The Son Always Shines in Storms


While writing this blog, I was sitting at one of my favorite parks, which consist of a small lake and a few picnic tables.  Actually, it’s a spot for launching boats; however, I enjoy sitting at this spot while writing, reading, or artwork.  The park is quaint – kind of hard to find – but, once it’s found, its nestled in a forest with tree covered mountains on the opposite shore.  Yet, the atmosphere is relaxing and the air smells so clean out there as people come to fish, boat, or even just picnic.

 

This park is similar to others in my new location…for example, one park appears to be a partially dried up lake but its landscape is breathtaking.  Yet, it waters sparkle in the sunlight, eagles and hawks soar high above its waves, and it stretches from my new town to another town about fifteen miles away.

 

Then there is the breathtaking commute for my job…yes, God has provided a new job and more details are coming…of Mount Rainier, which is about a twenty-minute drive from my new job in a tiny lakeside community…the job even has a peekaboo view of the mountain.

 

So, this is my new home…recently I’ve started a new bible study about rising as a lioness…the book describes being in God’s creation to understand Him and his nature.  Thus I believe I am in the right place, however, before I arrived at this place, it took going through quite a few storms.  Like the death of my husband and facing the possibility of losing my home…yet doors have been opened such as finding a church, new home, and now a job plus another door may be opening soon…one I thought had been closed a long time ago.

 

While writing, storms clouds hovered over the mountains and lake…the occasional downpour would be released from these clouds but it was refreshingly cool and warm at the same time.  Yet, this came after a message at church based on Matthew 14:22-36 about Jesus calming the storm and how Jesus tells his disciples to be courageous and not fear even in the midst of the storms.

 

Thus I was reminded of an old quote I have cherished over the years…even in the midst of storms, the Son is still shining…as the storm started to clear up before I left the still amazingly beautiful park to head for my church’s evening service.

 

So what storms are you facing?  Whatever they are, I’m praying for you and just remember, as quoted in the message, God is growing you and, as I learned since losing my husband, focus on Him as the anchor throughout the storm.

 

 

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The Clydesdale and Prayers


Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do anything for it?  You prayed and you ran scenarios through your head as to how you would handle this thing you wanted really bad?

This happened to me a couple weeks ago at a county fair where I went to see one of my favorite animals – horses!  There was a raffle ticket for a horse – a Clydesdale mare, of all horses – but I was determined to win her as I purchased several tickets.  After all, for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted a horse.

I spent that night dreaming of ways to care for the horse – though I don’t think the apartment management company would welcome a horse as a pet – especially one as big as a Clydesdale.  I begged my in-laws, since they have a field, and even called my parents who have a neighbor with a field

I was full of hope until the night of the drawing came and went – with no calls!  I wanted to rant at God for not answering my prayers then remembered there are times when He will say no especially for something like a horse that I would not have been able to take care of.  So the reasons for God’s no on this prayer request were understood.

After all, James 4:3 (NIV) says:  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 

Maybe I would have used this horse for my own pleasures and not for God’s purpose?

Yet some prayers will be heard and taken care of yet sometimes God needs to say no to us.  We may not always understand like me wanting my son back in my life…yet I know God has a purpose for that and some day he will be restored to me.  Yet, other prayers like my husband’s complete healing are not so easily understand as I watch him fight the complications of T1 diabetes and yet he is faithful to God as he encourages those around him.

Yet, in conclusion, as I look back, there have been times that He has answered with a yes;   After all, Matthew 21:22 (NIV) says:  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  The yes answers have been about glorifying Him and serving His purpose like the prayers of giving me the right words for this blog or even allowing recent doctor tests to come back that said “no cancer” so I can continue to use my degree to serve Him.

Questions:

1)  Is there times that God has said no to your prayers?  If so, if you looked back, do you think there was a reason?  I know some “nos” maybe painful like not healing someone like my husband…and I don’t have an answer to these nos.

2)  Can you look back and see where He has answered with a yes?  If so, do you show you are grateful even if the answer was no?

An Unconventional Marriage


Well, my husband and I celebrated our 6th year anniversary today with just the two of us hanging out together over pizza, sandwiches, and bbq wings with our living room graced with a bouquet of roses.  It may not seem like an unconventional anniversary date but we made it work with plans to go out this weekend to a dinner and a movie.

Our marriage has not been the normal wedding yet it works especially shortly after our first anniversary, my husband started to lose his legs due to the diabetes.  I was told I should leave him and start a new life, and I almost took the bait.  Yet, as I started to drive away, I realized I made those vows so many years ago and I need to honor them.  Since then, the marriage has had its struggles as we adjusted to a new partner – second marriage for both of us – and learning to live with someone after more than five years on our own.

Then, came the affects of the diabetes yet through it all we still manage to hang onto each other as I worry and wonder if we will have more years together.  Yet I know his life and our marriage is in God’s hands even after another mad dash this last week to urgent care for an infection in his hand.

Statistics show that terminally ill and/or a disabled partner will put a strain on a marriage and it does yet as the saying goes, what does not kill us, only makes us stronger.  This unconventional marriage has made me stronger and helped me understand why my own mother has stayed with my father.  As I think of my mom’s own strength, I believe, like me, she keeps God in the marriage and we let Him walk beside us during the ups and downs of a marriage that has its struggles – rather it be through physical and/or emotional illness.

After all, according to Matthew 19:6 (NIV) “therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

Yes, I do believe God has joined my husband and I together.  I may not ever know why since we met online through a dating site but in the meantime, I will enjoy this marriage along with the sickness and health, good times and bad times, for richer and poorer…letting no one or anything like an illness separate us.

As I write this, I am reminded of the the following poem that was read to me by Dene’s uncle, on behalf of my husband.

The Apache Wedding Blessing 

 Now you will feel no storms, for each of you will be shelter to the other. 

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there is no loneliness, for each of you is companion to the other, You are two persons, but there is one life before you, and one home.

Turn together to look at the road you traveled, to reach this—the hour of your happiness. It stretches behind you into the past.

Look to the future that lies ahead. A long and winding, adventure-filled road, whose every turn means discovery, new hopes, new joys, new laughter, and a few shared tears.

May happiness be your companion, May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead; And through all the years to come. Go this day to your dwelling place and enter into your days together.

May your days be good and long upon the earth. Your adventure has just begun!

In conclusion, I am praying for each of your marriages and if you’re still single, I am praying that God sends you the one that you have been longing for.

So, what has kept your marriage strong during both the good and the bad?

Another Change to the Path


Well, my path is changing once again…or I should say, I am returning to a path to fulfill a dream that started 27 years ago when I attended a weekend visitation at then Northwest College.  That dream was to earn a degree at Northwest and since then I’ve been on a series of paths that have taken me all around life.

I started this journey over 8 years ago when I entered their BA in Ministry Leadership program as a person yearning for a college degree.  After an issue with finances, I dropped out and continued my journey at Hope International.

After earning my BS in Human Development at Hope, I flittered from one Master program to another, trying to decide the best fit for me while yearning to return to Northwest University, yet unable to because it would have meant traveling 30 or so miles once a week, late at night, and away from my disabled husband at night.  So I scrapped that plan and started the MA in Pastoral Care at Hope, with still the yearning to go back to Northwest.

Then, recently while taking a break from Hope, I realized that I still had that dream so I checked out the programs at Northwest and discovered they finally had an online Master in Ministry program that I can do while living 300 miles from the school. Yes!  So, I applied and just learned today that I have been accepted and will be starting in less than 2  month so there will be a lot of scrambling to get registered, etc.

This is so exciting to finally end my educational journey at Northwest, the school that started the dream…plus I will be able to have more people at graduation versus if I was still at Hope, which is in Southern California.  They have an internship/special project class to learn to be a pastor while being able to get my credentials to become a pastor.  I cannot wait so I can finally have the right tools to show people the Good News of the Gospel and teach them about a Savior who is compassionate and wants them to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven!

Even now, in my Matthew class, I am learning so much more about the Gospel and wish to spread what I learn to other people yet I need prayer to overcome a weakness of being shy and often not able to express the Good News to people in a face to face conversation.

Many, even I, may wonder why God is using a shy – something very imperfect person – to reach out to people as a pastor.  Yet, I am reminded that God used imperfect people for His purpose.   The Bible is full of them…

So, in conclusion, remember that you may not always wonder why God is using you, just believe that He does have a purpose for you and to keep on that path.  If you’ve strayed from your intended path, pray to Him and ask Him how to get back and He will, in a surprising ways, like He showed me how to go back to Northwest University.

So, what is keeping you from your purpose in life?  Do you worry that you are not perfect enough?  Or, that you have strayed so far that you can’t get back?

We can walk to church…


Well, the doors have been opening up for us as we prepare to move to Medical Lake. Today, we signed the lease and did all the other paperwork. So we are almost set to move two weeks from today…quite the journey.

We’ve spent the last two days exploring and getting to know the ‘hood. There are a ton of camping grounds and we counted at least 4 – that’s right – 4 lakes within a few miles of our apartment. One is less than a mile.

We have a gazillion parks including one that is just steps from our back door plus a high school football field practically in our backyard. Yep, Friday nights will get interesting around our place this fall…

The people are friendly here and we discovered we’ll have to do something we have not done in like forever – actually going to the local post office (which is walking distance) to pick up our mail…as we reserved our box, we have a friendly chat with the postal worker and met a friendly woman who welcomed us to town.

This is a beautiful town and its quiet. Traffic is practically nil including taking I-90 into Spokane during “rush” hour. What a big difference between here and the Seattle-Everett area. “Rush hour” traffic is like mid morning traffic in Everett on I-5. People say they rarely get stuck in traffic – so true! Unfortunately, there are a few drivers even around here who will test your patience…sigh…guess they are everywhere.

Another cool thing is that I needed a measuring tape (thought I left it at the hotel only to discover it was in the car). I found the local hardware and walked in to see a cat sitting on the counter. Yep, a very friendly kitty cat who lives there. Again, met friendly people like the guy who helped me select a measuring tape out of a gazillion choices.

Our next adventure was locating a washer/dryer for our new apartment. Our new landlord recommended a place. So, we went over and found a great washer and dryer and again, friendly people at the place. He was playing great Christian music (we have a great Christian radio station here) and I asked if he knew of any churches. He knew of one but it’s too far to travel…think we’ll stick to the churches in our new town. We can walk to them and become involved. Yeah!

I can go on and on about our exploration including the friendly and warm yard sales where people believe in selling the stuff and not making big bucks. Unfortunately, we were not able to find what we needed but we will be back. Or, how I almost got stuck in a carwash (do not like self service ones) but it was a laugh…even Dene’s doc has found medical resources for us. So, things are looking up as we prepare for this journey.

Finally, the welcome mat in Medical Lake reminds me of the following verse from Matthew 10:40 (NIV):

Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me,
and anyone who welcomes me
welcomes the one who sent me.

So, what doors are opening up for you as you prepare for your own journey? Are you finding people who welcome you to their community? I pray so and please feel free to comment.

Precious Children…born to a King


Today, the world is hearing about the birth of a royal son as other mothers, with less fame, are giving birth to baby boys and girls around the world.

Some of these children will be born in dire situations with extreme poverty, sounds of war around them, and disease.  Some of these children will be born in better situations but they may have parents who wonder how they will feed or clothe them.  Some of these children have it even better as their parents decide which school to send them to or which outfit they will wear on the way home from the hospital.  Some of these children are born into homes where the parents love and cherish them.  Some are born into homes where the parent(s) never wanted them and will let them know they are not wanted for the rest of their lives.

However, each of these children has something in common even with the royal baby that has been born.

The commonality is that they are all precious to Jesus as newborns and He cares for each of them.  Then they become His princes and princesses, born to a royal family, when they accept Him as their personal savior.  In the meantime, here are on earth, we need to help take care of these precious children and cherish them.

After all, Luke 18:15-17 (MSG) reads, “People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. ‘Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy.  Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” 

My husband Dene and I started sponsoring a little girl from India last Christmas.  This is something I have wanted to do for a long time but I ignored the voice of God until I heard that voice remind me that there are children who have a need more than our pets.  Yes, I am a pet lover and they do need to be spoiled; however, aren’t children just as precious as animals?

Another way is to become involved in their lives especially if you desire children but cannot have any.  This week, I’m helping out with Vacation Bible School at the church in the crafts department!  What fun!  Children and crafts but I love crafty artsy stuff.

I do have one child but he is living in another town far away from us.  Though I miss and love him dearly, if I try to interfere, things would become difficult for him.  Furthermore, he is settled in this life and becoming involved in his life now, would be too difficult for him.  Thus, I hope that after he turns 18, I can once again become a part of his life.  Please pray that the situation changes once he is of age and can make his own decisions…it’s just a few more years and God once told me to wait that long.  It’s been a hard journey but often we need to step back and let God do His work while loving the person from a distance.

We also need to lift children up and treat them as a gift and not a product (Henri Nouwen, 1984).  Don’t call children names or bully them.  Each one is loved by the most high God.  After all, Matt 18:6 (NIV) warns us not to harm little children.  Therefore, we are to take care of these precious little ones.

Finally, once we establish ourselves in the Vegas area and I have finished my degree, we have a desire to adopt or foster a child(ren) especially since I am approaching the change of life and can no longer bear children.  This desire comes from the desire to have children while obeying God’s purpose for my life – to raise and nurture a child and give them a future and a hope.

Is there a child in your life that needs extra guidance?  Perhaps, it’s not your own child but a neighbor child or a relative’s child?  Whoever, it is, help take care of these precious little children.

And, to those who desire a child and have not been blessed, I am praying that God does send a special blessing to you.  I will also be praying for each of your children and that may they be used by God and grow to be special.  Finally, to those whose child is facing a crisis or is facing an illness, I am praying for them as well as strength for each of their parent.  May each of you be blessed as spiritual or physical parents.

Connecting with yourself, God, and people in a community


So, in preparation for our move, we went through the pantry and cleaned that up today.  We did have a few extra boxes of food that we figured we would not use up before the move nor do we want to haul a ton of food down to Nevada.  After talking to management, we discovered that there are people in our own building that always need food!  Wow!  What a wakeup call!  So we put the food out and walked away.

Later, as I went to bless someone with a clock, a couple of my neighbors were going through the food as if their life depended on it.  They were excited about the blessing and wanted me to take some of it.  I had to politely decline the offer but walked away with a gladness in my heart – that people were overjoyed at the blessing – and saddened that people are so desperate for food and other supplies like the school supplies we left out for the parents with kids.

It’s about helping people within the community…

After all, we are told to love our neighbors – friend or foe – as much as ourselves and to do this, we need to love the Lord thy God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:36-40).

My latest class The Spiritual Journey:  The Integrated Approach of Henri Nouwen has been about reaching out to other people (outward) while focusing on strengthening the core of who we are (inward) and being able to connect with God through prayer and reading scripture (Upward).

One of the focuses of this journey is reaching out to people within a community, which is anyone that we touch on a daily basis rather it be the neighbor who needs food or the daughter who needs a hug from her parents.  We are all connected and we can build “a home and create space for God and for the Children of God…within this discipline are the disciplines of forgiveness and celebration” within the community (Nouwen 1995; Moving from solitude to community to ministry).

Finally, the food and other supplies that we put out are almost gone.  Though it was a simple gesture of providing for the needs of our neighbors by giving what we don’t need, there was a sense of community with these neighbors as they took what they needed and sounded as if they were celebrating a blessed gift.

And, that is what community is all about…

So, what can you do to strengthen the community around you? 

Though we may not always have what they need, we can still create an atmosphere of community service with each other by reaching out to your neighbor by seeing if they need something even if it is just a smile or words of encouragement (Nouwen 1995; Moving from solitude to community to ministry).

After all, we are connected with each other and we do live in a world that needs a bit more encouragement…

Necessary Maintenance


So, for our upcoming journey, I took my car in to have its 20K mile checkup and an oil change.  All turned out well except one part that needed to be replaced since it was very dirty.  Our van was given the okay for the journey and so we continue to prepare for this journey.

So if you are about to face your own journey or just facing everyday life, you need to maintain yourself just like a car needs to be maintained and parts replaced as they get old or dirty after so many miles so you can keep going.

Maintenance for people can include eating right, going to our doctors, exercising, making sure we get enough rest, and restoring our souls.  When we maintain ourselves and keep in great shape (I’m not in the best of shape), we can keep going to serve God’s purpose.

Furthermore, maintaining our souls include entering a place of solitude (seeking the voice of God), praying (listening and talking to God), and reading His word (to know His voice and to strengthen us).   These maintenance steps can lead to a healthier soul and an overall outlook on life while loving people just like the maintenance on our vehicle keeps going and providing us with transportation.

After all, the two greatest commandments in Matthew 22: 37-39 (NIV) reads “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Yeah, something may come up no matter how much you maintain yourself or your vehicle.  Like just before our trip to Nevada, I had to replace the wheel and tire after hitting a piece of debris on the freeway.  Or, more recently, a chip in the windshield or the part that had to be replaced to today. But we just keep going and remember that One you listen to and talk to, is there with you.  Or you may have a neighbor who helps out since they love you and God as much as they love themselves in a healthy way.

Finally, when we maintain ourselves through prayer, solitude, and reading of the word, we can handle the bumps and debris in our lives.

As we conclude, please think about the areas of your life that need to be maintained…how can you maintain them or fix these areas?