Monday, December 27, 2010

A Baby Boy

I want to introduce you to my grandbaby, Bennett. He is two and a half months old. (isn't he cute!) He was sitting, sleeping actually, two chairs down from me in Church on Sunday. I kept glancing over at him when baby Jesus was mentioned in the message. Words popped in my head like "vulnerability", "trust", "growth process"...

In my mind, I imagined the span of the life of Jesus. What was daily life like in the home of Mary and Joseph? They must have lived in wonder at times...and at times, probably forgot that Jesus was who he was. I am struck with awe after having witnessed Bennett's birth, that the Lord God Almighty made his entrance into our world in a similar way. Through a dark canal.

Have you ever thought of how much darkness there is in the story of Christmas? The story of Light coming to earth? Beginning with the long, rough trek to Bethlehem that Mary endured at an advanced stage of pregnancy. Then at the end of her journey, giving birth in a barn, and soon after having to flee the country with her little boy. All the while pondering reality in her heart, and remembering the prophecy..."he will pierce your own soul too"...

What about your own life and walk with the Lord? When we meet Him, and receive Him, the Light enters our own dark hearts...but His presence in us doesn't automatically shield us from dark things in our lives either. As we know, life on earth continues to have dark events.

After pondering dark times in your own life, think of how profound grace is. The enabling of God. The giving to us what we are unable to produce...everything really. What do we have that we were not given? It's all grace. All things good are a result of His Light in our darkness.

Immanuel, the greatest gift of all came through a dark canal. Mary and Joseph were given grace to trust and teach and guide Jesus as his parents. Now we can have the Light inside of us that overcomes even the deepest darkness!

That gives us great reason to celebrate Christmas!

John 12:46

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

Psalm 18:28

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why God?

I sometimes like to think why God made us...(I know that's an elementary sentence, but I am feeling a bit elementary girlish right now!)

I was driving toward the river that separates Wisconsin from Minnesota today. The beautiful St Croix River...I was out getting last-minute things for our Ladies Christmas Cafe that took place this evening. I had red dogwood twigs from my yard, but needed boughs for the glass cylinders we were using for the centerpieces. Being the cold~weather wimp that I am, I didn't want to trudge through the snow in the back yard on an 11 degree day, so I did what any weather~wimpy girl would do, I went SHOPPING!

The river....we live in a magnificently beautiful area with dense forests, rivers, streams, lakes, bluffs, and hills; nature's beauty abounds. As I traveled along the highway to the florist, the snow-covered pine trees drew my mind toward God. I felt compelled to pull over and take a photo to share with someone. I felt so... "incomplete" enjoying it by myself!! ...and that got me thinking....

When I experience beauty like that, I JUST WANT TO SHARE IT WITH SOMEONE!! I found myself wishing I could express my  delight over the beauty I was passing on my drive. And I thought of God. Why did He create us? He knew we would sin, He knew He would have to send Jesus and sacrifice Him to get us back. Why?

I know I felt something of the heart of God when the desire to share my joy overwhelmed me. He made us to DELIGHT with Him, TO DELIGHT IN HIM...

Suddenly I had an overwhelming sense of His magnificent love for us, and for His desire to have us near Him. 

I wanted someone I LOVE to be in the vehicle with me to share my delight in God's amazing creation. (He wants me to share His delight with Him in His creation and in Him!)

ISN'T THIS THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS? ~I THOUGHT...AS I DELIGHT IN HIM, HE DELIGHTS IN ME! AND YOU! As soon as one sinner repents and opens his/her heart to Jesus, He jumps in! He swoops down to make His home in us. OH!!!! How He loves us! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kim Walker - How He loves us



"God is jealous like a powerful and merciful king who takes a peasant girl from a life of shame, forgives her, marries her, and gives her not the chores of a slave, but the privileges of a wife-a queen. His jealousy does not rise from fear or weakness but from a holy indignation at having His honor and power and mercy scorned by the faithlessness of a fickle spouse." ~John Piper

This quote appeared on my Facebook news feed this morning. It brought the song to mind. Enjoy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Time To Contend

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. ~Jude 3




Contend:

1. to strive in combat; fight.

2. To strive in debate; argue.

3. To strive in competition; compete; vie. v.t. to hold to be a fact; assert.

God’s Word is Powerful and Timely

Does it delight you when you hear a message, or when you read devotions, or when you see in God’s word exactly what you need to hear for this time in your life? Does it surprise you that when you see or hear a message in several places that you find God working that very thing into your life?

That is how it’s been for me with our Pastor's current sermon series from the first four verses from the book of Jude.

 I have been given an opportunity to contend for the truth in a situation at my son, Ethan’s college. This opportunity has also been a call to lay down my son; to surrender him again to the Lord for His purposes. On top of that, it has served as a catalyst for Ethan to search his own heart and choose to surrender his life to being a “contender for the faith”.

What God does with our obedience is out of our hands when we are called to take a stand for truth. But stand we must.

The Lord has given me a clear message to go along with the battle that we find ourselves in. That message is that we do not retreat; we need to advance against the enemy. For too long we (Christians in general) have just let “little” things go and the result is a vast sea of lukewarm Christians. If we do not contend for the truth when we detect error, Satan gets the upper hand. He wants to distort and twist the truth so that it loses its power for salvation and for setting us free.

Satan’s goal is to corrode our conscience and destroy our discernment in order to keep us bound. Look at how he communicated with Eve…and then Jesus…trying to trick them with subtle questions and suggestions that would appeal to human reason. Sadly Eve fell into his trap, but Praise God that Jesus did not! Jesus used the TRUTH to oppose the Liar and won the victory for us! Halleluiah!

We need to be so soaked in, familiar with, and filled up with the word so that we can distinguish the lies. Remember they are subtle… and scripture says that Satan masquerades as an “angel of light”, which means he appears to “make sense” or “look good”…Only those close to Jesus who have His living word filling them will be able to contend for the faith for ourselves and our families.

Consider what the Bible says about the Word of God: John 1 talks about Jesus being the Word, so changing the word is equal to changing Jesus. We also read that the Word is...Living and active (Hebrews 4:12), a Light, a Sword (Ephesians 6), a surgical instrument separating what is true from what is not (Hebrews 4:12), a revealer of God, and Truth (among other powerful things) our defense against the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). To change the Word of God is to take away its Living Power and dim or snuff out its light.
 
Fire Up!!!


Here is a list of several books that I believe God is using to call His church back to sold-out devotion to Him:

• “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan

• “Radical” by David Platt (taking back your faith from the American dream)

• “Sun Stand Still” by Steven Furtick (dare to ask God for the impossible)

• “The Bravehearted Gospel” by Eric Ludy (reviving the dormant masculine side of Christianity-the truth is worth fighting for)

• “Wrestling Prayer” by Eric and Leslie Ludy (a passionate communion with God)

• “One Million Arrows” by Julie Ferwerda (raising your children to change the world)

Don’t allow yourself or your children to be lazy in your devotion to the Lord and His word. Don’t let the enemy distract you with temporal things when eternity is at stake…



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gifts Garner Gratitude

I am joining a thanksgiving journey ...
See "One Thousand Gifts" button on the bottom of this post.

Two things are uppermost on my heart tonight.
First my Dad, who experienced a miracle several weeks ago
when he went into the hospital with a blocked artery
and had emergency surgery adding three stents,
and walked out of the hospital two days later...
(Praise Jesus who answers prayer!)
He is going in Thursday for two more for smaller arteries
that are 70% blocked. I am trusting the Lord
for His merciful miraculous power
to work again through the surgeons...

Not sure how this will look, but on the left I am holding the "before"
and on the right Dad is holding the "after".
Photo via sister's cell phone.
Our joy was overflowing as we thought of
what could have been if not for the Lord...

The second is my husband who started biking
and changing his eating habits
has lost 30 lbs and is continuing to be highly motivated. (!!!) 
An equal blessing is our having a common hobby as the nest has emptied.
The past two wonderful autumn~in~Wisconsin weekends
we have gone on daytrips up North.
Glorious.
The "mountains" have been ours alone (or it has seemed!)
The cool, crisp air...the fragrance...the falling leaves...
the sound of gravel under our tires...
Pushing (and it truly IS!!!) our body up the hills...
exhilleration... coasting down...

 Challenges faced...and won..
And since it is AUTUMN...
Sight delights...aromatic, flavorful Door County Pumpkin coffee,
hand~made"log" pumpkins from a dear friend...
Beloved Bittersweet...
 Little people enjoying a treat in my gift shop...
 My daily messes on the island in my kitchen
representing the joys and experiences of life in the now...
Thank you Jesus.


holy experience



Monday, September 27, 2010

Bittersweet

How often the word "bittersweet" appears in the stories I read of people's lives and experiences. After having discovered the bittersweet plant growing on our windmill the first autumn we were on our farm (2001) I decided to name my gift shop after it. Life had given us many experiences that were both bitter and sweet. Bitter being the death of my father-in-law, and the death of a niece and later a brother...Sweet being our adventures as a family...being able to visit Boston and New Hampshire in the fall (my very first plane ride!), and the daily adventures of life on the farm, kids in school, etc. So the name seemed fitting in more ways than one...

Outside the window by my cash register, I have often glimpsed shoppers gazing on the beautiful vine on our windmill. In the fall, it is covered in orange berries. Curious lovers of bittersweet come to the shop seemingly because they want to "talk bittersweet". They want to know where I get it, how I grow it, etc. As a result, since I can't take credit for my own vine, I have done some research in order to have a response to the inquiries.

It seems growing bittersweet is a bittersweet experience. For starters, you have to have one male and one female plant. Rarely do people end up with one of each; I have heard it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Then it takes a few years before you see fruit, so it is a painfully long wait for the well~loved vines. I can imagine waiting several years and not seeing any orange berries, only to discover that you wont be getting them...

In my research, I discovered there are two types of vines, those (wild ones) that spread underground and are rampant out East. The articles I have read express frustration with bittersweet choking out other plants, and people want to get rid of it *gasp*!! (I know many Midwesterners who would love to take it!!!)

As time has gone on with our little Bittersweet Farm, and all the bittersweet stories, whether in life or in plants, I've come to understand that the bitter things have a certain impact on us and they seem to make the "sweet" things, well, sweeter! (not that the bitter things don't rightfully cause us to mourn~of course they do!)

Those who have struggled to grow the vine have a reason to connect with those who have one. It brings life~connections. My life has been sweetened by the conversations with people who come in the shop. I hope they would say the same thing!

Those of us who have experienced bitter loss, setbacks, and failures can attest to the awakening of our hearts with gratitude for the "still haves" in life. When we lose a loved one, we cherish our family more. When we experience loss of wealth or home or job, we seem to find that the things we still have are the important things anyway. We look back after recovering, and find that our endurance has increased, and so has our faith.

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If you or someone you know is experincing life's bitterness as a result of loss, come along side of them, be there for them. You don't have to say anything regarding their loss, just a smile, a prayer, a phone call is all that is needed for sweetening bitter times. And a little orange vine to dress up a home in the fall is sweet too!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Is More Important?

I am quite certain that God loves seeing His children loving on, and enjoying one another, yielding their rights in order to keep peace and unity...being considerate...being compassionate.

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Amos 3:3
 
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

Jesus prayed for His followers in John 17 just before He went to the cross that we would be one as He and the Father are One.
 
I don't know if you are seeing what I am seeing in our "Christian world" where ideas clash like waves on the Lake Superior shore. Where people defend their rights instead of giving up something in order to not offend a brother or sister in the Lord. Where self~righteous name~calling seems the popular thing to do when someone is offended by another's choices or by a loving rebuke. "Judgememtal" and "Legalistic" are thrown around like one serving a tennis ball...people seem unbending, unyielding...
 
Where is the love of Jesus in His followers? Where is our willingness to lay down our lives for the brethren? Where is our self~denial? Where is our humility? Where is our desire for HIM when we are unwilling to submit to one another out of reverence for Him?
 
Let's read and spread the message of Romans 14 and 15. Particularly Romans 15:2-5:
 
Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me."For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, if it grieves me, it must grieve you more that people love things and ideas more than You and one another. Please help us to honor You by submitting to one another and walking in unity. Forgive us for our self-protective ways. Help us to be willing to lay down. To once again climb up on the altar and Romans 12:1,2 for YOU!
In Jesus' Name~Amen.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Plans I Have For You...?

This barn is on my running route. When my kids were 5 and 7 and we were homeschooling, we discovered a park about 5 miles from our home in town. It's a lovely setting on the Apple River. Just before you get to the park, you pass this (above) picturesque hobby farm.

 I asked the Lord then if we could live there someday (really, I did!) and felt like He would answer that prayer. It seemed perfect. Ethan loved, loved to be near water (it is a skip and jump from the park). He always gravitated toward flowing water of any kind. It was one of those places of boyhood dreams.
And my husband had his heart set on having a hobby farm. 

Somehow,as we continued to shop the local paper for farms, I anticipated that this farm would become avaliable and it would be ours.

But God had other plans.

It turns out for the last nine years we have been living a half mile from this farm. On a different one.

Somehow, that seems noteworthy to me.

 There is something that still draws me to this little farm when I run by, something about it is alluring. The setting is private, surrounded by woods and cornfields, and so near the little park...but the Lord said, "no". Today I found myself wondering "why?". Not a complaint, but a curiosity...hmm. What is the reason we were parked on the other side of the highway from this little farm and further from the beloved river.

So as I run past this barn, and delight in it's beauty, I wonder...at the Lord who "chooses the exact places where we live" (Acts 17:26b) Not on this farm, but on one a half mile away...Why?
But I don't need an answer, because I know He knows.
And that is enough for me.
Today our nest is empty. We have just signed to put the farm for sale again. Wonder where He might take us? I hope it is near water. Oh I hope!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Living in Response to God

I was reading Lysa's post this morning about a mountain she faced early in her adoption story, when it came to me again; our walks of faith are simply responses to God's activity in our lives. If we respond with "yes" and with trust, then no mountain can stop us!

It takes the pressure off of us when we know that the mountains are not ours to scale alone. Wherever God calls us, wherever we find ourselves, He is there and He equips us with everything we need. As Susie Larson stretches out her arm, she explains that living by faith is always something beyond our arm's reach. Something that we cannot do in our own strength. That illustration stays with me. Whenever I face something I feel is impossible, I recall the outstretched arm and I realize this is where faith must kick in.

If you go read Lysa's story, you see God. You put yourself in her shoes through her words and you can see the impossibility, and then you know she has scaled the mountain, and you know she didn't do it on her own. God is magnified.

Like Lysa, I just dropped off a boy at college. I look behind me at the mountain that I just climbed and I see God, because I know I know my son wouldn't be standing by my side singing his heart out to Jesus on Sunday morning worship at College if it wasn't for God, His Spirit, and His word.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Parenting: A Preparing & Purity Parallel

It has been nearly a year since we threw a huge party in our yard. Preparing for Kayla and Andrew's wedding consumed my time and attention for eight months prior to the party, and the joys of the party have lingered over the course of this year as we (my husband and I) have watched their union grow and develop, and as we have seen the Lord working in their lives.

The fact that the Lord designed marriage to be a physical picture of a spiritual reality brings a sense of wonder, and an invitation to meditate on the message(s) that He desires for us to have...

I mentioned eight months of preparation, but actually we had been "grooming" Kayla as her parents since her birth for this next phase of life that she entered on Sept 4, 2009. Our desire has been for her life to express and represent Jesus by loving, honoring and obeying Him. One of my deep desires for both of my children is that when they go to the altar to give themselves to their spouse, that they be pure. I have specifically prayed for that from the beginning of their lives.

There were times when we had to intensely battle in prayer for Kayla's purity. The enemy had designs to ensnare her. But we were watchful. We were prayerful, and the Lord alerted us to things as they needed to be addressed. I marvel at hindsight. Seeing the times that God brought things to our attention, going to prayer, and then seeing Him bring about good. He kept her safe, He kept her pure.

So...look at the spiritual picture, and the message in it from God for His Bride...

"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Matthew 25:10

Scripture tells us Jesus is the Bridegroom, and His Church is His Bride. His Bride should spend her time getting ready for when he comes for us.

Before I tell you what we did right (by God's grace) to prepare her, I will tell you that we made many mistakes. But the Lord is merciful and gave us grace and second chances in our messes as we kept turning to Him. He honored and blessed our desire for His will to be carried out, and His vision for Kayla's life that He planted in our hearts. Remember too, that He promises to hear the prayers of His people that are according to His will.

Getting ready for the wedding day wasn't only about landscaping, decorations, dress-shopping, and picking out music...it was attending to the Word of God, teaching Kayla, taking her to the places where she would be given the light of the knowledge of truth. Keeping her from traps and snares of the enemy who wanted to steal, kill and destroy her, her purity, and her faith. We were continually watchful for things in her life that would take her away from Jesus. That would impose on her purity...All of that was bathed in prayer and implimented by time spent with Jesus; listening to His words and obeying Him. Realizing that we would be held accountable for how we invested our time and energy with what He had entrusted to us.

There were times when I unintentionally offended people with my choices and beliefs. I turned off movies five minutes in, when they had friends over, if they had contents that were offensive to God. I kept them out of field trips, movies, and certain classes that would be offensive to God. I wrote letters to teachers about things I felt strongly about... It was uncomfortable for us often times, but knowing it was out of obedience to what God had planted in my heart gave us the motivation to obey and endure any consequences of our obedience.

We made a priority of establishing boundaries between the world and our home. We were careful with our choices regarding what they took into their eyes and ears, what they wore, who they hung out with, what they read and looked at, what they said, where they went, etc.

As I look at some of the things we have done with our kids, I see the same needs for our lives, those of us who await our Bridegroom... as we prepare for The Eternal Wedding Banquet...

  • Attend to the Word of God.
  • Watch and Pray.
  • Establish boundaries between what is worldly and your heart.
  • Keep your God-given "gates", your eyes and your ears, pure.
  • Go where you can grow.
  • Don't go where you wont grow.
  • Be willing to be thought crazy. (Dare to be different)
  • Keep your eyes on eternal things.
  • Trust
  • Obey
...and leave the rest to Him who is faithful, will establish you, and is able to keep you and your children blameless until the day of Christ Jesus! Glory to God!

Pause my music on the sidebar, and take a listen to this lovely song by Leeland:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Herd and Follow




 Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it gives understanding to the simple.
 I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.
Psalm 119:129-131

Psalm 119~ It "herds" me...

Yes, "herds". Like herding cows.

When I was a kid growing up on a dairy farm, we used to herd the cattle to the barn for milking. In the summer, several of us would go up the road to "cross the cows" from one pasture to the other. Armed with sticks, we would circle around behind the cows so we could "herd them" toward the gateway that we would open for them to cross the road and go through the next gateway which would lead them to the trail made by daily "cow travel" and then on to the barn. We left one person on each side of the trail (on the road) to make sure they didn't do a 45 degree turn onto the road instead of into the second gate.

Because it was a daily walk for the cows, once we got them on the trail, only one or two people would follow them to make sure they continued all the way to the barn and didn't get distracted by grazing temptations.

Psalm 119 herds me to the Word of God.
Where God speaks.
Today I have heard (no pun intended) the Lord speaking about several things. One was regarding a message that He is unfolding to me. It is about following. It occured to me (via God's voice) when following the work-out instructor on my Firm video yesterday that "following" is a daily activity of the human race.
Everyone is following someone and someone is following us.

We bloggers "follow" one another.
We have sidebars that say, "follow me on twitter."
Or "follow me on facebook."

We also follow rules (or not)
follow lines
follow signs
follow news
follow cars
follow a course
follow a plan

We are clearly followers.

So yesterday the "follow" message was planted.
I then expressed a "Life Lesson" on Facebook about being
careful that the one you follow is imparting good things
so you in turn will impart good things to your followers.

Today after turning off my video, the Today Show was on
with their summer Friday concert series featuring Lady Gaga.

and the "follow" message continued....

I had heard the name "Lady Gaga".
 Oddly, when getting my nails done earlier in the week, a catchy song came on the radio.
I inquired about it, and found out it was, none other than, yup. Lady Gaga.
Hmm.
So out of curiosity, I didn't jump in the shower right away but continued to watch her sing. And dance. Loved the sound. Loved the artistry. But then. Her outer wear came off and there she was in the middle of the square in a white bra with a cross on the front of each breast. It didn't take long to see in this beautiful, talented woman a disregard and irreverence for God.
So I shut off the TV.

Soon after, sitting with my Bible, I was lead to a Psalm of David~
Psalm 101 (emphasis mine)

1 I will sing of your love and justice;

to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will walk in my house
with blameless heart.
3 I will set before my eyes
no vile thing.
The deeds of faithless men I hate;
they will not cling to me.
4 Men of perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will have nothing to do with evil.
5 Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret,
him will I put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
him will I not endure.
6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.
7 No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.
8 Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the LORD.

I heard Him again, loud and clear:
I should sing about Him. I should not look at vile things.
I should have nothing to do with people that have perverse hearts;
nothing to do with evil.
My eyes should be on the faithful and blameless of the land.
[Verse 8 is another message for another day.]

In light of the message I was getting and the enormous crowd
gathered to watch the lady in New York, I decided to investigate her a little more.
A little tentative about digging too much after Psalm 101's message...

I began to watch one of her music videos, and not too far in, had to turn if off
due to offensive (vile) material.
Then:
Apparently Lady calls her fans "monsters" or "little monsters".
On her website was a video interviewing her New York concert-goers about
"What it means to you to be a little monster".
So I watched the video. Here is a quote from a young man:
"The fans that love her love her, and we'll follow her until the day we die."
...and I thought, "where is she leading them?"

*gulp*

And I hear the Savior say, "Come follow Me."
 
*For more on 30 days of hearing God speak, visit Sandy's blog*

Thursday, July 8, 2010

God Speaks to me


I love this topic. I am going to link with a new blog (well, new to me) "God Speaks Today" which I came across via Lisa Smith because her blog feeds into my friend, Facebook. Yes, Facebook is my friend. Because I visit it daily, I learn from it, I express myself on it, and even have little disagreements on it...(usually with family members as it seems to go...you are lol'ing with me now right?) I actually told my girlfriend last week that I feel called to Facebook....so, what does God speaking and Facebook have to do with one another? In my life, much some days...

Sandy from "God Speaks Today" has given opportunity to linking of blogs for "30 days of hearing God".

When I first surrendered my life to Jesus. When I heard He wanted to be Lord of my life, take my sin and give me His righteousness, I recall knowing His voice. Somehow I just knew when He said something. Maybe because it was new to me to hear something in my heart that would change my course from what I was used to, to something new that was pleasing to Him.

I have always been instructed, directed, corrected, consoled, torn down, built up, and  (at times) breathless while reading His Word.

But there have been times of seeming silence. Seeming. But I have found that the Lord even speaks by His silence. Have you ever experienced that with someone. Just sitting together means something. Now I have to admit, I don't often just sit. I almost always have His Word, a pen, and my journal. But I do spend morning time laying in bed listening and talking to Him. I am a slow riser. I am also a thinker. Or as Dad used to say, "a daydreamer". So I hear His voice through His Word, and while I lay in bed. But I also hear Him when I am running, working out, driving, listening to music, reading blogs. And yes. Even on Facebook!

Wednesday mornings I drag myself out of bed (early) for a weekly prayer meeting. Usually it is just Pastor, his wife, and a few others. This Wednesday, as my alarm went off, I checked my messages (from Facebook) on my phone, and there were some things that...upset me. They were in response to something I posted.  It was the "upset" that dominates your thoughts, and no matter what distraction comes it is not loud enough to steer your thoughts away from it. Until you can spend some time with the Lord and get His perspective. (and fix it!) So I was sitting there fighting the mind battle of "letting go" in order to engage in the prayer meeting...when Pastor opened with this:

Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

God Speaks.

He assured me through His word that I was speaking His Word, not mine. That He was the author of His word, and He knew the motives of my heart. People question motives sometimes. People come to false conclusions sometimes. We tend to be self-guarded and defensive. (the reason I "get it" is because I am one of the people~especially when I forget God is my defender~NOT ME!)

And when I got home, after spending a little more time with Him, I knew how God wanted me to respond to the comments. Not defensively, but purely. And it resulted in peace. In my heart and on the thread. He worked it for good and even better, He was glorified as His word and His Truth were expressed.

Yes, Facebook is my friend because it keeps me humble. It has me running to God some days. Leaning in for His voice. "Should I speak here Lord, or stay quiet?". ...You Speak Lord. Through me. Often in spite of me.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

One Thing

Only one thing is needed. That is what Jesus said to Martha
when she was complaining that Mary was in his presence
instead of working on the meal with her...

That (He) speaks to me today.
Come.
Spend time in My Presence.
What are you spending yourself on?
What will the rewards be of taking time to do what you are doing?
Ulitmately in Eternity, I mean.
Will you really "give it all up" to follow Me... as you sing in the song?
When the temptations come
to turn back
to (the Egypt)
that I delivered you out of...
What will you do?
Look at me?
Come to me?
Trust me?
Or will you groan, feel like you lost something?
Will you remember that something was~in reality~
bondage?
Do you recognize the "ashera poles" around you?
Do you understand that many of my people are still worshiping at the "high places"
that have not been torn down?
Will you do what they do
or will you stay true to me?
Are you whole hearted
or half~hearted?
Is your witness effective?
Or are you worldly?
Come sit with me and listen to what I have to say.
Then you will stay true.
You will be full
because I love you.
Truly.
I am the way, the truth and the life.
I am here waiting for you to spend time with me.
That is the one thing you need.
~Jesus~


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Live

Have you noticed that all things growing reach for the Lord?
Move Upward.
First is the seed that goes in the ground and dies.
Then new life...
Teen Challenge testimonies today reminded me of this.
The Pastor even said it.
A seed.
Planted in the soil of Good News.
Hope.
People come to the end. They hit bottom. They are doing chin-ups on the curb.
Those that reach up for the Lord
Grow.
Bloom.
Reflect His glory.
Find worth. Purpose. Fulfillment.
New Life
Hope.
But death comes first.
Death to the way that doesn't work.
Death to idols.
 Idols of alcohol, drugs, pride, unbelief.
Death to the way that seems right to a man but leads to death.
Blessed is the one who "gets it" here.
So they can be planted and made new.
In Him.
Christ.
The one who died sinless.
So we could live free from the bondage of it.
And grow.
And bloom.
And live.
And reflect His glory.
Forever.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is There Value in a Flower?

I get into flowers. I take oodles of photos of flowers. I go on garden tours to view flowers. I purchase books and magazines with flowers. I plant and I weed flowers. I choose flowers over vegetables in my garden (okay, this isn't so good at harvest time or on the winter table!)

Admittedly, I spend alot of my time in the summer with flowers.

I asked the Lord, "Is there value in the time I spend with my flowers? And what is their value?" He gives me some clear answers as I spend time in my garden...

  • Flowers are an expression of God's creativity.
  • Flowers are a representation of His beauty.
  • Flowers show us the value that God places on beauty.
  • Flowers make people smile. = )
  • Flowers need tending and in the tending there are lessons to be learned.
  • Flowers draw the eye to focus on beauty, and marvel at their Creator.
  • Flowers remind me that even the most seemingly insignificant has value.
When you look at the photo of the flower above, you will notice that the Lord has taken care to make a small flower (it is about the size of a dime)  intricately designed...Does it lead you to ponder how much more precious you are to God who has not only intricately woven you together, but put His life in you? If a few flowers make an impact on the world...how much of an impact can you make? Do you know your worth to the Lord?

Perhaps a flower can help you see more clearly your unique value to God. What are the intricate details He has woven into your life?

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book before
one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, June 17, 2010

He Paints

Sometimes the most profound things need few words.
These photos are of the sky tonight after the rain.  
Don't you marvel at the skies when it seems
God is saying something,
and beckoning us to enjoy Him? 



They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
Psalm 145:5


Friday, May 21, 2010

Blessings!

I love the word "blessings"!
Ethan is about 2.5 years old in the photo. Now he is 18, and about to graduate. I've been busy! (story of my life this year~wedding, and now graduation!)

Looking over photos, finding what I want to scan into the computer for my digital scrapbook, I am overwhelmed with God's goodness to us.

It took three full days to accomplish 51 pages & eighteen years of  "The life of Ethan"!. Kayla helped me get started the first day. I treasure the time with her sharing the memories of the "extreme life" that we have been given as a family. Truly we are rich! Not in money, but in JOY!

I pushed "order" on Monday, and Shutterfly already sent me a "shipped" notification on Wednesday...I can't wait to see the final product of three very busy, intense days, and 18 very rich years of blessings!

May your life be filled with God's rich blessings too!  Faith/ Family / Friends!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Deny or Indulge?

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Do we forget?

Dear Self, how often do I indulge you?

I was convicted that indulgence in clothing purchases was a problem last year. The Lord challenged me this year with the tragedy in Haiti to die to that indulgence. I failed once. Fortunately I have a friend who loves me enough to hold me accountable and ask me, "how is your commitment going?" ~gulp!~

Why why do I freely indulge in things that have no eternal value? I have been seeing things in a different light recently. The Light. Of Eternity. It's where I am instructed to fix my eyes, but I forget. So I am asking myself this question with daily things, "What will this gain for heaven?"

Freedom has been a common buzz word in Christianity in the last decade. Unfortunately so has calling each other names like "legalistic" and "judgemental". But I have to ask, "have we undone ourselves?" Have we successfully snuffed out the light in our "freedom"? Have we used our freedom to indulge the sinful nature instead of to serve one another as God intended?...

Do we live our lives in self-protection instead of honoring one another?

I have been reading the Chronological One Year Bible this year, and frankly the Old Testament leaves me with a lot of questions. As a result, I have been enjoying rich commentary on 2 Samuel this week. I have been challenged deeply in this area (indulgence) as I learn of how King David indulged himself and then his sons, which resulted in depravity when they were left undisciplined. It is a sad story. If you are curious, you can read here. The king who has a heart after God lost so much when he indulged himself and his children...God is always merciful when we are repentant (and even when we are not!) but often the consequences of our choices are not removed.


in·dulge   
.to yield to, satisfy, or gratify (desires, feelings, etc.): to indulge one's appetite for sweets.
.to yield to the wishes or whims of; be lenient or permissive with: to indulge a child.
.to allow (oneself) to follow one's will (usually fol. by in): to indulge oneself in reckless spending.

deny
deny oneself, to refrain from satisfying one's desires or needs; practice self-denial.

Daily I have a choice. One way is easy, the other is hard.

Lord, help me to live in obedience. Thank you that you died to cover my sins and then you sent your Spirit to live in me and enable me to deny myself. I cannot do it without you. Help me be considerate of others in my choices, and to honor you. Amen.

Friday, April 30, 2010

About Face


I have been allowing myself to be "overbooked". It is my desire to get through the hard work fast and get on to the fun stuff. I don't allow myself to enjoy the process~when I forget to intentionally slow down and~enjoy the process.

We have set Ethan's graduation party for June 13th, so we decide to do a little "tweaking" in the house. Oddly we made this decision at the time when Spring has sprung, and the workload outside on our hobby farm increases exponentially. DUH.

But, it is exciting to have a vision, to take the bull by the horns and forge ahead! And we did, but as I was "forging with my bullhorns" I was "wearing weight of undone outside projects"...you see, I have at least 8 flower beds, foundation plantings and a vegetable garden to care for along with a yard that must be an acre with LOTS of obstacles, rocks, and hills...

I am happy to report that indoor project is mostly complete, but the "outdoor list" remains quite long.

Tuesday, my mom called me just as I was about to get on with the day. Now. I have NEVER had a problem stopping everything and taking time for a phone call...I love to chat! Unfortunately, I wasn't in my "usual" frame of mind. Mom wanted me to pray with her. Just before praying, I started to "moan" a bit about "how much I had to do today..."

But then.
I heard the still small voice...you know the One..."Kathy, is this YOUR day? Or is it MY day?"
Oh Lord, I am terribly sorry...as we went to prayer, mercy washed over me and we prayed for great accomplishments despite the time we took to pray.

At the end of the day, I wasn't as satisfied with "accomplishments" as I would have liked, and again, a nagging frustration weighed on me.

Wednesday, before I started my day, I called my friend, who is having waves of adversity wash over her life, to see how she was doing. She couldn't talk then, and promised to call back shortly. So I altered my plans to leave the house and got a little lost reading up on some news. Eventually she called back, and I got the update, when just before going to prayer for her, I began (yes again) to moan over all I had to do, when I (yes again) heard that still small voice..."Kathy, ..."

Repent again. Apologize to my dear friend. Pray. Mercy.

And do you know what happened? Friend prayed for me. I know she did, because I got out in the yard a I WON!!! (well I still have a couple of gardens that need attention, but the biggies got done!) I guess I needed Mom's and Friend's prayers!!

Needless to say, my meditation time while gardening was on the "why" behind me grabbing my life back and filling it with high expectaions...and then... letting them go. Sweet relief!

Michael Card sings: "And it's hard to imagine the freedom we find from the things we leave behind..."

Once again I say, "Not my will, but yours be done Lord."

Romans 12: 1-2

Living Sacrifices
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
 

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

The hymn happens to be a favorite though it isn't one from my childhood. I have become familiar with it since my new birth. I have framed it and have it hanging in my office.

Just today I had a call from a war~weary soldier who was having a hard time seeing over the top of the curb. For some reason the Lord has allowed her to be buffeted repeatedly and with more things at once than you can imagine. I know a few who are facing severe trials. It is like the waves keep coming crashing upon the shore of their hearts, families, bodies...Lord have mercy and strengthen my friends!

I read her the hymn. All four verses. Click here to read the lyrics. Perhaps you or someone you know needs encouragement and a refreshing view of our eternal reality...

And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.

This is our hope...that His truth WILL triumph through us. Get up into it! Don't lose hope. Don't let the devil disourage you. Rest in the loving, powerful arms of Jesus.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quieter Days Ahead

This is my baby.
He is graduating soon.
Just wanted to let you know...I have been extra busy with rearranging our house, planning a party, picking out photos, getting invites printed, working my new position in my church as Women's Ministry Leader, and keeping my shop running, yard clean, and the ever circulating laundry done...On top of that, my bff has health struggles, and life is just ......LIFE! Keeping on my knees, and then all that other stuff leaves me little computer time. It has been a nice break, but I am looking forward to quieter days ahead to reconnect with my blogging friends...Lazy days of summer (Is there such a thing? I hope so!)

Life is beautiful!
Blessings to you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Prayer

As I attended a meeting with Pastor, Mrs Pastor and a few others to plan our fall focus on prayer a couple years ago, I was aware of the Lord's favor on our pursuit. He wants His house to be a house of prayer!

How I am coming to realize the greatest hindrance to faithful worship, or growth, or victory is prayerlessness. We are so stunted in our understanding of prayer it seems. There is so much to learn at the feet of Jesus. There is so much fulfullment, so much nourishment, such abundance untapped when we fail to come to Him.

I started a book by EM Bounds. The intro states that he rose @ 4am and prayed daily until 7am. Three hours with the Lord every day!! As I read his meditations, I am awed at the depth of his thoughts. His understanding of the grace of prayer is profound. He speaks of the relationship between faith and prayer; trust and prayer; longing, and desire and attentiveness to prayer.

When I think about the victories and the failures in my life and the lives of my loved ones, I can see the result of prayer or prayerlessness. Whenever I hear of or observe a victory, I know, I KNOW that prayer is behind it! Whenever I see a mess, I understand the need to pray.

A story a young woman told at a confrence I attended was of her growing up as a good PK (pastor's kid) and then going off to a Christian college, but becoming entangled with the world. She ended up pregnant and ashamed to tell her parents, so she was going to get an abortion. She was on her way, when she described the Holy Spirit spoke to her and she turned around. Out of desperation then, she went to her parents who, of course embraced her. When she told her story, I looked at my mom who was with me, and declared, "She had a praying mom!" My spirit confirmed it. I knew it to be true! She is now working with crisis pregnancy center. God...mmmm...working all for good! Redeemer, Restorer, Rescuer...chooses to work through or prayers.

His favor is on His children when we pray.

Even them I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer...my house shall be called a house of prayer. Isaiah 56:7

Friday, April 2, 2010

Memory Triggers

After going to the bars in another town that were open til 2am, we were on the road home. My girlfriend was driving and I was staying overnight at her house. I was living in MN at the time, and the drinking age was lower in WI so I made regular trips over the river where several of my friends from Cosmetology School lived.

I remember feeling like we were going a little too fast. You never really know what kind of shape your drinking buddies are in, but trust that they know...We were going around a large curve, and I remember seeing a fence post in the ditch, and I knew we were going to roll, because in my drunken state I said to myself, "at least the fence post will stop us."

When the car landed it was laying on the passenger door, which meant my friend was on top of me. She was in a heap, not functioning very well. Two things were on my mind: 1. I had to go soooo bad, and was releived to find I hadn't peed my pants. 2. We gotta get out of here because I had seen what happened to rollovers on TV (because I watched "Chips") ...it might blow! So I said, "Fred, (that was her nickname) we gotta get out of here!"

Somehow I managed to stand and lift her door and we were able to crawl out and jump to the ground. First thing I did was take care of business, and as I was doing that, a man was coming out of  his house across the street, he had awakened to the sound of our rollover and was inquiring if we were alright. I yelled for him to stay there until I was decent.

Miraculously, we were not hurt. Fred's mom took me to the hospital to get checked out in the morning, and I just had a few bruises. I was shaken. She expressed to me that "Someone" had been watching out for us that night. I agreed.

To this day, whenever I am driving around a curve, I lift my foot off the gas to ready myself to break. Curves trigger an auto response in my foot almost every time. Unless I intentionally refrain. It has been probably 24 years since my rollover.

I have noticed the same kind of thing with emotional "accidents"...Past conflicts trigger auto responses in me. If I have angered someone and they have yelled, or come at me with an accusing tongue, I find it hard to trust that person again. I fear wronging them because of the pain that I remember.

Recently it has come to my attention that I need to intentionally overcome the fears that jump into my mind in those circumstances in order to have freedom in my relationships. I felt this week that the Lord wanted me to overcome one such obstacle, and I took a step in that direction. It was hard because I had to open stuff I would rather keep closed. I took the risk of bringing more conflict instead of greater peace, but as I went ahead prayerfully, I saw the Lord work. I have a deep longing for peace and freedom in this relationship. I will continue to work toward that. What I need to do is remove the obstacles that I have control of (with the Lord's help) and then trust Him with the rest.

I was wondering if anyone has a story of the Lord helping them overcome memory triggers...

1 John 5:4

...for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

*Martha*Martha*Martha*



Once again I found myself feeling too busy, (and finding me a little bit sick) I ask God, “why?” What has brought me to this place of feeling like there is not enough day for my duties? You have promised me rest and peace.


Then I hear His voice saying, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest….for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Ah Lord! (I am hearing Him)…I can see that I am living once again in my own strength and perhaps doing some things for the wrong reasons.

“Help me Lord!” I cry, “What does it look like to be yoked with You? “

In my mind I see two horses joined together pulling a plow. …Me…Jesus…hooked together…working…His burden is light…that means He is pulling the load…I am working with Him, but it is His plow, His field, and His goal to get the field plowed. My goal is to walk with Him. Enjoy being with Him and rely on Him for everything pertaining to the plowing.

So He questions me, “What are you plowing? Where are you going? What are your goals? Why do you do the things you do? Are they yoked with Jesus’ goals? Are you spending time in His word and prayer? Are your eyes fixed ahead on Heaven?”

He and I sat down to review my schedule. As we looked over my calendar, and I kept track of my doings for my family, my church, my business and my online time, I found lurking in the background that old sense of duty, or obligation to Him or others. I recognized again, that the old law had usurped the freedom I have in the Spirit. When I begin to take on the load myself, I am really dealing with the pride of my old nature. I am failing to crucify it, and submit myself to the Spirit.

The Lord showed me that under the surface of doing too much for the wrong reasons is really a sin of unbelief. In my heart was unbelief in His love for me, unbelief in His willingness to bless me or care for me and my needs. Whose yoke are you wearing?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1


BUSY:  Bound...Under...Satan’s...Yoke

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ch ch ch cha changes...

Oh yeah, the times they are a changin'...What happened to my babies? What a whirlwind! Where is the rewind button???

"September 11th, Mom." That is Kayla's due date. She had her first visit yesterday with the doctor. Woops! I forgot to tell her about that. She hadn't been in that position before! She had been reading books though, so she wasn't traumatized. Plus the Lord provided her with her friend's mom for a doctor. ~So I am off the hook for that one! And if you think I am a bad mom not having her in that position before... Well, please keep that opinion to yourself! I am not the doctoring kind. I grew up on a farm. With lots of kids. We only went when absolutely necessary and I have kept that practice all my life. It's worked well so far...

Today, my baby had his golden birthday. Eighteen. So my oldest baby is having a baby and my baby is a big boy...all at the same time. We had a wedding in September. We have a graduation in June. We have a college drop-off in August. And a baby in September. (can you see my eyes crossing behind my new reading glasses?)~lol!

I took balloons and candy bars to school today. He happened to be in study hall playing chess with a dozen other boys~most of who are in choir with him. Guess what!?! They sang "Happy Birthday" to him in spanish! I left feeling like I was the one who had a treat!!

I am attending everything I can at the highschool.  I only have until the end of May...then this chapter will be over. *sniff*....
Changin...

Friday, March 12, 2010

ToTaLlY rAnDoM

I would like to introduce you to Ralph the goat and my nephew John who was in Kayla's wedding.
I don't think I will ever tire of enjoying the fruits of our labor from that glorious day!
(Especially now that I am expecting a grandchild!!!!~surprise!)
Tammy, our photographer, brought over Kayla's coffee table book yesterday.
As we were looking through it, tears welled up.
Gratitude filled my heart~ her capturing so many moments of the day we worked so hard for.
A dream realized and witnessed~came true.
The hours of prayer~answered.
The photos in the book, maybe not what I would have chosen, but they are Kayla.
Like her hair~do. I was doing the french twist thinking that is what she wanted.
When she found out, she "took over" and 10 minutes before photos,
she wet it down, started pinning and spraying...
I know her. I thought, "this is Kayla"!
I like smooth and orderly.
She likes fun and free!
The memories.
Of the hours of preparation.
Of talking to the Lord. Pleading for a sunny day.
Which He gave. !


Blessings.
Sweet memories.
Precious Moments.
Thanks for visiting and reminiscing with me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Abide in the Vine

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Saturday morning found many of us at the altar in tears...Alicia was speaking on John 15 using inductive tools to explain the text 'in context'.  Jesus is clear that the branches that are in Him will bear fruit as the Master Gardner prunes and tends them, and they will receive eternal life. He is equally clear that the branches that do not remain in Him will be cut off and thrown into the fire. It grieves His heart that people reject Him. He is not willing that any would perish, but they do.

As the Holy Spirit prompted me, I walked forward in tears of greif, grief over my timidity, grief over the darkness that is swallowing people up. I also had tears of dedication. Dedication to serve the Lord more faithfully, more diligently. That I will speak the truth, pray more zealously, and seek the face of Jesus more passionately...that I may be like Him by getting out of the way and letting Him have His way in me. That I will bear the fruit that He prepared in advance for me. I prayed for a bold spirit. I prayed for a humble, trusting heart. I prayed for people who have yet to see the risen Christ who died to save them. That they will see Him. Know Him. Receive Him. Abide in Him...and bear fruit that will last...

The theme of the conference was "Remain" or "Abide". The sub-theme was intimacy with Jesus. How is it that we can have friendship with The One we cannot see?

By the Spirit. By faith we meet Him in His Word daily, listen to Him as we sit down, talk with Him as we walk and work and play.

I recently heard Suzie speak about intimacy with God; she broke the word "intimacy" down into: IN-TO-ME-SEE. Isn't that true about intimate relationships? Intimacy is knowing and being known. Talking and lisenting. I think that is the most exciting news of all. That we can sit in the Presence of the King of Heaven. We can know Him and are known by Him!




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