Love and marriage

This weekend my husband and I will celebrate our anniversary. When we got married, our wedding verse was 1 Corinthians 2:9 which says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has planned for those who love Him–“ I had no idea how this verse would come to fruition.

Through Faith in God and His plan we have weathered many storms, experienced amazing blessings, had two incredible sons, and lived in six different homes in three different states. We have lost family members, gained family members, and learned to love each other more and more.

If we hadn’t had our faith we wouldn’t be where we are now. As much as we love each other, some of the storms we’ve gone through were only possible to survive because of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

As I look at our sons, now teenagers, I think about their futures and their potential marriages. Since they were very small I have prayed for their future wives and marriages.

My heart for our sons is that they will seek God first, growing deeper in their relationship with Him before they seek out their wives. Believing that God already knows who my future daughters-in-love will be, it matters more for the boys to become the right kind of husbands, rather than to seek the “right” wives.

I think of my hubby, who was so Christ-like to me when we were engaged. My husband loved me before I loved him, he waited for me to receive his love, he focused on our future together–not my past, he sacrificed for us, instead of demanding I sacrifice for him. He really was and still is– a servant-leader in our home.

Happy Anniversary sweetheart. I love you more.

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Calling us out

When God formed Adam out of the dirt, there was a plan. God called us to rule over creation and subdue it (Genesis 2). But our purpose is to be more than a zookeeper; it is to steward, to care for, to nurture, to guide and to help others grow into a relationship with God.

Knowing our calling–who we are, what drives us, what stirs our passion–will help us to know where to “plug in” and help others connect on their spiritual journey. First Corinthians 12 outlines the various gifts of the Spirit that God has given to us. If you are unsure about your gifts take a spiritual gifts class at your church, find a spiritual gifts assessment and take it. Ask God to show you where are wants you to serve.

Do you have a heart for children? Check out your church’s children’s ministry. Do you like to cook? See if your church has a hospitality ministry and get connected. Do you have a heart for young men and women to grow into the godly adults they were created to be? Talk with the pastor or person in charge of the youth ministry at your church. Don’t let your calling–the way God wired you–remain unused and untouched. It’s no better than leaving a present wrapped and on a shelf.

You have a purpose. God created you for this very time in history. The very fact that you draw breath means whatever God created you for still needs to be accomplished.

Do you believe this? Then do something about it.

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Still

I had my first lesson in Stillness and Solitude today.

The boys have gone back to school. My husband is at work. I am alone. My “to-do” list, “if-I-only-had-the-time-I-would” list, and “gee-what-should-I-do-next” lists sit idle. Sure, I’ve made beds, straightened up, done the dishes, but now, what do I do?

Being still is hard. I fidget, move things from one place to another, put them back where they were, walk around, study things, stare off into space. What is it about being still that is so hard??

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The whole psalm tells me that I am to find rest in God in times of trouble, to see that He is bigger than all of the troubles I will face, so I can rest in Him.

The past few days have made me emotionally tired. In the past week family members have passed, and then the shocking news of a Robin Williams’ passing and then Hollywood legend, Lauren Bacall passed away, too. I have friends who are struggling with the loss of others who “aren’t supposed to go yet.” So many hurting, so many lost and broken. My heart aches and the news leaves me shaking my head as to what I can do.

Then I hear “be still.” I wonder what God could possibly be thinking. How can I be still in all of this? Again, “be still.” Then I realize I will never be able to make things right, fix what is broken, heal the hurt, and balance the scales. But God can and God does.

So, I will do what I am called to do and entrust God with everything. I will learn to be still because my God has got this. Just like He has me, my husband, and our boys. Just like He has you.

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Whiners need not apply

The loss of space due to this move has been deeply felt by our 14 and 15 year old sons, who were accustomed to disappearing for hours while staying on the 160 acres we called home. There were forts to make in any number of trees, rafts to float on the pond, you name it. If Tom or Huck would have come up with it, the boys probably did too.

Today we went to a farm supply store near us, just to see what they had and for me, to dream a bit about our future farm here in Nebraska. I was met with complaining faces, not the words, they know better. The boys do understand that this is temporary, but every now and then, the uglies show up.

Contrast that with this– I came home to find a missionary update letter from a dear friend whose family feels the pull to Africa. They are preparing to serve the street children of Ethiopia and show them the love of Christ. The letter put it so clearly– they were willing to give up so much because there are those who need to know they are precious to God.

And why am I whining? What do I have to complain about??? Stuff is just that– stuff. Sure, I cannot remember if something I am looking for is in Illinois or Nebraska. Half the time, I can picture where it used to be, but not where it is now. My inconvenience is just that– inconvenient. It isn’t the life altering, 8,000 mile change my friends will experience.

So, with my attitude completely in check, I will remember that patience is only grown by being stretched. To my dear friend who is doing it afraid, I am proud to pray for your family. God is going to do amazing things through you, and He already is while you are still here in the States.
Thanks for the perspective adjustment.

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Calling for Help

My heart has been heavy and hurting deeply as I read of the Christians who are being persecuted and killed for their faith in Mosul, Iraq.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been tagging Christian homes with the Arabic letter “nun” the symbol for “Nasrani.” Nasrani or Nazarene is how my brothers and sisters are being marked for death; just like the Nazis used the yellow Star of David to mark the Jews.

The ISIS has told the Christians that they must convert or be executed. Children of Christians are being beheaded in the public squares, brutal deaths for those who do not convert.

Now I live in the middle of the United States. I am an average person, of simple means, I do not have a political platform in a public arena where I can use clout to get people to move. BUT, I do have the ability to ask my brothers and sisters to move to their knees and pray. And so do you.Christianity Today World ran an article by Martin Saunders, published August 8, 2014, which lists things that can be done by the average citizen to help. http://www.christianitytoday.com/article/crisis.in.iraq.six.things.you.can.actually.do.to.help/39094.htm

On Sunday our church prayed for those who are being persecuted and I was pleased to see others who posted on Facebook about their pastors who also prayed. My suggestion is besides prayer, talk with others about this. It’s an awful topic, but one that should not be swept under the rug.
Please join with me in living out Isaiah 1:17 which says, “Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow’s cause” (HCSB).

Heavenly Father,
You hear the cries of our brothers and sisters,
You know their fears, their pain, their loss.
Do not let our hearts grow hard or our love grow cold toward them.
Whatever You prompt our hearts to do,
I pray we will respond and act.
Give our brothers and sisters Your heavenly Peace,
a peace that their attackers cannot fathom–
one that gives You glory
in the midst of their pain.
Wrap them in Your everlasting love.
Give them a supernatural strength at this time (Revelation 12:11).
I pray Your Bride will not stand idly by, but act.
On my knees,
Amen.

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Whose Roots

Today the message in church was on Psalm 139. This psalm of King David’s is precious to me, especially verses 13-16; “For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began” (HCSB). The NIV translation says “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Once more, I thought of how God says that I am His treasure; precious, prized, valued, loved, and created for a purpose. At the end of the service we sang a song that included the line “I belong to Jesus and He is mine.” I was hearing all sorts of confirmation about Whose I was and where I belonged.

My family’s roots are Swedish, German, Norwegian, and a smidgen of French. According to Scripture, because of Jesus’ redemptive work on the Cross and my acceptance of Him into my life, I am now grafted into His family tree. I am a Child of the One True King.

My roots are so much more than whether I have my dad’s eyes and mannerisms, or my mom’s smile. My spiritual roots are connected to the God who created all the earth by speaking it into being– but when it came to my creation– He formed me with His hands, like a Potter forming the clay into something of beauty and purpose.

You too, are a beautiful, precious creation; made with love and purpose for a plan so much bigger than our finite minds can ever comprehend. Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever allow the world, the enemy, or yourself, to tell you otherwise.

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Forgiving

One of the hardest lessons we, as believers, can learn is how to forgive ourselves. While it may not always be easy to forgive others, we tend to be hardest on ourselves when we fail to measure up, follow through, etc.
I struggle, strive, and fight within myself when I have let someone down. I was brought up with high expectations and it seemed a fate worse than death whenever I disappointed my parents. As an adult, I still find myself fighting with this sense of failure.

This one area in my life is a favorite place for the enemy to stomp around. I can recall times when I blew it as a child, the feeling of shame that I didn’t complete the task given to me, or how I felt when I had broken a rule. It weighed me down, my shoulders and head would hang low and I would look at my feet, literally or figuratively, in response to my failings.

Now, 24 years after I accepted Christ into my life, as my Redeemer, my Savior and Salvation, I find myself still battling this stupid, irritating, idea of shame. Why??? Scripture is clear “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). This verse is one that many new believers memorize to remind them that they are free for their past. I think that we should also memorize the verses that follow (18,19). “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

oh Heavenly Father,
Help me to forgive myself when I fail.
Somehow saying I cannot be forgiven
is like I am dismissing your great gift of Salvation.
Jesus, remind me that I am truly free, because You
Have freed me from my sins.
Jesus, help me to forgive myself, just like you forgave me.
Thank you for your amazing, wild mercies which are new every day.
I am yours Jesus. I belong to You.
Amen.

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Now and Then

When you make a move like we have, you face situations when you compare what you had to what you have. We lived on a 160 acre farm before, now we live in a two bed/ two bath apartment in town.
Where my children could go outside and disappear into the woods, fields, or out buildings for hours in Illinois, now they have the apartment complex pool and weight room, or the TV. I don’t have my garden, my wide open spaces, the smell of clover drying in the hayfield. I do have A/C for the first time and no early morning milking or other chores. It’s all about the perspective.

We can whine about the changes we face, or we can embrace them. We can ask God to teach us in the new situation we are in, allowing Him to grow us where we are right now, not where we are going to be, or where we used to be before the move.

Scripture tells us in Isaiah 43:18, 19; “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” (NIV 1984). While God is definitely the God who was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 1:8), God doesn’t ask us to dwell in the past, or the future, He wants us in the here and now. Jim Elliot said it best, “Wherever you are, be all there!”

Don’t let the longing for what you had or wish you could have now, prevent you from appreciating what is right in front of you– right now.

Be all there!

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Always

“Oh my God, He will not delay, my refuge and strength, always, always”

Today in church, we sang Always by Kristian Stanfill and I was amazed one again by the lyrics.

In the weeks coming up to our move to Nebraska , I found myself facing conflicts, uncertainty, irrational fear, and a sense that I was in a constant state of churning. I was troubled and worried, striving to trust, but finding my faith only took me to the next step. On Sundays surrounded by fellow believers and seekers, I would cling to these words as if they were the only life line I had.

One of the lines in the song is straight from Scripture, Psalm 121, which says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth” (KJV).

This song brought me such confirmation that God was with me, that I didn’t have to fear, worry, fret, or doubt. I could trust Him and the plan He had for my family; even when many seemed to question, doubt, or call us flat-out crazy to pick up and move without a visible plan in place.

Today as I stood in church singing these verses, I found myself stronger in my faith, my trust had grown deeper, my knowledge of the character of God had grown deeper as well. My God didn’t leave me, He didn’t forsake me, He stood with me, stood over me, surrounded me and blessed me beyond words– all because I was faithful to take one step at a time.

I hope these lyrics encourage you too.
Blessings.

always
My foes are many, they rise against me
But I will hold my ground
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Troubles surround me, chaos abounding
My soul will rest in You
I will not fear the war, I will not fear the storm
My help is on the way, my help is on the way

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
I lift my eyes up, my help comes from the Lord
From You Lord, from You Lord

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always
I will not fear, His promise is true
My God will come through always, always

Oh, my God, He will not delay
My refuge and strength always, always

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Fateful fear

“Never let fear decide your fate.” ~Farmer’s Almanac

This summer’s crazy journey has been full of times when I could have allowed fear to keep me from doing something.
Fear could have kept me from deciding with my husband to move out of state, away from my family and friends to a place where I knew no one and had no immediate safety net.
Fear could have kept me from continuing to go forward with our move when our original housing plans fell through– twice.
Fear could have kept me from turning down a “guaranteed job” in a school (my career field), before I even had an interview at another job.
Fear could have kept me from so many little things during this adventure.

BUT GOD has proven Himself faithful again and again over the years and this new adventure was not the time to doubt Him or His abilities.

My husband had his job offer two days after we arrived, I turned down one job to be offered a different job less than 24 hours later. The second job– the one I took– has benefits, opportunity to grow within the company, and higher pay. We had an apartment lease signed in less than two weeks after our move here. God’s time table is perfect!!

Second Corinthians 5:7 says it clearly, “For we live by faith and not by sight.” I will chose to believe in the God who is greater than anything I will face, bigger than any obstacle, stronger than any entity, faithful, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. This God is the one in whom I believe, in whom I have put my trust.

Where are you putting your trust? Don’t let fear decide your fate– let your faith grow by trusting the God who said He “will never leave you or forsake you” Hebrews 13:5.

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