Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween from the the world, but not OF the world

This is one of my favorite pictures of my kids - mostly because it is so "natural" of them both.  I have to smile when I look at it.  I love the "junk" on the freezer behind Gwen and the kids art work hanging on the drapes.  Who would think that I would be missing those things?   And, when I look at Doug, all I can think is - on no, not that shirt!  He insisted on wearing that particular shirt, over and over and over - even after it was really small on him.  I don't know what it was about that shirt, but he loved it. 

These pumpkins were from a place that we STILL refer to as the "humble pumpkin patch".  Needless to say, it is no longer a farm since the suburban spread has taken over and the road is now lined with stores and houses.  But that spot was and will always be to us, the humble pumpkin patch.  Going to pick out pumpkins was a favorite event for me.  I think it is because I never did this as a child.  As a matter of fact, there are no pictures of me at Halloween and I really only remember trick or treating after I was in 1st Grade.  I remember one particular Halloween when we lived in Minnesota.  We went to about 3 houses - trudging through several inches of snow in our snowsuits.  And while I know that some people will cringe, my family did dress up and go trick or treating.  But I have to say that there were many years that we also had "Halloween Alternatives" at our church.  These were good times filled with great activities. 

You know, this is one of those times when there is a fine line between being IN the world and not OF the world.  I am happy that my children have chosen to become an influence to their peers and have remained friends with people that may not know Jesus.  Because, really, how else will these people ever get to know who Jesus is if they never get to experience his love through us?  I mean, really, didn't Jesus eat with all those "untouchable" people?  And go places that he was not supposed to (by religious teaching)?  So I am proud and very humbled by the grace that my children walk in, as they are out in the world.  And they are there because that is where Jesus has called them to be.  I am remembering that now as I am in a workplace that is filled with so many who do not know about Jesus.  I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit has promised to be that living water that flows out of us. 

So tonight, as I am passing out candy to the sweet young ones who come to my door, I will be greeting them with a smile and praying a blessing upon them. 

Jesus, thank you for your promises to us, to be with us and act through us.  Thank you for my children and the many, many lessons I have learned through them and the examples that they are to the world.  Holy Spirit, bless all of the children who have visited my home tonight.  Touch them with the knowledge of Jesus and the love of the Father.  Thank you for your great plan for the world, to show forth your glory!  Amen

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It was a "partly foggy, mostly not sunny day".....

I am going to blog something that I never, ever thought I would be blogging about...... the weather!  Yes, the weather.  Today was one of those grey, late fall days when the clouds hung heavy in the sky.  It felt kind of muggy, even at 7:00 as I was going to work.  Like it could rain at any moment, but then it didn't.  Thankfully, it was nice enough to be outside with the little ones in the late morning.   I loved this explanation of the weather today, given by the "weather watcher" in the 3 year old room......  He spent several minutes looking out the window this morning, then declared it was a "partly foggy, mostly NOT sunny day"!   I just loved this.  Needless to say, the teacher did not have a partly foggy, mostly NOT sunny day, flannel piece to put up on the calendar!  So she settled on the grey clouds.  Then, suddenly, the heavens opened up and it rained and rained and rained. 

So, I was thinking about this during nap time (while patting the back of a 17 month old who did NOT think it was nap time - for 2 hours).   I love the mind of a three year old that doesn't say it is foggy - it is only PARTLY foggy.  and then, its not dark and grey it is simply NOT sunny!   I loved this positive spin on the pretty ugly day.

Wouldn't it be much better if we saw all of the icky stuff in our life as PARTLY bad? And really, isn't it the truth that usually, not EVERYTHING is going wrong.  And wouldn't we feel a lot better about things if we focused on the good stuff that is really just around the corner (or in this case, hiding behind a cloud)?  I was thinking about the TRUTH that the sun is always shining, we just might not be able to see it.  I know that there is so much written and spoken about the glass half empty/half full.  But I just couldn't resist.  Because really, that is what this is all about.  But today I'm thinking on a much deeper level.  Today I realized that even when really lousy things happen to us, behind it all, the SON is shining.  Yep, Jesus is there and he is always in charge.  He is the Lord of Lord and the King of Kings.  And He reigns! Even over the really icky days.   So now I will be thinking about the less than perfect things in my life as "partly cloudy, mostly not sunny day, with a 100% chance of the SON shining! 

Jesus, thank you so much for the wisdom of little children.  Thank you, Holy Spirit for this revelation to remind me that the SON is always shining even when things look bleak and dark.  Thank you for the reminder that you are in charge every day, whatever the weather, whatever the circumstance.   Jesus, hold close in you arms all those that are having one of those ICKY days.  Holy Spirit, bless them with the assurance that Jesus is shining and brightly reigning.   Amen

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why knowing WHO you are counts!

Day two was most assuredly better!  So this day would have a smiley face for more reasons than that!  Yes, work was truly "without incident" (as in, I did not have to fill out any paperwork for a child hurt by him/herself or others), I didn't have to change a single diaper (I was with 3 & 4 year olds for the entire day), I got to my evening meeting on time and now for the biggy.........Thank you Jesus for giving me revelation on how to FIX the mess I made last night!  I actually thought of the solution while watching 22 sleeping three year olds.  And when the answer popped into my head, I knew that it was heaven sent.  And when I arrived at my meeting tonight, fired up the computer and things worked exactly as they should, all was well in my world! 

I guess it was because of where I was today (as in working with 3 and 4 year olds), that I remembered this quote from the conference over the weekend (okay, I know that I said I was through recounting the wonders of this event, but I KNOW that there is even more amazing things that I heard that hasn't even begun to settle in my spirit....)  "When you know WHO you are in Christ Jesus, then the devil will stop using you as play-doh!"

Now, I have to tell you that I am a play-doh lover!  I love the feel and the smell of play-doh and I love to watch kids play with the stuff.   It is soft and squishy and you can do so many different things with it.  And if you have one of those fancy play-doh machines you can create everything from snakes to spaghetti.  I guess that the smell must also be enticing to kids, because almost everyone I have ever seen play with this stuff, puts some of it in their mouth.  Good thing that it is non-toxic!  I love how you can mix the colors together and create a totally different color. Yep, it's great stuff.
When I was thinking about this quote and play-doh in general, I realized just how true this is.  I don't want to be so soft and squishy that satan can manipulate me into whatever he wants.  I don't want to be so easily changed that I can be mashed together with someone else and turn out a totally different "color" than I was meant to be.  And isn't it also true, when we are allowing satan to use circumstances, all that we are experiencing FEELS a lot like what the play-doh must feel, going through those pressing machines.  We feel pressed and stressed and pulled in so many different directions.  And sometimes it feels like we don't even recognize ourselves.  And then suddenly, we wonder how we even got to the place that we are in! 
So I will be reminding myself each and every day, of exactly who I am in Jesus.  I want to meditate on the teachings that I heard from this conference.  I plan to spend much more time in the Bible, since that is where we can KNOW who Jesus is.  And in all of that I will be praying that the Holy Spirit will reveal to me that truth - who I am in Jesus.  Then I can be sure that satan can not punch me down or change my color or my shape.  Because I am made in the image of God.  I have the Holy Spirit within me to empower me.  And I have Jesus.    End of story.
Jesus, would you please write this truth into all of our hearts tonight.  Help us to grasp with a clear mind and spirit, of who you have made us to be.  Holy Spirit, quicken this revelation in our spirits so that there is no way that satan can use us as his play toy.  Thank you for these "bursts" of remembrance of wonderful nuggets.  And Holy Spirit, thank you for helping me solve my big problem from yesterday.   Amen

Monday, October 28, 2013

Should have seen this one coming.........

This will be a short blog post tonight.  After the amazing last several days at a conference, I should have know that a return to my "regular life" would have forecasted a "let down".  And today was certainly that in many ways. 
Now don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for this new job.  But the first day of ANY new job is stressful.  Today was no exception.  And it was a LONG day (9.0 hours of work).  And it was not without incident.  As a matter of fact, within the first 10 minutes of my day I had to fill out an "incident" report when one child bit another child.  Yes, that's right, the first 10 minutes.  And there are a lot of names to remember and lots of procedures and tasks to remember.  So my brain feels a little foggy.
And then, I really messed up on a couple of important tasks that I was doing that are really critical things.  And it was simply my foggy-ness that caused this. 
So I will be heading back to my second day of work tomorrow - another 9 hour day. But I am praying that it gets easier and less stressful.  And I am praying for extra grace and understanding of the people who are affected by my mess up! 
You know, its at times like this that I am so thankful that Jesus know it all!  He not only knows all, but he loves me just the same. He planned my new job and he will help me through the transition.  I am confident that I will be able to straighten out the mess I made, and I can trust that the Holy Spirit will help me know what steps to take.   And he is helping to give me a better end to the day, just by writing about it!  You know I am actually feeling more peaceful and less stressed.  Isn't that great!  So I guess I'll end this post with this...........
Jesus, will you please help anyone else that had a not-so-great day to relax and talk about it with you so that they can have a bit of this peace and calm I am feeling.  Thank you Holy Spirit that you remind me that mistakes happen and there is grace for our humanness.  What a blessing to have you Jesus, to help me turn my frown into a smile!   Amen

Sunday, October 27, 2013

When you've been touched......

Before you do anything else............please watch this video -Evangelist Nathan Morris heals blind girl  Just click that link and watch carefully.  You can actually see the amazing work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus, as this girl's eye forms.  It is so amazing.  

Okay, have you watched this?  Well, today I got to sit in the front rows of that amazing conference I've been blogging about, and have Nathan Morris actually right in front of me.  And then I got to experience the FIRE and POWER of Jesus, touch me through Nathan as he prayed for me.  I encourage you to go to Utube and watch more videos about this man's ministry.  Yes, people all over the world are getting miraculously healed.  But more than that, hundreds of thousands of people are coming to know Jesus through this ministry. 
Amazing afternoon hearing and experiencing Jesus through Evangelist Nathan Morris!
This somewhat fuzzy picture was difficult to get!  This man moved all over the room - quickly!  When you watch those videos, note the size of the crowds that are present as Nathan ministers.  It is unbelievable that he would come to this small local conference and so freely minister to all of us.  I am so incredibly blessed that Jesus arranged for me to be at this conference.  If I had NOT lost my job, I would have missed this.  And then, just before this conference started, I received word that I was hired at a new job that I start tomorrow!  Isn't Jesus simply wonderful?  I know in my heart that this was all pre-arranged so that I could sit at the feet of these teachers.  I have been filled and renewed and charged up to move into a new place in the months ahead.  And it was all possible for me - because of a job loss.  And then a scholarship to this conference (which I received so willingly from HUB Ministries).  And then a new job.  WOW! Isn't Jesus great?
A couple more things to share from this conference.  Yesterday, during worship, we sang "There is a redeemer".  That older song by Keith Green.  The atmosphere was just supercharged with the glory of Jesus, and I remembered reading Melody Green's (Keith's wife) testimony about Keith and that song. She said it was very late at night and she heard Keith at the piano.  When she came into the room as he was singing this song, she saw the glory cloud surrounding him.  If you don't know his story, take a minute and look it up.  Since I am putting you all to work today, here is the link to Keith Green singing this amazing song..There is a Redeemer.  I am praying that as you listen to this song again today, you will be touched just as I was yesterday, and hear and feel the glory of the Holy Spirit. 

Just before the service today, I checked my phone for messages.  I saw that there was a prayer request for a sweet little girl named Audrey.  She is in the hospital and has many, many health issues and concerns.  I left the Caring Bridge site open on my phone, with Audrey's picture shown.  And when Nathan prayed for me, he put his hand on my phone.  I know that Jesus touched Audrey in that moment.  I am expecting a miracle for Audrey!

Today I want to leave you with this awesome quote from Nathan Morris.  He said "Most prayer today is just unbelief clothed in wishful thinking".  I know that as I ponder this thought, remember all that I have witnessed personally, and move into that new "Stature" in the Spirit that Nathan spoke about, I will be doing more praying with belief and confidence in what Jesus is doing!

Jesus, thank you.  It seems like so little to say, but today....... just thank you.  I have been changed by your powerful working through the Holy Spirit.  So, Jesus, would your continue to pour out your powerful working miracles to everyone reading this blog today.   Shower Audrey and her family and all of the doctors and nurses tending to her, with amazing grace and peace and love.  Bless Nathan and his wife as they travel home and give them rest.  Amen

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Another WOW day!

Well, here is another conference update.  Yesterday was a VERY LONG BUT VERY FULL DAY!  First of all, this worship team was amazing.  Most of the morning worship was centered around His amazing grace.

This is amazing grace, this is unfailing love
that you would take my place.

Then, in the middle of worship there was this "Prophetic Song" that really stirred my heart.
Tell my enemy, if you want to find me (And you can't find me)
I'm under the grace, I'm under the grace
It's an amazing place.

The morning speaker was from Mozambique.  Jose Novela, a Senior Pastor for Iris Ministries, oversees the Iris churches in Mozambique.  We spent the entire morning laughing.  Yes, LAUGHING!  One of the best things he said was HA, HA, HA!
I guess you would have to have been there to really understand.  It was great.  (Anyone remember the Rodney Howard-Browne days? It was a lot like that!) Then, the best thing of all, my friend Matt, who has been in a wheel chair for 13 years, was dancing with Pastor Jose!  He was hanging on to his wheelchair, but he was standing and his feet were dancing!  It was amazing! And I have a video to prove it!
The afternoon speaker was Dr. Bonnie Chavda.  Bonnie Chavda along with her husband Mahesh Chavda are the co-founding Senior pastors of All Nations Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Dr. Mahesh Chavda was the speaker both Thursday and Friday evenings.


Here are a few of the short "one liners" that I took note of from this conference!  I think that they will bless you also, as you just stop and think about them.
*We need more wine (The Holy Spirit) in our churches.
*Don't be miserable.  Stop and wait for the wine. Without that, you can't go on.
*Do whatever He tells you to do!
*When there is fighting and anger in the church, it's because there is no wine!
 (Pr. Jose was preaching from John 2 and the Feast of Cana when Jesus turned water into wine.  I loved his insight into this story.) 
*We need personal encounters of the real kind that He is present right now.
*Stretch forth your arm!
*We don't "Put ON" the Holy Spirit.  Rather He puts us on like a glove!
*Everything we do is training for reigning.
*We need to "Steward our stories" and be faithful to testify.
*When God pushes the pause button, we need to PAUSE!
*Don't waste your sorrows.  There is redemption for someone else in our suffering.
*If you set out to raise the dead, bring a sandwich!
*We need to get excited about the little things that God does!
*Get into the vibrant harmony of the Spirit's activity around you.
*We need to understand our destiny.  The movie Kung Fu Panda is an example of getting in tune with our destiny that will defeat the enemy! (Guess I'll have to watch that movie!)
*We are not defined by what is outside of us.
*Guard and steward your atmosphere.
*Pressure brings you to Principal, Principal brings you to Presence, and Presence brings you to the Promise.  In Promise there is Provision.
I am still absorbing everything I have heard so far, and there is more to come! 
Jesus, thank you again for this conference.  Bless all those who are working to make this event happen.  Thank you for the faithful people at the registration tables, at the book tables, the ushers, the runners, the sound people, the go-to people.  Bless the musicians and all those recording and video streaming this event.  Holy Spirit, let all of these people, as well as the speakers, be filled and renewed themselves in this weekend.  Give them supernatural energy and grace.  Thank you for the intercessors who continue to pray for these ministries and all the events happening around the globe.  And Holy Spirit, would you please impart the truths that I have shared to anyone reading this blog?  Help them to taste the amazing wine that I have been experiencing.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  Amen

Friday, October 25, 2013

Amazing, incredible, awesome night!

What an amazing night I had last night.  I am writing this post in the morning, rather than at night since I didn't arrive home until after 11:00pm last night.  It was the opening night of this conference.  I am so blessed to be able to attend this event, even if I had to leave "early"- before the end of the session last night, since I have a 40 minute drive home. 
Here's the absolutely amazing part of the night.  HUB Ministries found out that there were 12 other major events like this happening around the United States on the same weekend.  As Nancy Magiera said, this is highly unusual.  She found some evidence that throughout history, these dates have included some of the largest revivals ever seen.  She got in contact with the leaders from these other conferences and together they decided to "prefer someone else, rather than themselves".  So last night the conference opened with all of us praying and interceeding for the OTHER events!  And more than that, IRIS Ministries (Rolland and Heidi Baker) - the ministry that is supported by HUB, has a large International event this weekend.  They have invited 7,000 leaders from the top 50 countries that persecute Christians to a large conference.  So, it was possible to imagine being united with people (as Nancy put it) "from sea to shining sea" as well as reaching the nations. 
The evening worship included these words............
Every eye is on the bridegroom, every eye is on the king
Behold His glory.  We will see his glory.
Lift up our eyes, come let us adore him.
Isn't He holy,  Isn't He worthy,  Isn't He beautiful.
Yes, I am expectant and hopeful for the rest of this amazing event this weekend.  It is so wonderful to see UNITY among ministries!  It really feels heavenly.
Yesterday I came upon this utube video The Christmas Scale.  What an awesome video.  And an amazing reminder ...... Joy to the World, The Lord has come!  So, Come Let Us Adore Him!  Yes, a Christmas message in October!
Jesus, thank you for this opportunity to worship and pray in unity with so many of your people around the world. Bless these events, and other events that are unknown to me, happening this weekend.  Thank you for this video and the story that it contains.  Help us all, Holy Spirit, to live and walk in the knowledge that we have JOY, because the Lord has come.  And help us to come together and adore Him!  Amen

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Different Anniversary.......and feeling thankful

In a couple of days, on the 25th, it would have been my parent's 77th Wedding Anniversary.  Their Wedding Certificate above was in that amazing surprise package from my brother-in-law Roy.  And the picture is their wedding picture.  I have always loved this picture of my mom and dad.  They look so young and so happy.  Today is actually a 48th wedding anniversary of some of my good friends.  And as you know from my last couple of posts, this past weekend was a 50th anniversary of a church.  To top it all off, with my job change, Ken and I have been talking about what to do to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary that is coming up next spring. And today, looking at my mom and dad, 40 years seems kind of short!
I was thinking about my mom and dad's wedding.  They decided to get married - on the sly.  Both of them worked at Montgomery Wards and it was against the rules for married people to both work there.  They went on a Sunday afternoon to a nearby town where my dad had found a clergyman who agreed to do the wedding.  My mom's sister Bea and brother-in-law Jim were their witnesses.   My mom didn't even have a new dress for the event.  She wore one of Bea's dresses.  It really didn't matter to her.  She just wanted to be married.  They almost called off the wedding because there was a blizzard!  Not much different than the weather in South Dakota over the last couple of weeks.  But my dad was determined to get married.  My mom made the last entry in her "Five Year Diary" on her wedding day.  It reads "Well, dear diary, I am now married at Clearlake, Jim and Bea attendants.  I am now Mrs. Harry Johnson".  When they got home, Aunt Anna had a lovely cake for them and many came to celebrate.  The next weekend they drove to Ortonville, my dad's home to celebrate there.  Again, many gathered to congratulate them.  It wasn't long before they were discovered at Wards, and my mom willingly gave up her job.  The "Bride and Groom" on their wedding cake was on my cake 39 years ago, and on Gwen and Tim's wedding cake 12 years ago.  Such a very cool thing.
I am so thankful for that small, tattered and faded and crumbling, Bride and Groom.  It is a symbol of the importance of the marriage vows - of the covenant.  I felt it was so important to use that on my cake.  I remember my mom saying "why would you want to use this old thing?"  But I knew it was important.  So, when Gwen decided to use the same Bride and Groom, I felt the continuity. 
Today, I am feeling very thankful.  I am so thankful for a new job!  I am also thankful for a work physical today that gave me the "very healthy" stamp.  I am thankful for the  witness of my mom and dad's long marriage (that was not all fun and games - but was most certainly blessed).  And I am thankful for my own marriage.  I love that Jesus brings me to this point today, after the down and up day I had yesterday.  It is as if he is saying, REMEMBER!  I am so thankful that I have been looking back on family and gaining so much insight.  Today on the Elijah List I saw this from Chuck Pierce:  Godly Roots and Your Bloodline
This past week I have been praying for each of you to connect with your godly roots and to know the One who is your source of every good and perfect thing!
And this is exactly where I have been over the last few months. 
Jesus, I pray that you help each person reading this blog to connect to their own family roots.  Thank you Holy Spirit, that you are helping us to see the One that is the source of the good things in our families.  Thank you for anniversaries that remind us to stop and reflect on all that you have done Jesus.  So today, Jesus thank you for having me look back, even as I am on that up escalator!  Amen

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It was an up and down kind of a day............

Well, just when you think things are on a downward shot, something changes and suddenly you seem to be moving up!  Today started off....well pretty depressing.  I have been sending out resumes like crazy and applying for anything that looks even sort of like something I might want to do.  This morning brought 4 "rejection" emails.  Not very promising.  So I sort of stepped onto the "going down" escalator!  Just as I was trying to remind myself of the faithfulness of God, how Jesus has provided for us, how things always work out for the best, I got a phone call.   The place that I had interviewed at last week (and at that time they said they didn't have any openings), called me and offered me the job.  So, assuming that everything goes okay with the BIG stack of paperwork that I have to complete, my physical and fingerprinting, I will be able to start.  So, yep, I jumped on that "up escalator"! 
The most amazing thing is that I am seeing wonderful things happening all around me.  Tonight I heard testimony after testimony of the incredible things that Jesus has done in the lives of my friends.  So it is impossible to be going down tonight.  So, it has ended as a "going up" kind of day.  But, in the midst of these great stories, I know that around me there are many who ARE on that down escalator.  As a matter of fact, one dear friend is really struggling right now.  There is really nothing that I can say to her or offer to help her situation.  But what I can do is hop on that down escalator with her.  I can stand beside her and travel a bit of her journey with her.  And then when we hit the bottom, I can put my arm around her and help her onto that up escalator. 
I guess what I am saying here is, that we need to be aware of what is happening to everyone that is around us.  Sometimes it is necessary to just be there with someone, even if it means going down a bit.  The good news is, that we can make a difference one person at a time when we stand with someone and help them find that up escalator.  And just a reminder here, sometimes you have to look around to find that UP escalator!  They don't always end up right next to each other!  (I actually quit shopping at a store where the escalators are on totally opposite sides of the store! It made me so frustrated that I had to walk through the entire store to get to the other escalator)
Jesus, thank you for community - for friends.  Holy Spirit help us to be sensitive to those around us who might not be in the same place as we are.  Jesus thank you for showing us how important it is to stand with our friends and to be there for each other.   Holy Spirit, thank you for testimonies that encourage us and help us to turn our path around.  And Jesus, thank you for a new job!  Amen

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dreams that are not impossible..........with Jesus

Yesterday at the 50th Anniversary event, we heard about "Why it is important to celebrate church anniversaries".  One reason given was to pass on the traditions of the church.  The pastor used the reading from Deuteronomy 7.  In these passages, Yahweh reminds the people that they are HIS people and that it is his working that has brought them to where they are.  As a matter of fact, one verse actually says, you are not the largest or the greatest of the people - but you are MY people.  The pastor reminded us all that it was the "oral tradition" of story telling from one generation to the next, that birthed the Bible as we now know it.   Just last week, my daughter pointed out to me that this blog is important because the stories and pictures that I am sharing here, will be preserved for her children and the generations beyond.  Yes, that puts a whole new spin on the importance of this blog. But the primary reason for this blog, was and is that I felt called to share all that I was hearing from Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. 

Okay.......... more truth telling here.  For over 10 years I have felt that I had heard and understood something that needed to be shared with..............well everyone.  This seemed like a really impossible and unrealistic "Dream".  First of all, what could I possibly have to say that would make a difference?  And then who would even care about this?  I am so grateful for the chance to reach so many people.  I truly thank God everyday for the people who stop and read this blog.  Because I know that Jesus is a God of the Impossible!  For me, he has made so many of my "impossible dreams" work in ways that I never expected. 
I think that it is interesting that I have precious items like the one pictured above.  In spite of the fact that I was the 5th child and my mom was very busy, she made it a point to create something for me that I cherish to this day.  She bought a small 5 X 8 ring binder and saved all of my Sunday School papers from Kindergarten through Second Grade.  This is the first page in that binder, from my first week of Sunday School in 1959.  We didn't have "Children's Bibles" in our house, but I had this binder of stories and songs that I was constantly looking at.  This was my "scrapbook" long before my mom knew how important this would be for me.  Those 48 separate papers in that binder, helped to shape my adult desire to work with children.   Even though my mom did not really understand the powerful encounter I had with Jesus at age 4, she knew that these pages were important to me and to Jesus.  I love that Jesus used these pages to speak to me.  And I love that Jesus also uses the words on this page to speak to others.   Because this dream is becoming a reality through this blog, suddenly it feels "possible" for other dreams to come into being.  I love the fact that the Holy Spirit is constantly showing me how He was active in bringing me to this point in my life.  Before today I never really thought about those little Sunday school papers as part of the path to my dream. Now I am seeing with new eyes.  Looking at the path BEHIND me helps me to see that path AHEAD of me.   When Jesus is in charge, all is well and the impossible is POSSIBLE!  
Jesus, thank you for giving me peace about the direction of my future.  Holy Spirit, you have a wonderful way of getting us to understand things, just when we need them.  Help all of my friends to glance back on their life, to get a better view of the way that you have been working things out for them.   Jesus, give us all confidence to continue to walk out in the directions that you are sending us.  Holy Spirit, encourage all who feel "stuck" right now to look around and see the wonders that are around them.  And Jesus, give them a glimpse of the amazing things that are yet to come.  Amen

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Great is Thy Faithfulness.....

At Elk Grove Presbyterian 50th Anniversary celebration!
Today Ken and I spent the entire day celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Elk Grove Presbyterian Church.  This is the church that Ken and his family attended from 1967 - 1972, during Ken's high school years.  During those years I often attended the youth group activities with one of my good friends.  This is a very small congregation with an average attendance on a Sunday of about 35 or so.  This morning the church was almost full and it seats about 200.  It's been a long time since I've been in a "traditional" service, complete with 2 different hymnals and a printed litany in the bulletin.  There were several pastors this morning, the current pastor plus 2 former pastors.  Unfortunately, the pastor that Ken knew best was not present. 
Interesting banner that I saw today
This is their "Anniversary" Banner.  The women who constructed this banner explained that the symbols represent the Trinity.  On the left is the hand of the Father. The crown represents the Son and the dove is the Holy Spirit.  The theme of their Anniversary year is "Great Is Thy Faithfulness".  Throughout the day, there was mention over and over of the faithfulness of the God and the faith of the people.  At the point of their charter there were 65 members.  During the period that Ken was a member, the number was much greater than that - possibly around 200 or more.  The youth group often had 20 to 30 kids attending.  Today I would guess the average age of the congregation at 65-70.  There were 5 children in the service.  When I asked one of the Sunday School teachers how many children they have, she replied about half a dozen.  And she seemed to think that problem was that there are so many sports activities on Sunday mornings that it keeps kids out of church.  While that might be true, I think that the style of worship has much more to do with why there were not more young families.  After the service there was a banquet at a banquet hall nearby.  While I am glad that we decided to attend this, it was LONG.  And when I say LONG I mean LONG (like 4 hours long).  One of the interesting things I heard at the dinner was from a young women (I would guess in her 30's who was there with her husband) whose parents are active in this church.  She was talking about an amazing church service she had attended. It had projected words on a screen, and a guitar and a drummer.  She said it was "interesting" and mostly "seemed the same". 
So tonight I am realizing how out of touch I am.  I can't imagine "traditional" church like this anymore and for me projected words, guitar and drums and contemporary worship is just the normal. During the program, people talked over and over of the warmth and love that was in this congregation.  I heard a lot about the people taking care of the people.  There were lots of stories of the faith of the people.  What I did not hear a lot was the faithfulness of God.  We sang this song and heard it sung by the choir. 
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be
Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside
Great is Thy faithfulness Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
While I heard about all of the wonderful things that are being done by this very little congregation, it seemed that with most things, the people were getting the credit. They operate a food pantry and staff it and run it totally with volunteers from this congregation.  It would have been a much better day for me and a much better program, if there would have been more acknowledgement of the faithfulness of God in the life of this church and in the people of this church.   Now I am sure that these good people would tell you that they DO know that it is God's faithfulness that has brought them through 50 years, I wish that they would have boldly proclaimed it on this important day. 
So, I am going to purpose to remember that it is Jesus that gets all the credit for the amazing things that have happened in my life.  I want to trumpet it out to the world that YES - Yahweh is faithful and it is HIS great faithfulness that provides and carries us through each day. 
Jesus, thank you for today and this wonderful group of people.  Holy Spirit, will you remind them of the faithfulness of God for them and through them.  Holy Spirit, please give the leaders of this church a new vision and direction for the years ahead.  Jesus encourage and empower them to move out in the power of your Spirit to reach and touch the world.   Amen

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Result of a shopping trip...

Today's picture comes from a small little event that happened while I was shopping this morning.  I actually started my Christmas shopping at a "Big Toy Sale" at a local store.  I had my list and was ready for the crowds.  Last year I tried to go to this sale and it was INSANE!  Today, not so much.  This must be a result of the economy downturn.  At any rate, there was a "four generation" family shopping ahead of me.  The sight of these little ones, shopping with their mom, grandma and great-grandma took my breath away.  And those two little girls reminded me of Lia and Ellie.  And I remembered this picture.  At this point, in 2009, my mom was able to still go shopping with us, and we often did that during our visits.  It wasn't much longer though and she was not as able to get around.  And soon, we were doing the shopping for her and she was happy to stay at home.  But that family today, reminded me of the wonderful times I had together as four generations.  I am so thankful that Gwen always made time and took great effort to get to Minnesota to visit my mom.  It wasn't easy traveling with babies, but Gwen and Tim made many, many trips.  Even though Lia and Ellie won't remember the details of these visits, they do remember my mom.  And for that, I am grateful. 

You know, I am thinking that this blog is really about YESTERDAY'S blog.  It's all about the people.  Yesterday I was thinking about the church, but today - it's all about the family.  I would like to think that my kids would say that we spent a lot of time together as they were growing up.  But I guess I'll have to ask them to hear their actual answer.  I know that we often laugh and laugh lots when we are together.   There seems to be many, many, triggers for the laughter and it doesn't matter what the occasion, we find things to laugh about.  It also makes me so thankful for the time that I have gotten to spend with my grandchildren.  But more than that, it makes me committed to spending as much time together as we can.

Ken was reminding me that things usually happen for a reason.  Today I am feeling more sure that my job situation has happened for a reason. I have been able to spend more time with the people around me.  I saw friends and had time to visit with them. And I am looking forward to being able to spend more time with family in the days ahead.  Additionally, I am going to be able to attend those conferences that I had mentioned before. Yes, more time to be with the people that matter to me. 

As I was driving home from shopping this morning, I heard the song "How Great Is Our God".  Boy do I love that song!  It's about being together -  one line of the song is "sing with me...." 
How great is our God,  Sing with me
How great is our God, all will see
how great how great
Is our God

You're the name above all names
You are worthy of all praises
and my heart will sing
How Great is Our God
And along with it being a song that we sing together, the idea is that ALL WILL SEE that our God is great. Just as I was thinking yesterday, this "Gospel" is all about people.  It is all of us that know Jesus, getting together.  And when we are together (AKA in Unity), then people will see that and begin to understand just how great our God is!  And this getting together is really about getting together with people who are not just like us.  That is when the true unity is clearly seen by the world.  I remember hearing that the most segregated hour of the week is 10:00am on Sunday morning. This is because there were so many "all white" or "all black" or "all Asian" or "all Hispanic" churches.  I am going to be adding a prayer for the "Church" (remember that the church is the people) to come into unity, so that we can sing together and THEN the world will see HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!

Jesus, thank you for another reminder today that people are the most important thing.  People in our family, people that are in the world and people that are in the church.  Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing that song to me today, along with the reminder about how important it is to sing together as the body of Christ.  Jesus, thank you for all of the churches that are doing this today.  Thank you for the places that are a picture of unity in you.  Jesus, what a blessing you have given to me with this time off.  Thank you for the time to reflect on what is really important.  Jesus, thank you for all the four generation time that I had.  Bless that family that I saw this morning.  And Holy Spirit, remind people to appreciate their family time together.  Jesus, you are great and you have the name above all names. Amen

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Church is the People!

So here is the church I mentioned a couple of days ago in my blog.  Zion Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota.  The top picture was taken in 2005.  My sister Karen, brother-in-law Roy and my mom visited this church.  It was one of the highlights of my mom's later years.  She had always wanted to get back to this church.  I think she felt a connection to all of her family there.  The picture on the bottom is the exact same church at pretty much the same angle, taken in 1880.  Amazing isn't it?  It looks very much the same.  Isn't that a great comfort to know that some things DON'T change? However, this church is no more.  It has closed and I can't find out any other information about it.  So while the building might be there, it is no longer the church that these pictures represent.  I am thankful that my mom got to visit when it was still Zion Lutheran Church.  I am so glad that I have pictures from my mom's visit.

This picture is my sister Karen and my mom inside of that church.  You can't see very much in this picture, but it is amazing.  I love that the ceiling looks like the sky and clouds.  I remember my mom saying (when she was showing me these very pictures) that it was if you could see right up to heaven.  I just love thinking about both Karen and mom celebrating right now in heaven with Jesus. I know that my mom sat in the pew of that church and envisioned her dad there as a young boy.  He was actually baptized and confirmed at that altar.  And she was also thinking about her mother, who sat in those pews when she was ill and near the end of her life. My mom said that she remembered her sister Bea talking about going to that church during that time.  And she was also thinking about the many funerals that she had attended there over the years.  As we looked at these pictures I remember asking my mom if she wanted to be buried in that "family" cemetery.  She was so practical that she said it simply did not make sense to her.  My dad had been buried at a small cemetery in the suburbs of Minneapolis and that was fine with her.  

As I was writing this blog, I found I was humming a song.  It suddenly dawned on me exactly what I was humming!  Here it is......
I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church together.
All who follow Jesus all around the world, yes, we’re the Church together.
The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple,
 the church is not a resting place, the church is the people.
I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church together.
All who follow Jesus all around the world, yes, we’re the Church together.
We're many kinds of people, with many kinds of faces,
all colors and all ages, too, from all times and places.
I am the Church, you are the Church, we are the Church together.
All who follow Jesus all around the world, yes, we’re the Church together
Okay, Jesus, I get your point!  Even as I am writing about this BUILDING, I am reminded that the building is not the important part.  I remember very clearly when Gwen learned this song in Sunday School when she was in first grade.  She sang this song over and over.  Yes, the point is that the building is not the church.  So, in spite of buildings closing and being torn down, the church is not destroyed.  I certainly experienced this first hand, on my trip to Africa.  I met many, many, wonderful people.  They were filled with the Holy Spirit, loved Jesus, they were committed to sharing the Gospel message, many times without any real building to speak of.  It was a powerful picture of the body of Christ, being the church.  Unfortunately, in the United States, it is often not like this.  The buildings become the most important thing!  Sometimes ministries are judged by how big and wonderful their actual buildings are.  Perhaps its time for us to step back and reevaluate what it means to "be the Church!"  Jesus never had a building.  He focused his attention on the people.   Seems like it would be wise for us to remember this song, and turn our attention to those around us.  And to let go of our buildings. 
Jesus, thank you for changing the direction of this post to remind me of what is really important.  Holy Spirit, help me to focus on the people that surround me and to know how to reach out to them with your love.  Jesus, thank you for providing these trigger photo's to help me hear more clearly what you are speaking to me.  Holy Spirit, would you remind me to see with the eyes of Jesus as I look around me.  Thank you for knowing exactly what we need each day.  Amen

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Amazing surprise...........

Isn't it wonderful when you open your mailbox and find something totally unexpected.....and it's not a bill?  I had that great experience today!  After having a relaxing lunch with a dear old friend, I returned home to this surprise in my mailbox.  My brother-in-law, Roy, send me a package of memorabilia from my mother and father that had been in his possession.  He recently moved into a senior apartment and in clearing out his large home, he discovered these items.  I am assuming that my sister had gotten these items from my mother at some point.  I am sure that all of you will be seeing some of these items in the future.  But today I have to share this...........

This postcard was in my surprise package today.  This is my dad, Harry Johnson, in 1915 when he was two years old.  I had never seen this picture before today!  In fact, a picture I had shared on this blog earlier of my dad at about 6 or 7 years old, with his family, was what I thought was the first picture we had of him!  I was so surprised to see this picture.  I immediately began to compare it to a picture of me at 2 years old, as well as pictures of my kids and grandkids at 2!  I think my sister Julie gets the prize for looking the most like him.  But I can see the family resemblance down through my grandchildren.  If that wasn't enough, the back side of this postcard is written by my Grandmother.  And it is written in Swedish!  The postmark is August 18, 1915, just before my dad's 2nd birthday.  It has a 1 Cent stamp! 
Here is the postcard.  Addressed to Mrs. August Nilson from Mrs. Johnson.  Mailed in Ortonville to Ortonville, Minnesota.  If there is anyone out there who can read this Swedish message, I would love a translation! 
As I hold this card in my hand, and trace the writing on the back, I am picturing my Grandma.  By the way, it is written in pencil!  And I am thinking of the many other hands that touched this card.  And I wish that I knew how this card ended back up in the hands of our family!  It should have been in the Nilson family.  I am just speculating that because it was a photo, it was returned to my grandma.  At any rate, I am so thankful that it has found its way into my hands. 
And as I am writing this blog tonight, I am reflecting on what Jesus is saying to me in this.  I was beginning to wonder why I have been so focused on my ancestors, on old pictures, on my family history and stories.  This morning in my quiet time, I was asking Jesus to speak to me about this.  There is also the connection to this blog!  I am not understanding why so many of you are taking the time to stop and read my words, but you are!  And I am praying that you are being blessed and challenged and encouraged as you read.  When I opened this surprise package from my mailbox today, it was as if Jesus was answering my questions.  There is more that I have yet to discover!  There is more that the Holy Spirit has to speak to me (and to you) through this medium.  And I am being so stretched in this process.  This has been an interesting journey.  I can't wait to see what comes next!
Jesus, thank you for surprises.  Holy Spirit, I love that you answer us when we ask a very direct question.  Please show each person reading this blog, exactly what they need, right now.  Jesus, I am so grateful for this blog and the ability to speak to people all over the world.  Thank you for computers, the Internet, blogs, scans, and all things of modern technology.  Holy Spirit, help me to stay expectant for the next amazing revelation you have for me.  And Jesus, I would love the translation of this postcard!  Thank you!   Amen 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When you need a mom's opinion.....

Today I have been so missing my mom!  I know that many people go through this at various times, and quite frequently it is something really big and important that triggers this.  But for me, it was not really a big thing, it's just the job change I am facing.  I really relied on my mom's opinion.  What she thought mattered a great deal to me.  I trusted her discernment and she was a great judge of people.  I knew that Ken was the right person for me because my mom and dad really liked him.  I remember my mom saying that she had never had a young man talk with her and be as open with her as Ken was.  Ken really loved my mom also.   That brings me to this memory.....
This picture is my mom's Aunt Mae, her dad's oldest sister, with her husband Charles Hanson.  When I was thinking about all of the advise my mom gave me, I remembered this story about my mom and her Aunt Mae.  Here's the thing, Aunt Mae was the rebel of the family.  She left home, went to the big city (we think New York but my mom was never really sure - there is evidence that she lived in Ohio), was gone for long periods of time when the family really didn't know where she was.  She returned home to St. Paul after many years, without her husband.  All my mom ever heard was that she had lost a child and nothing was ever said about her husband.  Aunt Mae and Aunt Anna worked together in St. Paul as "furriers" (creating fur trim on garments and fur stoles and fur coats).  Aunt Mae continued to work when Anna went to help their brother (my grandfather), raise his four daughters.  But Aunt Mae was that "fun Aunt" who would send amazing presents from the city.  My mom's very favorite memory was the year that they got the record player for Christmas from Aunt Mae.  This was a very big deal.  In the 1920's you just didn't get these kind of things. Well, Aunt Mae developed a lung condition called "fur fever" in the early 1930's.  I don't exactly what this was, but it was serious lung problem that cause her to fail physically.  So she moved in with her sister and brother - my grandfather and Aunt Anna.  And this meant that she moved in with my mom also.  My mom's three older sisters had already gotten married and it was just my mom at home.  Unfortunately, Mae's condition got worse quite quickly and it was clear that she didn't have long to live.  My mom said that as she was preparing to go on her first date with my father, Mae called her into her room.  She insisted on meeting this man that my mom had consented to date.  My mom was not one to go on many dates, so this was quite the occasion.  So, reluctantly, my mom brought her first date  into meet her dying aunt.  After a short conversation, Aunt Mae sent my dad from the room and told my mom that this was the man she would marry.  She was sure that he was the perfect man for her.  Remember that my mom had barely met this guy!  But my mom honored her Aunt's opinion so much.  When my mom and I talked about this, she recalled that this conversation had really settled in her spirit and she knew that my dad was the "one".  Aunt Mae died within a few months and my dad actually sang at her funeral. (And yes, she is buried in the cemetery I wrote about yesterday). 
So here is what I have been hearing today as I pondered this.  That old adage about "respecting your elders".  Well it really is true!  There is power and knowledge and wisdom that can be gained from those that have been around longer!  But, also today I have been feeling the weight of this, as I realize that my place on the family tree has shifted and I AM THE ONE that has been around longer!  It makes me realize how important my words are!  And I have also realized that I have Jesus within me and he is steering my course.  It is His opinion and His will that are the most important for me.  So, while I am still missing that "Mom opinion", I have all that I need.  And I am so thankful for my many friends and family surrounding me and praying for me as I consider what the next "career move" is for me.  More than that, Jesus is showing me that throughout my generations, He has been there and it is the Holy Spirit that has been bringing me to this exact point.  So, all those times I felt that it was so important to have my mom's opinion,  what I was really seeking was knowing the plan and destiny of Yahweh for me.
Jesus, thank you so much for once again, reminding me of all that my mom gave to me.  Thank you for also reminding me that you are guiding me and your opinion is the most important.  Holy Spirit, you are bringing revelation of all that we have in our generational heritage.  Thank you for reminding me that Jesus, you are the one that has been in charge throughout my generations.  I am so blessed to be in relationship with you Jesus!  Thank you for your care, and your love.  Holy Spirit, will you remind anyone reading this that Jesus loves them and is with them in their walk today.  And for those facing difficult times, give them peace and the knowledge that Jesus is making a way for them!  Amen

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Preserving the past........

It's amazing to think of how things change - how different the landscape becomes with the passage of time.  Today I happened upon this photo.  I know EXACTLY where this picture was taken and the approximate year it was taken - about 1880.  This photo is of 165 W. Arch St. in St. Paul, Minnesota.  If you look at Google Maps for this address (by the way, what did we do before Google Earth satellite pictures?), you will see that address is now a railroad roundhouse! (Thanks to Chuggington - a kids program, I can recognize a railroad roundhouse, otherwise I would have simply said some kind of railroad station!)  This cute little house was built by my Great Grandfather, Ernst Toensing, when he arrived from Germany.  Quite an amazing house, complete with a picket fence, landscaping and part of the family in the picture.  The women holding the baby is my Great Grandmother, Clara Toensing.  She died in 1889.  The baby in the picture is my great aunt Lydia, who was born in 1880.  I have very clear memories of Aunt Lyd, as she was called.  When I was in first and second grade, after we had moved to St. Paul, we went to visit her in her "apartment".  That apartment was an "old age home".  She was in her early 80's and she loved when we visited.  She had a special place in her heart for my mom. Her daughter Jeanette, was my mom's favorite and closest cousin and they spent lots of time together. For me she was the closest thing I had to a grandmother, and I loved visiting her. She died in 1962 when I was 8 years old.  I am so glad that I got to know her.

Back to the house.  This house is very close to the Minnesota State Capitol.  As a matter of fact, you can see the capitol from this location.  One of the best things I did during the last years of my mom's life, was to take her on a road trip to this very location.  We found this spot and then we also went to see the church that her family attended, Zion Lutheran Church. (More about the church in a later blog)  We visited the cemetery, which is right across the road from the church, Oakland Cemetery.  My mom's family are all buried there, including her mom and dad as well as Clara Toensing from this picture.  At first this seemed like a really odd thing to do.  But now I am so glad that I visited this exact place with my mom and heard her memories of these places.  I would have lost much of this part of the family history if we had not taken that drive.  My mom told me that my Grandfather had carried my grandmother down that street several blocks to church for years because she was not well enough to walk.  She remembered her dad telling her about playing on that road and walking down to the church to go to school.  And then she talked of being at the funerals of her aunts and uncles buried in that family plot and remembering the funerals of Aunt Anna and also her dad.  As a matter of fact, the way we actually found the family plot was by driving around the very large cemetery until my mom recognized the view of the church.  She remembered standing looking at the church during the services.  And sure enough, when we got out to look, there was the plot.

So, why am I sharing this now?  Well, once again, I want to encourage you to share your family history with your children and grandchildren.  There is something powerful about knowing your roots.  And about understanding what makes your family unique.  I loved being able to share stories with Lia and Ellie and Zeke this weekend.  Just things from when their mom was little.  And also things from my life.  Lia and Ellie both remember my mom and this weekend, Lia asked me about my dad.  I don't think she has ever asked before.  It gave me a chance to tell her a little bit about my dad and Gwen.  I will be purposeful about telling them all more stories, as time goes on.  I loved being able to tell Lia and Ellie and Zeke that going to church on Sunday was something that had always been done in our family.  There is a connection in that fact that is super important.  It is about being a part of that Covenant family and seeing your Spiritual Heritage.  Today I am feeling blessed, once again, to have photo's from 1880 preserved for the generations.  I am feeling blessed that the Holy Spirit provided the way for me to gain information from my mom that I might never have had.  And I am so thankful for this blog, that is giving me a chance to share parts of my life, in the hope that it will encourage you to share with your own families. And as a further encouragement, if you can't tell the stories to your children and grandchildren......WRITE THEM DOWN!  It is never to late to start this. 

Jesus, thank you for family.  It is your great plan to bless us through our family.  Thank you for my family and the many ways you provided for my generations over the years.   Thank you for allowing me to share this with my mom and now sharing this with my children and grandchildren.  Holy Spirit would you encourage us all to be more purposeful in storytelling - the little things about our past that will bless and encourage and grow the faith of our children and grandchildren.  Thank you for reminding me of your provision to my generations.  Yahweh, thank you that you ARE my provision!  Amen

Monday, October 14, 2013

An unexpected, out of control day!

So you know how you think that you might have things figured out and/or under control?  Well once again I have learned that - guess what? - I am not in control of anything!  While I am upset about the current "snag" in my plans, I remember well, my lesson from yesterday.   I GET IT!   Jesus is in charge and I am convinced that He has plans in place for me and more importantly, he wants to bless me.  Knowing that, I can sit back, take a deep breath and let things play out.  My part is just to keep listening to Him.  I am sure that there will be lots of days ahead when I forget this, or slip back into wanting to have everything neatly lined up.  So I am trusting that all of my friends and family out there, will remind me that I GET IT!

And what I have been thinking about today is when Ken lost his job in 2002.  Let me tell you, that was an unexpected, out of control moment.  We were NOT prepared for this, in so many ways.  We circled the wagons (so to speak) and prepared for the worst.  Fortunately, Ken got a job in less than 4 months.  Nearly unheard of given his age.  Now we knew that this job wasn't the greatest - but HEY - it was a job.  He was very overqualified and the job only lasted 6 months.  But, once again, after an unbelievably short 2 months off, he found another job.  This job had a killer commute, but once again, we were feeling blessed that he had a job. Then, he lost this job after only 8 months.   This was much harder to take.  But we tried to stay positive and he faithfully sent out those applications.  Well, somehow, God was definitely in charge.  Ken got hired at a company that NEVER hires direct and only hires from temporary.  IT IS THE PERFECT JOB FOR HIM!  The original job that he lost in 2002 was stressful and not much fun.  This job that he has had for 10 1/2 years is simply amazing for him.   He never brings work home, rarely travels, has an easy commute and most of all - HE LOVES IT and IT IS FUN!  Several years ago, he was talking with his boss and asked him how he got his resume.  His boss couldn't even remember!  But I know that when Jesus is in charge, things happen.  And the things that happen are a blessing.  So we weathered that storm, we weathered the storm when I lost my long time job in 2009 and we will get through this job change for me now. And I will continue to seek to rest in contentment. 

Tonight I am so thankful for Ken and the rest of my family tonight.  They are affirmed for me, that this is a GOOD thing and that there is something so much better for me out there.  Actually when Ken and I were talking, I realized that there is a conference coming up in two weeks that I felt SOOOO called to be at.  Yet with working, I really didn't feel like I could do it.  Now, I will be able to attend!  Isn't that amazing.  And the best part is Ken really wants me to be able to do this.

Yesterday I received an email from the ministry hosting that conference... this was the tag line of that email.....
 "The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him." Galatians 3 Message

So, tonight I will be embracing what God has arranged for me! 

Thank you Jesus for your love and care.  You are an amazing and wonderful God that is arranging things for me.  Holy Spirit, remind me to embrace all the changes that are happening in this time.  Thank you for the blessing of my family and friends during this time.  Yahweh, would you please hold a place for me at that conference?   Thank you, thank you, thank you.   Amen

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Do you GET it?"

So my Grandma duties continued today and I managed to get all the kids up, dressed and in the car for church by 8:15am.  All three kids went willingly to Sunday School and I went to church. After lunch and nap, we went to the park and played outside on this beautiful day!

But since church, I have not been able to get the sermon out of my head! It was a very thought provoking sermon.  The reading was from Mark 4 - an interesting piece of scripture.  Jesus says that he is stronger than the strongest of evil ones and then he says in verse 26 that ALL sins are forgiven.  Then comes verse 27.  EXCEPT -(that killer word).  Except blaspheme of the Holy Spirit.  I loved how the Pastor set the stage for the explanation of this verse.  He spoke about the beginning of Mark up through chapter 4.  All of the miracles and wonders that Jesus had done.  So many crowds following him and pressing in on him, and then his own family comes to try to take him away, thinking he is out of his mind!  They don't GET IT!  And then the scribe comes from Jerusalem (the religious leader) and he says that Jesus must be a demon because of the power that he has displayed.  He wanted to discredit Jesus and make sure that the people didn't take him seriously.  He wanted to sideline Jesus.  Clearly he didn't GET IT!  So, that is the question of the day.  Do you GET IT?  The Pastor pointed out that often conversations are completely shut down because of the word "offensive".  Today, if someone says that our point of view is "offensive" to them, the conversation just ends.  Often people will want to reinterpret the Bible to make it fit their own agendas. They want to say "Jesus was just a great teacher" or "Jesus was a prophet".  But anything less than "Jesus is the Son of God" is just blaspheme! 

So "Do you GET IT?"  Are you willing to say with complete assurance that Jesus is your Savior and Jesus is the Son of God?  The pastor used this analogy....

Imagine you have a serious, life threatening illness.  There is a surgeon that has the procedure that will save your life.  He has performed this operation on countless people.  But you decide that the surgeon is really an evil murderer and he intends to kill you.  So you pass up the life saving operation.  You just don't get it.  You have sidelined the person who can save you.

Unfortunately, there are many in the church today who decide that a certain worship style is "of the devil" so they sideline everything that is happening in those churches.  Or possibly that popular television pastor who has testimony of healings and miracles. Some in the church would say "this is of the devil" and they would sideline this ministry.  Even Jesus' own mother and brothers and sister thought this!  So, I encourage you to let the Holy Spirit speak to you before you decide that something you have seen or heard about is not "correct".  Don't blaspheme the Holy Spirit because you don't GET IT!  And let's all be willing to shout out that Jesus IS the Son of God and He IS our Saviour! 

Jesus, thank you for being my Savior and my Lord.  Holy Spirit, continue to speak to me when I am faced with these difficult questions and things don't seem so clear or obvious.  Yahweh, I want to understand ALL of who you are and all that you doing today in the world.  Thank you for Fellowship of Faith and this challenging sermon today.  Bless them and their ministry and Pr. Dave, as they seek to help people GET IT!   Amen

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A day in the life of a Grandma......being like a little child

Its been  a great day with my grandchildren!  Some how it is always good when I get to spend time with them.  Today was no exception.  First of all we went to a McDonalds playplace.  As they say, getting there was half the fun!  I haven't driven around very much since they moved to a new house.  I thought (thought is the operative word here) I knew where I was going, but low and behold we were lost!  Needless to say the kids thought this was very funny.  I just kept driving in what I thought was the right direction and prayed for a road that I knew!  I saw parts of this area that I had never been in.  Fortunately, we soon came to a familiar road and we proceeded to a different McDonalds (one very close to their OLD house) and eat and played.

Photo: Lunch with my sweeties!
After we got home it was time for Zeke to nap and Lia and Ellie got to paint some new piggybanks that they got from their Mom.  It was great to watch them paint!
Photo: Painting piggy banks!
This finished piggys are so cute.  Lia and I enjoyed many, many great games of Uno and the kids played all afternoon.  There was a brief thunderstorm, but Zeke was already asleep for his nap and Lia and Ellie were fine.  I got treated to a couple of really nice dress up fashion shows and dances and Zeke and I played trucks (of course). 
But the most amazing thing was the conversation in the car on the way back from the McDonalds.  We passed a cemetery and Ellie said "that's were Great Grandma Nona is!"  So that started a conversation and at one point after I said that Great Grandma Nona was in heaven, Lia said and that is a wonderful place.  So we talked about being with Jesus and being happy and being with everyone you love.  Then Lia asked a really good question.  She wanted to know if we have to "start over" as a baby when we get to heaven.  Isn't that interesting?  So we talked about the timelessness of heaven and how Jesus doesn't have "time or ages".  Then she asked me how the Bible got to earth if it came from Heaven!  Another great question!  This gave me a chance to talk about the Holy Spirit speaking to people.   Ellie asked if there was candy in heaven! I told her I bet there is because Jesus has promised us a banquet table of all good stuff!  Ellie asked "even ice cream?" (Can you tell that she loves ice cream?)  Then Lia talked about Jesus getting the bread from his body and the wine from his blood!  Clearly she is listening and beginning to understand Communion.  So we had a great conversation about that.  Oh how I love that these kids are growing up to know all about Jesus and heaven and prayer and the Bible!  What a blessing this is to me.  And what sweet, sweet prayers these little one prayed tonight.   
Tonight I am a very blessed Grandma.  I love thinking about Jesus like a child.  I love thinking about heaven and the Holy Spirit and the Bible like a kid again. And I love that I can have so much fun just doing nothing but sitting on the couch watching the kids play.  What a great day.
I encourage you now to stop and think about things like Heaven and the Holy Spirit and how the Bible came to be.  Take a moment and step out of your "head knowledge" and let Jesus show you, in a deeper way, what it means to have the faith of a child.  Step back from everything that you know and let the Holy Spirit bring you to a fresh place of childlike understanding.  I think we all need to do this from time to time.  Jesus said the only way we could enter the Kingdom was as a little child!
Jesus, bless us as we sleep tonight!  Be with Gwen and Tim and all of the youth that they are with right now.  Be very present to them over the next couple of days.  Keep everyone safe and in your arms.  Bless Ken and give him a restful night also.  Bless us all with more childlike faith and understanding.  Thank you for my precious little ones!   Amen

Friday, October 11, 2013

The destroyed art project and my day today..

So, I mentioned in yesterday's blog that I had destroyed an art project.  Well, I have had several requests to find out more about this.  Actually, this is one of my very favorite stories to tell when I talk about using projects that are normally used for children, with adults.  So here goes............

On the first night of the retreat I had a poster board with a "puzzle" like design redrawn on it.  This was actually just a free hand sort of thing and you can create as many pieces as you need for the number of participants.  As each person arrived that night, they signed in on a section of that poster.  I also had three questions that they needed to answer. One thing that they wanted to get rid of on the weekend, one thing that they hoped to gain at the retreat and then one fact about themselves that no one at the retreat would already know.   This poster was used as our "icebreaker".  At the end of the evening I turned the poster over and put the poster out on the "art" table.  The next day we created a group "collage" on that poster board,  using all kind of media - markers, crayons, magazines, glue, pompoms, etc - that represented a bible verse that was our "key verse" for the day.  Everyone did there own thing and then we all worked together to make it one meaningful poster.  First of all, it is so much fun to see adults using all of these art supplies.  And then it was wonderful to see these women being creative.  As the afternoon session came to an end, I took a couple of minutes to recap what we had talked about during the day, as well as to take a closer look at the poster.  There were lots of Bible verses scattered over the poster and many, many very meaningful pictures.  Then I picked up a pair of scissors.  I turned the poster over and began to cut apart the poster along the "puzzle" lines from the night before.  Let me tell you this group of gals went nuts!  One of them actually grabbed the scissors out of my hands!  I got a lecture on destroying someone else's art work.  But I continued to cut apart that poster.  In the end, we each were left holding the piece that had our name and answers that we had written the night before.  And then, you turned over your piece to see what part of the collage you had received.  This was truly a God thing.  It seemed as if each person got some answer to one of their responses.  I remember that I had written what I hoped to gain - closer and deeper relationships and the part of the collage I received had a Bible verse about friendship and also the butterfly portion of a transformation part of the collage.  I carried that verse around in my Bible for a very long time.  Additionally, this was symbolic of us joining together for this weekend and then going our own ways.  And it was our reminder that while we were individuals, together we were a powerful prayer group.  So there you have it.  I've done this project with kids several times.  And they are never upset that I am cutting it apart.  They usually get excited and can't wait to see what is happening.  But I would urge caution if you try this with adults!
All that being said, I need to vent a bit about my day with children.  I had several things happen today, all revolved around the fact that these children were not telling the truth!  Now, I know that all kids go through stages where telling lies is quite common.  But this was just ridiculous!  The most frustrating thing to me was that these were SILLY things to lie about.  So, I guess my current press to be truth telling on this blog, has impacted my work life.  I have a zero tolerance on the lie scale.  But these kids just are not getting it.  I explained that I can not trust them now because I will never know if they are telling me the truth. And this brought me up short.  Isn't that just the most powerful thing?
I want to affirm to all of you reading this blog that I am committed to telling the truth.  I don't want you to ever question if something that I write is factual. You deserve the truth from me, and I know that Jesus wants the truth.  Jesus IS the truth!  He said of himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the father except through me".  Since I have been doing this blog, I have been asking the Holy Spirit to remind me of any untruth that is in me.  It is wonderful to know that even when something is revealed, Jesus has promised to remove this from me.   I am so thankful tonight for the covenant promise that Jesus not only forgives our sins, but he REMOVES them from us.  And with all of the compromise of the truth that is in our world today, I am glad that I am becoming so intolerant of the sin of lies. And I am also becoming more aware of the sin of "omission".  You know what I mean don't you?  The things that we don't say or do.  When we don't want to tell the truth so we don't say anything at all.  So, I will be listening to the Holy Spirit and continue to move toward total truth telling.  And I encourage you to be open to truth telling.  I love, love, love the image of the butterfly.  That butterfly represents total reformation and transformation. There is nothing left of that ugly caterpillar that was dragging itself through the dirt.   Instead, there is a free flying amazingly beautiful creature that captures your attention.  Yep, I am so thankful that Yahweh is in the business of transforming us into His image.  
Jesus, thank you for memories of fun and fellowship.  And Holy Spirit, thank you for continuing the transformation process in my life.  Jesus you are the truth and I am so grateful for your covenant promises.  What a joy and blessing to know that you care about me.  Amen