Praising the Lord as I Hit the Bumps in the Journey


Hello, how are you my friends?  Hope all is well as I write tonight’s blog…

So, as I write this, I will first let you know that I may not write a blog for at least a week as I prepare to focus on a final paper on a passage in the book of Micah for my class on the OT Prophets this week.  Yep, another class is about to end and that will be one more down with five more to go…if I get a chance, maybe i’ll pop in and write a few notes about the final as I discover the Lord’s lessons in this study…

Anyway, as I go through this journey of earning a degree towards a Master in Pastoral Care, I have been hit with a few bumps in terms of my own health and even my husband’s health, which have forced me to cut back my hours at the church but I won’t give it up.  I almost did but God reminded me that He wanted me there and opened my eyes to another option of cutting back hours, which I have, as I face the bumps in my journey.

  • Bump 1:  As for my health, I won’t go into details but earlier this year I was finally diagnosed with diabetes and began treatment.  Currently its just taking a med twice a day as my condition is monitored.  This has forced me to watch what I eat and focus more on natural ways to heal my body.  For the most part, I’m controlling it.
  • Bump 2:  Then, throughout the course of getting routine checkups, a biopsy has occurred with the results to be on the lookout for a concern and be treated for it…no its not the c word, yet, praise the Lord and praising the Lord that it won’t become the c word.
  • Bump 3:  Another routine test confirmed a suspicion – I have partial hearing loss…it took 20 years until I finally got a doctor to really listen and have me tested.  IF something is not right, be persistent with doctors.  Yet, I need to be tested for something else to explain the physical reason why I have partial hearing loss (thought it was from either getting hit by a baseball plus construction at work at the time).  Even need expensive hearing aids!  But praising the Lord that He’s in control…
  • Bump 4:  Finally, yet another issue has been hitting my body that has led to the discovery of low iron and hemoglobin levels – yet another round of tests coming up…yes, I’m still praising the Lord!
  • Bump 5:  My husband has been having circulation problems again and this next week he will be having an angiogram on his hip to determine the extent of lack of blood flow in his right stump…yet I’m still praising the Lord.

Well, to be honest, I haven’t always been praising the Lord – over the course of the last several days, I’ve had my scary moments and even questioned why the Lord would send me on the journey to get a degree in ministry, only to have my health be attacked like this.  Yet, I continue to praise Him even in the scary times and sought both His comfort and the comfort of my husband’s arms and strong encouraging words.

I’ve felt alone because I’ve asked for prayer from people and not getting much response…yet I still praise the Lord and I will still pray for people.  Though the storm clouds seem dark right now, I know the Son is still shining and HE is in control.

Suggestion:  Be there for people as they are going through a rough time…even if you don’t know what to say or do, just a simple I’m praying for you will work.  Being silent only makes the person(s) think you don’t care and the storm clouds seem darker.  Yet that person(s) knows they still have Jesus at their side.

Finally, no questions tonight, but just a wrap up…even if you are still silent with people, you are still loved…as we continue to praise the Lord and put our trust in Him.

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One Bold Step at a Time


So, as I sit here, I wonder about my life…have I fulfilled my dreams?  Not all of them and some have yet to be fulfilled.

Have I fulfilled the dreams that matter?  Or the purpose/vision for my life?  I’m on my way to fulfilling that dream of going into ministry.

Will I be able to fulfill that vision?  After all, I’m not a perfect Christian (God loves imperfect people), I feel too old to go into a ministry (yet God used a lot of “old” people in the Bible) and I don’t even know where to go to get started in a ministry.

Above all, I am an introvert – that’s right!  Writing in the background of my home office is find; however, if you get me in front of a crowd of people, I freeze up!  Though at one time in my life, I was at an out of town church and urged to get up and speak – I amazed myself as I began speaking to a crowd of people – most strangers!  And, I’ve been told I need to be as bold as a lion so I’m working on that part of me and with God’s help and strength, I can do it…after all, guys like Moses has a speech problem and he ended up going before a Pharaoh and leading a gazillion people out of Egypt – so I guess I can speak up!

Even figuring out how to get credentials will be a long process and I face the challenge of being a divorcee…yet I know God can still use me even if it takes a while to get my credentials.

Questions:

1) So what dreams do you have that need to be fulfilled?

2) What’s holding you back?  Is it minor stuff like being bashful or thinking you’re not the right age?

Well, my friends, in conclusion, I encourage you to fulfill the dreams that matter to you the most and let God handle the “small” or “big” stuff…and take small steps towards that dream like I’ve started doing by volunteering once a week at my church.  It may be simple projects; however, its giving me the experience of working in a church/ministry while working towards fulfilling the purpose of going into ministry…a calling that I heard when I was a kid and my dad was a ministry, nearly 30 years ago as I stood on the steps of another church and swept its steps or preaching in front of a crowd of strangers…

New School, New Class…and Old Experiences


Well, I started back to school today at a new school and a new class, which is about the essentials needed for ministry.

The essentials include hearing your call and discovering your gifts, values, past experiences while seeking God’s purpose and vision for your life.  Then, we will move onto learning how to perform weddings, funerals, worship services, and other duties of a minister along with administrative stuff and issues within a ministry.  Sounds like an exciting class and I can’t wait to learn more about the essentials of ministry.  After all, I do want to eventually marry people, perform weddings, and other events.

Yet, what has been my most exciting part of this is learning about my past experiences – both the good and the pad.  Using a tool on http://www.chazown.com , I created a timeline of my life from the moment of birth to present time.  The timeline has included good people who have encouraged me like friends, family, colleagues, and even mentors.  Even the bad people are listed like the neighbor who took advantage of me or the ex husband who left me wounded and scarred.  There are the good stuff about my life like being actively involved with school, church, work, and friends while also listing bad stuff like divorce, losing my son, and even abuse.  Yet, as I did this, I wondered, what did I learn from this timeline?

Well, I learned that I can endure quite a bit and that God has given me the strength to get through the rough patches of life.  The good stuff shows that I’ve had supported people along the way like my husband, my in-laws, great friends and church people, and even pets that have cheered me along.  Above all, I have had God there with me as I endured the bad and celebrated the good.  How did this happen?  Through a desire to know and praise Him as He gives me the strength to endure.

After all, Colossians 1:9-14 (NIV) reads:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

In conclusion, what does your past experiences tell you about you?  What have you endured and do you see a theme throughout your life’s journeys?

The Preacher’s Kid


Last Thursday, as mentioned in my last blog, my husband and I attended a concert with Steven Curtis Chapman, Laura Story, and Jason Gray.  Each had a story – one lost a child to a horrible accident, one struggled with a husband’s illness, and another struggles with a speech impediment.  Yet God is still using each of them through a gift of music.

I learned something yesterday while talking to my mom.  She mentioned about my dad was still being used by God for ministry – yeah!  Good for him and amen that even though he just turned 70, God is still using him.

You see, he was a minister when I was a young child.  We lived in a small town and I sat in the congregation listening ot my dad preach and attending various conferences and other meetings around the state as befitting a pastor with the Assembly of God.  He left the ministry and went into carpentry to feed us five kids.

After that, life in our home seemed to change and I struggled with both my parents and being part of a somewhat dysfunctional family.  it has only been the last few years that I have seen him change as he remains involved in his local church, even leading Bible study and filling in for the pastor when he is out of town.  My dad has returned to the faith even though he was away for several years – I am proud of him.  God still can use people no matter what their life was life.

I think of my own life – I’ve had struggles and I have not always been faithful to God.  Even now, as I write this blog, I’m struggling in my faith as our finances get tighter and I need a job or someway to stay home and bring in my income; otherwise, we may lose the car – which we need – or have to throw in the towel and return back to Western Washington.  Perhaps becoming the type of kids who move back with our parents – that is the worse case scenario! Yet, I am reminded of the many times God has provided – sometimes even at the 11th hour.

Yet, as I write this, my husband encourages me to remain faithful and I’m working on a bible study called Girls with Swords by Lisa Bevere and I am studying the faith chapter in Hebrews 11 and 12.  These chapters are about people who had weaknesses yet held on to their faith even until they passed away.

Therefore, I need to remain in my faith and push forward as God continues to use me through this blog and eventually becoming a pastor as I earn my master degree.

You see, even during the times I struggled to “love” my dad during the hard times, I wanted to become a pastor like him.  I hope to someday sit at his side as he teaches me how to put together a sermon or lead a church – though i’m scared when it comes to getting in front of a crowd of people and speaking.  Yet, like the artists at the concert and my dad, God will give me the strength to do it to fulfill His purpose.

In conclusion, what weaknesses are you struggling with that are keeping you from your God’s purpose for your life?  I’m praying that even God will still use you just like He is using my dad, me, and even my husband.

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…

What is your vision?


Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.”  This verse is talking about a vision and how people without a vision, lack wisdom.

Vision – what is a vision? 

According to dictionary.com, a vision is one of several things:

(1) The act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight; (2) The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur; (3)  An experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency: a heavenly messenger appearing in a vision; (4) Something seen or otherwise perceived during such an experience: The vision revealed its message; (5) A vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation: visions of wealth and glory.

Furthermore, my professor at Hope International University described vision as something where a church is going while providing a snapshot of its direction.  At the same time, it challenges and inspires people to accomplish a ministry for God as it touches their emotion (Bigelow 2013, n.p.).

Such a vision occurred with my husband Dene when he was a fourteen years old as described below:

The Dream by Dene Cole

The dream woke me up from a sound sleep, I was so excited from the dream I went and woke my mother up and told her about the dream.

I was walking around a large building, cannot remember the dimensions but it was big.  I could smell brewing coffee and cookies baking.  I walked out of the building and saw four more buildings as if I was in a small village at least that was what my fourteen-year-old brain perceived.  Then I heard a voice telling me that I will give all this to you when the time is right. 

Now that I am fifty years old, I comprehend the dream a little different.  First off, I know the voice was from the Lord Jesus and I am still trying to figure out if the time is right.  Now being married to Ann, I believe the time is at hand for both our dreams and visions to take place.  That dream is leading me to open up a coffee, hopefully within the next year or so.

My husband and I share this vision of opening a coffee shop that will be more than a coffee shop.  We hope to turn it into something that serves the community while meeting the needs of people who are experiencing hurt and talk about Jesus while fellowshipping with each other.

What is your vision?  Were you given a vision that you have forgotten about?  Is there something that is inspiring you to serve in a ministry and keep casting it aside in hopes of getting back to it someday?