Friday, January 30, 2015

celebrating with hope........

This morning I read this post from Lana Vawser - Broken Hearts mended and I was brought to tears.  But they were tears of hope and trust and faith.  This post struck at the heart of my sadness, the death of baby Lucas.  My daughter in law Susie chose the verse Psalm 56:8 for the funeral of her precious 10 day old baby boy.

"You have kept tract of all my weeping, you've stored my many tears in your bottle, not one will be lost.  You care about me every time I've cried. For it is recorded in your book of remembrance. (From the Passion Translation)

 Yes, we were (and still are) crying tears.  And Jesus is collecting those tears in bottles.  You will need to click on that link and read the post to understand the intense rush of hope and joy that filled me when I read that post.  But it also brought me back to Lucas.  It is interesting that I saw this post today.  Because today is Anna's first birthday.  Here is one of my favorite pictures of Anna and me from shortly after she was born.

So while I was missing Lucas, I was also remembering and celebrating Anna.  It is really such a contrast.  Thanks to that post, I can celebrate what is ahead and feel so much renewed hope filling me.  I am so thankful for Facebook, for the internet for people who share posts.  I just love these lines in that post...

I then saw the Father take a bottle at a time and pour these tears over the lives of His people. As it poured out over their lives I saw the tears were coated in the most glorious gold liquid love of the Father.
Immediately I knew that He was saying He has taken all the tears of pain and hurt and has TURNED these tears into tears of LOVE!
He is turning mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy. As these tears coated in liquid love fell upon the lives of His children suddenly life began to arise. The most beautiful coloured flowers, one after the other arose.

So tonight I am basking in the image of glorious gold liquid love being poured out over our family.  And I am filled with the hope of dancing and joy and new life.  Yes, I really needed this today and I am so thankful for sweet little Anna on her special day.  

Jesus, thank you so much for Lana Vawser.  Continue to bless her with ears to hear your voice and give her new vision.  Thank you Holy Spirit for the timing of this post.  Pour out your blessing and that golden love on Doug and Susie and all of our family.  Thank you Jesus for the plans and destiny you have for my family.  Holy Spirit, reach out to all those who have filled bottles with tears.  Cover them with your great love and fill them with new hope.  Amen

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The trap of feelings......

Today I have been feeling stripped bare......because I am missing my wedding rings!  No, I didn't lose them.  They are at the jewelers getting a much needed cleaning and dipping.  But look at my hand.  All I could think of when I saw this picture was "It looks so old!"  And also, "It looks just like my mom's hand!".  But also notice the indent where my rings normally sit.  I guess after wearing these for 41ish years, your body does adapt to them.  I can't tell you how many times today I noticed that my rings were missing. And each time, there was just a hint of fear that those rings were gone.  In the moment I would forget that I had taken them off.  Isn't that silly?
Since Lucas died in November, I have been having that "Stripped bare" feeling quick often.  My emotions have been brought to the surface and I have found my self breaking into tears at the oddest times.  While I have expected the sadness, it is the times that I have been covered with heavy darkness that have surprised me.  Often this odd feeling has hit me while I am driving.  I can't explain this, and usually can't find any reason leading up to the attack.  I am so thankful that I can find my way out of the darkness through music and that powerful presence of Jesus that I have been blogging about.  In a previous blog I mentioned that the presence of Jesus has gotten me through these months.  Today I was thinking about WHY the presence has been so important.  It is because I have been hit with doubt and fear and disappointment and discouragement and darkness and pain and sadness and.....well the list goes on and on.  Let's be honest here.  In any crisis, all of those things happen to most people.  It doesn't matter what the event is, when your world is shaken, this is when satan chooses to attack.  Can't you just imagine how it might seem like the perfect time to cut down one of God's people?  

Today I was reading in Proverbs 29:25 from the Passion Translation..
Fear and Intimidation is a trap that holds you back,
 but place your confident trust in the Lord and you will be seated in the high place!

Yes, these feelings are a trap of the enemy.  And I am so thankful that being in that powerful presence of Jesus breaks me out of that trap! Once you know that the trap is there, it is so much easier to avoid.  I love that Jesus showed me this today, that I know that I was able to see this because of the presence of Jesus.  When that really heavy feeling hits me, I know that I can ask Jesus to help me.  Even when the feelings and emotions remain with me, I know that I am seated in that high place.  And from that place I know that I am free from that trap and the peace and comfort of Jesus will work in me and bring me out of those feelings.  

If you are in one of those really scary, crisis times and you are feeling stripped bare right now, I can assure you that Jesus will be there to lift you up.  Look around and see that trap.  Because once you know it is there, it can't surprise you.   Sometimes all we need is to see the road ahead of us.  Having that vision can change everything.  

Proverbs 29:18 again from the Passion Translation....
When there is no clear prophetic vision, people quickly wander astray.
But when you follow the revelation of the Word, Heaven's bliss fills your soul!

Jesus, thank you for your revelation.  Holy Spirit remind us of those traps that seek to hold us back.  Help us to turn to you when our emotions surface. Thank you for knowing exactly what we need and where we are especially when we face that stripped bare feeling.  Thank you for your joy and peace.  Amen

PS  One of the best things I have ever started is reading one chapter of Proverbs each day (the chapter that corresponds to the date!).  There are 31 chapters so you will read the entire book every month.  This has been such a blessing in my life.  Try it out!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When you know better......but you think about pushing the limits

Oh how I love this sweet little face!  Hard to imagine that Anna will be one year old in a few days. Yesterday I was following her around the house (because that is the only way to be sure she is safe...and she is fast!), she came to the stairs.  I was sitting on the couch and she looked over at me with that big smile, and shook her head "no-no" and them started to put her knee up on that first step.  All the while, watching me and smiling and shaking her head no!  When I said "Anna, No No!" she very slowly moved away from the stairs (still shaking her head no).  She is learning...even at this young age...that there are limits that must be obeyed.  But she loves to test those limits and see if she just might be a bit faster than grandma and make it to those stairs (or the bathroom- if the door might be open- or the shoes by the door or the dog bowls - etc). And then she flashes that heart-melting grin.

Isn't this a picture of how we sometimes lead our own life?  We know that there are things that we should avoid, places that we should not go, shows that we should not watch, or books that we should not read.  It is really something different for each one of us.  Seriously, stop right now and bring up to the surface of your mind, those limits that you know are there for you.  Yes, I admit that I am lots like Anna.  I even find myself stopping and asking, isn't this okay?  When I know that it is not.  Sort of like that extra dessert when you know that you have had enough.

Unfortunately, there are many in the church that are pushing the limits when they should know better.  There is compromise happening and decisions being made that are far from the Biblical truths.  You can't avoid seeing something about this topic.  And because of that, there are so many churches pointing fingers at other churches or groups of people.  Hateful words being spoken (or shouted at times). And it is so hurtful.  And this is why I love Chicago HUB so much.  The people who get together there have one point of common ground.  Jesus.  Belief and acceptance of who Jesus is and what he has done for us on the cross.  John 3:16.  All the other stuff just doesn't matter when you are in the presence of Jesus.  It is so freeing and so filling when Jesus is all that matters.

I don't know about you, but I for one am thankful that there are limits.  I feel much better knowing what I need to avoid.  Isn't it wonderful that Jesus knew that we would need to be reminded of our limits and this is one great benefit of the Holy Spirit living in us.  Anna would not be safe on those stairs, so it is for her protection that we prevent her from climbing those stairs.  And I am also thankful for the body of Christ that stands with us and pulls us away from those dangerous "off limits" activities when we choose to ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit.

Anna is very blessed to have great older siblings.  They follow after her and loudly announce when she might be getting into trouble.  Let me tell you this is a big help for this grandma!  It is so much fun to see Anna growing up.  Today I actually caught all three kids (Lia was at school - Ellie was home sick from school, but feeling better by the time I took this picture) playing so happily together.
They have a large shelf of "Little People" (Fisher Price) and each of the kids plays hours with every set.  Sometimes you will find a "princess" driving a farm tractor or a "batman" in the princess castle.  It really doesn't matter.  Because with Little People, there are no limits!  There isn't any right way or wrong way to play with these toys, it is all imagination.  I am so thankful that my grandchildren have freedom to play explore.  And I am thankful that we have that freedom (with some limits) in Jesus.

Jesus, thank you so much for the reminder about limits, the things that are just dangerous for us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the firm and gentle rebukes that keep us away from the obvious sharp drop offs and also the subtle scary places. Help us keep our eyes and ears open for ourselves and for our sisters and brothers.  Thank you for sweet little ones that remind us to be like little children in your Kingdom Jesus!  Amen

Sunday, January 25, 2015

You can't always believe what you read..............

It has been an up and down sort of weekend for me.   On Saturday night we decided to try out a new location of a place that we often visit.  We had driven by that new spot and it looked like it was ready to open.  Then on Thursday, we received this coupon magazine in the mail with this cover...... "NOW OPEN".  So off we went, hoping to enjoy our favorites in a new, much closer to home, setting.  But, alas, when we get there, the parking lot was roped off and there were signs that said "OPENING ON WEDNESDAY".   Needless to say, we were not happy to have to decide....AGAIN....where we were going to get something to eat.  I guess you can't always believe what you read!

That got me thinking about all the things that we read on the internet, that are simply not true. It is really hard to not enter into long "discussions" on Facebook that start from statements that are just not true!  Sometimes, and these are much harder, the topic is really a "grey" area that isn't right or wrong.  Or comes from someones perspective.  Well, you know that I have been mulling over, thinking about, digesting all about THE PRESENCE of Jesus.  And here is one place that I am so thankful for that presence.  When you are walking each day, welcoming that presence of Jesus, the gift of discernment is in full operation.  The Holy Spirit is quick to point out the things that are TRUE that can be celebrated.  And also those things that are FALSE.  And the good news is that the Holy Spirit will also dispense grace to walk through those "grey" things.  So this blog is all about another reason that I am grateful for the presence of Jesus, every day in my life.  And even on those "other" days.   When things do not go so well.  When the wave comes.  It is the presence that calms the wave of grief.

 Unfortunately, this "not quite true" even happens on some Christian pages.   I am so...SO blessed by those that I know I can trust fully.   By now you know that I love, trust, embrace The Passion Translation.  This morning I shared a post that reminded me of my last blog, about footprints.  How wonderful it is to read comforting words posted at the beginning and the end of the day.   These have become a life line for me.  I have to confess that some days are good days, but some are not.  Our family is going about the business of day to day life.  But at some unexpected places, each of us faces those waves of grief.  Last weekend, while at the conference, I was chatting with the woman in front of me in the food line.  We talked about where we lived and the session that had just finished.  And then she casually asked me "Do you have grandchildren?"  And and I said "Yes"!  This questions was followed by the moment I was not prepared for......"How many?"   I stopped short.  Tears came to my eyes and I almost could not speak.  Somehow I had not considered how to best answer that question.  It was one of those waves of grief that swamped my boat.  Thankfully, that new friend was very understanding and shared a much needed hug with me.  And we talked for a bit about Lucas. But that is just how we are getting by.  Some days are better than others.   I know that is is certainly the presence of Jesus that fills me and sustains me and helps me put one foot in front of the other each day.

So, when you are wondering "Is this really true?"  Stop.  Have you welcomed the presence of Jesus today?  Ask the Holy Spirit to increase discernment for you.  You will be amazed that things will clear up for you.  You will know which discussions you can join and which you can not.  You will also be assured of the truth.  And if you are having one of those bad days....for whatever reason....the presence of Jesus will smooth the way for you.

Now, here is the really good news for today.  All of the conference sessions on THE PRESENCE are available on audio files at The Chicago HUB.  Just look for the post on The Presence and you will find out how to get these messages.  I have to say each session was anointed.  You will be blessed no matter which you listen to.  The entire conference is worth a listen.  Let me know what you think!  I would love to hear how you are impacted by the presence!

Jesus, thank you so much for meeting me just where I am each day.  Thank you for providing me resources like The Passion Translation and The Chicago HUB.  Holy Spirit, encourage us all to use your discernment when we read and consider things on the internet.  Remind us to welcome your presence Jesus.  Amen

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Prints in the snow.....

It snowed again today.  Just a light dusting.  It was actually raining and icy when I left the house for my small prayer group meeting.  The salt trucks were out in full force.  At some point during my meeting the rain turned to snow leaving a very pretty covering on the sidewalks and lawns.  I noticed these tiny very cute prints in the snow as I was walking to my car.  Some cute little birdie had been taking a stroll across the sidewalk.  And that got me thinking about the paths that we chose to walk.

Yesterday I blogged about the presence of Jesus, which was the focus of the conference that I attended.  My friends and I talked about this at our meeting this morning.  What a blessing it is to have like-minded people to discuss and mull over and contemplate things.   And today we practiced being in the presence of Jesus.  The presence of Jesus is not just reading the Bible or talking about Jesus or even praying.  All of those things CAN help you experience the presence of Jesus, but they are not THE presence.  You have to choose to welcome the presence of Jesus to experience it.  This blog is not about getting into a big discussion about the theology or traditions that might arise from the things I am sharing.  But I hope that it will make you stop and think and consider that very personal choice towards the presence of Jesus.

When I saw those little prints in the snow after talking with my friends, I immediately thought about this story.  When I was about four years old, I had a very powerful dream.  This was no ordinary dream, I knew that as soon as I woke up!  In my dream I was walking in a very beautiful garden.  When I close my eyes I can still see that garden!  The amazing thing is that at 4, I had never seen anything like this place.  It was green and lush with trees and plants everywhere.  There were flowers lining the path that wound its way through all the beauty.  Suddenly I was aware that there was a man walking with me, and he was holding my hand.  As we walked down that path, he told me exactly who he was.  He explained that the story that I had heard in Sunday School about Easter was really true. He went on to explain that Easter was not about the Easter Bunny and candy but how he died on the cross and came back to life.  And then he told me that I needed to always tell the truth about those things. I needed to share the truth with everyone that Jesus had died for all of us and was alive and living in that wonderful garden.  Even now, more than 55 years later, I can still feel his hand holding mine.  There is no doubt that after that dream, I knew exactly what path I was on and the footprints I was walking in.  Now it would be a wonderful story if my life had been a "walk in the park" (catch that phrase....just like my dream) from that point on.  But the truth is, that didn't happen.  I told my mom about this dream and she just sort of blew me off.  She told me it was just a dream and people didn't "talk about these things".  She told me that I should not tell anyone about this dream.  And I was obedient.  As a matter of fact, that dream was not in my mind until many, many years later.  It wasn't until I made a choice to welcome the presence of Jesus into my life, that the dream came back into my memory.   And I believe that this is the first time I have shared this on this blog.  Yet this is the truth.  And Jesus told me to share this truth with everyone.  In this dream was the presence of Jesus.

Okay, I will leave that for now.  I am sure that many of you are wondering what is going on.  I guess that this is the path I am on right now.  The path of sharing the truth.  And to encourage you to all make a choice to welcome the presence of Jesus.  Just ask!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me to share the truth.  Holy Spirit, bring the presence of Jesus to us and give us grace to welcome that presence every day and every hour of every day.  Thank you for friends and fellowship that strengthen us.    Help us all to see the path that you have laid out before us.  Thank you for little birds that leave footprints.   Amen

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Letting it all sink in.....

I spent the last couple of days at a very intense conference at Chicago HUB with lots and lots of amazing speakers.  It was the most packed agenda I have ever seen at this kind of event.  The time just flew by.  There was hardly time to eat or sleep, let alone think about all that you had taken in during the last session.  As I was driving home last night (late, but not ridiculous since I had to be up at 5:00am this morning), I was trying to "sum up" what the conference on THE PRESENCE (of Jesus) had imparted to me.  The most interesting thing about all these really big name speakers...... every one spent time telling about their failings, their struggles, their "humanness".  Most also gave details of the very real lives they were leading before Jesus' presence changed the entire direction of their journey.  I was reminded over and over how powerful each persons testimony is.  The last speaker of the event was Heidi Baker of Iris Global .  I could not begin to tell you how many people crowded into that room to hear her speak.  There was not a spot anywhere....not just chairs but floor space as well.  Here are a few pictures.....
 This is Bobby Conner.  The most amazing thing is that he can quote Scripture - even less well known verses without opening the book.  He mentioned that he has the Bible memorized and I would believe it.  He is a powerful prophet in the body of Christ today.
 This is David Wagner praying for Nancy Magiera (the leader of the ministry that sponsored this conference).  This was his first time at any HUB event, and I am sure that he will be back.  He was amazing.
 And here is Heidi Baker and Nancy.  As you can see, I was blessed with front row seats at this sold out event.  

I didn't get pictures of Bruce Van Natta (I think he walked around so much that I never got a good shot!)  and also missed Steve Mitchell.   Steve led worship and really did bring the "PRESENCE" into the room.  There was an awesome intercessory team from Crusaders Church in Chicago.  This intercession drew me in, touched me and changed the atmosphere so quickly.  

I met and talked with so many nice people.  I ran into old friends that I hadn't seen for years.  And, interestingly I got a personal prophetic word from a young guy I had never met before.  The first thing he asked me was if I knew what my name means! Yes, that's right.  Just like my last blog.  So I have to assume that Jesus is really trying to say something to me about my name!  

I strongly encourage you to click on each of these names to learn about these ministries.  Heidi Baker shared that they are currently in a crisis with serious flooding.  Many of their bases are flooded and their home base in Pemba, Mozambique will be without electricity for a LONG TIME.  Like think months.(Just imagine no running water AND no electricity....)  Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and everything they own.  There is a great need for us all to respond to this urgent need.  Heidi's ministry feeds thousands of people EVERY DAY and this flood will complicate that process.  Would you please join me and pray for this ministry?  They need us all to stand with them at this time.  

Yes, it was a very full couple of days.  I have so much to chew on, digest, meditate on, think about, and take in.  I am very thankful for the pages and pages of notes and also the CD's of the sessions that a friend purchased.  I am so grateful for the many volunteers who helped carry out this BIG event, as well as Hank and Nancy Magiera, the founders of HUB.  I have been reminded that it is the presence of Jesus that has sustained me in the last very hard months. And it is the presence that brings me the hope and peace for the future.  

I'll blog tomorrow (or the next day) with more specifics about what the presence really is and how to experience that presence and what it means to me.  So wait for it!

Jesus, thank you for your body....your anointed sisters and brothers.  Holy Spirit, what a joy and to be in the presence!  Jesus, bring forth an abundance for Rolland and Heidi Baker.  Bring a multiplication of resources to meet every need.  Thank you for connecting us all, even around the world!  Amen

Friday, January 16, 2015

What's in a name........

Today was actually warm!  The sun was shining and the snow was melting.  I went out without my big heavy winter jacket.  Wow!  And I managed to get many errands run before noon.  Grocery shopping done and put away.  Gas purchased, car washed (and it was seriously much road salt) and I even got my hair cut.  I had an interesting conversation about my name with the gal who cut my hair.  And then this showed up on my Facebook feed.
I immediately thought about my name, once again.  My full name is Lynnette which means (in some sources) a small flowing brook.   And the verse associated with my name is John  7:38 
 "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."
But here is the really interesting thing.  Tonight when I looked up the meaning of my name, I found one place that said the meaning was "little lion"!  Well, if Jesus if the Lion of Judah, I guess it would be a very good thing to be a little lion!  
This is me and my mom, in the hospital when I was born.  When she gave me the name Lynnette it had nothing to do with the meaning of the name, or the verse that was associated with that name.  She actually wanted my name to be Annette (a nod to my mom's aunt Anna) but my dad wanted the name Linnay.  My mom also liked the name Linda so they sort of just compromised and I became Lynnette Rae.  But, we all know that God has a hand in our names.  And I know that this is the perfect name for me.  

After I really committed to Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I knew that the verse from John was my life verse.  I had a powerful experience with Jesus and heard him speak those words to me.  And, since that day in 1988, I have had that exact verse spoken to me over and over again.  As a matter of fact, there have been times that someone has just walked up to me and prayed that verse for me.  Today when I saw the idea in that first picture, that as Jesus fills me up, (and that river flows out of me) then I will be affecting the land around me, it added another layer to that river verse.  It is one thing to think about the living water flowing out, but to take it further and think about POSSESSING everywhere that the river flows........WOW!  

So here is what happened today at my hair cut.  Eileen,  the stylist, asked me if I liked the name Lyn.  This is a really interesting question that you don't normally hear during a hair cut.  My first thought was to wonder why she would ask that question.  I told her that my full name was Lynnette and yes, I liked my name.  She said that she hated her name and was thinking of changing it.  So she has been asking every client about their names and is trying to come up with a better name.  I asked what her parents thought about her changing her name.  She just told me that she does not have any relationship with them at all.  I was praying for the right words to share with her and decided to just share my name story.  When I told her that God knows our names and that often we discover the truth of the "fit" of our names in unusual ways.  I asked if she believed in Jesus and she said, "not really".  So I simply told her that I would be praying that she would have confirmation that she has the perfect name and that she would hear Jesus speaking to her.   Tonight I discovered that Eileen means beautiful bird.  So please join me in praying that this sweet young girl discovers why she has this wonderful name......and that she discovers Jesus in the process.

Jesus, reach out right now and touch Eileen.  Holy Spirit, draw her to Jesus and settle her spirit about her name.  Jesus thank you for speaking to me and giving me revelation about my name.  Thank you for these chance encounters that remind us that you have called us to share the good news.  Thank you for sunshine and warm weather and thank you for my name.  Amen

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's all about the process....and the collision

So once again, it is a song that completely got me today.  The song is by MercyMe,,,,The Hurt and The Healer.  You need to stop, click on that link and listen to this song.  The video that I posted contains the lyrics so you will be able to read them, as the video plays.  And here they are.......

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn't come from the explained
Jesus please don't let this go in vain
You're all I have
All that remains
So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering
I'm alive

Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I'll fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Sometimes I feel its all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through
So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering
I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I'll fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

It's the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say its over now
I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I'll fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide
Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide
Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here

I love that this song seems like the writer has read my journals.  I love that it starts with the WHY question.  I don't know if I will ever stop asking that question.  Sometimes it is the first thing that I pray, sometimes it is the last thing, sometimes it is the only thing.  And I love the second line.  The healing doesn't come from the explained.  It is easy to think that the hurt would leave if only we had an explanation...a cause... for Lucas' death.  But the truth is, there is no answer that would take away the hurt.  The healing comes only when the hurt collides with THE healer!   I love the second verse...a plea to help us keep our eyes on Jesus and than asking that Jesus takes hold and pulls us through.  And then there is the last verse.....break my fear.. awake my heart and take my tears..find your glory even here.

I love the video with this song.  They actually "collide" the words hurt with healer.  It is a visual that I will be remembering.  I know that I am not the only one that has been touched by this song.  Or that WILL be touched by this song.  I am just so thankful for the talented musicians that are pressing in and listening to Jesus.  What a gift it is to be touched by music.  And to be able to reach Jesus through music.  

After listening to this song several times, I was thinking of my past experiences with healing.  In every case, that visual of the hurt colliding with Jesus the healer, is very accurate.  In 1999, I experienced a dramatic healing from COPD and Asthma.  Before the "collision", most every breathe hurt.  At the point of healing I also experienced the love of Jesus in a way that is really beyond words. I know that this hurt and grief that is in my life now, will not vanish in a dramatic healing.  It will be a process that will happen when I keep my eyes on Jesus.  He will pull me through this.   I am especially thankful that there is no limit on the hurt colliding with the healer.  It is a something that happens minute by minute. I know that I will be waiting for that next collision.  Because in that, there will be more healing.  

Jesus, thank you for the wonderful musicians that we have.  Continue to bless them with your presence, your words, your music.  Thank you for these healing words that washed over my spirit today.   Holy Spirit, there are many hurting people who desperately need to experience that collision with Jesus.  Draw them closer even as they may be asking the "why" question.  Help me to keep on looking at Jesus and let me welcome the collision.   Amen

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Things that went unsaid....

Today I was talking about how growing up I was very blessed by "the lake".  I have posted about our family cabin on Lake Maud many times.  But today, I was thinking that I never really thanked my  mom and dad for the sacrifices that they made so that we could have that very special home away from home.  This picture is one of my favorites of my mom and I.  It was taken in the summer of 1991 at the lake.  Isn't it funny how you think about all the things you wish you would have talked about with your parents....even years after they are gone?

Ken and I could not afford to own a "second home" when our children were young.  As a matter of fact, we never really went on a real vacation until Gwen was in 6th grade and Doug was in 3rd grade.  The truth is, we had mounds of medical bills from Doug's health issues.  Both Ken and I would have loved to be able to bring our kids on wonderful trips.  But the truth was, all that we could ever manage were yearly trips to visit my family in Minnesota.  The picture above was one of those summer trips.  Gwen and Doug got to enjoy being at Lake Maud for a few days.  They got to meet several of my favorite relatives and see the places that were so important to me during my childhood.  Today I realized that these "vacations" might not have happened if our situation was different.  Because of our yearly visits with my mom (and her visits to our house in November) my children got to have a real relationship with their grandma.  And they got to be at "the lake".  That was really an amazing gift for my children.

You know experiencing a family tragedy makes you evaluate what is really important.  And I can tell you that money falls way down the list.  Family and being together move up to the top.  Finding things that bring joy and peace are also very near the top of that list.  For me, my relationship with Jesus (which was already on the top of that list) has become my lifeline.  Living in this fallen world, life is simply not fair.  And that means that lots and lots of really bad things happen every day.  To lots and lots of people.  And the thing is, it really doesn't matter if the people are "good" or if they are "bad".  It is just the nature of the world.  This life is nothing about what happens to you, but it is all about how you handle what ever circumstance you find yourself in.   For me, without Jesus as the top of that list, well.....I can't imagine.  I don't know how people go through these things without Jesus.  Because of His death, we can have the assurance of eternal life.  And in that is the hope and the joy and the peace in awful circumstances.  And sometimes, when you find yourself in more of a downward track than an upward track, Jesus will use even a sunset, or the weather, or a smile, or a hug to turn you around.  And then hope springs up and peace and joy follow that.

I encourage you all to take some time to really evaluate what is important to you.  Make sure that Jesus is at the top of that list.    If you don't know Jesus, or aren't sure where you stand with Him, find someone to talk with.... and if you don't know who that might be, just send me a message.  I'll help you find someone.  More than that, don't pass up the opportunity to talk to those around you about all those important issues.  Don't forget to thank your mom and dad.....maybe for no reason at all.  Celebrate today.  Be together with those you love.
So I hope that this is a life-giving word to you tonight that will bring you joy.  In the midst of all of those really bad, terrible awful circumstances, anxiety and fear will not serve you.  Be encouraged!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder today to honor and celebrate what is really important.  Thank you for your presence and love.  Holy Spirit, reach out to the many reading this blog who have challenging situations right now.  Pour out your great love and comfort that will break the power of anxiety and fear.  Send rivers of encouragement and joy that restores their hearts.  Amen

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Out of a "slumber" state....hopefully

Just the other day I saw a post on Facebook about the "slumber state" that has seemed to overtake people.  This article described a kind of bone-numbing tired and just plain "blahs" that has attacked so many people in the last week or so.  Well, I will go on record as saying that it certainly has hit me!  I don't know if I have been fighting some kind of virus, but I just have not been myself.  And I have not had the energy to write this blog.  Which has not really happened before.  So, on that note, I am pushing through this and I WILL WRITE THIS BLOG!

This morning it was snowing.  Again.  But it was the soft, big fluffy kind of snow flakes.  It was so pretty.  It looked like cotton everywhere.  It was still very cold like 17 degrees.  But the kids begged to walk to the bus stop.  So we got everyone in their snow gear, everything that was needed for the girls for school, Anna in her car seat (yes, I drove along beside the happily running children on their way to the bus stop.  Anna is just to heavy for me to carry that far and for that long.  It was not stroller weather, so Anna and I took the car!) and off we went.  I confess that getting four children ready to go outside is not a great experience.  Thankfully, Lia and Ellie can mostly get themselves ready. But Zeke needs lots of help and Anna needed to be zipped into her snowsuit.  The girls got on the bus and a very cold Zeke was glad to get into the waiting car.  When we got home I caught Anna at the door watching the big flakes fall.  She was so excited to see the snow!
All in all we had a great day.  Zeke and Anna are always such fun and the day passed quickly.  Lia had a dentist appointment, so Zeke and Anna and I picked Ellie up at the bus at the end of the day.  By that time, the sun was shining and it didn't feel quite as cold (it actually was just as cold, but that sunshine makes it seem better).  So Zeke insisted on "walking" to the bus stop again.  That boy just loves the outdoors.  As it turned out, Gwen and Lia got home just after we got back home with Ellie.  And Zeke insisted on staying outside.  He was still "shoveling" when I left!  

On the way home I was reflecting on this place of the "blahs" that I have been in for the last week.  I think when you realize that you are there, it is easier to push ahead and pull yourself out of that place. So I was looking more closely at the snow and the trees and I was treated to this wonderful scene....
There was a big, red, ball of fire in the sky as the sun set.  It was just breathtaking.  And I have to tell you, I did feel a break in that "slumber state" that had been with me.  I confess that I am still tired tonight, but it doesn't feel the same.  I am tired because I got up at 5:00am this morning.  

That sun set just reminded me that every day is a gift. And we need to take the time to just stop and look around at all that we have been given!  Being thankful has not been easy in these last months.  But I have been CHOOSING to find things that I could celebrate with thanksgiving.  Just yesterday I was contacted by someone that I had not heard from in over 14 years.  She was a friend of a friend and we didn't have a close relationship.  She discovered my facebook page and also read some of my blog posts.  It was such an encouragement to me that the primary thing she mentioned was my relationship and love for Jesus. Truthfully, there is nothing more important than that.  So tonight I am so thankful for the contacts and connections that I have made because of this blog!  And I am thankful for soft fluffy snowflakes and bright sunny skies.  And sunsets that take your breath away.  

Jesus, thank you for your presence with me, even during this "slumber state".  Holy Spirit, thank you for helping me find the way out of this place of the blahs.  Thank you for the many people who take the time to read these words.  I am sure that many others may be in a place that feels dark and hard.  Jesus, keep us all aware of your great love and care.  Help us to see the snow flakes and the sunshine and the sunsets.   Amen

PS.  I actually managed to scrap 24 pages on Saturday!  So that was a very successful day! 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lots of "S" words today....everything from Scrapbook to Surrender

So I spent a bit of time in the last couple of days, getting ready to go scrapbooking.  Since I am only going for a day, it is actually MORE difficult to get ready since I don't want to bring everything.  And, just like when you are packing for any trip, deciding what to take is very difficult.  I know that there will most likely be something that I have left at home, that I will miss.  But, for just one day, this is really quite enough to load and unload from the car.  Especially since it is supposed to be -8 tomorrow morning!  I am working on Easter of 2013.  Yes, I am really that far behind.  I am going to work towards completing about 20 pages tomorrow.  I will let you know if I actually accomplish this.

I have been spending lots of time in my Passion Translation Psalms.  I love the Psalms themselves, but the thing that has really been drawing me in are the chapter "titles".  Every Psalm has a title that just draws you in and makes you want to read!  I started out thinking I would choose one Psalm to focus on tonight.  But it was just impossible to find my focus and pick that one that was speaking to me.  I confess that I spent over an hour just reading this book today.  When I sat back and stopped to consider what I had been hearing during all this reading.....well it was a surprise.  The overriding message to me today was that God is in charge!  Okay, this should not have been a surprise.  I guess that I just didn't expect that message from the Psalms.  Not quite so clearly.  Given the news of the last couple of days, with the terror attacks in Paris, France, I parked on Psalm 46.  Here is the end of that chapter......
Everyone Look!
Come and see the breathtaking wonders of our God.
For He brings forth both ruin and revival.
And He's the one to make conflicts end
Throughout the earth,
breaking and burning every weapon of war.
Surrender your anxiety!
Be silent and stop your striving,
And you will see that I am God!
I am the God above all nations,
And I will be exalted throughout the whole earth!
Here He stands!
The Commander!
The mighty Lord of Angel-Armies is on our side!
The God of Jacob fights for us!

Every newscast, every post on the internet about the events in France seem to raise the fear and anxiety levels.  I love that this Psalm asks us to SURRENDER our anxiety.  We need to make a decision to let it go.   And then we are encouraged to BE SILENT.  Do we really need to talk about this, comment on the event in any way except to pray for all those involved?  And then we are to STOP STRIVING!  Wow, that is quite the clear direction isn't it?   These are four powerful "S" words to spend some time chewing on.  

I was remembering the powerful dedication of the 9/11 memorial.  During that event, President Obama read Psalm 46 as his entire remarks.  I love that he made the declaration for the United States...that Yahweh, the God of Jacob is on our side and fighting for us.  And now, after hearing this translation of Psalm 46, and having those words sink into my spirit, I will relax and take a deep breath.  

And here is the most amazing part of this... another "S" word .....Here He STANDS! What a powerful end to this Psalm.  God is not at rest, sitting down or reclining.  He is not asleep or unaware.  He is alert and STANDING!   And He is standing for us!  Yes, this is a great way to end today.  With those words of great comfort.  

Jesus, thank you for The Passion Translation.  Holy Spirit thank you for speaking to me through those pages and for the revelation that you bring.  Please give us all encouragement to let go of our anxiety in all things.  Help us all to think before we speak.  Pour out your strength and power so that we may let go and let you work in us. And Jesus, thank you for time away with friends.  Amen

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Funny what triggers a memory!

I have had quite an interesting couple of days.  First of all, it has been less than desirable weather.  And that is more than an understatement!  We have had snow, wind, more snow, and sub-zero temperatures with serious wind chills.  I drove up to Gwen's house in really nasty driving.  It was the kind of drive where the roads are snow covered and you can't see any lane markings.  It was also very icy under that layer of snow.  When you approached intersections you never knew if you were going to stop...,...or slide right through.  The good thing about this trip is that it takes place at 5:30am!  Which  means that the roads are mostly empty.  I made it to Gwen's about a half hour later than normal and Gwen had a LONG commute to work!  But I had another wonderful day with the kids.  After getting the older girls on the bus, Zeke announced that it was a "pajama day".  He did not want to get dressed!  I had to agree with Zeke, it was a good day to just stay in your jammies and huddle under a blanket.  Zeke is quite a kid.  He plays for hours by himself.  On this day, this was his "toy" of choice......
A boy and his balloon!  Who needs toys of any kind when you have a five cent (or less) balloon.  For a while Zeke and I played a bit of "balloon volleyball" and Zeke's rules included that the balloon could not touch the floor!  But for most of the time, Zeke was just happy to be batting that balloon around.  There is something so wonderful about seeing the simple joy of a little boy having fun.  You just have to smile!  And along with this entertainment, I had this cute face to look at....
It is wonderful to see Anna really becoming her own sweet little person.  She has several words now and gives amazing "loves" where she leans into your neck and even pats your back with her hand.  She knows the motions to "The Wheels On The Bus" and loves making her wipers "SWISH". (If you don't know this cute little kids song, it's worth watching on youtube)  There is just so much joy in being with these kids.  It is so good for my spirit.  

In spite of the cold today (and I mean COLD as in close all the schools and libraries and put out warnings about the dangers of being out in the cold), my small prayer group decided to meet.  And because I was already out, I went to spend a couple hours with Susie.  I have been so thankful for the free time that I have had.  Being off of work has been such a "BLESSING" (and yes I know that I have used that phrase, once again.  But just as I said in my last blog, this has been a comfort to me in my mourning).  I know that IF I had been working, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible in the last months.  I love that I have been able to be a support for Doug and Susie. I have had freedom to be with them, which has been good for me also!  Today when I was watching Sammy and Kylie enjoying their new dog beds, I had a sudden flash of this picture...of my childhood dog.
For Trixie's entire life (which was my life from age 3 until age 20), she slept in this metal dog bed.  She did not have a "memory foam mattress" but did have a nice thick, old rug and several blankets.  At "the lake" she had a cardboard box under one of the couches.  You can see that her face is very grey in this picture.  This picture was taken sometime in the last 5 years of her life.  Yes, it is interesting when a simple thing, brings back a long ago memory.  I am so grateful for Sammy, Kylie and Chandler.  I can get my "doggie fix" without actually HAVING a dog in my house!  Today, it was Sammy and Kylie that brought me joy along with this memory!

Joy seems to be the current word that is bouncing around in my spirit.  Just like that balloon, I have little bubbles of joy seemingly bursting out of no where.  It doesn't make much sense.  And I seem to be taken by surprise when it happens.  There are many verses that talk about Jesus bringing joy.  At times it feels so "out of place" that I have a hard time embracing that joy.  But joy seems to be the perfect partner for the hope that Jesus has been bringing into me since Lucas died.  Because I have been really accepting and embracing hope, that joy is right there.  Isn't it wonderful that the Holy Spirit knew that without that hope, the joy would be lost.  I am so thankful for the gift of hope that has already been living in my spirit.  And here is the really amazing thing, tonight as I am writing this blog, I realize that I am filled with even more hope than I had yesterday!  That joy came with even more hope!  What a wonderful and caring God we have!  

Jesus, thank you.  I am so grateful for your love and care and the way that you meet my needs in such real concrete ways.  Thank you for bringing me joy in the midst of grief.  And Holy Spirit, thank you for knowing that I needed hope to receive joy.  Continue to breathe hope into Doug and Susie and all of my family.  Jesus, there are many who are in the midst of grief.  Bless them with hope and fill them with bubbles of joy.  Amen  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Yes, my day was a BLESSING!

Today I actually had to get out of bed and get ready to go to work!  This is something that I haven't had to do since last June.  Unfortunately, today was one of those days when it would have been so much better to just stay in bed.... it was -9 degrees and my car was covered with snow from our weekend weather event.  But I made it out of bed and got my car started and cleared off, and got to my new nanny job by 7:00am.  Not so bad!  After one day of this job, all I can say is that this is a dream job for me.  The sweet little 10 month old girl is just a pleasure to be with.  It certainly doesn't hurt that I have been taking care of Anna over the last months, and Elle is at just about the same developmental stage.  So I am very familiar with the in's and out's of this job.
This picture doesn't do her justice, she is really very cute.  But for privacy sake, you will have to take my word for it.  She is a cutie.  My arms can tell the difference between Anna and Elle since she out weighs Anna by at least 4 pounds.  And she is at least a head taller!  She is in the 97% for height and weight and Anna is in the 10%.  I had a great day that just seemed to fly by.  This one day a week gig is going to be just wonderful!  It is a blessing.

Well, on that note (the blessing thing) I need to comment on this article.  This evening I saw this article, The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying again! I have been seeing this over and over the last few days.  It is showing up on so many different pages and many people are posting it.  I think I actually first saw it on Saturday night.  You need to stop, and click on that title and read that post before you will understand my comments. So humor me, and do that.....

Okay, I totally agree with this article.  I know that I am guilty of using that "blessing" phrase, most likely more times than I could count.  In many cases, I should not have used that word to describe the event or thing that I was describing.  But, as far as my new job, I'm sticking with ITS A BLESSING!  The reason that I can say that with confidence after reading those words, is found in Matthew 5:4...
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.   Yes, this has been a heavy time of mourning for all of my family.  And we have been blessed by the comfort of Jesus.  This new job, this sweet little girl, is a great comfort to me.  And I believe, it is another way that I am being so blessed during this time of mourning.  Isn't it interesting how you grow to understand scripture BECAUSE of events going on in your own life?  Scripture is ALIVE and speaks, but when you realize that you really "get" the message from a verse, well..... it is just amazing.  So, this is another plug, once again, to encourage you all to READ THE BIBLE!  Let Jesus speak to you through those words on the page.  Let the Holy Spirit bring the message to life and really connect what you are reading to your current situation.  I am so thankful for all of the verses that I have memorized, for the passages I know because of many great praise songs, for the words that are brought into my mind by the Holy Spirit.  And tonight, I am so thankful for the comfort and the blessing of Jesus!

Jesus, thank you so much for the reminder today that I have been blessed during this time of loss.  Holy Spirit help us all take to heart the words of that article.  Keep us from over using the "Blessing" word.  Give us grace to understand when we ARE blessed and keep us thankful!  Amen

Saturday, January 3, 2015

End of a good day.....

Today we had a really wonderful time at Doug and Susie's house with Gwen, Tim and the kids.  Doug made a great ham and we had a nice meal.  To start the day, we played a DVD game about comedy movies in teams that were possibly less than fairly divided.  Susie and Gwen managed to beat out all the rest of us!  You can tell who watches the most movies!  However, the rest of us didn't do all that badly.  I even managed to answer one or two questions.  (Susie and Gwen would argue that somehow we got all the very easy movies that everyone should know..... which might actually be true!)  At any rate it was so good to be together and to just have time to share and talk.
One of the best things we did today was look at a very old scrapbook of mine.  Susie and Doug had this album at their house since before they got married.  They used some of the photo's in their wedding slide show.  We all got quite a kick out the pictures in this album.  This photo on the bottom was taken on Doug's 21st birthday.  It was actually the first time that Susie was at any family function.  They had only been dating for a bit more than a month.  Look at all those very young faces!  Yes, our family has grown and changed much in the last 11 (almost 12) years.  Looking at this album certainly makes me glad that I have spent all those hours scrapbooking.  It is times like today that remind me exactly why I have done all that work.  It was very satisfying to go through that book and remember each event.  Susie pointed out that all of 2003, 2004 and  2005 were contained in one small 8X11 album.  Gwen reminded us that this was before we were using digital cameras!  The number of photos was dramatically less than now.  In the last couple of years I have used four 12 x 12 albums for each year!  

Certainly, every time we are together, we are reminded of our loss in a very real way.  Lucas is always on our hearts and often in our conversation.  When it feels so very raw and hard, I remind myself that it has only been a very short time and also, there is no time table for grief.  I know that I have said it more than one time, but our family sure needs 2015 to bring us many, many fulfilled promises.
This showed up on my facebook wall this morning.  I am holding very tightly to all of the promises that I have been given for 2015.  And I am going to be spending plenty of time in the Word so that my heart and mind is filled with God's promises.  Right now I have plenty of hopes and desires for 2015.  And I will be expecting even more!  One of the many words that I have been receiving for 2015 (over and over and in many different ways) is that there will be rainbows for our family.  Rainbows that will bring exactly what this picture says.....more than we can expect.  Yes, we have walked through the end of 2014 in the grace and presence of Jesus.  It has not been easy but we have walked on.  As the days were so hard and the grief seemed so overwhelming, I found myself surrounded by the love of Jesus.  The only way I can describe this is, I have felt as if I have been sinking into the very heart of Jesus. That is a wonderful place to be.  It is from that place that I have been able to go on.  And thanks to that place of rescue, I have also been able to hear a number of great promises to hold on to!  

Jesus, thank you for bringing me into that place of your love.  Thank you for your promises and for the grace to hold on to them!  Holy Spirit, thank you for bringing our family together for this special day today.  Jesus, bless Doug and Susie with your love and your presence.  Give them reminders of your promises each time they see a rainbow.  Thank you for giving me the ability to hold on tightly to you!  Amen

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A New Years adventure......and hints of what might be ahead!

 Early this morning Ken decided that we should take advantage of a "warm" (well, it was 28 which was warmer than yesterday's 14) sunny weather and take a short drive.  He wanted to head over to the Iowa border and look for some eagles to photograph.  It was supposed to be about a two hour drive and it was a really nice day.  So, off we went!

The GPS first took us to the Iowa side of the Mississippi River, north of Clinton, to a park.  The park was supposed to be closed (according to the internet), but was actually open.  We drove to this spot and Ken walked down to see how close the river was and determine if he could spot eagles from this location.  I (wisely) decided to stay in the car.  This was my view.  If you look through the trees, just above the ground, you can see the river.
Ken returned after a very short time and said that this was not a good spot.  We decided to go over to the other side of the river (near Fulton, Illinois) and look for a road that actually goes to the lock and dam.  We found the spot and there was even a raised "observation deck" for Ken to get a better view.  As you can see there was one other brave soul out there looking to take pictures of the eagles.  There were a couple of eagles and Ken did get some shots.  Once again, I stayed in the (relatively) warm car.
When it just got simply much to cold, Ken finally said he was done.  We went to the other side of the lock and got some pictures up close of the ice on the river.
I actually got out of the car and took some photos of the river.  One is already posted on Facebook.  This photo was taken of an overflow part of the river.  Plus, on the way out of this area we actually saw two eagles nests.  So I know that we will be returning to this spot a bit later in the spring.  We headed home.  It is interesting to travel through so many small towns.  Ken and I were talking about the people who live and/or work in these small towns.  It is quite interesting to consider what keeps people in out of the way places.  As we were approaching a "downtown" intersection, I noticed a small sign - "Covered bridge" with an arrow pointing left.  Since Ken has been looking for these covered bridges, off we went!  Just a short distance outside of town, there it was.
Now this is a NEW covered bridge - actually built in 2002.  But it was still very cool to see.  Ken got some pictures and we left for home, just as the sun was beginning to set.  Yes, it was a New Years adventure.  It was not how I thought I was going to spend the day, but it was very enjoyable.  

While Ken was off, outside in the cold, and I was sitting in the car, I had some time to let the Lord speak to me.  First of all, I believe that there are sunny days ahead for us in 2015.  Our family really could use some sunny days.  Even though we went a bit off track (at first) we did find the exact correct place.  And I believe that will be true in 2015 also.  We will not just be going off in the wrong direction.  It will just be a bit of a detour and we will get to the correct long as we are going!  A wise man once told me "you can't steer a docked ship.  It has to be out in the water in order to steer it"  So I will remember that I need to be going in the year ahead!  As I was watching Ken actually shot photo's of eagles that were soaring over the river, I was saying a bit of a prayer of thanksgiving.  Not only did he actually get to see the eagles, he was provided a raised platform with a much better view.  And I was reminded that when we stop and see things from the perspective of Jesus, we will understand and have a much better view of the circumstances we face.  We always have access to that higher and better perspective.  We just have to stop and take the time to get to that spot. And I believe that it will be extra important in 2015 to be aware of all that is around us.  Just like those eagles nests that we saw off in the distance, nearly hidden in the tree tops, I believe that we will have signs and symbols that will bring us into great new adventures in 2015.  We could easily have missed that sign announcing that bridge, if we had not been aware of things around us.  Seeing that covered bridge was really just the icing on the cake for us today.  And I believe that there will be many, many more of those special gifts for us in 2015.  We just have to watch for the signs!  

Yes, today was a great way to start the year.  I was very glad to have the special time to really listen to what Jesus wanted me to hear.  I love that in every situation there is an opportunity to get a message from the Lord.  

Jesus, thank you for today.  Thank you for bright sunny days, short drives that bring surprises and eagles soaring over the river.  Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to me through each of these places. Thank you for words of encouragement and hope for 2015.  Help us all to remember to get going, to see from your perspective, to be aware of things around us and to walk in your leading.  Amen