Thursday, May 30, 2013

Change Always Brings More Change. I'm Moving Over

I started Blessed Builder one night late in 2007. It was the first I'd encountered blogland and out of curiosity more than anything, I clicked the button in the upper right hand corner "Create Blog". That night I became a blogger, even though I barely knew what a blog was.

I connected with a circle of bloggers who were connected through Proverbs 31 ministries and have made several friends from the early years. 

More connections were made when I attended (at the encouragement of another blogger) She Speaks in the summer of 2008. {And I'm excited to be going back this year!}

Since then things have changed. Blogging, life and me.

So I've been wanting to move from the original title which I didn't give much thought to when I created the blog on a whim that night. I am still blessed (and honored) to participate in building the Kingdom of God by encouraging your faith-walk. 

But I no longer build furniture, yard ornaments and home decor. Which was the other inspiration for the title, "Blessed Builder". 

God has changed our circumstances and my heart. I am more passionate to live Isaiah 61. As much as I have loved my Bittersweet Farm life, my heart is no longer there.

So, I am moving over to Wordpress. It's taken me a bit to get accustomed to the basics. But you can head over to Truth and Love {the address is simple: kathyschwanke (dot) com}

If you are a subscriber to this blog, you can just add your email in the box over there for updates in your inbox.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Adventures on the Road to Somewhere

The smoky-blue papered walls provided a rich backdrop for the framed black-and-white photos of days gone by. The mirrored walls reflected the suit-and-tie businessmen dining next to us, and the four gracefully aged ladies with their glasses of white zin. 

The ceilings were draped with heavy fabric of the same hue as the wallpaper and buttoned in the center reminding me of Pollyanna-day pageantry.

I felt like I was 14 again, pretending to be of a different society. One from the past, yes. But also one ‘above’ my middle-class farm girl existence (which I love-mind you!).

I looked across the table at my husband, his denim shirt with the Doran logo on his left pocket. He looks handsome in blue. His now-sparkling hair with only hints of pepper remaining and his blue eyes stand out against the denim.

I had that feeling you get when you are watching one of those movies. You know, like, You Got Mail? And it all comes together in that one moment when Tom Hanks comes over the bridge calling after Brinkley (the dog) and there is Meg Ryan. Their eyes lock. THAT moment. And I let out a breath.

What is that feeling? Satisfaction? Joy? Wonder? All three encapsulated in a moment. Yes.

He and I have been in a season of waiting for a while now. He works away from home; I keep up our now nearly empty hobby farm in hopes of selling so I can be with him more.  Then I sneak away for a week or so to wherever he happens to be working. Currently in Bismarck, ND.

The front and backside of traveling for me can be grueling. Making sure I stop the mail, pay the bills, secure a lawn care specialist or one to plow the snow, whichever the case may be. (His name is Tuffy, we will see how it looks when I get home!) Then getting the undone things done upon returning...

It has been hard. But it has also been really, really good. And sometimes wonderful. In moments like this one, dining in mid-day in my little version of Storyland. I let out a breath. And my heart sings.

God has romanced me. And so has my man. Our relationship has not been this satisfying since before the wedding day. (psst: it will be 30 years in August!) I don’t say that because our marriage has necessarily been hard-though it has had severe bumps. It just seems in the prime of life, after we started our jobs, marriage, and family… life happened! We let ourselves become too busy (I know you know what I am talking about!) and we just often forgot to slow down and look at each other. Much less enjoy one another. 

So now, here we are, living our life in the balance. We both have longings and hopes and dreams on our radar, but we need things to happen first. And so we continue to wait, to pray, to listen for the Lord and rest in His timing. We realize we are in "school". God's training-time. The Waiting is Preparation.

In the meantime, I anticipate the adventure that awaits 'round the next bend on the road to somewhere, and trusting the process. Anyone want to buy a hobby farm? 

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Linking up with Jennifer to Tell His Story

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All This Talk About Heaven

I believe the moments in life that take your breath away, the newborn baby, the sunrise, the majestic mountain-view, the immensity of the ocean, the sun-sparkly ripples in the river. Those are glimpses of God. King's kisses I call them. Or "glory moments". 

I was in my early 20s when I called my mom with the question. She had done it a dozen times--labored and delivered babies. But I found no courage in knowing that. Dale and I were beginning to talk about having a family and the thought of the process was freaking me out.

Mom asked me, “Kathy, have you ever done something that was terrible-hard but when you got done you were overjoyed with what you ended up with?”

I looked at my freshly painted kitchen cabinets, sky blue doors framed in white. Just a few weeks prior they were dark red with brown frames. Ours was a very small, dark kitchen in our White Bear Lake cottage. I had lived with it dark long enough and decided that it would be worth it take all 15 doors off, bring them to the basement to sand and repaint. Imagine what I looked like after sanding all the red off of one door! I was head to toe in red dust and the walls of my basement were a haze of red. I momentarily changed my mind about having blue cabinets. But I realized there was no turning back. It was grueling, but when everything was put back in place and I stood back and looked, it was a dramatic transformation.

I think I understood. ‘Hanging in there’ hinges on hope for the reward (and relief).

Ultimately, I decided if all the other mothers in history could do it, I would do it too. And I did. Twice. 

What kinds of things freak you out? Are you facing a building project with little resources? An illness? Loss of a loved one? Challenges with your children? Do you turn on the news at night and like me, and think, “How will we get through all this and what is on the horizon?  Do you see the broad destruction in the world, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados and now bombings and wonder where we are headed? We hope things get better, and we should, but what if they don't?

It is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to complain. But discouragement and complaining never helps anything. It just makes matters worse lending to those around us getting discouragement and complaining.

In Matthew 24:6-8, Jesus says when we see these things, they are the beginning of birth pains, and that we should not get discouraged or be alarmed but keep looking up.

Last summer my friend lost both of her parents. Their family was very close. They are a family that loves deeply. They epitomized love. Recently she told me that she didn’t think about heaven much before, but now she thinks about it every day. She looks at all of life differently. I could relate having lost a niece in 2003 and then my little brother in 2006, I have had the same thoughts. I imagine you have too.

Hearing her say that reminded me of a demonstration by Francis Chan (watch it, it's only 5 minutes!)

Revelation 21:1-4 says in eternity God will wipe every tear away, and there will be no more sorrow, death, disease or any of the brokenness we deal with in this life. We can hang in here hinged to the hope of heaven.

If we set our sights on the other side of any difficulty and realize that pain will pass, the evil will one day be obliterated and life will be free of tears and suffering, we can endure and live our life knowing the best is yet to come.

We will be energized and motivated to do things beyond ourselves. We will use our time, energy and resources for blessing and honoring God and others. When we even give a cup of cold water to the thirsty, or visit someone in the hospital the Bible promises we will be rewarded in Heaven.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Isn't that how it is? Everything begins to deteriorate the moment you own it. New car, new paint, new clothes...and similarly our bodies, our world. Wearing out like a garment God says in Isaiah 51:6 and when that happens all will be made new {Isaiah 65:17-19}
When you are tempted to feel discouraged or freaked out by the evening news or a difficulty in your life, remember this: Endurance hinges on hope. Focus on Heaven. 

There are only two things for hope to safely land on: God and Eternity. When hope lands there, we will not be disappointed. 

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

Linking up with Jennifer for Tell His Story