Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Watching A Movie With Jesus

On this Ash Wednesday I have been pondering my cyber friend Bonnie Gray's prompt word for "One Word Lent". On her blog, Faith Barista, she asked us to think about the word "remember" and what it means for us. "What is Jesus whispering to you to remember?"  Jesus has answered this for me in an amazing way and it began with a scripture that God has been bringing to my attention. Yesterday Isaiah 60:1 kept showing up. When something comes to me in threes or more, I pay attention.  A "message in repetition" is one of the ways God speaks to me.

First I heard Pastor Bill Johnson share in a video I watched that this was his favorite verse because it was the very first one that God bathed Him in and empowered Him with. It brought great change and peace into his life many many years ago, and he still goes back to it in all circumstances.  I then saw it in a Passion Translation post on Facebook.  Later it came up in a book I was reading, and then Jeremy Riddle was singing it over and over in a song when I tuned in to watch Sunday night's baptismal service at Bethel Church.  "Arise and shine!"  All this in such a short amount of time!    It was definitely time to meditate on this verse and let God speak to me.

"Arise and shine, for your light has come,  
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you."
Isaiah 60:1

I looked at a couple of commentaries to see what they could add to this verse.  Israel was living in darkness at this time.  Seems Israel had a difficult time remembering all that God had done for them. They turned away from Him and stopped relying on His promises.  They forgot to remember.  When they focused on their problems they had tunnel vision. They needed to remember and praise God for His glory coming upon them.

Connecting this to a "garden" visit I had recently, I could not help but be amazed.  I go into the garden of my heart where I meet with Jesus and He speaks to me.  Often He gives me words of knowledge about my husband Joel or myself through visions/videos that I see.  This time I went into the garden and Jesus took my hand and we went and sat on a small hill.  I asked Him about a time when He told me to leave my shoes outside the garden because I was walking on Holy ground.  He said, "Shhhhhh, watch!" as He pointed ahead.  I turned my head and saw a misty fog about 10 feet in front of me.  After a couple of minutes of looking in the fog, I saw myself as a fearful little girl who had been hurt.  Jesus said, "I was there."  When He said those words, several other unsettling  events began to move across the screen at a fast speed.  Childhood events that were painful once, and then the years I lay on the sofa so ill with Lyme.  From there it went to the uterine cancer surgery I had five years ago and then recently the surgery for breast cancer and the challenge of radiation.  I covered my eyes with my hands and with tears flowing said, "Yes, Jesus, You were there."  You have always been there with me."  Ahead of me was cataract surgery.  He wanted me to remember. Remember that He healed me of Lyme and 27 years of sickness through prayer.  Remember that He healed me of cancer twice.  Remember that He brought beauty for ashes into my life.   Remember that He. is. always. with. me.  That He would be with me for another surgery.  I turned to Jesus in my vision and asked, "And my future?" Before I could finish asking the question He said, "I am already there". He then took my hand and had me walk backwards with Him.  I asked Him if I could turn around and He replied, "I have a surprise for you!"  I asked, "A good surprise?"  And He said, "A delightful surprise!"  That is where it ended.  I am looking forward to that surprise as I remember God's goodness in my life.  As I arise and shine and remember His glory is on me.

Yes, today's prompt resonated with me in a powerful way.  Bonnie asked us readers what Jesus was whispering to us to remember.  Oh, Jesus.  He never fails to respond to us, does He.  And how God connected the remembering to Isaiah 60?  Amazing.  This verse tells us how to respond....Do not not be discouraged.  Do not forget.......Arise! Shine!  The promise of His light has come. The promise of His glory upon us is here.  Only God.

On this Ash Wednesday Jesus whispers "remember" to us.......I don't know where His whisper will take you.  For each the remembering will be different except for the One remembering we hold close. What Jesus did for us.  Whether He whispers into our heart, shows us a movie of our past, or speaks to us in the still voice of a child, He does so with a deep sacrificial love.  He died for us to live. Listen, remember, arise!  His glory is upon us!!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Radiation Residue

Where am I now 4 1/2 months after surgery and nearly 7 weeks after radiation?  I am still in recovery and even though I am doing really well, I have been striving hard to do what I did before radiation. It is my personality to be determined, so I was frustrated with what I saw as lack of progress.

I knew I had done well with the issues there, so I decided to do a google search and ended up at when I typed in "still tired 6 weeks after radiation".  It was an eye opener and I decided to share it here since some of you might wonder about the recovery process.  I learned that quite a few women are still dealing with tiredness 6-8 months after radiation.  All the cells in the breast were destroyed and the body is trying hard to heal and make new cells.  That takes energy.  That makes one tired.  There are even a few women who feel abnormally tired for up to a year.  If chemo is involved it is sometimes longer. ( I did not have chemo.)

So, the pushing I have been doing has not helped.  After talking with God and Joel, I am resting twice a day for 20 minutes, getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night, and in-between I am doing what I can at home while saving energy to walk a mile a day most days.  I am not comparing myself to others and I am not beating myself up for not being where I "should be" on this recovery journey.  Yeah....I was......but no more.  I am eating healthy, taking vitamins, using essential oils.  Emotionally I still feel a bit vulnerable, so along with the above I am staying close to Jesus and Joel.  :)

My skin looks great.  I am still losing some dead skin, but it is all healed underneath and 95% of the area is looking healthy.  I have some tenderness, but so very little it is not worth mentioning. I also spend time stretching that right arm since there is a tightness there that I want to have released. I'm still dealing with a bit of inflammation, but I am going to use essential oils for that now.  I am just plain tired too much of the time in my way of thinking, but today was helpful for that.  This is radiation residue.

I now understand why I need to go back to see the radiology oncologist in May and then the following May.  Radiation is not as easy as we think.  The body has been zapped and zapped again.  What was unhealthy has died AND what was healthy also died.  It takes time for that to heal.  I am doing well.  I am not where I want to be, but I am seeing more and more progress and giving thanks!

Hope this is helpful for you.  It is a good reminder for me, as I continue to move forward one day at a time having the wisdom to accept what I cannot change and change what I can.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Mountains, Butterflies, and Sleighs

Today I stopped over to my internet friend Sharon's cyber home and read a powerful post and analogy about God being like a mountain in our lives. Solid, never moving.   It was just what I needed to hear today as the problems in life began to appear like mountains. Immovable and never-ending. The Bible tells us we are to "cast those problem mountains into the sea", but sometimes the mountains become so much bigger than my God as I focus on them...speaking to them and commanding them to be gone.  Sometimes I forget that I need to tell the problem how big my God is, NOT tell God how big my problem is.

God, in His love and wisdom, presented me with Sharon's words of insight this morning, and peace settled right back into my soul.  It can be so easy to take our focus off of what God has done for us, how much He loves us, and wants what is best for us.

We have been praying for friends and family, and friends of friends and family who are in storms and finding the "mountain shrouded by fog" like Sharon spoke of today.  Dear sweet children like Steven and Samuel who are fighting cancer and dear James and his medical challenges.  Friends and family who battle the disease called cancer ~~Dale, Kris, Barb, Jo.  Myself as I wearily prepare for cataract surgery the end of the month.  Those who search for answers.  And our sweet friend, A. ,who battles Lyme with such grace and deep faith in our God.    Our hearts break for those who are walking through storms.  The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

When life gets in the way and screams at us on a level that is hard to ignore, we can get lost in the voices that speak death and destruction.  When we are in a vulnerable place, the future can look uncertain. Some might wonder where God is in the midst of it all.  He is here.  Solid, immovable. Offering abundant life.

Last night Bethel had their baptismal service and I listened as person after person, and child after child shared why they wanted to be baptized.  Over and over I heard.....because Jesus died for me....loves me......healed me.......Never changing is our God.

This morning as we meditated and prayed about our future, saying "yes" to God at all cost, I saw clearly Joel and I being held in the large hand of God.  We were holding hands, and also each of us had hold of a finger of God's as we moved around swiftly and with such grace that soon it was like we were on a butterfly as we soared and yet then seemed to glide across an invisible ice as if in a sleigh. It was Wonderful.  We were in the Father's hand together and all was well.

He is here.  He walks beside us holding our hand.  He walks before us preparing the way.  He walks behind us because He has us covered.  He carries us because He loves us. with such a deep unfathomable love.   And sometimes we soar on the wings of a butterfly or glide in a sleigh with Him on our journey.  He is always with us.  Always.  Solid, immovable like a mountain.  The great I AM holding us in the palm of His hand.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday's Scribbles

Good morning from our corner of the world where more than one kind of blizzard visited Iowa this past week.  Monday night was Iowa's caucus and the media was out in full force along with all the candidates who hope to take up residence in the White House.  Words filled the air like a blizzard from every social media created by man.  Passionate people speaking out for the person they want to see sitting in the Oval Office.  And if you watch the news, there is still the aftermath, of accusations one against the other. The media loves a good fight, hoping for something that will raise their ratings and bring drama into the situation.  In some ways it is amusing......

On Tuesday we had yet another kind of blizzard.  This one from nature.  I had a morning appointment to see the eye specialist and struggled with wanting to go.  I am weary of doctors.  The weather was a perfect reason to stay home but after hearing God's whisper for me to "go" we took off like true Minnesotans (or Iowans) to drive across town.  There were a couple of glitches but we made it.  One of three patients who did not cancel.  Ha....The appointment went well, the report was good and we were home in time for lunch.

The snow continued on all day and we ended up with at least 10 inches.  The winds were high and travel was not advised in town or anywhere else.  We hunkered down, grateful for our warm house. We woke up  Wednesday to our neighbor's snowblower and when we looked out he had done our driveway too.  Sweet!  Joel was heading over to do my sister and BIL's driveway so he only had to venture out once.  We had to laugh when we drove down one street Thursday morning.  Someone had taken all the piles of snow and built a super cool dinasauer .....even coloring it green.  How fun!

So, the blizzard is over and the caucus has moved out east.  This weekend the focus is on the Super Bowl.  So much excitement in one week!

We received an email a couple of days ago letting us know that the Lutheran Bible Institute (Trinity Lutheran college) in Washington state was closing its doors.   This is the end of another great ministry.  Joel and I graduated from The Lutheran Bible Institute/Golden Valley Lutheran College in Minnesota in 1968. It began in St. Paul in 1919 and closed it's doors in Golden Valley MN in 1985.

Our first year we were there it was LBI, the second year it shifted and expanded it's programs and became GVLC.   The Washington campus came out of LBI in Mpls., along with the LBI located in California, if I recall it right.  LBI/GVLC was such a great place for students.  The professors/teachers had a deep foundation in faith, and many brought their experiences from being missionaries to their classrooms.  Joel and I learned so much there which went with us into the world as a young married couple.  And speaking of married, The Lutheran Bible Institute was known by many as the Lutheran Bridal Institute.  So many of us met our spouses there!

LBI campus in Golden Valley, MN

Joel and I both went there interested in mission work in Africa.  The draft and 8 years in the military kept us moving forward on a different path (not off track) and then going to seminary with 4 kids was yet another adventure.  We fell in love with Montana and went that route.  Later in the 80's we looked into mission work again, but at that time our multi-racial family kept us from being accepted as missionaries to Africa.  God had other plans.  But our faith was strengthened and rooted through our two years at LBI/GVLC where we studied the word in depth.  I still miss that, friends.  I still miss the classroom setting and the Word being revealed and studied.  We both are forever and eternally grateful for LBI colleges and the seeds they have planted in so many.

This past week was filled with blizzards created by humans and nature.  We have watched teachings that have increased our knowledge and deepened our faith and desire for more of Jesus.  We have been saddened by some news received, and delighted by other news.  We have walked at the malls ~ we have watched TV, finished yet another puzzle, read aloud together, and worshiped.  Just another week from our corner of the world.

How is the first week of February shaping your life?

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

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Shalom of Heaven

Sometimes I am stunned by the circumstances people are struggling with.  The storms that come against God's children are too many to name.   It is challenging to stay in a place of rest when we are buffeted around by the enemy, and it can be so difficult to stay centered in that place of peace with Jesus. Difficult but not impossible.  If we look back over His ministry we can see that He was always speaking peace over people during His ministry, reminding them to not be afraid.  He was and is the Prince of Peace and just where does He reside?  In us!  There it is, what we need to stay in peace!

Last week I watched a couple of teachings at Bethel Church that presented me with a fresh  perspective on peace.  That "Be still and know that I am God" promise put into action. Some of what I received from the teachings was so insightful.

"Jesus anointed us with peace and we are expected to use it.  He knew troubles would come, and He prepared us for it with peace.  We can trust His covenant of peace and live a full abundant life.  We are recipients of an endless supply of peace, so use it in all circumstances.!"

John 14 tells us Jesus gave us peace as a weapon of warfare.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  
I do not give to you as the world gives.  
Do not let our hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

John 14:27

I have never thought much about peace as being something that God gave every one of us to use, release, or hold on to in tough times.  Another weapon of warfare.  He is the Shalom of Heaven and since He resided in us so does His Peace.  So simple, yet so powerful, this truth found in His Word.

Any of you dealing with circumstances that want to steal your peace? I know I am raising my hand. Well, don't stand with the enemy who steals, kills, and destroys, but choose to stand and agree with the Peace that passes all understanding.  The Prince of Peace.  Choose Peace, and have such a firm grip on that precious gift that no one and nothing can take it from you.

Lord,  You have told us to speak to our mountains, so I come before you in prayer for all of us who have been hearing the lies of the enemy and agreeing with them. I repent of believing those lies.  I speak to the mountains of anxiety, fear, and worry, and I command that each be broken off in Jesus name.  I speak Peace into the minds and hearts of us all, and I declare that we will receive a flow of the peace that passes all understanding.  We give you Praise for the Shalom of Heaven, and we rejoice that we can live out of a place of peace.  We speak Peace into the minds and to the heart sand souls of your creations.  In Jesus Holy and powerful name.  Amen

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Putting Off Or Stepping Into

As I look out the large picture window in our living room all I see is blowing snow.  The winds are strong, the snowflakes are coming down fast and furious, and white dominates the landscape.  I am thankful to be inside where I can stay warm and cozy by our fireplace.

Like true Minnesotans (who live in Iowa) we headed to my doctor appointment this morning with the eye specialist.  There were a couple places as we traveled where you could not tell where we was definitely a blizzard outside!  In fact we had a strong gust of wind come across while the wiper was in the rest mode and Joel went up on a median before bouncing back down a few seconds later because he was in a whiteout and could not see.  That got our attention.  Seriously not a good time to be out, but we headed across town and arrived 25 minutes later at the eye clinic.  We were one of three patients who came in.  Usually we wait an hour just to see someone, but even with the storm causing problems, we were home in a little over an hour with a good report.

Now let me back up a bit.  I have been challenged at time with keeping the pressure down in my eyes to a level where it will not affect my fragile optic nerve fibers.  (that darn Lyme damage )  I also have been struggling with vision problems from the cataracts that have set up residence in both eyes.  So, even though I knew I needed to go in for a recheck, I did not want to go. I have been pretty weary of spending so much time in the care of the medical world.  Yesterday was my final visit to the surgeon. That felt good, but I just did not want to face the "what ifs", feeling a bit like a wind tossed snowflake  going from a place worry or anxiety into then a place of trust and confidence concerning today's appointment.   I had been praying, and we had been speaking over my eyes. We knew God wanted them healed, but the enemy was whispering into my ear worst case scenarios.....Yeah.......I was feeling, well, vulnerable.

When we woke up to a blizzard today I told Joel  that we should just stay home.  Everyone else would.  I could just reschedule.  He said he would call the clinic and see if they were open and they assured us they were, but we could reschedule in only 3 weeks.....Joel asked me what I wanted to do and I heard God's voice say quietly, "Go".  Just one word........"Go".  So we went and as the doctor looked into my eyes to test the pressure I recalled what God had sent me this week via Facebook, and I said quietly to God, "These are YOUR eyes."  I am your child and these eyes are YOURS.  Let me see with Your eyes."  I moved from that place of worry and fear to a place of trust, determined to settle in there and stop being blown about by an internal blizzard.  My history tells me I can trust God.  He has always walked with me.  His Word tells me I can trust Him.  It would not change now.  God never changes.

I was grateful that my eye pressure was the lowest it had been in a very long time.  That is good news because we then could go ahead and get tested and set up for cataract surgery. They will call by Friday to give us the dates and times.  Of course, I would love to wake up and have those cataracts gone and my vision clear, but as Joel reminded me last night, "God heals through surgery, too.  He healed you of cancer, He will heal you of cataracts."

I wanted to put off what I dreaded I would hear today.  I was believing the lies of the enemy and looking only at my history ~ ~I did not want to face things. Have you ever been there?  Usually for me it is anything medical.  Sometimes I put off small things, too, but I have learned over the years that when God is with us, we are better off stepping into that which causes us to tremble.  Why?  Because we are never alone.  God is always by our side.  His power resides in we can be bold as a lion. And even if we feel weak as a lamb, no problem.  Then He carries us.  This is how much our Papa God loves us.

A few nights ago I had a nightmare and as I lay in bed hoping to drift off to sleep again, I started to worry about my eyes.  I kept going over it in my mind until the worry grew in size.  Until my problem became bigger than my God.  Needless to say, I did not go back to sleep.  But first thing in the morning while still in bed I read the Passion Translation's prophetic words on Facebook.  It began in God's words..."Come and gaze up My face.gaze into my glory..........I will give you new eyes....MY eyes which will give you true understanding...............I call you into true vision that you might see..............From this day forward I am calling you to put aside your blindness and use my healing eye salve, the revelation of My love.  Oh how He loves us!

Then Monday morning I picked up our daily scripture book and the first verse was about "irritants in the eyes that we do not want to take into the new land".  That spoke to both Joel and I in more ways than one.  Again, another verse later on eyes.  God was making sure I knew He was with me.  He gave me promises to hold on to...........and yet worry still wanted to sneak in.  I sometimes want things to happen in my way and my timing.  Sigh.

When we find ourselves in a storm, whether it is a storm from the enemy or of our own making, we need to remember how much our Papa loves us.  God is never against us.  He is always for us and because we are bathed in the grace provided by His son, we need never fear.  Can't walk?  He'll carry you.  Afraid to take that first step forward?  He will take your hand and lead the way.  Confused on what direction to go?  We will hear a voice behind us telling us whether to go to the right or to the left.  We need not put off that which causes us dread because when we take the hand of Jesus, we have the courage to step into what is ahead.  And when we step into what God has for us Satan runs the other way defeated.  Victory is ours.  That is how much He loves us.