Wednesday, December 18, 2013

For the Joy of it

Sunday was an awesome time of worship at our church as we met as one and let our hearts be stirred by the children.

We no longer have wee ones except of the grand kind.  But when the children sing there is always something, someone to watch.

There is the one in the front row who bows after the first song.

Or he who begins to cry because worshiping a Big God who created the world is scary  and all these people are watching.

But my joy came, even as tears threatened to blur my vision, at the multitude of little ones singing.  Their voices joined together as one, or in harmony a little tentatively.  But there was a multitude.

You see our little church has been having some growing pains.  A good problem to have, right?

We began a building project to ease the tight fit.  But building projects seem to always cause some to move on to the already built churches.

And many have moved.  Some leavings seemed to rip my heart out at the thought that I may never see them again, life being what it is.

Some were easier as they moved on to do missions in new towns in new ways at new churches.  These also hurt to think about but they seemed to heal more quickly.

I had begun to think that somehow our church had a hole that was oozing the blood of its members.  A hole I could not see nor knew how to fix.  Except through prayer.  For prayer eases all the pains, fixes the hurts, restores the Body of Christ.

But just as I was wondering who else might be leaving, there they were!  All those children!  Filling up our new larger stage.  Voices booming out to fill the rafters in sweet song!

The Advent candle for this 3rd week is JOY.  We sing of it, "Joy. Joy. Joy."  God's JOY is not that happy feeling of giddiness, but a contentedness that all is right with life, even when life is upside down.  The Gospel is JOY, God's JOY.

Ann Voskamp said on her vlog that the opposite of joy is not pessimism, but unbelief.  JOY, God's JOY, is the Gospel.

Maybe these 2 points don't come together in your mind.  For some reason they do in mine.  Just as I was uncertain of the ripple coming out of my church, hope was restores.  And with hope comes JOY, God's JOY.  And I can exhale in praise.

Unwrapping Tuesdays prompted by and

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

When Service is Just Him

Service.  Ministry.  Mission.  Using my spiritual gift(s) in service to God is His plan for this world.

I guess I have always believed that true happiness comes in finding my spiritual gift and then using it to the utmost for Him.

Yes, that's what I thought.  Sounds lofty, doesn't it.  An honor to use my gift given to me by the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, to honor the whole of the Trinity, especially God the Father.

And so I have served:  teaching Sunday school, running a mom's group, writing stuff, producing newsletters, drama work.  Doing.  Striving?  Yes, at times.  But always looking to the next meeting, program, event to fill some unnoticed need in my heart.

Until this summer.

Six years ago He called me (& Hubby) to serve in middle school ministry.  A new wild adventure to let go of the stuffy adult world and play, pray, and sing with some mighty awesome youths!  We felt we were finally in the midst of God's calling for us together--even though we were both in our 50's!  

We were amazed to be used by God to touch the lives of kids who are in the in-between stage, between being children and not adolescents yet.  We loved the singing with actions and praise and many woo-hoos!!  We enjoyed the games--maybe, well, at first.  Each year has shown us that we are too old to dart and reach and tag and run without feeling it afterwards.  

And we loved those kids who could feel comfortable enough to say what was on their minds and in their hearts, who felt safe, not threatened, not judged.  Great questions!  Great sharing!  Great love poured out from God through us into these middle-kids.

Until this summer.

It wasn't a sudden slap on the head or a removal of any strength left in us.  But it was a feeling of discontent.  (See my post The Secret of Contentment)  It was a slow assurance that our time with youth was up.  Too Soon!! My heart cried.  Yet the assurance was there.

Yet, I'm in a doldrum.  "Doldrums" is defined by Webster as "a belt of calms at the Equator".  It's a stillness at the center of the world that sailors hate.  It means being adrift for hours or days, waiting for the next gust of wind to fill the sails and propell them onward.

Some ships could row out of the doldrums, toiling and sweating and striving to get back into the "shipping lanes" that would relieve their tiredness.

But rowing, toiling, striving to move back, forward into the winds is not what God wants from me.  At least I don't think so.

Then, today, July 23, Sara at
Every Bitter Thing is Sweet
wrote about this very thing.
 "The only thing I, personally, can uniquely do on this earth — that no one else can — is worship Him through my life. This worship is a construct of God’s, that in some seasons may look like keeping our hands still but our heart alive, and in some seasons it’s crazy messy with the dirt of another’s life in your story.
"This is a call to the mamas and the sick and the broken and the ones who, like I was once, are having their insides re-wired: you aren’t sidelined from mission — nor do you need to buck-up and make yourself do it to feel like you matter — you are invited. Now. To have private stories of encountering the living and active God that may, at times, make your public life look like it lacks impact."
Her words spoke to my heart.
If God is benching me, us, from youth ministry, then maybe it is a call to return to worship with Him in a more intimate way.
For like Sara writes, I am uniquely created to worship God in me.  Emanuel, God with us.  In my heart, in my very being.  He resides there, here, with me, next to me.
Liz Curtis Higgs is another favorite blogger.  I especially enjoy her weekly verse study.  You can find her at  Last week she wrote this:
“'The Lord your God is with you',… Zephaniah 3:17
"This is everything we need to know: his name, his relationship with us, and the assurance of his presence. The God of the universe, the one who claimed you long before you claimed him, is 'in your midst' (LEB). I’m telling you, he’s “right there with you” (CJB). Right. There."
Yes, He is right here with me.  And so I wait and worship.

No Room at the Inn?

It has been awhile since I wrote.  I think the gap occurred when my mother became ill and then passed into heaven.  At that time I did not seem to have any words in me to share.

Now, though, with the coming of Christmas, I have been immersing my heart in the old, old stories of the season.  But with new eyes.

First, let me highly recommend my 2 fav bloggers' Advent books.  The 1st is by Liz Curtis Higgs, entitled The Women of Christmas.  It is an awesome new look at the lives of three women from the first Advent of Christ.  (

The second is a devotional by Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift.  It has 25 days of devotions that follow along with the Jesse Tree. (  Both of these women have a wonderful way with words that I cherish and appreciate.

So why this title "No Room at the Inn?'?  Because as I have been reliving the Christmas story I have been stopped cold by the thought that the Creator God has no room at the inn.  That the people of the story are saying no to their Creator!

Mary and Joseph are newly wed.  They are young, Mary much younger than I had thought she was.  They have traveled to the City of David, better known as Bethlehem, because God had stirred the heart of the ruler in those parts to count all the people.  This required them to travel about 100 miles to Joseph's family's town.

They must have walked, for few people could afford even a mule then.  I wonder if the roads were dusty and dry.  Or were they packed down hard by the many travelers ahead of them?  Maybe it was wet and muddy?  All I really know is that they were walking and walking while Mary's womb held God Himself.  (Gives me goosebumps!)

This weary couple knocked at the door of the inn as the noisy throngs partied about them.  Party, you ask.  I think there were some who viewed this required "vacation" as one big party.  A reunion for many with family they had not seen for some time.

Mary, young, pregnant with God's Only Son, stands and waits with hope that they will find room at the inn.  But alas, no room.  Perhaps they were late-comers to the reunion and their kinsmen had taken all the rooms.

Or, maybe, the innkeeper was a greedy person.  He had guests of varying status in life, some much richer than others, as seen by their fine robes.  Others not so well off, but still able to pay.  But this young couple?  He could tell that they could not pay as well as others.  Maybe he even considered turning someone out of their rooms.  But this couple could not begin to match the rent of those he already had.

Could Mary hear the paying customers behind the innkeeper's back?  Did they acknowledge her state and sympathize with her?  Poor girl.  Or did they turn their backs and drink their wine in disinterest?  Could not one of them offer to sleep in the dining room so the young couple could have a room?

The rich ones would not have even thought of such a thing.  Make room for this poor couple?  We don't move over for anyone!  Or maybe they feared being out in the street.  So many people, so many thieves and purse-cuts.  No, they could not give up the safety of their room.

And for a moment I am looking with angel-eyes at this scene:  the darkening sky contrasted with the fire burning brightly behind the innkeeper; the joy and noise from inside verses the eerie quietness outside in the street; the rested and well-fed guests highlighted behind the weary, even hungry couple.  God's Son, Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us, rejected even before His birth.

I tell you we too fit into this picture.  When Jesus was preparing to die, He told His disciples that He was going to have to leave so that the Father could send His Helper to them.  He would die a dishonorable death crucified on a cross, the only charge against Him?  Our sins.  My sins.  Your sins.  To pay on our behalf.

He did not stay dead, but rose to new life.

Then God sent His Spirit to come and live in us if we only believe.

"...because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Romans 5:5).  

And "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?" (1Cor. 6:19).

Is there room in your heart for this "God-with-us"?  Most of us would not make room for Him, steeped in the Me-Generation that we are.  We fear that we will have to give up something.  Money.  Jobs.  Comfort. Self-sufficiency.  Safety.  Free time.

Yet Jesus said, "I stand at the door and knock" (Rev. 3:20)  He wants to know if there is room in your Heart's Inn?

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Secret of Contentment

"Joy is never made by Having More. Joy is always made by EnJoying More.
More Christ, more now, more grace."  (from Ann Voskamp  over at )

How did she know?  Did someone open my heart and reveal the wanting in there that I thought wasn't seeable?  That wanting that I thought I had under control.

How did she know?

"Joy is never made by Having More."  I know that.  I mean, in my head where fractions are formed, and checkbooks are balanced.  That place where things fit perfectly, square pegs in their square holes.  Where creativity and art is lost, but right angles and straight lines rule.

I know, think, conclude that "having more" won't make joy.  

But my heart doesn't know this.  My heart.  That place where words long to spill out onto white pages arranged in sentences of cadence that fulfill that creative urge in me.  The place where I feel things.  My heart.  My soul.  My "right brain" (or is it left?).

A few weeks back a sweet dear friend and her daughter came to visit.  I already had my 2 granddaughters, 6 years and 6 months, here.  Add to that my youngest mommy-daughter with her 2 kids.  It was a sweet time of talking and noise and wildness all crammed into my living areas that are way too small.  

Too small.  Too cramped.  Too many walls.  Not any open spaces.  That is what I saw.  I need more space to spread out and not feel I'm on top of the next person, in their space, toys under their feet and mine.  Tables cluttered.  Things "put up" so little fingers can't be harmed.

Too small.

My heart says, "Wouldn't it be nice?  Remember that other house?  The big 2-story with more room?  That is the type of house you need.  THAT would make you happy."

But it is not more things, more space, more out there that I need.  It is "More Christ, more now, more grace."  Him in here.

I then return to the beginning, prayer.  This is where we each have started on walk with Jesus.  A humbling, an accepting of His grace, His mercy, poured out on us to forgive us.  Forgive me.  I beg to be cleansed again of this discontentment, this wanting  more.  And I try to calm my nerves and relax, try to be in the moment.

So I sit on the floor with toys and kids all around me, with homework and snacks on the coffee table, and voices trying to out do one another.  I sit where there is no more floor space, not even an inch.  And I wonder, maybe it is in the moment of play, or book reading, or be-in-the-moment time that true joy is found.  Just being in that spot, listening and smiling and enjoying, that is where true joy is.

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am in.  I have learned the secret of being filled and of going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering want.  I can do all things through Him who strengtens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)  Verses set to memory.  Truths to remember.  

I am not there yet.  As Paul also said in Philippians, "Not that I have already obtained it, or already become perfect" (3:12).  I am a work in progress for sure.

So I am down on my knees, asking, begging, pleading with God to change--not my circumstances--but me!  Make me the kind of woman who can claim with Paul that I have learned this secret of contentment.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lessons from August

It's hard to believe that it is the end of August already.  Here in the midwest the heat has finally taken a choke hold on us and we are simmering at near 100 degrees.  So it feels more like July than September.

But with the end of the month comes "What I learned this Month."

1)  We had an awesome summer here and I nearly forgot to thank God for it.  Now that it is in the high 90's, I am thanking and praising God for a summer that was not so hot, literally.

2)  God will see me through.  I guess I already know this, but I am reminded of it after each Middle School Camp I have completed.  Being over 50 and having fibromyalgia, it is only by the grace of God that I can make it through these summer camps.  And, PTL, the weather was fantastic this year.

3)  God gives babies to young mothers for a reason.  I'm getting too old for fussy babies.

4)  Just today He "reminded" me of "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.'  Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  I need this repetition!  Please keep reminding me, Lord.

5)  Stepping down from a ministry that you love without being able to see the next step to a new ministry is extremely hard.  I stand on the rim of the His Word's lamplight waiting to see where that next step is.  Lord, don't let me fall.

6)  Sometimes Always I am embarrassed when people introduce me as a prayer warrior.  First, I know I do not measure up.  I am weak.  But He is my strength and He is able to do more than I can ever ask.  And, second, right now I don't feel like a warrior.  A warrior trains when things are peaceful and fights when war arises.  I pray when things are peaceful and cringe when the fighting begins.

Now its your turn.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What I learned in July

One of my new fav bloggers is Emily over at  She enjoys ending her month thinking back and blogging about what she learned.  Recently, she asked her readers to chime in.  Well, I doubt I can come up with as many as Emily, but I'll give it a go.  (I had hoped to post this within her time frame, but middleschool camp delayed me.)

1.  This has been an awesome summer here in the Midwest.  The temps have been tolerable for once and I've been able to spend more time outside.

2.  Hubby CAN pick out awesome colors.  He is color blind to many shades of green and red.  But when he took our rescued porch glider to some guys who cleaned it up and "powder-coated" it, he made an awesome choice in colors.  I love it!

3.  I'm loving me some grandbabies!  Three days a week I watch my 6-year-old and 8-month-old granddaughters.  Then once a week (or so) my youngest daughter-momma brings over her 18- and 2-month-olds to spend most of the day.  Awesome!  I love that my "work", processing One Girl bracelet orders for Tiny Hands International (check them out at allows me to be available to my extended family.

4.  I miss the phones from Tiny Hands.  In May I was feeling extremely overwhelmed with all that I was doing, including #3 + coordinating product parties for Tiny Hands and answering their phone.  So I resigned from both.  Now, with school fast approaching, I'm missing some of that work.  Hoping to get the phone back soon.  (Nope, no way do I want the product parties back.  Sorry, Aaron.)

5.  I have enjoyed having a sweet kindred spirit back in the states for 3 months.  Has it been 3 months?  That means that 1/2 her time back is over.  Jodi, we need to get together again! (Plans are in the works for next week.)

6.  My mother turned 93.  What have I learned from that?  I have good genes.  Better take care of this old body God gave me for I'm only slightly over 1/2 way there.

7.  With God's help I can make a quilt in less than a month.  Total shock to me!

8.  I don't think I can learn a foreign language at my age.  I did the tutorial sample from Rosetta Stone.  Hmm, not sure I remember anything from it.  It was all . . . Spanish to me!

9.  Going along with #8, I can't remember much of the blogging course I took through  Like, how am I going to post that photo of my glider? (I DID it!!!) You can teach this old dog new tricks, but you'll have to keep teaching me over and over.

10.  Fav quote that I just found:  "Legalism says God will love us if we are good, while the gospel tells us God will make us good because HE LOVES US."  (I guess this is a quote of CS Lewis cited in Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.)  July lessons

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Stranger in a Foreign Country

"You are doing something great with your life – when you’re doing all the small things 
with His Great love...
You aren’t a citizen of here working your way into heaven. 
You’re a citizen of heaven working His Way through here."  
(Ann Voskamp over at

My favorite writer posted these words a few days ago.  They stirred in me a reminder that caught something deep in my soul.

"You aren't a citizen of here working your way into heaven."  That is me.  I'm not a citizen of here.  This earth, this house, this city, is not my home.  I am not a citizen of this place, down here, below heaven.

How often have I sighed that very feeling trying to release it from my soul?  How often have I had to  replace my thinking from planning and fixing and striving for the accolades and babbles of this world? Wrong thinking that pulls me away from the truth of God's calling.  For "My citizenship is in heaven, from which I wait oh, so anxiously for my Savior."  (My paraphrase of Philippians 3:20).  

I have physical knowledge of this very feeling of not belonging here.  A feeling of longing for another place, that place I called home.  Uprooted from the safety of the United States of America, and planted, transplanted, recklessly sown in the soil of Deutschland (West Germany 1975).  God who was watching over me and Hubby even then though it would be 4 more years before He grabbed hold of us, seemed to toss us there for a time.

I felt that deep unsettledness.  It's a feeling that things are not quite right.  That I'm not home anymore.

At the time I chalked it up to being in a foreign country, being Americans where Americans weren't wanted, being a soldier's wife with very little income.  Everything then was strange: the one-room apartment with German neighbors, the hospital situation where I delivered my second baby, the transportation system of streetcars, buses and autobahns.

I so longed to go home!
But looking at it all from this side of the Cross, I could have felt as much at home in Nuremburg as I do here in Nebraska.  I know now that part of my uneasiness stemmed from that in-born heartsong that has yet to feel its Maker's hold on it.  Part of my unsettledness was how lost I was at that time.  B.C.--before Christ.

So even today as I sit at the window in my computer room and look out on my homestead, a small parcel of land with a small brick house and 3 porches and a driveway with my old car, I still feel that unsettledness of not being at home.  Not here.  Not on this side of heaven.

And its that same feeling as I had back in the 70's in Germany.  This is not home.  I'm biding my time, waiting to cross over, hoping to become an Overcomer.

To be an Overcomer I must continue on to live this life that I've been given.  To be an Overcomer I must do and keep doing what God has ordained for me to do, zealous in good works, until the goal is reached.

I know that peace can come even as a foreigner in a strange land.  An Overcomer does not become a resident here in this foreign place.  An Overcomer works out her salvation, doing her Maker's work, keeps at it, turning away from complacency that threatens to suck her heart into wrong workings, wrong thinking, wrong goals.

"He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments;
 and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My father and before His angels.'" (Rev. 3:5)

"'He who overcomes,
 I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, 
and he will not go out from it anymore; 
and I will write on him the name of My God, 
and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.'" (v 12)

"'He who overcomes,
 I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne,
 as I also overcame 
and sat down with My Father on His throne.'" (v 21)

Ah, home.  Back with the Father who created me.  Dressed in my princess clothes.  A pillar of His temple, never to leave again.  Seated as His daughter.

I am a citizen of heaven and I am working out the Maker's plans for me here on this foreign soil. What I do may seem small, even trivial, (diaper changing, sweeping floors, dusting cobwebs) but when done with the expectation that He is coming and He will take me with Him to Paradise, then none of it can be drudgery.

How about you, sister?  Are you a daughter of the King of Kings?  Are you living here and now like a stranger in this foreign land?  Sharing the Good News?  It is my prayer that you are my sister-in-Christ.

"To the only wise God through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever and ever. Amen" 
(Romans 16:27).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Can illness and pain be an idol?

I have heard and read much lately on the idols we North American Christians have.  In fact I've even taught my youth girls about them.

I'm sure you've also heard about them.  You know, those things that in and of themselves are not bad, but if they go unchecked can begin to consume our time, our thoughts, even our hearts.

Living in a college town that seems to worship at the altar of football, I know how sports can become idol-istic.  Foolish fans with faces painted half one color and half another.  (Didn't the Picts paint their faces like that when they went to war?)  The elaborate tailgate parties, you know, the ones with white table clothes and silver chaffing dishes, where the tailgate is nowhere to be seen.

Or there are careers of many kinds, all paying dividends, sucking our lives and our time, requiring more and more of us.

Or eating?  Oh, yes.  I'm going to say it.  Gluttony can be an idol.  I know.  I battle it.

Our families, our bodies, our health, and on and on it goes.

But what about the things that we wouldn't consider to be idols because they aren't good for us?  You might agree with alcohol and drugs.  Sure they can easily become idols. And they are fun--at first.  But then the addiction sets in and our bodies craving makes the worship unbearable.

And then it struck me the other day.  It was a Sunday and my pastor was reviewing his past sermons closing out our study of 1 Corinthians.  And one thing sucked the air out of me.  He asked, "What is the one thing you seem to think about first thing in the morning or last thing at night?"

My answer, plain and simple:  The Pain.

Its not that I dwell on it, nurturing loving thoughts of it.  On the contrary, its usually not nice loving thoughts EVER about The Pain.  Yet, I do think about it first thing in the morning.

You see my fibromyalgia causes muscle and nerve pain most of the time.  I take some meds at night that keep the spasms away so I can sleep.  But as soon as 7:00 am hits, no matter how tired I may still be, The Pain forces me to get up and start moving.  If I don't, I hurt.  If I get up I can take ibuprofen to removes its sting.

And at night it is the same.  Too much pain to sit up any longer, my bed beckons me to come and relax on it.  I toss and turn and wait to fall asleep, trying to appease The Pain for a few hours of peace.

I always measure my response to requests to serve at church through The Pain filter.  Do I think this will cause me stress and thus pain?  And if so, is it worth that suffering?  And how long will it take me to recover from said ministry?  Do I have that time to be "lazy"?

Can you see why I was wondering if The Pain was my idol?

I decided to ask my husband if he thought chronic pain or illness could be an idol?  And in his usual, straight forward, engineering way (which I love about him), he said, "Are you nuts?" (Well, not exactly those words, but definitely the idea.) Even when I explained my thinking he didn't get my point of view.  But that's okay, I love him still.

I knew immediately who would understand my thinking.  Jodi.  Sweet Jodi is a kindred spirit.  We met through emails as I prayed and tried to encourage her in her calling a half a world away.  Jodi was a missionary and I had joined our mission's board.  We emailed back and forth and we found a mutual ability to think in the same "nutty" ways.

And she did understand!  (I knew she would.)  She agreed that yes, idols could be bad things as much as good things.

All this to say, well, nothing in particular.  Just was wondering if chronic pain or illness could be a form of a spiritual idol.  What do you think?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Don't forget to remember

"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me,
  bless His holy name."
-Psalm 103:1

I have been praying Psalm 103 back to God for a few weeks.

I know that these are His words.  His words given to me.  But there is so much weight in His words that better conveys my love and worship of Him.

Especially Psalm 103.
Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.

That is an awesome reminder.  Of late I have been noticing the many times He reminds me to remember.  Hear that again!  He reminds me to remember.  (I know I'm forgetful but to be reminded to remember--wow!)

We are instructed to remember "the word" (John 15:20), remember not to be arrogant (Rom. 11:18),  remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8).

Of God it is said that He remembers His covenants with man (Luke 1:72), and the flip side that He remembers NOT my sins (Hebrews 8:12).

Paul must have had a great memory!  I believe that he had an awesome prayer life.  He often repeats and hammers home how much he remembers to pray for others. "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you" or something like this is read in Philippians 1:3, Rom 1:10, Eph 1:16, 1 Thess 1:2)

Now I'm not a great theologian or teacher.  I merely share here what I have been learning.  So grace is much appreciated.

Remember is defined as "to be mindful of, to remember, to call to mind, to hold in memory, keep in mind" (Strong's Edition,

I like that definition.  Call to mind.  Pull it up out of the deep file folders of my mind and then keep it in mind, at the ready, handy.

The Israelites were often told that if they remembered the covenant of God, the Law of God, and did what God commanded, that things would go well with them.  But they failed over and over.

So God reminds me.  He reminds all of us.  Remember.

For me it is a heart issue, this need to remember.  My failing is in that I forget.  Often.  I forget oh so quickly how God has graced me with His joy and mercy in past needful times.  I forget that He is unchanging and He will grant me the strength, again, to accomplish the tasks before me.

For "my cup runneth over" (Psalm 23:5c) with His mercies and strengths.

So I am trying to learn to count my blessings as I've read in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  (I highly recommend this book on recording, and so remembering, the blessings God gives us.  Find more info at I have found that when I dwell on the blessings, good or bad, writing them down and rereading them often, I can remember.  I can hold them before me, handy, ready to be grabbed hold of when I feel unworthy, weak, on the edge.

And so I have been praying back all the wonderful things that God has given me, listed right out for me there in Psalm 103:
  • He pardons all my iniquities
  • He heals all my diseases
  • H redeems my life from the pit
  • He crowns me! with lovingkindness and compassion
  • He satisfies my years with good things
  • His compassion
  • His grace
  • He is slow to anger
  • He has not dealt with ME according to my sins, according to what I deserve
And so I pray, and thank Him.  And I remember.

Friday, May 31, 2013

His Joy Is My Strength

I have learned the secret of having abundant health and living with chronic pain (a paraphrase of Paul's statement of contentment in Philippians 4:12.) At least I thought I had learned this.

That is until last Sunday.  It was Memorial Day weekend.  We had enjoyed a fun Saturday of drama practice, a movie, then dinner out.  All seemed to be promising a wonderful weekend even with the rain predictions.

But on Sunday I woke feeling, well, not myself.  It wasn't my normal tiredness and The Pain brought on by fibromyalgia and the past stress of a week watching 3 kids and welcoming a grandson into the world. It wasn't a cold or flu bug.  It was, literally, all in my head.  Dizziness.

I shrugged if off and we headed out to coffee at Starbucks then to worship our Lord and Savior.  And why would I shrug it off?  Because I have found that the Lord blesses me when I press on and head for that goal trusting Him to get me through it all. It WAS the last Sunday School class with our graduating 8th graders and I wanted badly to hug a few of them.

But into the 2nd or 3rd worship song, I felt that prickly warm feeling that I have experienced only a few times in my life.  It starts at my shoulders then creeps up my neck to my cheeks and into my scalp.  My vision grew tunnel-ly dark on the edges and bright in the center.  And I knew I would soon hit the floor.

So I sank down to my chair.  (I guess I must have really sank hard because later my hubby told me the guy behind me was ready to catch me!  Thanks Dwight!)

Needless to say, I begged to go home and we did.

I was so let down.  Had my faith failed me?  Was I not trusting as I normally do on Wednesday nights when God would bless me with His joy for my strength?  I had the remembrance that He would help me forget The Pain for those few hours I was loving on the middle school kids.

Now I realize that maybe I have not reached the place where I could stand with Paul and proclaim that I had learned the lesson, the lesson of contentment with pain, the lesson of submission to God's plan for me.

Maybe I needed to be humbled.

Wait!  That is exactly what I have been praying about lately.  Humility.

You see there is such a fine line between being gifted and used by God AND remaining humble.  I have been fearing that I was walking by sight lately, and not truly seeing faith. For over 20 years I have tread the path of encouraging young ladies between 6th and 12th grades.  Twenty years.  That's a long time.  Yet it seems to be so short.

And I think I know why it has not felt so long.  When you are in the center of God's will for your life, His joy covers everything.  Twenty years covered in God's joy is but a blink of the eye.

Twenty years doing the same type of thing with His joy CAN become a habit, something I can do without much preparation.  Something I've been trained to do.  And there lies the rub.  That thin line between relying on His joy as my strength verses relying on what I know I can do.

I have been burdened with these thoughts of late.  Am I walking by sight or by faith.  Sight says you've done this before, you can do it again and again.  Faith says I am nothing in light of my holy God and I can do nothing, No Thing without His strength.

Which do I prefer?  The first because it feels good to accomplish things on my own, feeling like I've learned something over these 20 something years.  Yet, doing it in God's strength is even better.  Before hand when I am preparing and praying it may not seem so easy.  And even during it can seem down right painful.  But afterward when I look back and can see that He worked through me!  Used me!  To accomplish this task, well, that is so much more better.

So I have prayed that God would keep me humble.  That He would empty me of me and make it all about Him.  Like the Toby Mac song, Steal My Show, I want it to be about Him and not me.

Was this His answer to my need to be humble, a physical weakness that kept me home?  Did it drive me to my knees?  I have to admit that it did not.  It is hard to admit weakness when your family is relying on you to be strong and help them out.  I did ignore some things, like the mission work I do on-line, but I couldn't let my girls down.  And I had no strength to enjoy my grandgirls any more than to pray.

Ann Voskamp wrote, "Giving thanks is only this:  making the canyon of pain into a megaphone to proclaim the ultimate goodness of God." (Ann Voskamp's blog, post How To Live Through the Really Hard Storms.)

So, this morning, I did what she suggested.  I thanked God for even this:  weakness and stillness.  I thanked Him, though deep down I probably didn't really feel thankful.  But I know with the obedience comes feelings.

I guess I'm still learning the lesson.  I plan to see the Doc tomorrow and see what's up.  In the mean time, I have to keep begging for His joy as my strength.  (Sinus infection: Yup.)

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Blessing of Forgetfulness

I have a symptom.  I'm not sure what disease or fact this symptom indicates.  It could be a brain tumor.  But then again, maybe its only old age.

Whatever the cause is, I am getting forgetful.  Make that more forgetful for I have been in LaLa Land most of my life.  (I think that's a symptom of creativity.)

Like in elementary school when I did not hear the music teacher say that I needed to learn the Star Spangled Banner for an all-school concert.  Truly, I do not, to this day, remember her saying I needed to know that.  And I was red-faced humbled to be silent as all the other violinists played!

Lately, though, it seems to create not just a humility in me, but a little concern.  Am I getting Alzheimer?

It happened the other day when hubby and I drove downtown to eat bar-b-q.  We finally found a parking spot after circling the block a few times and as we slowly parked, I looked up and saw the back end of a '57 Chevy mounted above the restaurant as if in a Back To The Future scene it flew right into the bricks.

"When did they put that car there?" I asked my hubby as I craned my neck to stare at the fins.  (Do fins make it a '56?  I can't remember.)  I turned to him as he laughed and demanded, "What?"  His words pierced my soul, "You ask me that every time we come for bar-b-q."  I instantly retorted, "No I don't!"  But I can see by his crooked smile and tilt of his head, that, yes, I have asked that question before.

I swear I do not remember EVER seeing that car end before!  Truly!  And that scares me.

I have put the skillet on the stove and began the slow warming of it (a requirement to these new pans and a necessity to glass-top stoves), then walked away forgetting it was there.  (Thank You, Lord, for nudging me back to reality before a disaster occurs. And now I make sure I set the timer, even for boiling water.)

It's not just the physical realm of forgetfulness that I worry about.  There is also the social aspect.

Sure, people understand when you forget a name, especially when there are over 60 middle school students to remember.  But they laugh when I voice my thinking process of trying to add to a conversation.

Like just yesterday as we watched TV, Gene Simmons came on the screen.  I made a comment about his hair (well, it is right up there with The Trump), and my husband asked, "Do you even know who that is?"  The announcer had said his name, so I knew that much.  And in my befuddled brain, I did know some things, but do you think I could pull out a swift answer?

"Sure," I said.  "He's friends with that guy who is married to that Brit on American Idol, no, wait, America's Got Talent.  You know which one I'm talking about."

Okay, there is some logic in all that muddle.  Truly.  I was trying to say that Mr. Simmons was friends with Ozzie, but you have to know me to understand how I was trying to connect the dots.

Finally, hubby said, "Do you even know what band he is from?"

Confidence grew.  "Kiss."  Score one for my old brain!  "And I was trying to say he was friends with Ozzie."  (And just now, as I write this, I've managed to pull out of my bag of brain cells Sharon Osborne, though I'm not sure I spelled it right!)

Now when you try to do this type of remembering with a group of middle schoolers it doesn't work.  I can't remember the name of movies or actors, but I can sing all the verses of "I Got You, Babe."  Needless to say they don't remember the actors I do, and Sonny and Cher??  Well, you get the idea.

I hope that this loss of memory is due to my age (57) and the fact that I have fibromyalgia, together causing an aged fibro fog. At least that is my excuse today.  By tomorrow I'll have forgotten it!

But being forgetful is not all bad.  Really.  I have learned that it has a wonderful blessing, this forgetfulness. When you can't remember what you had for lunch yesterday, then you can't remember if you have heard this sermon before or read that passage in Scripture.

Think of it!  It's like being a brand new baby Christian all over again!

Even my favorite verses have become brand new to me, speaking anew to my soul the truths that are there by grace.  Those tried and true verses, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4), a new every morning.  It can be awesome.

I may not be able to recap the sermon I just enjoyed, or remember where that verse is that I'd like to tuck into a note, but in my heart I know that God is working anew, renewing my soul.

Besides, I take notes for I'm a visual learner.  And if I truly need that nugget of gold-truth from last week's lesson, I can find it--eventually.

I have come to realize that all things are indeed brand new in Christ when you are blessed with forgetfulness.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Spiciness of Life--Change

(Sorry for the delay.  I wrote this a few weeks ago then forgot how to find my drafts!!  Beginning to think I am to old to learn new tricks--or at least to remember them for long.)

Weather Advisories for the First of May.

It's hard to believe that it is the beginning of May.  Oh, sure my tulips are budding ready to pop open with reds and yellows, black eyes like antannae reaching sun-ward.  And the daffodils are already beginning to droop.

But resting atop of both lovelies, like a mound of quilt batting, is a thick, icey white frozen frosting.  Snow.

Nebraska weather is a topic of discussion all across its flat plains.  The saying goes, and I've heard it used by other people in other states that belt the center of the United States, if you don't like the weather today, wait; for tomorrow it will change.

I am very aware of the fickleness of the plains.  It is historically documented in a mosaic in our state capitol building, The Blizzard of 1888.  That day the morning was sunny, bright and warm, and the prairie school  kids enjoyed playing outside.  But the afternoon brought such a howling wind with snow so thick that people lost their way and died. Or became heroes.

But in my 57 years here, well, minus 3 or 4 years spent in other locations, I cannot recall having snow in May!

It started on Tuesday when the summer-like temps climbed into the 70's, beckoning me outside.  Letting me stroll to the elementary school to retrieve my granddaughter.

But Wednesday was grey and so dark that my grandbaby was sleeping in night-like comfort in her cradle.  Lights were needed all day.  The rain dripped, the wind howled, and the tiny ice pellets we call sleet tinkled against the window panes.  (Was it only 1 day ago I opened those windows and allowed Spring breezes to blow?)

But variety and change truly are the spice to life on the plains.  For just when my soul has wearied of the grey days and impending storms, Spring will break forth in the 2-note love song of a bird searching for a mate.

And this is why I live here in Nebraska. Well, that, and this is where God has planted us for this time period. Who knows (God of course), tomorrow we may move!

(Note:  Instead of moving, God threw us some 100 degree temps!  And only 2 weeks past this post!  Crazy weather we're havin'!)

Friday, April 19, 2013


I'm ready.  I'm waiting.

Waiting on the edge of the unknown.

Can't see the bottom.  Not sure I want to.

It's the process, the jumping that is the experience.

Ready.  Waiting.

Seeing this is a new spot to jump off of.  Wondering where it will lead me.  Lead us.

Every journey begins with the first step?  This first step is huge!

Darkness lines the path below.  Light shines from above.

And I know, I know, that God is there, up there, in the Light.  And I know, deep down in my soul know, that He will take my hand and not let me fall into that darkness.

Did Abraham wonder where he was headed when he left Ur of the Chaldeans?  Did he ask God about it?  Can I ask God?

But then, the journey begins with that first step into the unknown.  And I'm ready.  I'm waiting.

Waiting.  For God to say


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Learning to blog

I can learn!

I wasn't sure if my old brain could still learn new things, but I can, and I am.  I decided to take an on-line course of how to blog, and I'm glad I did.

Prior to now, I had set up two blogs.  One at WordPress and the other here.  And I set them up years ago.  But nothing ever got published.  Oh, I know, I needed to actually type something in to get it on the blog, but I really wasn't sure I knew what I was doing.

And besides, who would want to read what I wrote.

Then a month or so ago, I sat down and wrote my introduction.  It felt so good to put it on the page, to see it published.  Still, I wasn't sure I knew enough of the techie stuff to do this right.

So I checked out my local community colleges ed2go courses.  And there I found just what I was looking for.  (By this time I had forgotten that I had another blog space over at WordPress.  That makes me wonder how much I'll retain from this course.)

So these first posts, and I do know what a post is, will be learning experiences.  My intro into blogging is an okay post, but I cringe to see I need to edit it!  Typos, okay misspellings, bad grammar, eek!

Please bear with me as I learn how to go back and edit something I've already posted.  (I figured that out!)  I sure hope I can go back and fix it.  Well, no one has read it yet.  Maybe I should just delete it and repost it.

Back to my lessons.

(Just learned I need to add a link, so I think this is where I'll do it Check out my daughter's blog)

Friday, March 8, 2013

In the whisper

And so it begins.

Considering what to write when you know you have so much to say, yet the page seems daunting.  The task to great.

But, here I am.  Beginning.  The genesis of my heart's thoughts.  But where, where do I start?

As I filled out the profile, jotting down this and that, things you may or may not want to know about me.  I came to occupation.  And it blared at me.  A blank space summing up my 50+ years.  What am I?

I know Whose I am.  For over 30 years I have had His name upon my lips, chiseled in my heart, written on my face.  He who could so easily have overlooked me with all the things He must keep in order, prayers to answer, people to save, storms to calm or stir up.  Yet He didn't.

I am still learning that, you know.  Learning how He didn't overlook me.  And I am still learning who He is.  How He loves me.  I could dance and shout with the joy I feel just knowing that no matter how long I study, and learn, and draw near, there will always, ALWAYS be new things to learn about Him.

You see, I am a Child of God's.  Often I tell my youth group girls that we are daughters of the King.  And that makes us . . . princesses.  I was chosen.  Adopted.  Redeemed.  Made clean.  Holy.  Christ-like.

I have been camped out in the book of Ephesians for a while.  Try it. Just spend time reading it, praying over it and through it. I have copied copious verses as prayers to my Father and God.  Awesome verses that speak of my heritage, my inheritance, my gifts given from the bounty of His riches.  Given to one so unworthy to receive.  I have copied verses packed down, prayed for, whispered, written to those I am praying for.

And there it is.  This is who I am.

For my occupation, my work, my business, my career, has been honed and trimmed and pruned down to this:  I am a Pray-er.  Youth worker, yes.  On-line missionary, oh, yes.  Tiny Hands International volunteer, you betcha!

But about 4 years ago I was wracked with pain.  Forced to give up my ministries, give up my vision of going to missions, give up even my ability to stand for more than 5 minutes at a time.  I felt used up, useless, unhelpful, unable.  Then I learned that the pain will, barring a miracle, never end.  Most likely I'll only have momentary seconds, minutes, hours, even days without it.  This is fibromyalgia.  And I call it The Pain.

In that resting time, in the alone time, I grew tired of being with me, of thinking of me, of thinking of it--The Pain.  And I cried out, "Lord!  How can you use me now?"

And as the song says, the Bible hints at, and God's voice states, He is not in the loud, the upfront, the in-your-face.  He is in the whisper.  And He whispered, "Talk to me."

Why was I surprised?  Why am I still awed when He answers my prayers?  Why do I still lack faith?

Prayer.  When I can do nothing more, nothing else, nothing at all to help, yet I still can be used.  And what an awesome, fantastic, way-cool ministry to be in!  I get to (dancing and hooting! figuratively, cuz, you know, The Pain), I get to talk to God.  I. GET. To Talk. To God.

So, this blog is merely a format for me to share, no, to encourage you to come down this road with me.  There is no greater work that can be done but to be on your knees (figuratively, cuz, you know, The Pain.).  Be still.  Be quiet.  Stop striving and moving, and listen.

He IS in the whisper.