Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Screenplay Is Still Being Written

Easter morning!  Up before sunrise with praise music playing on my phone, I dress for Resurrection Day.  A new sweater and pants, crisp white shirt and comfy shoes take me out the door to worship the King.  I am joyful and eager to celebrate. 

The church sanctuary is beautiful will all the lilies lifting their faces upward in their own form of worship. The service is filled with special music, the people greeting each other with the passing of the peace and "Happy Easter".  The sermon speaks of the hope we have in a risen Savior.

And then I hear the whisper halfway through, as I glance down the long empty pew.  "You are alone again."  A familiar sadness blankets me even in the midst of Easter joy.  I sit by myself.  It's not like I am truly alone, my husband is right up front, speaking words of worship as he helps pastor a congregation.  I am surrounded by lovely people.  It is just that sometimes I miss having the presence of our family that once filled the pew.  Sometimes I miss having my husband by my side, my cowboy preacher who has shepherded congregations going back to 1971, nine years before ever being ordained.     He loves what he does and I love what he has been called to do.  Yet the spirit of loneliness still seeks me out at times.  Looking around the church I see others who also are a pew of one.  Do they feel it too?  The pull of sadness while rejoicing?  Then a calm Voice speaks into my listening heart.   "Lo I am with you always." I drink the words of Living Water in deeply, thirsty for them, while sounds of the organ playing "hallelujah" echoes off sanctuary walls.

This is a part of my story. Today I am linking up with Bonnie at Faith Barista as I write on her prompt word for today, "your story".

As we live and breathe, we all have a story to tell.  Parents, siblings, relatives, friends and even strangers play a role in writing our personal screenplay.  Mine is no different. Intertwined in the love I experienced as a child is what is "said" to make us stronger....sexual abuse, death, alcoholism, and neglect.  No condemnation expressed here, just the script of my early years.  Those experiences took root creating strongholds of fear and loneliness that shaped how I lived and perceived life at times, and still try to take up residence.....even on this Easter morning decades later.  But that is not the end of my story!

Following Joel's overnight healing miracle, our eye opening journey led us to my healing from Lyme Disease.  Yet there was more to come.  Jesus began peeling back the layers of fear, releasing me from confinement, and healing me with His love.  As repressed memories came to the surface,  PTS spoke often, but under His guidance and touch and my surrender, fear lost it's hold.  Out of love Jesus urged me farther along the path, and recently He opened up the door of loneliness and feelings of abandonment that were buried so deep it took Holy Spirit power to unearth them.  Gently and slowly He washed me in Living Water and wrapped me in Holy Spirit hugs, cleansing me of the lies the enemy had used for so long to keep me captive. The lies that said my past is my present and my future.

Sitting in church on Easter Sunday old feelings surfaced, but I had a choice.....listen to the echoes of the past the enemy threw at me,  or walk into the life He had always had planned for His beloved child. It is a process, but that morning I spoke quietly to the little girl who was tempted to believe the residue of an old emotion, reminding her that this was not the truth. Jesus was always with me.  He still is.  Declaring this, peace returned once again with the affirmation that the enemy has no power. 

The past I shared today is only a part of my story. A story filled with great good, some bad and even the ugly.  But it all needs to be told in order to speak of victory with Jesus, bring hope to a hurting world, and give God the glory.  Just like yours, my story continues on.  My screenplay is still being written, but it is not being written by my past.  It is being written by God who is loving me back to a full life ~ a life of freedom. 

"It is for freedom that Christ set me free! 
So I will stand firm then and never again be burdened
by a yoke of slavery."
(to fear, to loneliness, to the past)
Gal. 5:1

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning all! I hope your weather is as nice as ours here in our corner of Iowa.  We are heading for 71 degrees with rain forecast for tonight and tomorrow.  But it is Easter and we can rely on his SONshine!

Speaking of rain, today is the Easter egg hunt at the church, so hope the weather cooperates for that.  It has been a busy week for Joel and the pastor he works with.  They will have officiated at 7 services by Easter noon.  Joel always finds Lent and Easter more taxing than Christmas.  Not less enjoyable, just packed full.

Speaking of Easter, I have been on a quest to find white sandals that are the right style, comfort and  fit.  Nothing.  This quest began last year!  I can get every color under the rainbow but I'm not finding white.  We went shopping last Monday and Joel came home with new pants, another vest for winter, and more.  Me?  Zip.  I even tried to "settle" but could not find anything that fit.

Did you see the eclipse?  We set the alarm to get up, and I watched for a few minutes but my bed was calling me......Joel stayed up for awhile.  I did not notice much red, BUT we needed a good telescope or camera to check it out I expect.  There were some beautiful pictures online, especially the ones taken in CO.

On Wednesday we headed to a town around 30 miles south of us to visit an elderly man in a nursing home.  I like visiting, but I do not like nursing homes.  They are depressing for me.  Necessary I know, but not my cup of tea.  Enough said.  Maundy Thursday I went to the 11am service ~~ Joel preached and then he had the 6:30 service but I stayed home. 

Friday morning we received a phone call from Joel's brother Doug telling us his daughter, our niece had started having seizures the night before and an MRI showed a brain tumor.  She was transferred to a bigger hospital and they put her on an anti-seizure they wait for the brain swelling to leave and start making plans with how to deal with it.  She is only 43, but the doctors said it is in a "good area", it is small, and slow growing.  We don't know if it is cancerous or not, but Jody can use your prayers......thanks.

Friday night we went to the Good Friday services which are always dramatic and powerful when we think about all Jesus went through for us.  Joel and I decided it was one of the most powerful Good Friday services we have ever worshipped at. 

Today is the church's egg hunt for the kids,  and Sunday services start at 6:30am with the youth, then 8:30 and 10 am with a church breakfast thrown in there.  It reminds me a lot of when I was growing up.  Early rising, hidden baskets, lots of services, singing in choirs, and a big ham dinner with cherry sauce.  Family traditions in our home too.....along with the ham dinner with cherry sauce spiced up with cinnamon and cloves.  Yum.

The water pipe work is done so we are now waiting for the road to be taken care of.  We need to get all new filters for our reverse osmosis so are still buying our water. Hopefully that will do the trick. After Easter when there is time.....

Speaking of after Easter, my husband has been telling everyone the story involving our stove and microwave.  It is not too often he has heard his wife yelling, "JOEL, the carrots are on fire"!!  We had put carrots in the oven to roast and 15-17 minutes later three fire alarms went off on the main level.  I went into the kitchen and smoke was coming out of every opening and the heat was intense.  I looked inside and saw coal black carrots!  No fire, thankfully.  I tried to turn off the oven but it would not turn off!  That's when I yelled at Joel and he had just gotten out of the shower so needed to put something on before running upstairs to help.  We finally had to turn off the circuit to stop the broiler from heating into a frenzy.......So there we sat with no oven.  During Holy Week.  

So, okay, we thought, we can do this.  We have the microwave!   Joel went to use that a couple of hours later and the pad would not put in numbers when we pressed on them!  We finally could use the 5 and 3 sometimes......Now things were getting ridiculous!  Joel was so upset, but soon I heard him out in the kitchen talking to God and the microwave...........Talking about it being Holy Week, and needing to cook, and no time to shop for a stove, and asking for it to work like the day we bought it..........and the microwave has been working perfect ever since.  Thank you Lord for hearing all our prayers!  Like our friend Ann said to us recently..."You guys ARE crazy!"  Well, maybe we are, but don't wake us up cuz we are loving this life! 

Oh, and the stove?  My handyman hubby took the broiler element out and now we can use the oven and stove top until after Easter when we can look for a new stove.  We turn off the circuit at night just in case and don't leave the house when the oven is on to be on the safe side.  But we can make ham for Easter!

With all the services I have not done much reading this week, although I started yet another new book titled, "Doubtless:  Faith That Overcomes The World" by Jennifer LeClaire.  What has your week been like?  Any burnt carrots or funky stoves? 
Until next time.....

Wishing you a blessed Easter
as we celebrate our Risen Lord!! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Word Power

It is Sunday morning, April 13, and we are teaching an adult Bible study session on the power of our words.  Joel walks back and forth speaking with passion on our favorite subject.  As I look around at the small group of people who grace our presence every week, I can see that they are listening intently.  I hold my breath with the realization that our words hold so much power.  Word power.  It is a responsibility that we do not take lightly, but this sunny Spring morning it hits me afresh...the life altering power found in the spoken word.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue"
Proverbs 18:21

Today is Maundy Thursday, the night of the Passover meal where Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper.  "My body broken....My blood shed....for you."  For us.  Can we comprehend the meaning and the promises held here in these few words?   His body, His blood, our salvation, our forgiveness.  He promised to always be with them.  He promised them a Comforter....Holy Spirit power.  We hear Truth in the words He spoke.

Good Friday brings us to our knees weeping while simultaneously giving thanks for Jesus suffering and death on a cross.  His death giving us life.  His last words spoken........"It is finished."   His suffering for our sins.  Finished.  He suffering for the wounded and brokenhearted .  Finished.  Oh, the pain He bore, the incredible pain and suffering of the world wracking His body.  And is finished. 

Easter morning we hear the most powerful words ever spoken.  He is Risen!  Resurrection power proclaims, shakes the living, and offers salvation and healing to us all.  He. is. Risen.    Our Savior!

Jesus knew the power of words.  He weighed them carefully and spoke them with confidence and authority. He used His words to save, to heal, to teach, and to command, telling His followers they would do greater things than He did because He would be with God and yet resides in us. 

As we reflect on the Resurrection of our Savior we rejoice!  And yet we can celebrate Easter every single day!  We serve a Risen Savior.  We speak powerful words of life or death every day.  We have been given the privilege to do so~ to praise, proclaim, pray, encourage, and  yes, teach the Living Word.  With obedience we teach the truths found in His Word with our words and Holy Spirit's guidance.  There is life and death found in our words.  So today, on this Maundy Thursday as we walk into the next three days of Holy Week, let us lift our voices and worship our Lord and Savior with our words!

I am linking up with Faith Barista Jam using her prompt word for today, "Easter".

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Passionate Journey

It has been over two years now that Joel and I have been on a quest.  A quest to learn all we can about healing, since Joel's overnight miracle.  Digging into the Word, communing with Holy Spirit, and truly opening the eyes of our hearts to the something more that God has been waiting to share with us for so patient is our God. 

We have spent countless hours studying everything we can find on the subject, a subject that seems to live and breathe with Holy Spirit wind.  We have taken correspondence courses, watched teachings from several churches and ministries, read many books, studied in depth what the Bible says on healing, attended healing services and then a conference on healing 1280 miles from home.  Distance did not matter to us.  God said go, we went, and our world changed.  A deep desire for something more took root and exploded.  A passion that has opened the Spirit realm to us, breathing new life and shaking us to the core.

I expect some have been weary of our endless talk and our need to share our amazing journey, but we have been told by several people we hold close that we are passionate and it seems to vibrate from every pore.   It has fascinated, frightened, and intrigued.  We won't address the annoyances.  When pleasing people was more important than being real and pleasing God, I worried often about the annoyed.  I knew I had a choice to make. My good friend Linda and I talked in depth about this.....she told me, "Renee, don't lose your passion!"  Don't let others get in the way of what God is doing in your life."  Linda,  who enjoys Arizona warmth year round, sent me a birthday card this year that had Joel and I laughing.   On the outside of the card it says, "Friends like you come along once in a lifetime......"  Inside:  "Which is good because you're a real handful!"  I love this card and keeping it close as we journey forward.

It may be hard to imagine, but we did not really see it as a passion until the word reached our ears several times.  Excitement yes, maybe bordering obsession.....okay we acknowledge that, but this word caused us pause as we recognized it did not come from us...but from God.  And we are counting it all joy.  The quest, the struggles, the victories, the passion, the journey planned by God  All joy.  With grateful hearts we thank you Jesus.

It is Holy Week and all our eyes are on Jesus and His journey planned by God.  Jesus our Savior, our Healer, our Provider, our everything.

His parables, His healing touch
His Words holding life. 
 Thank you Jesus.

His entry into Jerusalem,
His broken body and blood shed for us. 
His cross. 
We tearfully thank you Jesus.

His empty tomb.  His resurrection.  
We rejoice
And give you thanks Jesus.

His Living Word.   His Comforter. 
His power.    His promises.  His passion. 
We humbly thank you Jesus,
Counting it all Joy.
"But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

Counting it all joy today as I link up with Ann Voskamp over at A Holy Experience

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you! Today we are enjoying sunshine and looking for a high of 75 degrees before the bottom falls out tomorrow and we go back to 45 for a high.  Windows are open, and the breeze is clearing the stale house air.  Love it! 

With the nicer weather we have been able to walk outside more which is so nice.  Hello river!!  Hello sunshine and fresh air!  Yesterday while walking Joel noticed what appeared to be a large bird tucked in the trunk of a tree where it was hollowed out.  As we got closer, he identified it as a goose!  We are not sure if the goose built a nest in the trunk of that living tree or not, but I guess we will find out as time goes by.

Last Sunday afternoon we went to a talent show at the church.  The secretary asked us earlier in the week if we were going to do something for the show and I replied "No, some people already think we are a comedy act, and that is enough!"  It was a full day with 3 services for Joel and the Bible study we teach, lunch, a nap, and then off to church.  Sunday seemed to set the pace for the week!

Monday we had  a fun visit with friends.  Lana and I met in 5th grade and have been friends ever since.  She has played a pivotal role in my life which I wrote about HERE.  It was nice to chat, laugh, pray, and eat together. 

Road work continues on our street.  We did not have water Monday morning and had to park on the block in front our neighbors home which is behind ours!  They did not mind us walking through their yard, though.  Lana and Roger had to come that way to and my hair dresser who came Tuesday to cut my hair!  We have had water nearly the whole time, but it does not look safe enough to drink yet, so we have been buying water for drinking.  Expect we will have to change all the filters on our reverse osmosis too when this is over.  So it goes....

Wednesday we were at the church in the morning, walked, then grocery shopped.  Wednesday evening was Lenten services and the discussion group.  Thursday we were up early headed with another pastor and his wife to the Pastors monthly Conference meeting.  Friday night my sister Kay and her husband Dan came over for supper and a visit.  Busy week!  On that note I am rejoicing at how busy I can be and also how quickly I recovered from the virus I had.  Yes!  Another affirmation in my healing process.

My friend Lana brought me a whole series of books to read....light mysteries, so I have a few months supply.....or longer!  I am reading a Joanne Fluke Hannah Swenson (MN based) mystery to start with...and of course the usual bunch.....I think there are presently 3 I am delving into at once in the non-fiction inspirational genre.  That is my favorite.  The Jesus Book, Birthing The Miraculous, and The Believer's Authority. I watched a couple teachings, and also we took in the usual TV shows.  No movies, but I am looking forward to seeing "Heaven Is For Real" when it comes out.  We might even go to the movie theater....I have not seen a movie in a theater since Titanic!!!!

What is going on in your world?  What are you reading?  Come by for a chat.......

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Broken Pieces Restored

"This is my body, broken for you..."  The words of our Savior spoken at the Last Supper...the words we hear at the communion rail as we open our hands and our hearts to receive....  His body was broken for us.  Beaten, and hung on a cross in order that we may be set free.

"It is for freedom that Christ set us free,
so stand firm then,
and never again be burdened
by a yoke of slavery (bondage)."
Galatians 5:1

We all come to the table of the Lord broken.  If we are breathing, we are a clay pot cracked, chipped, broken, sometimes in pieces.  Sin makes sure of that.  The enemy works hard to steal, kill, and destroy.  The fallen world joins us in the groaning our brokenness creates. 

It is why we gather at His table, it is why we hold out our hands for the bread of life and we receive, chewing......swallowing.  It is why we lift the cup to our lips and pour the liquid down our throats. Here it is...the blood shed for Jesus promised. 

We remember.......Jesus came to heal our brokenness.  He broke to make us whole.  To set us free from sin and disease.  Jesus came to take us out of bondage.  He fills us up to overflowing with His love and every crack is sealed tight.  Every chip restored.  The pieces put back together more beautiful than we could imagine.  By His blood shed for us.  Liquid red........liquid more precious than gold.

"By His stripes we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5

Can you look in the mirror and see forgiveness and beauty in your image?   Yes we are fractured pots without Jesus, but we are never without Jesus.  He died for you to be saved, healed, made whole.  To be enough.  The cracks and broken pieces restored by His blood make us all stronger, unique, and always beautiful in His eyes.  He delights, He embraces, He loves.  He beckons with His body broken for you, His blood shed.

I am linking up today with Faith Barista Jam today.  Her prompt word for today is "broken".