Saturday, May 31, 2014

How I spent my Saturday... "LESS STUFF MORE HOLY SPIRIT"

I suppose that there are many more important things that I could have been doing today, but instead, I spent the day scrapbooking!  I managed to get ALMOST all the way to the end of 2012.  Yes, I know that this almost 1.5 years behind.  Yes, that is a pretty bad situation.  Yes, I should be able to find more time to scrap.  But today I was thinking about the benefits of being a bit behind.  I just love looking at these photos.  The grand kids have grown up so much.  I believe that one of the biggest benefits of scrapbooking is really LOOKING at your pictures and remembering.  When I began my day, I showed Ken the stack of pictures that I had left to do for 2012.  It was about 2 inches thick! And that stack was just Christmas!  Ken very gently suggested that I consider "EDITING" the number of pictures that I used.  So I took his suggestion and looked at the pictures in a much different way, and managed to cut the number of pages significantly.  I still have about 10 pages to finish, but I have selected paper (one of the hardest parts of scrapbooking for me), and assigned pictures to pages.  So today was a success. 

Editing is quite a concept.  This has me thinking of other areas of my life that may need some editing.  I believe that it will help to EDIT what I pack for vacation!  No over packing for me!  I think I will edit my closet.  I know that there are quite a number of things that can go to Goodwill.  I have book shelves that could stand an editing.  Yes, the list goes on and on. 

And here's the thing.  Just like my scrapbook, when things are pared down a bit, it is so much easier!  There is less to deal with and then you have the BEST of all the stuff.  Life seems lighter when you have less to worry about.  Jesus never owned much when he walked the earth.  He traveled around and really didn't  have any possessions. But he was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  We could all take a cue from this.  Less stuff and more of  the Holy Spirit!  Yep, I think I will make that my daily reminder........."LESS STUFF AND MORE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT".  Thank sounds really good!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me what is really important.  Help me to go deeper into this message as I remember each day to edit not only the physical things in my life, but also how I spend my time.  Holy Spirit, MORE PLEASE!   Amen  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yes, it is "O-fish-ally" Summer!

Well, this is the bulletin board that I put up at work today!  The little three year olds each created their own fish.  This was quite a project that included, glue, scissors, paint, glitter and sparkles.  The kids had a great time.  They got to choose their fish and then also decide how to decorate it.  Yes, it is "O-FISH-ALLY SUMMER!".  And finally our weather agrees with this statement!  We had a couple of actually HOT days this week (in the high 80's). So thankful winter is finally over. 

Last night I could NOT SLEEP!  This is really unusual for me.  I tossed and turned for a couple of hours.  Ken came to bed and HE couldn't sleep.  He finally realized that it was very warm in the bedroom.  So he checked on the air conditioner.  Alas, it was not functioning.  Yes, on the first week of really warm weather, we find ourselves without air conditioning.  Now, to be fair, it is NOT 100 degrees.  But it is my prime allergy season.  By the time morning rolled around (and I had about 4 hours of sleep), my head was totally plugged.  Thankfully, Ken made all the calls and got somebody out here to fix our problem, by 4:00pm today.  Since our furnace and air conditioner are about 10ish years old, we feel blessed that it just needed some Freon and a good cleaning.  So, tonight I am breathing easier and feeling grateful for knowledgeable repair people who do their work quickly and well. 

As the repairman was working downstairs, I was thinking about the current seemingly constant message that every child has to go to college to be successful.   I can understand somewhat this statement.  However today I was considering where we would be without people to repair our furnace or air conditioner.  Or plumbers.  I mean who hasn't had one of those awful plumbing problems that needed professional help.  Or auto mechanics.  Or appliance repairman (thanks dad!).  Or how about garbage men!  Really, the list goes on and on.  I guess this is sort of a perspective issue.  If we only looked at "college" careers, our world would be sorely lacking.  I am sure that everyday, each of us interacts with at least 1 or 2 people that we would miss if they were not there to do that job.  Think about this (Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, etc)!  I am thankful for all the people who do these "non college education necessary" jobs.  Of course, then there is the fact that I never went to college.  And Ken never went to college.  And Doug never went to college.  There was a time when Doug was around three or four when he would say that he wanted to be a garbage truck man, or and ice cream truck driver, or an astrophysicists. And I would say, "As long as you are happy, I don't care what job you do!"  And I really meant it.   When Doug graduated from High School, I had many, many people give me the "speech" about how important college was.  How he would never make anything of himself if he didn't have a "career".  I am so thankful that Doug followed his heart and made the right choice for himself. 

And here is the most amazing thing about this.  Jesus has plans and purposes to use people in EVERY sphere of society.  Whether it is at Starbucks or as a doctor or teacher.  Jesus needs each person to do exactly what He has planned and purposed for them.  That is such a freeing thought.  It certainly helps me to relax and look at my job a little differently.  I am thankful that Jesus knows what is best for us, and he will use us wherever we end up. 

Jesus, thank you for the repairman who fixed my air conditioning.  And thank you for the reminder to be more appreciative towards all those we interact with each day.  Thank you for those wonderful little three year olds that I get to work with each day.  And Jesus, thank you for the change of season and the warm weather!  Amen

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memories of a long ago vacation....

So I spent a bit of time tonight making the final hotel reservations for our upcoming vacation.  I was thinking about some of the great vacations that Ken and I have taken.  And the photos above are one of my favorite memories.  This trip to Florida was in April 2006.  It was the first time that we had used these new kayaks.  These really amazing, inflatable kayaks each pack in their own "suitcase".  We drove to Florida on this trip, but on future trips, we checked these as luggage on our flights! (Of course this was before the checked bag charges!).  We are still using these same kayaks - yes that is 9 years later!  We have had some wonderful times and seen some amazing things from these kayaks! 

We just decided NOT to take our kayaks on this trip.  Part of the reason is that we are going into Canada and really don't want the hassle crossing the border.  Part of our vacation plan DOES include (weather permitting) a canoe trip down a river in Pennsylvania.  I have never been canoeing, so I am hoping that the river is neither too high or too low for us to enjoy this activity.  We may also get to go tube riding down the same river!  Another activity that I have always wanted to do.  Lets face it, lazy rivers at water parks are not the same as being in a tube on an actual river! 

I can't help but blog again (since I know I have most likely mentioned it a time or two) about my change of heart regarding these kayaks.  I was not very thrilled when Ken suggested that we try kayaking.  It just wasn't something I was really interested in doing.  We found a really inexpensive inflatable "double" kayak and tried that out.  It was miserable!  You could not steer it at all and it was very hard work to paddle.  So we ditched that and then found some cheap inflatable kayaks.  We used those most of 2005 and did have some great times on local rivers.  But we were constantly getting leaks and they didn't feel very safe.  Ken did the research and found these Advanced Elements kayaks on line.  I was not so sure that I really wanted to invest the money in these (boy was that silly!).  But Ken did a bit of arm twisting and I finally agreed.  We ordered them directly from the company in California.  We were a bit surprised when we found out that we had to license them, and then to find out that we had to pay "vehicle sales tax" before we could GET that license!  We have had hours and hours of adventure and fun, along with some good exercise and time outdoors, thanks to these kayaks. 

Here's the thought for the day.  How many really good things have we missed out on, simply because we did not let ourselves be pushed out of our comfort zone?  I've been thinking a lot about this in the last couple of weeks.  I for one, get very comfortable and then get lazy and don't really want things to change very much.  I'm always a bit wary of new things and new ideas.  This whole kayak thing is a reminder to me that I need to take those chances and try new things!  Even at my age! 

On Sunday night at a wonderful worship gathering, several people spoke encouraging prophetic words over me.  It was so good to sit and be bathed in the messages and let the Holy Spirit speak the words into my spirit.   It seems that this is a new season for me, and a time for stepping out and trying new things.  So I am thankful that the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of this kayak story.  It may be outside of my comfort zone, and it may make me feel a bit unsettled and wary, but I will be courageous and take a deep breath and step out into those new things that Jesus has ahead for me!  

Jesus, thank you that you use every part of our life to speak to us - even our vacations and even kayaks!  Thank you Holy Spirit for speaking through those wonderful people on Sunday evening and filling my spirit with your encouragement and love.  Help us all to be willing to be shaken and pressed to move into new things that may well be huge blessings for us.  Jesus thank you for Ken and his persistence to encourage me to try new things.  Amen

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

"Undiscovered Treasures" in our own backyard

On Sunday, Ken and I had a chance to visit the Volo Bog.  For those who might not be familiar with a bog, here is the Webster definition:  area of marshy ground: an area of wet marshy ground, largely consisting of accumulated decomposing plant material. It supports vegetation such as cranberries and moss and may ultimately turn into peat.   This is a simply amazing place, but I suggest that you make sure and wear  good shoes (it is a long, long walk to cover most of the blog) and also bring a hat and sunscreen!  There are these really interesting "floating" walkways that sway and move as you walk on them.  So, you feel as if you are going to sink into the bog as you walk along.  We saw so many really neat things, including two Sandhill Cranes that were walking slowly through the reeds. 
This kind of fuzzy picture is still really pretty cool!  The best part of this bog is that it is only about 5 minutes from Gwen's house!  So we can go back many, many times.  It was a really great reminder for me, that often there are many "undiscovered treasures" right in our own back yard.  I think that this really hit me with all the vacation planning I have been doing over the last week.  While it is so wonderful to travel and visit new places, we should not overlook the wonders in our own area.   I remember being so surprised when I found out that there are many people who live in the Chicago area that have never been to Brookfield Zoo, or the Museum of Science and Industry, or the Art Institute!  So Ken and I decided that we would visit all the different attractions in Chicago and make sure that our kids also got to experience them.  And Ken and I keep discovering new things! 

As we were walking out of the bog, I saw this old tree stump.
 It was really interesting.  Most of it had been just slowly dissolving, as the elements and the animals wore it away.  I stood there and imagined the very large tree that once stood in that spot.   There was something about the fact that nothing had been disturbed by human hands. With the light streaming through the trees, it was easy to look up and "see" in my minds eye, the tree that had been.  All that was left was this crumbling, broken hunk of tree stump. 

I've been thinking about this tree.  I love that even now, it is useful.  It provides potential homes for many various small animals and birds.  Additionally, it has become part of the ecosystem of the bog. Now, look at the forefront of the picture.  There are many new plants growing up around this stump.  I am sure that there is a new tree, that will soon stand in the place of that one.  A new tree, springing up from the roots of the old one. 

I love that picture!   It is such a great reminder that our family tree continues to grow and grow.  I remember my mom sadly realizing that she was the last of her generation on the family tree.  It was so easy to remind her that the tree had lots of new sprouts with her 9 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.  This made her smile and then laugh.  She told me that she would never have imagined that her family tree would be SOOOOOOO big!  

I love that Jesus planned families and generations.  And then there are examples all throughout nature that remind us that even as we lose those loved ones off of our family tree, everything that they are contributed to our family, continues on.  The prayers, the declarations, the vows, all of that continues.  The Bible says in Luke 1:50  "His (God's) mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.  What a great gift.  As I have blogged before, it is just further incentive to me and spurs me on to pray into my FUTURE generations.  I remember when I really began to understand that PRAYERS ARE ETERNAL!  It is such a powerful thing and one that each person had to grab.  God's time is not our time.  When we speak a word through a prayer or declaration, it is spoken into eternity.  If this seems beyond what you can grasp, just take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal this truth into your spirit. 

Jesus, thank you for using nature to speak truth into my spirit.  Thank you for revealing your amazing qualities to us when we ask.  Holy Spirit, remind us each day to see things from your ETERNAL perspective.   Give us all courage to ask for more revelation and give us the willingness to be still so that we can hear your answer.   Amen

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thanks on Memorial Day....

I just looked back at my Veterans Day post.  I mentioned in that blog that Ken's dad was a veteran. (along with my dad, my brothers, my brother-in-law, Ken's brother-in-law -  yes we are a family of men who served)  Mervin Thomas Rowley, Ken's father, served in World War II.  He was in college during the beginning of the war, but as 1944 rolled around, our country was looking for more young men (particularly college men) to serve.  Ken's mom and dad had been married in 1942 and his sister Sue was born in the fall of 1944, while Ken's dad was serving in the Pacific.  I know that I have mentioned my own mom, left at home with 2 small children.  But here is Ken's mom, having her first baby, with her husband gone in the war.  It does give you a very different perspective on their life. 

Today I am so grateful for all of the men and women who have faithfully served our country. And those serving today. 
In July of 2010 Ken and I vacationed in Washington DC.  It was my first trip to our Capital and I was awed.  Especially at Arlington Cemetery.  I personally think every American should take a trip to this historic landmark and walk among the rows and rows of white stones.  Seeing a picture is one thing, but actually looking at the names on the tombstones is overwhelming.  We saw far too many mementos laying on graves.  Baby shoes, pictures, necklaces, scarfs, coats.  It was so sad.  Yet I also felt the pride of being an American.  Our family was blessed to not lose anyone during their military service.  Many, many families lost loved ones.
Take a moment and just look at the picture above.  Arlington is just one of many Veteran's cemeteries around the country and in fact around the world.  Our freedom as citizens of the United States was not free.  It was won with a very precious cost - the life of many, many Americans.  There was a sacrifice for our freedom.
We are FREE Spiritually also!  Hallelujah!  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for ALL of us.   What a wonderful way to end this post about freedom.  Our penalty for sin has been paid. We do not get what we deserve!  All because of Jesus.  We don't have to do anything, but just accept this amazing gift. 
Thank you Jesus for this reminder today for all of us, of your great sacrifice!  Jesus,  guard and protect all the men and women who are serving our country today in Military Service.  Holy Spirit, give grace and courage to the family members and friends who are missing their fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters or friends.  Holy Spirit, give all of us compassion to come alongside of military families and stand with them.  Give us all courage and boldness to share the Good News of our Freedom in Jesus.   Thank you for Memorial Day.  Amen

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Discoveries on a walk by the river....

This afternoon Ken and I decided to take a walk (think photo shoot for Ken) along the Fox River near our home.  It was one of those truly beautiful days.  Pleasantly warm (in the 70's), blue skies, white puffy clouds, soft breezes.  A perfect day for a walk by the river.   I admit that I was not all that anxious to go on this walk.  I am on my feet most of every work day, and lately, on Saturday and Sunday all I want to do is lay and rest.  But, I agreed to go on this walk.  It was good to be out in nature.   As we started across a bridge over the river, we stopped to look down at this very interesting swirling water caused by the current around the pillars of the bridge.  Suddenly, Ken motioned me to stop and be quiet.  There, just a couple of feet from us, just under the railing on the bridge support, was this amazing little bird.   There were flocks of these birds (which we have not been able to identify) and they were "fishing" by skimming the water of the river.  They would swoop down and skim along, then suddenly soar up.  They have a really distinctive yellow chest and a long "V" shaped tail.   This little bird was very aware of us, but just sat there.  You could hear chorus of bird songs coming from under the bridge and it was clear that the birds were swooping down under the bridge.  They must have had nests on the rails of the bridge.  This little bird was a "nest watcher".  He or she was keeping track of all the activity going on as people passed over their home, walking or biking over that bridge. 

I love the picture of the quiet, patient waiting.  Just doing a very necessary job.  While everyone else was off eating and playing.  It reminded me of my post last night.  Contentment.  Isn't it wonderful how Jesus speaks to us in nature?  I love how he knew exactly what I needed to see, to be reminded of my lesson from yesterday.   Several times another bird would "stop by" and check on that bird.  At first we thought there might be something wrong with this guy because it was sitting so still.  But before long, off it flew to join in the swoop and skim.   And another bird took over the "nest watching duty".  Yes, I want to be that contented little bird, just doing it's job. 

A little further down the trail we came upon this old small lighthouse tower.  I saw this from quite a distance and thought it was just lovely.  As I got closer,  all I could see were the pattern of the cracks through out the entire structure. 
It's sort of amazing that this tower is still standing.  There are some very wide gaps in some of the cracks and it is clear that some cracks have already been repaired (see the white lines on the top half of the tower).  I love this picture!  It is such a great reminder of the beauty that exists in our problems, our scars, our defects.  I love that Jesus is in the process of closely examining us so that all of those "cracks" that appear as we walk through life, can be filled up and repaired, as He fills us up.  I know that there are plenty of times when I am thinking that people are not really seeing the real me.  They are only looking at the distant view.  I guess that I might look pretty okay from far away.  But if you were to get closer....really get to know me..... you would see lots and lots of cracks and scars.  And here's the thing.  I know that all those problems, just disappear because of Jesus living inside of me.  The best part is that Jesus doesn't see those cracks anymore either!  Because of his love, and his grace, covered with his blood, I am whole and secure.  I don't have to be afraid of falling apart.  I love that some of those scars are still a bit visible to other people.  Each of these little fissures are part of my testimony.  There is a road map of my life story told in those lines. 
Yes, I am very grateful for the walk this afternoon.  I will heed the reminder to be still and practice contentment as I do my job.  I will also be more willing to let my "scars" show a bit more, when people get close to me.  It is a good reminder to be willing to share my testimony...with those who might notice the telltale signs of a repair job in my life. 
Jesus, thank you for the wonders of nature.  Holy Spirit, thank you for this blog.  Just thinking about my day and sharing my life has allowed me to learn so much!  Thank you!  What a great gift it is to see and understand more deeply, all that you are doing in me.   Jesus, bless all who read this blog and encourage them to be willing to see and share their own scars.  Holy Spirit, give me the opportunity to share all that Jesus has done for me.   Amen

Friday, May 23, 2014

When you discover that an old adage is true....and seeking contentment!

This has been quite a week.  First of all, Ken's passport arrived so we will be taking that vacation to celebrate our 40th Anniversary!  The bad news is that our travel dates are just 2 weeks away and we are finding that many of the hotels are booked!  I'm sure that it will work out and we will be quite happy with wherever we end up staying, but it is much more stressful than I would like.  Alas, I am a planner and a list maker and there is no time to plan OR make lists!  Yes, it will be a trip that is much more "fly by the seat of our pants" than usual.  But a vacation is a vacation and I can't wait!

I don't normally share much from Ken's life, but I can't let this pass without some acknowledgment and comments.

I've mentioned that Ken has a job that is really almost his "dream" job.  For the last 11 years, he has been doing this dream job and we still don't know how he got hired for this job!  He loves to tell people that he "breaks pencils" when he is asked about his career.  In fact, breaking pencils is part of his job!  He spends his days doing mechanical tests on products for Papermate and Sharpie.  I am sure that most of you did not know that you missed it.......but last Wednesday was "World Metrology Day".   To quote Webster's - "Metrology is the science of measurement."  Ken is in his element when he talks about Metrology!  He prepared a big presentation with videos, demos and discussions and it was presented on Wednesday to celebrate World Metrology Day.  Now this is the kind of thing that could have come and gone, without much comment.  So it was quite a surprise for Ken to find out that he had been given a very special award and recognition throughout his entire company!  And this is not a small company!  This is Newell Rubbermaid!  (Rubbermaid, Papermate, Sharpie, Graco, Calphalon plus about 20 other brands).  Seriously, I am sure that almost everyone has some Newell Rubbermaid product in their home!  This is a big deal.  And I am very proud of Ken.  But, here's the thing, Ken just acts like this is no big deal! 

I can't help but stop and think about the old adage that "you marry your father".   My dad never really got honored by his company, although he worked at Montgomery Wards for 43 years.  I remember very clearly, hearing his boss say that the training program for service repairmen that my dad developed had "revolutionized their service departments".  But the thing was, it just didn't matter to my dad.  He just loved doing his job!  He spent hours and hours showing young guys how to fix appliances.  He was so happy in his "work pants", down on the floor, with his head inside some appliance. And even better for him, was teaching someone else how to do what he loved!    Ken just loves this "science of measurement".  He loves planning and doing the tests.  He loves the analysis of the data.  He loves working with all of the engineers.  And loves talking about metrology.  But being honored simply doesn't matter to him.  Neither Ken or my dad went to college yet they are two of the most intelligent people I have ever known.  And they were just happy to be doing their jobs. Contentment.

Boy, what a lesson.  Just being content with where you are and what you are doing. And not looking for any recognition.  Happy and content.   I know that I don't succeed in this.   I have lots to learn.  What a blessing it is get a renewed perspective on this very important character quality.  I know that in the coming weeks I will be thinking about contentment.   The Bible has a lot to say about contentment.  And I know that being satisfied and joyful are not only the definition of contentment but also the RESULT of contentment.   What a wonderful reminder, contained in an unexpected surprising award.  Congratulations to Ken!

Jesus, thank you so much for Ken.  You knew exactly what I needed in a husband when you brought us together.  Thank you for the reminder that contentment is the path to joy and satisfaction in our life.  Holy Spirit, help me to breath and heed this reminder, when there are tense moments in my life.  Jesus you are the source of contentment!  Amen

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Looking for the bad guy....

This was an interesting couple of weeks at work.  Our theme was "Fairy Tales" and we read so many stories that our little three year olds had never heard before!  It was really fun to hear and see these familiar tales through new eyes.  Yesterday and today I helped our little ones create their own "house of sticks" and then add the three little pigs!  Anytime they get to paint with glue and then use a glue stick is a good day in our class.   As I was chatting with each child as they created their house of sticks, we recounted the story.  Several of them also wanted to tell me all of the stories we had focused on, with the favorites being Little Red Riding Hood and Jack in the Beanstalk.  The interesting thing about this art project was that as soon as we added the three little pigs to this paper, EVERY  SINGLE kid wanted to know where the big bad wolf was!   Since we made a wolf last week, we did not include one on this project.  I couldn't believe that they all were looking for the wolf. 

This afternoon I was thinking about this.  Isn't it just like so many times when we are looking for the "bad guy" in whatever situation we are in?  Of imaging all the very bad things that we are sure are just around the corner?  There is a message here!  At first I thought it was a BAD thing that the kids wanted the wolf in the picture.   But then I realized that the story of the three little pigs, isn't a very good story without the wolf.  If you think about it, all it would be is a story of three brothers who couldn't agree on how to build a house.  And the unfortunate thing is that they would all most likely have a similar outcome with or without the wolf.  The house of straw wouldn't last, nor would the house of sticks. Only the house of bricks would last.  This reminded me of one of favorite Christian kids songs The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock taken from Matthew 7:24-27.  These verses contain Jesus' directions to be sure and build your house on the Rock, with a firm foundation rather than on sand.  The message of this story is much deeper than the 3 little pigs.   Jesus was talking about having HIM as the foundation of our life.  And then when we face storms in our life, or the very real attacks of the ever present "big bad wolf" - Satan- we will not be shaken.  We are safe and secure on the solid foundation with Jesus as our Saviour. 

I am so glad that my little ones helped me remember a couple of really important truths today.
1.  There is a "Big Bad Wolf" in our story  2.  It's good to build a BRICK house (Or really a house on THE Rock!)  3.  It's also good to stick together!  I just love when the day to day stuff in my life brings me to new revelation and understanding.   I had never really thought about how important my foundation was when those attacks of the enemy occur.  It's good to consider isn't it? 

Jesus, thank you so much for the words you spoke reminding us to build our house on the rock.  Holy Spirit, it is your prompting and reminders that bring me deeper into truth.  Thank you for these little children that open my eyes and keep me on my toes.  Bless us all as we seek to go deeper into your truths, Jesus.   Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Those important little things.....

This picture is one of my very all time favorite pictures.  There is an entire series of multiple blog posts about this picture, but for tonight, lets just say, "It is the little things that are so important"!   You see, this picture was taken at a point when Gwen and I were entering into a new season.  She was moving out of the house and going away to college.  It was a scary and uncertain time for both of us.  At the last minute, (literally the week before her classes were to begin) it was determined that she needed to live on campus.  So, suddenly, she was going to be gone.  I can tell you that I wasn't really ready for this change. To just add to the unsettled time, I was starting a new full time job, after working part time for the previous 7 years.  I love this picture because it reminds me of this special time that Gwen and I had together before all these changes.  The very important little thing about this was WHERE this picture was taken.  It was truly a "God thing" that we ended up, on a mission trip, to Bemidji Minnesota and Lake Itasca.  This was my mom's childhood home and a very special place for her.  I thought about this connection so very often.  It was as if I was just beginning to understand that "shift" taking place in the generational tree. 

On Monday, when I was at Gwen's house, we were talking about a wonderful special little thing.  Gwen and Tim moved to a new home about a year ago.  It was very difficult for them to leave their first home and all the memories that were made in that house.  One of the hardest things for Gwen, was leaving the beautiful Lilac bush near their front door.  They had also planted some very special tulips around their mailbox.  Gwen loves tulips!   When they moved into their current home, it was June and it was hot.  I do remember Gwen calling me, very excited to tell me there were rose bushes near their back deck.  What a great surprise!  But the REALLY special thing happened this spring.  First, we noticed that there were daffodils popping up in the front landscape.  Then, there were the tulips.  Lots of them.  It made me smile to see how Jesus was providing a very important little thing for Gwen.  This week, the bush by their front door broke out in wonderful blooms!  Its a lilac bush!  Amazing!  Right by the front door.  It was certainly another evidence of just how caring and loving Jesus is toward us.  Now Gwen would tell you that a lilac bush was not a big thing.  There are so many really BIG things about this new house that are such a blessing.  But I could tell that Jesus had seen a special place in Gwen's heart that would have really missed that Lilac bush.  So, there it was.  Just outside the door.  

I love that we all can be assured that Jesus is looking out for us.  He knows us and he knows exactly what we need.  Whether it is a really BIG thing or something that seems so small.  There is so much comfort in this!   I love that I was reminded of this picture after talking about the Lilacs!  The best thing about this picture, is looking back, I can really see that NOTHING changed for Gwen and I.  We stayed close during her college years.  And, as you can tell by these blogs, we are still very close.   I am so blessed by Gwen!  I had a wonderful relationship with my mom and I am thankful for exactly where I am today.  Somehow it makes it so much easier to look ahead and see the changes that will be coming.  They don't seem so big or scary after this. 

Jesus, thank you for tulips and lilacs and special times together with those we love.  Thank you for all the ways that you care for us and show us your love.  Holy Spirit, help us all to see and appreciate the many, many little things in our life.   Thank you for family and flowers and fun.  Amen

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Celebrating another anniversary....One year of this Blog!

Yes, today is actually my 40th Wedding Anniversary. (See yesterdays Blog)  It is also the 1st Anniversary of this Blog!
This really doesn't seem possible!  I can't believe that I have somehow managed to put words on the page for a full year.  Quite honestly (and remember I promised honesty when I started this blog), I really didn't know how long I would be doing this blog.  But I can assure you that I have no plans to stop writing.   And here's why. I have been so blessed by the readers of this blog.  The wonderful comments, the numbers who faithfully read every blog, and the ones who send me a message and ask why I haven't blogged for a few days.  I have mentioned a couple of times some of the stats on this blog, but in honor of the anniversary, here are few more. 
*TOTAL BLOG READS...........14,997 (Yes, almost 15,000) This just amazes me.  I know some really big and important blogs have over a million hits, but I just never expected this many reads.
*TOP 10 AUDIENCE COUNTRIES.........US, Sweden, Russia, Indonesia, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Kenya, Netherlands, Serbia.    I just can't wrap my head around this.  And the truth is that my blog has been read in 44 Countries!   Now this is not about me.  I know that.  I am just so amazed that somehow, people in these other countries, find my blog.  The only explanation is that the Holy Spirit draws exactly the right people to my blog.  I am shocked at how many of these people choose to "follow" my blog and get email notification when I post.   Really???  They care about my ramblings and my family and the odd things that happen in my life?  They want to hear what Jesus has been speaking to me?????  Frankly, I am just dumbstruck at this.   I might have said this before but isn't it amazing that I have managed to "speak" to people in 44 countries.....all over the world? Without ever leaving my bedroom in Illinois?  I just love that we are so blessed to be living in the age of the Internet.  And I love that Jesus has given me a way to fulfill, in a small way, my destiny to "Go to the Nations". 
*MOST READ BLOG "What I learned in Vacation Bible School" from July 13, 2013.  I don't know what key word, or exactly what is in that post, but almost every week, there is a new hit on that page.  In close second is "Celebrating an amazing life" from February 10, 2014.  This blog was to honor a dear friend from Kenya who passed away. This was just about me sharing my emotions on that day.  But it somehow touched people 1/2 a world away.  I am so blessed by these dear people. 
*MOST USED BROWSER TO ACCESS BLOG.....Firefox.  I was surprised at this stat.  I assumed it would be Safari or Internet Explorer.  And the list contains names I can't even pronounce.  Interesting! 
For me, I have really learned how much my present has been influenced by my ancestors.  I have learned how much my life is exactly what Jesus has planned.  I am who I am because of the prayers and the actions of my great -great grandparents.  And this has caused me to look forward to the future.  It doesn't seem silly or ridiculous anymore to pray for each of the future spouses for my grandchildren.  I am so blessed with a new understanding of the power of prayer.  Not just in the here and now, but the eternal purpose of prayers spoken in faith.  
This blog has been life giving for me.  I have learned so much  about my parents, my siblings, my grandparents and great-grandparents.  This might seem silly, but by writing down stories and memories, I suddenly saw and understood things that I had never really SEEN before.  What a gift!
Thank you for reading.  Thank you for commenting.  Thank you for being such a blessing to me. 
Jesus, bless each person who takes the time to read this blog.  Holy Spirit thank you for directing me to write exactly what you wanted.  Bless us all as we learn and grow each day.  Help us all to hold on to the truths you bring to light.  Thank you for prompting me to write this blog. And thank you for Gwen and her strong encouragement to me to write this Blog.  Amen

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Can't believe it has been 40 years....

These are my three favorite pictures from our wedding on May 18, 1974.  Yes, that's right, 40 years ago.  Where did the time go????  I was 19 (going to be 20 in 3 months) and Ken was just 22.  I really didn't care much about the wedding.  I was not one of those girls who had been planning my wedding for years and years.  In fact, I really hadn't thought much about it.  Our family did not have "BIG" weddings with sit down dinners.  As a matter of fact, I had never been to any wedding with a formal "reception".  So it seemed quite normal to plan a simple cake and punch reception at the church.  However, everyone in Illinois seemed to think it was very odd.   I could not imagine spending so much money on a wedding.  Yes, it was 1974, but it was still very unusual to order your wedding dress out of a "bargain list" from Montgomery Ward catalogue.  I thought nothing of this.  It looked like something I might like, it was on sale for $19 and it came in my size.  So I ordered it.  When it arrived, I loved it.  I never had a single alteration.  It was as if it was made for me.   I love daisies and planned to have them as my flowers.  And this dress had daisy trim all over.  I truly believe that this dress was not an accident.  My mom and I made candy and cookies for the reception.  We made mints and other small finger foods.   The church was the most important part for me.  For several months I had been attending a church several towns away.  I was not happy at the church my mom and dad were attending.  As a matter of fact, one of the first "adult" decisions I ever made was to go to a different church than my parents.  I loved the pastor.  He had been a campus pastor and it showed in the way that he related to both me and Ken.  It was a good decision.   On the day of our wedding it was foggy,  rainy and cold. Not the weather you expect in May.  Not much different than our weather this past week.  As we were all getting ready to go to the church, it became clear that there was no room in any car for me! So I ended up driving my own car (with my wedding dress beside me) to the church!  We never quite lived down the fact that the church roof leaked on the "Grooms" side of the church (and all over his relatives).  But just as our ceremony ended, the sun came out and it was a beautiful late afternoon. 

Today I was thinking about the last 40 years.  We certainly have had some "foggy" times in our marriage.  We have had our share of storms and rain and even some "out of season" times.  But I can truly say that the last years have been some of the "sunniest" and "warmest" years of our 40!  There is a lot to be said for having the very hard and very time consuming job of raising children over and done!  And now there is time and finances to travel.  We have discovered some interesting new hobbies in the last years (kayaking, biking, photography, scrapbooking).  On our 25th anniversary we took our first ever "alone" vacation to Florida.   That certainly was the beginning of some wonderful trips exploring every part of Florida.  Yes, the last years have really been quite good ones!  And now we are starting to think a bit about retirement and what those years might look like.  And while we can't quite agree - YET - I am sure that we will find new adventures ahead.  

I have a very bad habit.  At times, when I am reading a book, especially a very long book, I sneak a peak at the last chapter.  And sometimes I even read magazines from the back to the front.  Really!  Haven't you noticed that there is always a bunch of ads and meaningless stuff in the first 1/4 or so of most magazines.  The good stuff is always in the last half!  But today, I am really thankful that I can't jump ahead and find out what is coming ahead for Ken and I.  It seems to be going by so fast!  Actually, there are times I would just like time to slow down a bit.  I love exactly where we are right now!  We have two wonderful grown up children, both happily married.  We have four amazing grandchildren (and one more expected this year!)  Both Ken and I are happy to be working and yet also happy to know that there is an end in sight to our working!  Yep, life is pretty good right now!

Jesus, thank you so much for Ken and all that you have provided in the last 40 years.  Holy Spirit, thank you for guiding and directing us through every season and whatever came along.  Jesus, thank you for your plan and purpose for us that is still being revealed.  You are an amazing, loving God who planned for families.  Tonight I am so grateful for my family.   Amen

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Zeke and why I am planning more Bible reading!

Today is a Happy Birthday to my sweet little Zeke!  He is three years old today!  I love this picture of him, with his Thomas the Tank Engine shirt.  This little guy is crazy for trains.  If you are driving in the car with him, and he sees railroad tracks, he demands that you find the train!  He doesn't get the fact that you can't just make trains appear.  And it is a very good day for Zeke if you happen to have more than one train pass by on the way to school.   It is no surprise that his Birthday Party on Saturday will feature a "Thomas" theme.  Zeke's birth was a special day for us. My mom died in April of 2011 and on May 15, 2011, what would have been my mom's 96th birthday, Zeke was born.  Both Gwen and I feel that this connection to my mom is very special.  Zeke will always share a birthday with his Great Grandma Nona.  Even if he never got to meet her, she will always be a part of his life.  Lia and Ellie will help him know all about her.   Just this week, Ellie told me that they had been looking at "Great Grandma Nona's book" (A special scrapbook that Gwen made for the kids) with their babysitter.   Zeke has a smile that will melt your heart.  There is something so deep and endearing about him.  Everyone loves Zeke.  He is a BIG boy for his age, but so gentle and caring.  Several of the little girls in his preschool class claim him as their boy friend.   I can't wait to see what is ahead for this boy! 

On another exciting front, I received my new (renewed) passport today in the mail!  I have blogged about the very discouraging process (which, by the way, was 6 weeks ago) and the "average" time to receive your renewal is 3 to 4 weeks.  So, I am not sure WHY it has taken so long.  I am just very grateful to now have my passport.  HOWEVER, it will not do me any good if Ken's doesn't arrive in the next few days!  Our vacation is planned for a couple of weeks from now, and our plans will need to change it his doesn't arrive!   So, prayers appreciated for the arrival of Ken's passport!

Okay, moving on...............   This week Gwen and I have been talking about some really interesting Biblical things.  Specifically Nephilim.  Now I happened to mention something about Genesis 6, in passing, and Gwen thought I was kidding!  I was surprised that she had never heard of the Nephilim. And quite honestly, it DOES sound a bit like something that would not be in the Bible.  While the topic is interesting, the reason I am mentioning it in this blog, is the effect this discussion had!   Isn't it just like the Holy Spirit to use something as simple as a passing comment to spark a week of discussions?  I have had a couple of conversations about this. And Gwen talked to her Bible Study group about it.  And here it is, showing up in my blog.   For me, the entire topic of the Nephilim just affirms that nothing is outside of God's sphere.  It also reminds me that there is a whole lot in the Bible that is easy to overlook.  What a great reminder that we should all be spending more time in the Bible.  Just reading the Bible really isn't enough.  As Gwen told me, she has read Genesis 6 many, many times.  But somehow she just missed the Nephilim.  I am so thankful that we can trust that the Holy Spirit will help us to see and understand Scripture - even if it is long after we actually have read it.   And the good news is that we can ask the Holy Spirit to bring clarity to us, as we spend time reading the Bible.   What a great reminder.  

Jesus, thank you for Zeke and the wonder and joy that a three year brings to every day!  Thank you for reminding me of my mom and the chance to celebrate her life.  Holy Spirit, thank you for using a passing comment to fuel a weeks worth of interesting discussions.  Thank you, even more, for  reminding me to read and study the Bible.  Jesus, thank you for Gwen and wonderful discussions.  Amen

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thought for the day..."What is a church?"

After the last couple of weeks attending various events, (none of which were actually held in a "church" building)  I have been considering...... "What is a church?"  The last 14 or so days have been filled with some of the most wonderful worship times and incredible teachings.  And then there is that incredible experience of the presence of Jesus.  Now I am not saying that you CAN'T have all of this IN a traditional church.  What struck me was that you CAN have all of this without the building.  

These two pictures are 10 years old.  I took them in Kenya and Uganda in 2004.  As you can see, while there were "buildings", these buildings were not exactly what we think of a "church". As a matter of fact, there were several services that were entirely outside, with NO building.   But I can assure you, there was worship and teaching and the presence of Jesus.   In the last couple of weeks, I have been at "church" in a basement meeting room of a large conference center, in a large ballroom of a conference center, and in a living room of a home. 
In each of these events, the common denominator between all of the people in attendance was the cross.  It did not matter what denomination you were.  How or when you baptize, or what you think about the book of Revelation.  All that matters is the cross of Jesus.  It is so good to be in a place of unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ. 

I know that this is not a new thought.  Lots of people have contemplated this, talked about it, spoken about this, wrote about this.   That is why I almost didn't share this thought today.   But, you see, I have been so blessed in these very non "church" church services.  And I believe that part of the reason is because these events happened.........outside of the ordinary.  

So I am thankful tonight that my definition of "Church" does not include a building.  It includes people.  Lots of wonderful, loving people.  Some of the people don't really know me at all.  To some I am just a face in a crowd.  To others, I am known.  With all of my faults and troubles and prayer needs.  AND with all of my gifts.  When I sit with these people, and share a meal with them, or worship with them, learn and grow with them, I am loved.  I feel that love of Jesus flowing through them into me.  And it is awesome!  

My encouragement to you tonight is to consider expanding your idea of church.  Think "outside of the box" (or the walls).  Find an event that is different than anything you might have previously considered attending.  Look for a meeting or conference or group in your area that includes people from many different churches.  Or better yet, form one of your own.  My home group is a life saver for me.  I know that I can count on their prayers.  And these meetings and conferences are life giving for me.  Take a risk.  Step out of your normal routine.  Go and be blessed.

Jesus, thank you so much for reminding me that YOU are the only thing that matters.   Holy Spirit, give us all courage and boldness to go outside of our "normal".  Help us to seek and find those places where you are.  Draw us to those like-minded people, with whom we can share and grow.  Keep us open and free to learn and grow!   Amen

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thinking about being a mom.....and more from last week!

I chose this picture today (of my mom with Doug and Gwen at Gwen's high school graduation), because it represents a bit of what "MOM" means to me.   I love this picture!  Please stay with me and read to the end, and you see how this picture fits!

I promised to share a bit more about last Sunday evening.  And, as it turns out, things from my Friday and Saturday evenings as well!  You know when you hear something and it just resonates in your spirit?  Well a couple of weeks ago, Gwen and I were talking about an upcoming event, when she was to be speaking to the youth at her church.  The topic was the time following the resurrection and Jesus' appearances to the disciples.   Gwen had chosen to speak on this topic last year when the leaders were planning the years event.  So, even though it was her birthday, she shared her heart on this topic.  She spoke on 5 things we can learn about Jesus through these stories and 5 things we can learn about ourselves.  If you want to hear her entire message just click here The Lost 40 (part 2).   That Jesus loves to eat is on her list! Last Sunday evening, I was at the HUB meeting.  I have shared a couple of blogs about this meeting.  One of the topics discussed was that heaven will be a celebration and Jesus likes to eat! (This is the same message that Gwen spoke!).  Then on Friday evening, I was at another HUB meeting with Mahesh Chavda and he spoke the exact same message!  We sang a song about a "Holy Ghost party" that included that heaven is a party and we celebrate!  Then yesterday there was an Elijah list post Al Thomas: Life with Jesus is a feast.  So it would seem that this is the "NOW" word!  What a blessing that many people are hearing the same message from Jesus and sharing it with us all.

I love that I can learn from my kids.  And hear the voice of the Lord through their thoughts and words.  My mom always told me that it blessed her so much to hear me share my thoughts and ideas and she told me how much she had learned from me.  I know that most times we focus on what we are teaching our children.  Today, for me, I am focusing on what my children are teaching me!  So here goes.....

1.  Do what your heart says, not what the world says.  Gwen has advanced degrees in music and could be teaching or performing, but her heart says, teach preschool.  She loves those kids and they love her.  She is a great teacher.  Doug made a choice not to attend college.  His heart told him that he did not want to sit in an office all day.  Today he has a great job doing exactly what he loves.  And it does not involve sitting at a desk!

2.  Breath the fresh air outside.  All Gwen wanted from her family on her birthday, was a quiet hike by a lake.  That was refreshment for her.  Doug and Susie spend more time camping and outdoors than anyone I know.  Doug often goes fishing on Fridays (Note: his ideal job is 4 days a week! Isn't he blessed?).  Don't really know how this happened, but my kids love nature. 

3.  Make it a priority to stick together.  I love that our kids want to be together.  They MAKE time for family and pay attention to each other.  It is so easy to drift apart.  To not stay close.  Don't let busyness, friends and other commitments come between you.  Hold fast to family.

4.  Be givers of yourself.  My kids are always doing for others.   They are serving in their churches, they are helping out friends, they are making meals for someone,  they are fixing someone's attic, they are climbing on a roof,   really the list could go on and on.  I have stepped back and thought about where I was at their particular stage of life, and I know I wasn't this willing to give.  I love that my grandchildren (and future grandchildren) will be raised in a culture of others first! 

5.  Prayer matters.  If I ever have a prayer need, I know that I can count on my kids to be praying.  And the best thing is that they have surrounded themselves with other people who also pray!  Again, I was much older before I understood how important a tight group of friends can be.   I am so thankful for the people in my kids lives! 

I know that there is much more that I could add to this list.  But I will stop here.  I need to reflect, myself, on each of these things, in the weeks ahead.  I am so blessed to be mom to these amazing kids.   I am missing my mom today.  And I am sure that there are many others in my shoes.  But then I just remember that Jesus loves to eat and there is a banquet table filled with food and a BIG Holy Ghost party going on in heaven.  And mom is there with her mom and her sisters and my sister Karen.  And they are having a wonderful time with Jesus!

Jesus, thank you for my mom and my children.   Holy Spirit, you are speaking to us through many prophetic voices.  Help us to listen carefully and prayerfully for your voice in their words.  Thank you for confirmations and affirmations.  Jesus thank you for leaving us evidence of your love of eating!  Thank you for that celebration going on in heaven.   Amen

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mothers Day....

Yesterday, I had one of those odd experiences when a memory just hits you at the most surprising time.  I was wandering the aisles of Walgreens, trying to kill some time before a meeting, and then this memory the candy aisle....a bag of "Bridge Mix.  My mom loved "Bridge Mix" and would often put a bag in the grocery cart.  It was her one little indulgence when I was young.   She loved all of it, but I remember that she liked the dark chocolate pieces, especially.   Yes, my mom loved chocolate.  Right next to the bag of "Bridge Mix" was the chocolate covered raisins.  Another thing that she loved.   Quite honestly, I don't even know what is in "Bridge Mix"!  I found this description on line... A variety of raisins, peanuts, and almonds covered in milk and dark chocolate as well as milk chocolate pecans and cashews make up this chocolate bridge mix. An excellent addition to any party or gathering! As a matter of fact, bridge mix got it's name from the mix that high society ladies would eat while playing bridge!   Since my mom did play Bridge, I guess that's where she first tasted this candy.   Today as I was thinking about this memory of mom, I realized that I don't think my dad ever gave her a box of really good chocolate.  In her later years, her grandchildren often sent her boxes of candy (which she loved getting!).   Given that it is Mothers Day week and also next week was my Mom's birthday, it is not surprising that I am thinking about her.  Ah, Mothers Day! 

My kids call Mothers Day a "Hallmark Holiday".  They feel the same way about Fathers Day.  It is really not that important in our house.   My mom really loved the holiday, but it was unfortunate that her birthday (May 15th) always fell around Mothers Day.  So she often got "combined" recognition.  I always tried to mail that Mothers Day card a week or so earlier than her birthday.  That way she got to enjoy both special occasions.   It's really funny that it honestly doesn't bother me that we don't make a big deal out of this day.  BUT I do wish that I could still have my mom around to honor her.   Isn't that something?  I guess I am always the daughter on Mothers Day. 

This week I helped a bunch (26) of three year olds make a present for their mommies.  First I created these salt dough hearts. 
 The kids painted these and then we added their thumb prints in the middle of the heart.  And a magnet on the back.  For a card we created these yarn wrapped tulips and wrote "Happy Mothers Day" on the stick.
They were all so excited to give these packages to their moms!  You could feel the joy and the delight in each of them as they passed on the present to their moms.  It made the week very enjoyable. 
I know that I promised more from Sunday, and I really do have more to share.  I just don't know exactly when that will be!   Today, this is what was in my spirit to share.   It feels a bit like a prelim to Mothers Day.  I don't always know WHY things show up on this blog.  I am just trying to be true to the original intent of this blog..... honesty.   Today, I just felt that I needed to share about my mom and Mothers Day.   And the joy of working with preschoolers who love their mommy with all their heart. 
Isn't it interesting how Jesus uses little things to bring us to exactly what we need?  I love that I got to really think about my mom today, and this little thing about who she was.  And I am so glad that even though it was a busy week, I loved helping these kids make something for their moms and hoping that she will love it.  
Jesus, thank you for helping us honor and remember our mothers.  Holy Spirit,  remind us to take time to remember all that you have given us in our families.  Thank you for the joy and delight of little children.  Jesus, help us to all be as little children.   Thank you for the grace to write what is on my heart.  Give me courage to continue to share what you have shown to me.   Jesus, thank you for mothers!   Amen

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

More about Sunday night....and Charlie Shamp

I lifted this picture of Charlie Shamp and his wife from their web page.   I talked a bit about my Sunday night at HUB ministries and the way that I experienced some personal revelation during the worship time.  And it became a rather long post.  After looking at the post, I realized that I didn't say anything about the main speaker!  If you have gone to his web site off  from the link on yesterday's blog, you will see some amazing testimony about Sunday's meeting.  Among other things, a man's eye was healed, several people experienced healing of their backs, someone's elbow was healed, and several people experienced supernatural weight loss!   I sure wish I had been blessed with that weight loss, but alas, it was not a part of the plan for me. 

While trying to decide exactly what to write about the meeting, I decided that I would just do some bullet points that have really stuck with me.

1.  The first most important point is that this was not a "typical" healing service (if there is any healing service that is typical!).  I told someone today that Charlie said over and over that this whole thing was not about him.  That when the glory came into a room, that glory was God.  And God was the one performing the miracles.  I had never thought about glory in quite this way before.  Many of the healings just happened as people were sitting in their seat.  While Charlie did pray for some people, the feeling in the room was electric.  It was clear that anything could happen!

2.  There was one point when Charlie was talking about the atom.  And the smallest part of any atom was LIGHT.  He talked about creation.  First there was God and then he created.  And the waters covered the earth.  Charlie said, "think about this, the Spirit of God hovered over those waters and then he said "Let US make man in our IMAGE!"  Charlie said...imagine God saw his own reflection in that water, and then he created.  Isn't that a simply powerful message?  I know that I will be meditating on this for some time, and I am sure that there is much I will learn.

3.  Charlie spoke a great deal about the glory cloud (see number 1).  He spook about natural precipitation and the clouds being full of water.  yet it doesn't rain until there is pressure on the cloud. Charlie said that Jesus hovers just like those clouds, waiting for our action.  Charlie said that our praise and desire for the glory is the pressure that causes that glory to rain down on you when.  He also said that one person in the room can get that glory rain, or the entire room can be rained on.  Let me tell you that it was raining in that room on Sunday night!  Isn't it interesting to compare the natural rain to spiritual rain?  I loved this.  I know that every time I am in the rain, I will think about this.

4.  There was gold dust everywhere.   I have experienced this a couple of times before.   It was on my hands and arms and on my face.  People on the other side of the room seemed to be more covered than the side I was on.  But I felt the silky smoothness of that gold dust on my face, even when I was on my way home.   I don't have much more to say about this, except it was amazing.  And I can tell you, my skin still feels really soft.  

Okay............. enough for one blog.  There is still more.   So, once again, I encourage you to come back and hear some more about this wonderful time with Jesus! 

Jesus, thank you for revealing yourself in such amazing ways to us when we gather and seek your face.   How amazing it is to know that you love us so much that you bless us with these amazing evidences of your presence.  Continue to speak revelation to each of us.  Bless Charlie Shamp, his family and his ministry.  Pour out your provision and your favor on them.   Thank you again, for HUB and Nancy.  Amen

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bit about my Sunday.......... and a teaser for a couple of future blogs!

First of all, Happy Birthday (Yesterday) to my sweet Gwen!  I love the look on her face in this picture.  She was not so happy about that cake.  Another interesting thing is that the table and hutch shown in this picture, are now residing in Gwen's house!  Even after all these years....(Sorry Gwen, but you are 35 years old! Sigh...) As a mom you can't help but remember and think about the day your babies are born.  While I didn't get to spend the day with Gwen, we were together on Saturday and have lots of family time planned in the month of May. 

So, after a day of usual Sunday things like shopping and laundry, I decided to go to the HUB meeting.  I had seen an email about the guest speaker, but his name was not familiar to me.  I know from past experience that it simply doesn't matter!  These meetings are always so worth it!  First, the worship is always amazing.  It is a time and place to be in the presence of the Lord and rest.  It is also a place to receive.  The guest speaker was Charlie Shamp.  (Click on his name for information and to watch some incredible videos!)  On the Home page there is a note about last nights meeting.  Frankly, I have so much to share, I don't really know where to begin....

The worship was............heavenly.  The minute I walked in, I felt that there was a message that I would hear.  And I was not disappointed.  It started in the worship...

The first prophetic worship song included these words...........
I sit at your feet, I lean back and drink from your cup, I hear your heartbeat, I melt in your peace
Your love is so deep, more than I can stand, its overwhelming.

I will talk a bit more about this song in a later blog, but for now, lets just say I was transported to that place during this song.  Sitting at the feet of Jesus, leaning into him.  WOW!  And then the worship team moved on.

The next worship song began.... This is an "Upside Down Kingdom".  The world is moving fast and you are right on time.   And then in the middle of the set, the line that stopped me and I knew it was an answer to a question I had been asking.....  "You haven't missed your chance".    Yes, this sent an arrow right into my spirit.   The next line I heard (sometime later) was "Let your living waters flow"

At that exact moment I was hearing (in my right ear) "It's not too late" but in my left ear I was hearing "It's dead, it's too late.....just pull the plug".  Okay, I know that it sounds weird that I was hearing a different thing in each ear, but that is how I perceived this hearing.  And then very clearly I heard, YES - PULL THE PLUG!  RELEASE THOSE STREAMS OF LIVING WATER FROM WITHIN YOU!  LET THAT LIVING WATER FLOW!  And just as I was hearing that, Nancy (the leader of HUB) came to the microphone and talked about the living water flowing out. 

Isn't it interesting how you get a totally different message from the same three words?  Pull the plug!  On one hand it means a death and an ending.  But (thinking of the bathtub) pull the plug, just means let the water flow!   A very different perspective.   It really gave me a renewed sense of purpose and destiny..... it was a great affirmation for me.   I have been wondering if the last few years that have seemed as if I have been stagnant had caused me to miss my chance!  I don't know what exactly that means, but I have been feeling that way.  Like I've missed something.  That is, until last night.  It was a wonderful affirming message and it was not just for me! 

So I encourage you all to sit a moment and take in the message that you haven't missed your chance.  It is not too late.  Pull the plug and let the living water flow out of your belly.   Just meditate on these seemingly little things.  I believe that many of us will feel a new release as we meditate on this message.  

I realize that I haven't even begun to share about the meeting and Charlie Shamp.  I encourage you to come back over the next couple of days, as I share more about the rest of the night! 

Jesus, thank you for HUB and Nancy and all that are a part of that ministry.  Continue to pour out your favor and your blessing over them.   Thank you for Charlie Shamp and his heart for your glory and your presence.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to think about the simple message I heard and help us to take it in and process it.  Jesus, thank you for Gwen and all that she has brought to Ken and I.  Continue to bless her and her family.   Jesus, thank you for your living water that flows from your throne!   Amen

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Long time friends, baby shower and Baptism birthdays.......

Today I was driving on a road quite close to my house, when I saw something really unexpected.  It was an object on TOP of a was a DOG SLED!  You know, the kind of thing that they use in the Iditarod? What were they doing with a dog sled, in Illinois, IN MAY?  I confess that I had a moment of contemplating if there was snow in our forecast.  I mean, it is Illinois and it has been in the 30's.  And it IS May.  Yes, it was very unexpected.  And in the last couple of days I have been looking for those unexpected things.  I'll let you know if I figure out any hidden meaning in this dog sled sighting!  (Possibly it goes along with my message from "Paddlefoot?)
Today was one of those really great, exciting days.   I had the wonderful pleasure of attending a baby shower for Gwen's best friend since 6th grade, Brenda.   It was certainly a time of celebrating and also a bit of remembering.  I calculated that Gwen and Brenda have been friends for 24 years.  WOW does that ever make me feel old!  I spent part of the day holding my sweet little Anna, and it was so wonderful contemplating all the fun Anna and this expected baby boy will have at future parties.  It is so good to gather together with friends and family and mark these important events.

It was also an important day for Ellie!  It is her "Baptism Birthday"!  Five years ago she was welcomed into the Covenant of God's family and sealed with the cross of Christ. 
 I love looking at these picture of Ellie's Baptism day.   She wore Gwen's Baptism dress and was so cute!  While I was going through the photo file, I discovered this photo......
This is Brenda holding Ellie, and her husband Rick, five years ago.  Today we celebrated their coming baby.   I can't help but think how wonderful this is!  I love that Anna and their baby will be only months apart.  There is something so powerful in seeing your kids and their friends, grow up and have their own kids.  Brenda spent so much time with Gwen that she really seems like part of our family.  I confess, it made me quite teary.  I can't wait to meet this new little one.
I am so thankful that Gwen and Tim have made it a priority to remember and celebrate the Baptism birthdays of their kids.  It is a time when the kids talk about what Baptism is all about.  They light their candle and remember that Jesus is the light of the world.   It is a special day for them.  Wouldn't we all benefit if we added in this extra special day of celebrating by remembering our Baptism birthday?  I plan to celebrate my special day this year....on November 7th.  I want to encourage you to find your own Baptism birth date and make it a priority this year.  Celebrate this very important day in your life.  Celebrate with family and friends..... and cake! 
Jesus, thank you for old friends and new life.  Thank you for the new life that we have in you.  Holy Spirit, thank you for your working in Baptism.  Jesus, bless Brenda and Rick and their baby.  Bring your peace and presence during these final weeks before the birth.  Thank you, Jesus, for Ellie and all that you are doing in and through her.  Help us all to remember and celebrate our Baptism Birthdays with joy.   Amen

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Stay with me today.  Last night I had a very odd dream.   A strange dream.  And I have spent the entire day trying to figure out exactly what was going on....what was the real meaning of this dream.  Now I didn't have much time to ponder today.  It was a very busy day at work.  Lots of kids, rain (so no outside) and then to add to the "normal busy" we are getting 3 new kids on Monday and it was the beginning of the month.  The new kids mean making new name tags, cubby markers, file folders, etc. And with the beginning of a new month all of the cubbies get new name tags, the calendar has to be changed and bulletin boards need to be changed.  So it was while I was on my way home from work, that things started to "click" about this dream.  And, I am showing my age, I doubt that most of you will remember the crazy show that was the story line of this dream...
I very clearly remember watching this cartoon in the morning, before school.   I was a "latch key" kid and I was responsible for getting myself out the door to the bus stop and this show was my "alarm".  When it was over, I had to leave the house.  I looked it up on the internet and found out that it began airing in 1960.  There were 59 episodes and I found it very interesting that each episode was created in 6, 5 minute blocks.  It was intended to run one segment each day and then rerun on Saturday as a full 30 minute show. And that last 5 minutes held the solution to the problem.  So you had to watch on Saturday to find out what happened.  Clutch (the white haired guy) was quite the adventurer.  He was part 007 and part explorer.  The little boy, Spinner, and his dog Paddlefoot always went with him on his adventures.  Swampy provided the "information" that was needed to complete the mission, but always in some odd way.  This show had TERRIBLE animation.  Anyone who saw this show today would wonder why we had even watched it.  However, there was a real educational component to this show.  Every episode took you somewhere around the world.  And there were great things learned through every show. is my dream, and what I think I am supposed to take away from this dream.
I was on a Clutch Cargo adventure.  I don't know exactly where we were headed, but we were in that amazing plane that he always had (just a note, that plane was one of the best things about this show). The interesting thing was that Paddlefoot was talking to me!  And the only thing he said was "your mission is to go to the nations".  Okay, I understand this message, but why Clutch Cargo? And why Paddlefoot?  Here is my first thoughts on this dream.   I believe that I need to hang on to the earliest message that I received from Jesus.  (Get it??? CLUTCH - hang on to CARGO - the message, the word).Especially important in this is that my first very clear encounter with Jesus happened around the time that this show began to air.  And the message I received was that Jesus was real, I had walked with him in a beautiful garden, and I needed to tell everyone about this.  And I believe that the reason it was the dog that spoke to me in the dream, was to remind me that messages come in very different ways ...... expect the unexpected.   
I'm not sure if this is the entire word behind this dream.  But tonight I am feeling a bit nostalgic for Clutch Cargo.   But more than that, I am so thankful for that early dream I had and the way the Holy Spirit has continued to use this dream to speak to me.  And I am very grateful that I have plenty of time to ponder this dream.
Jesus, thank you so much for using everything - even a silly old television show - to get our attention.  Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to us in sometimes hidden ways.  Help us to ponder these things and go deeper, rather than just dismissing them.   Thank you for your message to all of us to go to the nations.  And keep us expecting the unexpected.   Amen