Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taking a drink from the river of life.......

I am not much of a "flower" person.  Over the years, we have discovered that the less we do with flowers in our landscape, the better.  We used to have one giant planter that would hold flowers.  That went away and we went to a couple of smaller pots.  A few years ago we had a couple of hanging plants on metal plant crooks.  I saved those pots and the stands thinking maybe I would use them again.  And this year was the year.  We were on vacation during the typical planting times for us.  So somewhere around the first of July, we finally got a couple of plants.  It was certainly "clearance" time at the garden centers, so we took whatever we could find.  And honestly, they have looked really nice.....until the last week or so.
No matter how much water I pour on them, they are drooping by the end of the day.  I've had to begin watering them twice a day!  The amazing thing is that no matter how bad they look before the water, they seem to "come back to life" after a big drink from the hose.  I have to confess, I have been sort of aggravated at these plants this summer!  I much prefer flowers that I can just ignore and occasionally admire as I drive up to the house.  This morning as I was just about to leave the house, I noticed the sad, droopy flowers.  So I got out of the car and began the process of getting the hose out to water them.  I was not doing this with a good attitude!  As a matter of fact, it was garbage day today and I considered just dumping the pots into the trash!  Really!  

And then I heard that very small, still voice of the Holy Spirit saying "You need to stop and take a drink of the Living Water".  What!!!!!  So I stood there and watered those flowers for quite a bit longer than any other morning, thinking about what I had been seeing, right under my nose, all summer.  This is a perfect picture of what happens to us, out in the heat of the world.  We get dry and droopy and don't look so good.  As a matter of fact, we even look like we are totally dead!  What we need is a good drink of the living water of the Holy Spirit.   Without that water, we are not very pleasant to see or be around.  We lose everything that makes us appealing to the world.  WOW!

I have felt a bit "dry" lately.  I get those watering times, but I am not spending enough time taking a drink of Jesus.  It's pretty interesting how easy it is to forget to do that.  I have been so wanting some time away, by some large body of water.  For me, this is the way that I get recharged.  Part of that time away is spending lots of time drinking in all that Jesus is saying to me.  But I got the message today.  I need to be sure to take those daily....even twice daily breaks and spend time with Jesus.  That will water my spirit.  And I am sure that just like my flowers, I will be looking better AND feeling better!  

Jesus, thank you for this reminder of how important it is to stay well "hydrated" in the Living Water!  Help us all to take time out each day to be refreshed by you.  Holy Spirit, give us all those nudges when we start to fade and dry out.  Jesus, thank you for bring your life into us!  Amen

Monday, July 27, 2015

when throwing rocks is the best thing ever.........

Last week when I was at Gwen's, we had a bit of time to entertain the three younger kids while Lia was at a couple of appointments.  We spent some time at a playground and then we were by this lake.  All of the kids, including Anna, had fun throwing rocks into the water.  Really, who needs anything except a few rocks and some water?  They could have stayed by this lake for a long, long time.  We finally dragged them away so that we could blow some bubbles.
Sometimes it takes a lot of work to get those bubbles!  But Zeke managed to get some amazing bubbles....
Yes, the end result was lots of bubbles to be chased and popped.  It was so much fun watching the kids have such simple fun.  There is something so peaceful and wonderful when you just stop from the rushing here and there, lose the to-do list, and just really take part in the simple things.  Throwing rocks and blowing bubbles.  Later that day, I painted (see my previous blog).  Yes, this day was a reminder to just take part in the lazy daze of Summer.  

The next day took me right back into those "to-do" lists and things that are not so simple.  Ken and I did a walk through of his Dad's house that we are preparing to sell (yes, see another blog post).  Ken decided that we had to paint that garage.  We took a few hour diversion from the thought of this very big job, to attend our high school reunion.  We have a quite amazing group of classmates that continue to get together once a year, just to catch up. Ken and I graduated a year apart, but this reunion covers about 5 years of graduates - mostly his class.  There was a bit of discussion about next years reunion since it will be 45 years!  Yes, that sounds like a very long time.  And since I am a whole year behind that, I can give Ken a hard time!  There is something so good about being with people who are right where you are in life's issues.  I saw many pictures of grandchildren and talked about the loss of our parents.  And we discussed that "to-do" list of work on Ken's dad's house, with people who have been there and done that!  For the second night in a row, I actually didn't get home until after 10:30!  

And then came time for the real work...... the garage.
All I can say about this VERY LONG process is THANK GOD FOR A PAINT SPRAYER!  We can't imagine how long this job would have been without that amazing tool.  After hours and hours of painting, we realized that the floor needed to be cleaned.  So we attacked the floor with soup and the hose.  By the time we were done, we were very tired, but also very glad that we had completed this project.  A clean, painted garage looks much bigger and brighter.  Now we just need those buyers!  

I haven't blogged much this month.  There have been so many, many things that I have thought about putting on paper, but I seem to be so tired at night, that I can't face the keyboard!  But I need to share about two amazing reminders I have had this week that the Holy Spirit will get my attention.  This morning, a good friend just came into my mind. As a matter of fact, over the last week, she has been in my thoughts.  So I shot off a quick message to her, just to find out how she was doing.  Within two minutes my phone rang with a call from my dear friend!  She had just been thinking of ME when she got my message!  So I had a wonderful "catch up" conversation.  We were both so amazed at how Jesus keeps us connected - no matter the distance.  This reminded me of another similar thing that happened a few days ago.  While I was in the shower, this family kept coming into my mind.  This was really a "blast from the past" since I haven't seen or talked with them for a long time.  So, as soon as they came into my mind, I shot up some prayers for them, and decided that I had better get busy and get in touch with them.  Then, just two hours later, there was an email from that family, asking for prayer.  Needless to say, I called them later that afternoon.  And yes, it was so good to catch up.  In both of these situations, I knew that it was wonderful  that there are lots of good people praying for me when they are prompted by the Holy Spirit.  And to know that the Holy Spirit will prompt me to pray when I am quiet enough to hear his voice and listen!  

So there are two parts to this blog.  First, take some time to enjoy the simple things.  Throw a couple of rocks (not at someone, but into a nice, big body of water!).  Blow some bubbles.... look at the sky.  And secondly, be aware of how the Holy Spirit might be reminding you to not only pray for someone, but also connect with them!  

Jesus, thank you for all the amazing things you do for us.  Thank you for quiet times, for rocks and for bubbles and thank you for paint sprayers!  Holy Spirit, help us all to hear your voice, to listen to those promptings and to act on them!  Thank you for friends and prayer partners and classmates from our high school days.   Amen

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Painting a new picture.........with some Spiritual truths thrown in!

This has been an interesting few days.  I have actually accomplished something that, quite frankly, I never thought I would ever do.  I painted an acrylic painting that I actually have hanging on the wall of my craft room!  Here it is, in the works, with my palette" sitting beneath the painting.
It was a really fun evening spent with Gwen, finding out that I can actually accomplish something that is worthy of hanging!
It was so interesting to see how different all of the final products turned out.  Each person put their own "spin" on the project.  I love that Gwen's has a more violet look than mine.  Some of the people put lots of flowers on their lily pads.  Gwen and I had a really wonderful time and I am sure that we will go to one of these events again.  

In reflecting on what I actually learned that night, painting, I realized that there were some really big spiritual truths!  No surprise since Jesus seems to speak to me in all of my day to day experiences...

1.  We started off covering our white canvas with dark brown paint!  I know!  Doesn't that sound just silly?  But the instructor told us that the blues and whites would not show up very well on the white canvas.  They were more opaque and it would take lots of layers of paint to get the colors right.  So we all took a big brush and proceeded to cover the entire canvas.   Yes, we all started off (in the Garden of Eden) with a perfect, clean white soul.  But sin covered over every part of us.  The amazing thing is that when Jesus comes, beautiful shades of colors of the rainbow fill us.

2.  We actually added RED to our paintings?????? We were all sort of wondering where we were going to use RED on this blue, green and white (with a touch of yellow) painting we were making.  But what we found out was that we needed that red to really make all those variations of the shades of blue.  Not only that, the red was used to bring depth to the edges of the lily pads and the shadows in the water.  The red was a very necessary addition to complete our pictures.  And we need that shed blood of Jesus to blend into every area of our life.  It brings out all those colors and highlights exactly what Jesus knows needs to be highlighted.  Sometimes the blood shows us things that we need to get rid of from our life.  Sometimes the blood shows us what is really important.  Always the blood brings us life and the presence of Jesus!

3. As we were making the lily pads, the instructor reminded us that we should not make perfect circles since the perspective of our paintings was from the side!  Therefore we should make longer, thinner ovals that would give our paintings the right perspective!   How many times I have been reminded that we need to see from Jesus' perspective.  He sees things very differently than we do.  His heavenly view is timeless and Jesus sees the perfect plan and destiny that is before us.  

4. Before we started adding those lily pads, we were told to divide our canvas into thirds.  We needed to remember that we would be adding a "focal" point to our painting that needed to fall somewhere in the middle third of the canvas.  Well, I love that the canvas was not divided into it was thirds.  How can you not think of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  And Jesus falls into that middle third!  Nothing else needed to say about that!  Our focus should be on Jesus.  

5.  We were actually adding white to the green and the blue as we covered over all that brown paint.  I never knew how much adding white to blue made so many amazing shades!  And the greens seemed to just come to life when you added white. Isn't it true that when we add the righteousness of Jesus to our life, we have a depth of compassion and peace that changes how the world sees us.  The interesting thing is that often, people don't know WHY we are different, they just know that we are not like everyone else.  

6.  The white flowers just brought a bright freshness to the painting.    That became the focal point.  Those pops of white just seem to spring up from the dark colors.  I love that the Holy Spirit just pops out of us (or flows out in that living water) and becomes a focal point for all to see.  I especially love thinking about the Holy Spirit being the main thing that people see in me!  Wouldn't that be just great?  

7.  And then there was that yellow.  We seemed to have a very large amount of yellow for just those little tiny blips in the white flowers.  But actually, we were adding yellow to the green to make the reflections of the lily pads in the water.  We were adding yellow to the green on the lily pads to bring a hint of the sunlight shining on them.  Yes, the light was everywhere.  Isn't that just like Jesus?  He IS the light of the world and He is everywhere!  

8.  And then we added some "finishing touches" to the painting.  One thing that was suggested was to add a small amount of a very light blue to the petals of the white flowers.  Suddenly they seemed so much thicker and more real and not so flat.  And then there it was, the white presence of the righteousness of Jesus, mixed with the blue, living water of the Holy Spirit with the golden glow of the glory of the Father!  A perfect picture of God.  

Yes, I love that painting now even more than when I completed it.  I am so thankful that it is hanging right above my desk where I can see it often and remember these lessons.  What an amazing gift!

Jesus, thank you so much for all that you have shown me in this wonderful experience of painting.  Help us all to see you everywhere around nature, in our homes, in our lives.  Holy Spirit thank you for helping me comprehend and hold on to these lessons!  Thank you Jesus for colors and paintings and for the joy of creating!  Amen  

Monday, July 20, 2015

When an empty house holds years and years of memories....

Today I wandered through an empty house that holds so many memories.  We are preparing Ken's parents house for sale.  They bought the house in 1972 and moved into the house in 1973.  That is a long, long time.  After the death of Ken's dad in April, we have known that the sale of the house was on the horizon.  Today, the reality of this process hit me.  As I stood in the living room I was thinking back on all of the different "looks" that the room had over the years.  I was remembering so many family gatherings, so many "drop in" times, so many, many times.  Today I had a very quick flashback to the day that Ken's mom turned 50. The reason I remember that day is because it was also the day Ken and I got (officially) engaged - I got my ring.  We stood in the middle of that room and told mom and dad that we were getting married.  So many memories, so many milestones. 
This was actually one of the last "family gathering" days that we had with Ken's mom and dad.  It was their 65th Wedding Anniversary in  2007.  Ken's mom was already not doing very well physically and had oxygen (that she often refused to use).  She died just about a year and half later, in April of 2009. Ken's dad moved to Florida and the house was rented to our nephew and his wife.  But now, it is time for a new family to make this house their home.  

Ken and I got a couple of boxes of "stuff" that belonged to his dad.  One of the things that I stopped and held in my hands for a bit, was this strap that was dad's favorite and was often on any dulcimer that he was currently playing.  
Yes, it is this very strap that was on this dulcimer in 1980 (I know the year since that is Gwen at 18 months old!).  Isn't it interesting what brings back those memories?  I was really surprised today, that I got so nostalgic.  I was not expecting this at all.  I think it is all a part of my new "normal" dealing with grief and loss every day.  Things that may not have hit me quite so hard, now seem to slam into my spirit.  Time marches on.  Everything changes.  Children grow up and have children of their own. 
And we face losses - some expected and some very unexpected.  And all of this happens in our homes.   

Just last week I was talking with a group of my friends about the promise of the commandment to "honor your mother and father"  for a long prosperous life.  There are many ways that plays out.  I am just very thankful that Ken and I were able to have our parents in our lives for as long as we did.  We were blessed that our children grew up knowing them.  And have an amazing legacy of memories of shared times together.  

I am so very thankful today.  Thankful for all that Ken's mom and dad planted in their family.  During family gatherings, Ken's mom used to love to say "all this because one day I went roller skating!"  So it was another day of realizing the "generational shift" and understanding once more the deep importance of family.  

Jesus, thank you for this reminder to appreciate past generations.  Holy Spirit, help us all to honor those above us in the generations.  Jesus, bless the house that surrounded our family and bring in the exact right people to once again fill up that house.  Thank you for your love and care for our family.  Amen

Friday, July 17, 2015

When the weather brings a memory.......

Today was one of those true summer days.  It was HOT and HUMID!  You could just feel the air hit your face when you walked outside.  This is really a great change since this has been a cold and wet summer.  As a matter of fact, Monday was 65 degrees and quite chilly.  As compared to today when it was 97 and humid!  Of course that hot, humid weather brought some strong late afternoon thunderstorms.  When I was walking the dogs, I was remembering being at Lake Maud....

As I was looking for a particular picture of Lake Maud, I found this one instead.......
In the back on the left, is my sister Julie.  Next to her is my cousin Corrine, and I am in the front left and my cousin Thora Lee is the front right.  A picture of sisters, sharing time at Lake Maud.   I really did not remember that I had this picture and it was very important that I happened to find this picture today.  We got word last week that my cousin Corrine had died very unexpectedly.  She was a widow and never had any children.  She lived in Tucson, Arizona.  It was very sad to think about her being all alone when she died.  Believe it or not, I think I actually remember this particular day that the picture was taken.  It was the last time that my Uncle Walfred (Corrine and Thora Lee's dad) was ever at the lake.  He was not well, but my dad drove to their house and brought them down for a picnic.  I remember that Uncle Walfred sat in a lawn chair through the entire event.  But it was actually the first time I remember seeing him NOT laying on the couch in their living room.  Unfortunately, he died during that next year.  My cousin Thora Lee is the closest to me in age of any of my first cousins.  She is two years older than me, and we spent many days together when we were at the lake.  I was remembering that the last time I saw Corrine was at my dad's funeral in 1985.  It is really a sad thing that time passes and you don't make it a priority to see those relatives that you spent so much time with as children.   Now, back to Lake Maud.....

I was thinking about one particular summer.  I'm not exactly sure how old I was, but I believe I was in early junior high.  My dad was putting "Knotty Pine" paneling on the walls of the cabin.....(one of his usual "projects" of the year).  That year was unusually hot.  I remember watching the sweat just pour off of my mom and dad as they cut board after board to be nailed up on those walls. There was not a breath of air movement and all we had was one small (very old) fan.    And we had several really awful storms during that year.  For northern Minnesota, this was very strange.  It was in the high 90's and I remember one day even went above 100.   Yes, it was a very odd weather summer.

I really believe that the reason that I thought of Lake Maud today, was so that I could find this picture.  I have been thinking so much about my cousin Corrine and also Thora Lee, who lost her sister.  My ability to relate to situations of grief and loss has certainly changed.  It is not so easy to just pass over these events.  It is good to enter into the feelings and memories. 

So I just took a minute and looked at that picture a bit closer.  I loved that amazing Juniper bush that we are standing by.  It was the centerpiece of the large front yard.  My mom loved that bush!  And here is a funny thing.........Bath and Body Works sells a shower gel with the fragrance "Juniper Breeze".  Whenever I have that gel in my shower, as soon as it hits the hot water, I can close my eyes and feel like I am standing in that spot - just like in this picture - smelling that Juniper bush!  I spent so many hours sitting in a lawn chair, right by that bush.  Ah..... Lake Maud.  How I miss you!

Yes, the weather today reminded me of Lake Maud, which reminded me of my cousin Corrine, which led me to a time of grief and sadness, which turned into another memory of Lake Maud, which left me with a warm, wonderful good feeling, and then a bit of sadness and missing.    What a mix of stuff!  And a mix of emotions.  In this short, little blog I have  remembered, grieved, regretted, recalled, celebrated, smiled and cried.  It's been quite a day and quite a blog.  But after it all, I just feel calm and peaceful.  It is such an amazing thing to walk through memories when you are LED there by Jesus.  When the Spirit is nudging you along a path it is so much easier to walk through all of the stuff - good and bad.  Because when you get to the end.... you always end up in a place where you know that Jesus had a plan and purpose for the entire thing.  Knowing he is leading lets you just relax and let it all unfold before you.  This whole thing today just fills me with overflowing hope.  Hope because no matter how I am feeling right now, Jesus is leading me to a new place.  

Thank you Jesus for using the weather and the "wrong" picture to bring me into and through memories, grief, sadness and into  peace and hope.  You are such an amazing and loving God that knows us and cares so much about all aspects of our lives.  Holy Spirit, help us all to move through these emotions and draw us along so that we don't get stuck in one place.  Thank you Jesus for your plan and destiny for each of us.  Amen

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Don't worry, it really is a dog's life!

Have you heard the old saying, "It's a dog's life"?  Well, this week I have been observing exactly what a dog's life is like!  We are "dog sitting" for Doug and Susie who are away on a much needed vacation......without Sammy and Kylie!  We are sharing the doggie duty with Susie's mom and dad, but so far, this is what I have learned about the dog's life.....

Sammy and Kylie spend most of their time doing exactly what they are doing in this picture.  Sleeping in their plush little beds.  They eat exactly what is put in front of them (twice a day) and go for a few walks outside.  But for about 23 of the 24 hours in a day, they are curled up in their comfy, safe place.  And I can assure you that those two dogs are not worried about anything!  (Except possibly when the next food truck arrives with the kibble).  They are really wonderful house guests.  I really barely knew they were in the house today!  

I was thinking about what a worry free life that dogs lead, and then remembering the very clear directive that Jesus left us about worry..........first He reminded us that birds are fed by the Father.  Then Jesus spoke about the flowers who don't need to worry about their clothes.  Then Jesus ended this passage saying....."Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34  

Yes, in spite of this very clear teaching, I know that I do worry.  But truthfully, I know that I am doing a better job of not worrying so much.  I am daily asking for guidance and help from Jesus on this!  At any rate, today at my small group, we were talking about all of the "stuff" going on around us in the world, in our country, and in our families.  And it was clear that worry and fear were trying to bombard our little group.  We started to just worship and soak in the presence of Jesus.  Calm and peace just filled the room and we all began to relax.  I had a little picture pop into my head of this very large hand holding the planet earth!  And the song "He's got the whole world in His hands" just came into my mind. I also thought "He has his eye on us!"  Psalm 33.  So I looked up Psalm 33.  

Psalm 33

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

Yes, there it was.....the eyes of the Lord are on us!  Why would we worry?  He has it all in control.  He is not worried or bothered.  The plans of the Lord stand firm forever!  Yep, it really is a dog's life for us.  We can just let go and not worry about anything!  Yes, I think that I will be spending some time parked in Psalm 33.  It seems like a really good place to put my focus.  I will remember that just like verse 13 says, "From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind!"  His eyes are on us!

So after breathing that thought deep into my spirit, I will go and take these two sweet doggies on a long walk about the neighborhood!  And I will remember that Jesus has everything under control!

Jesus, thank you so much for this great lesson today!  Holy Spirit, help us all to keep our focus on the heavens and help us to remember that Jesus has it all taken care of!  Thank you for lessons learned through our pets and reminders through songs and visions.  And thank you Lord for making sure we had your Word to keep these lessons in our hearts and minds.  Amen

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Room number 2 done!

Wow...... Another long day of redecorating, fixing, updating.  But tonight it is all done!  And I couldn't be more pleased with the results.  I still need to get some new tables and a desk chair, but for now, it is done!  I love the color and I love the carpet.  And my new shelf gets everything up and off of the floor.  Right now all of my scrapbook "stuff" is packed up, in readiness for the upcoming scrap weekend away!  So it will look a bit different when I "unpack" after that weekend.  But you can get the general idea of how well the room is going to function!  I feel so blessed to have this much space just for myself.  I haven't gotten my wall stuff up yet, but still, I can breathe out!  

As part of the finishing touches for the room, Ken and I had to run a few errands.  We went to Walmart and Menards with two of the very strangest shopping lists!  At Walmart we got everything from cold medicine to a paper towel holder to OFF and 409 with a few cans of pork and beans thrown in along with a bunch more very unrelated items.  At Menards we got new switchplate covers for my room, replacement water filters, hooks for the garage and more odd items!  The amazing thing is that we got everything that we needed and, thanks to the lists I had, didn't forget anything!  Having a list is a wonderful tool!  

Isn't it funny how often we think about making lists, but then don't actually do it?  Or how about the times that we make a really good list and then forget it at home.  My favorite is when I make a list, remember to actually have the list in hand when I am shopping, but then get home and realize that I didn't remember to actually LOOK at the list and I have forgotten several items!   Yes, I am a list maker.  I make To-Do lists.  I make lists as we are getting ready to go on vacations.  I make lists of things I might need in the future.  I make lists of places I would like to visit - some day.  I make lists of books I want to read.  List are important to me.

I love that there are lists in the Bible.  I love that we have 10 very clear rules to live by.  The Ten Commandments.  I love that there is a list of the generations of Jesus - both Joseph and Marys!  I love that we can find lists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  There is a list of the Disciples.  I could go on and on.  Yes, I am so glad that there are lists in the Bible.  Sometimes we all need lists to help us remember.  It is very sad that we don't have the 10 commandments displayed in our schools, courts or city halls any more.  These life rules are good for everyone!  I recently saw this list for kids - but it could be for ALL of us!

1.  Put God first.
2.  Worship Him only
3.  No bad words
4.  Work 6 rest 1
5.  Obey your parents
6.  Harm no one
7.  Don't cheat
8.  If it's not yours, don't take it
9.  Tell the truth
10.  Don't be jealous of other people's stuff

I just love that someone has put this important list into words that can be remembered and understood by even the youngest kids.  And I think there are some adults who could use this as a refresher!  

Jesus, thank you for your provision for my home and this special space, just for me!  Holy Spirit you help us to remember all of these lists from Scripture....exactly when we need them.  Give us wisdom and revelation as we walk through our days.  Thank you for people who restate your truths, Jesus, so that we can understand and remember them more easily.  Amen

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My response to a comment on this blog.........

Today I got the following comment on one of my blog posts......

"You are amazing, the way you figure out the good side of things from bad things. Did you ever get mad at God? Did you ever blame God for Lucas' death?"

I have been thinking about this all day.  At first I was just going to put a sentence or two reply comment on the blog, but then realized that this is really a BIG QUESTION that deserves a more complete answer.  Remember that I promised to be honest on this blog.... totally honest.  And through the last 8 months I have been honest.  There have been many, many very down times for me.  Times when there have been more tears than I even imagined that I could cry.  But there have also been many times when I have felt that hope just rise in my soul.  And I have felt the joy and wonder of all that Jesus is doing right now.  But I want to be clear about this...... yes I have been angry about this whole situation. There have been times that, like David in the Psalms, I have been mad at God.  David didn't understand his circumstances, or the events surrounding him.  He was angry at God, but at the same time, he also always remembered exactly who God was.  So many of the Psalms begin in that place of sadness and anger but then they move on to the wonder and greatness of God. Yes, there has even been times I have shaken my fist at God.
Not because He caused Lucas to die.  But just because I was so angry that Lucas died.  Sin and death are in this world because of US..... not because of God.  His plan was for us to live with Him in the Garden of Eden and never know pain or sickness or death. God knows that we are hurt and angry.  And he is big enough to handle our anger.  We were not "made" to experience grief.  It is a part of our world because of sin.  Sometimes people joke about the shortest verse in the Bible..... "Jesus wept" John 11:35.  But this has become a very important verse to me.  Jesus understands.  He gets it.  He was experiencing grief in this world.  His friend had just died.  And he cried.  I have looked at that verse more than once in these last months. And when I go to Jesus in my grief, He fills me with the peace that passes all understanding.  

So, no, I never blamed God for Lucas' death.  And I know that the only reason that I can see the good side of things is because of Jesus.  Staying in touch with Jesus.  Keeping my focus on who He is and the knowing that His promise is to work good for those of us that love Him.  

"And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes."  Romans 8:28

I appreciate this comment on my blog from a friend.  It has given me another chance to remember how thankful I am for the presence of Jesus in my life.  This life is not easy.  Our world is difficult and at times so terribly hard.  There are so many things that we just don't understand.  But no matter what emotion we are feeling, whether it is happy, sad, scared, - whatever, Jesus understands and He cares.  

Thank you so much, Jesus, for this reminder that you care about our feelings.  Holy Spirit, encourage us to always be honest with Jesus about how we are feeling.  Thank you for bringing that wonderful peace when it is most needed.  And thank you for all of the people that read this blog and share their thoughts and comments.   Bless anyone who is struggling with anger.  Reach them and bring your love and your joy.  Thank you for being so present with me in my grief.  Amen

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Connection to the past..........and into the future

I have mentioned that I am the youngest of five children in my family.  I was born in Watertown, South Dakota and my mom and dad had lived there for a long time.  My mom graduated from high school in Watertown and met my dad there.  And, except for a few years, they had lived in Watertown.  I always felt a bit out of the loop in my family whenever the conversation turned to Watertown.  All of my siblings have lots and lots of memories of Watertown.......except me.  We moved away when I was just 3 years old.  I only have a couple of actual memories of Watertown (a fact that my mom could not believe).  I remember the front porch of our house (and sadly, I can't visit it or get a picture because the house was torn down in the 1960's).  And I remember the Library!
I discovered that the building that I knew as the Library, is now the Codington County Historical Museum.  I remember going down those stairs on the side, into the basement, to the children's section.  I have very clear memories of rows and rows of books.  It was certainly a happy place for me.  My love of books and going to the Library did not end when we moved away.  I spent hours and hours at the St. Paul Public Library (downtown) - BY MYSELF - from the time I was in early grade school.  The arrival of the Bookmobile at my neighborhood shopping center was a big treat.   My nose was almost always in a book.  After my own kids were born, we often visited the library.  Thirty years ago our community had a very old building with a very tiny library.  As a matter of fact, the children's books were stacked on the steps to the second floor!  But we had "district" borrowing privileges at several towns near to us.  My kids grew up going to the Library on a weekly basis.  So it was no surprise that today, I visited the Library with Gwen and the kids....

 They have a wonderful children's room at their local library.  All of the kids picked their own books.  There were board books for Anna, picture books for Zeke, early readers for Ellie, and "chapter" books for Lia.  Zeke spent time doing a very large alphabet floor puzzle (with a little help from Ellie), and Anna walked up and down and around all the rows of books (with Grandma following closely behind her)!  Before we left, all four kids spent time at the computers!

And we left with 20 books!  Five for each kid.  And their loft is filled with books that they own.  And there are books in each of their bedrooms and books on their kindles.  Yes, we are a book loving family!

In thinking back to my love of books, it is really interesting that I really didn't OWN many of my own books.  As a matter of fact I think I could name the first 5 books that I owned!  I am so thankful that one of those five was my first Bible, which is still on my book shelf.

Last night I had one of those dreams.... the kind that I know have meaning beyond the dream itself.  I have been "dreaming" in my awake hours of going to the beach.  It looks like the beach might be a lake for us this year, rather than the ocean.  But I am longing for a body of water.  Since I spent every summer of the first 20 years of my life at a lake, this should not be a surprise!  My dream last night started with the realization that I was in a small row boat, out on a lake.  As I looked around I didn't see anything that seemed familiar.  But I was not at all afraid.  Even when I realized that I did not have the oars and there was not a motor on the boat!  I was calmly floating around in that little boat.  I remember that at one point in the dream, I put my head back and just looked up at the clear blue sky.  It was so restful and so peaceful.  Exactly what I blogged about yesterday.  Peace.  Easy, not worries, just calm and peace.  What a great dream.   Jesus was totally in charge and I was just floating along.  Yes, I need to bring that dream into my life.   I don't have to understand.  I don't have to have all the tools I think I might need.  I just need to look up and breathe deep.  And let life take me where it will.  Because I know that my little boat, my life, is not on an aimless path.  There is a plan and purpose and destiny to my journey. And Jesus is in charge.  Yes, I need to just stop, take that deep breath and be in peace.  One thing is certain, that possible lakeside vacation is sounding better and better!

Jesus, thank you so much for speaking to us in dreams.  Holy Spirit, you connect us from our past into the future.  Jesus, thank you for books and libraries and words on a page.  Thank you for information and stories and testimonies that challenge and encourage us and educate us.  Remind us all that the best way to spend our days is floating along, letting you do the propelling!  Amen

Monday, July 6, 2015

Another step on the way.......

Today I actually completed the main portion of the painting in the scrapbook room.  This was not without its challenges.  The ceiling paint that we bought turned out to be terrible!  It left the ceiling looking like it was covered with water spots.  The "painters tape" actually ripped off strips of paint, that had to be painted over.  So this morning I took back one gallon of the "not working at all" ceiling paint and actually got some "works really, really well" ceiling paint.  And I repainted the ceiling and did all of the touch up work..........all by myself!  All that is left is the closet!  And this will not be an easy task.  I am thinking that I should be able to finish it off on Wednesday! (Tomorrow I am going to Gwen's so thankfully, it will not be a painting day!)

We had a really nice time at Doug and Susie's house on Sunday, being together with Gwen and Tim and the kids.  Doug grilled and we had a very "Fourth of July" meal of  hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, corn on the cob, and of course, watermelon.  It was delicious!  The kids had a wonderful time getting to meet "Lucas Bear".
This precious weighted bear came to Doug and Susie from an amazing organization called Molly Bears.  I would love to have anyone who reads this blog, click on that link and read about them.  It is just another very important service that you never know exists, until you need them.  It was so interesting to watch Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna respond to this bear.  Each of them has been in their own process of grief and dealing with the loss of "baby Lucas". Holding that 7lb 6oz bear was very comforting.  I know that Lucas bear is important to Susie and Doug.  But as I saw Ellie and Lia and Zeke holding it, I knew that it was important for them also.  It is just our new reality that, as a family, we will always be missing Lucas.  All of us.  Not just Doug and Susie.  The women who started Molly Bears lost a precious baby girl (Molly) due to a cord accident.  From her own personal tragedy, thousands of families are being blessed.  There was one line on the web site that really struck me..."It is amazing to think how many people are saying her name - Molly".  Molly will not be forgotten. And we will not forget Lucas.

Yes, there are steps on the way... Clearing out, cleaning, emptying out, painting...on the way to a redone space.  And this precious little bear is another step on the way into our new reality.  Moving on as a family, missing Lucas, but always keeping him in our thoughts.

I had another one of those "Today, God wants you to know" messages.... Today, Lyn, we believe God wants you to know that ...peace can be found in unlikely places.Even in the darkest storms, peace can be found by those who seek it. When turmoil and tension tear at your heart, pray for peace and most often you'll find peace in prayer. Of course there is no need to wait for a storm, pray for peace right now.

These last 8 months have been filled with turmoil and felt like a very dark storm.  But it has been  true that I have found peace through prayer.  There have been times when I really didn't know how I could get through without prayer.  Jesus is peace and He will give you that peace if you just ask.  I love the last line of this message....don't wait for a storm to ask for peace.  That is great advise.  We need peace all along the way!

Jesus, thank you for being our peace.  Holy Spirit, remind us to come to you for a daily shot of peace, no matter what is happening - good or bad.  Jesus, pour out your blessings on the Molly Bear family.  Thank you for using their tragedy to bless others.  Thank you for family times together.  Amen

Friday, July 3, 2015


 Don't you just love those commercials for home improvements or paint or some other product?  They all make it seem like you can paint a room and totally change your home in one day.  Or at most, a weekend.  But that is so far from the truth!  This redecorating transformation stuff is HARD WORK! And you have to do the very hard work of clearing out all of the junk before you can even start the hard work of the actual redecorating.
Here is Ken.  A long time ago.  Like actually about 36 years ago.  And that is how our nursery looked as we were preparing it for Gwen's arrival.  Notice that rainbow stripes on the wall that matches the rainbow on the crib.  And yes, we had painted one wall red, one blue and one yellow.  I know, this was a very BOLD choice - especially 36 years ago when pastels were the way to go.  But I had read that babies liked bold colors and that they responded to them.  So this was my choice.  And Ken went along with it.  Now that room has been painted several times since it was the nursery.  It also had wallpaper (sports themed) when Doug was young.  Yet, today, as we were patching holes and ripping up the 38 year old carpet, I noticed that you could still see that rainbow stripe on the wall.  So out came the can of KILLZ,
It was a long, long day.  I had spent a number of hours emptying out all the JUNK that filled that room.  (So right now the hallway is filled with stuff, and so is our master bedroom).  But I am so much closer to seeing the final product!  We still have the painting to do. The closet will be an extra challenge.  It has a very odd raised part that is actually over the stairs.  I don't know how we will paint up in the corner, but I am sure it will be an adventure!  And we have the new floor to do.  And then there is the moving all the stuff back into the room.  This transformation of rooms is no easy task!

After we had rolled up the old carpet, and once again, filled up all of our garbage cans and recycling bins, (and made yet another trip to GoodWill!) we decided to celebrate with a special treat for dinner.  Ken loves this particular Pizza.  And he has been really working hard at eating better and also exercising.  And the scale really shows it!  With all of the work we have done on the house in the last few months, he deserved this special treat. And it was so delicious! 
I was thinking about the many, many transformations that happened in my spirit.  It is really very much like this house stuff.  You have to do the very hard work of clearing out all the junk.  You know, those really bad memories or habits that are lingering in your spirit.  And you even have to empty out all of the dark and hidden closets.  You have to be sure that you empty everything out so that the Holy Spirit can fill up all those spaces.  That is the beginning of the transformation of your spirit.  As you continue along in the process of being transformed, there will be changes that come along.  You may decide that the things you thought were so important before don't really fit with the Holy Spirit.  Those TV shows or movies that you watched before, don't seem so good anymore.  And you might even find that you want to add some new things.....reading the Bible, a small group... Then you might notice that you have been redecorated!  You have a new attitude, you are wearing a smile more often than before and you feel so much lighter, brighter.  You are free!  

Yes, these transformations are really great.  Even though it takes much more time than a day or a weekend.  The finished product is always worth it!  

Jesus, thank you for being the great transformer!  Your love is the source of that wonderful makeover for all of us.  Holy Spirit, thank you for filling us up as we empty out all of the junk from our spirits.  Help us to be sure to keep up with the ongoing process of being filled with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus your love is amazing and your grace is overwhelming.  Thank you for reminding us that you have transformed us all.  Amen

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Destiny and reaching for goals......

I found this picture yesterday and the timing was perfect!  This is Gwen and Doug at Great America on the Ladybug ride.  Today, Gwen and Tim took their kids to Great America and Gwen sent me this picture of them on the SAME RIDE!
As I told Gwen, I can see an amazing "side by side" Scrapbook page in the making!  I am sure that there is "method in the madness" of the operators of these parks.  They took this ride away many years ago.  But they know that it is time to bring it back when those kids of long ago now have children of their own.  Just so moments like this can be captured!  

But this is not the real reason for the blog today.  You know that I have been doing cleaning and sorting and organizing and I came upon this a couple days ago....,

This is dated March of 2010.  The purpose of these papers was to write a personal vision statement and goals.  Some of it was filled in and some was not.  It was pretty clear that I was having a hard time completing this even then.  And there are a number of things filled in, and sadly, I am no closer to them now than 5 years ago.  As a matter of fact, I think I have less focus and direction towards these goals NOW than I had then.  I think it is time to do some reevaluating!  

I have always said that the message I feel most pressed to share is that there is a destiny and plan and purpose for each person.  The thing is that you have to be pressing in to Jesus and listening and sensitive to the nudge of the Holy Spirit to know your destiny and plan!  And you also have to be constantly in touch with Jesus since that plan and destiny might change over time.  And even as I am writing this paragraph, I realize that I am speaking to myself.  This vision from 2010 does not HAVE to be my vision in 2015!  Isn't that good news?  If there is some goal that you set for yourself at some time in the past, and you haven't quite attained it yet, don't fret!  There may well be a different goal or some tweeking of that original goal that applies right now.  

There was one goal on those sheets of paper that I know I am moving towards....just not exactly how I thought it would happen.  I had written "Go to the nations, share the Kingdom message of Jesus' plan and destiny.  Make connections in the body of Christ to expand a platform to share this message, to bring glory to the Father."   And for each of you out there reading this blog, you have taken me closer to this goal.  It seems that each day I am adding to the number of different countries that are reading this blog.  Yesterday it was Georgia and Argentina that popped up.  Two countries on different continents.  I believe that these two countries brought the country total to 91!  And I have not left my house.  I have connected with people through this blog, that I would never have encountered.  I have had the privilege of "talking" back and forth with people (some who speak very little English) through email and comments.  I have been able to share Jesus without ever seeing people face to face.  But I have the assurance that writing this blog is exactly the correct thing for me to be doing!  I just need to remember to stay close to Jesus and listen carefully so that I can reach those other goals!

Jesus, thank you for your personal plan and destiny for each of us.  It is really amazing that we can each hear your voice.  Holy Spirit, thank you for prompting people to read this blog.  Help us to continue to work towards our goals.  Jesus, thank you for reminding me that my legacy is in my children and grandchildren.  Thank you for picture memories that bring smiles!  Amen