Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Walk with Him...

holy experience

It was a hard time, those gray days, those days that, back then, I didn't tag with the word "depression", but that's what it was. My world had turned gray, no matter if the sun was shining bright in the sky above, I couldn't escape the grayness.

The cause, buried anger, undealt with pain. Years of saying, "that really hurt me" to myself, instead of "I'M ANGRY!" to the ones that probably needed to hear it. You can't go through life without being hurt by people...times that by 100 and that's life in church leadership. There was a lot buried in there...and what's buried alive and undealt with, unfortunately, stays alive.

Physically, I was a bit chubbier back in those days. It was post baby days...ok, so my youngest was 9!...and with the last two I had never taken off the baby weight...50 pounds of it. During that gray time, I began what was the fad back then, a low-fat diet. And I walked, eventually walking 5 or so miles most days, a loop around the small town we pastored in. So that became my routine...

The discipline of reading the Word and journaling was still a part of my life. But it seemed as though the beautiful, life giving words bounced off the gray bubble that enveloped me, instead of getting deep into my heart. And the darkness in me, the bubbling cauldron of what had now morphed into a cancerous bitterness, dare I say hatred, seemed too ugly, too scary to face, much less to write down in black and white.

But the walking turned into more than just exercise. It turned into my time of honest conversation with God, otherwise known as prayer. I began to, as my eldest daughter calls it, "show God my ugly face" exposing the truth in the inward parts of me. The more heated the discussion between Him and I, the faster I walked. Up, up, up, it came....buckets of ugly gunk from the well within, the well that should have been bubbling with living water.

Two years later, hundreds of miles covered, lots of running shoes worn through, 50 pounds lighter...and the lights came back on bursting the gray bubble around me. Since then, circumstances may make me feel like the gray is knocking at my door, but its never lived with me, not like those two years.

God's Word has a verse that says He will give us the hidden treasures of darkness. (Isaiah 45:3)The treasure found in my time of darkness was keep walking...keep walking with Him...keep walking no matter how gray and hopeless life feels. While you're walking, talk, talk with Him, talk with Him honestly. Walk with Him Wednesday, and Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday...walk and talk with Him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Proper perspective/International House of Prayer...

It seems surreal...I was at our church's Sunday morning gathering with our church family, listening to my oldest daughter speak from the Word of God and from her heart about the journey of endurance that God has brought her through and taught her from. After very little sleep that night, and a pre-dawn flight, I sit in the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, with my youngest daughter. She is doing a three month commission here. But, that's not the surreal part...the distance away from home...being across the country. The surreal part is how being in an atmosphere where worship and prayer has gone on continually for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for years, puts the reality of my daily life in an eternal perspective.

How can I be worried about having enough money for an upcoming church event, when Jesus reigns supreme, over all? How can I be offended, hurt, angry, over a critical remark- a piece of "constructive criticism", when the God of glory was defamed, falsely accused, spit upon, beaten, whipped, nail pierced, for me? In His presence is where I need to live...where all of the things here, in this life, this now life, come into proper perspective...eternal perspective.
Colossians 3:2 Help me to set my mind and keep it set, Oh God, on what is above, on the higher things, not on the things that are on the earth.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A thousand things to thank God for...

holy experience

I won't be home on Monday, but I so wanted to make sure I posted the beginnings of my gratitude list! Join me in the Gratitude Community by clicking on the Holy Experience blog link under my blog list.

1. That I'm lavished with love, grace and favor by Jesus
2. That my dad, in spite of all his brokenness, somehow nurtured and awakened my spirit to the Father's love
3. That God has helped me to not give up or quit as a wife, mom, believer, pastor
4. My family
5. My Bible

6. Joyce Meyer, her show, her books
7. Ann Voskamp's blog
8. A peace retreat for my grandbabies
9. That God is in control!
10. Answered prayer for a certain young lady
11. Prayer meeting with my brothers and sisters in Christ
12. My prayer bench
13. A cool fall morning/a sunny fall day
14. My husband
15. The smell of coffee first thing in the morning
16. to pay the bills
17. My three girls that love Jesus, my two son-in-laws, my three grandbabies
18. Oldest grandaughter's sore throat better
19. New friends, new blog friends
20. Baby grandaughter with her two new teeth, and stand up hair
21. Oldest grandaughter's spontaneous song about Jesus holding the world so it doesn't fall out of space
22. Home
23. My girl's blogs (see my list!)
24. Music
25. Answered prayer - friend's runaway daughter came home
26. Friday...a day to spend with my hubby
27. Answered prayer again!
28. Water to drink...good Oregon water!
29. A good brisk walk
30. The way my grandson makes me laugh
31. My church family
32. Dairy Queen ice cream with the grandbabies
33. Paper work I've been avoiding is done, and it wasn't even hard!
34. Notes of encouragement
35. Friends to laugh with
36. International House of Prayer
37. A good nights sleep
38. Beautiful sunrise
39. A late night phone call from a far away daughter 40. Earthenware mixing bowls

41. Clearance sales
42. The sun filtering through the old growth trees right here in my backyard in the city

43. Fish tacos...YUM!
44. Libaries
45. Books, books, books
46. Handel's Messiah
47. A daughter who uses her painful journey of endurance to help others
48. A daughter who helps me watch after my mom
49. A daughter who makes me laugh and cry
50. Paper, drawing pencils, watercolor paints
51. A cheery red soup pot 52. Fall soup making weather
53. Gourds and pumpkins and Indian corn
54. The children's minstries team at our church
55. The set up crew at our church
56. All the behind the scenes people that make church happen
57. The Spirit of God that meets with us when we gather
58. The church giving to a hurting, sick single mom today
59. A clean home office...this is the room that most collects mess
60. My grandson, just starting kindergarten, who knelt by my prayer bench today "reading" outloud bits and pieces of verses he knows all mixed together ending with the words, "John 15:21" after which he said, "Nana, this book really has good verses in it!" What's not to be thankful for about that! :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Saturdays usually aren't lazy days in a pastor's home. At least not in this pastor's home. Saturday is a day of preparation for the big day, Sunday. Husband is in his office much of the day, focusing, meditating, praying, studying, planning for the next day. I am cleaning, getting house/home ready for the first day of the week.

There have been times through the years when I have wondered...wondered about what life is like for those who live a life different than ours. For those whose job is just that-a job and not a calling- a life-consuming, driving force. I've even been a bit envious of those whose weekend is two days of relaxation.

As we've gotten older, things have changed a bit...hubby actually takes some Saturdays off now to passionately cheer on his favorite college football team. We've both mellowed a bit- some, not a lot, not fully letting go of, but relaxing our hold on the false idea that what happens on Sunday is solely dependant on us.

To be transparently honest, our life has advantages too. Days off can be Friday. Time away can be randomly scheduled according to what works best. And of course, the utmost advantage-we work for the most wonderful Boss!

Today is one of those Saturdays. Too busy, too much to do, a written list of things needing done so we won't forget anything important. A day when it's easy to just get up and start on the list, and forget time at the prayer bench, time in the Word. Instead, I light the candle, kneel at the bench and tell my Boss, "You order my day. Help me to see what Your priorities are. Help me not to get so caught up in getting things checked off my to do list that I forget that this life, this calling, is about reconciling people to Your heart....about being Your representative to them. So in the business that is my Saturday help me to really see the people I meet today, to see what You see in them, show me how to love them, to be a blessing. You're the Boss, You order my day. Amen."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beauty in the midst of mess....

Sometimes beauty and mess are all mixed up nature, in a home, in a life, in me.

I am sitting in my home office and to my left is my beautiful little prayer bench, where I just spent some beautiful time with God. But right here, right next to that beautiful place, is the desk that holds my computer, and some files, and some paperwork needing to be completed...some mess that needs attention. To the left of my prayer bench is a big overstuffed chair. It would be a beautiful comfy place to sit if it wasn't holding a pile of clean and folded laundry that needs to be put away. It would be a beautiful chair to relax and rest in, if it wasn't for the mess.

I once had a friend who's house always looked like it belonged in a magazine photo shoot. The place that amazed me the most was her bedroom. The bed was always made perfectly. The sheets were trimmed in Irish lace and folded back just so, so that the lace peeked out. The bedside tables held lamp and decor...not the piles of books being read sitting next to the lamp, like at my house. How did she do it? Then, one day, the mess was exposed...she hides all her mess under the bed. Projects, books, paperwork, in piles behind the bedskirt. Everybody has mess. Some are just better at hiding it than others.

I love God's Word, because He's all about beauty, but He's realistic about the mess. We see the beauty of a worshipping David, a man with a heart after God, right along with the mess of his failure and immorality...the beauty of the people of God when they seek God's face, call upon His name, humble themselves, and the mess when they turn away to follow after idols...the mess of chaos, hovered over by the Spirit of God, before the Word spoke and said "Let there be!" and the beauty of God's creation came to be.

God of Beauty, All Together Lovely One...there is nothing messy in Him, no darkness, no shadow of turning, no secret hiding places filled with mess. And yet, He's all about me...His bride. His delight is in me. He is passionately, head over heels, in love with me. Messy me, sitting here typing in my pajamas, with hair still tousled from sleep. He sees the beauty in my mess.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

God hears our cries...

As I knelt by my little prayer bench this morning I look at some faith confessions I had printed up and framed years ago. Oh, there were many things I was believing God for, many things I still pray for daily that haven't been fully realized in the physical world yet...but always, at the top of my prayer list was for my daughter to have the child her heart was crying out for. I can't begin to describe the pain in my heart when I first heard the groaning cries coming from behind closed doors as she told her husband that the doctor said it might never be. Then, amazingly soon after that negative report, a pregnancy!....followed by the grief of loss...years of nothing, then hope, then loss, two, three grandbabies in heaven. Nine years later, hundreds of prayers, people all over the world praying, bushels of tears....No good thing has God withheld from us...our promised baby girl will soon be 8 months old. Let me encourage you today...don't give up. God hears, God answers....faithful, faithful God.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My prayer bench...

Another lovely idea from Ann Voskamp's prayer bench. My house is small so I had to find a small bench. A quick trip to Ross, and there it it was waiting just for me-just for this purpose. Two drawers to hold prayer books, or paper and pen- small enough to fit in a spot in our home office where I go to read and study. A place prepared for prayer in my home... More than that God, make me Your house of prayer. That You would have preeminence, the chief place, in this temple that is me and that Your Spirit would pray through me without ceasing...that every concern, every worry or fear, every thankful thought, would all be turned into prayer.

Coffee with Jesus...

holy experience

My daily discipline is coffee with Jesus. I may grab my Bible and journal and sit in bed and pray, read and write. I may, like I did today, go to my home office and kneel there on the carpeted floor, Bible and journal and favorite coffee cup laid out before me. I have also been known to get into the car and find a beautiful place...somewhere with a view of water, of fall foliage, of our city...and have a special time with God there. Precious beyond words, are those times when I have gone away, just me and Jesus for a time of personal the beach is my favorite...I leave all of the cares of daily life behind for a day, or maybe even get an inexpensive hotel and spend the night...for the sole purpose of reconnecting with My Beloved. I know that as a "Nana" with no little ones at home, it is much easier to have times like these than when my three girls were small and underfoot. But even then, at naptime, or even with them on my lap in the rocking chair, time with Jesus and His Word and prayer, were the glue that help me together. I remember crying out to Him back then, "I don't know how to do be a wife and a mother. Today, just for today, one day at a time, help me to get this right." And still today, as a wife, a mom, a nana, a pastor's wife...time with Him is the glue that holds my life together.
Today's prayer-Colossians 1:16-18 "I was created by You and exist through you and in You and for You. I am held together by You. May You alone in everything and in every respect occupy the chief place, stand first and be preeminent in me."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Peace Retreat at Nana's house...

I will make a place for my grandbabies to meet with the Prince of Peace...
A candle to remind them that Jesus is the One True Light, and in Him is no darkness at all...

The same books I used to read to their mama, the same warm quilt I wrapped their mama in, and the same wee chair that Papa sat in when he was a little boy...
A little drawer with paper and pencil, to draw pictures and eventually journal some words to Jesus...
Thank you Ann Voskamp for the idea.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Overflowing with gratitude...

I am preparing a message to preach in our churches in a couple of weeks. My topic is Contending for Marriage, Home and Family. As I am preparing, I realize that I will be speaking to people that are hurting...people who are divorced, parents who have a child in trouble, families who have things going on within the four walls of their home that shouldn't be happening. How do I communicate my heart without causing them to feel like even more of a failure than they already do? My answer, by letting them know only God's grace kept us from where they are.

I have been married to the same man for 33 years. We have three daughters who love and serve God wholeheartedly. Our two married daughters have husbands who love and serve God. Our grandchildren are being raised by parents who love them and who are doing their best to teach them God's ways. And I am overwhelmingly, overflowing with gratitude towards God, because He, not we, held it all together. We made so many stupid mistakes, both in our marriage, and in raising our kids. However, we kept going to God for help, for forgiveness, for wisdom, and every time we failed, He helped us get back up and keep going. We also, learned to say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong, will you forgive me?" to God, to each other, and also to our kids. And we prayed...prayed for God's grace to cover our mistakes, prayed that somehow in our bumbling attempts to parent that God's love and goodness would be communicated to our kids, prayed for grace and help to love one another through the ups and downs of marriage, prayed, prayed, prayed....

We don't deserve the blessings God has given us. We have been lavished with grace. I am overflowing with gratitude.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I want...

Today I went to Costco to get a few groceries. While there I saw something that I want. It was Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking which is $40 everywhere else, but only $24.99 there. I am a home cook, not a fancy cook. However, I have a tendency to buy cookbooks that are either visually pleasing, with great pictures, or desciptive and fun to read. I have been known to read cookbooks in bed, like some people read novels. Very rarely do I actually cook by recipes however. Aside from baking, which requires following amounts and directions pretty carefully, I tend to take ideas and tweak them into my own home style versions. However, I loved watching Julia Child back in the day when her show was on T.V., and I loved the movie Julie and Julia, (I didn't love the book.). Anyway, when I saw that big cookbook at the low warehouse price, my pulse actually quickened. "What a good deal!", I thought to myself. And even though I knew that the only recipe I would actually try was the one for Boeuf Bourginon, and I knew, because I had already looked it up, that I could find that same recipe online, I still picked up that cookbook and wrestled with the temptation to buy something that, 1)I didn't need 2)Was impractical since I wouldn't really be cooking from it most likely. But what tempted me was the emotion that I associated with that book...the memories of Julia Child on T.V., the visual pleasure of the movie about Julie cooking through Julia's book, and the emotions of my own happy times in my kitchen. I could visualize myself, just like Julie in the movie, on a cool fall day, cookbook open on the counter, Le Crueset pot simmering away on the stove. I began to feel like buying that cookbook would make me happy.

In the past, when just having grocery money was a challenge, the temptation to spend based on emotion was a luxury I couldn't afford. But in these later years, though we are not in any way rolling in the dough, (after all, I just quit my job, which gave me my extra spending money!), we do have some discretionary funds. In those early years, I literally prayed before any shopping trips, depending on God to lead me to sales and bargains. He did just that, stretching our money in miraculous ways. Today, on day two of 21 days of prayer and fasting, in Costco, I remembered the part of Isaiah 58 that talks about the kind of fast that pleases God is not following after your own pleasure but caring for the needs of others....and I didn't buy the cookbook. I bet there's someone I know who could use $24.99.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My favs....

The picture is in my home office. These are "my" books. My husband has an office as well, with his own shelves full of "his" books. At the risk of being a copy cat, I thought I would follow my daughter's example from her blog and occasionally list some of my favorite things. So, today I thought I would start by talking about books. That same daughter blogged how much she loves books and how our family is full of book lovers. Anyway, here are some of my favorite books and why they are favorites. I hope I inspire someone out there to read one or two of them.

The Amplified Bible...some people don't like the wordiness of this Bible as it attempts to give a fuller explanation of word meanings in the original language, but I happen to love it. I have the Everyday Life version of the Amplified Bible put out by Joyce Meyer...again, love it!

Lord Change Me by Evelyn oldie but a goodie! Bought my first copy as a young wife and mom. Probably saved my marriage as it teaches us to focus on God changing us, not on others. Not that I've always heeded that very wise advice, but I've tried! Her other books are great as well.

All of Joy Dawson's books...very convicting books written by a woman who unashamedly prays and obeys.

Here's a handful of books that are all related to theme of renewing the mind. This is my life message...a key truth that transformed my understanding of our walk with God. First was Francis Frangipane's The Three Battlegrounds. Casey Treat's Renewing the Mind, and Joyce Meyers's Battlefield of the Mine. These three as well as Stormie Omartian's Lord I Want to be Whole are some of the most used books I own. Life changing, life saving.... Along the same vein are John and Paula Sanford's books on inner healing and deliverance

The Fourth Dimension by Yonggi Cho. Great Faith by Wendall Smith. Mega Faith by Marilyn Hickey. All are incredibly faith building books.

All books by Edith Schaeffer....her books mentored me as a young woman and I reread them frequently. We are kindred spirits in Jesus.

How do you parent without Dare to Discipline and The Strong Willed Child by James Dobson? Absolutely essential for all parents in my opinion. If Jesus Were A Parent is a current favorite. It's by Hal Perkins.

For "fun" reading, Jan Karon's "Mitford" books have been read and reread by me over and over. Wholesome fiction reading written by a Christian author who writes well...a rare find!
The Anne of Green Gables series is also great. All of James Herriot's books are wonderful. Love the classic Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Three awesome fiction books with a raw edge and powerful message are Wisdom Hunter, Jordon's Crossing, and Brotherhood of Betrayal by Randall Arthur.

These are just a handful of my favorite books, but hopefully I will inspire you to pick up and try one or two of them.
Happy reading!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lovin' my life...

Well, it's day two of life without my job at the elementary school and I'm lovin' it! I actually woke up at 5:45am the past two mornings, which is the same time I would normally get up for my job at the school, so I said a prayer for the staff and students.

It's a busy week, as we get ready for the fall kick-off at church this weekend. Fall is always a time when we refocus and re-emphasize vision. Last night we had a leadership and workers meeting that was really encouraging. I love the new people that God has given us with our north location, and of course, love the ones that have already been a part of our church family in Portland. I can sense God's hand in putting us together. It's been such a relief for me to be able to plunge into what needs to be done at the church with energy because I am not also working a full time job elsewhere.

I am also loving the fact that I can take better care of my home and hubby and pay more attention to the three cutest grandkids in the world. And of course, I now have more time to read the Word, study and pray, which is greatly appreciated and so necessary. I feel like I have something in the well to draw from in order to minister to others. I believe God has led me, and my decision was the right I said, I'm lovin' my life!