Saturday, October 31, 2015

Couldn't believe what we saw tonight.........

So today Ken and I ran a bunch of errands.  We were very successful, for the most part.  We even fit in looking at some new cars (both of us are considering a new vehicle - so there is a lot of information to gather!).  I stopped and picked up some stickers for my upcoming scrapbooking weekend, and yes, that included some Christmas stickers.  I will be working on the end of 2013 and that includes Christmas!  The store was totally decked out for Christmas.  Trees, lights, wreaths, ornaments and even wrapping paper.  REALLY????? Who would need wrapping paper for Christmas on Halloween?  I was thankful to get these Christmas stickers for 50% off.   But then on our drive home, on a winding road near our house, there was a house with a fully lit up Christmas tree in the front window.  We could not believe it, but there it was.  Sigh.  I am really not ready for Christmas.

Doesn't it seem like we are just in a rush for well, everything? I for one, would like to slow down a bit.  Tonight we turn our clocks back one hour, and gain an hour of sleep.  I am thankful for that extra bit of time.  Not everyone in my family is happy to see this clock changing.  We agreed tonight that it would just be better if we left the time in one position.  Ken would opt for "double daylight savings time" if he could!  I just wish for one standard time that we would stick with.

When I was with the grandkids this past week, I listened to Ellie working on her Bible memory verses....Psalm 23.  So I have been "parking" on that Psalm this week.  Tonight I realized just how right on that was....
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul,
He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.  

This is in the New International Version. Then I looked at my current "favorite" - The Passion Translation....

I confess that I spent a lot of time focused on verse 4 in this translation.  This past year has felt a lot like the valley of deepest darkness for me and my family.  Even in that, I have felt so close to Jesus.  He has been leading me through it.  And that is the most important thing of all.  Jesus does not leave us in that place of darkness.  He helps us ALL THE WAY!  The next couple of weeks will be a time when we really need to know and feel the presence of Jesus with us as we face both the remembrance of Lucas' birth as well as the anniversary of his death.  I especially love the end of this Psalm in the Passion Translation.... when my life is through, I'll return to Your glorious presence to be forever with You!   So with that wonderful reminder of the incredible place where Lucas is, it will be a bit easier to get through these weeks.

Even though I might want to rush through these weeks, I don't think I will.,  I will just walk through, knowing that Jesus is close to me!

Jesus, thank you so much for all that you are showing me.  Even when that is Christmas on Halloween.  Help us all to stay focused on the truth that you are leading us so that we don't get overcome with fear and doubt and worry.  Thank you for your great love for us.  Amen

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Back to my routine........

We got back from vacation and spent the weekend catching up.  You know... unpacking, laundry, shopping, etc.  Yesterday I spent the day with Gwen and the kids.  Even though it was a short vacation, I really missed them.  Today I was back at work with my little twins.  They spent a great deal of time today watching it "rain" leaves from the many, many oak trees in their yard and also watching it actually rain!  Like always, it is good to go away but it is also good to be back to the normal routine.

I have been in a bit of a "funk" over the last few days.  At least as far as this blog goes.  I passed by some dates that would have usually inspired blogs, especially my mom and dad's wedding anniversary.  They got married 79 years ago on October 25, 1936.  Today as I sat watching my little buddies longingly looking out that window, I was remembering a long ago dream I had.

Many years ago I remember thinking that most of my life, I was just looking through a window at a big party taking place inside.  And I was not invited.  There were lots of reasons that I felt this way, and it is not necessary to go into that today.  I am sure most of you can relate.  Don't we all have times and situations that leave us feeling like an "outsider"?  It was a dark, dreary time for me.  But then I had this dream..... I was in that familiar place outside of what looked like an amazing party. Suddenly Jesus was standing there with me and he asked me why I was so sad.  I remember trying to explain how I was feeling.  At that moment Jesus spoke a life-changing lesson to me.  It was so simple and short.  "BE CONTENT WITH ME"!  Of course it didn't take me long to realize that Jesus was OUTSIDE of that party and standing there with me.   The party didn't seem quite as wonderful when I put that information into the mix.  The grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. That feeling of not fitting in and/or not belonging is not from Jesus or the Holy Spirit.  It is just another way that satan works on our emotions to bring us down.

It is interesting how quickly I could forget this message.  Rather than thinking about all of the positive and wonderful things in my life, I was choosing to focus on what is missing.  Being away for a short time does make the routine seem a bit dull when you return.  So I am going to shake off this funk and make a choice to share some of the wonders from my time away....

*Jesus reminded me because we have the Holy Spirit, we can depend on "warning flags" to keep us out of dangerous situations!  (This was in response to those Red Flagged/Purple flagged days on the beach).  Wow....this is such a great reminder. And I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit!

*As I was sitting in the very chilly early morning pre-dawn, waiting for the sunrise, I was reminded that the sun rises every day....  and when the sun rises... it does warm up!  And I am thankful for that.

*It was very windy..... but boy, the Holy Spirit is often seen as blowing in and or over us!

*Listening to the waves crashing on the shore, all I could think about was the immense power of God.  It was his idea and the spoken word, empowered by the Holy Spirit that everything came into being.

Yes, it is much easier to be content when you  take a minute to run through some wonderful things.  In addition to the wonderful things, remembering that Jesus is standing right here with me is really all I need.

If you have felt a bit down lately, take it from me,  if you have Jesus next to you, you are in the right place.  Don't let the thought of what is outside that window distract you from the truth.  The truth is, with Jesus everything is really okay.  With Jesus and the Holy Spirit you are in exactly the right place.

Jesus thank you for another reminder of this great lesson.  Thank you for vacations and also routines at home.  Holy Spirit, thank you that we can count on you to warn us about hidden dangers.  Help us all keep our thoughts on the wonders all around us.  Amen

Thursday, October 22, 2015

On the homeward stretch.......

My blogs over the last week or so have been about our vacation.  We have started the homeward stretch of the trip with our final stop Memphis.  We spent a really enjoyable day in New Orleans yesterday.  We stayed right downtown on the Mississippi River.  We walked the French Quarter, visited some amazing food places and even took a ferry ride on the river! We decided to try to eat "local" foods on this vacation and for the most part, we have succeeded!  We ate shrimp and fish during our entire stay on the gulf coast.  In New Orleans we even tried this.....
Alligator and Fried Catfish!  I thought the alligator had a very odd texture and really didn't care for it.  Ken ate it all!  I loved the catfish.  It was crispy and mild!
We had been told not to miss Cafe Du Monde so it was one of our first stops.  These pastries are simply decadent!  There must have been a pound of powdered sugar on our plate!  We both loved these!  It was a great day in New Orleans.  This morning we drove to Memphis, heading north towards home.  We are actually staying here tomorrow also, so we will have more time to look around.  Today we walked around and saw a bit of the "downtown" area.....
On our way to have "Real Memphis Barbecue".  We walked on Beahl St. and heard lots of blues music and jazz.  And then we ate.....
at a local barbecue joint recommended by the bell hop at our hotel.  It was really good food.  

Its been interesting to eat local.  You really get to see the regular people rather than just the tourists.  I think you also have the chance to pick up on the true "vibe" of a place when you do this.  We have been really surprised by the economy in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  There are lots of people living way below the poverty level.  In all three areas we could still see signs of hurricane damage and ongoing repairs - even though it has been years since Hurricane Katrina.  The local people have for the most part, been friendly and helpful.  One thing that I noticed was far fewer churches than we are used to seeing.  In spite of that, I have sensed the presence of the Lord very strongly in these places.  New Orleans is very dark spiritually.  There is a lot of occult activity and I felt that as we walked the streets.  But even then, the presence of Jesus was clearly walking with us. There has been peace and calm as we have walked among the people.  There is a very real divide between the poor people and the wealthy.  We saw it yesterday as we walked through an "upscale" shopping area on the river just a block from a park filled with homeless people.  Today was a similar situation with our very nice hotel just blocks from the "real" downtown Memphis where there are bullet holes in the signs on the streets.  This has given me a lot to think about.  As we were driving through Mississippi today, I looked up some facts about the state (isn't it amazing that we have all this knowledge available at our fingertips on our phones?  Today especially I was aware of how blessed I truly am to have this).  Ken and I couldn't believe what I read.  The average income in the state is around $36,000 and many of the families are below the poverty level.  Let that sink in a minute.  WOW.  All I could think about is all of the children who don't have enough to eat or don't have proper clothes to wear.  It is good to help people in foreign countries, but then you hear a statistic like that and it makes you think!   Yes, it is good to see your country for yourself. It is good to walk the streets and meet the people and really LOOK at their homes and see into their spirits.   

Ken accomplished something else on this trip.....he crossed another state off of his list of states to visit.  He had never been in Louisiana.  Our list of states to visit is shrinking!  Ken has only 6 states left to visit (Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Montana and Wyoming) while I have 11 (Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Vermont and New Hampshire).   We will be planning more vacations and taking time to really see these states.  It is really eye opening.   It sure gives you a better idea how to pray!  

In just a couple of days we will be home.  It is always good to be away and even better to be back home.  This has been a trip of many stops and seeing many different things in all new places for Ken and I.  It has been a trip for us of going "outside of our comfort zone".  And that is good.  

Jesus, thank you for encouraging us to go into new places and see new things.  Thank you for opening my eyes to the poverty of the south.  Holy Spirit give me wisdom and opportunities to make a difference for these people.  Thank you Jesus for your presence with us and your protection over us.  Thank you for new food and new sights.  Amen

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Where the wind blows.........

We have been having a really good time on this trip, doing a bit of relaxing.  We have also been exploring this area, which is a new one for us!  The weather has been less than wonderful, very chilly and WINDY!  And I mean really WINDY!  It has been "red flagged" every day that we have been here, so sadly I have not gotten to swim - at all.  Sigh.  We have had lots of beach time and it has been fun to watch the waves, but this is right up there with "be careful what you wish for" things!  Remember I said I wanted waves?  Well, I got them.  Ten foot waves (very unusual for here).  So yesterday we went to a nearby state park pier.
Not only was it a RED flag day, it was also a purple flag day!  And what, you might ask, is a purple flag?  Well, I was glad for this sign....
You can't quite read it, but purple says "dangerous marine life"!  What?????  I was surprised by that!  We walked along the shore and got some great pictures of the waves, the pier, and then we spotted this....
I should have taken a picture with my foot in it to show the size of this Jellyfish.  It was bigger than a large dinner plate.... more than a foot across,  So, yes, this was the dangerous marine life that caused the purple flag!  Suddenly I was glad to not be swimming in these waters!

Today was another high surf day, so we headed off to Mobile to see the USS Alabama  Museum.  

I was surprised to find out that we could wander this battleship on our own with just a paper "tour guide".  I was amazed by so many things about this ship.  First of all.... the size!  It is really, really big!  Until you see that there were 2,300 men on this ship!  WHAT????  Suddenly it seemed very small.  And there were lots of places that were so narrow and had really no railings.  I imagined the ship rocking on the waves and wondered how the men kept from falling off.  We walked on so many "ladders" (they are so steep that you can't call them stairs.  And there were so many of them, Again I couldn't imagine running up and down them while the ship was moving - let alone in a battle!) We got down into the "bowels" of the ship and saw where the enlisted men slept. Stacked up four high on cots suspended from the ceilings.  We saw the officers quarters and the NCO rooms.  The kitchens and mess areas where interesting.  These were also converted to sleeping quarters at night.  The tables where stowed and beds where suspended from the ceilings.   All I could think about was my dad and Ken's dad.  Both served in the Navy during the time period that this ship was in use.  My dad was one of those enlisted men on the lowest decks.  Ken's dad was one of those officers.  I walked those decks and thought about the battles and the men that were lost.  All of the sacrifices made for the freedoms we have today.  This ship was near to Japan when the bombs were dropped, ending the war in the Pacific.  Honestly, I got quite claustrophobic when we were so far down in the ship.  I just wanted to get up into the fresh air.  And I got very queasy more than once, up on a high place with very little railings around.  I can't imagine the conditions during a war time.  Yes, I have a new respect for all of our veterans and those currently serving in the military.  And I so wish that our dads were still around to talk about their experiences.  There is so much I would like to ask them!  

Isn't that always the way?  We think about all of the things that we would like to say or ask of someone who is now dead.  It is a good reminder to pay attention to people around us.  I am sure that there are people that I know that have served in one of the more recent "military conflicts" that have stories to share.  Ken and I were discussing that most WWII veterans have already died.  Soon it will be hard to find any veterans of the Korean conflict.  I am so thankful for the preservation of this ship and others like it, that keep this history from just being a page in a book.  

So, once again, it is back to the importance of a testimony.  The telling of your story.  Our story - the United States of America - is a story that is grounded on God.  Founded on the principle that God has ordained and blessed this land.  Even now, when things look so.....well "ungodly"... our testimony is that God has called us and blessed us.  No matter what is happening right now in the government, in our schools, in our families..... we are a blessed people.  And every one of our testimonies needs to begin there.  We are a blessed people, who know Jesus and trust in His saving work on the cross.  

Jesus, thank you for this day, for who you are and all that you have done for me.  Thank you for museums that preserve our past and leave a testimony for the future.  Thank you for veterans and those in active service in the military.  Holy Spirit, remind us all to listen to the stories of those around us.  Give us nudges to seek out people who have life experiences to share.  Give us all courage and boldness to share our own stories.  Thank you for HIS story!  Amen

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Beauty in the broken.......

Yes, today I spent time at my "happy place" - the beach.  This has been an interesting adventure for Ken and I.  We normally go to the beach in Florida!  But this trip we are in Alabama.  I remember saying that I really didn't want to come here since I prefer the Atlantic over the Gulf.  The waves just are not the same.  At least that's what I always said until today!  In checking the stats this morning the wave height here was HIGHER than our favorite Atlantic beach.  So much for no waves.  It was pretty chilly here this morning watching the sunrise (around 50), but that was still 20 degrees warmer than at home!  By the time we went to the beach it was in the low 70's and quite comfortable.  And the waves were really amazing to watch.  Isn't it just like Jesus to bring those winds and therefor, the waves just for me?  I would like to think so!

Backing up a bit, on our drive to the beach yesterday, Ken and I saw something quite amazing - at least to us!  
This picture might be a bit hard to decipher but it is a cotton field!  And the cotton is ripe for the harvest!  We actually came upon this when we made a slight wrong turn and ended up looking for a place to turn around.  Ken actually got out of the car and took his camera over the ditch and into the field to take pictures.  And then he became a real "cotton picker" when he reached down and broke off this....
Now this northern city girl has never seen cotton on the stem!  It is soft and actually looks and feels a lot like the cotton balls you purchase at Walgreens!  But what fun to actually see a whole field (actually we saw a bunch of fields after we stopped) of cotton and then to actually get to touch it.  Very cool.  

And then, this morning on the beach I found these.....
Parts of broken shells.  But aren't they amazing?  I especially love the top shell.  It looks just like an angel wing to me.  As I was watching the waves, feeling the wind on my face, and thinking about these shells, I very clearly heard "there is beauty in the broken".  WOW!  Isn't that true?  That cotton stem is broken off of the plant.....and it is beautiful.  These shells are just broken pieces, pounded in the surf...but they are beautiful.  And Jesus reminded me that even though people are broken....they are beautiful to him.  There are lots of ways that people become broken.   Sickness, circumstances, deaths, accidents, just life can break someones spirit.  The good news is that Jesus doesn't cast aside the broken.  He lovingly holds and heals and puts all of His precious broken children on display for the entire world to see!  That's you and me folks!  All of us are broken in sin.  And when we let him, Jesus transforms us into a thing of beauty.  And then as we walk through this life, and the waves of life and the winds of adversity toss us around, we become broken again.  But just like these shell, Jesus sees us as things of beauty and great worth.

This last year has been very difficult for my family.  Losing a baby - a son, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin... well, it has broken us.  Lucas will always be greatly missed in our family.  Jesus reminded me today that He still sees our family as beautiful and he is gently holding us.  No matter how big or difficult or overwhelming your life might seem, it is not to much for Jesus.  And more than that, after he has dusted us off, and even when we don't feel "healed",  when we see ourselves as jagged and ugly, he cherishes us.  There is nothing better than that!

I needed to find those broken shells today!  And I needed the reminder that Jesus is at work in my family.  Yes, there is beauty in the broken. 

Jesus, thank you for fields of cotton, the beach and the waves!  Sometimes it is the little things that are the most important.  Thank you for your great love and care for us.  Holy Spirit, speak gentle words of calm and peace into all of the broken places in our lives.  Give us hope in all circumstances and remind us that Jesus sees us as beautiful!   Amen

Friday, October 16, 2015

From the depths to the heights...and a bit in between!

What a busy and wonderful couple of days this has been into a much needed vacation.  I decided to begin this blog at this wonderful spot.  As usual, I have found my flowing water to just refresh and relax me.  This wonderful waterfall that I am standing behind and under was in the butterfly house of the Botanic Gardens in Huntsville, Alabama!  And here is a butterfly that I actually captured OUTSIDE of the butterfly house!
So this is the "in between" I mentioned in my title.  We had a wonderful visit to this garden as a welcome quiet retreat this afternoon.  Yesterday we started out "in the depths" - well sort of!

We visited the National Corvette Museum.  We have seen this place many times on our drives to south, but we have never stopped.  In 2014 they had a major disaster when a sink hole actually happened inside the museum and they lost many, many of the cars on display.  This is what it looks like today when you walk inside the area that was destroyed.... tape lines on the ground.  It reminded me of "crime scene" tape.  It was a LARGE area of the main part of the room.  As you can see, they discovered an under ground cave during the repair.  This is no big surprise since Mammoth Cave is a short distance away.  But it was very odd to walk over that line and think about the ground just opening up and swallowing the cars.
And here is one of the few cars that they were able to pull out of the hole......
As you can see, it is a mess.  There were three cars like this on display.  Quite an interesting place to visit. There was even a place where you could look through a glass window, down into a deep tunnel into the bottom of the sink hole.  It was really looking into the depths!

This morning we visited the US Space and Rocket Center.  And we did a lot of looking into the heights!  Because we are really old, (you know - the age when astronauts and space and the moon landing was a really big deal) this really interests us!  We have visited the Kennedy Space Center more than once, but this was our first visit to this center.  While it was interesting, there was a lot of similar stuff that we have seen in Florida.  It was still a really neat place to visit.  
So we went from looking into a really deep sinkhole, deep inside the earth to peering out into space. With all of that to consider, we wandered the paths and breathed in the warm air in the quiet Botanic garden.  It was good to stop and reflect on all that we had seen in the last two days.  I was so glad to find that rushing waterfall.  I stopped and sat on a stone bench beneath that flowing water.  All I could think about was how amazing this world is and how wonderful our Creator is!  There is no other way to explain the ground just opening up. Or to imagine the wisdom and patience and courage that God has given to man to discover how to blast into space and come back again.  

That amazing butterfly started off as an ugly worm, crawling on a branch.  And now it is a beautiful creature, flying free!  How thankful I am that Jesus has promised us a transformation - a metamorphosis - not unlike that butterfly.  We can look forward to a new, wonderful body and a whole new world opening up for us.  Yes, we have so much to look forward to!  The greatest news is that this Eternal Life starts as soon as Jesus becomes your Savior. We just need to learn how to live!

Jesus, thank you for speaking to me through all of these things.  Thank you for time away from our routines.  Holy Spirit, help us all to remember that our eternal life doesn't start when we die - but rather it is ours now!  Thank you for butterflies that remind us of your working in us all to transform us into your likeness.  And thank you Jesus for rivers of living water!  Amen 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A weekend away.....

When I was looking through my pictures from this weekend with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna, this picture just jumped out at me.  I spent a couple of days taking care of the grand kids AND the "grand dog"!   Chandler is a really good dog (as I have previously blogged) and lately Anna is quite interested in him.  She is usually met with a growl or a little bark and a rapidly moving away dog whenever she approaches him.  But, for some reason on this day, Chandler was just very relaxed.  Anna picked up this "Rapunzel braid" and plopped it on his head.  I heard a little sigh and then his eyes closed.  So I couldn't pass up the picture.   It is a bit of a picture of my weekend.

To begin with, there is a good reason why people who are 61 don't have kids!  I am very tired!  But it was a great weekend.  I spent a lot of time "wearing a different hat".  Instead of just grandma, I was really a mom/dad substitute.  For the most part the kids accepted that.  On the second night without mommy and daddy, Anna had really had enough.  The first couple of times she woke up she called for momma.  The next couple of times she called for dadda.  When I went in to her she sort of looked at me like "really??? I guess I have to settle for grandma".  Sometimes you just have to do the best you can with whatever hat is "plopped" on your head!

It was a glorious fall weekend.  The weather was wonderful and we were outside often.
I loved these fall beauties I found on the lawn while I was supervising Anna during one of those times.  I was so blessed that because of the kids, I spent time outside.  Truthfully, if I had been on my own for these days, I most likely would have spent them INSIDE.  So just like Chandler and the braid, I was acting somewhat out of character! And being inside would have been really sad.  

The couple of days went really fast.  We seemed to just move from one activity to the next (and we never left the house!).  My favorite time was bath and bed time.  Seeing those four little ones in the (very big) tub was so neat.  And then reading books, singing and praying with each of them was just the icing on the cake.  On the first night Zeke told me my prayer wasn't right!  So I told him to go ahead and pray for himself.  He added a special prayer for one of his mom's friends who has a foot injury and a favorite babysitter who recently suffered a concussion.  Isn't that sweet?  It was obvious that the kids are very used to this routine.  Each had favorite books that I read to them.  Ellie asked me to read to her from a special girl's devotional book.  I read several truck and train books to Zeke and Lia read to me from a new book she just got.  Anna picked out different books each night and was clear that I needed to read 2 books - not one!  Let me tell you there is nothing more relaxing and wonderful than cuddling with a pajama clad child, praying and getting hugs and kisses.  

Yesterday afternoon, while Anna napped, I let the big kids paint.  I have yet to meet a kid that doesn't love to long as there is no judgement on the finished project.  It was a wonderful several hours of fun listening to the kids, as they chatted while painting.  Oh how I love these finished projects!
Lia decided to paint a "pre done" canvas that she had gotten for her birthday.  It was so fun listening to her talk about the color choices she was making.  
Ellie painted this house.  I love that she started off with the BIG sun in the sky!  
And this is one of Zeke's masterpieces.  He also painted a watercolor on the easel.  He told me that this was "Goliath the roller coaster" as well as several other things.  I decided that it is a flexible work that is open to interpretation.  I just love the colors!  He "created" the purple in the upper right hand corner by mixing his red and blue!  These pictures were my "photo opportunity" of the weekend! But alas, in truth telling, I forgot to take a picture of their finished paintings.  So Gwen had to send these to me today.  Another part of being a somewhat forgetful 61!  Sigh.

The weekend gave me so many great memories.  Plus I realized that I can actually really enjoy time outside in the fall weather!  I also found out that I still have enough energy to handle 4 kids for a few days.  I also learned an important lesson about praying from a sweet four year old who takes the needs of others very seriously.  So while Gwen and Tim were on a retreat with youth talking about "being still",  I learned that in the crazy, busy, LOUD and messy and tiring time with four kids, you can still hear the voice of Jesus.  I have to tell you the silent time after the kids had gone to bed and the house was quiet, I had some wonderful time with Jesus.  But I felt His presence with us the entire weekend.  He was whispering "peace be still" as I was trying to calm Anna when she missed her mom and dad.  He was turning my face to the clear blue sky reminding me to look up while I was sitting on the grass.  And with every paintbrush stroke the kids made on those canvas', Jesus was reminding me that He was the one painting the trees with fall colors.  All you have to do is make sure that you listen!  Jesus is always talking!  

Yes this weekend was a wonderful time learning to hear Jesus in the ciaos of everyday life.  I have a much better appreciation for the activity level that Gwen and Tim have all of the time.  It was a great reminder that we can hear Jesus ALL THE TIME!  In quiet and in loud.  He is speaking from heaven!

Jesus, thank you for the reminder that our circumstances do not determine our ability to hear your voice.  Thank you for children and hugs and fun.  Holy Spirit, remind us to slow down and listen.  When you take us out of our comfort zone, help us to listen to your voice.   Thank you for time away from our routines that refresh us.  Jesus, thank you for continuing to speak to us!  Amen

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Remembering a great day...........

This was four years ago today.....Doug and Susie's wedding!  Wow, isn't she just beautiful?  And Doug is so handsome!  Okay, I know I am being such a "mom".   It was a wonderful day.  The weather was a lot like today!  Warm, sunny and clear.  As a matter of fact it was a bit warmer than was comfortable.  But it was such a lovely and meaningful wedding.  Sometimes I can't believe the location of their wedding.  Our family were members of this church when Doug was a baby until he was in third grade.  I was a part of the building committee.  I remember many, many meetings about the colors of the carpet, the type and style of the pews and then that cross and design around it on the wall behind the altar.  I helped serve Communion many, many times at that altar.  The room seemed filled with memories for me.
I love this picture of Pastor Damian praying for Doug and Susie.  He has been a constant wonderful presence in these last four years.  I know that I never imagined Doug getting married at that altar.  But I can see the hand of Jesus on this event!  

Yesterday while listening to Dutch Sheets, he was talking about time.  Our idea of linear time is not the eternal time.  Dutch talked about a time spiral where time things are already placed in time, just waiting until we arrive there.   When I look at these pictures, I have a better understanding of that concept.  I prayed so many prayers in that place!  And now I can see how Jesus' plan was for this event to take place in that location and Pr. Damian tapped into all of those prayers of the past.  I have blogged about all of the prayers of my generations.  Those prayers that I know were for me and my children.  What a great reminder that our prayers are eternal.  Not only can we change the atmosphere around us through the presence and power of Jesus, but we can have an effect on the future!  

Doesn't this make you stop and think?  Not only about all of your past generations put also about all of your future generations.  I love knowing that when we pray for the future spouses of our children or grandchildren, those prayers make things happen in that spiral of time.  And Jesus knows the perfect time for the fulfillment of our prayers.  Yes, another wonderful nugget of wisdom from a thirty minute teaching by Dutch Sheets!  

Jesus, continue to bless Doug and Susie in their marriage.  Draw them both closer to you and closer to each other.   Thank you for your presence with them in this difficult last year.  Holy Spirit, encourage us all to keep on praying for our future generations.  Give us hope and faith and trust that you are working those prayers out in exactly the right time and right way. Amen

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Revelation from Dutch Sheets (from my small group today!)

What an amazing day I had today!  Wednesdays are always great because it is my "small group" day!  Oh how I love those wonderful ladies who set aside a couple of hours each week, to come together and hold each other up.  We laugh, we cry, we pray, we worship, we learn..... and so much more.  Today we listened to a Dutch Sheets CD from a recent conference in our area. (I missed the chance to attend this conference) I have read many of Dutch Sheet's books and heard him speak several times.  So a chance to hear a current message from him is a real treat.  We only listened to about 30 minutes but let me tell you, it was a power packed 30 minutes.

I want to just focus on one of the many thoughts from this short half hour is about the word "TESTIMONY".  Dutch said that a man approached him at the end of a conference and told him how much he enjoyed his teaching.  He was a Jewish believer in Jesus and a pastor.  Dutch went on to say that, from this man, he learned exactly what testimony means in Hebrew and more than that, what it means for us.  When we think about testimony, we think it is a remembrance.  We are remembering something that happened in the past.  But to the Jewish people it is much more than that.  There is an action - a doing - in the word testimony.  When there is a testimony - a remembering of something that God has done - than there is a present day DOING.  In the Old Testament the people were always recounting what God had done.  The reason they were doing this was so that God would do the same thing for them now!  When they needed a miracle, they recounted all the times that God had done miracles.  And then as they spoke that testimony, the power of God was released again for that miracle.  WOW!  I know that, at first reading, this may sound sort of......mundane.  But think about this!   I know that I had missed this.  I knew that testimony was important.  I knew that I have been encouraged and seen my faith grow through hearing the testimony of others.  But I also know that I had never imagined that part of the process of testimony was God actually doing that exact thing, NOW.    Think about all the prayers for healing that are prayed.  How much more powerful it is to give a testimony about a time that God healed.  As that testimony is spoken out, the power - the action - is released.  Dutch Sheets gave several examples of times when a speaker just told "stories" (testimonies) of the amazing things that God has done and then people responded as the power of God was poured out.

Think about Communion.  Think about the words that are spoken over every Communion meal.  It is a testimony.....a remembering...and speaking of the events of that meal.  And each time that we take part in the sharing of this testimony, we release the power of Jesus.  Those words that Jesus shared with His disciples become NOW words spoken to us and for us.  This just gives a further confirmation of the importance of the celebration of Communion and the words that are a part of that celebration.

There was even more in that 1/2 hour teaching.  But I know that I need more time to just meditate on this one point.  What an amazing blessing it is to learn something like this.  We seem to have lost so much when we do not understand the whole of the Bible from a Jewish perspective. Tonight I am so thankful for this teaching and for Dutch Sheets.  And I am thankful, again, for my small group.

Jesus, thank you for continuing to bring revelation to us, when we are missing an important truth.  Help us to change our thinking about testimonies.  Holy Spirit, give us courage and boldness to speak out all that Jesus has done.  Bless Dutch Sheets and the messages that he shares.  Continue to give him wisdom and expand his platform.  And Jesus, thank you for Communion!  Amen

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Changing seasons.......Jesus Reigns!

Yesterday when I was helping (really all I was doing was watching and listening) Lia doing her home school work, she needed to journal what she liked about Fall.  Zeke was also "helping" and we each came up with some things for our own lists.  Top on Zeke's list was the leaves changing colors.  And I was remembering this picture....
We had taken the kids to the Forest Preserve and as you see, they were collecting leaves in a ziplock bag!  It was one of those warm, blue sky days and we had a wonderful time.  I believe that Doug was 4 years old in this picture....exactly Zeke's age.  There must be something about little boys and leaves.  Lia's list started off with "hot cocoa".  And it also included "wearing sweatshirts".  Today was certainly a hot cocoa and sweatshirt day.  It was COLD and WINDY and I don't believe the temperature went above 55 degrees.  And it was rainy and gloomy.  Yes, the season is changing.  The calendar says that it is October, but for some reason, I was hoping that our warm, sunny weather would continue for a bit longer.  I am determined that I will change my attitude about winter's approach.  No gloom and doom, just thankfulness and joy - no matter what the weather!

And here's the thing....I do love the wonderful colors in the fall!  And just for a further reminder, today I was reading Psalm 104:1 (from The Passion Translation)
"Everything I am will praise and bless the Lord!
O Lord, my God, Your greatness takes my breath away,
overwhelming me by your majesty, beauty and splendor"  
And then I saw verse 19...
"You made the moon to tell us the months
and the sun to measure the days."

That entire Psalm just reminded me that the Father created this world and sustains it from season to season.  Everything about this world, no matter what the season, is a gift from the Lord.  Those sunny, warm summer days, the beautiful colors of the fall, the crisp, blue sky over fields of snow, and the flowers pushing up through the soil welcoming spring are all planned and purposed by God.  

So, in thankfulness, here is my list of what I love about Fall.......
*The colors of the trees against the blue sky
*Long sleeved shirts that feel great under those sweatshirts
*Chili cooking in the crock pot
*Leaves that crunch under your feet 
*Squirrels collecting nuts and running about
*Pine cones covering the ground under tall trees

As I was writing that list, I began to sing "This is my Father's World"!  I love that hymn!  We so need to remember the truth contained in that third verse.  Even when the wrongs in the world seem so big and so strong, God IS the ruler!  Jesus reigns!  We need to remind ourselves - and others - of that fact!  So I will leave you with the lyrics and a challenge to write your own list of thankful things about Fall!

1. This is my Father's world, 
and to my listening ears 
all nature sings, and round me rings 
the music of the spheres. 
This is my Father's world: 
I rest me in the thought 
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas; 
his hand the wonders wrought. 

2. This is my Father's world, 
the birds their carols raise, 
the morning light, the lily white, 
declare their maker's praise. 
This is my Father's world: 
he shines in all that's fair; 
in the rustling grass I hear him pass; 
he speaks to me everywhere. 

3. This is my Father's world. 
O let me ne'er forget 
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, 
God is the ruler yet. 
This is my Father's world: 
why should my heart be sad? 
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! 
God reigns; let the earth be glad!