Monday, September 30, 2013

Heirs of the Kingdom........

Today I was doing my daily bible reading and I was in Galatians 4.  These verses speak about our adoption as children of God when we accept Jesus as our Saviour.  Suddenly I was thinking about Ken.  This cute picture above labeled "Jimmy Joe  June 9, 1952" is actually the first picture we have of Ken.  Ken was born on May 14, 1952 and he was left in the hospital to be placed for adoption.  The nurses gave him the name James Joseph - Jimmy Joe for short.  He was small and underweight and needed to stay in the hospital to gain weight and strength.  This picture was taken on June 9, 1952 and given to Ken's mom and dad to "see if they might want to adopt this baby".  Of course, they wanted this little baby boy.  There is a long story about why his mom and dad wanted to adopt a baby in 1952, but the short version is that they had one child (Ken's sister) and then suffered many, many pregnancy losses over the next 7 years.  So this was a most welcome call for them.  They happily brought this baby home and named him Kenneth Alan.  Just this last year in talking with Ken's dad, we heard a very different reason why the name Kenneth was chosen!  Ken's mom had always said that he was named after a favorite cousin of hers.  However, Ken's dad insists that HE chose the name after a friend from college.  So we don't really know why this name was given to him. 

Here is the first family picture, the day that they brought Ken home.  His sister is 7 1/2 years old. Although Ken was about 6 weeks old, he really looks like a newborn. He has always known that he was adopted.  After Ken and I were together, his mom told me many times that she was afraid that Ken would search for and find his birth mother.  She was sure that Ken would not want to be in their family if that happened.  Surprisingly, Ken has never ever wanted to search for or find out anything about his birth parents.  When he turned 21 it became possible for him to get information regarding his adoption, but he is simply not interested in this search.  Quite honestly, with Ken now being 61 years old, the chances are pretty good that his birth parents are dead. 

But truth telling here - I have always been curious about his birth parents.  During the time that Doug was so sick, it was always on my mind.  Over and over I had to fill out forms and answer questions about our family health history.  And of course Gwen and Doug only have 1/2 of their history.  We don't know anything at all about Ken's genetic picture.  I can say with confidence that there is NO cancer in my immediate family (Mother, father, sisters, brothers, grandparents).  That is amazing.  I also have length of life for all of these family members.  But Ken doesn't really know.  Should he have early testing for various cancers?  Is there heart disease in his family?  Unknown.   Ken is not the only person in this situation.  All adoptions were "closed" in the 1950's and earlier.  How much easier it is for children adopted today. Even if it is not an open adoption, medical histories are taken and most often parents are given information about the birth families. 

I realized that I have been thinking about my new little unborn granddaughter.  How blessed are we that she has already had her first real "physical exam" (biophysical ultrasound) and found to be developing normally.  It is really amazing the long list of problems that can be discovered at a 20 week ultrasound.  That list means that they can ELIMINATE those problems also!  What a blessing to be able to celebrate her health as well as her gender!  Even though we don't have all of her family health history.

You know, the idea that we are all adopted into Yahweh's family is really powerful.  We have been made sons and daughters of the King of Kings.  We are heirs of the Father and will inherit the Kingdom of our brother Jesus!  I am beginning to understand Ken's perspective on adoption.  Once we are grafted into a new family, why look back?  Spiritually, we are born into the world of sin and death.  Once we are adopted into Jesus' family, we have righteousness and LIFE!  What an amazing thing.  So tonight I am celebrating adoption.  And I am celebrating Ken and the life that Jesus chose for him. 

Jesus, thank you for the amazing gift of adoption.  Our adoption into your family and also the process of the adoption of children into earthly families.  Holy Spirit, thank you for showing me a greater depth of understanding of adoption.   Bless all those families that have been touched by adoption. Jesus surround all those families that have given children for adoption.  Shower them with your love and your peace.  Jesus, help us to live in our rightful place as heirs of your Kingdom.  And Jesus, thank you again, for Ken.  Amen

Sunday, September 29, 2013

When you still have questions but others think you have the answers!

Well, today my message from "God wants you to know...." (This is an interesting site on Facebook that just sends you little messages now and then) was "You already know the answer!"  Wait a minute...... I know that I have lots of questions, lots of things I have been discussing with Jesus and I am absolutely sure that I DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWERS!  Do you ever feel this way?
In fact this puzzling little statement leaves me with far more questions than answers.  It is so hard when someone else - especially Jesus - tells you that you already know what seems so elusive to you.  So this takes a bit of reflection..............
So, Jesus.....  Why am I always so slow to understand the things that you are trying to say to me?
I am sure that I don't have the answer to that one.
Why do I feel as if I am going around the same "mountain" (insert issue, problem, situation - whatever fits)?     Nope, no answer to that one either.
Am I on the right path to fulfill your destiny for me?  Not sure on this one.
Oh, boy, this is a just a small sampling.  So........  I will spend some time and really search my own heart and spirit, and listen carefully so that I can have some answers! 
Just as I was about to end this Blog post, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the many, many times I have said to my own children (or the children that I nanny) "You already know the answer to that question".  Really, what mom has NOT said those words?  It is usually when the answer is so obvious that the question is simply silly.  Things like "Can I go outside without my shoes?" when it is 30 degrees.  Or "Can I have just one more cookie?" when dinner is just 5 minutes away.  So, suddenly I have a different perspective on this statement. 
So let's see......  I don't understand all that Jesus is saying to me because I don't stop to listen carefully.  I am always rushing around and not taking the time to stop and let the Holy Spirit really give me the full revelation.
I am not going around the SAME mountain.  It may feel the same, look the same, but I have been moving forward and upward.  So the present "mountain" is NOT the same!
And, I can be sure that you Jesus, will nudge me back onto the correct path if I have in some way, veered off to one side or the other. 
I guess I did  know the answers!  Thank you Jesus for using something like this to speak to me today.  Instead of feeling like I did not get any answers from you, I will stop and listen and reflect and allow the Holy Spirit to show me that I do have your answers!  Jesus, help all of my friends that are having a hard time right now, and feel as if they don't have the answers to hard questions that they have been asking you.  Give them assurance that they do KNOW!  Thank you Jesus!  Amen

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Celebrating daughters!

This picture is one of my very all time favorites.  This is me and Gwen in September of 1979 when she was about 4 months old.  Gwen doesn't understand why I love this picture, and to tell you the truth, I'm not exactly sure why I love this picture!  I think because it is one of the few pictures I have of me with Gwen (since I was usually the one taking the pictures) and more than that, it is just a candid shot!  I love that we are just laying on the couch together.  I love the look on her face.  I just love this picture!    I decided to post this shot today because we just found out that Gwen and Tim's expected baby is a GIRL!!!!  So Lia, Ellie and Zeke will have a new little sister next February.  We are so excited.  Zeke, we love you, but I am so excited to see all those cute little dresses again!  And I am envisioning the wonderful 3 matching dresses in the future - with Zeke coordinating is some very "manly" way! 

And with all that........... my life-long friend today is Gwen!  How could I leave her out of this "mini series" on friends?  I realized that I always said that my mom was my best friend.  And in the later years, I really began to know this in a deep and meaningful way.  And that has made me appreciate so much more, my relationship with Gwen.  I am sooooo blessed by Gwen on a daily basis.  So often she brings me a word or thought from her bible study or devotions or a sermon or something she has seen on the internet.  And I am so thankful that first of all, she communicates these things with me on a regular basis (okay honesty here, we usually talk at least once a day).  I know that many moms are not so blessed to have daughters who call daily.  More than just the calls, I am so blessed by the spiritual depth of our conversations.  I love that we can really share what is most important to us.  I love that I know that she is praying for me!  I love that she knows that I am praying for her!   It is simply amazing to watch her parent her children with so much grace.  What a joy it is to see her prophetic gifting coming forth.  And more than that, to see how much deeper and clearer her gifting is.  I love how she loves children and youth with whom she interacts.  I love her heart to reach the youth with the love of Jesus.  I love that she understands how to reach people in her generation.  And now I love watching her develop this same kind of relationship with her own daughters and son.   How special! 

Today I encourage you all to think about your relationships with your family.  If you are blessed with open and sharing relationships with your children and/or your parents - CELEBRATE and give thanks!  If you feel distant from your family members, pray and trust that Jesus will work this out.  The Holy Spirit is great at bringing families back together.  It is the heart of Yahweh to build strong loving families.  Our family members can and should be our best life-long friends.  Thank you Jesus!

Jesus, thank you for showing me today how you have blessed me through Gwen. Holy Spirit please encourage all those who are feeling distant in their relationships with their parents or children or siblings.  Give them great faith to trust in your ability to bring reconciliation and blessings to families.  Jesus, thank you for my new granddaughter.  Continue to protect and guard her as she grows and develops before her birth.  Thank you for Lia, Ellie and Zeke.  Bring them great joy and give them all a tight bond as siblings.  Thank you for Tim and Doug and Susie!  And Jesus, thank you so much for Ken.  Amen

PS.... Car update:  My car needs a new starter and will be repaired on Monday!  Ken and I were discussing what a blessing it was that the starter went out in a driveway when I was the only one effected.  Not during the car line, not when the kids were in the car, not when I was MILES away from home.  Not in the dark.  Jesus, thank you for your perfect timing! And thank you for honest, dependable car repair people!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A bad start to the weekend, but the joy of another good friend!

Well, this weekend is not starting off very well.  I was so anxious to be finally FREE at 4:35 this afternoon.  Looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow (finding out the gender of our next grandchild : ) ) and then the weekend in general.  Went out to my car and it wouldn't start.  Noticed that one of the little hands that I cart around must have turned on the dome light in my car!  So I was hopeful that I just needed a jump!  Called Ken, he arrived about 45 minutes later, tried to get the car to start with our jumper cables - no luck.  Waited another 30 minutes for the Nanny dad to get home with another set of cables.  Tried their cables - no luck.  Called for the tow truck.  Finally at 7:20pm, the truck arrived and towed my car off to the repair shop.   Car repairs in general are a PAIN!  But for me, it means that I can't work if my car doesn't work!  Part of my duties as a nanny for 4 children, includes driving them to school!  So, we are praying that it is just a battery and nothing more. Updates to follow............

And, speaking of updates.....  My "new" old couch arrived yesterday!  We are so please with the redo of this old piece.  It looks modern and fresh and I love the fabric we settled on.  I am feeling like I have a new living room!   And tonight I will chose to celebrate the GOOD things in my life. 

So, now my life-long friend of the day.......... (NOTE - part of what Jesus has been speaking to me in this process, is that I have really been surrounded by MANY, MANY good friends at every stage of my life!  It is really difficult to choose who to blog about! I know that this really does not have much to do with who I am, but rather is about who Jesus has placed in my life.)
Diane Bottoms
Today I want to focus on one of my closest friends, Diane Bottoms.  Diane and I met in 1991.  We were in the midst of parenting "tweens and teens".  Diane has 4 children that are all around Gwen and Doug's age.We met while waiting to pick up kids from the Jr. Youth program at our church.   For me, Diane has been that person to whom I NEVER have to explain myself.  She just GETS me.  And another amazing thing, is that I GET her!  That means that we have been there for each other.  Holding each other up, praying for and with each other, understanding each other, listening to each other.  I mean, really, is there anything better than that?  And now we are Grandma's together.  There was a point when Diane thought her kids would never get married and she would never have any grandchildren.  Well, she now has me beat with 4 grandchildren and a 5th on the way!  We have really been through a lot together.  But Diane is really someone that I respect and admire BECAUSE of what she has been through.   She has trusted in Jesus in the worst possible situations.  She did not lose hope.  She has changed her entire life with courage and boldness.  She is a powerful women of God.  I am so blessed to call her my friend.  One of the best things is that I convinced her to try out scrapbooking, and now she is hooked!  This means that we get to spend lots of time together AND we get to scrapbook at the same time. 

I like to think of this type of friend as a "sister-friend".  You know what I mean.  You have so much in common that you might as well be sisters.  I am so thankful that Jesus knows when you really need to have someone like this in your life.  You think that what you have going on is SOOOOOO bad that no one can understand, and then up pops this "sister-friend".  She has her own stuff that she is dealing with, but suddenly you don't feel so alone. And you start to think that if SHE can have faith and trust that Jesus is going to get her through this storm, then you just might make it through yours.  The interesting thing is that instead of your problems and her problems equalling a BIG mess of problems, what happens is that your problems and her problems ends up equalling LESS of a problem because you each bring the others to Jesus.  And you have faith for that other person, when they can't quite muster it up.  Yep, Diane and I are life-long friends of the best kind - the "sister-friend" kind!

Jesus, thank you so much for these special friends.  Holy Spirit continue to remind me of all of the friends you have placed in my life, and also remind all those reading this blog about their friends.  Jesus you desire for us to know you as our provision.  Thank you for using this blog to remind me of the wonderful people you have provided in my life.  Jesus, bless Diane and her family.  Thank you for her faith and trust in you.  And Jesus, thank you for my new "old" couch!  Amen

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Newspaper article, Helen Keller and another old friend...

Today I have seen a couple of interesting things on the Internet.  First, in my local paper. There was a feature story about two "life-long friends" who are celebrating their 100th birthday.  Isn't that amazing?   And they were able to celebrate together.  The picture actually showed them sitting together with their hands clasped.  What a marvelous story of friendship.  And then I happened on an incredible video.  Can I just say, that you can find almost anything on You Tube.  I don't know exactly how I linked into this video, but you need to take a moment and watch this link.  Even You Tube says that this is a RARE video.  It is Helen Keller.  As I was watching this video, I was thinking about the special kind of friendship she had with her two long-time aids.  First, Ann Sullivan and then in the later years, Polly Thomson.  Yes, this was a super special friendship that was life changing for Helen Keller. 

So with these couple of things just showing up, I've decided that Jesus must really have something that he is trying to communicate to me about friendship this week.   I guess I will continue on down this road.................
Me and Sue Avery Ryan in 1987
So my next "long time" friend that I want to tell you about is someone from my very long ago past.  I actually met her when I was 6 years old and she was 5 years old.  Even though we were only 6 months apart in age we were in different grades in school.  The interesting thing about this friendship is that we have hardly spoken in the last 30 years, but we still send those Christmas Cards!  I know something about her life now thanks to Christmas letters, and she knows something about mine. Her name is Sue Avery Ryan.  She was my "grade school" friend.  We spent hours and I mean HOURS playing together.  Her mom kind of "adopted" me because my mom worked and I was left in the care of my brother.  And let's just say that he didn't do a very good job of looking out for me.  I loved being at Sue's house.  She lived just kitty-corner from us about 3 houses away.  She was the oldest of her family and I remember when her brother Billy was born.  Mrs. Avery let me feed Billy his morning bottle while I was waiting for the bus at their house.  Her sister Cathy was just 2 years younger than Sue and I, but I don't really remember being with her very much.  She had a brother Jimmy that was 4 years younger than her.  Billy was born when we were about 8 or so and then when we were in our early teens, her sister Anne was born.  I loved NOT being the youngest!  I loved playing school and having all those little kids to boss around.  Another really wonderful thing was that Sue had cousins that lived close by.  And those cousins would come for visits.  I loved that they included me - even when the cousins were visiting.  Sue and I played dolls most of the time.  We would set up very elaborate "orphanages" with all of our dolls.  We made up wonderful stories about each doll.  I sure wish we had taken the time to write down some of those tales.  It was very clear that both Sue and I were readers because we were always making up these stories.  I remember when Sue's mom came home from a shopping trip with a brand new doll for Sue.  It was a Barbie Doll!  Yep, it was 1961 and she had one of those very first Barbies.  It wasn't so long after that when I actually got a Barbie.  Mine has the short hair, not the pony tail.  And Gwen now has that Barbie doll, along with most of the baby dolls that Sue and I played with.  When I was in 5th grade I cried for days because Sue was moving away.  Actually, they only moved about 5 miles away, but to me, she was gone.  My mom made sure that I had plenty of sleep overs with Sue, but it just was not the same as being right across the street.  A couple of years later, we left Minnesota for Chicago, and Sue and I continued to write letters.  Again, not the same closeness.  She got married, I got married and we each had children.  Her two sons and one daughter are very close in age to Gwen and Doug.  In the later years I would talk with her on the phone when I visited my mom.  And a couple of times she came over to see me on one of our visits to Minnesota. The picture above is from one of those visits.  And then there are the Christmas Card letters and pictures. 

You know, I don't think Sue would really "get" how important her friendship was to me.  In so many ways, her family was sort of my "ideal" family.  The kids were all close in age.  The mom stayed home and didn't work.  The dad didn't travel all the time.  The mom and dad were NOT  grandparents.  Looking back, I can see how Jesus placed this friend and this family in my life, at exactly the correct moment.  I needed all of those things during a time when those things were NOT in my family.  And it was such a blessing to me.  My mom always said that she felt so much better knowing that Mrs. Avery was watching out for me.  My mom did not "chose" to work.  She HAD to work.  My father had some medical issues and surgeries and there were bills to pay.  I know that she did not want to go to work in 1960 and leave me alone.  It was just what she had to do.  I am so thankful for Sue and all those years of playing together.  Yep, grades school friends are important. 
I tried to find out if Sue has a facebook page, but couldn't locate her.  And I don't even have an email address for her.  Can you believe it?  We actually still just communicate by snail mail.  I think I will have to write her an actual letter to tell her about this post! 

Jesus, thank you for reminding me of all the people you have placed in my life.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to see the people around us with your eyes.  Thank you Jesus for showing me your provision for me, even when I didn't understand what I needed.  It is so wonderful that you know who we are and what we are going through, and then you provide exactly what we need.  Jesus, you are simply amazing.  Continue to speak to me in the days ahead about these special friends.  And Holy Spirit, will you also remind those reading this today, of all the ways that Jesus is providing for them.  Bless these special friends - especially Sue and her family.  Thanks Jesus!  Amen

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My friend LeeAnn

Yesterday I said that I would be posting about some of my "life-long" friends.  All day today I have been thinking about WHY I made that statement and WHO I was supposed to be writing about.  I have decided to start this off with my very dear friend LeeAnn Bartholomay.  First of all, I almost didn't include her because the fact is, her life was NOT long - it ended in 2001.   LeeAnn and I met when Gwen was 18 months old and her son was 2.  She was an amazing nurse who had just gone back to work part time.  She was looking for a neighborhood babysitter for a couple of days a week from 2:30 till 6:00 when her husband got home from work.  I had already been sitting for a number of families in our subdivision, she heard about me and stopped by one day.  I invited her in for coffee and the rest is history.  We hit it off IMMEDIATELY!  She was so surprised that I could tell she was from "up north" (actually North Dakota - but there is not much difference between the "accent" of Minnesota and North Dakota!).  We had so much in common and just had wonderful conversation.  My babysitting job turned into a family friendship that continued for many, many years.  We were pregnant at the same time, MollyAnn was born in December and Doug was born in March.  Shortly after Doug was born, their family moved to Wheaton.  Needless to say, we stayed in touch.  One of our biggest traditions was a Christmas Day family dinner.  Neither of us had family in the area and we always had a birthday party for Jesus.  I have very vivid memories of one Mother's Day when Doug and MollyAnn were about 2 years old.  We were at our house for a "dinner" to be cooked by the husbands.  LeeAnn and I went for a walk.  The guys were supposed to be watching the kids.  All of sudden, about 3 blocks from our house, we see MollyAnn and Doug near the creek that runs through our subdivision.  We ran to grab them and took them home.  We found Ken and Don totally unaware of the fact that their two small children had wandered off!   In the later years we had many great gatherings at their Wheaton home, which had a huge backyard for the kids to play.  It was LeeAnn who first noticed that there was something "not right" with Doug when he was only a couple months old.  We were having an informal picnic and LeeAnn noticed that he seemed very feverish.  She was right.  Later that day, our hospital stays with Doug began.  I could always count on her to bring Doug a treat when we were in the local hospital.  She would often stop by before her shift began.  In so many ways, she was a constant friend and hand holder during those tough times.  When she was pregnant with her third child, she asked me what I thought about the difference between Baptism and Dedication for a baby.  I told her my perspective and she said, "I agree completely!  Will you and Ken please be this baby's Godparents?"   What a joy it was when Carl was born.  The picture above is from a mother-daughter lunch at her church.  Gwen and I were often included in these wonderful events. There were simply so many things, I can not mention them all.

But life got busy and we got busy and we saw each other less and less.  However, when we did get together for a breakfast or late evening coffee, it was as if no time had passed since our last conversation.  As our kids grew up, our problems got bigger.  One common experience that we had around 1988 was an awakening to Jesus and all that he wanted for us and our families. We shared so many joys and struggles.  She was a great friend.    I will never forget the day that LeeAnn just stopped by our house.  She never did that.  When I opened the door and saw her standing there, I knew that something was very wrong.  She told me that she had just been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  I was speechless.  I really couldn't believe it!  She was the one who ate only homemade food.  She always had fruits and vegetables and was so careful of what her family ate.  And she was a nurse.  Yet, she had ignored the symptoms for a long time.  Till it was simply much to late.  Over the course of her illness, I saw her several times.  Her faith remained so strong and her assurance of Jesus was so apparent.  Doug and MollyAnn were graduating from High School and MollyAnn was heading off to college.  She so wanted to be able to experience everything with her daughter.  But, sadly, she died the week that MollyAnn started college.  One of my greatest regrets is that I did not know that she had died until 6 weeks after it happened.  I was not "in the loop" to be notified.  It was very sad for me to lose this "life-long" friend. 

I think about her so often.  I remember thinking how much she would have enjoyed Gwen's wedding.  And how fun it would have been to show off and share my grandchildren with her.  Because we still live in the same house, every day when I leave or come home, I go right by the house that was "their" house.  I always remember.  Yep, LeeAnn is a life-long friend for me.  And I will always cherish her memory.

Jesus, thank you again for providing exactly the right person at the right time.  Thank you so much for the joy that LeeAnn brought to my life and to our family.  Holy Spirit, would you reach out and touch Ben, Molly and Carl and remind them of their mother's great faith.  Thank you that I can trust them into your hands.  Jesus, remind those reading this to pay attention to those friends around them. Jesus, help me to remember and appreciate all those you have placed in my life, for this time.  Bless all of those precious woman to woman friendships that help us to become the people that you have destined us to be.  Thank you for your great love.   Amen

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Life-long friends............

Sunday night I had a really neat conversation with an elderly lady (and yes, I mean elderly - like I'm guessing 80 or so).  She introduced herself, said she lives in LaGrange,  and then asked me where I was from.  When I said Warrenville, her eyes lit up and you could just see the excitement on her face.  She proceeded to tell me this story.  When she was a very young girl or 8 or 9 years old, her best friend moved out of the "city" (Chicago) to Warrenville.  She was allowed to travel to visit this friend, from Chicago out to Warrenville on the "train". (Sidebar-  I know that she was talking about the Electric Train that had a stop in Warrenville.  This train line has been gone for many, many years and what remains is a wonderful walking/jogging trail called the "Prairie Path".  This runs right through Warrenville).  She would take this long ride, of about 1.5 hours.  When she got to Warrenville, she would get off the train "downtown" (now this is a real stretch - there is no downtown in Warrenville.  At most there was a drugstore, a hardware store and not much else).  She knew that she had to walk by the "wonderful convent" for the nuns to get to her friends house.  She was amazed that I knew exactly what she was talking about.  Her friend lived about a mile down that road.  When I told her that was very near to my house, she was so excited.  Her eyes got sad, when she told me that her friend now lived very far away in Northern Wisconsin and they don't see each other often.

 I couldn't help but think of my mom and her special friend Edna.  They actually met each other at church in the early 1920's.  They were best friends and spent most Sunday's together.  Some of the most wonderful stories that my mom told were about her and Edna.  Edna's dad owned a truck - quite a big deal in the 1920's.  They would be able to ride in that truck out to Itasca Park and pick berries.  They roller skated, ice skated and played outside year around.  In northern Minnesota.  And they walked everywhere.  My mom could still name many of the kids in the picture above even when she was over 90 years old.  I remember very well, my mom's excitement when we moved to St. Paul when I was 6 years old, because Edna lived very close to us.  Of course we were busy and so was Edna but I do recall several visits to their house.  In the later years of my mom's life, Edna was a special friend and brought so much joy to her. One of my tasks during my visits to see my mom in the last 4 or 5 years, was to arrange a lunch visit with Edna.  It was such a pleasure to sit with them and listen to them reminisce about their shared past. I remember thinking that I was getting a glimpse of a side of my Mom that I really didn't know.  What a treasure that was.  As a matter of fact, Edna, age 96, was at my mom's memorial service.  What a wonderful tribute to my mom and their lasting friendship. 

Since I have been thinking about friendship, watch over the next few days, as I share about some of my "life-long" friends and the impact they have had on my life!

Jesus, thank you so much for relationships. Holy Spirit, you bring exactly the right people into our lives at the exact right time for us.  Your plans and purposes for our life include all of the people around us - our families - but also, our friends.  Jesus, bring revelation to me of the message you have for me today in friendship.  Holy Spirit, bless all those reading this blog, with relationships that bring them joy and fulfilment.  Jesus, bless my new friend!  Thank you so much Jesus, for these wonderful memories of my mom!  Amen

Monday, September 23, 2013

Flavors and Colors - Again!

Last night I had another amazing night of worship and a wonderful teaching.  I just love the little "zingers" that are sometimes, better than the entire evening!  Last night was this.............

Did you know that everyone has a unique "Voice Print" that is just as individual as your fingerprints? It's true. Even when people "impersonate" someone else, it is never an exact duplicate of the voice.  Imagine that - a voice print!  And what that means is that God is listening for our exact voice when we worship.  There is a spot in the father's heart that can only be filled by YOUR voice!  It doesn't matter how your worship sounds to you.  The important thing is how it fits into the heart of God.  If one person doesn't "sing", the choir is missing a voice.  Your very distinct voice is identifiable to the Father, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit.  Based on this revelation, there is no excuse for ANYONE sitting and not worshipping.  No matter WHAT your voice sounds like to you, remember that God is waiting for your exact voice to fill that spot in his heart.  I will be singing more loudly from now on. 
And if that was not enough to "chew on", then the speaker, Eva Dooley, began to teach.  She is a marvelous Greek woman who speaks with clarity.  She was teaching on how we need to be changed in order for us to be world changers.  After looking at familiar scriptures -  Matthew 5:13-16 - paraphrased we are the salt and the light of the world, she dropped this bomb into my spirit.  When looking at different translations and the Greek for these passages, what it says to us is this.
WE ARE THE FLAVOR OF GOD AND THE COLORS OF GOD TO THE WORLD! I was just stunned.  Remember my blog about last Sunday - Taste the Rainbow?  Yep, the flavor and the colors of God.  There was much more that Eva shared.  I listened and took notes, but part of me was stuck back at this point. Do I think that Jesus is really trying to say something to me about this?  YES!  Do I really understand the depth of what he is saying? NO!  But, I am beginning to understand that the concept of affecting my environment is much, much more than I had imagined.  Think about this.  Every believer carries the flavor and the colors of God.  That means that even in the darkest and coldest places in the world, when one person is there who knows Jesus and is filled with the Holy Spirit, the atmosphere is changed.  The very taste and flavor of Jesus is there.  And all the colors of who he is, are being poured out.  Nothing can stay the same when a believer is present.  You know, the idea of being a world changer sounds much more possible when you begin to get this concept into your spirit. 

What can I say? I will be taking some more time to really let this settle into my spirit.  But I am celebrating that Jesus is speaking something very important - not only to me but to each one of you also.  First of all SING OUT!  He loves you and he loves to hear your voice!  Remember - that voice that no one else in the world has.  Secondly, just think about that salt and light. Read those verses and meditate on them.  See what Jesus and the Holy Spirit speak to you about these verses.  I know that there is much, much more and we have just scratched the surface.

You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.  You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
                                             Matthew 5:13-16

Jesus, thank you so much for your revelations.  Holy Spirit, thank you for drawing me to these meetings that have been such a blessing.  Jesus, continue to bring more clarity to us as we meditate on your words about this.   Father, thank you for your great plan that included us being your flavor and your colors to the world.  You are an amazing and wonderful God!   Amen

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Photos, scanning and the environment a strange combination

Today I actually accomplished one task that I have been needing to do for a LONG time. I scanned some pictures that have been in collage frames in my hallway.  These particular pictures are some of my favorite pictures of my childhood and Ken's childhood. 

These are a couple of the professional photos - one of Ken when he is around 9 months old and one of me at 18 months old.  Most of the pictures were just snapshots.  Some were in color but the majority were black and white.    I took the frames apart and very carefully removed all of the photos.  Most of them were the original pictures.  I had made these frames long before "scanning" became popular.  And, unfortunately, many of the pictures were seriously sun damaged and faded.  And some had almost faded away.  Many years ago I thought about taking those frames down, but I loved seeing them every day when I walked in the door.  I had originally made these frames around the time that Gwen was born.  I wanted to have pictures up of Ken and I at various ages, so that I could compare them to pictures of Gwen.  The kids loved to look at these frames.  My frame included pictures of my mom's parents, my dad's parents and aunt Anna.  Ken's included pictures of his grandma and grandpa Baker.  There was also one picture of Ken sitting on his great grandma Kelly's lap.  
 Grandma Baker is holding one of Ken's cousins and his sister Sue is the front left.  I remember when I put this frame together I was amazed at this picture.  Ken and his great-grandma!  WOW!  How amazing that we have this multi-generational photo.  So now these photos are safely preserved by scanning.   And they are saved on an external hard drive.

I was thinking about the fact that my enjoyment of these photos had actually been the very thing that has caused them to deteriorate.  Yet, what good are pictures if you never look at them? So, is spite of the damage to some of these photos, I am thankful today, for the years that these frames hung in our hallway.  I am thankful that my children got to look at these pictures, day after day.  And I am thankful that now they are preserved.  This process has me thinking about other things that we "save" for various reasons.  Like the "good" dishes we save for special occasions.  Or the "special" jewelry that we only wear once or twice a year - if that.  Or the decorative towels we only put out when company is coming.  Really????   Isn't it better and more honoring to USE these items? To enjoy them and look at them and actually appreciate them?  Recently, Gwen told me that Lia and Ellie have been learning about the Garden of Eden in Sunday School.  Their "homework" was to help out in the "garden" at home.  And they had to answer the question "why should we take care of the earth?"  Lia's response was that God had made the earth for us and has given us the air to breathe, so we should take care of it.  Ellie said because Jesus made it!  We would not be doing the earth any service if we did not "use" it or enjoy it. Just like my photos in the frame, sometimes the earth suffers when we "enjoy it". In 2013 we are doing a much better job of preserving our world than we were 50 years ago.  Today we recycle, we compost, and we control smog.   Well, today I am thinking that we have been given photographs so that we can see and enjoy them.  And now we have been given the way to preserve them so that future generations can also share our memories. 

Jesus, thank you for your creative ideas that have given us photographs.  Thank you for the technology that allows us to scan and save these images, so they will not be lost.  You are the creator, Yahweh and it is your Holy Spirit that brings that creative nature into us.  Jesus, help me to remember to enjoy the many things you have placed in my life and remind me to use the good dishes on a regular day.  Thank you for the earth and the air we breathe.  Help me to remember to celebrate every part of your creation - every day!   Amen

Friday, September 20, 2013

Deeper understanding of true beauty

Today, while reading a blog (yes, I read lots of blogs- everyday) I saw this quote.....
"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when somethings suffered damage and has a history, it becomes more beautiful."    ~ Billie Mobayed
So, tonight, I took some time and looked this up, to see if this was just a good story.  Here is what I found out....
The Japanese have a long tradition of repairing pots with gold; it’s called “kintsugi” or “kintsukuroi”. Curtis Benzele tells it this way: “The story of Kintsugi may have begun in the late 15th century, when the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China to be fixed. It returned held together with ugly metal staples, launching Japanese craftsmen on a quest for a new form of repair that could make a broken piece look as good as new, or better. Japanese collectors developed such a taste for kintsugi that some were accused of deliberately breaking prized ceramics, just to have them mended in gold.

“The term “kintsugi” means ‘golden joinery’ in Japanese and refers to the art of fixing broken ceramics with a lacquer resin made to look like solid gold” (….and often actually using genuine gold powder in the resin). “Chances are, a vessel fixed by kintsugi will look more gorgeous, and more precious, than before it was fractured.”

Wow!  What an amazing picture of how Jesus see us. He sees us full of gold.  We are His workmanship and He is the master potter.    Often, it is the very things that seemed to be the most hurtful and damaging to us, that become the things that Jesus uses to reach and touch other people.  And while Jesus does take away the sin in our lives, sometimes the consequences of our own or others actions can leave scars and sometimes leave us broken.  But the King of Kings fills in all of those broken places with his gold and he sees us as beautiful.

To see the value of a broken pot repaired to a new beauty,  helps us to see with new eyes.  We need to  see value where we may only have seen trash . Perhaps if we are less ruthless with broken things….more gentle with those around us who experience brokenness…..less fearful, more hopeful when we ourselves experience brokenness,  THEN we will be seeing with the eyes of Jesus. 

Jesus, thank you for bringing this to me today.  What a beautiful picture of how you heal and repair us in the midst of our brokenness.  Help me to be able to see and appreciate all of those repairs you have done in me.  And Jesus, give me grace to see with new eyes - your eyes - as I look at the world around me.  Holy Spirit thank you for showing me this quote today, so that I could understand in a new way, how you see me.  Touch those who read this blog with a deeper revelation of their true beauty.  Amen

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When Jesus speaks in a song.....

Do you know how sometimes you hear just the perfect song, at just the right time?  I had one of those times this morning.  A song I have heard many times, sung many times, thought about before..... just smacked me in the heart and spirit this morning.  Who I Am by Casting Crowns  Click on this link to hear the song that stopped me this morning.   Here are the words......

Who am I? That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name, Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I? That the bright and morning star,
Would choose to light the way,  for my ever wondering heart.

Not because of who I am. But because of what you've done.
Not because of what I've done. But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading, Here today and gone tomorrow.
A wave tossed in the ocean, A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I'm calling,  Lord you catch me when I'm falling,
And you told me who I am.  I am yours.  I am yours.

Who am I?  That the eyes that see our sin
Would look on me with love  And watch me rise again
Who am I?  That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain, And calm the storm in me.

Whom shall I fear?  Whom shall I fear?
'cuz I  am yours.  I am yours.

After my post yesterday (and the day before), I was thinking about how short our time really is, to make a difference for Jesus.  None of us knows the length of our days.  We are those flowers, quickly fading.  We are just a vapor in the wind.  And even when we feel like we are wandering off of the path that is the correct path for our destiny, Jesus will light the way for us to get back on track.  When those storms are raging INSIDE of us, as well as all around us, Jesus calls out to us and calms that inner storm.  Really, is there anything that should rattle us, when we KNOW this?  If we take the words of this song into our spirit, and digest it, there is nothing that we should be afraid of!  

I didn't really realize how fearful I had been over the last few weeks.  But the truth is, there are several things going on in my life right now, and somehow, that fear had just crept into my spirit.  There was some fear of man - what others would think.  There was some fear of the unknown.  There was some fear of making wrong choices or decisions.  But after hearing this song in a new way this morning, I am repeating over and over to myself "Whom shall I fear? I am yours!"   I know that I am not the only one feeling this today.  Do you have a storm raging inside of you?  Is it raining around you and you feel like you can't hear Jesus?  Well, good news, Jesus is calling out to YOU!  And the best news for ALL of us -  Jesus will catch us when we are falling.  And in that moment, when Jesus reaches out and catches us, he tells us that we belong to him.  Wow!  So, I encourage you to listen to the song in the link above.  Listen to it more than once.  Let it resonate in your spirit.  And then repeat after me "Whom shall I fear??  I am yours".

Jesus, thank you for music, for words that reach deep into our spirits.  Thank you for Casting Crowns and this special song "Who Am I".  Bless them mightily, Jesus.  Holy Spirit, reach out and touch many though this song.  Thank you for today and the encouragement that you have brought to me. 
Thank you for your great plans and purposes for each person.   And Jesus, thank you for calling out to me, through the storms raging inside of me!   Amen

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Two days to admit the truth....

Today I have been thinking about siblings.  This morning I was talking to Gwen on the phone and Ellie and Zeke were with her in the car.  Zeke had been at the doctor and was unfortunately diagnosed with "Hand, Foot and Mouth" disease.  (This is a viral infection that seems to run through preschool aged kids like wildfire.  No treatment, just a week of misery with blisters on the bottoms of the feet, palms of the hands and in the mouth).  Ellie was her usual care-giving self.  She was concerned about her brother!  Later in the day, I got to talk to Zeke on the phone and he told me about the "owies" in his mouth.  And then Ellie gave me the whole story. 
So it is interesting to think about Lia, Ellie and Zeke (and of course the baby on the way!) and wonder how they will relate to each other as adults.  I know that, as parents, we all wonder how our children will be together as adults.  And I am sure that many of us can bring to mind families who do not relate well as adults. 
 I am so thankful that Gwen and Doug actually like to spend time together.  This past weekend, the two families went camping together.  The four adults (one pregnant), three kids and three dogs.  And it rained.  But it warms my heart to know that they enjoy being together. I feel very blessed.
TRUTH TELLING TIME.........  I actually wrote the above post last night, but I knew that I couldn't post it.  The truth is, I was thinking about my own siblings.  And tonight I can admit that I am very sad.  

This picture was taken the last time we were all together, on my mom's 90th birthday.  My sister Karen died two years later.  But what was on my mind last night, was how far apart our family has become.  We barely communicate and we are never together.  Last night I was remembering how many times my mom spoke about this to me.  She was very worried that after she died, we would all drift apart.  She felt that she was the only reason we had any contact.  Sadly, she was right.  Also, my mom was the "spiritual compass" of our family.  She was so solidly sure of her faith in Jesus.  She knew exactly where she would be when she died, and she was not afraid to get to heaven.  She had waited all her life, to meet her mother.  And in the last years, she talked at great length of her greatest desire to see ALL of her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren come to know Jesus.  She would say that she could not understand how people could get by without faith.  It was the total assurance she had that my sister Karen knew Jesus and would be waiting for her in heaven, that made the last years without her, bearable. Mom said, "It's not supposed to be this way - children should not die before their parents".  I know that she said years and years of prayers for all of us.  And I also know that Jesus will honor all of those prayers.  Yep, my mom left a Spiritual Heritage that will not be destroyed.  So, in spite of the miles that are between us, in spite of the many differences in our life styles, our beliefs, our hobbies, our jobs - we are still family.  And I commit today, to not forget my siblings when I pray. So, Roy, Jerry, Thoralee, Julie, Greg, Louisa, be on notice that I am praying for you!  Amy, Bill, Nancy, Juan, Susan, Jeff, Elise, Dale, Chris, Sara, Greg, Staci, Aaron - this includes you also!  Bennett, Taylor, Blake, Kirsten, Brandi, Nick, Josh, Zack, Fran, Dan, Emily, Noah, Austin, Chad, Angela, Brad, Riana, Bradyn, Paige, Logan - I'm praying for you also! 
Jesus, I pray that you would reach out right now and touch each one of my siblings and their families.  Holy Spirit, remind them all of Mom's great love for them.  Jesus, speak into their hearts and bring a new depth of understanding to each of them, of your great love for them.  Bring those that do not know you into your kingdom, Jesus and bless them.  Thank you Jesus, that you care about our families more than we do!  Your great desire is that all would believe.  Remind everyone reading this blog, that you are the creator of family and your desire is to bless us.  Amen

Monday, September 16, 2013

Taste the rainbow!

Yes, it looks like a Skittles commercial - but it is not!  I just couldn't resist since that phrase has been on my mind all day today. "Taste the Rainbow" I had another amazing, incredible time with Jesus and the Holy Spirit last night. 

A little bit of a back story.  About a year ago I was at an ecumenical worship service and one of the worship leaders, played a violin over me.  That may sound a bit odd, but let me tell you, it was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had.  It was like the sound of heaven that penetrated into my soul.  Although it may be hard to believe, I was "HEARING" colors.  I don't really have words to explain this, but it was very real.  I experienced a totally different kind of hearing that night.  And, now during various worship times, I have had the same experience.  Okay - last night.  Well, last night was another one of those nights with powerful, intense worship.  One of the worship leaders was Georgian Banov.  If you don't know who he is, let Google help you out.  All I can say, is he is WOW!  And he plays the violin.  There were 5 people leading worship.  A keyboard player, a vocalist, a drummer, a guitar player and Georgian on violin.  At some point in the worship, everything changed.  The heavens opened and suddenly, that river of living water was just pouring from the throne down onto us. It actually looked like a flowing rainbow to me.  And at that moment, I was aware that I was "TASTING" the colors of that rainbow.  Each color seemed to hit my lips and a flavor would explode in my mouth. 

red,  was so sweet  - like the best candy you have ever tasted
orange,  was extra spicy - but it did not burn my mouth
yellow,  was smooth and buttery - like melted butter
green,  was a surge of savory herbs - freshness just filled my mouth
blue,  was a minty burst - that increased in flavor
indigo, was so salty - like the best salty snack
violet,  was like rich dark cocoa - soooooo good

There were so many surprises in these tastes.  I expected that blue would be like the water that I always associate with the color.  But no, it was so minty.  And I was surprised that there were TWO purples in this rainbow.  I actually wrote "light purple and dark purple" in my notes last night.  I have used the "proper" terms of indigo and violet in the list above that describe the rainbow colors.  Again, I was so surprised at the salty taste of the light purple.  I don't know what I would imagine light purple would "taste" like, but salty was a surprise.  I spent lots of time in the dark purple.  It just filled my mouth and I was overwhelmed by the intensity of all of the flavors. 

And the phrase I was hearing was "Taste and see that the Lord is good!"  And I was doing exactly that!  Tasting and understanding in a new way, how good He is!  And, of course I thought of "Taste the Rainbow" but this was so much better than Skittles.

So my encouragement to you tonight is to expect the unexpected.  Let yourself enter into worship when you have the chance.  Put on those CD's and worship at home.  Or in your car.  Sit back and let the sounds take you to new heights and into depths of your spirit.  There is very clear scientific evidence that music activates different areas of our brain more than anything else.  And I know that the Holy Spirit uses music to reach us at times when we have shut ourselves off.  Or put up walls to keep others out.  Or those times when we are just so immersed in our daily struggles that we forgot who we are and WHOSE we are.  Let that music reach you and listen for the voice of Jesus speaking to you through the Holy Spirit.  And listen for the colors.  And wait for the tastes.  I am sure that this is not just for me.  It's something for everyone.  There is so much more!  And I can't wait!

Jesus, thank you for, once again, the unexpected.  Holy Spirit thank you for using those musicians to reach me last night.  Thank you for those amazing men and women who stand aside and let you, Holy Spirit, do whatever you want.  Jesus, please share these colors with everyone.  It is so amazing.  Yes, you are so good!  Halleluia!  Amen

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What happens when you don't ask.....

Since the oasis yesterday, I've been thinking about the ways that I find "rest".  I am so thankful that Jesus sometimes just brings me rest, even when I am not looking for it!  That was certainly true on Friday.  And the weekends are usually a time of rest for me - away from my job.  But yesterday did not really feel like "rest".  Here's what happened.  I saw some drapes advertised that seemed to be perfect for our living room.  We have two patio doors and it is difficult to find drapes that work well.  We need thermal insulation to help in the winter and we also need to be able to access the doors!  I used to have "Patio Panels" on those doors, but they have not been available recently. So, early on Saturday, we went to the store and purchased those drapes.  I settled for a darker color than I really wanted because they did not have the beige that I wanted in stock.  After getting the drapes home, I discovered that my current curtain roads would not work.  So, off we went to another store to purchase new curtain rods.  Once again, I am thankful that Ken could take down the old rods and get the new rods installed (I really don't understand those wall anchor things!)  So we then put up the first set of drapes.  As we stood back to look at them, it was clear that there was a problem!  First of all the left panel was at least 2" longer than the right panel.  And that same left panel also had an interesting "pattern" that showed up when the light came through the panel.  So, we decided this pair of drapes must just be defective.  Back into the car and another trip to the store to exchange the drapes.  I decided to go to a different location in the hopes that we could get the lighter color.  So, after some lengthy discussion, we were finally able to exchange both the "defective" pair and also the unopened pair for the beige color that I had originally wanted.  Success! Or so I thought.  Once at home, we opened the first package of beige drapes, put them on the rods, and guess what.  The right panel had the same weird pattern as the last set.  At this point we decided that these drapes were not worth the trouble.  We took down the panels AND the new rod.  Packaged up everything and realized that the entire day was gone.  NOT a day of rest.  Then, this morning, we went back to those stores and returned everything.   WOW!  The only good thing about the day was that I went on Amazon and actually found patio panels!  So they are on order and should be delivered next week.  Hopefully, we will be able to use our existing rods. 

For me, the ocean represents the ultimate rest place.  I don't know what it is about the ocean, but my whole body just relaxes when I get close to the ocean. (I am not helping my case to remain in the Chicago area when we retire!  Ken wants to move south and I want to stay close to the kids and grand kids.)  But I digress here.  Yesterday I did not rest, but today I am being more aware of my great need to rest.  So I have been spending most of today, letting myself rest. And while resting today, I was thinking about my "non-rest" of yesterday.  It was a picture of what my life is often like.  I run here and there, trying to get something that I THINK is exactly what I need.  I never stopped and asked Jesus if this was the right thing to purchase.  I mean, it was just some drapes for the living room, right?  But, had I stopped and let the Holy Spirit speak to me, I bet that I would have thought to check out Amazon BEFORE we ran back and forth and back and forth.  Today, I took the time to listen on even the little things, and it has been a much more restful day.  So my encouragement to all reading this blog today, is to remember to stop and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, even on the little things.  It really does make for a more relaxed day. 

Jesus, thanks for the reminder that you have provided the guidance that we need through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Holy Spirit that you are always willing to guide and direct us - even in the small things in our life.  What a wonderful gift this is. Thanks for the reminder that exactly what I needed for my living room was available on Amazon.   And Jesus, thank you for being so patient with me, as I am learning and re-learning to let you guide my entire life.  Help everyone reading this today, to be willing to ask for help in every decision.  Thank you for supernatural rest.  Amen

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Didn't realize I needed an Oasis!

I've had quite a couple of days.  The weather has taken a wonderful turn to autumn coolness.  For me, however, no central air conditioning means a VERY stuffy head and sinus pain like you would not believe.  Even my hair hurts.  Because this is all allergy caused, I am sure that in a short while, I will be celebrating the first frost.  And I mean REAL heavy frost.  I do not have to check the weather forecast to know when the frost has come.  My head tells me! 

Okay - here comes some more truth-telling. To go along with my general fogginess of thinking, today I am feeling a mixture of several emotions, all of which are directed at me, myself and I.  I have had  very clear revelation of some opportunities that I completely missed out on.  And I sort of feel like one of the people standing by the side of the road, watching that very fast moving "super sonic highway".  And today, I am not ON that moving walkway.  I feel stuck on the side. 

Last night I experienced some amazing worship.  And when you are in a place where everyone around you is looking for the heavens to open up, you can be assured that they will open.  Here is a sampling of some of the things that we were singing and I was "hearing" very clearly...
  • I will remind myself of all you've done. Your love came down and rescued me.
  • I sing out and that reminds my soul that I am yours.
  • I am drinking it in as one who has been in a desert and I've finally hit an oasis.  It is oasis of the  river of living water.
  • It is an oasis of glory and peace and joy. 
  • As certain as the sunrise, as jarring as an earthquake, as cleansing as the rain is His grace.
  • When you have tried everything in your own strength and failed, look up, listen and behold. 
  • I will remind myself of all you've done. 

So, I am being very thankful today.  In spite of my nose and my head.  In spite of the feelings of "stuckness".  I am thankful for the oasis of the presence of the Lord in the desert of my last couple of days (and the last couple of years).  I will remind myself of all that Jesus has done for me.  I will sing of His mercies and goodness and grace.  And I will celebrate the presence of the Holy Spirit.  And I will celebrate the change of seasons. 

Jesus, thank you for understanding that we would need the change of seasons to remind us that you are ALWAYS  on the move!  Holy Spirit, thank you for drawing me to exactly the right place at the right time so that I can hear your message.  You are a great and amazing God that even planned those very real Oasis' in the middle of the deserts. so that we would know there was a place of rest and refreshment in the middle of dry and dark times.  Father, direct the many out there who feel as if they are stuck and in that dry place, to the oasis of your flowing living waters.  Thank you so much for all of the people  you have placed in my life.  Bless them mightily today!  Amen

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A time to remember......

You know how sometimes the strangest things make you remember something from the past - and usually there is no reason for the connection?  Well, I had one of those moments today.  I was really enjoying spending time with my little, almost 20 month old nanny boy.  We had been at the public library for story time.  The story time was wonderful.  Michael really entered into the event - sitting quietly on my lap for the stories, standing and singing and clapping with the songs, he followed all the directions.  It was just an amazing time.  I really love having the chance to spend time seeing the world through his eyes.  Shortly after returning home from the library, it was nap time.  I don't know what it was about this morning, but this picture just popped into my mind....
This picture was taken in the summer of 1983.  Doug and Gwen are sitting on the lap of "Great Grandma Baker" (Ken's maternal grandmother).   I think that there is something about Michael that reminded me of Doug in this picture. Doug was about 18 months old and Gwen was about 4 1/2.  I know that over and over on this blog I have talked about how important pictures are for me.  This is one of those "important" pictures. Grandma Baker was a very special person in Ken's life.  As a matter of fact, I remember when we were first dating, that Ken talked over and over about his Grandma.  For me this was really something.  Remember that I barely have any real memories of my grandparents.  And when I listened to Ken talk about Grandma Baker, it was like all the stories I had read about grandparents.  Grandma was there to be with Ken when his mom was in the hospital.  Often Ken would be sent to spend summers with his grandparents, who lived in Florida.  And it was Grandma Baker's recipes that Ken always asked me to make. (And that is still true today - Chicken Paprikash and Filled Raisin Cookies).  I remember when Ken's Grandpa Baker died in 1976, he expressed concern that Grandma would be around to see our kids.  I loved that she got to see and get to know both Gwen and Doug.  She said over and over how much Doug reminded her of Kenny.  Although this was only the second time she had ever been with Gwen and the first time with Doug, they both loved her.  And, once again, it is the generational shift that is on my mind. 
I am so thankful that I got to have Grandma Baker in my life.   However, tonight I am also sort of sad.  Grandma Baker did not have any religious background at all.  She never went to church.  Her family never went to church.  Apparently when her mother had come from Protestant Ireland, they were escaping from the pressure of religion and religious conflict.  And they walked away from the church.  And there was a very real void in her life.  When Grandpa died, I remember that it was very dark and cold and sad for her.  She did not have the promise and the assurance of eternal life. For all the great things that she did for her family, she did not leave a spiritual legacy.    All of this affirms to me, how important it is that I am able to share my faith with my children and grandchildren.  I am so thankful that Jesus is a part of my life and I have been able to pass on a strong spiritual heritage. 
Jesus, thank you for reminding me of special people and special times in our lives.  But Jesus, thank you for also reminding me of what is really important to pass on to our children and grandchildren.  Holy Spirit, bless all those grandparents and parents reading this blog.  Draw them into a deeper relationship with Jesus and strengthen their resolve to leave a wonderful spiritual legacy.  Jesus, thank you for Michael!  Pour out your blessings on him and his entire family.   Amen 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The sky was silent, the church was full....

I was in an interesting position twelve years ago.  As a church secretary I was usually alone in the church office for the better part of most days. An elder care daycare group used part of the church facility to provide daytime care for senior citizens that could not be left alone.  A normal part of my early morning routine was to visit with the staff and the elderly clients, while getting my morning cup of coffee from the kitchen.   That day, twelve years ago, was not different to begin with.  I had my coffee in hand and the staff member turned on the TV to the Today show, which the clients watched every morning.  And then I saw it - the plane fly into the building.  Almost as it happened.  And then the second plane.  The clients did not understand.  But the staff did and I did.  I rushed to my office and started tying to call my family.  My daughter, Gwen, was in her first year of teaching and had only been in class for a few weeks.  What a hard start to a teaching career.  She got called to the Principal's office (scary enough) and then told the news.  The school was on "lock down" until they decided what to do.  The interesting thing about the school was that it was a mix of Muslim and Jewish children with a few others thrown in.  The school was almost across the street from a Mosque.  A very difficult situation to say the least.  My son-in-law was still in college, commuting into the city every day, so there was a concern about him actually getting home. I was able to finally connect with Ken and Doug also.  I talked to my mom that morning. She was very stoic about the event. She had lived through many big life events like this. What was on her mind, was "Pearl Harbor" day. She related that for her, that day represented the war happening CLOSE to her. And I realized that was exactly how I felt. Suddenly the terrorist activity was to close for comfort.

Then, an amazing thing happened.  There were people just showing up at the church.  They wanted to come in and pray.  I opened the doors, turned on the lights, lit the candles and began to welcome the people in.  For most of that day, there was a steady stream of people coming and going from the church.  I replaced the kleenex boxes several times.  Not much work got done that day.  People just wanted to talk and to pray.  By the time the Pastor showed up, the parking lot was full.  It had never occurred to me that there might be a problem with opening the doors.  I simply did not care.  The people needed a place to pray and they needed a place to feel safe.  And for those who were drawn to the church, that's what it was.  I did not care if they were members or just people passing by.  So, I will always remember the day as a time when the church was full - all day.  And the people were praying. 

When you have lived for over 40 years so close to the "world's busiest airport", you are used to the constant sights and sounds of airplanes in their flight patterns.  We actually get planes from both of the Chicago airports.  So the absence of the airplanes was eerie.  The sky was silent. 

Unfortunately, the full church didn't last long.  Actually, I was told not to admit anyone the next day.  There were plans made to do an "organized" service.  However, those plans never actually happened.  Some people came to pray the next couple of days.  But the word was out that the church was not "opened".  And the people went elsewhere to pray. For a few weeks there was an upturn in church attendance. But gradually, as the weeks went by, the numbers fell back to the pre 9/11 numbers.   And within a few days, the airplanes were flying again.  And life returned to normal.  The NEW normal.  The post 9/11 normal.

One thing that has changed and stayed changed, is that we have had a flag flying on our house for the last 12 years.  I really can't imagine our house without that flag.  It is an important symbol and a reminder that many people have given their lives to preserve the freedoms represented by that flag.  I loved seeing all the flags show up after 9/11.  And there are still many, many flags displayed on houses, commercial buildings and public places.  In spite of the many failings of our government in the last months, I am proud to have that flag displayed on my home.  I believe that the United States of America were established and blessed by God.  He has a plan and purpose for our nation, for our land and for all of us.  And his plans will be fulfilled. No act of terrorists will stop the plan.  

Just like my mom, I  have a list of "big events" that are those days that everyone knows exactly where they were when it happened.  Included on my list is the day Kennedy was assassinated, the Moon landing, the Challenger accident, and then 9/11.  I am so glad that I am not living in fear after 9/11. 
In fact, for me personally, the last 12 years have been a time of a great increase of peace and joy.  These have been wonderful years filled with family, love and growing in understanding of Jesus and His great plans.  And these years have been filled with Thanksgiving. 

Jesus, thank you for your great plan. Jesus, please comfort all those who lost loved ones on 9/11. Holy Spirit, release more of your peace and joy even right now.  Help us to see all of the things that happen from your perspective, Jesus.  Give us a truly heavenly vision.  Yahweh, there is much unrest around the world today.  Strengthen your people and give them courage and boldness to stand in the midst of turmoil. Remind us to stand with them and cover them with our prayers.  Holy Spirit HOVER over them today.  Amen  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thank you typo!

Well, you know how aggravating it is when you are trying to type a "quick" text and you just can't seem to hit the right keys?  Of course this is complicated by the fact of those teenie tiny buttons on the cell phone.  And if you are not careful, you just might send a text that does NOT say what you want!
Well, I had that experience when sending a text to a friend yesterday.  And the typing error ended up being very prophetic.  I wanted to type the word "COVER" and instead typed "HOVER".  When I saw the text (after I had sent it, of course) I sent a text with a correction.  Thankfully, my friend was listening to Jesus, and understood how important that "error" was.  Then she prayed that the Holy Spirit would HOVER over me!
So tonight I looked up the two words in the dictionary and this was the surprise that I found.....
     Cover -  To extend over and to protect and conceal
     Hover - To hang over, to expose and highlight, to linger over
I had not thought about this!  What a big difference.  To cover is to conceal or hide and to hover is to expose and highlight.  I especially like the fact that hover also includes linger over.  I am so grateful to my friend for pointing this out to me and then for praying that the Holy Spirit would hover over me.  What a great prayer!  I am going to pray this hover prayer more often now that I understand the depth of the meaning.  Isn't it wonderful that we can expect the Holy Spirit to hover over us, our families, our friends.  We can expect the Holy Spirit to hover over every situation that we face. 
Jesus, thank you for using a mistake - even a simple typo to remind us of how great the work of the Holy Spirit is.  Holy Spirit, thank you for hovering over us. Moving this way and that way to expose us to the world!  Thank you for lingering with us.  Yahweh, help us to know when we need to be covered and when we need to have you hover!    Amen

Monday, September 9, 2013

It's been one of those days........

This has been one of those days.  I guess that's all I have to say.  Just one of those days.  It's Monday and that certainly doesn't help.  But the day went from bad to worse really quickly.  And quite frankly, it is now almost 10:00pm and I am thinking that I need to go to bed so that this day just stops!  Tomorrow has to be better!  Right??? 

First of all, the little guy that I nanny was a very unhappy, sniffly, cranky, whining, 20 month old.  His nose was running constantly and his little eyes were just red rimmed.  Nothing could make him happy today.  He didn't even want to go outside - which is so unusual.  Bottom line - he was not feeling good.

Somewhere in the nose-wiping, I realized that I had made a subtraction error in the checkbook over the weekend and suddenly, I needed to transfer some money, really quickly.  I can't remember the last time that I did something like this.  Fortunately I found this BEFORE it was really bad......

I know some will not believe me but once again, a NEW route that I found to go home at night, was a nightmare today.  Why?  Because those dreaded orange signs are out and the construction has begun on yet another road.  There was a true traffic jam that took me over 30 minutes to go just two blocks this afternoon.  Why, I ask you WHY do they do all of the roads in one area at once??????

And this is just the stuff that I feel like I can share on this blog!  There is more...........much more.

So, I am truth telling tonight and will close my computer and go to bed.  And pray that tomorrow is a better day.  I am so thankful that Jesus has promised us that his mercies are new every morning and we should only focus on each day. 

Jesus, thank you for everything that you have done for me.  Help me to release all of the junk of today into your hands, and to rest overnight.  You promise us a new start each day and Jesus, I am asking for an extra measure of your grace and peace tomorrow.  Jesus, bless all those reading these words, who have also had a challenging day.  Cover them with your life and your love.  And Jesus, send your healing tonight for little Michael.  Amen

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Making better choices.... through GPS

Today's project was the installation of a new garbage disposal.  Once again, I am so thankful that Ken can do these projects.  I can only imagine how much a plumber would charge for this job.  As usual, any plumbing project always requires at least two trips to the hardware store.  After the requisite two trips to the local Ace Hardware store, the job was done.  I took the opportunity to clean out the cabinet that holds the garbage disposal and washed all of the pans that were stored there.  I also decided that most of my baking pans needed to be replaced.  I can't tell you how old most of these pans are.  Looking at them, I just know that they have served us well but now they need to be retired.  So I will be watching for those sales to get a few new cake pans, and a bread pan.  This is certainly no big rush, since I have not done much baking recently.  That is until today.  I noticed those 4 over-ripe bananas on the counter and saw that bread pan and decided to make banana bread.  It was so good to smell that bread baking when we were in the midst of this plumbing project.  And it tastes awesome!

I've been reflecting on the WHY in "Why don't I bake stuff more often?"  And part of the answer is contained in "out of sight and out of mind".  Those pans were hidden away under the sink and I didn't think about them very much.  And, quite frankly, when I did think about it, I was usually not at home.  That seems like a poor excuse, but it is true.  And then the second reason that I stopped doing the baking was that I also stopped doing the eating!  Yes, being on Weight Watchers for the last year has put a stop to those cookies and muffins and yummy breads.  Today I found that I can still bake that bread, but have the restraint to only eat 1 piece rather than 1/3 of the loaf. That is the direct result of watching my eating habits for the last year.  I can make better choices.

Wow.  Isn't that a powerful sentence.  I CAN MAKE BETTER CHOICES!  There is so much in that sentence.  I can make better choices about how I spend my time.  I can make better choices about what I read/watch/see/hear.  I can make better choices about who I associate with.  I can make better choices.  And the best thing is that I can pay attention to the direction of the Holy Spirit and then make those better choices.  I am so thankful for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in me.  What an amazing gift of the Father and Son.  Today I was thinking about the scripture verse John 16:13 "But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth."  WOW!  What a great reminder that it is the Holy Spirit that guides us to the truth.  It is the Holy Spirit that helps us make those better choices.  The Holy Spirit reminds me that the banana bread has calories and I need to balance my consumption to stay healthy.  That is truth.  And this is just one more very small way that Jesus shows me everyday how much he cares for me and loves me.  Jesus made sure he left us with an internal GPS!  God's Personal Spirit! 

Jesus, help me to remember that the power to make ALL the choices and decisions in my life comes from the Holy Spirit.  Not just the small things - but ALL things.  Thank you for caring so much about us that you sent the Holy Spirit to live IN us.  You made sure that we had your Divine guidance through that internal GPS you gave us.  What an amazing gift.  Jesus, please remind all of us that we have ALL the power and guidance and truth right inside of us because of the Holy Spirit.  And thank you, once again, for Ken's ability to fix what is broken.  Amen.