Saturday, May 30, 2015

A rainbow kind of a day....

Ken and I had a very busy day today.  It was raining and not really very nice outside, so we decided to continue on with the painting project in the camera room.  Since there is not much room in there, we have to move everything into another not very big room.  Ken had painted the walls earlier, but now the ceiling was getting painted!  (I know, you are supposed to paint the ceiling first, but that just didn't happen....didn't make any difference since everything is white!).  I mostly helped move stuff and position the ladder so Ken could paint the ceiling.  I was also his "eyes" to be able to see exactly where he needed to paint.  And then he decided to paint the closet.  Wow, what a job.  This entailed taking everything out of the closet and then I began to go through storage tubs......

Yes, this was long, long process.  I found some pretty amazing things.  I managed to get rid of one trash bag full of junk and consolidate three tubs into two.  I have two tubs of stuff to take to Gwen's and a big stack of pictures to scan.  And Ken did get the entire closet painted!

We had a couple of things to return to the store and needed to get some dinner, so we set off in the rain.  On the way home there was an amazing rainbow.  The picture above is actually NOT from today (I confess in honesty...its actually from 2008).  But by the time we got to a place to get a picture, the rainbow had faded and you could hardly see it in the pictures I took.  But, trust me, it was there and it was amazing.  It was one of those very thick rainbows were you could actually see the violet line clearly.

This morning I saw this incredible video.......Perfect circle rainbow that was shot over Niagara Falls.  It is just amazing!  I had no idea that I would see a pretty neat rainbow myself today!

Yes, that freshly painted white room is certainly a pick-me-up.  The smell of paint is lingering in the house.  And it is a good feeling to have purged some things and found new homes for some things.  And it is good look back at old black and white pictures and even a newspaper from 1945 VJ Day!
Top that off with a rainbow!  Yes it was a good day in our house.

To me a rainbow reminds me that HOPE is alive!  It is the promise of sunshine on a rainy and stormy day.  It is the reminder that we have a God who keeps his promises.  A covenant keeping God.  There is so much joy in the colors that take your eye off of the dark clouds behind it.  I know that I need a bit of a reminder that there is more going on than those dark clouds and rain storms.  It is so easy to take your eyes off of that promise when the darkness closes in around you.  So I am thankful tonight for a productive day that ended with a rainbow reminder!

Jesus, thank you for rest after work and a rainbow after a storm.  Thank you for reminders of days long gone and also the hope for the future.  You are an amazing God that cares so much for us.  You know exactly what we need.  Holy Spirit, remind everyone reading this blog that there is hope in the storm.  Renew our faith and trust in our covenant keeping God!  Thank you Jesus!  Amen

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Happy Day for a nine year old girl and more in store!

I recently found this picture of Aurelia (Lia) and I at Doug and Susie's wedding in 2011.  I love this picture of Lia!  I love her expression, and really everything about this picture.  What a sweet little girl she is.  Today is her birthday.   It simply does not seem possible that she is 9 years old.  This little cutie made me a Grandma (which I talked about in my last blog).

I just love that you can see everything that Jesus has sown into these amazing little people when you are a grandparent.  When you are a parent there are so many more pressing things to take care of and you are busy with just getting through the day to day.  But as a grandparent you are able to see into their hearts and spirits.  I remember my mom had such an amazing relationship with my kids and I confess, I really didn't understand the depth of the closeness that existed between them.  She could see things in both of my kids that I had never noticed.  I remember that she once told me that Doug had such a strong spirit that he should never work inside.  That he needed to be free to breathe in the air and to be outside.  I think Doug was 6 or 7 when she said this.  And I had never thought much about it. That is until it became really clear that Doug would never be happy just sitting in an office behind a desk.  And now, thankfully, he has discovered work that allows him to be out and about and not sitting behind a desk.  Mom was exactly correct!  And she told me that Gwen would never be done with school.  She would either be going or teaching or both!  And that is most certainly true also!  

So Lia......I can't wait to see what is ahead for her.  She is physically very small for her age.  It seems that a wisp of wind would knock her over.  But here's the thing, she is one strong little lady.  She is determined when she makes up her mind to do something.  I have shared before on this blog, the prophetic word that I received for her that includes "she is a little bird with a big voice"!  This is so true!  She might be little, but she is mighty!  There is just something special about her that draws you in.  Kids want to be her friend.  They can see that amazing spirit and want to be with her.  And she is filled with grace...... literally!  She is so graceful.  That dance just oozes out of her.  As I said, she is born to dance.  She moves in a way that just makes you say, yes, that's a dancer!  Last year she took lyrical dance during the summer.  There were mostly older girls in the class, and it was difficult for her. One afternoon I watched her dancing in the hallway (when she had no idea I was watching).  I saw how she moved and how effortless it was for her to move through the dance.... it was like watching a bird flitting through the air.  Yes, there it is..... the little bird.  And boy can that girl sing!  Again, if she doesn't know you are listening, wow!  But the bigger thing is that she has a heart to speak the truth to her peers.... to share the Good News about Jesus.  I don't know exactly what she will end up doing as an adult, but I know that all that makes Lia so special right now, will be part of whatever it is.  Just a few weeks ago Lia stood at microphone in church and recited a bible passage that she had memorized.  Gwen had no idea that she was going to do that.   Yes, there will be more standing at a microphone for Lia!

Proverbs 17:6a "Children's children are a crown to the aged...."

With Lia so excited about her birthday today, I have been thinking about my own birthday...and getting older.  I mean really older.  I remember hearing older people say that they don't FEEL old and that they still see themselves as much younger.  And today, I realized I have been doing that.  I know that I am a grandma, and I know that I am 60, but somehow I still feel younger!  I don't know exactly what age I "feel" but it is certainly not 60!  As I was thinking about this, and then praying, I suddenly realized that thankfully, the Bible never talks about "retirement".  As a matter of fact, recently there have been many prophetic words about the older generation (and that includes me!) and how Jesus was continuing to empower and use people in their 60's, 70's and 80's. So I have decided to stand against the deceptive spirit that would say that it is time to retire.  To sit back and just watch what is happening.  I want to be right in the middle of whatever Jesus is doing!  Don't you?   So if you are right there, like me..... there is so much more in store!  And if you are in that younger generation (less than 60) don't discount us!  Just watch what Jesus can do!

Jesus, thank you for birthdays and times to celebrate.  Thank you for Lia and all that you have planned and purposed for her life.  Holy Spirit, help all of us to see that you can use us, regardless of how young or old that we may be!  Give us all courage and boldness to share the truth about you Jesus.  Help us to embrace our age, whatever it is, and to see and know there is so much more in store!  Amen

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Putting together the pieces of being a grandma.....

Yesterday I helped Anna do a few puzzles.  She sat for a LONG time for a little 16 month old.  She knew exactly what had to happen and how to position the pieces over the spots and move them side to side until they fit.  This particular puzzle has sounds that are activated when the piece is put in place.  She laughed every time.  I love to do jigsaw puzzles.  I have been known to have more than one partially done puzzle taking up space on our dining room table.  And I was remembering how the Holy Spirit once had me focusing on jigsaw puzzles for several months!  Each piece of the puzzle has a specific place and the picture can not be complete if even one small piece is missing.  Furthermore, there are adjoining parts of the picture that are just waiting for that one piece.  And even though there might be many pieces that "LOOK" similar, only one is an exact match. Each of us are like those puzzle pieces.  We have a place that we "fit" and a picture that we help to complete.  And Jesus will speak to us and show us exactly where we need to be.  Remembering a great lesson from puzzles.

Yesterday my heart was hurting for another family who were facing a hard situation with the birth of a precious baby boy, born with Trisomy 18.  My small group has been praying for this family for the last several months, as they have been expecting little Samuel.  Babies with this genetic disorder do not have a very good prognosis.  As a matter of fact, only a small percentage are actually born alive. Little Samuel was very much alive.  And there was a picture of Samuel, being held by his grandma with his mom looking on.  I had such a feeling of connection to that grandma.  And I knew exactly how she was feeling.  As a grandma you have your own special connection to that new little life. It is hard to find the words to describe the immediate love you feel for that new grandchild.  But for Samuel's grandma, it was also the pain of watching your own child in this impossible situation.  Not only are you heartbroken over the predicted loss of this sweet baby, but you also are watching your own son or daughter in the midst of the worst possible situation..... the impending loss of their child.   Yes, this hit me in the gut this morning.  I was missing Lucas.  

And then I was remembering the day that I became a grandma for the first time.  And it was 9 years ago tomorrow!  Lia will be 9 tomorrow.  She texted me today that she was so excited about her birthday.  Suddenly, she seems so old.  But I was thinking about this picture.  There I am, a brand new grandma, with Gwen and a brand new Lia.  
Isn't it interesting that all of the shifting around that has happened in my life, brought me to this small group and in that, made me aware of Samuel and his family.  I don't know what Jesus has in mind for this, but it feels like one of those times that my piece of the puzzle is fitting together.  I know that I am praying for this family very differently than I would have before Lucas died.  In spite of how things look right now, there is hope because of Jesus.  Even in the loss, there is love. And there is hope.  Little Samuel is being held and loved in the arms of his family.  

Nothing seems to be more important than this tonight.  Peace is a person....Jesus.  So this is how I am praying tonight.  For my family and for Samuel and his family.  

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that you place us exactly where you know we need to be.  Thank you for my small group and all of the connections I have made through them.  Jesus, reach out with your peace and comfort to Samuel and his family in this difficult situation.  Thank you for being so near and so real to me since the loss of Lucas.  Thank you for new life and new beginnings.  Holy Spirit, thank you for Lia and the blessing she is to our family. Continue to fill her with your presence. Thank you for the peace that you bring in every situation!  Amen

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pausing to remember on Memorial Day.....after a busy weekend!

Today, on Memorial Day, Ken and I were remembering our dads.  Both served in the Navy during WWII.  We found out late last week, that the local VFW had a program that you could donate a flag in honor of a veteran for their "Field of Remembrance".  We would have loved to do this in honor of my dad, Harry Johnson and Ken's dad, Mervin Rowley.  In addition to our fathers, I have two brothers who served, and also several brother-in-laws who served.  So today, as we drove by that "Field of Remembrance" (which was just covered with flags, wildly whipping around in the strong wind) I reflected on all of these men that stood for freedom for us all.  My dad was profoundly impacted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He knew that it would mark the beginning of the United States fighting in the war.  I don't think that he envisioned having to GO into the service, since he was an older married man with two children.  But, alas, the war was long and the number of men able to serve was low.  And my dad was drafted.  He spent two years away from his wife and two children, using his talents to keep refrigeration units working on naval vessels.  He spent most of his time in Papua, New Guinea.   Ken's dad was just finishing up his college career and entered the navy as an Officer. He was assigned to a Naval Vessel, the USS Beaver. His dad missed the birth of his daughter during that time.  The USS Beaver did recovery work in Japan (after the end of the war) and also in Hong Kong.  I am feeling very grateful today for their sacrifice.

I got a new phone today.  Not that unusual these days. My previous phone was 2 years old and starting to act up a bit.  With a vacation on the horizon, Ken encouraged me to bite the bullet and get a new phone.  When we were talking about how difficult it would be for me IF my old phone had suddenly stopped working, I began to connect with these stories of Memorial Day.  We need to remember that when these men went off to war, they could not call home.  There was no internet for Skype or video chats.  There was no email.  In fact, there was only very, very slow snail mail that often was censored to remove exact locations.  Many times loved ones at home had no idea where their husbands or fathers or brothers or friends were.  Or, sadly, if they were even alive.  Yes, this was a sacrifice indeed.  And even with phones, internet, video chat, and email....... it is for freedom that men and women leave their homes and families.  So, yes, Memorial Day is an important time to pause and remember and be thankful for this country.

We have had a busy few days.  Ken and I and our kids were blessed to be included in the wedding of one of my nieces daughters, Angela (who was from Minnesota but came to Chicago for college and decided to stay). So her family (my sister who is her grandmother, her mom and several aunts and uncles and some of her cousins) were in town for the wedding.  Gwen and Tim graciously invited everyone over to their house for a gathering on Saturday, before the Sunday wedding.  We had a wonderful time catching up and the kids had so much fun playing together.  Since my mom died, we haven't been back to Minnesota, so these kids really didn't remember each other.  The wedding was beautiful - IN SPITE OF THE RAIN!  Since it was pouring, the ceremony was moved inside.  It was such a shame since the setting was beautiful.... a gazebo overlooking a lovely lake.  But didn't I just blog "Happy is the bride that the rain falls on"?  I told Angela that it has been good for Ken and I for
41 years so far!  Angela was a beautiful bride - one of those times when you see someone and say "that is the perfect dress for them"!  And the reception was so much fun.  We all concluded that we MUST GET TOGETHER more often!  Here are a couple of shots from the dance floor..
 This is Gwen, Susie and their cousin Staci (and her husband Aaron behind Gwen) doing a dance that was much to hard for me.....
  But here I am on the dance floor with Gwen and Staci and also Riana.  Ken and I also danced together (no picture....wish there was since this never happens) and then Ken even asked Riana to dance!
It was a long drive home in a downpour rain, but it was so worth it.  It is good to be with family.

So I was thankful for the pause today.  The day to be thankful for our country and all those who have served in the military.  It's interesting to have a weekend filled with family, a wedding and country.  And God is in them all.  The foundation of the family is Jesus.  He is the rock that generations of our families have planted their roots in.  Without that firm, solid would falter.  And God is the author of marriage! What God joins together, no man can separate!  The foundation of the United States is God.  "In God We Trust" is emblazoned on our currency.  So it may seem that families are being attacked and that marriage is a thing of the past, and our country is falling away from God.  But our faith and trust must be in Jesus.  Even when WE have walked away from the concept of family or even our own family - Jesus has not walked away.  When marriages fail, and divorce happens, it is because of people.  Jesus is not the cause.  And even though it looks like the United States has forgotten our heritage... Jesus has not forgotten us.  So we will continue to cry out, remembering 2 Chronicles 7:14.......  "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."  

Jesus, thank you for days to pause and reflect.  You are in all things and with us always.  Thank you for all those in the military - past and present.  Pour out your Spirit on all who are serving today.  Make them aware of your presence with them.  Holy Spirit, thank you for family and weddings and time together.  Bless Angela and David as they begin their new life as husband and wife.  Thank you for times of refreshing.  And thank you for music and dancing and fun.  Amen

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thinking about my "happy place"......

This morning I was enjoying the wonderful sunshine and warm(ish) weather by sitting on the back patio (on our new patio furniture) and having a cup of coffee!  I was relaxing and just breathing in the cool air.  There were a couple of mallard ducks that joined me and I watched them settle under a nearby tree in the shade.  I was reading my "daily" Psalms (I always read 3 or 4 Psalms a day) and I came to Psalm 142.... (The Passion Translation) titled "My Only Hope"!

God, I'm crying out to you!  I lift up my voice boldly to beg for your mercy!  I spill out my heart to you, and tell you all my troubles.  For when I was desperate, overwhelmed and about to give up, you were the only One there to help!  You gave me a way of escape from the hidden traps of my enemies.  I look to my left and right to see if there is anyone who will help.  But there is no one who takes notice of me.  I have no hope of escape.  And no one cares whether I live or die.  So, I cried out to You Lord, my only hiding place.  Your all I have, my only hope in this life, my last chance for help.  Please listen to my heart's cry. for I am so low and in desperate need of You!  Rescue me from all those who persecute me, for I am no match for them.  Bring me out of this dungeon so that I can declare Your praise!  And all your Godly lovers will celebrate all the wonderful things you have done for me! 

As I was thinking about this Psalm and looking out at the beautiful scene before me, I was thinking about all the blessings.....all the times that I have felt so rescued.  And I was thinking about the first time that I visited one of my very favorite "happy places"....... in 1976.

Yes, this was the first time I ever put my feet in salt water and it was at Ken's very favorite beach from his childhood.  It was an unexpected trip, one that we really couldn't afford, but very necessary.  Ken's grandfather died and we traveled to Florida for the funeral.  When I look back at this time, I can see all the ways that God provided for me during this event.  I was really young (21) and had never dealt with the death of a family member.  Everything we needed for this trip was provided - including a rental car and Ken was just 24! (We actually got to Florida and found out at the rental car counter that we could not rent a car since Ken was not 25.  But thanks to a kind person who did not want to see us stranded at the Tampa airport, we found a company who would actually rent us a car!  It was not a great car - we actually had to call for service more than once during the trip - but it was a car!)  We also got to spend a couple of days with my Aunt Bee who lived near to Ken's grandparents home.  During that visit, Aunt Bee offered us some discounted tickets to DisneyWorld.  So we actually got to spend a day there.  In spite of the reason for this trip, it was the first of many, many trips to that "happy place" for me.

So as I was thinking about that Psalm today, I was incredibly thankful for "My Only Hope"...Jesus.  Even though I feel like these last months have been a time of crying out to God, I also know that Jesus has heard my heart's cry!  Through this memory, I was reminded of how many times there has been provision for Ken and I - in the big things and in the little things.   And I felt a renewed surge of hope rising up in my spirit.

If you are in times of desperation, feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up, hear the good news!  There is hope!  And that hope is Jesus.  If you are crying out, hold on.... He hears your hearts cry.  Be encouraged!  God is faithful and He will rescue you.  There is a happy place out there, just waiting for you.

Jesus, thank you for your amazing provision,  Holy Spirit, what a wonderful reminder of a happy place for me!  Would you pour out hope for all who are feeling hopeless today, and give us all assurance that Jesus is hearing our cry for help.  Amen

Monday, May 18, 2015

41 years ago..........(and 2 years ago!)

Wow!  Forty One years is a long time!  That's right.....Ken and I have been married 41 is our anniversary.  Look at those young faces!  And notice the very 70's style.  Ken's yellow ruffled shirt and the flowers on my dress.  The weather 41 years ago was nothing like today.  It was a cold, dreary, foggy morning that became a very long, drenching downpour.  The roof of the church leaked (on the grooms side of the aisle) and people got wet. The Pastor delayed the wedding for several minutes because people were waiting in their cars for the rain to let up.  By the end of the wedding the sun had come out and it turned out to be an okay evening.  My mom kept on saying "Happy is the bride that it rains on!".  I can't imagine where that saying came from (except that it rains a lot in May and June... the two busiest wedding months).  I can not begin to list all of the ways that our marriage has been blessed.  And now we are starting to think about retirement and what that might look like for us.  Where did the years go?  A few interesting facts about our last 41 years......
+++We have only lived in 4 different places!  That is pretty amazing!
+++We were married just shy of 5 years when Gwen was born.
+++Our first trip out of the country was last year when we went to Canada for our 40th.
+++We have never been on a cruise and don't plan to ever go on a cruise.
+++We took Gwen and Doug to both Disneyland and Disneyworld.
That is what came to my mind as I was writing this blog.  I am sure that there are many other things that I could share, but this is what I thought of!

The other interesting "Anniversary" that falls on this date, is this is the two year anniversary of this blog!  I started this blog on May 18, 2013.  This is the 478th Blog post.  I just never thought that I would still be writing this blog!  It has been such an amazing two year adventure for me.  I have connected with people all over the world.  I know that Jesus has used this blog to reach people in ways that I never imagined.  When I was told by a prophet that I would "go to the nations", this was not the picture that came to my mind.  Yet I know that this is exactly what Jesus wants me to do.  This blog has also been healing and enriching for me.  It is my journal and my memories and my thoughts and ideas.  It is what the Holy Spirit is speaking to me.  I have shared the highs and the lows of my life WITH HONESTY.  When things are good, you will hear about it.  And when tragedy strikes, you hear about that also.  But in the midst of the good and the bad, you will also hear how Jesus is sustaining me.  And you might also benefit from the lessons that I am learning.  I have grown so much in these two years.  I have a better understanding of my past generations and I also have a greater appreciation for the future generations.  Last November, after the death of my 10 day old grandson, I was overwhelmed by the love and support that this blog generated.  Even months after this tragedy, I have been getting messages and comments from people that I only know because of this blog.  I will tell you that I pray daily for every person who happens onto this blog. I pray that you will see the love of Jesus and the hope that I have because of his life, death and resurrection.    I don't know what is ahead.  I don't know if I will continue to write this blog for another year or even another month.  Only Jesus knows how long this blog will continue.

Today is a day of great thanksgiving and also great love.  Forty one years of marriage and two years of blogging.  Yes, May 18th is a good day!

Jesus, thank you so much for Ken and the plan and destiny you have for us and for our children and grandchildren.  Holy Spirit, speak to each person who reads this blog.  Reveal the great love of Jesus to them and draw them closer to you!  Thank you for the internet and this blog.  Amen!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What a weekend! A challenge to find our natural talents!

Saturday was Lia's Ballet Recital!  This is her 6th Recital.  Yes, she is 8 years old (soon to be 9) and this is the 6th time she has danced on stage. Not only her costume was sparkling on stage....she was!
This is where our little ballet star got her start.  She was just shy of 4 years old.  She has worked so hard and practiced so many hours.  And to see her on stage, with so much confidence, is just amazing.  She recently said that she was "born to dance".  And watching her on stage, there is no doubt this is true. Each year she grows taller and older and it doesn't seem possible that just a short time ago, she was that little Pre-Ballet star.  I can't wait to see what next year will bring.  

Today was Zeke's birthday party.  His birthday was on Friday....he shares the day with my mom.  So on the day that my mom would have been 100, Zeke turned 4!   Mom never got to meet Zeke (but knew that he was expected and even what his name was going to be) and when he was born on her birthday, Gwen and I felt that this was a special gift.  
Yesterday (after the Ballet Recital), Zeke got to open his present from us.  He had told me that he wanted his very own Guitar.  I never thought I would find a "real" kid sized guitar that wasn't terribly expensive.  And it seemed a special blessing that just after he mentioned wanting a guitar, I happened upon this little gem for a reasonable price.  And Zeke was thrilled with it.  As a matter of fact, Gwen texted me that Zeke took the guitar to bed with him!  And today Zeke and his friends had a blast at a local gymnastic place that also includes a room with bounce houses.  It was so fun to watch - even Anna - running and running and just having a great time.  

So, yes, this Grandma is tired after a busy few days.  But over and over I have felt so very blessed this weekend.  I actually watched Anna during the afternoon yesterday so that Gwen and Tim could take Ellie and Zeke to the first performance of the recital to see Lia dance.  So it was just Anna and I and time to play.  I don't think I have ever had just Anna recently.  And it was so much fun to watch her play.  
You can tell that this little one year old has older siblings!  She looked for exactly the right pencil and knew exactly what she wanted to write.  I couldn't help but imagine her writing her own blog in the future!

There is something so satisfying about seeing your "generations" develop their own, natural talents.  Lia WAS born to dance.  She moves with a grace and beauty that just comes from within her soul.  Zeke loves music of all kinds.  And I can see a future that includes many, many different instruments.   Ellie is so creative and has ideas that just don't stop.  Before she left for the recital she was designing clothes in a little notebook.  And then Anna seems so interested in writing.  But seriously, it is just to early to know exactly where her personality and talents will go.  Isn't it interesting how we sometimes neglect to see and nurture those innate interests and talents inside of each of us?  I am convinced that one of the most important things parents (and grandparents) can do for their children is to identify those gifts and talents within them.  And then do whatever you can to encourage and appreciate what makes every child a unique treasure.  As a matter of fact, wouldn't we ALL be better off if we take some time to think about our own special interests and talents?  I think that so many adults are unhappy because they have given up on the things that really bring them life.  They find themselves in jobs and situations that do not help them flow in their natural gifts.  I am so thankful that I have found a way to express what is in my spirit, through this blog!  It is worth taking time to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you just what you are designed to excel in.  There is a reason that we are all so different.  Jesus has places for each of us to just BE who we are created to be.  And while we are out there, in all those different places, doing those different jobs and tasks, we are making an impact through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Isn't that an amazing thing?

Yes, this weekend was busy and wonderful.  And I love the reminder to think about what really makes each of us "tick".  I know that I will be thinking about this more in the days ahead.  I am so thankful that Jesus has blessed me with family and friends.  And I love that the Holy Spirit always reminds me to see beneath the surface and the busyness to what is really important.  

Jesus, thank you for children and their openness and joy.  Thank you for birthday's and being together and revelations.  Jesus, you have such an amazing plan for each of us.  Help us to stop and look deeply into our hearts as we desire to know what you have sown into us.  Thank you Jesus for creating us as unique individuals!  Amen

Friday, May 15, 2015

Happy 100th Birthday to my mom.................

Yes, today would have been my mom's 100th birthday.  It is 5/15/15.  It was always easy to remember her birthdate.  And it seems so odd to think that this would have been her 100th special day.  I love the picture above.  My mom thought that she was about 3 or so in this picture.  She is the little one in this picture.  Don't you just love the clothes? And the hair bows?  And if you look closely, the shoes?  When I look at this picture, I can see each of my aunts in these faces.  I love that my Grandpa is sitting off in the background, watching this picture taking event.
And here is my mom with her sisters in the early 1950's.  In this photo, my mom is on the far right - the tallest sister! Even though she was the youngest!  I am so glad that I have these photo "snapshots" of my mom with her sisters. 

I learned so many amazing things from my mom that is is hard to even know where to start.  She had such a quiet kindness about her.  She cared about each person and wanted to please everyone.  She catered to my dad for most of the years of their marriage.  And I always felt that she never really thought about what she liked or wanted.  And that was such a selfless way to live.  In the last years of her life, after much prodding and encouragement from her children, she finally did a few things that she always wanted to do and "treated" herself more than she ever had.  Some of these things were big things (like trips to visit her sisters - one in Washington, one in California, and one in Florida) and some were just little things (Dairy Queen Blizzards whenever she wanted and a dish of candy that always sat on the table near her chair).  Mom was the kind of grandma that knew each grandchild and exactly what they liked.  And she even knew exactly what kind of cookies to have in the kitchen when the great grandchildren visited.  If you ask Lia and Ellie, they can pick out the exact cookies that she always had (Vienna Fingers, in case you are wondering).  She always remembered that I loved Windmill Cookies (I really don't know what these are called but they look like windmills and have almonds) and they were always in the kitchen when I arrived!  She made "favorites" for each of us for birthdays or just during a shared dinner.  She really embodied the word "Mother"!

In 1990 I had made some really big changes in my life.  I had experienced a very real Spiritual "awakening" in 1988 and a couple of years later, I changed churches.  The new church I was drawn to was not a "traditional" Lutheran church.  In fact, it was about as non-traditional as you could get. One of the biggest concerns I had about this change, was what my mom would think about this and how she would react to the church when she visited me.  Because, let's face it, she was pretty traditional!  But, here's the thing, she listened to me, she asked questions and then she prayed about it!  She was totally open to this new thing.  And she was 75 years old!  That summer, in 1990, I dragged her with me to a large conference that was held very near to where she lived.  This was way out of her comfort zone and she loved it!  In fact we went to that same conference, year and year until it was just to difficult for her to manage the big crowds.  I will never forget how surprised she was at one event when they called for people over 80 to stand and she was standing with many people.  Then they called for those over 90 to stay standing and there were still more than you would expect.  She told me that she loved how on fire for Jesus all of these people were.  The next time she came to my house, she was excited to visit that new church of mine.  And she loved my church, also.  After several years of visits, she felt at home and she knew everyone!  She loved that Gwen and Doug were so involved and she loved seeing rows of young people filling the church.  It was never a problem for her that it was different.  As far as she was concerned, if Jesus was the center of it all, it was just fine.  This openness made these last years with my mom so wonderful.  I saw such growth and change in her as I watched her draw closer to Jesus.  What a gift it is to know that mom is celebrating right now with Jesus!  I am sure that there is one very amazing party going on right now.  

Yes, she was a special, special mom.  I miss her everyday and in so many ways.  But I know that much of what is important to me, was sown into me by my mom.  I am so grateful for her prayers and her wisdom and her love.   This has been a good day of remembering!  I encourage you to look at your mother (and those "other" mothers that fill that role) and see all that they do and more than that, look for Jesus in them.  Often the selfless acts of moms are a reflection of Jesus living in them.  

Jesus, thank you for my mom and all of the wonderful years that she blessed so many people.  Holy Spirit, give us all wisdom to see you in those around us.  Help us appreciate our families and give us eyes to see ways to bless others.  Thank you for birthdays and anniversaries that help us keep our focus on what is really important.   Amen

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sometimes you just need a friend............

These two furry cuties are Ruby and Chandler.  Chandler belongs to Gwen's family.  For the last couple of weeks, Ruby (who belongs to friends of Gwen's family) has been "visiting" while her family vacationed.  Now Ruby is an older dog.  I appreciate that she doesn't have quite as much "spunk" as Chandler - let's face it, I can relate!  And Chandler, while not a puppy, is still a bit of an active adult.  Ruby mostly just slept in her kennel.  The door was never closed, but she seemed happy in the security of her kennel.  Chandler seemed to just ignore Ruby.  But that was LAST week.  After more days at Gwen's, Ruby was warming up.  Or possibly thought this was her new home.  But either way, she was much more active.  She wandered in the kitchen.  She stuck her nose out the door when I was letting Chandler outside.  She tried to get some food from Anna's highchair.  All very normal "doggy" stuff.  And then, after lunch, I let Chandler outside.  When he came back inside, poor Ruby (who was minding her own business in the middle of the floor) didn't know what to do with him!  Chandler wanted to play and tried to engage Ruby in every way he could think of.
You can see in this picture that Chandler's tail is wagging like crazy and you can also see the look on Ruby's face!   I love this picture.  Ruby is just not having any of Chandler's prodding.  And you gotta love that Ruby never got angry with Chandler.  I finally sent Chandler to the couch to spare poor Ruby!  I actually believe that I heard Chandler sigh as he walked away.  He really just wanted a friend to play with him!

Don't we all have those times when we would just love to have a friend around?  I can sure relate to this.  I am so blessed to have many good friends who are just a phone call away.  Sometimes it is enough to engage in a long phone conversation.  Sometimes you need a meet up at a local coffee shop for a beverage and a chat.  Sometimes you might need a good night out to really catch up. Over the last few months, even the text messages and voice mails have been so important to me.  Yes, I depend on my friends for support and comfort and wisdom and so much more.  

One of the first hymns that I ever learned and for many years, I called it my "favorite Hymn", is "What A Friend We Have in Jesus".   It was also one of my mom's favorites.  And on mother's day, my niece mentioned that she could hear her mom (my sister) singing that hymn!  So, yes this song is a family favorite.  Here are the lyrics to this old favorite................

What a friend we have in Jesus, 
all our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
everything to God in prayer! 

O what peace we often forfeit, 
O what needless pain we bear, 
all because we do not carry 
everything to God in prayer. 

 Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere? 
We should never be discouraged; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Can we find a friend so faithful 
who will all our sorrows share? 
Jesus knows our every weakness; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 

 Are we weak and heavy laden, 
cumbered with a load of care? 
Precious Savior, still our refuge; 
take it to the Lord in prayer. 
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
In his arms he'll take and shield thee; 
thou wilt find a solace there.

Yes, I am so thankful for this special friend - Jesus!  I need this friend everyday. And He is always with me.  And the really amazing thing is that each of my friends brings more of Jesus to me.  Yes, I am blessed that my friends also have Jesus as their friend.  There is such a multiplication of the presence of Jesus, when 2 or 3 are together!  
"Where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them!"  Matthew 18:20

I am so thankful for Ruby and Chandler and this reminder. Yes, sometimes you just need a friend.....or two...or more.  And I always need Jesus!  

Jesus, thank you for your presence with us and in us that we can share with others.  Holy Spirit, continue to remind us how very present Jesus is with us.  Thank you for pets and the joy that they bring to families.  And Jesus, thank you for friends.  Amen

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers day......

Well it wouldn't be Mothers Day if I didn't share a picture of my very dear mom.  This picture is the last picture I have of my mom and I together.  It was taken at the end of March and less than 2 weeks later, mom had died.  When I was getting ready to leave (which had gotten harder and harder in the last couple of years of mom's life), mom just hugged me so tightly.  I told her that I'd see her in just a few months (I had a trip planned for early June).  But I think that we both knew that this was really goodbye. I cherish the time that I did have with her in the last years of her life.  Even though it was quite a drive, I usually managed three or four trips a year to visit.  And we had some wonderful, amazing telephone conversations.  Ken would say that I "burned up the lines" to Minnesota.  Seriously, our phone bill was often our largest expense (long before cell phones when we paid dearly for long distance).   I am so thankful for my mom and the wisdom and strength that she sowed into my life.   I miss her every day. 
Just found this snapshot of me and my little sweeties in the summer of 1982.  Doug was just a couple months old and Gwen was just 3.  In case you don't recognize the location, it is Brookfield Zoo.  I love this picture! This was among the first of many, many adventures that Ken and I had with the kids.  Even with Doug's health issues over the years, we always managed to go to parks, museums, zoos, playgrounds, and lakes/pools.  Being a mom was just exactly what I had always thought it would be.  I continue to love everything about this mom thing.

I have been thinking about this Mother's Day celebration.  I mentioned yesterday that I think this was a hard day for my mom, who grew up not even knowing her mother.  We are also very aware that my daughter-in-law Susie is walking through this day, her first Mother's Day, without her precious little boy.  And there are many others who have always wanted to have children, but are now childless.  Children who don't know who their mothers are, living in foster homes or orphanages.  So, while I think that it is good to honor and remember our moms, it just might be better to do this every day rather than just one day a year.

Tonight I was at a Worship meeting and these words just really stuck with me........

Jesus, You are good to me.  When I don't understand, I will choose you.
I will see this season through, and I will fix my eyes on you. 
I need more of you.  Living breath, breathe on me.  Living water, rain down on me.
I will not be quiet anymore.  I will not be silent anymore.
I'll lift my hands, my life and my voice to give you glory Jesus.
There is nothing worth more than your presence.

So, here I am, lifting my voice..... well typing words on a page.  But, none the less, I am sending my thoughts out into cyberspace for all to see and read and consider.  Even these thoughts about Mother's Day.  

Jesus, thank you for this special day to remember and honor and think about those we love.  Holy Spirit, when days are hard and we feel like the only person out of sync with the world, turn our thoughts and our eyes to Jesus.  Thank you that when we do this, you will be there!  Amen  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mothers Day Tea with Zeke....and missing mom

 Zeke, who will soon be 4, goes to preschool three days a week.  He loves school and his teachers love him.  He is well behaved, thoughtful, listens well, creative, and follows directions.  This past week his class celebrated a "Mother's Day Tea" and invited all the mommy's to come to class.  There is just one problem with this.  Zeke's mommy (Gwen) teaches her own class of 4 year old's and had her "Mother's Day Tea" at the same time!  So she needed to be "Miss Gwen" rather than Zeke's mommy.  So she asked me to be a "stand in mommy" for Zeke!  After making sure that it was okay with Zeke, I said "Of course!"
This terrible picture of me with cutie pie Zeke, is the only one I got of the two of us together.  I got to listen to his class sing several wonderful songs (thankfully Gwen was able to sneak into Zeke's room and was there to hear the little concert!).  We then got to share some "tea" which was in fact lemonade and various kid friendly snacks.
 Zeke had two helpings of snacks and I loved hearing him talk about this classroom.  He pointed out exactly where everything was including his favorite toys and even the garbage can!  I helped him make this bead bracelet for Gwen, which he was very proud of.
I couldn't pass up taking a picture of this picture that he drew that was why he thought his mom was special.....
You can see where Zeke's mind is at....water parks and roller coasters!  Gotta love that boy!  He told me that the lines around the outside were the water park "ride" (which I figured out was the lazy river) and the designs in the middle are the roller coasters!  Pretty good for three years old!  

Looking around the room at all those moms (and one dad) of these little three year olds - well it made me feel...........................thankful.  I sort of expected to feel very old.  But instead, I just felt so very thankful that I could be there.  For years I was always working full time and I never got the chance to attend these events.  So it was a blessing to be able to be there.  I truly cherish every bit of time that I get to spend with the grandchildren.  And a special time like this, just brings that even more to my mind.   

Mother's day for our family has always been just a "Hallmark Holiday".  We don't really ever celebrate in any way.  As a matter of fact, it was hard to celebrate with my mom, since her birthday always fell around Mother's Day.  I always tried to mail the cards a week apart so that she got to "celebrate" two different mail days.  I think it was one of those really hard days for her that she never really talked about.  She was missing her own mom, who died when my mom was not yet 2 years old.  
This picture is the only photo we have of my mom with her mother.  In the last years of my mom's life (after this picture was discovered) she would often look longingly at this picture.  She always wanted to know what her mom would have been like.

Today I am celebrating that my mom is finally with HER mom, and they are having an amazing party with Jesus.  And there is nothing better than that.  So even though I am missing my mom, it is indeed a really wonderful feeling, knowing that they are together now.  And I can only have this assurance because of the amazing gift of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus, thank you for Zeke and the time that I got to be with him at his school.  Thank you for the staff of that preschool - each teacher and assistant - that are so loving and kind to these children.  Holy Spirit, give comfort to everyone who is missing their mom and not able to be with them today.  Thank you for children and their ability to celebrate and appreciate things that are not so clear to us as adults.  And Jesus, thank you that I have this time to spend with my grandchildren.  Amen

Friday, May 8, 2015

Even though it's Mother's Day weekend, it looks a bit like Father's Day around here!

So on Thursday, Ken and I actually got something that Ken has been wanting for quite some time.  A Weber Grill.  We were able to get a really good deal on this gas grill and many accessories from a friend of Kens.  The only real problem was how do we get it home?  Now if you are like us and don't own a minivan or an SUV, you know that this is a real problem!  Thankfully, we have children that have large vehicles and they are willing to lend them to us.  So we picked up Doug and Susie's large Jeep and borrowed it for a day.  Ken took a day off of work and we picked up the grill.   Then came the assembly........
I had threatened to leave the house during the assembly, but Ken managed to do this in a relatively short time.  We have not yet moved it out of the garage and into the back yard and have not yet installed the gas tank, but it is all together.  And then we were left with this.........
Lots of recycling!  But, in the end, I am also so happy to have a reliable grill that will not need to be replaced in a year.  We use our grill often, even during the colder months, so I admit, this is something that I will also enjoy.  So, I will call it a bit of a "Mother's Day" treat!  I am looking forward to some yummy grilling in the days ahead.

I have been a bit "behind" on blogging over the last weeks and frankly, the reason is that my allergies have just been terrible!  I sort of feel like I've been hit by a truck!  I am tired and my head feels like it weighs tons. So it has been hard to turn on the computer and write a blog.  I just saw today that the tree pollen counts are higher than they have seen for the last 20 years!  Well, I guess that explains the way I have been feeling!   Today I saw this picture on Facebook and it really struck me....
I admit that I stopped and thought about this for a minute.  And then I looked up the passage.  I understand what was being said, but there is so much in those two verses that are not summed up in that sentence.  Nonetheless, I still love this sentence.  Yes, It was amazing love that Jesus has for us, and he did give up everything to show that amazing love to us.  I have been letting the presence of Jesus just really seep into my soul over these last few days.  When you are not feeling well and you can't really do much else, it is really powerful to just let the presence take care of things.  And since I am feeling better I know that that presence has been love and healing!  What a gift.  I am behind in blogging, but wait for tomorrows update on my "date" today with Zeke!

Jesus, thank you for meeting me during this time of not feeling very well.  Thank you for provision through friends beyond our needs to our wants! Holy Spirit help us to remember, even during those times when things are not going so well, that you gave up everything for us.  Jesus, being in your presence is the greatest gift.  Thank you for your love!  Amen

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Where did the time go?????

Yesterday was Gwen's birthday.  She is old enough that I will not say exactly how old she is, but let's just say, I can't believe how old she is.  Wasn't I just that age, like yesterday?  I love this picture of Gwen's 3rd birthday.  It is special since Doug was just a bit shy of 2 months old.  This party would not have happened without the help of a good friend who basically took care of Doug the entire morning. And I have this picture, thanks to her!  I think we had 8 little friends for a morning party.  It was the first of many kid parties.  I love this picture also, because of the art work (thanks to Agape preschool) on the refrigerator.

Unfortunately, Gwen did not have a very good birthday yesterday.  Lia's sickness from Thursday of last week, next hit Ellie on Saturday, followed by Zeke and Anna at the same time on Sunday night.  And then, during the night (actually the wee hours of Monday morning) both Tim and Gwen got the dreaded stomach virus.  It was so bad on Monday morning that Lia actually volunteered to stay home from school to watch Zeke and Anna.  Needless to say, both Lia and Ellie made it to the bus.  Thankfully, both Zeke and Anna were exhausted from their interrupted sleep on Sunday night, and they took long naps.  So Gwen and Tim were able to just lay on the sofa most of the day.  Gwen was finally able to eat a few bites of dinner and a couple of bites of her "birthday cookie cake".  Today she was just glad that yesterday had passed and happy to be feeling better today.

Today I was reading from Psalm 62, which was titled (in the Passion Translation) "Unshakable Faith". I know that Jesus knew that I really needed this today.......

I am standing in absolute stillness, silent before the one I love;
waiting as long as it takes for Him to rescue me.
Only God is my Savior and He will not fail me.  
For he alone is my Safe Place.
His wrap-around presence always protects me.
As my Champion-Defender; there's no risk of failure with Him!
So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?
God's Glory is all around me! His wrap-around presence is all I need, for the Lord is my Savior!

I kind of got stuck on the first line.  I WISH I was standing in absolute stillness.  And I WISH I has silent before Him.  I really didn't feel like I was standing.  In fact I kind of felt flat on my face.  I was not being still either.  As a matter of fact, I was really not silent either.  I was in a spot of crying out to Jesus and telling Him that I really didn't understand why things were not turning out as I had prayed.   I wish that I could say that his peace was immediate..... but it took a while to feel that wrap-around presence.  But I did feel it.  And even as I typed in those words tonight, I felt it again.  I am so thankful for Scripture that is alive and speaks to us!

Jesus, thank you so much for Gwen and all that you have for her in the years ahead!  Thank you for the destiny you have for her and Tim.  Thank you for restored health in their household.  Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding me to go to scripture when I feel shaken.  Jesus, thank you for your warp-around presence!  Amen

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Weekend in the sun......and time with the Son....

I got to spend lots of time with the grandkids this past "busy" week, and that included getting to play with Anna and Zeke. I mentioned in a previous blog that Anna was determined to get on her riding toy.  Well she was just as determined to sit in this plastic kids chair.  And it was not easy.  But, just as with the riding toy, she was determined.  And in this case it wasn't enough just to sit in the chair, she needed to have her sunglasses and her phone (I guess 1 is old enough to need that phone!!) and her bear.  Now this was a several hour adventure.  In and out of that chair (with a little help from grandma, I admit).  Drop the phone, drop the sunglasses, drop the bear, cry, struggle to get down (cue grandma's help), pick up the phone, pick up the sunglasses, pick up the bear and start the process all over again.  But she did not give up.  She continued to attempt this over and over and over.  

When she finally got a bit tired of the process, she would look to me for help.  She needed that phone opened up (it's an older style flip phone), or she needed her sunglasses on (which always required a bit of help from grandma), or she dropped the bear and needed it back on her lap.  
And when I looked at this picture, I was thinking about Anna and who she will become in the years ahead.  She will be a mover and shaker who will not be stopped.  A lot like her older brother and sisters!

On Friday evening I went to the Chicago HUB meetings that are still continuing on (after the "end" of the conference 2 weeks ago).  It was a time of again being in the presence of Jesus.  There has been a shift in the atmosphere over these weeks.  There is a new sound that is the melding together of the intimate presence of Jesus with the strong desire to share this with others.  Certainly Jesus is up to something in the Chicago area.  It is time for everyone to be ready to share the Gospel message.  And we were all encouraged to think about and write down a brief statement of our own testimony that we could share with others.

Now with total honesty (and I am remembering that I promised honesty on this blog), over the last 20 years, I would have said that I am not an Evangelist and I don't feel called in any way to share the Gospel.  On Friday night I realized just how FALSE that statement was!  In fact, my testimony begins with the dream I had about Jesus when I was four.  In that dream, Jesus told me exactly who he was and then he told me that I was to TELL EVERYONE ABOUT HIM!  I was really brought to a stop when I was ever so gently reminded by the Holy Spirit of that fact!  HELLO!  That is a call to Evangelism!  So yes, I will need to be writing down that brief statement and learning more about what is happening through the Holy Spirit.

Saturday was a glorious day of sunshine and warm temperatures.  Ken and I actually bought a patio set and enjoyed time sitting outside.  Today started off sunny and warm but around noon, it clouded up and rain began.  But as I was reflecting on these past few days, I remembered Anna and that determination to accomplish a very big (for her) task.  I know that moving ahead. as the Holy Spirit leads will not be something that I can do in my own strength. But I also know that it is easy to just give up and feel that you are not able to make a difference.  Isn't it interesting that satan kept me from talking about Jesus for years and years, yet it was exactly what I was supposed to be doing?  Just like Anna, I am determined to grow and change and learn new things.  Yes, there is a new sound and a new atmosphere around here.  I can't wait to see what is ahead!

Jesus, thank you for your presence that calls us each to draw up close to you.  Holy Spirit thank you for showing me how deceived I have been about the call and destiny that Jesus has for me.  Please give grace to all who are reading this to be willing to see and hear the truth.  Thank you Jesus for Anna and all that she is learning and experiencing.  Thank you for sunshine and warm weather and rain that brings forth flowers.  Thank you for the new sound and the shift in the atmosphere!  Amen

Saturday, May 2, 2015

What a busy week..... with a "fairy tale" but not so happy ending.....

After the "Invention Convention" on Tuesday evening, it was time for the play that both Lia and Ellie had been working so hard towards.  There were performances on both Wednesday and Thursday and I was able to attend on Thursday.  It was a production of "Cinderella, Jr".  Lia was quite thrilled to be a Narrator, a guest at the ball, and a horse pulling the carriage and Ellie got to be a mouse!
This is near the beginning of the play, Ellie as Clara the mouse and when Lia also was a member of the household. 
Here is Lia doing one of her many speaking parts.  
Lia as one of the "horses" pulling the carriage (which was really cute....a very big prop and I love that they gave the girls stick horses!)  And finally, Lia dancing at the ball...notice a glimpse of Prince Charming in the background.
Here is the really amazing thing about these pictures.  Lia was really sick!  She had vomited just after the Pizza party but really wanted to tough it out and do the play.  She made it through the entire play, but barely made it home before getting sick again.  She had a nasty case of the stomach virus that was going around.  But what a kid!  She did such a great job in spite of feeling nasty!  And we were so, so proud of Ellie.  What a big deal it is to wear a costume and know where to be on the stage for a little kindergartner.  I am so impressed with these directors that take these 5-10 year olds and put on these big shows. Unfortunately, Ellie got the same stomach virus, so it was not to pleasant of an ending to Cinderella for Gwen and Tim and their family!  But, this to shall pass (hopefully not to Zeke or Anna OR Gwen and Tim).

It just reminds me again, that we need to be expecting so much more of our children.  In the Christian community we tend to take the kids out of church and put them somewhere to be entertained so that the adults can not be distracted.  Or even worse, there are many times when children are not welcomed at all!  Children are able to sit still in school for hours on end, or for hours at some sporting event, yet we think that they can't sit for 45 minutes or an hour in church.  How silly of us!  The children behave to our expectations.  If we expect children to sit and listen and learn, they will!  I am so thankful, when my own children were young, they stayed in church with us.  Sunday School was at a different time and we ALL went to class.  But church was a family event.  And my kids appreciate worship now as adults.  It seems funny to me that as children have become more advanced at younger ages in so many ways (have you seen little babies operating cell phones?  I have!  Anna (age 1) can turn on and open my phone to pictures!) the church has not responded and changed the status quo.   I want so much more for my grandchildren and all children.     These kids have gifts and talents and visions and ideas that we as the body of Christ need!   Join me in praying that the attitudes and atmosphere of the Christian body would be softened and open to the children. 

I am so thankful that Lia has been given the opportunity to share on a stage, with a microphone.  She has a call and destiny that includes sharing Jesus and the Gospel message with her piers.  And this experience will help pave the way to give her confidence to carry out her mission!

Jesus, thank you for wonderful opportunities for children to learn and grow.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the many ways you prepare us all for the things which are ahead in our lives.  Thank you for the ways you are using schools and park districts and clubs to prepare children towards their call and destiny.  Jesus, soften the hearts of the leaders in the Christian community to have a new vision for the children.  Thank you for health and quick healing for Lia and Ellie and protection for the rest of the family from this stomach virus!  Amen