Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Once again, it's the little things that amaze me!

SPOILER ALERT!  IF YOU DON'T WHAT TO HEAR ANYTHING ABOUT THE BOOK "MARK OF THE LION" STOP READING THIS BLOG POST!  I will be discussing the ending of this book!  I am not going to name names or divulge details - just what Yahweh impressed on my heart as I finished reading this wonderful book.

A little while ago I wrote a blog post (A little more of my story...) and it included a picture of my great-great-great grandparents.  If you have not read that post, go there now and read it.  This post will not make much sense if you don't know that story.  I know that Yahweh has been reminding me of that post and that story over and over again.  There must have been something that I needed to be reminded about or something else I needed to see/learn from that post.  Then, over the last several days, I have been reading a series of three books that were recommended to me by my daughter.  I have posted about this in the last couple of days.  This morning I finished the series.  As I sat with tears streaming down my face, looking at the last paragraph, I flashed to my blog post of just a few days before and my great-great grandparents.  While I remember clearly that this book is a FICTION story, based on Biblical truth, I felt woven into the plot line. 

In the end of this book, in about AD100, there are a small group of Christians, worshiping and serving the Lord - in Germany.  They were telling everyone that they could reach, the Gospel message and the saving grace of Jesus.  And then they were sending out missionaries.  One to the Vikings. 

Pause here to catch my breath.  Yes, I felt the connection to my family.  So in 1850, in Germany, my family sent out missionaries to  the ends of the earth.  It was as if I saw - maybe for the first time - the real connection in my life, to the time of those who actually walked with Jesus.  And then, just to cap it all off, they sent off people to share the good news, to the Vikings - my Swedish and Norwegian ancestors.  I went back and looked at that picture of my great-great-grandparents.  And I marveled at the power of the Gospel.

This is my mom and dad on their wedding day in 1936.  My mom is of German/Norwegian heritage and my dad is Swedish.

Do you know how it is to feel like something was actually written just for you?  Well, this morning I had that feeling.  It was amazing.  Once again, I just can't imagine the plans and purposes of Yahweh for His creation - for the earth and all who live.  The plan that took a small group of ordinary people, filled with the Holy Spirit, covered by the love of Jesus, under the plan and direction of the Father they managed to reach out to the world.  And they were able to do this with NOTHING.  With only small parts of the written Word.  With no cars, no planes, no telephones, no internet, no computers, no blogs.  It had to be Yahweh. 

Yahweh, thank you so much for Francine Rivers and this book - one of many in her library of books.  Bless her, Father, with more of your compassion and direction as she continues to connect us to you and the Bible.  Thank you for opening my eyes in a new way to your destiny.  Yahweh, your kingdom is increasing and your glory will fill all the heavens and all the earth!  Amen

Monday, July 29, 2013

Misplaced blame........

You know how you have a "love/hate" relationship with some things in your life? I am sure that most are familiar with that phrase.  Those things that at times are so wonderful, but then at other times not so wonderful.  Well, I have one of those relationships with my Kindle.  I confess that, in fact, I love my Kindle.  It's just that when I start reading I can't stop. !  So, when I have been awake half the night reading, I blame my extreme tiredness the next day on the Kindle. This is not the Kindle's fault - it is totally ME.   And the thing is, thanks to the  internet, I have in my hands an almost endless library of books, magazines, articles and other reading material.  And a lot of the books are free or almost free.  And it is available 24 hours a day.  No running out of reading material.  No searching the book shelf for a book to read over again after having already read it more times than I can count.  Just pick up the Kindle and in just a couple of minutes, there is a new book to read. 

The book currently causing me to be so tired, is Mark of the Lion, by Francine Rivers.  I think I have read most of her books.  This series of three books begins in Jerusalem in AD70.  I love the way the author is able to weave so much Biblical truth into her books, while creating a wonderful story. I don't usually read historical books about Greece or Rome or gladiators.  But this is a story that draws you in.  So, take this as a personal recommendation for the book Mark of the Lion

What is really on my heart tonight is misplaced blame.  I have been thinking about how quick I was to "blame" my Kindle for my tiredness!  Isn't that a silly thing?  But Yahweh has been showing me how many times I try to place blame somewhere else, rather than seeing that I am to blame.  You know, blaming the traffic but really YOU are the one running late.  This is really misplaced blame. Satan wants to keep us blaming others so that we can remain unforgiven and filled with anger and bitterness.  I have discovered that I am much less angry and upset when I take responsibility for the things that are my doing.  Once I do this, I deal with the situation and with my emotions about it and solve the problem.  Confessing whatever failing and/or sin and then seeing Yahweh's response is ALWAYS  forgiveness and grace that  brings freedom and peace.  The best part about this is that no matter how small and even trivial OR how big of thing it is, doesn't matter at all to God.  The important thing is that you accept blame for whatever you have done.

What an amazing part of Yahweh's great plan.  We can be forgiven and set free, just be knowing and confessing our wrong doings.  I think over the next few weeks, I am going to pay much closer attention to my thoughts when things aren't going right.  Before getting angry and upset, I can just stop and pray and trust the Holy Spirit will reveal what needs to be revealed.  And then I can walk in greater freedom and peace. 

Yahweh, thanks so much for your plan of forgiveness.  Thanks for reminding me that you care about the small things as well as the big things.  Help me to remember to stop and pray when I am in challenging situations.  Thank you for your peace and the freedom from holding on to blaming others and the bitterness that follows that.  You are a mighty and wonderful God.   Amen

(And, just for the record, I confess that I have re-read almost all of the books that are on my Kindle.  I guess it doesn't matter how many books are available, when you have a good book, it is worth rereading.) 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Timing is everything....

How many times do we hear "timing is everything"?  Last week there was a post on The Elijah List website, by Dutch Sheets.   (See the entire post here Don't miss God's perfect timing)   I loved this paragraph....

Stay the course. Don't abort the process by letting weariness or frustration set in. Your harvest is being made ready. There is an appointed time for you to reap. Be faithful in the mundane. Don't despise the day of small beginnings. Don't lose heart in well doing. Never give up. Your shift may be closer than you think!

I think this spoke to me because I have been feeling weary and frustrated lately.  But in the last couple of weeks, I have also seen little glimpses of things starting to break and come together. (I know that sounds a little ridiculous - breaking AND coming together - a paradox.  But isn't the Bible filled with paradox?)

Early last week, I connected with a women from my daughter Gwen's church.  She has a passion for a ministry in the western area of Kenya near the town of Bungamo.  She has helped to bring the Heifer Project and also helped to build several wells around there.  Currently there are several ongoing projects in that area, with a Pastor and his church - including providing school uniforms for the children.  When I first heard about this ministry, I wondered if there was any way that my friend  Lucy Wa Ngunjiri might be of assistance.  I was somewhat skeptical that Lucy would be able to help because the majority of her work is in the Nairobi area - quite a distance from Bungamo.  I was able to provide a contact with a Kenyan man (actually Lucy's brother) in the United States who may be able to provide some guidance on these projects.   OKAY - HERE IS THE TIMING IS EVERYTHING CONNECTION. 

On Thursday, I was on Facebook and noticed that Lucy had posted some new pictures.  This picture is of a Prayer Rally that Lucy held, in May, IN BUNGAMO!  Apparently she had never posted any pictures of this rally and people had been asking for them.  If she had posted these pictures at any time BEFORE Tuesday of last week, I would never have noticed the name of the town.  She has held meetings all over Kenya and this town is not a place I knew.  Needless to say, this answered the question I had about Lucy being at all connected in that area.  You know when Yahweh has a plan and purpose for connecting people, He sees to all the details.  Even the posting of pictures on Facebook.  

So today I am feeling much less weary and frustrated.  When the words "Stay the Course"  make us shutter and we are so tired of "hanging on", we can take heart.  Yahweh has a great plan that includes his perfect timing. I just love how a small thing, like this picture on facebook, is really a very big thing in Yahweh's playbook.  It let me know that I am, somehow on the right path. 

Yahweh, thank you for your perfect timing. Thank you for the ministry connection you have made between Fellowship of Faith and Kenya.  Bless all that is being accomplished, in your time, through this connection. And especially thank you for weaving me into this connection.  Thank you Jesus for Lucy and her ministry.  I pray that you would continue to bless her and enlarge her tents.  Thank you for the little things that bring such encouragement to us.  Amen

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What will you gain, when you lose?

There is a commercial on TV for Special K cereal that asks "What will you gain, when you lose?".  The ad is talking about weight loss, but the phrase has been stuck in my head.  There is a lot of truth in that statement.  Sometimes when we lose something, what we gain is so much more or so much better than what we lost.  In the process, the losing is sometimes not fun.  I have recently experienced gaining some things after losing weight.  I've gained things like more energy, better results on my yearly blood work, and simply feeling better.  Those are certainly important and very real physical things, but today I've been thinking about the emotional and spiritual things. 

Okay... I confess... I started writing this blog post last night, but just couldn't finish it.  And this morning, I know why.    Last night I had a dream about my mom.  In the dream, I was sitting at a dining room table, drinking coffee with my mom and her Aunt Ann.   We were just talking and laughing.  It was such a wonderful dream.  This morning as I was thinking about this dream, I realized that one of the most amazing things my mom "gained" after she "lost" her mother, was Aunt Ann. 

This picture is actually from my mom's "scrapbook" photo album.  You can see her handwriting on the picture.  My guess is that this was taken when my mom was about 18 years old.  I never got to sit around a table and talk and laugh with Aunt Ann.  I have only very sketchy memories of Aunt Ann.  She died when I was two.   But the story is about Yahweh's provision, in the most terrible circumstances.  It is about the blessing and joy that can come out of a very bad thing.
Aunt Anna Toensing was my grandfather's sister.  She was three years older than my grandfather and never married.  When my grandfather moved his family from North Dakota to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1916, they lived with Aunt Ann.  My grandmother (Nora Toensing) was very sick.  The doctor's really didn't know what was wrong with her.  My grandfather hoped that, in the city, the doctors could help his wife.  They had 4 small girls that needed their mother.  Sadly, there was nothing that the doctors could do to save Nora.  She died in April of 1917.  The listed cause of death was Tuberculosis.  However, the family knew that she did not have TB.  (In the 1970's my mother received a letter from one of her aunts that told the story of what actually happened to Nora.  She had hit her back during a fall down the stairs and most likely fractured a rib.  She developed a large lump at that site and gradually got sicker and sicker and then died.  We assume that she developed a perforated lung that got infected and led to sepsis. But no one knows for sure).  Because of the fear of TB the government required that anyone exposed to TB was to be quarantined - and children were taken to an orphanage.  My grandfather wanted none of this.  He was determined to keep his family together and made plans to leave St. Paul immediately.  So his sister, Aunt Ann, agreed to go with him to care for the children and the household.  My mother was not yet 2 years old.  Her sisters were 4, 6 and 8 years old.  Isn't it amazing how Yahweh provided for my mother?   She was able to grow up with her family.  Aunt Ann was an amazing cook and seamstress.  As a matter of fact, her job in St. Paul was at a furrier making beaver and mink coats.  While life wasn't always easy for this family, my mom recounted many happy childhood memories.  Can you imagine being a "single dad" in 1917???  This just didn't happen.  Most times the children were separated and placed with various family members.  It was all part of God's plan that Anna was willing and able to step in and fill the spot left by Nora's death.  It was Aunt Ann that helped my grandfather start churches in the various small communities in which they settled.  While on a mission trip, Gwen and I actually saw the church building started by my grandfather, in Bemidji, Minnesota.  Aunt Ann was always having the visiting missionaries and pastors over for Sunday dinner. My mom recalled many happy times during the yearly "camp meetings" held outdoors, when Aunt Ann provided much of the food.  Hearing these stories help me to see and understand the gift of hospitality and service that flowed from Aunt Ann.   So, in spite of the great loss of her mother, my mom gained a wonderful relationship with her Aunt Anna - and also was provided with a substitute mother and was able to remain with her dad and sisters.  
I have determined that looking back on my family has been such a blessing to me.  It is allowing me to really SEE and KNOW how Yahweh has been blessing my family over the years.  This has been such a growth thing for me.  I have gained so much from writing this blog.  Jesus has been speaking to me and explaining some deep spiritual truths in ways that make them so clear. 
Thank you Yahweh for your great plan, your destiny for me and my family.  Thank you Jesus that you have a plan and purpose for each individual that reads this message.  You desire to bless us and prosper us, even when we can't see it in the natural. Jesus, help us all to see the "gain" in periods of "loss".  Keep our eyes on You when things are hard.   You are in the process of putting spiritual blessings into our lives.  Thank you for reminding me of my roots and all the seeds that you have sown into my life.  Thank you for my children and grandchildren, who will continue to be blessed by these seeds sown in the past.  Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ignoring the issues..

Yesterday our printer simply quit working.  I really don't know when it actually "breathed it's last" since we don't use it very much.  I had a couple of Word documents that I wanted to print and when I hit print, nothing happened.  I fooled around with it for several minutes.  Tried to find the printer on my computer.  Tried several different programs. And then I used the "method of last resort".  I called on my husband.  He tried some of the same things I tried.  Announced that my computer could not see the printer.  Went and tried his computer and discovered the same thing on his laptop.  At that point he announced - "we need a new printer - this one has died". Now this is really not such a big deal since this printer was very old!  I have printed 100's, if not 1000's of pictures on that printer. The scanner has not been working very well either.  And I have had a few paper jams, here and there.  Yes, it has been time for a new printer for awhile.  We have talked about getting a new printer but since it was working - why replace it. 

Today I was thinking about this.  How many times do we sort of ignore problems until things get really bad?  Does it really make sense?  I know that you can argue that it makes more sense from a financial standpoint to "use up" everything that we have.  Or, as a last resort, we need to recycle! And there are some very interesting ways that people find to reuse or recycle things!

I noticed this message printed on my morning coffee cup, while I was watching the sunrise over the ocean.  I loved it!  The advice to use it to build a sandcastle was appropriate since we were at the beach!  I am proud to say that my morning coffee is normally in a travel coffee cup that is washed and used over and over again.  But, on the other hand, I have to confess that my water (lately) has come out of a plastic bottle that does get recycled! (I am now picturing that tv commercial about the water bottles used in the United States stretching around the world several times.).  So I guess that I am sort of even in regards to the reuse/recycle question.

But thinking about the "ignoring the problems" point.  I am thankful that Yahweh has been reminding me today of things that I have been "ignoring".  There are times when it is good to put things on the back burner and not make quick decisions.  But sometimes this is just an excuse for not dealing with situations or issues that need to be handled.   I know from personal experience that this does not do anyone, any favors.  Earlier in this blog, I talked about truth telling.  And today, I realized that I have not been telling the truth when I just ignore things. So I am committing to doing a better job of being intentional about following the Holy Spirit when I am confronted with problems or issues.  Rather than taking the easy way out I will seek to resolve things quickly.  And I am thankful that I don't have to do this in my own strength.  Jesus has everything I need in Him and He is in me! Isn't this an amazing part of Yahweh's master plan?  So, once again, (very appropriately with the picture above) I am going to be a coffee bean! 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A little more of my story...seeds were sown!

Part of the reason for doing this blog was to tell my story.  And I have found that I have a lot of story to tell!  Last night my husband and I went to a state park (Starved Rock) so that he could take photos of the sunset.  It was a glorious evening.  Not so hot that you were sweating without air conditioning and just a light breeze.  We scoped out a couple of potential photo shoot places and settled on a roadside pull off just outside the park.  We were about an hour ahead of sunset so we just sat in the car, with the windows down and sunroof open and enjoyed the peacefulness.  There were birds flying everywhere and fish jumping in the river and the cicadas were singing as the sun sunk into the west. 
In the peace, I started to think about what I wanted to share on this blog.  It wasn't long before the Lord reminded me of this..........

This picture, indeed represents a "God-moment" in my life.  This is the opening page of my childhood Bible that I received from my parents when I was in 2nd Grade.  That in itself is a story.  One that I have mentioned before.  We in the United States are so fortunate to have the written word available to us.  In many families, children are not given Bibles because there is some kind of fear of not treating the Holy Scriptures properly or it not being understood by children.  Once again, I am so thankful that my parents didn't think this way and purchased this Bible for me when I was 7 years old.  You see, Yahweh has used this page in amazing ways!  And this is just the inside cover of the incredible book.  I want to point out the red stamp on the lower right hand corner.  This is the story.  One day in Sunday school, a missionary visited our small church.  He spoke about his time in China. His message was about the many men, women and children who had come to know Jesus as he had lived and walked among them..  He told of a man that had come to know Jesus and how his whole life had changed.  This man had carved this "seal" with the missionaries name, out of a wooden block.  He was so filled with gratitude for all the missionary had done, by risking his life to come to his country.  The incredible thing is, the man had been born with no arms!  It was carved with his feet.  At the end of that talk, this missionary (and I am so sorry that I don't know his name) came around and stamped his seal in my Bible and said "Someday you will be a missionary!"   I went home that day and told my mom the story.  She shared with me, that day, the following story. I asked her to repeat this for me many times - even in the last years of her life. 

On that day, my mother told me that we have relatives that are missionaries to Africa.  She shared how my grandfather had wanted so badly to be a pastor. But it had not worked out.  The times were difficult and there was not much money.  Yet there was a connection to these distant cousins who had left Germany to serve Jesus.  My mother remembered praying for these cousins and then recounted the faith and trust in Jesus that had blanketed her life - in spite of tough circumstances. 
And the seed was sown into my heart and my spirit that God had a plan and a purpose for my life.

Here is a photo of my Great-Great Grandfather and Great-Great Grandmother
Johann Conrad Toensing and Anna Clara (Welcher) Toensing
(8/17/1801 – 8/23/1869) (5/10/1806 – 8/28/1876)
Married 9/5/1827

This couple had 7 children.  They sent two of their children to Africa as missionaries and two of their children came to the United States. (One of the children who came to the US was my Great-Grandfather)   Once again I am so thankful for photographs that put faces to names.  And I am thankful for their faith and trust in Yahweh shown in the lives of their children.

Thank you Yahweh, for leading me to this story for my blog.  Thank you for the seeds that you placed into me that brought me to this place today.  I am so thankful for my Spiritual heritage.  Thank you for blessing my mother and her generations with your presence and your peace.  Amen

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In celebration of Lake Maud

You know how sometimes you get blindsided by something?  Something that you KNEW but you just hadn't really processed?  Well, I had one of those moments today. 

The picture above is one of my favorites.  I am actually the baby, sitting on my mom's lap (and sort of blocked by the salt and pepper shakers). This picture was taken in the summer of 1955.  I know the date because of my age!  I am not yet 1.   Left to right in the picture is my sister Karen, brother Jerry, then brother Greg, my mom and I and on the end, my sister Julie.  One of the reasons I love this picture SOOOOOO much is that it was taken "at the Lake" - Lake Maud, Minnesota.  The cabin you see in the background was built by my dad.  Every board, every nail was put there by him.  When my dad returned from serving in World War II, my parents began to think about having a place to vacation.  My mom often said that they knew they could not afford to go away for vacations, but having a cabin seemed like an option.  I  heard the story about my uncles (who lived in that area)  bringing my dad to the farmer who had decided to begin to sell lots on the lake on his property.  And how my dad walked through the woods to find just the perfect lot.  And it certainly was a choice lot on that lake.  My mom and dad purchased that lot in 1950 but it took them 3 years to pay off the lot so that they could begin building. The first part of the cabin was started in 1953 and completed in 1954.  The first picture of the cabin with the family standing by it, was taken in late August of 1954.  My mom is hiding in the very back of that picture because she didn't want to be "seen", as pregnant as she was! I was born on September 6th.  I know I have seen that picture, but I don't have it.  Since I was not "in" it, I am sure one of my siblings has that photo.  That explains why the above picture is so special to me.  I think it is the first photo of me at the Lake. 

That cabin was really my "home".  It was a constant in my life that included many moves.  The Lake - the cabin - was always there.  There were so many family gatherings, so many reunions, so much fun.  My dad loved being there.  There was always a project or two that needed fixing or something to be built.  I don't think I can recall a summer without a project until the very end of my dad's life.  And even then, when he was in a wheelchair, he had visions of what needed to be done.  Over the years there were rooms added.  And I remember when we got running water.  And then the next year HOT water in the kitchen sink! (So you didn't have to heat water to wash the dishes).  It wasn't until I was married that there was "indoor plumbing" - a bathroom.  Otherwise it was the outhouse.  This was a cabin. Not a lake home.  Small and crowded but wonderful.  I can still smell the aroma of wet tennis shoes drying out on a kerosene stove.  I remember the year that my dad put the knotty pine paneling in the living room. It was one of the hottest summers we had ever had.   My dad sweated his way through that project.  Yep, this was where so many of my family memories were made.  One of the last major projects on the house was a screened in porch.  That porch was amazing.  The hours that we sat out there, after dark and just talked.  And laughed. 

But life happens.  My siblings and I all grew up and had families and work and responsibilities. Many of us moved far away.  And the cabin sat empty for long stretches.  Even after my dad died, my mom continued to go to the Lake. Thanks to my brother Jerry, she went until the very end of her life.  Then my brothers continued to use the cabin for a couple of weeks each year.  Well today I found out that the cabin has been sold.  I am glad that my brothers are not worried about the maintenance and upkeep anymore.  But I admit I got a little chocked up hearing that it was no longer in our family.  And I felt a little blindsided by this news.  I don't know why.  I knew that my brothers were talking about selling and even my mom had been suggesting the sale before her death.  But I guess the reality just hit me.  So I felt a little blind-sided.

It has been good for me tonight to remember.  To think about and hold on to the memories of the cabin on Lake Maud.  And to celebrate my family. So once again, I am so thankful for pictures and treasured memories. I am especially grateful for the vision that my dad and mom had of the kind of place that the Lake became for us.  You know that God is in those kind of decisions.  For almost 60 years our family was blessed with this gathering place.  Yahweh, thank you for your destiny for my family that included Lake Maud.  I pray that the new owners of this wonderful little cabin find not only love, joy and peace there, but also you Yahweh.  Thank you for my family. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What I learned in Vacation Bible School (today!)

It is HOT outside today -  I mean HOT -  like buckling the roads and melting the pavement hot.  I know that I don't usually focus on such mundane things like the weather, but today is just one of those days.  In spite of the heat, what is on my mind is something quite COOL!  (Okay - I know I am showing my age, but to me, something "cool" is well..... AMAZING! ) Today I went with my daughter Gwen and her children to their Vacation Bible School.  There is nothing better than a large group of kids singing, dancing, playing, crafting, just generally having fun while learning about Jesus.  I loved watching my grandchildren - oh how fast they grow up.  But the best part for me was watching my daughter, Gwen, lead the singing. It is wonderful watching someone fulfilling their destiny, right in front of your eyes.  She is talented and gifted in music, but her passion is sharing Jesus.   She loves children and she can relate to babies,  preschoolers, tweens, teens and adults. And they love her right back. What an amazing gift. 

All that aside,  here is a list of some of the things I learned today at Vacation Bible School........

1.  Don't worry..... just pray!
2.  Stand..........Strong!
3.  Spread the Love of Jesus to everyone!

Really - is there anything else that matters???  I need to take these lessons in and meditate on them.  Isn't it true that if we would stop all the fretting and just pray about things, we would all be better off?  It seems like such a basic principal, yet I know that there are far too many times that I worry more than I pray.  When I consider all the shaking and storms that seem to have been swirling around lately, the "Stand Strong"  message seems made for me.  When we are standing on Jesus, our rock, we ARE strong.  And it is our destiny to spread the love of Jesus to everyone.

Last night a dear friend was praying for me.  She saw me on the top of a Ferris wheel, at a carnival and there was colorful confetti just pouring out from me.  Today I pictured the love of Jesus as that confetti.  What an amazing picture.  Don't you think it would look wonderful if we could see the amazing colors of the love of Jesus pouring out of us as we walked through our day?  I am going to begin to think about the presence of Jesus that can change the atmosphere around me, as colorful confetti.  How beautiful would that be!

Yahweh, thank you for my amazing daughter.  Bless her and her family as she continues to walk in your plan and purposes for her life.  Thank you for those happy, dancing kids at VBS today.  Help them to hang on to all that they heard and saw today.  Water all the seeds that have been sown into their hearts.  And Yahweh, I want to thank you for the VBS programs Gwen attended and all the seeds that were sown into her life.  Thank you for what you are doing in my grandchildren.  Thank you for what you are teaching me.  And Jesus, thank you for helping us. 


Monday, July 15, 2013

Modern miracles....

So after my last post about my maternal grandmother and mom, I have been thinking about my dad.  My dad died in 1985 when I was only 31 years old.  I have missed having him around during most of my adult life.  I can't tell you how often, when I am with Doug or thinking about Doug, I think, "boy my dad would have loved him so much" or "Doug and my dad would have had so much in common". (I think this often about my son-in-law Tim also.  Doug and Tim are a lot alike!).  And, unfortunately, Doug has no memories of my dad.  Dad died when Doug was just 3 years old.  And thinking about my dad has me thinking about his growing up years. 

Here is a picture of my dad's family taken in 1919.  My dad is the little boy standing between his parents.

I love looking at the clothes and imagining the lifestyle at that time.  I love the fact that I can look at the older kids, standing in the back, and SEE my aunts and uncles.  I was blessed to actually get to know them.  But what ALWAYS goes through my mind, is my grandmother.  Both my grandmother and grandfather came to America from Sweden as "indentured servants".  They were young teenagers at the time and they left everything and everyone that they knew to come to a strange country.  I just can't imagine that.  And then they worked hard, as servants, for other people - as farm hands and maids, childcare workers and cooks. They met in Minnesota while working on neighboring farms. My grandfather served out the remaining time on my grandmother's indentured contract so that they could get married. Eventually, my grandfather purchased his own farm and they raised their children.   As you can see by the picture, there is a large age spacing between my dad and his oldest brother (standing behind his father).  Actually 20 years.  What tugs at my heart about this picture, is who is MISSING from this picture.  This family includes two more boys.  In the summer of 1913, Algot, who was 18 at the time, fell out of a hay loft onto a pitchfork and died of gangrene infection.  Also, Gustov, who was 6 years old, died of "sugar disease".  And then on August 20, 1913, my dad was born.  Can you imagine that?  Losing two of your children and then having a new baby - all in one summer?  And did I mention that my grandmother was 41 years old? 
 It has always been in my heart that neither of these boys -my two uncles - would have died if the same scenario played out in my lifetime.  We take for granted doctors and hospitals and antibiotics as well as other amazing medical advances like insulin.  But it was not that long ago that these "miracles" were not available.  I've been thinking about a video I saw on the internet the other day watch it here. It is a story about a 15 year old boy, Jack Andraka, that invented a way to detect pancreatic cancer for only 3 cents. Amazing. I can't help but think of all the other miraculous things, yet to be discovered, that Yahweh has gifted to people.
I am convinced that there are amazing, creative inventions and solutions on the horizon.  Yahweh's kingdom is ever increasing and His glory is being revealed through His people.  I am also convinced that my children and grandchildren will have a part in bringing about these miracles.   It gives me a hope and excitement for what is ahead.  And it gives me great joy.
Thank you Yahweh for helping me to see your hand in the many miracles we see today.  Thank you for my family and the way that you have gifted and used all the generations.  Yahweh, I pray special blessing on my entire extended family.  May they draw close to you and hear your voice.  Thank you for your great love and the gift of Jesus.   Amen


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Life changing pictures....

Today I've been thinking about my "hobbies".  I have always been a reader and have said that books are my hobby.  But about 13 years ago my daughter got me started scrapbooking.  I LOVE SCRAPBOOKING!  There, I said it.  I am a true scrap lover  I find myself thinking about the scrapbook pages I will create as I am taking the pictures.  I now have a room in my house dedicated to this hobby.  And I can pretty much tell you where to purchase supplies for scrapbooking at the best price.  That is because I am a bargain shopper in all things - even this.  Currently I am more than a year behind in my "hobby".  There are pages for April of 2012 sitting on my table right now. But this is a "timeless" thing.  As a matter of fact, I am also working on a Heritage album of some very old family photos.   I love the fact that this hobby has given me a chance to fellowship with my daughter and my daughter-in-law as well as some other wonderful young gals in quarterly "scrapping weekends".  I have even been able to actually get a good friend of mine started in this addicting hobby. 

One interesting thing has been how much and how often Jesus has spoken to me through scrapbooking.  I have had times when I have chosen a specific picture for a page because there was a "hidden" meaning behind it.  And there have been times when I have "seen" a scrapbook page in a prophetic word.  I have never felt particularly gifted in the arts.  I am not a "crafty" person.  But there is something about creating these pages that speaks to me.

Pictures have always been extremely important to me.  I remember when I was very young, going through boxes of pictures.  I would quiz my mom over and over to tell me about the people and the events.  As child number 5 in the family there were fewer pictures of me than my siblings.  But I had a dad that also loved taking pictures. When I had my own kids I was determined to put all the pictures in albums - no boxes.  Unfortunately the 18 albums of pictures were "magnetic" pages that damage the pictures.  So now, my pictures have been taken out of albums and returned to boxes - acid free photo storage.  But boxes none the less.  Isn't it funny how sometimes the things we never want, actually end up being what we need? 

One of my favorite pictures is a very small, very old photo.  It was taken in the summer of 1916.  It is a black and white picture of a family sitting on the grass next to a  house.   Here it is...........

I will never forget when I found this picture - in the bottom of a box, actually stuck under one of the bottom flaps.  My mom was moving into a smaller apartment and we were helping her move.  It was in 2009 - and my mom was 94 years old.  I watched her face when I brought her this picture.  I will never forgot the emotion I saw there.  This is a picture of my mom as a 1 year old.  She is sitting in front of her dad.  Her mom (in the black dress) is looking at her.  The women with the other baby is my mom's Aunt Lydia and the other baby is her cousin Jeanette.  (My mom and Jeanette were really best friends as well as cousins).  The boy in the back, is Jeanette's brother Delwin.  The girls are my mothers sisters, Beatrice, Phyllis, and Eunice.  My mom did not remember this picture at all.  As a matter of fact, she said she had never even seen it.  You see, this is the ONLY picture anyone has of my mother with her mother.  My grandmother, Nora Toensing, died in April of 1917 - about 9 months after this picture and before my mom turned 2.  My mom had never seen herself with her mom.  I couldn't imagine that.  We actually only have a few pictures of my grandmother.  But this was a found picture that brought something amazing to my mom.  And to me.  We noticed that Nora is clearly looking at my mom - not the camera.  Her eyes are on her baby.  And my Grandpa seems so proud.  All my mom kept saying was "I can't wait to get to heaven to meet my mom".  For the next 2 years a restored enlargement of that photo sat where my mom looked at it everyday. 

I am so thankful for pictures.  And I am thankful for scrapbooking and photo storage and digital photos and scanned pictures that will preserve these for generations.   How wonderful that my grandchildren can hold on to these amazing bits of our heritage.  And I am so grateful that Yahweh planned for my mom to have and enjoy this picture at the end of her life.  It was not an accident that this picture was found.  It was part of God's amazing plan for me and my mom.  So I will go back into my scrapbook room and carry on.  Because there is importance and value to this hobby.

Thank you Yahweh for connecting us to our generations.  Your plan for us includes our family - past present and future.  Thank you for speaking to me through photos and for providing scrapbooking as a way to preserve pictures for my generations.  Thank you for this picture and for my wonderful mother.  What a blessing to know that she is celebrating with YOU right now.  Amen.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Putting things in order

I had an amazing day yesterday with my daughter and grandchildren.  One of the many things we did during the day was organizing and cleaning up toys.  The recent move into a much larger house has given the kids a dedicated play space. Needless to say, the kids are loving having this spot to really discover toys that have been packed away for some time.   I loved watching Zeke, who is two years old, line up his cars by the car ramp.  I was thinking about the very exact way that he aligned each small matchbox car.   Oh how I love spending time with my grandchildren!  Even if it is just a day of helping to put things in order.  

Today I've been meditating on being in alignment with the plans and purposes Yahweh has for us.  You know how when your posture isn't good- when you don't stand up straight - your back starts to really bother you?   Well, while on vacation, my back was really hurting!  I could not identify anything that I had done to cause this and I was very frustrated.  I never get back aches!  And now, on vacation..............  well I was not happy.  Needless to say after several days, I caved and bought a heating pad.  It was so worth the $15!  My back relaxed and other than a couple of twinges, hasn't bothered me since.  But today I had to take a closer look at this event.  On Tuesday evening someone prayed for me that I would come into proper alignment in my walk with the Lord.  The prayer also included petitions for wisdom and revelation for me.  Well, I feel like I have been out of alignment and I have had a "spiritual back ache".  I just have not felt exactly right and there has been this little niggling unsettled feeling.  Has anyone else been feeling this?   I didn't identify it, but now I know what is going on! 

So.... I am not waiting until this gets worse!  I am going to apply the warmth and healing of Jesus.  I intend to focus on worship and praise and just being in the marvelous presence of Yahweh.  In the natural it was the heat that helped the most.  So I am going to apply the spiritual heat and rest in the knowledge that Yahweh wants the proper alignment for me even more than I do.  Looking back on some of my posts, this was exactly what Yahweh was speaking about in the coffee bean.  I just didn't hear it to the depth that I needed.  I am excited to see and hear what is revealed in the days ahead.  Because I am anxious to put things in order and know that I am in the process of getting into proper alignment.

Yahweh, thanks so much for giving us real life lessons in the practical, everyday things.  Thank you for prayers from other people that open our eyes.  Jesus, be that spiritual heating pad that will help me to relax and know you are working on that alignment.  Open the doors and make the connections that will help to bring things into order.  You are a God of order and you have a place of order for each of us.  Keep my ears and eyes open, Jesus so that I can absorb all that you have for me!  And I pray for anyone else who has been feeling "out of place".  Help us all to rest in you!  Amen

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Do I need a "reason" to write?

I've only been doing this blog for a couple of months but it has been so life-giving for me.  Its funny how putting thoughts and words and prayers down in a blog feel like fulfilling my destiny.  I never thought of myself as a writer.  It would not have been something I imagined doing.  In fact, I really didn't like having to write when I was in school.  I much preferred reading over writing.  Back in 1988 when Jesus  became real to me, I started journaling.  I have boxes and boxes of spiral notebooks to show for the last 25 years.  I am so grateful that, early on in my learning and growing spiritual life, someone suggested that I try writing down my prayers.  But I never imagined writing with the purpose of someone else reading my thoughts, feelings and emotions.  And I couldn't comprehend writing down and sharing things that Jesus was saying to me.  Gradually, I sort of got used to the idea of sharing through writing.  But I certainly did not feel "qualified" to write anything really important.
Looking back, I can see that I ran away from writing when there were many times that Jesus was calling me to do exactly that.  Almost 20 years ago, Jesus gave me ideas for an extremely unconventional and powerful "out of the box" education program for children.  I did act on those ideas.  I actually created and executed a unique program for kids.  But very little of it was written down and much of it is contained in scraps of paper and folded copies.  I had a pastor at the time who was encouraging me to get the material in "publishable format".  But I didn't think I had the time and/or the resources to do that.  I wasn't qualified.  Eventually, some ideas did make it into print. (I have previously mentioned the materials on www.cyrusministries.com under Kids Rock).  However, not much more has been happening with my writing................until now. 

In April of 2012 I had a powerful visitation from an angel.  I woke one night from a dream and saw an angel standing by the end of my bed.  He was holding a silver tray.  On the silver tray was a very ornate gold pen. There was a powerful word from the Lord, encouraging me to write down and share the things I was receiving.  To fulfill my destiny.  I knew that I was supposed to write.  I started sort of gathering together some thoughts and ideas and trying to imagine who might even want to read what I was going to write. But that was as far as it went.

Then in February, I read a book that shook up my world.  You see, the author wrote words that I felt and heard in my own head.  I sobbed my way through the book.  The last chapter contained words that were so similar to things I had written in my little booklet "God's Plan and Purpose for Children", that it took my breath away.  I contacted the author of this book and she replied to me almost immediately.  Her response was that "it sounds like there is a book or more in you that is waiting to get out".  She encouraged me to write what I knew I needed to write.

So, here I am.  A new blogger.  I've been encouraged to do this blog by my daughter who always reminds me that "unqualified" is not an acceptable excuse.  Since the Bible is full of unqualified people who God used in amazing ways.  And I am continuing to gather my thoughts and ideas for some bigger project.  But for now, this blog has been amazing for me.   I want to encourage everyone who might be reading this post to follow your destiny.  Don't let being "unqualified" or "uneducated" stop you from following Yahweh's path for you. 

Thank you Yahweh for your patience with me.  Thank you for drawing me to a place where I can share all the wonderful things that you are doing in me and through me.  Yahweh please encourage and give hope to anyone who feels purposeless and hopeless.  You are the Creator and you have amazing ideas to share with us.  Jesus, I receive all that you have for me today.  Thank you for the people who have encouraged me to step out and write.  Yahweh, you are the reason that I write! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Roadside billboards

While traveling home from vacation, I saw some amazing things!  Of course all you have to do is look around as you travel and you WILL see things that sometimes, you don't even want to see!  There were lots of RV's, campers, jammed full vans.  There were trucks pulling trailers, buses and even a few regular cars.  And there were billboards.  We love to see the Ron Jon signs.  This means we are close to the ocean (and most likely, one of our destinations).  There are all kinds of signs and billboards along the road these days.  I saw two billboards that stuck with me while I was driving and Ken was sleeping. 

The first was a large white board divided down the middle with a black line.  On the left was a large yellow sad face.  On the right was a large yellow happy face.   On the sad face side it said "American does not need a face lift".  On the other side it said "America needs a faith lift". 

This was very interesting to me.   Just that morning I was looking at my face in the mirror and thinking how OLD I suddenly look. After this billboard, I realized that I should be much more concerned about my FAITH than my FACE.  And I do need a FAITH lift.  Isn't it true that we would all be so much better off if we were concerned about our Spiritual life rather than our Physical appearance. So I am going to be praying this for everyone.  Because this is not just true for me or you.  It's not just true for America.  It is true for everyone. 

Then the second billboard I saw said in big black letters - ALL YOU NEED.  And underneath that it said B.asic I.nstructions B.efore L.eaving E.arth.  BIBLE!  Okay this got my attention.  What an interesting way to look at the Bible.  Yes, it is an instruction book that leads and guides us.  It is what we need everyday to walk out our destiny.  I think some would say it is anything but basic.  But when you approach the Bible after asking the Holy Spirit to show you what you need to see in what you are reading, passages seem to make sense.  I am SOOOOO thankful for the written word.  Everyday when I open my favorite Bible (and then notice the many different Bible translations on my shelf), I think of the many people around the world who do NOT have the written word available to them.  I have been so blessed to know a few people who have fulfilled their destiny to bring the written word to people around the world. If you ask to see my key chain, you will see see a worn, leather fob.  You can no longer read the words on it, or see the picture.  But I know what it says!  Remember the Korumba.  When I met this missionary family to Burkino Faso, Africa, the Korumba people did not even have a written language.  Now, thanks to these faithful people, the Korumba people  have parts of the Bible to read in their own language.  Isn't Yahweh just amazing???  He is getting His word out  through the hands of regular people like you and me. I have been blessed to be a part of this by praying for their work, everytime I pick up my keys!   

Thank you Yahweh for your written word - the Bible.  It is so amazing to me that you have preserved and brought your written word to 2013.  And I am in awe of your great plan to bring your Word to the nations.  Thank you for Chris and Sue Ladish who are walking out their destiny for the Korumba people of Burkino Faso, Africa.  Yahweh, bless all those who are serving you around the world.  Give them a faith lift!   Amen

Friday, July 5, 2013

HOPE! and Moving on up.....in the kingdom

One of my favorite things about vacations on the ocean is waking up before the sunrises.  I love to sit and watch the clouds and the waves change as the sun rises.  This morning I was sitting quietly, worshipping and praying, and I heard the word "hope".  As I was contemplating all that might be in this simple word I saw H.O.P.E!   And then heard "His Original Promises are Eternal"   How awesome is that?  Yahweh's covenant promises were for Old Testament Times, New Testament Times, our present time and ALL time.  They are eternal.  

Now if you know me, you would know that Jesus often speaks to me in television or movie references.  (Isn't it great that He knows us so personally that He will use things that really speak to us when he has something important to say).  This morning, as I was contemplating all of the amazing promises of Yahweh that are eternal, I suddenly was hearing the theme song from the 1970's situation comedy "The Jefferson's".  The point of the theme song was that the main characters had made it big in the dry cleaning business and were able to move out of their "neighborhood" and move UP to the "east side" to a deluxe apartment in the sky.   But these were the words I heard this morning....

Moving on up, to the best place.
To that amazing place of contentment and peace.
Moving on up to the right place
The place of our true destiny.

Moving on up, to the best place
To shine with His light and glory.
To dispel the dark and tell His story
Moving on up!

As I was hearing these words, I saw an amazing castle in the clouds.  There was a long approach leading up to the castle.  The draw bridge was down and there were beautiful flowers lining the path.  There was a large sign that said "Now entering a new realm of the Kingdom"! 

This "Moving on Up" is to a new depth of kingdom understanding.  And there will be new ways of seeing our place and understanding our destiny.  There will be new things in general.  Most importantly, it is a place of promises fulfilled.  Things prophesied long ago will be revealed as we move on up into this new understanding.   This is a time of action. 

I believe that it is important that these words came in this order.  I need to focus on HOPE!  To be grounded in Yahweh's covenant promises.  THEN I can move on up into this new and exciting place of a deeper understanding of the Kingdom.  I'm glad to be moving up to this place that is one of peace and contentment. And I am so glad that it is a place of my true destiny. 

Yahweh, thank you for bringing me hope after a time of feeling so stuck.  Thank you for knowing me so personally that you reach me in old TV programs.  Yahweh, I want to move up into that new depth of Kingdom understanding.  I want to go higher and deeper.  Jesus, I pray you will bring everyone who reads these words into a new and renewed sense of hope in you.  Thank you that the draw bridge is DOWN on your Kingdom's castle.  Thank you for welcoming everyone that chooses to come

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why did I do that??????

Today was one of those days when I asked myself the question.... "Why did I do that?"   I have been known to do some pretty outrageous things over the years.  Like not checking the pockets of jeans that are thrown into the washer (which yields wet, soggy wallets and one or two ruined cell phones). I've said things I wish I could take back.  I've bought some things that DID get taken back.  Anyway, you get the idea.  Well, today's "that" - the thing I wish I hadn't done - was walking to the beach without my shoes.  Now, I know that doesn't sound like such a big deal, but let me remind you - it is July in Florida and it was sunny!  Yes, the sand was VERY HOT!   And I have two good sized blisters on the bottoms of my big toes to prove it.  I covered myself with sunscreen and then burned the bottoms of my feet. 

I am thankful that there is a Walgreens on every corner these days.  I was able to get something to protect the very sensitive, open wounds from the popped blisters, on the bottom of my toes. 

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Sometimes, even when we are trying to do the best we can, we mess up.   I just forgot my shoes and did not think it was a big deal.  I didn't really think it through.  I am so thankful that Yahweh understands when we mess up.   No matter how small or trivial or how big of a thing it is.  Jesus forgives us when we ask.  We don't have to be afraid to fail or make mistakes.  Doesn't that feel good?   Jesus is even more present and available than that Walgreens store.  All you have to do is talk to Him.  Amazing!   It seems that around every turn, every day, I am coming into a greater understanding of just how AWESOME  Yahweh is!  I am so grateful that I have a relationship with Jesus, with Yahweh, with the Holy Spirit that allows me to grow - to learn and to understand more about Him - even when I mess up! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The carrot, the egg and the coffee bean....

If I have learned one thing on this vacation it is to breath in during the horrible storms we have been driving through.  Ken and I were remembering one amazing vacation several years ago, when we drove over 3800 miles and never had one drop of rain!  This trip has not been like that.  We have had rain, RAIN AND MORE RAIN!  And of course, the worst storms always seem to happen in the cities with the most traffic!  Today I remembered to breath.  I remembered to pray.  I remembered to ask others to pray.  And then I picked up my phone and started looking at Facebook!  Isn't that a good way to take your mind off of the wind and the rain and the lightening?  Which brings me to the title of this post.   I saw a little story that has been on my mind the rest of the day.

The story compared hard and difficult times to a pot of boiling water.  The water doesn't change.  Just like our circumstances sometimes don't change.  So the question is...............  when you are in that pot of boiling water, are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?   The carrot starts off hard and solid.  But when dropped into that boiling water, it become soft and squishy.  It really doesn't hold up.  The egg has a hard exterior. It seems like it will be fine, but under those hot and boiling circumstances, the inside become hard. The coffee bean doesn't seem to change.  BUT the water changes.  Instead of being effected by the boiling water..... it changes the environment! 

I want to be a coffee bean!  How about you?  I want to stay solid and firm.  I don't want to get soft and mushy like that carrot.  And I know that I don't want to harden my heart like that egg.  And the coffee bean doesn't just change the water.... it releases a wonderful aroma that draws people in.   Once again I am in awe of Yahweh's plan for us.  He designed us to be able to not only get through difficult times, but we can actually change things in the midst of troubles and storms.  AND we can release a wonderful aroma of joy and peace at the same time.   The best part about this is that the coffee bean doesn't have to DO ANYTHING!!!!!  It just is!!!   It just gets thrown into that hot water and then just has to BE! 

So, I am going to think of myself as a coffee bean!  I will remember that I don't have to DO anything at all.  Those tough and difficult situations will happen, but in the midst of them, it is Yahweh's plan to release HIS presence and power that changes things.  And it is His aroma that swirls out as joy, and peace and love.  What a relief! 

Thanks to the person that posted that wonderful story.  It has given me much to think and meditate about.  The story helped me to relax and travel through the storm as we drove.  I love little things that help me to hold on to these concepts.  Today it is a coffee bean!

Yahweh, what a wonderful, loving, amazing God you are.  I am in awe of your plans and your purposes.  You reign over the heavens and over the earth.  You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Thank you for showing me your plan in the little things.  Thank you for the coffee bean! (And the coffee!).   Amen

Monday, July 1, 2013

Living in the Sandwich

I know this is a funny title for this post.....  But today was one of those times when you realize your "place" in your family.  I experienced being in the sandwich today.  For the better part of the day, I visited with my 93 year old father-in-law.  He is a wealth of information on many different subjects, after years as an accomplished mechanical engineer with a metallurgist masters degree.  He traveled the world and speaks several languages.  Today, however, we had a wonderful private talk about God.  It was so refreshing to hear him express a true belief in Jesus and the gospel message. And I got to share with him, a bit about my experiences with Yahweh.  This time spent with him, made this trip so worth it!  Shortly after our talk I saw that my daughter posted an ultrasound picture and announcement of my 4th grandchild - expected in February, 2014.  And I was hit by the reality of being "in the sandwich".  Here I am with an elderly parent and an expected grandchild.  Sandwiched between the generations.  But also feeling the generational shift to the far side of that sandwich, since my own parents are no longer living.  I've moved from the meat to the bread side!

Merv (my father-in-law) is a scientist and he sees no conflict between science and faith.  It was interesting to listen to his perspective on God.  He described the assurance he felt in the Creator by the scientific fact of the placement of the earth at exactly the correct orbit to sustain life.  As he said, "Only God could have planned that!". 

My encouragement to anyone and everyone out there reading this blog, is to seek out your family. Find those times of conversation to discuss what is REALLY important.  Don't waste time on only the trivial things.  I don't mean with just the oldest in your family.  Yes, it is important to hear from their wisdom and experience.  But don't forget the children.  Ask, and listen.   And remember also those in your own generation.  Be truth tellers.  Be reflectors of all that Yahweh has placed in you.  Be lovers and givers. Be receivers! 

Tonight, I am so thankful that Yahweh planned for today to happen!  That he gave me the opportunity to talk one on one with Merv.  To hear his heart and feel the love of Jesus in the room. What an amazing God!  Praise Him!