Sunday, August 30, 2015

Memories of a long ago trip....and another bit from Wednesday night!

On Friday night, Ken and I had dinner with Doug and Susie, followed by a wonderful time seeing their photos from their recent trip out west.  They got some amazing pictures!  And I couldn't help but remember my trip through Yellowstone and Glacier on my family vacation to Spokane to visit my aunt and uncle.  I was thinking of this picture of my mom, me and my aunt Bee from that vacation.  This was the only "real" vacation I ever went on with my family (other than going to the Lake).  Sadly, what I remember most about this trip was being crammed in the middle of the back seat (between my mom and my brother, since Aunt Bee needed to ride in the front seat).  On the entire trip to Spokane, I was miserable with an abscessed tooth.  As soon as we got to my Aunt's house, a trip to the dentist, a pulled tooth, and antibiotics and I was feeling much better.   I was almost 9 years old on this trip, so I remember the "important" sights.....Old Faithful, seeing snow in June, the mountains, Mt. Rushmore, and actually meeting my aunt and uncle for the first time (and sadly, the only time I ever got to see them).  Yes, seeing Doug and Susie's pictures made it clear that Ken and I will be putting a trip out west on our "bucket list".

In my last blog I shared about a meeting I attended on Wednesday night with Dr. Clarice Fluitt.   I have a page of "one liners" that I have been meditating on, turning over in my spirit, thinking about and just reading - over and over.  So I decided to just shoot them off to all of you, so that YOU can be meditating, turning over, thinking about and reading.  So here goes....

*change the atmosphere - choose to use your words.
*your participation is REQUIRED not REQUESTED
*you are the disguise of God - He is hidden within us
*be a thermostat - not a thermometer.   Set the atmosphere - don't report it.
*don't wait till it is too in heaven NOW on earth.
*the church is waiting for God to do what God is waiting for the church to do!
*the root of the word culture is CULT!
*live FULL and die EMPTY
*say it in don't just pray it in (use your VOICE)
*be expecting God to do something through you rather than TO you.
*if you are called to be an overcomer you have a lot to over come!

Seeing that list....all I can say is WOW!  Sometimes you come away from a meeting with only one or two thoughts.  Obviously that was not the case with this meeting!  I encourage you to read through those one liners.  Listen to the Holy Spirit and I know that you will be blessed by these words of wisdom!

Jesus, thank you for time with family that includes sharing food and also wonderful photos.  Thank you for providing time  for Doug and Susie to rest and recharge while away enjoying nature.  Holy Spirit, use these amazing "one liners" from Dr.Clarice to bless and encourage us.  Speak your heart and message into us through them.  Amen

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Every river has a mouth"

Last night I had the chance to hear a truly amazing lady, Dr. Clarice Fluitt.  If you click on her name, you will get to her web site.  I first heard her at a conference last spring and all I will say is that I have never laughed so hard at any speaker.  She talks FAST and sometimes LOUD.  In her stream of talking last night, she said the words that are the title of this blog.....  "every river has a mouth".
This is my family at the "headwaters" of the Mississippi River.   I have thought often about this spot. But until last night, I never really thought about the MOUTH of the river.  

Dr. Clarice was talking about John 7:38 where Jesus said, "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them".   And she concluded with this statement.. every river has a mouth!  WOW!  She was setting the stage for her next point.  If you want those rivers of living water to flow out from you, you have to open your MOUTH!  

Well, today this really hit me.  John 7:38 is my "life verse".  And I always know when Jesus is trying to get my attention, this verse will show up.  I have never, ever thought about the connection between the mouth and the river flowing.  According to the actual definition of the "mouth of a river" it is the point of connection for a river to another river, a lake or an ocean.  And if there is no connection to another body of water - a mouth - than it is NOT a river.  In order to be a river, the water must be flowing and there must be a mouth for the river to flow!   Okay, I am supposing some of you out there are saying, "Duh"!  How could you not have thought about this before?  It makes this life verse DEPENDENT on my mouth!  I need to be speaking and sharing and telling.  I need to let my testimony be a part of my conversation.  Don't we all?  

I began this blog over two years ago BECAUSE I needed a platform to share everything that seemed to be bottled up inside of me.  And this blog has become my mouth in many ways.  I am using these posts to let that river flow!  As I have been doing that, there has been more much more "springing up" into my spirit.  Just like those underground springs that feed the Mississippi River, the Holy Spirit has been filling me up.  

My encouragement to you all today, is to open your mouth and let that river flow!  You will be a blessing to others, and you will be blessed! Don't forget that this is the plan, purpose and destiny for all of us!  

Jesus, thank you for Dr. Clarice and all the wisdom that she shared.  Thank you Holy Spirit, for reminding me of this powerful word and showing me the impact in my life.   Give us all courage and boldness to open our mouths so that you river of living water can flow out of us!  Amen

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's all about a tree......again!

Okay, I know that I mentioned that I would be blogging more frequently, but that hasn't happened.  And I know that I gave a teaser PS about a recent dream I had.  And then I haven't blogged.  Sigh.  Life just seems to get in the way these days.  Over the weekend I spent time trying to get my extensive digital photo directory better organized.  And then I started the time consuming task of choosing pictures to print for the the next round of scrapbooking.  I spent hours doing this, yet I only got to March 1, 2014.  So I have a lot more to do.  So that is more of an explanation rather than an excuse for not blogging.  Truthfully I have been letting that dream "sink in" so that I can share exactly what I am supposed to share.  So here goes.... and yes, it includes a tree!

In this dream, I was inside of a house and there was a meeting going on.  I noticed that the front door was open and I went over to shut it.  When I looked out, there was a very large tree, smack in the middle of the view from the front door.  There were people milling all over on the lawn around the tree.  Suddenly there was a storm happening and the winds were blowing and a branch fell from that tree.

Okay...that sets the stage.  There was a lot of detail in the dream, but right now, I want to focus on the final thought from the dream, a word from Jesus.

Sometimes it is necessary to prune a tree.  To trim off the branches that are diseased or twisted and not growing the correct way.  If these would just stay tightly to the trunk, if they would drink from the deep roots, they could recover.  But sometimes satan comes in with an evil blast and exerts force on those branches and they fall.  It is my desire that every family tree would stay strongly rooted and growing in me.  I wish for all to be saved.  But each must choose for themselves.  You must care for your family tree.  Nurture the new young shoots so that they are drinking deeply from the living water in the roots.  Let them flourish under the protection of the older branches.  Show them the best direction to grow towards the sun. But if there are ones that turn the other direction or that bring in unhealthy food or disease, they must be cut off.  For the health of those young ones.  I have seen your heart and know your care for the new life.  Do not despair over those that seem lost.  For I can graft back any who wish to grow toward the son!  Celebrate my protection and my plan.  Bask in the shade of my love and care.  Rest in the security of a house that is serving me.  Guard your doors and do not let any distraction keep you from me. Close your windows to keep the winds of destruction away from those who are vulnerable.  Draw close to me and be at peace.  For I am the living tree of life.  And I love you.  

I think I will just leave this blog with that.  As I said, there is more, but this is quite enough for one day.  Just let it sink in and consider all that is in that.  I love that Jesus spoke to me through this dream, using a tree.  A family tree.  And the tree of life.  The picture on this blog was actually taken yesterday, while I was at the playground with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna.  But all I could see were the trees.  And I was thinking about this word.  I am praying that everyone who reads these words, hears the message for themselves, through the Holy Spirit.  Breathe in and then go and look at a tree!

Jesus, thank you so much for speaking to us all through everyday things.  Thank you for dreams and words that help us understand and wonder and know more of your great love.  Holy Spirit, help us all to rest in the security of that great love.  Thank you for hope and grace.  And thank you for trees!  Amen

Friday, August 21, 2015

I walked a "gizilion" miles today!

I had the best day today!  I know that I don't often start off my blogs this way, and I am thinking that I need to celebrate more great days with that statement!  Today I indulged one of my very big "hobbies" - Scrapbooking!
How fortunate was it that this amazing event was quite close to my house?  Another perk of living near to a big city.  So, all by myself, I decided to venture out to the large convention center where this event was held.  When I got there, it took me about 15 minutes to find a place to park.  And I ended up in the back parking lot as far away from the door as you could get.  And then when I finally got inside, there was a long, long line to get to the expo!
Needless to say, I got inside those doors, and then the fun began!  I really had a wonderful time, shopping around at each vendor.  I waited in line to do a "make and take" (you get to actually make a project and take it with you) of a really pretty two page spread.  I found lots of great deals and saw some amazing new products.  Near the end of my time shopping, a scrapper friend of mine joined me and we had a great time spending lots of HER money!  I found a couple of additional items for myself also.  Here is a peak at all of my amazing loot!
After walking all around the expo and then all the way back to my car, I think I walked a "gazilion" miles!  But wow, what a way to get your exercise!

Being in a huge group of people, all by yourself, you really get a chance to look around and see things from a different perspective.  I saw lots of groups of friends.  I know those groups, because I have them!  These are the people that you love to be with while your are engaging in your passion because they share that same passion.  Age doesn't matter.  It's all about the activity.  Then there were the "mother-daughter" and "sister-sister" groups.  You could pick them out at a glance.  I know these groups also!  I saw really young girls all the way up to very old "grandma's".  And I noticed something.........even though I was alone, I didn't FEEL that way!  It was because I really wanted to be there and I was just enjoying the event!  Well, there is my lesson of the day.  

We can make a decision with our feelings.  We can all decide to embrace each day and see it for all that it is.  Each activity or event - or even NON event (you know those mundane, normal things that fill most of our days) can be celebrated.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to end each day saying, "I had the best day today"?  I am going to make this my new mantra!  I am convinced that there is a life lesson for me in this.  So today I got a new direction to follow, AND lots of great new scrap stuff!

Jesus, thank you for this great day.  Holy Spirit, help me to continue to choose to make each day the best that it can be.  Bless all of those fellow scrappers as they continue to shop and crop and make and take.  Fill that place with peace and grace and lots of laughter and smiles.  Help us all to make each day, the BEST day ever!  Thank you Jesus for knowing the little things that make each of us smile.  Amen

PS - I had a really amazing dream last night that I will be sharing tomorrow.  I am still "sitting" on it and letting the deeper meaning sink in.  But I wanted to include this little "teaser" so that I don't skip over sharing this important message! So stay tuned! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

From one Facebook post to back to school

I saw this post on Facebook this morning and immediately thought about my dad.  Today would have been his 102nd birthday!  He loved this hymn and it was sung at his funeral.  I had sort of forgotten that today was the 20th, but once I saw this, I put two and two together.   One of the things that I have heard about my dad, but never really experienced myself was that he had an incredible voice.  When he was a young adult and even after my parents were married, he would often be asked to sing solo's at funerals or special services at church.  My siblings all talk about singing with my dad in the car....but by the time I came along, there was no more singing when we took car trips.  My parents were both "older" (40's) by the time I was born, so there were many things that I missed out on during my childhood.  I don't remember my dad ever "playing" in any way with me.  I don't remember ever visiting a playground or park with him.  And even though he really enjoyed swimming, he never swam with me.  He would "take a dip" in the late evening at the lake (after working all day on some project or the other).  And I don't remember my dad ever going to any event at one of my schools (except my graduations - both 8th grade and High School).  Boy how things have changed.

What a dad my grandchildren have! Tim is a "hands on" guy who is just as likely to be changing a diaper or getting that cup of milk or throwing a ball around with the kids.  Gwen and Tim made the decision to home school Lia and Ellie this year, so, on what could have been their "back to school" day, Tim took Lia, Ellie and Zeke to Great America!  All of those kids are crazy for the rides - especially Zeke!  Gwen had to be back at work in her classroom, so I took care of Anna.  But what a dad.... that would take a 4 yr old, a 6 yr old and a 9 yr old to a theme park and spend all day standing in line with them!  Quite a guy.  I just scrapbooked this picture from 2013 (remember I am that far behind....sigh).
That is Tim, under that pile of kids (only 3 kids in 2013)!  So yes, from one picture on Facebook my thoughts went to my what kind of dad he my grandchildren.....and then I saw this on Facebook.......
Yes, this is the very sad truth right now.  I am feeling so thankful for Gwen and Tim's decision to let Lia and Ellie be children.  To guide them along as they learn at their own pace.  To have lots of time to play and pretend and create and invent and try new things.  I am so grateful that neither girl will have to be worried or stressed about taking tests that are really very meaningless - tests that are testing for ridiculous things that don't really show what the child does know! Can you believe that in Kindergarten there are NO TOYS IN THE CLASSROOM? And in the full day of school, they only get 20 minutes to eat AND play?  And then they come home with homework? After 8 hours away from home?  How can this be good for these little ones?  I am so thankful that Lia and Ellie will have lots of time to play.  I love that both girls are spending time each day, in Bible study.  And I am thankful that when they have questions, it will be Gwen or Tim that is answering them.  One of the neatest things about this home school experience is all of the practical stuff that they are learning.  There was never time enough in a day with school, and then hours of homework to learn fun things like baking!  Lia has already mastered the 7-up Cake!
It is sad, sad, sad to look at the public school system and see just how bad things have gotten.  It makes that image with those children in Africa not so funny!  

So, as the new school year begins in communities around the country, I will be praying for all of the children and the teachers.  I will also be praying that those in the government who are responsible for "Common Core" would listen to the wisdom and logic of the educators who are having to watch the deterioration of our educational system.  I will also be praying for all of those moms and dads who have made the sacrificial decision to home school their children.  Join me in praying for all the children!

Jesus, thank you for my dad and all that he sowed into our family. Thank you for the dad's today who are involved and interested in raising their children.  Holy Spirit give grace and peace and wisdom to all of the teachers in our schools.  Jesus give all in authority the ability to see our children with your eyes. Thank you for parents who nurture and teach their children at home.  Jesus, help all of us - even when we are older - to feel responsibility for the care and education of children.  Thank you Jesus for loving the little children and calling them to yourself and blessing them.  Amen

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I've missed a few days here lately..........

Some people have mentioned that I have been blogging less in the last couple of months.  I have been thinking about this, and while thinking about why I haven't been blogging, I HAVE BEEN BLOGGING EVEN LESS!  There must be a lesson in this, but right now, I am not getting it!  My excuse for the last several days is a good one!  I've been away on a Scrapbook Weekend!  Now in full disclosure, I had my computer with me. And I was actually using my computer (a little bit).  But there was just not time to "waste" on writing a blog post.  I'm kidding here, but honestly, I completed a record breaking 78 pages this weekend!  And that is a lot of paper, cutting, taping, writing and page designing going on. I am still very far behind (think 2013 November) but I am now 78 pages closer to catching up!  

Another project that I worked on this weekend was a "Prayer Flag" for August 19, 2015 Day of Hope,  If you click on that link, you will find out more about this event, as well as more information from the blog of CarlyMarie and Project Heal.  Here is the introduction paragraph about these prayer flags....     

 The August 19th – Day of Hope Prayer Flag Project is a profoundly moving, poignant and healing event that was created to help inspire people who have experienced the death of a baby or child to create meaning amongst their grief. Not only is this project an incredibly touching way to honour these children’s lives, it also helps to break the silence surrounding the death of babies and children. Each year we have thousands of people taking part across the globe, making this a truly inspiring event.
We invite you all to make a Prayer Flag in memory of your children that have died. When you make your Prayer Flag, you honour your own personal journey and you can reflect on your grief and healing as well. On August 19th we will be stringing our Prayer Flags up in our homes, gardens or places that are significant to us, all over the world. We will then be sharing them in photographs and video clips with the rest of the world through social media.

This event is truly worldwide.  Project Hope is actually located in Australia. By Wednesday there will be posts (with pictures of prayer flags) from all over the world.  After Susie "invited" me to this event, I knew that I needed to take the time to create my own prayer flag to honor Lucas.  I actually changed the design of this prayer flag many, many times. But as I put the finishing touches on this prayer flag, I knew that it was exactly right.

The background is white.  Lucas' time with us was filled with joy and brightness and light.  His life expanded the love in our family.  The hearts are "broken" by the words - remembered, missed, loved, cherished - yet Lucas Jacob is filling our hearts and will always be in our hearts. But the hearts are "marked" but they are not falling apart.  There is a fish on my prayer flag, the earliest symbol for believers in Jesus.  Jesus is right there, with Lucas and Lucas is right there with Jesus.  The entire banner is filled with and surrounded by rainbows.  Rainbows represent the covenant promise of God that is the symbol of  HOPE!  And hope had been my constant companion through this journey of grief since Lucas' death.  And hope is the emotion that fills me as I look at this prayer flag.  

I am so thankful for the hope that I have in Jesus and His promises.  No matter what this world brings, Jesus reigns over it all.  I was just thinking of the old hymn "My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less"

"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874

1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Yes, on Jesus, I must stand.  When you are going through terrible things, scary things, uncertain times, worry, cares, financial trouble - whatever is coming at you - there is no other place to be than standing on Jesus.   You will not be standing firm anywhere else.  I love the word picture in this hymn of the sinking sand.  Without Jesus, losing Lucas would have certainly been sinking sand.  A place of grief that may have just swallowed us up.   As I read through the words of this hymn, I know that I have been living this hymn in the last 9 months.  Because of the unchanging grace of Jesus, because of the oath, covenant and blood of Jesus, I have been supported.  And Jesus is ALL my HOPE!    

Yes, it has been a busy few days, but I have 78 completed scrapbook pages and this amazing prayer flag.  More than that, even when I have been away from blogging, I have been listening and hearing from Jesus.  So while my blogs have been scattered and days apart, view it as a "pause" rather than a "stop".  I know that I will be continuing on blogging in the days ahead.  So just stick with me please! I feel as if I am just crossing over into new territory.  I don't know exactly what that means, or what is ahead, but I am excited!  So stay tuned!

Jesus, thank you for a wonderful time away with good friends.  Holy Spirit, thank you for prodding me on as I worked on the prayer flag.  Comfort and encourage all those working on their own prayer flags.  Thank you for CarlyMarie and Project Heal.  Bless her work, Jesus  Continue to speak to us through the words of old hymns, through your Word, and also through others.  And Jesus, thank you for hope!  Amen

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another lesson learned from my mom.

So I was driving to my small group meeting this morning, and I started thinking about my mom.  It came to my mind because I was considering my current work "situation".  Truthfully, I have worked full time for most of my adult life.   With the exception of 3 years (after Gwen was born until just after Doug was born) I have been employed.  And even during those three years, I did in-home daycare.  I did have 6 years when I worked part time (30 hours a week) when my kids were in elementary school.  That is until the last year or so. What a blessing it is to have more freedom.  Time to attend Bible studies or small groups.  Time to spend with my grandchildren.  Time to   And then time to wonder exactly what I am supposed to be doing!!!!

My mom was mostly a stay at home mom.  That is until I came along.  She quit work when she got married and did not return to work until 1961 (when I was in first grade).  She loved being at home and always talked about making a hot lunch for my siblings when they came home from school.  I have amazing memories of being with her from ages 3-5 when we lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota.  She was a very active member of a group of women who played bridge one afternoon a week.  And I got to tag along and read books or color when they played cards.  She was also a "den mother" for my brothers Cub Scout pack.  I remember many trips to a hobby store to buy supplies for some wonderful craft (that I also got to participate in).  I also remember many days, just being at home with my mom.   And then she went to work full time.  Those were not wonderful years for me.  I was mostly left with my older brother, who did not want to be responsible for me.  From the middle of first grade through my seventh grade year, my mom worked.  And she worked LONG HOURS.  She left the house early and got home late.  I remember she was always tired.  And I know that she did not want to be working, but for financial reasons, she needed to work.

And then we moved to Chicago.  The very best thing (for me) about this move, was that my mom did not have to work any more!  WOW!!!  So for the rest of my "childhood" my mom was at home.  Okay......this is where I actually get to the point of this blog....... I was wondering what my mom actually DID at home during those years.  She was in her fifties and early sixties during those years.  We had just moved to Chicago and she didn't know anyone here.  She did not attend any church activities.  She did not even have a car for the first couple of years we lived here!  She could walk to a grocery store, but I mostly remember her going on Saturday when a car was available.  I know that she liked crossword puzzles and also liked to read.   My dad still traveled for his job a great deal and would often leave on Sunday night and not get home until Friday evening.  I started babysitting right after we got to Chicago and I would be gone often.   So what exactly did my mom do during the day?

Lately, Ken has been asking me that exact question. "What did you do today?"  It is really silly that I feel guilty when I don't have an immediate answer with a list of "valuable" things accomplished in the day.  But years of working has caused me to actually feel bad about just "being".   Today I realized that after those 7 years of working, my mom needed time to just BE!  She did not have to account for her time.  That is why I really didn't know what she did during the day and it never occurred to me to wonder about it until now!  Somehow I have been conditioned by the culture to question myself if I do not have something "meaningful" done on the three days I have free.   Honestly, I love having time to sit with a cup of coffee and not worry about having to be somewhere at a certain time.  I love being able to read for as long as I want.  This might be Scripture, or other people's blogs, or emails, or a good book.  I love sitting on the back patio and watching the birds and the chipmunks and squirrels.  When I do leave the house, I love that I can just stop at that store - the one that I never used to have time to just "browse".   I love that I can bake corn bread for dinner.  I love that I can cook dinners that take longer than 30 minutes.  Most of all, I love that I can attend my small group.  I can spend time in worship and prayer......NOT in my car!  And I can consider exactly what Jesus might have in store for me in the days ahead.

Yes, there are seasons in our life.  Times of work and times of rest.  Times when we are consumed by the needs of others and times when we can consider our own needs.  In every season the most important thing is time to spend with Jesus.  I am so thankful for my current "part time" work status, that has made this revelation possible.  And I am grateful for this important lesson learned from my mom!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that you created the seasons of our life!  Holy Spirit, help us to have grace to just BE when you have provided the opportunity.  Jesus thank you for work and also for time away from work.  Thank you for time to consider what might be ahead for us, in your plan! And thank you for lessons we learn from our mothers! Amen

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Looking back........70 years.

I have been thinking a lot about this blog post for the last few days.  There are just some dates that you can't let pass without a remembrance.  I saw several news reports about 70 years ago and immediately remembered this.  A number of years ago, Ken's dad began talking about his experiences in September of 1945 while he was in the Navy.  He was assigned to the USS Beaver.  I was surprised to hear that he had visited Hiroshima with some of the other crew of his ship, as they did an investigation of the area.  He actually took a number of photos on that day, and he shared them with us.

Here are a couple of the photos from that day.  Notice the person in the bottom photo, just walking along the wall.  This devastation happened on August 6, 1945 when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on that city.  There are hundreds of photos of the bombing on the Internet, but it is a whole different thing when you realize that someone you know was actually in that place and took these pictures, just a few weeks after it happened.    I am sure that none of these men had any idea of the danger they were in, just by being in that highly radioactive place.  When Ken's dad was diagnosed with cancer in 1979, I don't think anyone considered that there might be a connection to this tour of Hiroshima.  Thankfully, Ken's dad's cancer was caught very early (thanks to a random exam by an on call doctor), and he remained cancer free for the rest of his life.   I do remember a later conversation with dad when he talked about the very real possibility that his cancer may have come from his exposure to radiation.  He recounted the early deaths of some of his friends who accompanied him on this trip, most from some type of cancer.  What an experience this must have been for dad.  To see the total destruction and horror in this town, yet knowing that this event helped to bring about the end of the awful war in the Pacific.  

What a picture of how our actions can have devastating consequences in the future, even when we have no idea of the danger.   But this blog is not about living in fear or doubt.  Or worry.  All week, as I have been thinking about this, Jesus has been speaking peace into my spirit.  And more than that, a deep assurance that He reigns over all the events in the world.  Jesus is bigger than any conflict or war.  He is the creator and the sustainer of this planet.  And more than that, He cares about us.  I love this passage from The Passion Translation...
    So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son. This means the Son is the firstborn among many who will become just like him. Having determined our destiny ahead of time, he called us to himself and transferred his perfect righteousness to everyone he called. And those who carry his perfect righteousness he co-glorified with his Son! Romans 8:28-30 TPT
It is a picture of that care!    Using "hindsight", I can see how the plan for dad's life included that healing from cancer.  In spite of his actions, or even his "inaction", his life unfolded exactly as Jesus had planned. That passage is enough.  It is a reminder that we don't live our lives constantly worried about the future.  We don't hide our heads in fear of the future or question and doubt every action we take.  When we belong to Jesus, we live in Him.  Each day we stay connected to Jesus.  As we stop and talk and listen to Jesus each day, we are led out into that perfect plan for us.  

I am thankful for these photos that remind me of an important time in my father-in-laws life and also a truly historic event.  More than that, I am grateful for the reminder that no matter what is going on in the world or in my life, Jesus is weaving it all together into the perfect plan!  

Jesus, thank you so much for all that you continue to teach me and reveal to me.  Holy Spirit, thank you for the peace that passes understanding whether it is things of the past or the future or just today that fill my mind.  Jesus help us to relax in the knowledge of your great care and love for us.  Thank you for speaking to us every day.  Amen

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Shadows - the bad and the good!

So today I had, once again, a battle over this shadow.  Take a close look at the shadow on the driveway.  But more than that notice the tree.  It is a VERY LARGE tree and it is in our neighbors yard.  The branches hang very close to our cars when they are parked in the driveway.  And more than that, it is a messy, messy tree.  It sheds bark off of the trunk that ends up in our driveway and our yard.  It ALWAYS is dropping leaves.  Not just in the fall.  These LARGE leaves end up - you guessed it - in our driveway and our yard.  We are seriously afraid that one day we will end up with a branch through our roof or crushing one of our cars.   During the very scary storm on Sunday night, I was waiting for the loud crash of that tree coming down on our yard.  Ken and I have tried over and over to get the owner of the house (it is a rental) to cut down that tree or at the very least trim it.  But he seems very unwilling to do anything about it.  The tree is within feet of our driveway so the neighbors yard and driveway is not effected.  It is very frustrating.  Today I tried to deal with our homeowners association to get some assistance with this problem.  Unfortunately, it was not very successful.  I really don't like that shadow over our driveway!

But this morning I saw the following post from The Passion Translation..........

I hear His whisper..."Sit enthroned under My shadow"
"I have a glory waiting for you. It is the glory beneath My shadow, the glory of My presence. Hidden in My heart you are invited to come and sit enthroned under My shadow. Come closer.
There is a place where the enemy cannot touch you, or even find you. It is seated next to Me. It is real and it is your true home. I will shrink the distance between us as you pour out your heart in longing for Me. Let pure worship draw you near. Let passion for My presence keep you next to Me. Over you My glory will protect and mature your soul. How secure you will be as you live next to Me!
When you are under pressure, feeling confused about life--come to Me. When heartache and pain crowds into your soul, come and sit enthroned under My shadow. I will nurture your soul as a parent cares for a tender child. Do you long to see Me, to know Me, to experience My peace? My heart has become Your home. There is no greater love than the love I have for you, My beloved child. In My heart you will discover all that you desire, for I am your Father."
Psalm 91:1-4 The Passion Translation
When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai,
you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.
²He’s the hope that holds me, and the Stronghold to shelter me,
the only God for me, and my great Confidence.
³And he will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy,
and he will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse.
⁴His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.

Yes!  That is the shadow that I need to be focusing on!  I love that when I am struggling with something, Jesus is right there to speak into my place of frustration.  After I got off of the phone with the homeowners association, I could feel my blood pressure rising.  And then, like a flash, I remembered this post that I had read this morning.  I was able to go back to those words and rejoice in that shadow, the glory shadow of His presence!  And I did exactly what those words said.  When I was under pressure and feeling confused, I ran to Jesus.  What a comfort.

I can't tell you how much The Passion Translation has blessed my life.  Over and over the words touch deep places in my spirit.   Today I am extremely grateful for these words about an amazing, wonderful shadow that is just waiting there for me.  I encourage you to go back and re-read those words.  Let them sink in and picture that place in your imagination.  You just never know when you will need that place!

Jesus, thank you for meeting me during those times when I am NOT drawing near to you.  Thank you for your provision of words of comfort when we most need them.  Holy Spirit, thank you for reminding me of the words I had read, just when I was furthest away from you.  Jesus, help me to stay in the shadow of your presence!  Amen

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The kids always remember the little things.........

Okay, I am now way beyond "parenting" and well into "grand parenting", but I am still surprised at what the kids remember and treasure from their growing up years.  Sometimes as parents, we make decisions for our vacations, for outings and just for fun - but then wonder if we are doing the right thing.  This week I watched (through pictures) Gwen recreate with her own children, many wonderful memories from times spent with my mom in Minnesota.  I started bringing the kids to see my mom during the summers beginning in 1986 (after my dad died and when Doug was finally getting better).  My memories always centered around Lake Maud, which included swimming and spending time by a lake.  So I found the closest lake to my mom's house that had a public swimming beach and that became a regular destination of our trips to Minnesota.  This lovely public park is on Weaver Lake.  It has a wonderful picnic area, an amazing playground and climber, and a really long slide down to the beach.  It also has a really nice swimming beach.  For someone from Illinois this park was simply unbelievable.  You can't find anywhere to swim around here, let alone for FREE!   Here are a few pictures from one of our first outings to Weaver Lake...
And here is the climber.......
You might need to squint really hard but that is Doug on the top of the climber and Gwen is down near the bottom.    I remember my mom being really surprised that the kids would be so excited to swim.  From that year onward, Weaver Lake was part of our regular routine while we were visiting Grandma.  Often my sister Julie would bring her girls over to spend the day with us while she worked, and we would all go swimming.  In the later years we had many picnics with all of Julies family that had grown to include many grandchildren.  On one of my last visits with my mom, she talked about these times at Weaver Lake and how much she missed going there.  She also recounted one time when Doug was a middle schooler when our trip to Weaver Lake was a comedy scene.  The wind was so strong that you could barely stand up!  But Doug insisted on swimming.  Mom and I spent the time hanging on for dear life and laughing on the deck overlooking the beach!  Yes we had a great laugh again, in the remembering.  

This week, Gwen and Tim and their kids met up with my sister Julie and three of her four kids - and their kids for a day at Weaver Lake!  And boy did they have fun.  And quite surprisingly, this park looks pretty much the same now as it did in 1986!  There are several pictures from yesterday posted on facebook pages that look just like the pictures above!  Only its a new generation of kids enjoying this beach!

Isn't it interesting that this very little thing - finding a swimming beach and playground for the kids- became a lasting memory for them?  There is a message in this.  These days so many parents think that kids need the "BIG" vacations (think major theme parks that are a plane ride away).  But take my advice, all the kids need is a body of water, some sand and a few pails or bowls, possibly some rocks (to throw into the water), and some playground equipment.  It really is the little things that they will remember!  

Once again I am stuck on the way that memories and events move seamlessly from one generation to another.  Now I am the grandma, seeing my grandchildren enjoying that park and making those lasting memories.  I am so thankful that the Spiritual things we share also make that same transition down the family tree.  The prayers and the traditions of our faith are learned and practiced by the children, as they see their parents and grandparents and even great grandparents in worship.  Even in this, it is the little things.  For me, I remember the smell of the candles being extinguished at he end of the service.  Isn't that crazy?  Anytime that I encountered that smell, I thought of church.  I love seeing all of the little children in church. Those weekly times, gathering with families and hearing the Word of God may seem like little things, but because little things are remembered, they become BIG things.

Take my advice.  Think back on your own childhood.  Find that very special "little thing" and then recreate it with your own family.  Visit a playground, park or beach that holds memories for you.  Gather with cousins you haven't seen in a long time.  Talk about the "good old days".  Most importantly, take a moment the next time you are in church, to find a child and say hello.  Engage them in conversation. If you are a parent, bring your kids to church!  Make a memory!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder today that sometimes the little things can be the big things!  Holy Spirit, help us all to share the little, but important things with those around us.  Keep us mindful of the importance of sharing our traditions, our faith, with our children and grandchildren.  Thank you for memories.  Amen

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Another few days of dog sitting....and a "review" of an amazing show!

For a few days Ken and I are "Dog-sitting" Chandler (Gwen and Tim's dog) while they spend a few days on a much needed vacation.  This is the first time that we have had Chandler overnight without Gwen and Tim being here.  But Chandler has seemed right at home.  I am sure that the time I have spent at their house has helped Chandler really know me and I also know his routines.  Ken and I are enjoying being very part time pet owners.  For sure it has convinced us that we don't want to own a pet!  Having these times with our "grand-doggies" is just enough for us at this stage of our life!

Speaking of stages.....(how's that for a transition!) on Friday afternoon I saw both Lia and Ellie take to the stage as real performers!  They had been attending a drama camp during the week and there was a little show at the end of the camp.

This was the first time that Ellie had really taken part in a performance like this.  Her little group of five and six year olds did an amazing job of singing and dancing .  Ellie had several speaking parts and was so confident at the microphone!  We were amazed watching her sing and dance!
After this little program, the older kids had their turn.  I was so surprised to see Lia go the microphone to open the show!  Seeing her stand with confidence, at the microphone and sing made my heart so happy!  I was thinking about the first time I really heard Gwen sing like that (and she was much older).  I am sure that there will be many more "microphone times" ahead for Lia and Ellie!

You could just tell how much she was loving the singing and the dancing! The organization, Spotlight, that hosted this drama camp is a Christian group.  Both of the girls really flourished with the encouragement and prayer and guidance of the leaders.  The ability to perform with confidence was birthed in that nurturing environment.  There is no doubt that it makes a difference in how the children learn and the experience that they have during this camp.  I am sure that the girls will have future opportunities with this same group.  I can't wait to see more!

One of Ellie's songs was "A Bushel and a Peck".  My mom always said "I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!" which came from this song.  And when Lia was really little I found myself saying the same thing to her.  I have continued to say that to all of the grandchildren.  When Ellie was on stage singing that song, I was thinking of how my mom would have loved to see that!  Lia's final song was "We Go Together" from the musical Grease.  And as Lia was at the microphone, singing her solo in that song, I was remembering the first time I heard that song.  It was May 2, 1979 and Ken had taken me to the theater to see the movie "Grease".  I was pregnant....VERY pregnant - actually overdue and very unhappy that this baby just didn't seem to want to be born.  This movie was Ken's attempt to make a very hormonal, crabby wife somewhat happier.  And it worked.  I loved the movie!  The next day I ended up in the hospital and the day after that, Gwen was born.  Every time I hear that song, I remember how happy I was that day.  And I was feeling that same amazing burst of happiness watching Lia, among her peers, singing and dancing!  

I love how Jesus gives us these seeming little things to remind us that we are living in a continuum of time.  Things from the past do have an impact on us, and we carry those into the future with us.  Ellie will have this little song in her spirit, and she will remember me saying those words to her.  And Lia is certainly a "little bird with a big voice" and she will be a voice to her generations.  I love that one line in that song "We Go Together" is  "We go together, just like brothers, we'll always be together".  I can see the Spiritual implications in that song.  When we are "brothers" in Jesus, we will always be together.  And Lia will be singing that to her generation.......

Jesus, thank you so much for songs that bridge generations.  Thank you for family, for furry friends and for times to celebrate.  Holy Spirit, help us all to be open to the times you remind us of our connections to the past.  Jesus, thank you for the leaders of Spotlight.  Bring them great favor and blessing as they train and encourage children and youth.  Amen