Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Ever On My Lips!

God spoke clearly to Joel and myself this past December that 2015 was going to be a "pivotal year" in our lives, so I was looking for a word to focus on this year that would resonate within His promise.

Psalm 34:1

Then God beckoned me to embrace the word "praise" and I confess..... I was not very excited.  I was  thinking maybe something with more impact, more excitement!   Silly me.  The word did not go away, so in obedience I began to embrace the word....praise.  \o/  

In the first two months of this year praise has become more than a little important on our journey, and we are already seeing signs of this "pivotal year" declaration!  Our trip to 9 states covering 4140 miles was truly life changing.  Joel and I stood together gazing in awe at Superstition Mountain from the patio of my sister and BIL's home.  We stood together in a circle in the home of our friends Linny and Dwight, where with hands clasped we were united in prayer.  We stood together hands raised in worship at the Charis Bible School healing service in CO. We stood with arms around each other at the foot of our son's grave weeping.  We stood together in joy with our grandson Eli.  Pivotal times.  Pivotal times that opened our hearts to praise.  Awe inspired, humble praise for our God and how He works in the details of our lives.

We enjoyed so much about our trip.  Seeing new horizons in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Seeing the rugged beauty of southern New Mexico and Arizona, the red rocks of Sedona, the sights of Colorado.  We laughed and reminisced with old friends, high school classmates, and my sister and BIL.  We enjoyed the beauty and warmth of Gold Canyon.  So much to be grateful for, and we are.

Coming home, the short nights and long days caught up with me.  The past two weeks I have been fighting a virus that has played a cat and mouse game with my body and my mind.  My daily walk has been temporarily suspended, and I have missed church more than once.  I. hate. it.  It is easy to get into a funk or a place of fear when symptoms similar to my old life show up.  Praise has become one of the ways I am fighting against the crud.  It is not always easy, but it is bringing me closer to God.   Your praise will ever be on my lips, Lord.

Our lives are in a bit of tizzy right now.  We are processing something big, what we believe God is saying to us, and we are asking for confirmation, laying a fleece as Gideon did, and stepping out in faith.  It began a few months ago, but has taken off in this "pivotal year".  When fear or worry comes calling, and believe me they do try, we are working hard at shutting the door, and raising our arms and filling our mouths with......you guessed it~~ praise.  \o/  

I have to admit that as always, God knew what He was doing when He persisted in my focus word for this year.  Praise.  This song from Bethel Music brings our eyes upon our Savior as we bring forth words of healing praise.  Your praise will ever be on our lips, Lord.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday to you from our corner of the world where the phrase of the week is, "I rebuke you in the name of Jesus".  Yes, I am talking about a virus that has been playing havoc with my body and mind, but I could also be speaking about the bitterly cold weather.  Really.  Thursday night's low...NOT wind chill but temperature was -18.  Last night' low -17, Come on!  Cold and then again, cold.  And over 5 inches of snow on Wednesday which closed schools and churches, along with a few businesses, etc.  due to the winds that came with it.  When the longing for the desert starts to get too strong, I think about the Northeast in this record year of snowfall, ice, wind, and cold.  Wow.  Really the whole country has been under siege. 

I have been making the effort to focus on being thankful: for a warm home, a fireplace that turns on with a remote, quilts, homemade soup, and snow blowers!  And then there is the gratitude for Jesus...His healing power through His touch, through prayers, through the medical world.  Gratitude for the Internet that brings into our home conferences and teachings on joy, healing, the prophetic.  God's Word.  And even though we all get irritated at those telemarketers that find us, the phone is a blessing too.  Just pick it up and talk to someone you care about.  Or text!  Just yesterday a friend who lives far sent me a text, and another friend called to talk.  Both  blessed my heart!

Last Sunday Joel had a full schedule with church services, officiating at a wedding, and a farewell for a retiring Associate to the Bishop all in one day~~driving nearly 4 hours from morning to evening.  His energy amazes me. Especially when I compare, since I have walked only twice in 8 days.  I feel better, take off, and crash later on or the next day.  The flu symptoms of headaches, sore throats, nausea, weakness.  It seems to be the rhythm of this winter's virus.  Feel better....do a little....feel worse.....rest....feel better...feel worse... Better stop before it becomes a poor me whine!

I finally finished writing about our latest adventure.  Such a great journey we took, so packed full I needed to come home to rest from our vacation.  Isn't that how it goes?!  Our memories are keeping us warm and making us smile.  Again...so grateful. Just sayin'.

We headed to the mall yesterday as I was eager to walk again.  I made it only about 1/3 of my usual trek when I decided to pull the plug.  Actually the plug was pulled from me.  We did go to a home store where we ended up getting some Fiestaware on sale 50% off.  We were able to add a few plates and bowls to our growing collection.  We like that there is a guarantee of no lead and they are made in the USA.  Nice.   Speaking of plates, we realized some of our Corelle plates we still use are from the 70's!  That stuff just never breaks or wears out!  Just like the old Corning Ware casserole dishes with the little blue label on them.  Yep.  Still in our cupboard 40 years later!

We spent a great deal of time this week watching a prophetic conference live stream from Bethel in CA.  It was very good and blessed us with new insights.  We always use discernment when learning something new or experiencing something out of our comfort zone.  Although in this season of our lives, there is not too much that falls in the latter category. 

That last statement made me think of one of our favorite phrases that describes ourselves. "Just a little to the right of crazy" which in turn made me think of a sign our oldest daughter saw and sent to us in a text when they were in Texas.  She said it reminded her of us (giggle).  Yep.  Just west of weird and we like it!

Dripping Springs TX

I have been re-reading a book called, "Doubtless:  Faith That Overcomes The World", taking in the usual TV and watching many teachings in-between listening to praise music during this time of rest.  What have you been up to?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gardens, Graves,Grief, and Glory!

 The morning we left Woodland Park CO we headed back down the mountain to Colorado Springs.  On the way we stopped to view the Garden of the Gods.  Years ago one man owned this whole area, and when he died his children gave this beautiful, vast place to the state of CO on the condition that they never charge anyone to visit.  I knew our son Kevin had gone there and I wanted to go somewhere he had visited.  Joel was right with me on this, and we both were so glad we took the time to go through.  It was amazing.  Another stunning example of the Creator's best artistic works of art.  No matter how they were created, God is the Creator! 

We were able to stop and walk through more than one area, along with many other people who were out in the beautiful weather, hiking and walking, taking photos and enjoying the views.

Behind Joel is the "Tower of Babel"

Balance Rock

Walking the trail at
Garden of the Gods

Walking area at Garden of the Gods

The view of Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods
 from the Visitor's Center

After spending a few hours at the Garden of the Gods we headed into Colorado Springs to find the cemetery where our son Kevin is buried.  Kevin died over 10 years ago when a virus attacked his heart.  He suffered briefly from congestive heart failure before dying at the age of 25.  I was too ill to travel to CO for the funeral , but Joel and our oldest son Matt went along with my nephew and his wife who lived in the area at the time.  Circumstances kept Joel from going to the graveside that December, and then my illness got worse, Joel was put on disability with Lyme, and traveling was not an option.  This was our first time to visit the grave, and we had plans to also order a gravestone.
Kevin and his wife were divorcing at the time of his death, so there was no stone.  Our hearts were heavy with this, and we now had the opportunity to remedy it and do right by our son.

The cemetery was so large.  There were 22 miles of paved roads inside it.  They have a staffed office and we were able to call ahead and then talk to someone who was there when we arrived.  We did find out that legally we were able to place a stone.  Thank you God.  We were given a marked chart to find the area, and once we got there we walked through the 500+ graves in that section until we found where Kevin was buried.  I cannot describe it, but one friend said, it was "holy ground" we were experiencing that day.  It was a beautiful way to describe that day and the next, when we met our grandson.  God is so good.  We stood at our son's grave, , we were able to order a stone, and we were able to find closure and peace of mind.  We left Colorado Springs struggling with deep sadness, but also with a sense of relief and closure.  Thank you God.

We drove to Castle Rock, a nice bedroom community between Denver and Colorado Springs, for the night.  It was a beautiful hotel and a great place to regroup before heading north to visit our grandson. 

We were so excited to meet our grandson Eli.  Joel had actually spent a little time with him at Kevin's funeral, but Eli was only 2 at the time. We had sent him cards and letters periodically, but his mom had remarried and Eli did not know that Kevin was his birth father until a couple of years ago.  When his parents shared this information with him, we felt we could then be a bigger part of his life.  His parents graciously invited us to come by and spend time with him and we were eager to do so.  It worked out that Eli and his sister B. both had basketball games that Saturday morning so we arrived at their home around 10am with the plan to go to the games.  When we saw Eli outside, and watched him walk towards the van, we were stunned.  He reminded us so much of Kevin at that age and even his mannerisms and actions were familiar.  It took my breath away. 

Elijah Christian, age 12

Papa, Grandma Na, and Eli

Throughout the day I would find myself just staring at him and quietly giving thanks to God for working all things out for good.  His Grandma Tracy was there too and we were able to thank her for staying in communication with us about Eli over the years.  We went to the games, and then out for lunch at a super fun restaurant called Cinzzetti's.  What an a amazing place.  Huge.  Inside were several stations, like one for desserts, one for seafood, one for pastas, pizza, etc.  Each was staffed by chefs, etc. and you went around finding what you wanted, eating as much as you wanted.  We went back to the house for awhile where we gave Eli a book of photos of his birth dad that I had put together.  We headed back to the hotel after spending the day together with him and his family.  It. was. wonderful.  A very special day with some very special people.  Only God!

Eli with his family

At Cinzzetti's Italian Restaurant

Those two days were very emotional, but we would not have missed any of it.  God answered our prayers in so many ways.....up at Charis Bible College, at the cemetery, and with the time we had with Eli and his family.  God keeps His promises.....He work all things out for good.......

Our last two days on the road were pretty uneventful except for the heavy fog through parts of Nebraska.  We were not ready to come home, but we were ready to sleep in our own beds.  Our hearts are filled with wonderful memories of our trip to the SW.  Nine hotel beds slept in, nine states visited.  Twelve great days with my sister and her hubby, gathering with friends, worshiping at Charas, grieving at our son's grave, getting to know our grandson.  Three weeks and 2 days filled with an adventure orchestrated by a loving God.   Giving God praise for so many beautiful days ending with such amazing sunsets.   To God be the glory!

Our last sunset on the road...
Kearney, Nebraska

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Santa Fe and Woodland Park

We drove to Santa Fe after leaving Sedona, staying at a Comfort Suites.  I mention the name because our first room was dark, smelled bad, and the closet door was broken, so we went back to the front desk, and they gave us a different room...upgraded with no extra cost, which was nice.  They were pleasant about it, and the hotel was mostly empty so there were extra rooms available!

The next morning we headed to downtown Santa Fe to see San Miguel Mission, which is known as the oldest church in America.  It was built in 1610 and was impressive to see.  Well worth the $1 to go in.  We are so blessed to be able to worship freely in our country.  As I stood in this old church with such a deep history, I could not help but imagine people filling the seats to worship God.

Sanctuary of San Miguel Misson

Altar in church

After leaving Santa Fe we headed into northern New Mexico through some pretty intense weather.  Winds between 40-60 mph and fog, mist, and freezing rain.  Not. fun.  Getting into Colorado was a relief.  We had the worst time finding a decent place or any place to get lunch so we pulled over at a rest area and dug out some yogurt and fruit to eat.  We then drove through the southern side of Colorado Springs and up to Woodland Park CO to stay for 2 nights.  The elevation there is close to 8500 ft. and we both felt it as we unloaded the car and climbed up and down the stairs to our room.  It took Joel one evening to adjust, but by morning I was feeling a bit dizzy, nauseated, short of breath, etc.  Still we were dressed and out the door by 7:20am.  We were there to visit Charis Bible College, hopefully see Andrew Wommack (founder), and attend the healing school worship that afternoon.  Nothing was going to get in my way! 
We were able to hear Andrew speak the first two hours of classes, and then listen to two other teachers we were familiar with.  We ate lunch with a young woman from Montana, so we had something in common with her, and she turned out to be part of the worship band.  We attended the service, and afterwards we went up for prayer.  I did not experience anymore healing of the symptoms that make themselves known, but all the altitude sickness symptoms left immediately and I had no trouble after that.  It was a very interesting and exciting time for us to be at the school.  Andrew is not often there, but he was, and Joel was able to share his healing story with him.  You see, it was Andrew Wommack that we were listening to on the internet that amazing night three years ago when Joel was instantly healed.  I watch the Healing School livestream almost every Thursday, so it was great to be there for worship and prayer.  Thank you God!

Charis Bible College
worship center

View of Pikes Peak from Charis Bible College

 We had been seriously considering going back to a Bible College (we attended The Lutheran Bible Institute where we met) and Charis in CO was where we were looking at.  But we believe that God closed that door for us to go there.  His plans are always best, but sometimes it still takes effort to walk away from a closed door and not question His plan.

We spent our last night in Woodland Park shopping at an organic store and a grocery store to stock up for the trip home.  Nice little town nestled in the mountains.....a little short of oxygen, but nice little town!  We would head down the mountain the next morning, as we had another adventure of a different kind waiting ahead. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sedona Sights

When we had said our tearful good-byes to my sister Jan and BIL, Lanny, we headed north to Sedona AZ.  About an hour into the trip, we were at a stand still due to an accident miles ahead.  It seems like an everyday occurrence with the way people around us shut off their cars, got out of their vehicles to smoke or visit, and even climbed the hills nearby to see what they could see.  Eventually Joel joined the crowd and visited with a man who had moved to Phoenix from Chicago.  His wife worked near Sedona and they had a long distance marriage 5 days a week.  Not ideal, they made it work.  After about a half hour of backed up traffic, with cars parked on the Interstate bumper to bumper for miles, someone ahead yelled that traffic was beginning to move and soon we were off.  Even our drive up to Sedona was an adventure! 

Trucks and cars at a standstill
on AZ interstate

Joel (in the hat of course) talking with a traveler

As we left the Interstate for Sedona, we could see all the beautiful red rock mountains, boulders, and foothills that made this place famous.  We stopped at an information center and looked at their displays and when we were leaving, a man behind the counter asked if we wanted a map of the area.  He asked us where we were from, and when we said Iowa, he told us he was originally from Minnesota.  When we asked him where, he said Fergus Falls.  I said, "That's where Joel is from"!  Turns out he had graduated with Joel's brother Doug and knew him.  He still returns to the class reunions, and visited with Doug while there.  It really is a small world.

Driving to Sedona

Road view
We had heard that there is supposed to be a special "energy" found in Sedona and we saw enough advertisements for psychics and crystals that led us to believe others thought so.  We focused on the beauty in the views around us.  We had been told we just had to see the church in the rock, which is a Catholic chapel built right into the rock.  It was a sight to behold.  I attempted to climb up the steep, steep road to the chapel, but only got about a third of the way before the altitude and the incline had my body complaining loudly.  So we got into a handy courtesy cart and rode up the rest of the way!.  It was a looooong way down, especially after we climbed all the steps to the top.  What a view!  As I said before, the heights made both of us a bit dizzy. 

Red Rocks of Sedona
Chapel in the Rock
Outside of the chapel
The chapel was awesome with the sun coming in the windows..  You could sit on benches and rest, pray, or light candles in there.  A lovely place filled with God's presence.  We also drove out to the airport road and joined others who were watching the sun set, as it cast different shadows on the rocks changing the colors, shapes, etc.

Sedona Red Rocks

A McMansion built in the rocks of Sedona

There were many tourist places to shop and we did stop at Tiaquepaque, an upscale arts and crafts village that also had within it's streets a mission church, but mostly we were really not interested in shopping so we moved on to spend our time looking at the landscapes.  A wonderful work of art by our Creator.
Mission in Sedona at Tiaquepaque

I do all the hotel bookings, so I decided to surprise Joel with a small villa like place to stay called Las Posadas.  It was an adobe style place, with a kitchen, living, and bedroom area.  Nice two-sided fireplace and the smallest TV's I have ever seen.  Maybe 15 inches.  We could open the floor to ceiling windows and take in the fresh night air which was nice.  And we ate a Mexican breakfast fixed and served by a lovely woman the next morning.  It was yet another adventure :-),

Las Posadas
 The next morning we left for Santa Fe.  It was recommended that we take the back highway to Flagstaff so we did.  Amazing.......scary at times.......so glad we did it!  There were a couple of times where I said out loud, "Thank you Jesus that this is not our day to die".  After it came out of my mouth twice, Joel told me to STOP saying it.  It seemed he was stressed enough trying to drive the windy road.....So, I did....and praised God instead for the beauty He was letting us experience! 

A view from the top where we stopped and walked around

Some where down there is the road we
just traveled!

Side of the road as we drove up the mountain
The speed limit was 35-40 mph with mostly no passing zones.  It was exhilarating for me to be the passenger in the car.....a bit more hairy for Joel, the driver!  So, this pretty much ended our visit to Arizona.  Truthfully it was hard to leave AZ behind, but we still had more adventures ahead!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

It is Saturday morning in our corner of the world and to be honest I'm really missing the nice dry weather of Arizona,  Part of it is the virus that I am fighting and the return of pain.  Interestingly enough, the pain I still battle was around 50% less while we were in the Southwest.  So I'm whining about the -30 wind chills and endless cold temperatures.  I know it could be worse.....lots worse.  We all know that the East coast is going through a brutal winter!   Cold and endless snow, records broken.  The pictures have been amazing!

Speaking of pictures, I have been posting pictures on Facebook and my blog of our latest journey.  After being homebound for so long, anytime we pack our suitcases and head out it is an adventure!  On this trip we stayed in 9 hotels and each time we were located on the second floor.  After a few hotels, I would confuse our rooms....numbers 209, 220, 216, 207, etc. etc.  I would wake in the early hours and think, now where is the bathroom in this room?  (We forgot our nightlight, so it was dark in the rooms) And when I went out of  the hotel room door I would always stop and try to remember which way the elevator was located.  For two nights after we arrived home I woke up at night and thought..."What hotel are we in?" and then answered my own question..."Oh, yeah, we are home.  I'm in my own bed."  Joel enjoyed more than a few laughs over my inability to get myself to the lobby.  Especially since I am the navigator on all our trips! 

Speaking of Joel, this week has been a busy one for him.  Sunday services, Ash Wednesday services, getting two sermons ready, church council, Men's Breakfast, and pre-marriage counseling.  He came home from vacation and took off running. I have been a bit slow out of the gate this week.  A virus, an increase in pain, and fatigue have come to visit.  They are not taking up residence though. We don't give unwelcome guests a room to stay it!  We continue to walk at the mall, and even though we prefer being outside, we are thankful to have a place to walk!

Last night we fixed a new recipe....a salad, but with a "Linny" twist on it.  When we went to their home for supper we ate a gluten free, meat free meal and it was delish.  Salads are a staple for us but they added rice, black and pinto beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and tortilla chips to theirs.  We decided to treat ourselves to a few meatless meals and followed suit.  It's good and good for you!!

Life moves us through so many seasons, and today I smile as I think about this moment  in time when those little nieces and nephews who we rejoiced over as they entered the world, are now marrying and creating families of their own.  Periodically Joel has the privilege of officiating at one of their weddings and today he is doing pre-marriage counseling for one couple planning a summer wedding. We pray God's blessings on them as they begin their journey.......and we cannot help but reflect and rejoice that we have had 46.5 years of married life to reflect on. 

I plan to continue sharing our latest adventure with you readers who have interest.  Writing it all here helps me keep a record/journal of the journey.  What an amazing time we had.  Joel is sitting on the ledge/bench up at the Chapel in the Rock in Sedona AZ.  It is a Catholic chapel that is built into the rocks.  No railings made the heights of this place dizzying for both Joel and I.  The sun shone into the chapel and it was as one friend would call it, "holy ground".  More on that this coming week!

I am still reading a Kris Vollotton book and a light mystery.  I have been watching more online teachings, a little TV, and catching up with blogger friends.  What book graces your nightstand? 

Until next time..............