Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The wonder of the creative spirit......

Yesterday I got to see Lia shine on stage... with her classmates in an "Invention Convention".  This is a clever way to encourage the third graders to read biographies and then be able to pass on the information they have learned to others.  There were some "expected" people (Edison, Ford, Wright Brothers) but there were certainly some other, less well known subjects.  Like the one Lia decided to profile, Ruth Wakefield.  Now I am fairly certain that most of you will have no idea who she is, yet I am just as certain that most of you have enjoyed her invention.  She is credited with the invention of the Chocolate Chip Cookie!  YUM!  I saw one child had read a book about the women who invented the flat bottom bag!  (Think brown lunch sacks or grocery bags) And Bill Gates was also found along side Henry Ford.  And then there was a musical presentation.  Lia loves to sing and put on a show and it was evident during the performance.  Yes, it was a wonderful time.

On the way home I was thinking about a recent dream I had.  I saw some friends creating a new "invention" that could quickly and easily turn salt water into drinking water.  At the end of the dream I realized that this was really about turning tears into the living water of the Holy Spirit.  Yes, that would be an amazing new invention.  There have been many recent words about the new "creative" inventions and ideas that would be coming through Christians.  This makes perfect sense when you realize that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and that is the CREATOR himself!   I just wonder how many amazing wonderful new things have been missed because someone doesn't believe that they can create.  Yes, I think its time we start to listen to the ideas, thoughts and even wild dreams of children.

I mentioned in a previous blog that Zeke has already declared that he is going to be building "waterfalls" for Jesus. (Which actually means some kind of fountain or spraying water)  He is also fascinated with roller coasters.  Given that he is 3 years old (soon to be 4) this is kind of interesting.  He doesn't really have much experience with roller coasters, except seeing them from afar.  He has ridden a couple of small coasters, but he is always asking when he can go on a coaster. For now, this will have to do!
Recently, Zeke's preschool class did a recycling project.  Each student brought in recyclable items and the class "created" something.  When the teachers asked the class what they should make, Zeke immediately said a roller coaster!  And he knew just how to make it.  The project usually has robots or cars as the idea.  But not this year..... not with Zeke.
I can only imagine the amazing, wonderful things that Jesus has for Zeke to create!  I can't wait!

And at the same time I know that bringing these inventions to life will take perseverance and even the ability to fail, and then try again.  And it will take vision.  Most importantly it will take the presence of the Holy Spirit and the leading of Jesus.  While Zeke was riding that little roller coaster in the driveway, Gwen and I were watching Anna with her little riding toy. She worked and worked to figure out how to get her leg over that toy so she could ride it.  She has watched Zeke do this over and over and knew what had to happen.  Let me tell you it took a lot of patience on my part to not run over and help her.  But Gwen very wisely, told me to let her keep on trying.  And sure enough, within a few minutes, here was the happy outcome.  She succeeded!  
What powerful lessons I learned yesterday!  Lets all expect the amazing new inventions!  Lets listen to the children when they dream and imagine.  Then take them seriously and encourage them!  Allow them to try and even to fail along the way.  And then celebrate their success. Lets all stop and dream and imagine ourselves!   Can you feel the excitement and hope?  I can!  

Jesus, thank you for this powerful reminder that you are in the business of creating!  Holy Spirit help us to be open to those ideas, thoughts, and imaginings that you bring to us.  Help us to encourage each other to follow through and not be deterred by failures or setbacks.  Jesus, bring these new things to us!   Thank you for children who dream without fear.  Give us all the spirit of children.  Amen

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nothing better.........

I know that I have blogged about A&W before, but yesterday Ken and I had a "frosty mug"!  I couldn't pass up this picture of the ice rising up from the mug.  Seriously, nothing tastes better.  Every time I visit an A&W, I think of my mom.  She just loved root beer or a root beer float especially.  And the sun was actually shining.  And it was warmer.  So, yes, I guess Spring has arrived.  (See my last blog post) Therefore, a celebration was in order!

I happened to notice these two really sweet photo's of Ken with his two Grandma's, taken when he was just over a year old.  I have to say, I just love being a Grandma.  There is something so special when you hold those little ones on your lap.  The idea of being connected from generation to generation has been on my mind in the last weeks.  Being able to sow into my grandchildren is a real gift.  

The conference I attended had speakers who are considered the "generals" -  The older generation of women who felt called to pour into all the younger women.  I think I mentioned that one of the speakers actually celebrated her 75th birthday during the conference.  As I said, I love being a grandma,  so I realize that I am in that "older generation".   

Then yesterday, this showed up on The Passion Translation Facebook page......

I had a dream two nights ago.
We were in a stadium with tens of thousands of Christians. Moms, dads, grandparents, and lots of children. It was beautiful! Lots of families enjoying themselves and I was one of the speakers for this Christian event.  The speaker before me was quite old, and somewhat careless with her words. I was surprised that she was not more careful with what she was saying. Then I heard her say about all the kids that were there: "Children are to be seen and... not heard."
My heart was so heavy as the faces of the children present flashed before me, they were hurt, deeply hurt. Then it was my turn to take the mic and I simply said, "The Children MUST be heard! The children have a VOICE that must be heard!" I then knelt down in front of one child after another and looked into their eyes and said, "You have a voice for this day. You have a voice that must be heard."
I awoke with the strong sense that we are on the verge of a "children's revival." The praises of our children have the power to silence the voice of the enemy. May the children's voices be heard in our land again!

Psalm 8:2 The Passion Translation
"You have built a stronghold by the songs of babies.
Strength rises up
With the chorus of singing children.
This kind of praise
Has the power to shut Satan’s mouth.
Childlike worship will silence
The madness of those who oppose you."

This just resonated with my spirit.  So many years ago, I had the strong revelation that I was to speak that Jesus had a plan, purpose and destiny for children.  Not for some point in the future after they are all grown up.  Nothing has excited me as much as this post.  I have been wondering exactly what was ahead for me, and this has given me a small glimpse.  I am praying into this for my grandchildren.  And for all the children!  This is my encouragement to you to read over this dream from Brian Simmons.  Take it in.  Meditate on this and pray for this "children's revival" to break out!  Pray that the voices of the children will be heard in our land!

Jesus, thank you for The Passion Translation and Brian Simmons.  Thank you for reminding me that grandchildren are a blessing.  Holy Spirit, remind us to pray for the children.  Jesus, your heart is to release the sounds of praise from the children.  Give us all ears to hear those sounds, and hearts to support this revival of the children.  Amen

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Spring where are you???

It was a rather miserable day today - weather wise.  COLD and RAINY.  Now, I know that April is supposed to be raining (you know, April showers bring May flowers).  But 35 degrees is really cold when it is raining.  We had a few days of warm, sunny weather, so this seems just, well kind of icky.

To top off the less than wonderful weather, I have not been feeling well for the last several days.  I'm not sure if it is just allergies (since I am getting constant "weather alerts" for extremely high tree pollen) or if I actually have a little cold.  But the headache is just hanging on.  Sigh.  Spring, where are you?  

Ken and I actually went out looking for some patio furniture today.  I think that we decided that if we act like it is spring, it will actually happen!  We didn't find anything that we wanted, but it was fun to pretend that it was warm enough to sit outside.  
We've been waiting and waiting for our flowering tree to bloom.  It is covered with buds, just about open.  It's as if the tree is in a holding pattern until the "real" spring weather arrives.  

I just love how Jesus speaks to me in these little things all around me.  When I look at the tree, I am filled with the hope of spring.   I just love the Paul Wilbur song "Dance with Me"
Dance with me, O lover of my soul, to the song of all songs.
Romance me, O lover of my soul, to the song of all songs.

Behold, You have come over the hills upon the mountain.
To me You have run, my beloved. You've captured my heart.

With You I will go. You are my love. You are my fair One.
Winter has passed and the springtime has come.

Take my hand, O lover of my soul, sing the song of all songs.
Come and take us to Yourself, O...., sing the song of all songs.

Yes, winter has passed and springtime has come!  But it is not without the wait.  Isn't that exactly where we need to keep our focus?  Not looking back at the cold and dark winter.  Rather looking ahead to the new life and the warmth and wonder of spring.  And even when we want to just snap our fingers and be totally free of all of those things in the past, sometimes there is a period of waiting.  A time of transition between the old and the new.  

I am so thankful that our tree is covered with visible buds.  It makes it so much easier to wait.  Each day they are a bit fuller and a bit whiter.  So even when the temperature is more like December, we can be assured that it is April and Spring is right around the corner.  

Jesus, thank you for seasons and trees that bloom and rain that feeds the earth.  Holy Spirit, help  us to keep our eyes looking forward, towards the warmth and beauty that is to come.  Give us grace to leave the past, in the past.  Jesus, give us all strength to wait patiently for all that you have planned for us bursts forth.   Amen

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Another day of remembering......

I'm not sure exactly when I started to remember my sister's death on the wrong date, but today is actually the day.... in 2007.  I decided to use the picture above because it was such a big day for me and both Karen and Roy look so happy.  This picture was taken at the rehearsal dinner the night before Ken and my wedding in 1974.  I actually spent some time looking for a different picture but when I found this one, I knew it was the right one.  I was thinking a lot today about how much I missed Karen during the final years of my mom's life.  I know last year I mentioned how hard it was on my mom to lose Karen.  

As I was sorting through some pictures, I really began to remember all the different ways that Karen blessed my mom. Karen and Roy visited often and were instrumental in helping mom find the exact right apartment to make her home, when she could no longer care for her townhouse.  Karen made sure that mom got to Lake Maud every summer and often spent weeks with her there.  When they visited her they arranged to take her to visit old friends and relatives that she rarely got a chance to visit.  As a matter of fact, there was one year they drove her to her birthplace and found the house, church and cemetery where many of her relatives are buried.  They took her to visit the church in St. Paul that was her dad's first church.  When my Aunt Bee, my mom's sister, was having problems living on her own in Florida, they took my mom and helped her get Aunt Bee settled into a care facility.  And this is just a snippet of all that Karen and Roy did for Mom.

On the way home from my small group this morning, I was thinking about Karen's laugh.  And I can just hear her on the phone "Say Lyn......."  Yes, I was missing her today.   I have been so aware of all of the ways that my past generations have sown into my life and left imprints that have effected who I am.  Today I was remembering Karen's incredible voice.  And then I was thinking of Gwen.  Most people know that Gwen has that incredible voice that you don't forget, once you hear it.  Karen felt a connection to Gwen.  I know it.  I felt it.  She was very proud of the adult that Gwen became.  Yes, I am having another day of thankfulness, even though it is mixed with remembering and a bit of sadness.

We did a lot of talking at my small group, about the conference that we all just attended.  It was really a time of being in the presence and also, hearing a new sound.  We got to talking about all of the past conferences that we have attended and some of the regular Sunday night meetings of the Chicago HUB.  I found this in my journals from June of 2013 from a regular HUB meeting  ..... 
It is raining His reign, we have a piece of His peace, we need to wait for the weight of His glory, and the best present we can get is His presence!  
Isn't it interesting that all of these things that I noted in 2013....came to pass at this conference last week.  I am so thankful for those wonderful gals in my group.  It is so interesting that these "sisters" I have found mean so much to me, especially when I am missing my sister.  I am thankful that my sister Julie and I can talk often by phone and I am also grateful that I will be seeing her soon.  But on a day like today, it is good to have these special ladies in my life.

Yes, the current very exciting new "thing" in the spiritual realm is a long awaited and much prayed for happening.  This was another reminder today that sometimes our idea of timing is not what Jesus has in mind.  The things that have been sown into our family through out our generations, may seem hidden or may even be forgotten by us.  But those seeds of relationship with Jesus, seeds of His presence and power, are not forgotten by Jesus.  They will spring forth, sometimes when we least expect them.  And when we are missing those special people in our life, Jesus will put people right when and were we need them.

Jesus, thank you so much for my family - my sisters and brothers and my parents.  Holy Spirit you bring comfort and peace through friends.  Jesus, thank you for reminding me of all of the words spoken and all the prayers that have been setting the stage for the current powerful presence that we experienced.  Bring the people to places where your Word is being poured out and your presence in being felt.  Jesus, continue to reign down the rain of your presence and power.  Keep us all aware of all that come to us through those who have gone before.  Amen

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

When memories are thrust upon you!

Early this morning I was rushing around and getting the kids ready to leave for the bus stop.  I sat down on the couch to help Zeke with his shoes and Anna walked up and pushed this in my face....

This is Gwen's "Pretty Lamb"!  She actually got this stuffed lamb in 1982 as an Easter Present from her Grandma and Grandpa.  It was her first really "important" stuffed animal.  She carried it with her for years.  She loved this fluffy little lamb....with a bell in it's ear.  And the bell still rings.  
Anna was quite happy to hug this no longer fluffy, kind of crummy looking and not so pretty lamb.  Yes, it was one of those times when memories were right there, in my face!  I was thinking about all the love that little lamb has gotten over the last more than 30 years.  Yes, I was glad that I kept these precious objects.  

Last week, Gwen was telling me that Zeke has declared his future occupation.  Now, remember that he is still 3 years old (but he will tell you that his birthday is very soon and he is very excited).  Zeke has declared that first he will be a daddy and for his job he is going to build waterfalls for God!  Now as a point of clarification, all fountains are waterfalls.  He loves to see any kind of water display that includes water shooting up.  So I have been thinking about this.....even during the time I was at the conference.  When Barbara Yoder spoke, she talked about old hymns and the depth that is contained in the words of those songs from the past.  Tonight as I started to write this blog, the following song came to my mind....
I have come to the Fountain of Life

I have come to the Fountain of Life,
A fountain that flows from above;
I have passed from the waters of strife
And come to the Elim of love;
I have drunk of the heavenly well,
In the depths of my being it springs.
No mortal can measure or tell
The gladness the Comforter brings.
Oh, come to the Fountain of Life,
The fountain that never runs dry;
Oh, drink of the boundless supply,
  For Christ is the Fountain of Life.

I have come to the Fountain of Blood
That for guilt and uncleanness doth flow;
I have washed in its sin-cleansing flood
And my garments are whiter than snow.
I count not my righteousness mine—
’Tis Jesus that lives in my soul.
I partake of His nature divine,
And in Him I am perfectly whole.

I have come to the Fountain of Health,
A boundless and endless supply;
’Tis a secret man’s wisdom or wealth
Can never discover or buy.
But the secret my Lord hath revealed
In the fountain that flows from His side,
In the stripes by whose pain we are healed,
In Himself as He comes to abide.

I have come to the Fountain of Joy;
His joy is the strength of my heart.
My delight is unmixed with alloy,
My sunshine can never depart.
The fig tree may wither and die,
Earth’s pleasures and prospects decline;
But my fountains can never be dry—
My portion, my joy is divine.
All I was remembering was the chorus that I highlighted above.  But, boy this is a great song about a fountain - Zeke's waterfall.  
And here is Zeke enjoying a waterfall.....on a day when we went to a small indoor waterpark.  He does love water.  I know that there is a call on this little boy - a destiny and a plan for Jesus.  So I would not be surprised if sometime in the future, we look back on this and say, "yep, Zeke knew exactly what he was talking about... he IS building fountains for Jesus".

Now I am sure that you are wondering what in the world I am getting at today.  This does seem like a disjointed and meaningless blog.  But here is the "punch line" to this.  I believe that there has been a spiritual shift happening.  I felt it at the conference this last weekend.  There is a new sound, a new thing, a new way coming that will change everything.  Yes, it is a revival... but it is not like anything you might think of when you hear that word.  It is a move of Jesus and it is all about being in His presence.  I am so thankful Zeke and Anna and Ellie and Lia (like so many other children) are being prepared for this new thing!  Zeke is already hearing from Jesus.  But it is also important to remember that this new thing would not be happening if it were not for the past.  Gwen has certainly poured much more into her children than "Pretty lamb".  But it is a great reminder that we all are connected to our past generations.  That song I remembered actually was written in the mid 1800's. The idea of the fountains of Jesus was alive in the spirit of Albert Simpson when he wrote the lyrics and music for that song.  Even though this is a "new thing", it is good to remember that God never changes.  He has had the plan in place and we are getting the revelation as we walk on.  

Tonight I am thankful for all that I saw, felt and heard at the Chicago HUB conference.  I am thankful for memories and the connection between the generations.  And I am thankful for old hymns that speak to us today.  The new sound .... this new thing...... it is real and it is here.  I can't wait to experience more of Jesus in the days ahead. 

Jesus, thank you so much for this past weekend.  Thank you for memories and reminders of how connected we are to the past.  Thank you for speaking to Zeke and giving his ears to hear!  Holy Spirit, give us peace and expectation about this new thing happening rather than fear and anxiety about the future.  Jesus, thank you for your great plan!  Amen

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Wow, what a weekend..........

WOW!  Yes, it has been an incredible few days....The conference that I mentioned started on Thursday evening.  One of the best things about this event, was experiencing it in the company of some good friends.  Because, lets face it, everything is better with good friends by your side! 

This was an action packed few days with an unbelievable "menu" of speakers.  The conference space was jammed with people.  Beginning on Thursday evening, the worship was amazing.  My Facebook friends have already seen a picture of an Amish man (who prayed for revival in Indiana and has seen something wonderful happen) who gave a testimony!  

Here are a couple of "snippets" from this weekend.... (and there was so much more than these few words on a page)

"Jesus had to turn His power down just so he could be led away by the soldiers" Dana Morey

"There is a sound,  There is a sound that breaks down.  There is breakthrough!  Patricia King

"Maybe the people wouldn't have wandered in the wilderness for 40 years if they would have just asked their wives for directions!"   Brenda Kilpatrick

"We just saw a miracle! (after a long time of complete silence in a room jammed with people) Silence counts as a miracle when there are over 1000 women in the room!"  Nancy Magiera

"Your light belongs in the darkness"  Patricia King

"God plus nothing equals everything you need"  (can't remember who said this)

"Something is breaking out in Chicago here at HUB.  The Holy Spirit showed up big time this afternoon"   Barbara J. Yoder

"We believe that revival has hit!"  Nancy Magiera

"There is power to break every chain that holds you"   Bonnie Chavda

And then..... from Steve Mitchell (the worship leader)..... 
Angels on a mission, move into position, giving revelation to the daughters of God

Edge of space and time, knowing I was born to cross the line, see the revelation, know the secrets of creation.

And I have to add a special note about Dr Clarice Fluitt.  I confess that prior to this event, I had no idea who she was.  But I think that I needed to hear her talk more than anything else this weekend.  It was actually her 75th birthday but you would never know that she was that old.  What an amazing, anointed women she is.  She spoke for about 40 minutes last night and I have never laughed so hard for so long!  

On Friday, during the afternoon session, I noticed that I had a voicemail from Ken's sister Sue. My phone was on silent so I missed the call.  Ken's father had just died and was finally at peace.  I went out of the meeting and made some phone calls to let Ken, Gwen and Doug know about grandpa's death.  While we were all saddened by this, it was a relief to know the struggle was over.  I am so thankful for my talk with him a couple years ago, that confirmed for me that he is now celebrating in heaven with Jesus!
I found this picture of a Christmas from the early 90's.  This is Ken and his sister Sue with mom and dad.  Yes, I have now added yet another person to my list of deaths in April.  As a matter of fact, that day (April 17) was also the anniversary of the death of my grandmother Nora Toensing.   And today is the 30th anniversary of my dad's death.  
I love this picture of my dad with his sisters.  I am pretty sure that this was taken in 1980 (which would have been my aunt Alice and Agnes (front row) 80th birthday).  This was several years before my dad died.  Yes, it is hard to image that it is 30 years since I have talked to my dad.  

Okay, I know that it might seem so odd to talk about these family deaths along with a report about a spiritual revival happening in Chicago.  But, you know what?  It doesn't seem at all wrong to me.  My feelings about the loss of these special people is much different, knowing what their final destination is.  If anything, it is making me so much more aware of how very important it is to share the good news about Jesus.  

So tonight, back at home, I am still processing everything that I experienced and felt this weekend.  And I am feeling physically tired after several late nights in a row.  I am remembering my father-in-law and memories from so many years with him.  There was no better place for me to be than in the powerful presence of Jesus when I learned about another loss.  

When I walked out of the conference this morning, this was the song that Steve Mitchell was singing....

There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One,

Jesus my redeemer,
Name above all names,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Oh, for sinners slain.

Thank you oh my father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Til the work on Earth is done.

When I stand in Glory,
I will see His face,
And there I'll serve my King forever,
In that Holy Place.

Thank you oh my father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Til the work on Earth is done.

There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,
Holy One,

Thank you oh my father,
For giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit,
'Til the work on Earth is done.

And leaving Your Spirit,
'Till the work on Earth is done.

There was no better way to end this weekend.  I was singing this song all the way home.  And I am still singing it now.  And I am thinking about this verse..

When I stand in Glory,
I will see His face,
And there I'll serve my King forever,
In that Holy Place.

And I am so thankful and filled with hope and joy.  One day, I will be in that place, with my mom, my dad, my father-in-law, my sister, my grandmother, sweet little Lucas, and so many others....serving my King forever.

Jesus, your ways are perfect.  I am so thankful for the plans and purpose and destiny that you have for each of us.  Thank you for the amazing revival you are pouring out on the Chicago area.  Bless all of the speakers, Nancy and Hank Magiera and the entire Chicago HUB staff.  Continue to draw people into your loving family.  Thank you for laughter and joy and friends.   Amen

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thinking today of my "other" mom and dad..... plus more

Yes, today is another one of "those days" for me.... six years ago today my mother-in-law died.  As I mentioned in my last blog, my father-in-law is currently on hospice and not doing well.  So they were both on my mind today.  I really like both of these "informal" pictures.  Gwen is playing a dulcimer, built by my father-in-law.  And Doug is obviously happy having a book read by grandma.    I am just praying that dad doesn't linger long in hospice.  In so many ways, he has already left this world... sedated and not eating or drinking.  But all of our days are numbered by Jesus.  Only He can determine the length of our life.  So only Jesus knows.

In addition to the conference that is happening this coming weekend, last night I attended this event...The Bible Tour.  Susie had invited Gwen and I to go along with her and her mom.  I had no real expectation about what this event would be.  Today I will say that it was simply amazing.  The combination of the video segments from the mini series "The Bible" and some really great music made it very memorable.  It was a wonderful worship experience.  Right in the middle of the performance there was a break to "advertise" a program that is supported by this tour.... Child Fund International.  Their mission is to provide support for girls from the Rift valley in Kenya.  There was a long video showing those kids.  As soon as that video came on I could feel my heart start to beat faster and I realized I was holding my breath.  It was so familiar to me.  
This is me, in Kenya surrounded by these wonderful people in 2004.   I WANT TO GO BACK!
Okay, I have been asking for direction and clarity and then this happens.  At any rate, I will be praying about this and asking Jesus to speak to me.  And I have this big conference yet to happen!

Never underestimate how and when Jesus will speak to you.  It may be a concert, a video or a song.  Take my word for it, if you are asking and listening.... you will hear!

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that you have spoken to me.  Jesus thank you for numbering our days and bringing us peace and grace as we watch our loved ones at the end of their days.  Holy Spirit, draw people to The Bible Tour that will hear your message clearly.  Thank you for Susie, Gwen, and Sherry and our time together.  And Jesus, thank you for Child Fund International and their work in Kenya.  Bless those sweet children.  Amen

Monday, April 13, 2015

Missing my mom......still.....

I found this picture from 2002 of me and my mom.  I love how wonderful my mom looks in this picture.  She seems so vibrant and so "her"!  She has a cup of coffee in her hand and is sitting on a deck enjoying the outside air.  She looks happy and healthy.  This was 9 years before she died.  Yesterday marked four years since she died.  I have missed her all of those 4 years.  As I watch my own grandchildren grow and change, I think of how much she would have enjoyed them.  In a couple of weeks we will attend the wedding of the first of her great-grandchildren to get married.   Just a month ago there was a great-great grandchild born. (It's quite hard for me to imagine my sister has a great-grandchild!) I still have those moments when I think "I'll call mom" which just seems so silly.

I know last year I blogged about my less than wonderful April memories.  My mom died on April 12.  My mother-in-law died on April 15.  My dad died on April 19.  My grandmother died on April 21. My sister died on April 23.   Ken and I were talking about this yesterday, as I was remembering that it was the day that my mom had died.  And then, last night, we got a call from Ken's sister.  It seems that Ken's dad (who is 94) is not doing very well.  As a matter of fact, it seems that his time is most likely very short.  The first thought on my mind was "Not another APRIL death!"  But the truth is, he is more than ready to be out of this life.  And thanks to an amazing conversation I was able to have with him a few years ago, I am assured that he will be with Jesus when the time comes.  So, if it is April, it will be okay.

Over the last week I have been dreaming almost every night.  And I know that Jesus is trying to get my attention.  Several of the dreams had to do with mission trips.  More than one of the dreams were "repeat dreams".  A dream that I have had many times in the past.  In fact, one dream was so very vivid and clear that when I woke up, it took me a couple of minutes to realize that this had not really happened!
There has been so much "buzz" about this upcoming conference.  Just look at the line up of big name speakers.  I registered to attend this event on the first day that registration opened.  So, yes, I am going to be there.  I am slightly afraid of just how crowded it is going to be since everyone wants to be there!  I am sure that some of my dreams are related to this event.  For so long I have been feeling as if I have been in a holding pattern.  That there is something out there....right around the corner.  I am so ready for a change.  To be SURE and to KNOW that I am exactly where Jesus wants me to be.  It feels like I am stepping into a "new thing".  But after those dreams, it actually may be that I am just seeing the things that I have seen in my dreams, come into being.  So not really a NEW thing, but an expected and anticipated thing.  Please join me in praying for this conference.  Not just for the speakers, but for each person who attends.  Pray that each of us will have an encounter with Jesus and hear His voice.  

Jesus, thank you for my wonderful mom and all the years I  had with her.  Bring comfort and peace to Ken's dad during his final days.  Thank you for this upcoming conference.  Holy Spirit, bring every person to the event that needs to be there.  Give traveling mercies to all of the speakers and every person attending.  Thank you for dreams and vision and speaking to each of us.  Amen

Friday, April 10, 2015

Quite a night last night.......

So Northern Illinois had quite a night last night.  I knew we were going to be in trouble when it was 40 degrees in the morning, 72 and sunny at 1:00pm and then the storms started.  I knew that there was a tornado watch most of the afternoon and extending until 11;00pm, but I did not think it was going to be like this.

The first warning I heard was around 7:00pm.  I could see on the radar that most of the activity was west of where we live, but it was moving north and east which would put Gwen and Tim and the kids right in the path of this killer storm.  By 7:30pm their sirens were blaring and they were in the basement.  It was, thankfully quiet at our house.  I was keeping Gwen updated via text message, as I was watching the weather news on TV and also watching the radar on my phone.  As people began sending videos and pictures in of this massive wedge tornado, all I could do was pray.  In the middle of the worst of the storm hitting at Gwen's house, a new weather cell popped up south of us that had "circulation".  At somewhere around 8:30 I heard a warning that this storm would be hitting at Doug and Susie's house at 8:55 and our house at 9:10.  Suddenly, we were all in danger.  All I could think to do was pray.  Frantic prayers, begging for safety from these awful storms.  Thankfully, this southern storm cell traveled EASTWARD rather than north and both Doug and Susie and my house were clear of the storm.  By 9;30 the storm had passed Gwen's house with no real damage (other than lots of rain and large hail).  What a blessing.  Many were not so fortunate.  The devastation of this EF4 tornado is just awful.  It will be months, if not years, for the effected areas to recover.

When I finally settled in bed at around 10:30, I realized that I was still in that sort of "panic" mode.  It took me quite some time with lots of prayer to calm and finally sleep.  This was just so close to home.  There was a time when I was paralyzed with fear of tornados.  When I was a young grade schooler there was a devastating storm that destroyed a suburb near us.  I was home alone during that storm and remember being so scared.  After that, fear really grew in me.  As an adult, I still had some problems with tornados.  It was very hard to be at peace.  But after allowing Jesus to expose some of these deep fears and bring his healing into my spirit, I have been able to "weather the storms" so to speak.  When I realized that I had sort of slipped back into that fear last night, it was troubling!  I am so thankful that Jesus understands exactly where I am, no matter what the circumstance!  Our family has had plenty to deal with in the last months.  Last night I discovered that this return to fear is just another result of grief in my life.  And I felt that comfort and peace that only comes from Jesus.

Certainly Illinois is not alone in the experience of the devastation of storms.  As a matter of fact, we are not even in "tornado alley"!  So there are many people in other states that face these scary nights much more often than us.  I know that I will be much more watchful and PRAYERFUL as others face these storms!  But I am also going to be gentle with myself!  I have learned so much as I have been going through my own grief process.  It has really changed how I view so many things.

I have been "parked" in Psalm 19 during this last week.  Here are verses 7-9....from the Passion Translation

God's word is perfect in every way. how it revives our souls! His laws lead us to truth, and His ways make us wise! His teachings make us joyful and radiate His light, His precepts are so pure!   His commands, how they challenge us to keep close to His heart!  The revelation-light of His Word makes my spirit shine radiant!  Living my life in the holy fear of God keeps me faithful, and to follow him keeps me full of life!  Nothing He says ever needs to be changed.  

Today was a wonderful weather day (although it was still very windy...during the night last night we had very strong wind gusts).  It was in the 60's and sunny.  It is amazing who a few hours can make such a big difference.  During those times of storms it is good to hold on to the truth that calmer and sunnier weather is right around the corner.  Yes, the weather changes, but thankfully, God never changes and His word never changes!

Jesus, thanks for giving me grace last night as I faced that fear.  Holy Spirit, be with all those that were impacted by that storm last night.  Bring peace and comfort as they walk in grief through the coming months.  Thank you for showing me with hope during the times when I feel so hopeless.  Send that shower of hope over each of those people.  Thank you for your Word that speaks so clearly.  Amen

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

He is Risen Indeed! And we have hope!

 We had a very nice Easter.  I went up to Gwen and Tim's to see the kids do their Easter Egg hunt before we went to church together.  The girls looks so sweet in their coordinating dresses, hats and gloves (Anna refused to leave her hat on her head!).  Zeke was quite happy to celebrate in jeans and a polo shirt!  The kids had a successful egg hunt and then we managed to get their picture on the steps.
Oh how I love these cuties!  I love how their personalities show through in this picture.  I am imagining a picture at some point in the future when we recreate this shot.  I suspect that we will see exactly the same blast of personality from each of them.

Their church was FULL! And we were at one of three services!  It was an incredible service that highlighted.... we are alive because HE lives....AMEN!  There was a point in the service that brought tears to my eyes.  And I was not expecting it.  Pastor Dave mentioned the hope and assurance that everyone who has lost someone this year has because of Easter... because of Jesus' finished work.  I was missing Lucas even though I was remembering the HOPE, it was a bittersweet time.

After church we all met at Doug and Susie's for dinner.  Doug had smoked some amazing pork chops.  It was a wonderful meal.  Doug and Susie recently purchased a new camper and we all got a chance to see it - inside and out.  The kids loved going in and out.  And even Sammy and Kylie went inside! It will be good for Doug and Susie to get away and go camping without the worry of weather and bugs!  They already have several trips in the works.  Yes, it is good to be together.  Together we are going on, yet we are all missing Lucas.  And even in the hope, and the knowing that he is safe with Jesus, we are missing him.

Today as I was watching Zeke and Anna play, I was thinking how fast they have grown up.  I know that it is a common feeling.  Watching Anna walking around (actually toddling around...she is still quite wobbly) and listening to Zeke tell long and detailed stories just make this so clear.  Today Anna was a bit under the weather with a low grade fever and a bit of a cough.  But she was still quite happy playing.  And when you are child number 4 in your family, you are quite able to participate in things way beyond your age.....such as this.....
Not just ONE hockey stick would Anna needed to have two sticks.  It amazes me how determined she is.  She will certainly be a force to be reckoned with.  I have no doubt that she will hold her own in the years ahead.  I can't wait to see how her personality develops!  

Easter is a season of new life and looking at the full life that we have because of Jesus.  So it is difficult to balance the grief and the missing with the growth and new accomplishments in our family.  The center of that balance is HOPE.  I know that I have said this over and over on this blog, but I don't know how our family would have gotten through this awful time if it were not for Jesus. 

I have been thinking a bit about my last blog and the challenge to talk about Jesus every day.  After Easter it seems even more important.  I feel as if it is imperative that others understand the hope, the joy, and the assurance that is yours when you understand who Jesus is and what he has done for us. I know that I will need some of Anna's determination and Zeke's ability to share an important story to make this happen.  How blessed I am to have these little ones to encourage me!  

Jesus, Thank you for family and times to be together.  Thank you for the seasons that remind us that spring always follows winter.  Holy Spirit continue to pour out hope and give us all the ability to share not only your story Jesus, but our own testimonies!  Thank you for determination and strength that only come from you.  Amen

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring (and Sunday) is on the way!

So after some warmer weather today, Ken and I noticed these buds on our tree.  We are hopeful that this year we will have a blast of those white blossoms in a few weeks.  Last year, sadly, the tree did not fully bloom.  We treated it (for some kind of fungus) last year in the hope that it would stay healthy and happy this year.  So fingers crossed, there will be pictures in the future!  Spring is on its way! And so is Sunday!  Yes, I am looking forward to Easter.

It seemed like no matter where we drove today there was an Easter Egg Hunt.  As I was sitting in the car waiting for Ken to take some pictures at the Morton Arboretum, I got to thinking about this.  The first thing that came into my mind was the dream that is really the beginning of my testimony.  The dream happened when I was around 4 years old.  I was walking with Jesus in an amazing garden with beautiful flowers and trees.  Jesus was telling me all about who he was and what he had done for all of us on the cross.  He looked right in my eyes and told me "Easter is not about candy and the bunny, it is about ME and the new life that anyone who believes in me will have".  He went on to tell me that I should tell everyone about this!  I should share what Easter is really all about.

To say that this changed my life is an understatement.  I am not sure that I have yet to do what Jesus asked me to do!  I have not told everyone about this.  As a matter of fact, I would tell you that I don't feel like I am "called" to evangelism.  I have only begun to understand that what I heard in that dream is exactly the point of the Gospel message.  We are ALL charged with this task.... with the share the good news of Jesus and what he accomplished on the cross.  It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that it is someone else's job to do the "telling".  And satan just loves to keep us in this place of keeping our mouths shut!  So not only do we not tell EVERYONE, we don't tell ANYONE! And it really doesn't matter if we think that we don't really have anyone we could tell.  The truth is we have more opportunities than we realize to spread the good news.

A long time ago, I was challenged to start every day with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to put someone in my path that I could tell about Jesus.  I thought it was just a silly thing to do.  But I remember how surprised I was that this actually started happening!  I don't know why I stopped doing this.......But I plan to begin this again.  Starting tomorrow.  Will you join me?  And I would love to hear from you about some of those "God-incidents" that begin to happen and how you shared this story.

Yes, I think this is the wonder and the hope of Easter.  It is the anticipation of the JOY and the MIRACLE of this story.  So, for tonight I am going to rest in the memory of my dream from so long ago.  And I will begin my Easter tomorrow, with a prayer asking for a chance to share!

Jesus, thank you for reaching me in a dream even when I was just a little child.  Thank you for walking and talking with me and for looking in my eyes and holding my hand.  Holy Spirit, keep bringing us all the encounters with people that can change their life.  Thank you for springtime and the promise of flowers and buds on trees bursting forth and for Easter.  Amen

Friday, April 3, 2015

There is a Green Hill Far Away.......

Yes, this song has a special place in my heart.  I remember this song from a Good Friday worship service sometime during my Grade School years.  Because my mom worked full time, we rarely went to any "special" services.  But one year (I think it was the same year that my brother had to acolyte for all of the Lenten Services) we attended the Good Friday Service.  I remember singing this song.  My mom told me that this was her favorite Good Friday song....because it was simple but told the whole story.  And that was a great picture of my mom.  She wasn't one to use flowery words and long descriptions.  I remember sitting in the dark church as the candles were extinguished.  It was truly an experience.

And then there was Good Friday of 1964.  I am sure I am not the only person who remembers that day.  There was a 9.2 magnitude earthquake in Alaska at 3:00pm on Good Friday.  I was telling Ken tonight that I was home by myself that day and watching TV.  There was an announcement about the earthquake and I really thought that this might mean that Jesus was coming back....right then.  Okay, I was only in 4th grade and had really just started reading the Bible.  So the fact that this happened on Good Friday (when there was an earthquake when Jesus died)....well my mind just went there.  And it made that day, extremely memorable for me.

So this is a couple of my Good Friday memories.  For many years (like 18 actually) I was a church secretary.  And let me tell you, there is NOTHING like Lent and Holy Week and Easter in a church office.  There were more bulletins to actually complete and print and fold than you could ever imagine.  During those years, I was just sooooo glad to make it to Good Friday.  Yes, I was glad and very, very tired.  I am sure that many who work in the church could affirm the feeling that it is very hard to keep your focus on Jesus.... rather than on the service.   It was always a challenge for me to enter into a place of worship when I stepped into my own church.  (I never attended the church I worked at....which is a very good thing).  Glad those days are behind me. (And give your church secretary an extra hug and thank you the next time you see her).

Today I spent some time just sitting quietly and keeping my focus on Jesus.  And as I did that, this song came into my spirit.  And I found myself singing it and reflecting on that day, so long ago.  It was one of those times when I wished, so much, that I could pick up the phone and call my mom!  But then I remembered exactly where my mom is right now, and all I could do was smile.  Because of Jesus, because of his great sacrifice...and because of Easter...I have assurance and hope of heaven.
So from a reflective, dark day I found myself moving into a place of peace and even joy.  I guess it is hard to stay in Good Friday when you KNOW that Easter is right around the corner!

Jesus, thank you.  I don't think there are words to cover this day.  Just thank you.  Holy Spirit, help us all to stop and focus today so that we don't lose the power and the full meaning of Easter.  Thank you for who you are and all that you have done for us.  Amen

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thinking about Communion today...........and another "Big Event"

Yes, here is a blast from the past.  I am the "girl in the glasses" - second from the right.  And the year is 1969.  This is my Confirmation and also my first Communion.  It was a very special day to me, although the process of Confirmation was NOT so great.  We had just moved to this area and none of these kids were my friends.  As a matter of fact, they were not very nice to me at all.  They had their own little group and they were not happy that I had burst onto the scene and joined them. I felt very much the outsider. Even down to those Bibles we are holding.  Each Bible had our name inscribed on the cover.  And mine had my name misspelled and the wrong middle name. Again, not so great. So in quite typical middle school fashion, this was not a very good year for me.  But I digress....

The church was a modern, very small sanctuary, that actually had metal folding chairs instead of pews.  I think it seated around 100 people.  The Pastor was not very memorable.  We had joined this church because it was a block from our house.  So there were no big family ties to this church.  But here's the thing, on that day... the day of my Confirmation and my first Communion, something amazing happened to me.  I had a very real encounter with Jesus.   Isn't that what we all want to believe about these events?  It is never supposed to be about the pastor, or the ritual and should always be focused on Jesus.  And on that day, in that small church, I understood the miracle of Communion.  No, this was NOT on Maundy Thursday.  In fact it was in October (and for all those Lutherans out there, it was not actually on Reformation either).  But since that day, Communion has had special meaning to me.

On to Maundy Thursday......there was one particular Maundy Thursday when my church had a family meal before the service.  There were many families there and lots of children.  My own kids were there...Doug was in late grade school and Gwen was early middle school.  During the service, before the time of Communion, the pastor called the entire congregation up to the altar.  Not just near the altar but actually right up to the altar.  And then he told the story of the Last Supper.  And we were all packed in, very close as we listened to the words of the story.  And then we celebrated Communion.  I remembered watching the kids.  And I felt that amazing wonder of the supernatural power of the presence of Jesus in those common elements of bread and wine.  An added bonus to that night was the little girl who announced that she had given her heart to Jesus at that packed altar.

I have always believed that it is wrong to withhold Communion from children who know Jesus.  I am not exactly sure how the church arrived at this tradition.  I felt so strongly about this that I prepared material to help kids in second and third grade prepare to receive Communion.  It was wonderful to see kids able to be empowered with the real presence of Jesus through this meal.  Why would we want to withhold this powerful gift of the life of Jesus from our children?

So that is my Communion "Big Event" story with a bit of a Confirmation story thrown in.  You know it is good to look back on these times.  It's good to remember the reason for Communion and the events of that Last Supper. And it is good to expect Jesus to be present every time we celebrate Communion.  This day is a gift.  It is a reminder that Jesus knew that we would all need to have a concrete way to touch and taste him.  Jesus left a physical way for us to have a spiritual encounter with him every time we participate in this meal.  Isn't that amazing?

Jesus, thank you for this week filled with "big event" days.  Thank you for understanding us so well that you prepared, in advance for this Communion meal.  Help us all to keep our focus on you as we take that walk with you into the Garden,  Give us grace to walk with you through the day tomorrow as we contemplate your great sacrifice for us.  Jesus you are the way, the truth and the life!  Amen

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Seder with friends......

This morning my small group took the time to have an abbreviated Seder in thinking about Passover (and Maundy Thursday).  As usual, it was a wonderful time with friends.  We were able to talk through some of the things that we know about the Passover/Jesus connection.  It was a great prayer time as we all discussed our upcoming Easter plans.  Needless to say, we all need prayer! It was a great focus on the added "big event" of Passover (which is on Friday of this week).  

I actually brought this little booklet with me this morning and it is the first of my memory triggers for these posts this week.  Notice the date on this.......2001.  Yes, 14 years ago.  This booklet was prepared for a children's program at my church.  We had a large group of children in a midweek program and decided to do this "family" Seder event.  If my notes attached to this booklet are correct, we had 16 tables of 6-8 people.  That is over 125!  There was a leader at each table and we worked through the Seder together.  It was followed by the very best "pot blessing" meal that included a real leg of lamb!  It was an amazing time and I remember the looks of wonder on the faces of many of the children as they connected all that we had been learning about Communion and Easter with this special meal.   I was actively involved with ministry to children and youth for more than 20 years.  This event always comes to my mind as one of those God ordained things that I am honored to have carried out.

I will never forget Maundy Thursday in 1991.  Yes, I know the year for sure!  I had just started attending a new church, which was far from "traditional".  This was a change for me, and I was quite curious how they would handle these Holy Week services, which just seem to cry out for tradition.  That year we were blessed to have a presentation by a Messianic Jewish man called "Christ in the Passover".  I admit that I had never really thought much about Passover and really didn't understand what the importance might be.  That night changed my life.  I understood the Bible in a new way.  And it opened the door for me to understand how Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the Old Testament Festivals and Feasts.  There are many resources available to learn about this and I strongly encourage you to read up on not only Passover but each of the Feasts.

Tomorrow I will post a bit more on the Maundy Thursday/Communion connection for me. Yes, more memories.  And another "big event".  This has really been quite a week.  Today was a wonderful burst of spring for us.  It was 70 degrees and sunny and the windows are open.  A friend gifted me these amazing flowers.
I am so thankful for all of the little things and the not so little things this week.  I am thankful for friends and flowers and family.  I am grateful for Passover and the people who helped me understand what God was doing to reveal Jesus.  And I love the spring coming just when I most needed sunshine and warmth.

Jesus, help us all to stop and consider this week, who you are and your amazing sacrifice.  Holy Spirit encourage us all to learn and grow and understand more about the Fathers plan to redeem his people.  Continue to put people and resources in our path that would reveal your great love for us.  Bless your people in Israel and bring revelation to them of Jesus' work on the cross.  Amen