Friday, October 30, 2015

When prayer's answered hard

What joy we have had in the past few months.  First Oscar Ray joined our family as a tiny little thing that already smiles and giggles.

Then it was our youngest daughter delivering Jesse Iven, a not so tiny line-backer kind of boy at over 8 lbs. I think our grand-parent quiver is about full.

Below is one day old Jesse being welcomed to the family for the first time by Big Sis and Big Bro and the other Grandma Irene.

(Those last two are some of 60 pics I found on my phone that my Big Sis took on her own one day. 60!  I deleted a number of blurry and crazy ones. Where was Gma anyway?)

Those praises said, I'm going to ponder a little about the thing on my heart.  You may get to read this, or it may just stay on my draft file.  We'll see.

I have been burdened of late to pray for the salvation of all these grandkids, for my family.  I have prayed often for my daughters as they grew and matured and went out on their own or with a hubby.  But as they became adults themselves, it seemed that whenever I prayed for them hard things would drop on to the path they walk.

Have you had that happen?

I would pray for wisdom and they would have BIG decisions to make.  Pray for their marriages and I would soon be hearing how hurt they felt.  Pray for the gkids and I'd hear that they were flunking out or partying too much.  (This comes when you have gkids in college and in the nursery.)

Has this ever happened to you?  Have you felt burdened to pray AND guilty for doing it all in the same breath?

I know that a person must be brought low, really low, with all things gone and nothing left to cling to, before they can see that its only up that they can look.

But, God . . . .

This past year or so I realized that every time I prayed for my family I would get a phone call of lament from the one I prayed for.

Then, I would quit.  Quit praying.

And things would quiet down.

Then I would feel the burden growing and I would have to give it to God.  And it would all start again.

Nothing seemed to "stick."  No permanent answers.  No confirmations of "success".  Nada.  Zilch.

So this summer I determined that I would NOT stop praying.  I decided that maybe the answers weren't coming through because I would STOP praying when it got too much.

You see it is very hard for the FM Gma to listen to the difficulties in her family.  It is really, really stressful.  And stress breeds nerves and nerves turn into The Pain.

But if I just dropped the request they seemed to fall back into worldly ways once the present trial was over.

So I decided I would pray THROUGH the trials.  I would continue daily.

And things got HARDER.  The trials, mostly physical, hit and hit hard.  Physical, emotional, spiritual.

Was it my fault?  Should I let it go?

Then I felt like Job, though I wasn't covered with sores, and my family is alive, and we still have a home to live in.

But Job's words were pointed out just then in my devotional reading:

"'Oh that my request might come to pass,
And that God would grant my longing!
Would that God were willing to crush me;
That He would loose His hand and cut me off!
But it is still my consolation,
And I rejoice in unsparing pain,
That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should endure?
Is my strength the strength of stones,
Or is my flesh bronze?
Is it that my help is not within me,
And that deliverance is driven from me?'"
--Job 6:8-13

I have no answers for you.  I can warn you that if you ask me to pray for the salvation of your family member, I'm libel to only do it once.  Because first I want to be selfish.  First I want to pray for MY family, to see answers for MINE.

Forgive me for my selfishness.  I admit, when it comes to my kids, I am the Mama Bear protecting them and wanting them safe and redeemed.

If you too have felt this burden when you pray for yours, let me know.  Or am I alone in this?

On bended knees,

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cuba? Maybe.

(NOTE:  This is rough, but going to post it as it is getting old.  Started watching the 3 kiddos below again and am tired.)

Hello family and friends.  I know its been awhile since I last wrote something.  (And its been a few days since I typed that!) At the last post we were deep into espanol and congegating verbs and all.

But things have changed.

First of all, he came:

Oscar is our 14th grandchild, 6th of the male kind.  He came on the 17th of July and his sisters ADORE him.  (That's an understatement.)

I have been on "maternity leave" from my paid nanny job, but have been enjoying seeing my gkids (all 5 that are in town) more often.  It's does a grandma's heart good.

Not sure where the summer went.  I know, I'm old.  We all think time passes too quickly.

In the mean time, we had taken a break with our formal Spanish tutoring for July.  When August finally arrived, our maestra (teacher) felt she was too busy with her new responsibilities at her real job.  Bummer.  We do miss you Michaela.  And our espanol is getting weak again!

I'm still doing some with DuoLingo, but its not the same as having a person to correct my pronunciation and sentence structures.

No more movement toward Cuba either.  Not sure if we dreamed a calling to there or truly "heard" God's words.  More prayer is definitely needed.

So I've been waiting for something, anything to write about.  Too long a wait, I know.  I continue to work for Tiny Hands International sending out One Girl Prayer Bracelets.  Check out our updated web site at and if you are led to pray for the interception of girls and boys being trafficked out of Nepal, India and Bangladesh, purchase a bracelet.  I'll be the one mailing it out to you.

I am doing an on-line Bible Study this Fall because I wasn't sure if I could make it to a study after watching a newborn again.  I'm truly thankful for Liz Curtis Higgs for putting together the book, videos and emails.  Its almost like being at a study.  "It's Good to Be Queen" a study on the Queen of Sheba.  Who knew there was that much to unpack?  (I know, God did)

My Saturdays are rather lonely as Hubby heads out to sell hotdogs at the Husker games.  He even has t-shirts available:  You've Been Dogged by the King.  I think he forgets that he sells at the games for free admission.  But if you need a place to relax and chat, I'm usually at home here.

Pray for us as we reevaluate Cuba and language studies, etc.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Journey to Cuba, part 3: Keeping the Vision Alive

Hola! Mi familia y amigas.  Como esta usted?  Estoy muy bien!

As you can see my Spanish is improving.  Not sure all of that is correct gramatically (conjegating verbs is HARD!), but I didn't have to look anything up.  Now I need a keyboard that can add the accents.

Our vision to visit Cuba is ponderously slow at times.  We still are unsure HOW or with WHOM to go.  But it seems that our government is egging us on as they keep removing political obstacles.

And it seems each time I get discouraged about never getting there (yeah, patience is a virtue that I don't seem to have much of), God sends me some encouragement.

Lately it has been in the form of sermons preached at Faith Bible Church.  Pastor Tom has been leading us to see how God worked in Old Testament saints.  On May 24 it was Caleb.  Here are 3 points he told us:

1.  To trust God wholly is to totally distrust self.  God is our overwhelming majority; not me and God.

2.  When one has witnessed the arm of the Lord, he is no fool to venture great things in His name.  The God who used Caleb to overcome the "giants" of the promised land is the same God who uses us to accomplish great things.

3.  Courageous enterprises rarely succeed until someone steps forward to lead.  Chuck Swindoll says, "True faith is believing the Lord against all odds and obeying Him even if things backfire."

Caleb, it seems (a truth I had not seen before) was 85 when he defeated those living on his promised land.  85!!  Hm, at 60 I should have more spunk, that's for sure.

Pastor Tom said, "...there will never be a lack of voices willing to point out the obstacles. The problem with courageous, obedient people is that they hear the voice of the Spirit of God, and they believe it to the core of their being. But they are graciously surrounded by realists who say, “But did you think about the implications of that?” And they usually package their hesitation, we’ll put it that way; I’m looking for a better word, but that’ll do; in spiritually cloaked language, like, “You’re going to embarrass God with that,” or “God didn’t really say that,” or, you know “Do you really understand the implications, you know, we just need to slow things down a little bit.” I’m pretty sure if somebody would’ve said [to] Caleb that day, “You know, we really need to slow things down a little bit,” he’d go, “Hey, at eighty-five, there’s not a lot of time to slow things down a little bit.” "

And if all of this had not encouraged my soul, Pastor Tom ended with this prayer:

Lord, I have no idea who You you plan to speak to from the story of Caleb today, no idea what challenges lay before most of my friends and brothers and sisters, and what questions are raised. I don’t know what You stirred in their hearts to do for Your glory and Your fame. But they know, and You know. I would ask that You would use the encouragement of one who refused to let the dream die, refused to look at the obstacles as barriers, and saw them simply as opportunities for You to get great glory by showing up big on their behalf. That You would give your people courage to follow You fully and completely in order that Your name might be more famous. Because when people like us are seen as doing great things for You, it’s obvious it’s not us. It’s all of You, and therefore, You get the glory. We thank You for that in Jesus name. Amen.

Monday, May 11, 2015

When God Tests

We just went through nearly a week of trials.  It was supposed to be a little "honeymoon" get-away; three days to celebrate 43 years of marriage.  But from the start things went awry.

And if we had timed things differently, we would have missed . . . .

Let me explain.

We packed up all our stuff on Thursday morning.  2 suitcases: 1 for me and 1 for him.  Oh, yeah, and the one with toiletries.  Ready to go by 7:30.

But wait, we needed to hang around until 8:40 so we could take our ggirl (the photographer) to school.

So she was dropped at our home.  I made her a pancake.  We loaded the car.  And off we started, dropping her at school on time to chat with friends before the doors opened.

Off to Kansas City.  No wait.  Stop at the bank and get some cash 1st.  No problem.

Need coffee?  Oh, yes, please.  But our usual coffee spot was closed.  Hmm.  Target?  A little out of our way, but we had all morning.  All day really.  You can't check in before 4:00 pm, right?

So a detour to Target's Starbucks.  Long line.  Slow.  But no worries.  We had the time.

On the road, finally, headed out on Hwy 2 to Nebraska City (which came out as Bibi city on my phone FB post????)  Only 9 more miles to NE City when . . .

The song "Jesus, take the wheel" played through my mind for the next 2 hours.  That's how long we sat on the shoulder of Hwy 2.  Two hours.  Hubby claims it was longer.

You see, a truck with the tailgate down (why?) decided to zoom a left turn across our lanes.  No problem.  That is until that industrial jack he had not secured in the bed went rolling out the back and across the highway.  No stopping.  We hit it and our front wheel was punctured.

The truck and its driver?  No, they did not stop.

No problem.  We'll just get the spare out and change to it, then head BACK to home.

Wait, what?  No spare?  How can that be?  It's a nearer year car! It has to have one!  But alas no spare.  No jack.  Only a black box that claimed it could pump our tire up and get us to some help.

Really?  Even a heavy-duty patch would not have held air for the 40 miles we needed to retrace.

We learned that no one changes their own tires now a days.  They call for "roadside assistance" instead.

So we climbed back into the car and call them.  Then we call our insurance people.  Then we call our friend who sold us the car to let him know we would be headed his way.  Soon.

Not so soon.  Two hours later and finally the tow truck comes.

As we waited we praised God that it was only a tire, that we safely made it to a stop.  It could have been so much worse.  (Hubby kept looking at the on-coming traffic behind us and saying, "Hold on!  I think they are going to hit us!)

Then the song played in my head.  And the "If only we . . ." Hadn't stopped for coffee?  Had stopped longer for coffee?  If that line had not been so long at Starbucks in Target?  Or had been longer?

Car stowed at the repair shop.  Luggage and stuff moved over to their curtesy van for a ride to a rental place.  Then transferred to that car which was much like my car, but not quite.

And we began, again.  It was only after 2:00 pm.  We wouldn't be too late.  It only meant not as much shopping time.  What?

Better get some food.  So again we stop.  Then restart.

We get checked in and decide for "happy hour" munchies, we definitely needed some "happy" now.

 And then, "I didn't bring the baseball tickets."  What?  We were so looking forward to seeing Gordon play as he was a home-town boy who grew up in our neighborhood.

Stress.  Phone calls.  Emails.  Tickets reprinted.  Saved.

Its now 6:30ish.  We only had the one meal at 2:00ish.  Let's stretch our legs and go to the Country Club for dinner.  But all the stress, and all the hours, and . . . a very many people waiting at the Cheesecake Factory. Sad.

"I'm not hungry enough for Cheesecake," I admit.  And he agrees.  So we settle for blended coffee drinks at . . . yes, Starbucks.

To make a long story short, we compromised through the rest of Saturday (they took our "tickets" just fine and we only had to search for our car for 15 min. or more in the poorly lit parking lot of a game that was only interesting for about 10 minutes when there was some confusion at 2nd base).

We left on Sunday, arriving home before the storms hit.  Hail.  Wind.  Rain.  Even a tornado somewhere south of us.  And, you guessed it!  The lights went out!

Two hours of sitting in the dark, too tired to talk, too tired to make the blackout (on our side of the street only) any fun.

And I began to cough.  I knew what it was.  The chest cold my ggirl had coughed on me last week.

So in the dark, I stumble to the bathroom every 30 minutes or so to cough up some junk I can't see, which is all for the better.  Just saying.

It has been an interesting week, um, 3 days.  What?  Only 3 days?

And in my head I know it is a test, a test from God to see . . . what?  How much can I really take?  At 10:00 pm last night I had taken all I could take and I cried out to Him with more intensity.  Sleep.  I just needed some quiet sleep.

But we made it.  We're on this side and can laugh ?? about it, right? May not yet. But still able to thank our God who is our Father, our Protector, our all and all, He who protected us from harm, from floods, from complaint.

Maybe next anniversary we'll just stay home.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

On the Journey with us (Step 3)

"Hola! Mi amigas! Como estas?"  (Hello my friends of the female persuasion.  How are  you?)

Those are some of the words I remember, not from the past year of study, but all the way back to high school Spanish class.  Why do the new words not stay in my brain?  Oh, yeah, I'm old.

(I do remember Que hora est? Que es esto? and Tango hambre!  But I digress)

As we slowly plow along on our path to doing missions in Cuba (we hope), we have begun to share this vision with others.  It makes it a little more real.

We bolstered our courage and headed back to our high school (Lincoln High School) to listen in on some conversations in Spanish at the Dia de Ninos fiesta.  It was sponsored by Centro de Las Americas.  Due to rain they moved in doors, unfortunately.

It was crowded and a little bit wild with ninos running here and there.  Many were in the cutest outfits for dancing.  Ninas in big colorful skirts that seemed to make wings as they danced.  Ninos in black coats and pants with sombreros--so cute you could die!  (Nope, no pics.)

We watched some dances.  Checked out the food (lines too long to eat).  And eaves-dropped.  We weren't too bold to hablamos very much.  Sad.

A praise item:  I thought my little red camera was gone FOREVER!  Then one day this week, hubby came with a smirk on his face.  It seems that my lost camera was right. in. front. of. my. nose!  Really.  He found it here.

That's right.  I walked past it every day since Christmas when I last saw it.  So why does my awesome purchase of an "organizer" end up eating my camera for FOUR months?

We have contacted a few mission's boards, but still aren't sure which one to go with or for how long we're supposed to go.  I keep going back to TEAM but they don't have anyone in Cuba--yet.  Could it be that the Lord wants us to be the first?

I'm finding these updates are a little dry for my writing taste.  I miss sharing what God is showing me in His word.  So, here's this week's find.

Blessed by the LORD (Yahweh), my rock (Elohi Tsuri),
My lovingkindness (chesed) and my fortress (metsudah),
My stronghold (misgab) and my deliverer (palat);
My shield (magen), and He in whom I take refuge (my place to flee to-chasah). . . .
Psalm 144:1a and 2

This spoke to me because of the study I recently finsihed on the names of God.  I'm seeing His names EVERYwhere in His word.  Awesome.

A blessing this Spring is the return of lilac blooms to the bushes we cut WAY back about 3 years ago.

They are so pretty and smell so good.  Achew!  

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Journey of 1,000 Steps 2

Cuba!  Just saying the word invokes a bit of excitement in my heart.

Excited to see how this adventure will unfold.  Excited to see God work through me, us to encourage others.  Excited to see some movement here.

As my ggirl's favorite song says, "I love to Move It!"  (You should see us dance when this song comes on!  London says, "Get up Gramma!" because she doesn't want to dance alone.)

Some things that I can praise God for:

-  Our maestra Michaela thinks we are doing awesome (awesomely) in our Spanish lessons!  Woohoo!  (No translation needed for that one.)  We can definitely buy groceries and ask for directions.  It's a start.

-  We've had two people tell us they are interested in going with us on a short trip.  Woohoo!

-  I learned last night at our small group Bible study that my hubby is open to long term.  What?  I never would have thunk it.

You can pray for these things:

-  We need to find a way to get there.  We want to be honest and obey all of Cuba's laws.  Perhaps the ending of the embargo will open a door.  Perhaps there is a mission board that we can work with.  Much wisdom is needed. (James 1:5)

-  I'm concerned about The Pain.  Can I truly handle 7-10 (or forever) of travel like this?  ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil. 4:13.)

-  I need to have time off of grannying to go.  I have over 2 months off this Fall as a new grandson will be joining the familia.  But we are not nearly ready to go that soon, are we?

I realize this is only the 2nd step on this road of a 1,000.  (1,458.4 miles to be exact.  I looked it up.  Wonder how many steps in a mile?  Good thing we can fly there!)

Let me know if you want to be a prayer partner for this adventure and I'll try to keep you updated.  For now, Adios! Mi amigos y familia.  (Hm, do you plural family?)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A Prayer to be still

Psalm 23
A Psalm of David

The LORD is my Shepherd,
   I shall not want .
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
For Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou hast anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Father, I love studying Your names.  I wish I could study them on my own, but I lack the education to.

Each name is a portion of Your character, a part of You and who You are.  They reveal a tender part of You.

Like being my Shepherd, a tender care taker who not only looks out for my safety, my nourishment, my protection, but who has adopted me as one of Your own.

When studying this name for You, I learned that a shepherd will sometimes discipline a wayward sheep by breaking its leg.  Then as the lamb heals, that same shepherd will carry that sheep in the crook of his arm, close to his heart.  Until, healed, that lamb prefers to stay close to that shepherd.

And I am like that lamb, right?

I had not noticed the intensity of the verse 2 before.  (How could I have missed it?  Could it be that this part of the living Word was not yet alive for me?)

"He makes me lie down in green pastures."  He makes me lie down.  You, You make me lie down.  You make me rest.  You tell me I need refreshment, to be still and close to You.

You show me that I am a foolish sheep wanting my own way, not realizing that Your way is best.  Was I too busy doing?  Was I too busy filling my day with service to You that You turned and made me lie down.  You gave me the Pain that forces me to stop and lie down.

Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.
He makes wars to ceasae to the end of the earth,
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.
'Cease striving and know that I AM God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.'
The LORD of Hosts is with us,
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. [Selah.
Psalm 46:8-11

Be still.  Cease striving.  Stop doing, working, trying.  

To be still is defined by Strong's as "to sink, to let drop, abandon, relax."

Exalted, on the other hand, is defined as "to rise up".  

Thus I am to be still, drop my work to rest, to sink down low.  And You, Father, are to rise up!  Whoa!  What an awesome picture!  It reminds me of John the Baptist's words, "'A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.  You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.'  He who has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice.  And so this joy of mine has been made full.  He must increase, but I must decrease.'"  (John 3:37-30)

Father, if I allowed myself to be exalted above You in any way, took credit for something that was truly a gift from You, forgive me.  Pride can come even when I was teaching and encouraging others.

I admit I was proud.  Proud to be used by You.  (You would use me?  Needed me!)  I should have humbly conveyed my unworthiness to You, the fact that I on my own could not achieve anything.  But You could fill me with Your Spirit and use me.

I see now that You do make me lie down in green pastures.  Help me to be still, quiet, restful that I may know that You are the Great I AM God.  Like the sheep I am restless, antsy, uncertain even.

I want to be still and know You as God, to know You as my Shepherd.  I open my hands and release whatever it is I've been holding on to and I accept this peace, this quiet, this restfulness from You.  

And with the still-ness, I know You better
.  Amen.