Wednesday, May 30, 2018

God's People Packages

Recently during my quiet time, I visualized an angel handing me a shofar.  From what I understand, in the Old Testament a shofar was made from a ram's horn and was used for special occasions, for confusing the enemy, and for declaring God's goodness.  After I was handed a shofar I heard the words, "Declare the works of the Lord".   It is always a good idea to do what God instructs! so I am sharing a recent story of God's goodness today.

A couple of weeks ago at our group Bible Study a woman stated she wanted to pray for me.  She asked everyone to lay hands on me and they did.  She said the enemy was trying hard to stop me from doing the ministry God has for me.  She commanded weakness to leave, the devil to get lost, and asked Jesus for healing.  She then prayed for Joel telling him "it has been a trying time for you.  God has something new for you. He knows you need a purpose.  It is coming."  She new about the Vit. D toxicity but did not know about Joel's desire for a new purpose.  I did not see much change at that time but we were grateful for the prayers.  There is nothing like prayer to bring comfort to a situation.

The next week I shared I was going to Mayo for help with the Vit. D toxicity.  Later when most people were gone, she and a couple others lay hands on me again and prayed over my body, sharing words of knowledge from God.  She said to me, "Something is happening tomorrow, and you will know it.  You will know!"  I went home that night ready for a change.  The next day I felt better than I had in a long long time. As the days went on my energy returned and strength came back into my body.  I began walking again, 20 minutes at a time.  I feel the best now that I have felt since February when this whole D drama began.  So today I am declaring God's healing work in me and I am so grateful.  Thank you Jesus!

This woman who prayed for me is quite a character.  She comes from the deep south, and after decades in Iowa she still has quite an accent.  She was not always the easiest person for me to be around......until God opened my eyes.  And after she started sharing words from God with others and they were "spot on" I gained a high respect for her.  And when she prayed and my energy returned, I became more than grateful for her gifts she willingly shares.  She is a unique vessel blessed to be a blessing.

This is not the first time that God has used someone that I have "struggled with" to change my life.  There was a man a few years ago whom we met at church here in town.  I talked to God about him because he liked Joel so much,  and truthfully, he scared me.  Then one night after services he tells me he needs to come over to our house because God gave him a dream about us.  He also spoke about a ministry God had for me and he had many others words to share.  It was quite powerful.  Later after he left I asked God why he chose a burly biker guy like R. to share His plan for us.  God said, "You need to see my people the way I seem them."    Needless to say, I was humbled by this.

How often do we brush off what God is saying to us because we are not comfortable with the person who is sharing?  Or maybe we are not comfortable with what is being shared?

Do you ever ponder if God can use you?  Too often we see ourselves through our own eyes, and not God's.  He sees us as we are called to be, and as His kids, He loves us so deeply, seeing us at our best....expecting the best.....knowing what we can be even when we can't imagine it. He sees all His children through His Fatherly eyes.

God comes to us in so many different ways.  We get this idea of how He speaks to us or of who He uses to speak to us and if we get stuck there, we can miss so many blessings God has instore.  It is so important that we keep our hearts open to all that God has for us

I remember hearing a story about Bethel, when God began to bring big changes to that church.  One of the elders came to Pastor Bill Johnson and said, "I have to leave this church.  I know God is moving here.  I know that what is happening is from God, but it makes me uncomfortable and scared, and I just can't deal with it so I am leaving."  This man knew God was moving in the lives of Bethel members, but he walked away from it because it came in people packages he was not familiar or comfortable with.

I wonder how much we miss out on when we judge people by how they look or how they come across.  I just wonder how many of us would embrace Jesus if He came into our world today as a radical man speaking in parables, performing miracles of healing and multiplying food, and raising the dead.  Or casting out demons?  You can go online and see how such men and women are spoken of.  They are often "crucified" as false prophets or liars.  We look at them with a skeptical, critical mind, so would we do the same with Jesus?

I began this post writing about declaring God's goodness.  Sharing our testimonies, our stories with God, brings Him glory.  He likes that.  Today I am more than grateful for the healing that continues to come and I am grateful that God sees fit to let me see Him working through others like myself,  people who come in different packages.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

What About All Our Stuff?

Why are we so attached to stuff?  Yesterday we went through one of Joel's storage tubs that holds 38 years of ministry memories.  Ugh.  So difficult to let go of things, but so necessary.  Just going through one tub had both Joel and I out of sorts.  There were things in the tub we have not laid eyes on in several years........would probably not miss them if the tub was lost.........but unwrapping each plaque or knick-knack and thumbing through books and notebooks left us out of sorts.  Why are we so attached to stuff?

Some dear friends are in the final stages of stepping into a new season in their lives.  They sold their home, and have now sold nearly all their belongings.  What will go with them is only what fits in the 5th wheel.  I expect that it was not easy to part with some of their possessions, but their desire to travel full time in their 5th wheel outweighs their need to hold on to their stuff.

When we lived in The Philippines, we were unable to take much with us.  We put a lot of things in storage and managed to live 2 years without it quite easily.  In fact, when we came back to the US, and the boxes arrived from storage, it was like Christmas as we opened each box to see what was inside!  For those two years we did not miss what we did not have.

Not everyone is emotionally attached to their stuff, but I expect all of us have a few things we would not want to live without.  Our oldest son is very attached to stuff and has a story to tell with every item he holds.  Our oldest daughter gathers and holds many things dear the same way.  When we started to pare down our 9 tubs of Christmas directions, they were first in line to take things to their own homes.  Our second oldest daughter is quite the opposite.  She really is not attached to things.  People, of course, but not things.  Regardless, some "things" seem to bring forth strong emotions in our lives.

So, what if God asked us to let go of all our stuff to follow him?  The Bible gives us an example of surrendering all to do His will.  The disciples were fishermen and Jesus asked them to drop their nets and follow Him.  A big deal, really, to leave behind their livelihood for something new.  To leave behind all the familiar to follow Jesus in a new adventure.  Sometimes he calls us to do so. Our stuff cannot be more important than Him.  Our comfortable lives cannot get in the way of God's plan for us.  It is not that He does not want us to have an abundant life filled with good things, but it is important that we do not become so attached to our things that we cannot walk forward.

I think about Joel's cousin David Simonson and his wife Eunice.  When David graduated from the seminary they left everything familiar behind to go to Africa as missionaries in Tanzania.  For fifty years they served the Masai tribe.  He was so respected they gave them land to live on and David is now buried there.  Eunice and 4 of her 5 kids still call Africa home.  David's work for God and his desire to bring others to Christ changed that part of the world. 

Not all of us are called to surrender all that is familiar and literally move across the world, but I believe we are all asked to surrender in our own ways, and serve God in the best plan He has for us.  Joel and I have see God at work so often over the years where Joel was called to congregations.  And most recently we have been asked by God to step out of the familiar of our Norwegian Lutheran heritage and denomination and expand our beliefs.  We have been asked by God to redefine ourselves as people who have a Norwegian Lutheran foundation but live with incurable Pentecostal and charismatic  tendencies.  We did not ask for this.  We asked for healing and what we learned about healing led to more of Holy Spirit and more of Holy Spirit changed our lives.  We have had to let go of some of the "stuff" we held close as God opened doors for us to walk a different path.  It has not always been easy but just like our friends, the desire for something more outweighs the need to hang on to our "stuff".

Out of love, God is always reshaping us. Whether we are getting rid of the stuff that fills our storage tubs, shifting our beliefs, or letting go of the stuff of the past, we know God is with us.  And when looking forward we don't miss what we no longer have, especially once we step into something new. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Squirrels, Snakes, And The Thief

When Joel and I were first married he took me squirrel hunting.  Joel grew up with a gun in his hand, and hunting was a major part of his and his family's life (until he joined the military).  I had already experienced deer and duck hunting with him, but squirrels?  One fall day we went to the woods behind his Aunt and Uncle's farm, looking for squirrels.  We came to an area where the sun was shining brightly, and as we walked through, it was like the whole meadow was moving.  It was filled with garter snakes sunning themselves.  When we moved through the grass, they moved, When we stopped they would stop moving and lift their heads.  Joel had never seen anything like it before and I, well I was terrified!  It was the creepiest thing ever.  Ugh.  We did go home with squirrel and skinned and cooked it.  It tasted like skinny dry chicken.  It was my first and our last experience in squirrel hunting.  We never hunted, cooked, or ate squirrel again.  Seriously, a good decision on our part!

Today I was thinking about that warm fall day so many years ago and all those snakes.  They were pretty invisible until they raised their heads.  Of course it shifted my mind right to the big ol' snake that is so sneaky and slimy in our lives.  Satan.  He is invisible to the naked eye, but when he raises his head?  Yeah.....he lets us know he is there.  He is really relentless in pursuing God's children and in conquering the earth.

The thing is, he has already lost the war against God and His children.  We already have the victory.
The thief and his buddies work hard to "kill, steal, and destroy" but even in death the victory is ours in Christ Jesus!

I have learned that when the enemy comes against us, it is a good thing to take a position of standing firm.  "I see you (Satan) and I refuse to partner with you.  I send you to the foot of the cross in Jesus name".  He comes against us in sickness, disease, our thoughts, our feelings, and more.  Keeping our focus on Jesus and His goodness and putting on that full armor of God the Ephesians talks about helps us remember the battles are already over.  And we win!

I love looking back and seeing how God works all things out for good in our lives.  If I had been able to look ahead those first months of marriage and see all that would occur in the 50 years ahead I probably would have said, "Jesus take me Home now!".  Yet God has walked through it all with us.  And that ol' snake may look scary at times, but we are empowered by Holy Spirit to walk in victory.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Follow The Yellow Brick Road....

Yesterday we traveled northeast to see an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Mn.  My doctor here wanted me to see someone who understood Vit D toxicity better.  I expect if anyone knows how to deal in rare problems, it would be a place like Mayo.

I received a phone call from Mayo on Sunday morning ~ Mother's Day ~ to set up an appointment for me and they wanted me in right away so, after I protested that they were calling on a Sunday morning???  We scheduled for this week.  An hour before my appointment we arrived at the large building with enough people to fill a small town, and promptly ran into our daughter's sister-in-law who was working there that day!  Small world.  As we headed to the 3rd floor, and Desk 3D as instructed, they could not find me in the system.  Oh boy.  Nope.  Nada.  I was not listed as a patient and it turns out I was not even sent to the right location.  After a couple of phone calls they found out the doctor I was scheduled to see had just gone over to St. Mary's Hospital a couple of miles away so she would meet with me there.... We had already spent 20 minutes trying to find a parking space in a nearby ramp, so we went to get on a shuttle. After getting to St. Mary's we walked.....and walked.....and walked.....arriving at the right desk where we were escorted in to a hospital type doctor's office where we waited to see the endocrinologist.

Not the relaxing start I had envisioned.  The doctor was good and very informative.  It seems that they don't usually see patients with this level of Vit D unless they have been hospitalized for symptoms first.  My calcium levels are still in the normal range which is rare for the amount of Vit D in my body and blood.  She thinks the large quantity of water I drink every day along with salt water a few times a week have washed the calcium out of my blood and kept it from damaging my liver, kidneys or heart.  I am now on a low calcium diet , drinking water and salt water, and waiting for the D to go down.  According to her  it will take months.  But God.......

I am excited to share how God has been moving in the midst of this journey.

We like to talk with Holy Spirit and before we even knew about the Vit D we were asking Holy just what was needed for my body since the "flu" just was not going away.  Strange as it sounds, I was told to drink salt water.  Now in the past I have had low sodium which would cause a funky feeling and my Lyme doctor at the time had me drink salt water.  I don't eat processed food nor salt my food much so don't often get enough sodium.  We listened to God's guidance and I have been drinking salt water once a day or every other day and unbeknownst to us, it was getting rid of the calcium in my blood!  Only God.    When I look back on how the doctor decided to ck for LOW Vit D and did a full blood panel coming up with the toxicity and one "slightly off" liver test?  An answer to our prayer that if there was something going on, the doctor would find it. And helping rid my body of calcium building up in my blood?  I did not even know I had that, but God did and told me to drink salt water.

The symptoms of fatigue and weakness have continued to hang around, but this past Tuesday Joel felt the need to pray for a "spirit of weakness" to get off my body..........and I began to improve.  Tuesday night people in our group lay hands on me and a woman prayed over me, declaring somethings was going to change tomorrow. and I would know it.....and it did and I did.  For the first time in 3 months I felt close to normal.  Only God.

I just love how God intervenes in the lives of His children.  We cry for help and He answers.  I am still on the yellow brick road to recovery, but God has led the way, breaking off anything in the spirit realm, guiding the doctors, and answering our prayers.  He truly desires to help us.  We just need to keep following the yellow brick road.  It will lead us Home.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Our Place Of Safety

It is National Police Week and with our son having served his city as a police officer for 20 years, we are proud to support the police and what they do for our cities, counties, and states.  So often the news only brings up the "bad" cops for us to view and some people tend to think they are all bad.  So not true.  Food for thought:  There are bad cops, bad teachers, bad pastors, bad factory workers, etc.  A percentage of "bad" can be found in every part of society.

We have been blessed to have had only good experiences with the police in our lives.  When Joel's life was threatened by a mentally disturbed church member, we were grateful when 5 squad cars showed up at our house and escorted us safely out of town.  We had plain clothed police officers sitting in our pews for a while as the threat was ongoing.  Spending over 6 years with an unpredictable, threatening parish member living blocks away from us in our town, we felt safer knowing the police were doing what they could to keep Joel and the family safe.

Over the years, more than once we ended up calling the police because of violent acts that we were observing. Being a pastor and family came with some unusual situations.  A few years ago a suspect the police were chasing ended up hiding in the attic of our garage.  Our dog Levi alerted me to something not being right......eventually I saw the man through a window and called the police.   While in Montana Joel officiated at funerals for 3 murder victims, when three California felons came through while trying to escape to Canada.  I have often said I should write a book about our experiences, but I would probably have to go into the witness protection program.  (wink).  Our experiences with the police have  been positive and we are grateful for them.

Safety is important to all of us I expect.  For me, as a child I did not feel always safe, and rightfully so.  But it carried over into adulthood and made my life stressful.  Even with all the healing that has taken place and the knowledge of God's deep abiding love for His kids, more often than I want to admit, I still have to remind myself that I am safe.  We are safe.  The world, the media, TV shows and movies all scream at us that we are not safe.  So, as Susie Davis, author of "Unafraid:  Trusting God In An Unsafe World", asks...."How do we live unafraid?"

Whether we are observing the chaos of the world, facing a medical crisis, or struggling with worry about our family or friends,  we have a choice.  Susie Davis says, "We can be aware of the terrible without forgetting the beautiful. We can look up with joy and realize the remarkable truth:  Jesus wants to take our fear and give us, in its place true peace."  And I would add His love.  "Perfect love casts out fear."

When Joel's life was threatened and the circumstances continued for years, we did what we could to keep the family safe, and we stepped out in faith trusting God's Word.  We remembered over and over that He was with us, and He was our shelter, our place of safety.

The other day I was meditating and I kept seeing the head of a cat.  I tried to remove the image and focus on Jesus, but Jesus interrupted my efforts with the word FEAR.  I immediately remembered hearing myself say....."I love cats but they carry tick Bartonella, a disease I suffered with for years.  Then I thought about what fears I had voiced regarding ticks.....and fears about health issues....and......and...... Jesus then took me to a mountain labeled FEAR and I saw myself putting bricks on it, building it up.  Jesus would take one off, I would put one back on.  Eventually I heard Him say with power, "FEAR NOT".  When he said those words the mountain immediately exploded.  It sounded and looked so real to me I physically jumped.  I heard Jesus say again....'Fear Not!"  Holy Spirit then moved on me making His presence known.

It was a wonderful reminder of Jesus being with us day in and day out.  A reminder of His promises, of His love.  One of my favorite verses is found in Psalm 4.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
 for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe."
Psalm 4:8

We are blessed to have our military and our police who work hard in difficult circumstances to keep us protected and safe.  We are all blessed beyond measure to have our Lord by our side.  He has told us to "fear not" over 365 times in scripture.  He is with us in life and in death.  God is always our shelter, our place of safety.  So grateful.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


Joel has already put over 100 miles on his recumbent bike.  He is riding 10 to 15 miles at a time, working his way out of the winter slack and lack, and getting his legs back into the groove of his favorite past time.  He loves biking in nature and with the arrival of Spring he is on his way!

It is great to have this long winter finally behind us.  I love having the doors open, listening to the sounds outside......birds playing.....adults talking.  No longer cooped up in our houses we greet our neighbors and catch up on porch sitting.  Yards are being raked and fertilized, hostas and flowers nurtured.  Baskets and pots of flowers are brightening up the neighborhood.  We have not yet purchased any plants, but I'm hoping to find a black-eyed Susan vine.  I love their happy faces!

When winter lingered this year it was hard to remember that Spring was coming.  Snow piled high......nevertheless, we knew it would eventually would warm up....Spring would arrive.  And it did.

This morning I listened to Joel Osteen preach on TBN.  He is a bit of a dessert preacher....certainly not one that gives me much meat and potatoes, but he does bring truth to what he speaks.  Today he was talking about having a "nevertheless" attitude.  The doctor's report is not good.........nevertheless God's Word says_______.   Struggling with my finances.......nevertheless God will provide.  Things will improve.    Relationships are strained......nevertheless God's love heals.  We persist because we stand in the "nevertheless" of knowing God and His promises.

This winter season was tough and long.  In nature and in life.  It was hard to not dwell on the snow and cold still gracing us in the middle of April.  It has also been hard to not dwell on the health issues that have persisted for me. 

So what to do?  I'm thinking we add "nevertheless" to our vocabulary and to our attitude.  Nevertheless the snow will melt and Spring will come!  Nevertheless, God is walks with us through circumstances.....We are able to rest in this knowledge and persist in our belief.  We embrace the nevertheless.

Nevertheless shifts the atmosphere.  Nevertheless shifts our belief.  Nevertheless puts our focus back on Papa God and His promises.  Nevertheless helps us to remember.......God is faithful.  God is with us.  His Word is truth.  No matter what the seasons bring, nevertheless there is God.  Only God.  So grateful.

Monday, May 7, 2018

He Sent His Word

A few weeks ago I woke up at 4 a.m. to God saying, "You need to pray scriptures over Joel's body."  I shared this with Joel the next morning, but at the time he was doing fine and I am sorry to say we let it go by.  Until......

A few days later Joel asked me to pray for his hand.  It was really hurting and was very painful, even to touch.  I prayed and the pain increased.  I prayed again and it seemed to increase even more.  We continued to pray over it but right before bed Joel declared, "Tomorrow it will be gone!"  A few minutes later he asked me to look at his hand and I could see the thumb and palm area were really swollen.  What in the world?

The next morning his hand was back to normal, but by that night his hips hurt......and then his shoulder.  His hips hurt so bad he was coming downstairs in the middle of the night to sleep in the recliner.  We kept praying, but it was not until his shoulder became painful that I remembered what God had told me in the middle of the night.  "Pray scriptures over Joel's body".  So, we began to do so.  Morning and night we prayed.....'It is His stripes we were healed. It is written.....Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own  understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.  Indeed, fear God and stay away from evil.  Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones."  It is written....... It is written.......

I continued to pray several scriptures regarding healing and the power of the Word over Joel and he joined in. Morning and evening we prayed over his body as God had instructed.   As of now the pain in his shoulder is 90% gone and his hips have improved greatly too.  The hand is good.  We are praising God while continuing to speak scriptures.

According to the Bible, God's Word is living and powerful, sharper than "any two edge sword".  We read in Deuteronomy,  "He (God) sent His Word and healed them and delivered them from the pit."  His Word.  So powerful.  How great is that?!


Jesus used scriptures to come against the enemy when He was tempted in the wilderness.  "It is written" is how he responded to every temptation.  He knew God's Word is powerful and He set an example for us when the enemy comes to "kill, steal, and destroy."

One of my favorite verses that speaks to the power of God's Word is found in Proverbs 4: 20-23

"My child, pay attention to what I say.  
Don't lose sight of my words, 
let them penetrate deep into your heart.  
For they bring life to those who find them 
and healing to all their flesh.  
Above all I else guard your heart 
for everything you do flows from it."

I just love that God, the Creator of everything including words, chooses to impregnate His scriptures with power and healing.  And I love it that God expands our own faith in Him by asking us to step out in obedience and pray in new ways.  Remembering, there is power in His Words.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Steeples In The Sky

Joel's country church where he was baptized, confirmed, ordained
As seen from the farm he grew up on

When we travel the back roads to Joel's family farm his brother owns, we are able to see his country church long before we approach the road it is on.  The steeple raises high in the sky, proclaiming God's glory, declaring...."Here we are.....come and worship!"

It always makes us smile as we first lay eyes on Joel's home church, Aastad Lutheran.  His brother and their family still go there, living on the original family farm just a quarter mile away.  There are 17 Dahlens buried in the graveyard next to the church, with more to come including us.  Generations of believers.  So grateful.

Many congregations today worship in a warehouse or place of business.  There is no altar, no cross and no stained glass windows.  Often, no windows at all!  Pastors, ordained or not, dress in ripped jeans, untucked shirts and tennies or shoes worn without socks.  No clerical collars, suits, pastoral robes in sight. Quite a bit has changed over the 60 years I have been going to churches to worship!

As they age, cathedrals and vertical steeples are slowly being replaced across the land.  I realize it is not the building that makes up a congregation, but I will always have a love for the church we chanted about as kids............"This is the church.......this is the up the doors and see all the people." 

Joel has served many a country church, often 2-3 churches under his leadership at one time.  We have fond memories of good times in those churches in Montana, Minnesota, and Iowa.  I remember the sometimes aging beauty of the buildings with their "fingers" pointing to God!

Sadly many of the country churches cannot fill their pews any longer for any number of reasons.  But their unique beauty and tall steeples will always point our eyes skyward to Heaven.  They will always make me smile and give thanks for the faithful..........and for God's faithfulness to His people.