Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Roots, Screen Doors, And A Calling

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Shack Within Us All

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God Loving On Us

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

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

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Highway of Praise

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

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

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

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

 It is also the reason that God gave me a flurry of devotionals and quotes about praise early this week.  Praise has the power to heal, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to fight Satan's desire for destruction in our 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


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.........