arrived last Wednesday night, right before an eye appointment scheduled for Thursday morning.  The results of that exam were not encouraging and affirmed my feelings I'd had that this verse was warning me of what was coming.  Yeah.....I know....not good spiritual thinking! Just being honest.

So Sunday night this arrived before my eyes just hours before I would be going in for a mammogram on my left breast to see if the "something new" they found last fall had changed.  We took a deep breath and asked Jesus once again to heal the "something" and that they would not find anything at all.

Monday morning the tech took several images of the left and I went to sit in the waiting room.  She came in 15 minutes later and said the radiologist wanted more images.  Ugh.  Been there before........ So after being pinched and twisted and flattened yet three more times, I ended up back in the waiting room. I told God I was getting really anxious and trying not to be.  I then picked up my phone and went on Facebook.  Immediately the picture below popped up.


I felt a sense of peace come over me.  Here was partly what God was trying to tell me with Exodus 14:14.  Even though He has given us the authority to speak healing....we need Jesus ~He is our Healer.  And the verse underneath?  This was the very first promise God sent my way 5 years ago when I began this healing journey from 27 years of sickness, and I still have it taped to my bathroom mirror. Sunday night I had questioned whether this verse was from God...and where was His "yes and amen" promise, and the next morning here it was in print, on social media.  Only God.  Just be calm.....descended upon me.

A couple minutes later an elderly woman came in and sat down in the room with me.  She asked me if I had had breast cancer.  I said yes and she said, "Well, let me tell you my story......." and proceeded to talk about all the horrors she went through and how it started in her right breast and went into the left.....and how many times she battled it and blah blah blah.  I looked at this woman nearing 80 and my thought was......The enemy is using her to frighten me and take away my peace.  I had no doubt. So I found myself tuning her out, quietly refusing to partner with her story.  I went back to focusing on what God had just brought to my attention.  When they came to get me for the ultrasound, I was very relieved to leave her verbal death march.  

The ultrasound tech was friendly and spent a great deal of time with her wand doing its job. We talked about her job, my history an our sore little toes!    As time went by I wondered what was going on as I knew it was taking longer than normal, but before I could ask she said, "Well, I am not seeing anything in the two areas that I am to look at".  After a few more pictures, she took them to the radiologist and in another 10 minutes she returned to tell me I could go.  The extensive testing had been because it had all disappeared!  It was gone.  Only God!  

While laying on the table I had heard God tell me to pray for this young tech.  I was reluctant, but knew I should step out and do so, so when the test was over I asked her if it would be okay if I prayed for her.  She said, "Yes, it would!"  SO I laid a hand on her and prayed several things that came to mind, ending with her hurting toe.  

What an amazing morning it was.  God was in the midst of it all, fighting for me, revealing to me His peace and presence, and giving me an opportunity to pray for one of His kids.  

I am still studying this verse, but have gathered the whole message of the chapter into the pursuit of all God wants me to learn from His message.  I believe God speaks to all of us in unique and special ways.  How does God speak to you?  How does He reveal His presence to you?  Because He is with us.  When a doctor's report is bad and when it is good.  When we sit in a waiting room looking at a tree filled with pink ribbons for cancer survivors, and when the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy through the words of a hurting woman.  He is with us, fighting for us.  We can lean back, and have Peace present in all our circumstances.  The Lion of Judah fights for us, so take a breath, and stay calm.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Shack


A couple of weeks ago we went to the movie, The Shack, based on the novel of the same name by Canadian author William Paul Young.   William Paul Young spent the first 10 years of his life in New Guinea with his missionary parents.  He wrote this book to write down his own perspectives on God and the inner healing that took place in him as an adult, and more importantly as a gift for his family and a few friends.  It was never intended to be public, but God had other plans.  Joel and I purchased the book several years ago and found it a powerful read.

We headed with several from our community group to meet at the local theater where we relaxed in soft red leather recliners to watch this amazing book unfold on the big screen.  Some people find this story offensive or sacrilegious, and get hung up on the fact that Papa God is portrayed through most of the movie by a black woman, Jesus is middle eastern, and Holy Spirit is an Asian woman named Siri.   Joel and I discussed how easy it is to put God in a box, and how frightening it is for some to see Him out of the comfort zone we create around our faith.  Been there myself.

By our standards we found the theology expressed pretty accurate............and does that statement itself not put God in our own box??  What came across in the movie and the book is how much the Trinity truly loves us.  ALL of them loving ALL of us.  In the movie Papa, Jesus, and Holy express how important having a relationship with us is.  Something fully backed by scripture.  Forgiveness is also a theme that runs throughout, along with knowing we are never alone.

I love how God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit are presented, although in our experience Holy is more than a comforter.  Holy is more of a whirlwind and a dynamo in our lives, but since Holy is a gentleman, He meets us where we are.



I can hardly wait to see this movie again.  There are many powerful statements made that resonate, like the one above, as and I am sure we did not catch everything the first time through.  Next time I will bring a pen and paper and more tissue!  Young wrote this particular book from a place of his own deep pain and losses transformed and healed by our Papa God.  I believe that is why it resonates with so many people.  He tries to answer the question, "If God is so good, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? "   It is a question we all have pondered.

In fact there are many questions to be pondered within The Shack.  When I first read the book, I was not on the journey I am on now in my faith, so while looking back I'm thinking that God planted some seeds in me several years ago with this book .  Seeds that sprouted and grew slowly within. Opening me up to the "something more" I still look for.   He is good about that. He is just plain good.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Scrabble: A Saving Grace




The Scrabble game never left our dining room table the winter of 2017.   It was not that other things did not get accomplished, but Scrabble was the saving grace we turned to as winter blanketed not only our neighborhood, but our souls.  Scrabble was provided by our Papa God out of love,  to distract and even teach us while we spent 1-3 hours a day focused on creating words from little wood tiles.

With the first snow storm we took out the game and began to play.  Our skills were a bit rusty, but over time we improved at making words and adding up points.  Then sickness came to visit, what we called The Coughing Crud....first I went down and ten days later when I was coming back from the dead Joel got hit hard.  Unusual for my "walking in health" hubby.  We were napping, coughing, groaning, and eating a lot of chicken soup.  A. lot.  That sickness from hell forced us to cancel a trip to our oldest and her family's.  Again.  And to add to it all, I broke my little toe. Really??  Then there was the world, which seemed to be in chaos and still is, our country at the center of it all.  We slowly sank into a funk, missing Arizona weather, weary of politics, conflict, and coughing.  Enough said.

The corner of our dining table became a place of retreat.  A place we gathered when the world made us weary.  It was where, I believe, God called us to play Scrabble........letting us know He had other things, important things, covered.  It became almost sacred to us and a daily ritual we are still practicing right along side our devotions, prayers and praise, and writing.

It is not the first time God has brought our focus onto the simplest of things.  In the early 80's when Joel's life was threatened, involving police, courtrooms, and several years of trusting God with the outcome, a bright orange half-grown kitten showed up in our yard one day and decided to stay. We named him Garfield and he provided great comic relief with his antics.  Soon after we brought home a pup named Jake who gave us even more enjoyment during a tough season for our family.
Looking into your own mirror reflections, I imagine you, too, can find times when God intervened with distractions of His own making.

So, during this time, Scrabble gave us a place to focus as we put effort into winning at a board game, even when it did not feel like we were winning at life. Scrabble also opened our eyes to the lens we were seeing through, the emotions that rose to the surface. The game began to reveal how we were responding to this season of our lives, and it came forth in how we played.  God was using Scrabble to peel back the layers and uncover a few things we needed to adjust.  Like our attitudes.  

Scrabble has become so much a part of our routine, that when we were taking care of our three treasures recently we purchased them the game, so we could all play together. Home now, we again returned to the ritual, not yet ready to let go of the board and tiles.  Eager for Spring, but holding on to winter's distraction.  Scrabble.

Isn't it funny how God can use something as simple as a game of Scrabble to bring grace into our lives.  God used a board game, made sacred by Him, to care for us in a season when winter blanketed the ground and our souls.  He loves us so much and cares deeply about the details of our lives, He weaves His goodness into all we do...including a game or two....or twenty...of Scrabble.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Good Age


As I sit tonight and ponder tomorrow's birthday, I find myself in a place of reflection.  I feel the need, once again, to put pen to paper.  Tomorrow I will turn 69........my last year in a decade we thought I would never see.  It was 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease after 23 years of battling a mysterious illness.  Our Lyme practitioners revealed my body was dying.....working at only 22 per cent when I first walked in the office.  They could help me live, but could not heal me. Only God could do that.  I remember I was so ill I laid on the floor of the van to get to the Dr.'s office.  Joel told me after my health returned, that he really did not think I would reach age 60.  But, God.  But God had other plans.

In the past decade I have battled cancer twice when healthy cells went rogue and developed into uterine cancer and then a few years later, breast cancer.  It is gone now.  Lyme is dead and gone also, through a healing released in my body by Jesus, our Healer.  I have a new and better life with all the freedoms I experience now.   I. am. still. here.

Sixty-nine is a good age.  An age I find myself grateful to be.  I. am. still. here.  I also find myself deeply desiring 20 more years of life on this earth.  I look forward to great-grandchildren while treasuring each morning I open my eyes.  I still can battle fear of sickness or death, but I counter it with praise for the day I have.  I can name too many friends who did not reach the age of 69, but I can name more who arrived.

Isn't life amazing?  Aren't our bodies amazing?  And our God?  More amazing still!  Tomorrow the sun comes up on a new year and I will rejoice.  Reaching 69 is a gift I will unwrap and enjoy.  I will walk into it with praise, grateful for every wrinkle, gray hair, cellulite bump, and more.  I. am. still. here.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

For A Season

In the last few months I have found my writing to be more about self than inspiration..  Maybe it has always been that way.....and I am just more painfully aware of it.  Maybe I am weary of my own voice.  Lately I am more comfortable sitting in silence than putting pen to paper.......that has turned into an unintentional retreat from the written word expressed here on my blog.

We had a taste of Spring here before winter returned, blanketing and silencing all.  So it is for my writing.........winter is blanketing and silencing.....for a season.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Frozen Ground

It is raining here...beating down on winter ground, leaving a small pond in the neighbor's yard and a creek along the side of our house.  Frozen earth beneath keeps the water from above limited in its descent.  Living water unable to penetrate the cold frozen ground.

Yeah.  That maybe says it all.  The Living Water, our Jesus is so often limited by our beliefs, our unbeliefs, our frozen ground.  Limited because the choice is ours....the believing, the unbelieving.  He waits with love in His heart.

What seems like ages ago now, we headed to a one night conference in Minnesota to hear one of our favorite teachers speak about healing.  He asked a question that we are still pondering. "Who is Lord over your life?"  We would all probably answer "Jesus, of course!"  And yet.................I can almost guarantee that we all can uncover little lordships in our lives that interfere with Jesus as the Lord.  Savior?  Yes, but Lord over our fears, our desires, our soul?  Maybe it is related to money, control, security, sickness, children...........Living water finding resistant frozen soil.  It was a great teaching of which I cannot give justice in my written words, but let me suffice to say that we knew THIS is why Holy Spirit wanted us to go.  For the inner us........He likes to shape and change us on the inside, renewing, transforming for His purpose.

A few days after arriving home, I was hit with a virus from hell.  Cuz that is where they all come from.  Coughing, hacking, sneezing, fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, aching, blah blah blah.  Six days and 12 meals of chicken soup, nearly 2 kleenix boxes later, lots of sleep, a continual supply of essential oils and prayer and I am finally recovering.  I asked for prayers from The Knee Team a few days in and quickly developed a fever and new symptoms......failed prayer?  Nope.  This let me know that prayer was having an affect on the sickness....my body was fighting back....so maybe the virus....but I know prayer is a might weapon of warfare.....  When I was too sick to read, watch TV, talk, or do much of anything, this virus had my attention.  Here was a perfect example of something else being lord of my little life....and over my body.  I felt like crap and distractions were hard to find ~ I succumbed to discouragement.

Today looking behind me, I am able to see how easy it is for our circumstances to lord over us.  So. easy.  This one virus was a small example.  It had me. One little virus had me at it's beck and call, unable to fight.  I remembered the verse God has been sending and I asked God to fight for me, through The Knee Team....through His Son, and I spent my time working at remaining calm, resting.

The teacher we listened to that night had asked...."Are you willing to change lords?  Stop adapting to sickness, or fear, or whatever the enemy is using to lord over your life~~ and turn to Jesus.  We don't deny what screams loudly, we just tell the problem how big our God is.  Jesus loves being our Savior.....He also desires to be Lord over our lives.

What do we talk about more?  The disease.....the symptoms.....the circumstances in our world.......the latest drama unfolding on TV or social media..........OR do talk about the promises of Jesus.  The Word. Who reigns.

It is still raining........the water is rising....limited by the frozen ground.   Oh Lord, don't let me be frozen to the Truth of Your many promises....Your Love......Your Word.  Melt my heart with Your fire as You reveal these little lords in my life that interfere with you being Lord of All.  Remind me how Big you are and how small my problems are.  Let me whisper.........Jesus.