Wednesday, March 25, 2015

He's A Good Good Father

Recently I was in a conversation with someone and when I had finished sharing briefly about Joel's overnight healing, their response to me was, "Well, God must really love Joel."  Even though this conversation took place months ago, it has not been easily forgotten.  Mostly because I was so stunned by the response that I did not argue the point with this person.  I did not get to say....God. loves. everyone.  With a perfect love.  He does not love some more than others.  That is a lie from the devil.  Period.

When Joel was healed overnight and 3 months later the doctor had examined him, and affirmed the Lyme, arthritis, thyroid condition, and others health issues were all gone, her response was, "Well, Joel is a pastor so God would heal him."  That was three years ago and it sounds as bizarre to us now as it did then.  Yet another lie that God plays favorites.

God loves us so much He sent His only Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world.  He carried our burdens, our diseases, our sins on that cross.  The suffering He endured must have been horrible.  We cannot imagine.  How can we not believe that He loves us, warts and all.

God does not cause bad things to happen to us.  He does not want us to suffer.  Some people believe that they have been given the burden of sickness to carry for the glory of God.  Some people believe that when a child dies, God needed another angel in Heaven.  Some people believe that God punishes us with disease and death to teach us something.  Does that sound like a loving God to you?

Joel is not well because God loves him more that others.  He is not well because He is favored by God as a pastor.  A child does not die because God pointed the finger at them and said today is your day to die.  If that were true, why would people even go to doctors?  If God decides every day who will live and who will die, then why fight cancer or heart disease if it comes?  It must be from God, right?  Wrong!

We live in a broken world.  God has given us a free will.  The covenant with Adam and Eve was broken with the first bite of the "apple"  God does not go back on His Word, so He sent His Son to earth to give us a new covenant of love and forgiveness and eternal life with Him.  That's how much He loves us. 

I don't deny we are tested, stretched, and shaped by God. But I will never believe He wants His children to be abused, neglected, forgotten, sick, and dying.  He wants us to have a full life fulfilling His purpose here on earth. The enemy, our broken world. and the sins of others cause the pain and death we see around us.

I don't begin to have all the answers.  Even though I believe God's plan is for good and not for evil, I feel confused and wrapped up in the mysteries of God on a daily basis.  I have plenty of unanswered questions, but here is what do I know.  God is Soverign.  He is Love.  He forgives. He delights.  He is a good, good Father.  When we pray for healing and someone is not healed I do not look to God as the one who came to "kill, steal and destroy".  I look to Him as the One who came to "give us life and give it to us abundantly".  I don't blame the person, judging their level of faith.  I don't feel shame when I don't see full healing in my own life.  I turn to the Word, I listen to His Living Word and His promises and I focus on them.   And I remember He is a good, good Father.  That is Who He Is!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Journeying To A New Land

Since our return from Arizona, we have spent a great deal of time and energy in prayer and meditation with God.  Why?  Because this trip was life-changing.  God had already told us 2015 would be a "pivotal year" and we were beginning to see some of those whisperings from God come to pass.

Late last summer I began to hear God telling us we would be moving next fall.  It is always iffy to put a specific time on God, it usually does not come to pass in our timing......but that is what I believed I was hearing.  Joel was not wanting to even go there yet, so we waited.  Then when he was ready to pray about it, he also heard the same message.  The problem?  We had no idea where God was leading us.  None.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge Him
and He will makes your paths straight." 
Proverbs 3: 4,5 

In October Joel shared with me that he felt we would have answers to our questions after our trip to Arizona and we needed to be patient in the waiting.  I am not so good with waiting!  We had been seriously considering going out to Woodland Park CO to Bible college, so both of us were thinking this may be where our answer would be revealed.   After visiting the school, attending classes, and attending the worship and healing service there this February, we came away with an answer~ a strong no for Charis.  We were sad, but by the time we got back to Iowa we realized that God had something else in mind.

Since returning home, we discovered, much to our surprise, that we felt very comfortable in Gold Canyon AZ.  It felt like home.  Strange.....  We wanted to make sure it was not a reaction to the good visit we had there with my sister and BIL, friends, or the new adventures we were experiencing.  We spent many hours talking, discerning, etc.  During that time God was working behind the scenes.

We knew that we were looking for a new kind of ministry, we knew that God had been speaking to us about moving, and we knew we were praying to surrender to His plan for this season of our lives. We did not know it would involve moving nearly 2,000 miles away from our family.  We thought we would be re-visiting Gold Canyon, but God is asking more.  We are saying yes to moving to Gold Canyon.  And we believe God will bless our plan to come back for our family gatherings, some special events, and hopefully part of the summer.  Kind of like being reverse snowbirds.  It is a "one step at a time" process we continue to pray is guided only by God.

All the moves we have made over the years were directed by the military and then by God.  As a minister Joel's purpose was laid out and so was a welcoming community every time we relocated.  This will be a new adventure with our new purpose yet to be revealed!

We have prayed, asked for confirmations, laid a fleece that was filled and filled again, and have had countless conversations with each other and with the Trinity.  Now we take a step of faith.  I saw a graphic on InCourage that really spoke to us.  It tells how I feel as we free fall with God into a new season.

Gold Canyon is the most eastern suburb of Phoenix.  It is nestled against the Superstition Mountains and foothills.  It is an unincorporated city of 10,000 that doubles it's size in the winter.  Mesa is 20 minutes away.  It is filled with cactus, desert, and lots of animals.  Some welcome, some not so much.  It is also filled with houses.  Lots of houses.  For these two Midwesterners, it will be a big change.  We have lived in New Mexico, Utah and Montana, so the west is not new to us, yet we know this will be something completely different.  Most importantly, we are leaving our children, in-loves, grands, and most extended family behind.  After 19 years in one place we are heading to a new land. 

Superstition Mountain at Gold Canyon

I expect to be sharing our journey here as we, like Abraham and Sarah, pick up and move at an "older" age.  We keep asking God to slam the doors if we are being misled, while at the same time giving praise to God as He moves us forward.  One step at a time.

Speaking of that, Joel will be done at Faith Lutheran in mid July.  We plan to put the house on the market by then, and when it sells, we will buy the house God brings to our attention.  He has it all worked out.  It is a matter of trust.  We are on a journey to a new land, and even when we have considered the cost, we have to move forward in what we feel is obedience to God. We are excited, we are sad, we are apprehensive.  Okay, okay, I am the one who is apprehensive.  We are saying "yes" to what God is asking, and believe all things will work together for good according to His plan.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Celebrating The Day Lyme Died

It was three years ago today we called Andrew Wommack's prayer ministries and asked for someone to stand in prayer with me for the Lyme and co-infections to be gone from my body.  A woman named Rachel prayed with me.  To clarify that, she spoke to the mountains in my body.....27 years of Lyme bacteria that had entered every organ, tissue, bone, and nerve, slowly destroying my life.  Antibiotics and herbs could not kill it all off.  But prayer did.  Rachel spoke directly to the Lyme, cursing it and commanding it all to die in the name of Jesus.  She spoke to my body commanding it to rise up and be healed in the name of the One who gave authority to believers.  She spoke scriptures over my body, and she praised Jesus the Healer for the weight of sin and sickness He carried on the cross for us.

That day the Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, and Ehrlichia died.  How do we know?  For the next three weeks while the bacteria died and left poisons behind, I was in horrible pain.  If you know anything about Lyme, you know that die off is worse than the daily living......It is called "herxing".  Two months later my two doctors confirmed that the Lyme was gone.  Praise Jesus.

Are all my symptoms gone?  Not yet. My full healing has been a process.  More crockpot style than microwave, like Joels.  But the crockpot healing has also released me from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and allergies, thyroid disease.  Bringing my chronically ill body back to full health has taken me through a season of inner healing too.  A journey guided by Holy Spirit.   Seeking healing has brought me into a closer relationship with God and Jesus, and amazing life-changing encounters with Holy Spirit.  All ordained by my Papa God.  The One who delights in me.  In you.

Thinking back on the many years of horrific pain and sickness that are behind me, brings me to my knees in gratefulness for where I am today.  What we have learned about healing and Holy Spirit has taken us out of our comfort zone and into a life God has ordained.  We can never go back to our old way of living or thinking.  We have experienced the "something more" that Catherine Marshall talked about in her book of the same title I read over 40 years ago.  It has wrecked us.  And we love it.

So, today we celebrate the day I was healed from Lyme and it's nasty friends. Today we celebrate the day the enemy lost a big, long battle in my body.  And we celebrate the freedom that has come with Jesus.  We celebrate the victories yet to come.  We give praise to the One who holds our every moment!

I am linking up with Bonnie over at Faith Barista


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

His Real Momma!

Our son, Mark, three and a half years old, was sitting between Joel and I in the front seat of the car.  We were on our way home from church and his three other siblings at the time were in the back seat listening as I talked to him about his behavior that morning. 

With defiance in his beautiful brown eyes, he said boldly, "You cannot tell me what to do.  You are not my REAL mom."  As he finished speaking his little decree, he watched to see how I would respond. You see, while we were living in The Philippines, we adopted Mark when he was just 5 months old.

I took a breath and from the deep Momma place inside me, I spoke.  "Mark, I held you, I fed you your bottles, I helped you learn to walk, I changed your diapers, I protected you, I loved you and I still do.  That is a real as it gets! 

Christmas 1975
Momma and Mark

That feisty little boy is now a grown man of 40 who is a director in a Christian recovery ministry, helping addicts and alcoholics transition back into the world.   We have watched over the years how God has walked with Mark through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I am his proud and loving Momma.  Grateful, so grateful to God that he is our son.

When we started to adopt children of other races in the mid 70's , it was still unusual and controversial.  We knew with all our hearts and without doubt that adopting was part of God's plan for our lives, but others were not sure.  They did not understand that God had planted this strong desire in us to adopt. 

I can still see myself at age 11, in the small storage area off the bedroom where I kept my doll bed and seven dolls.  Periodically I would take them out and play with them.   They kept me company and were like friends for me.  I always loved babies, and I ended up being a mom to seven children.  One day when I was thirteen an African missionary came to our home in SE Minnesota for a visit.  I can remember thinking, as his momma held her beautiful black son, "I will have a son like this little one some day".  Sometimes God instills His plans in our desires even at a young age.

Sometimes doing what God calls us to is controversial or radical.  Sometimes God instills an "inner knowing" inside us to bring forth His plan, even if it seems unusual or beyond our understanding.  And sometimes when these desires come we  just know that we know that we know that no matter what, God is in the midst of it.  And from His goodness comes amazing gifts, like our son Mark. 

For Mark's milestone birthday, I have been putting together a photo book of his life so far, with a small journal filled with memories to go along with it.  Looking at all those pictures from the past. has brought a smile to my face, joy to my heart, and so many memories back to the surface.  So many stories that make up our history and God's story, too. 

The story of how God brought Mark into our lives is amazing and totally orchestrated by God starting back within myself as a child.  It reaffirms to me how important it is to listen and surrender to God's plans for us.  Yes, I am his Momma....and I am as real as it gets!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Saturday's Scribbles

It is yet another Saturday morning here in our corner of the world and I am using only one word to describe our weather this week.  Fantastic!  We have been in the 50's and 60's, the snow is mostly gone and the ice jams have left the river.  We even opened windows to bring in the fresh air. With an extra hour of daylight added to the warmer weather, we are opening our arms to Spring!

Speaking of warmer weather, we have been able to walk outside along the river the past 6 days.  Nice.  Makes such a difference when we are not confined to the mall for walking.  I'm grateful for the mall in the dead of winter, but doing a happy dance now that we can be outside again. 

Speaking of happy dance, I have finally shaken that virus and am back to having energy to walk every day and do what needs to be done without a lot of resting going on.  I am only walking 1 to 1.3 miles right now, but adding more steps daily.  My hot pink tennies are back in action!

Joel has had an extremely busy week again with services Sunday and Wednesday nights, a pre-baptism meeting and a pre-marriage session.  He has always said Easter is much busier than Christmas.  Guess it is true even when he is working part time!  Add to that several hours over several days that he worked on our taxes.  He finally finished yesterday and got them to the accountant.  Yippee. 

I have been Spring cleaning this week.  Cleaning and purging.  Our cleaning lady is battling kidney cancer.  She is having radiation now, after one kidney was removed, so she is unable to work.  We are thinking she will not be back to work for a very long time.  We hired her when I was too ill to do any housework and Joel did not have time and then he himself was ill.  We are able to maintain the house fine now,  but the time it takes certainly affirms to us that we need a smaller house!  Prayers continue for Ruth to be restored to health.

With Easter just a few weeks away, I have been remembering the many places we have worshiped on Easter morning.  Certainly, Joel's 35 years in ministry took us to a variety of churches in Montana, Minnesota and Iowa.  Eight years in the military carried us to New Mexico, Illinois, Utah, Minnesota, and the Philippine Islands.  It is on the island of Luzon where I found myself caught up in my thoughts.  An early 6am service outside at Clark Air Base on Easter Sunday, 1976.  It was already 85 degrees by sunrise, and being outside in the high humidity made it a bit more challenging, but we worshiped as we sat on bleachers filled with others who proclaimed Jesus as their Savior.  A wonderful day, gathered together, and each of us with a baby in our arms and a 5 and 6 year old by our sides.  Okay, officially weeping as I look at this photo.  So blessed.

The family 1976
The Philippine Islands
Speaking of being blessed, I have been watching more teachings from Bethel and Charis.  We take it for granted now, but to turn on the laptop, click a couple buttons, and watch teachers live stream or from the archives is truly a gift.  I love to learn, so I do it daily if I am home.  We also have been watching our usual TV shows, and listening to Bethel's latest CD "We Will Not Be Shaken".  We talked with a couple of the kids and some extended family this week, which always brings joy.  I have been picking up a book once in awhile.   So, how was your week?

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sharing Your Story

I sat across from her at the Wednesday night Lenten supper.  She had struggled to get to the table, but carried her own plate and glass with independence written all over her face.  She looked to be around 80, give or take 5 years.  It seems the older I get, the harder time I have guessing someone's age. 

When she decided to get up for a second helping of the "sooo good lasagna" her spry husband asked if she needed help.  She replied firmly, "No I am just fine.  I can do this myself."  I detected just a hint of a Scandinavian accent behind that slightly irritated voice.  Inside I was smiling. She reminded me of my mother-in=law, who has gone to be with Jesus.  I knew little about this woman, but was soon to learn more. 

When it was just the two of us left at the table, she began to talk about when she was a young woman.  She had gone to nursing school, and after graduating she got on a train from her home in North Dakota and traveled to Billings MT.  From there she had to take a smaller freight train to a town in western Nebraska where she worked at a hospital that now no longer exists.  The train would stop once in awhile to pick up sheepherders along the way.  She went on to tell me that people would come into the local store and buy 100lbs. of sugar, 200lbs of potatoes, flour, etc. to last them the winter, because they would not be able to get out once the heavy snows came. 

She left her home, all that was familiar, and got on a train to a new place where the snow kept people captive on their ranches til Spring.  She stayed nearly two years, until a young man she had left behind, came to ask for her hand in marriage.  The man she said yes to sat by her side at the Wednesday night Lenten supper.  Still sitting by her side so many, many years later as they walk hand in hand in faithfulness to God.

Every created life is a story in the making.  I was blessed to listen to a faithful servant tell some of her story last night.  No matter how short or how long, there is a story that cries out to be heard.  A life that longs to be remembered long after ashes have returned to ashes.

I wrote the above last night.  This morning I opened Ann Voskamp's blog to a post written by Michelle Cushatt who has just written a book called, "Undone".  Going over to Michelle's cyber home, I saw the title of a post she had written Tuesday...."When A Life Becomes A Story".  I just love how God joins people together in the written word.  Everyone God has created has a story to tell.  My story.  Your story.  His story.  HIStory.  Have you shared yours?  To God be the glory!