Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Second Week of Advent - Peace

We are in the midst of the second week of Advent and "peace" is what I am meditating on. Every year when my children have asked me what I want for Christmas, my answer is always, Peace. They usually roll their eyes and say, "Oh mom, come on just tell me what you want for Christmas". The truth is, I do just want peace. Peace in this world, peace in my family, peace in my job, peace in my church, just good ol' fashion peace. And this year my yearning for peace is magnified with the reality that my 21 year old nephew is in Afghanistan fighting a war in a country that is so mysterious to me. Everyday I put my faith and trust in God that Ben will come home safely when his tour is done.

Peace. It is that calming, meditative state that only can be obtained after the chaos, struggles, challenges and war is over. What we have to go through to obtain peace can put most of us over the edge. But it is that calmness and serenity that makes us persevere through it all to be able to be in a place of peace.

In the months, weeks and days leading up to the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary's lives were anything but peaceful. To be a young unmarried girl facing the realization of being with child must have been overwhelming and frightening at times. For Joseph the impending time of the birth of Mary's child was most likely a time of preparing, questioning and searching. There was so much for both of them to try and understand that their minds must have been going non stop. Questions of "What will people say?", "How will people react?" and "Why me?" must have been spoken between the two of them in the weeks before Mary's body would show the growing roundness of her belly. Peace was not around them as the time came for Mary to give birth and there was no where for her to lie down. The sounds of the animals around them in the stable and the cries of a newborn baby as he took his first breath would have broken any peaceful silence on that night so long ago.

But peace is what was brought into the world that night as Christ was born. The peace of knowing that God's greatest gift had come to save us all. Where there was chaos, anger, struggles and war, peace would surpass it all. As Christ lay in the arms of Mary, and as Joseph, the shepherds and animals gathered around, peace rang out through all the land as the voices of angels were heard singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men".


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Week of Advent - Hope

Today is the first day of the last month of 2010 and we are in the midst of the first week of Advent. The air is cold and the Christmas holiday is upon us. This first week of Advent always gives me Hope for what Christmas and the New Year will bring. Hope is found throughout the entire Bible. The Israelites had hope when they left Egypt and traveled for forty years and then found themselves standing on the edge of the promised land. Noah had hope when he built the ark and watched it rain for forty days and forty nights and then was greeted by an amazing rainbow in the sky. Job had hope as he endured loss, pain, discomfort and then was blessed by God. Sarah had hope that she would give birth to a child and then watched as her stomach grew and her child was born. Hope is what gives us the will to go on. Hope is what gives us the endurance to survive. Hope is what is given to us as we await the coming of Christ. Hope for peace, joy and love in our families, our lives and in our world. Hope is what I have as I pray for my nephew to return safely home from serving in Afghanistan. Hope is what I have as I watch a world torn apart by war, disease and natural disasters, that one day we will live in peace, cures will be found for diseases and no one will go hungry. Hope is what I have as I pray for those who do not have Christ in their lives that they to will find peace in the love of Jesus. During this Advent I pray that you too will find Hope in your lives. May the anticipation of Christmas fill your life with the Hope of a new tomorrow, the Hope of a better world and the Hope that one day all will rejoice in the love of God.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit - Romans 15:13


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being Thankful

It is the night before Thanksgiving, the cinnamon rolls are rising, the breakfast casserole is setting up in the refrigerator and the vegetables are cleaned and prepped for their trip to my brothers home for Thanksgiving dinner and I am having a moment of feeling thankful for all of the blessings that God has blessed me with this past year.
This past year has brought struggles, challenges, triumphs, joy and sadness and thankfully God has been right there with me; holding, pushing, comforting, rejoicing, guiding and protecting me. For that I am eternally grateful

I have watched one daughter graduate from college and my other daughter begin the journey of taking college classes online. And for that I am grateful for the determination and initiative of both of my daughters.

I have witnessed my son decide to leave high school to be home schooled, pass drivers ed and receive his license, have his self-confidence soar and earn second place in his first mountain bike race in Rapid City SD. And for that I am grateful for his courage and perseverance.

I was blessed to help plan my daughters wedding, place her veil over her face, watch her dad lift it off, watch her marry the love of her life and welcome that young man into our family. And for that I am truly grateful.

I have felt my love for my husband grow deeper and stronger. He has supported me through my weight loss and through all of the time and commitment that being in ministry involves. I am grateful for his love, patience, strength and commitment to our family, our marriage and to me.

I have worked so hard on losing weight and have achieved a 33 pound weight loss since May. I feel healthy and more self-confident than I have in a very long time. And I am grateful for the ability to reach my goals and to continue on this journey of weight loss.

I am thankful for my parents who still encourage, support and love me for who I am. For my extended family who love and support me and help to make life fun and a little crazy at times.

I am thankful for my friends who surround me with their love, support, comfort and laughter when I need it.

I am thankful for the women who attend my Bible studies and retreats. They have taught me so much and they have helped me to have an even closer relationship with God.

I am thankful that I was invited to preach at my childhood church over the past 6 months as they searched for a new pastor for their church. They will always be considered part of my family.

This past year I have had to say goodbye to friends and family who have moved away but have also welcomed new friends into my life.

I was blessed to be surrounded by all of my family and cousins as we said goodbye to our grandma.

There have been so many blessings this past year and I know that none of it would have been possible without my faith in God and his love, mercy, grace and guidance in my life.

I pray that each of you have a very blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Having to say goodbye

I'm not even sure how to start this blog today. It has been a hard journey over the past few weeks. On Saturday, October 30th I received a call from my mom telling me that my grandmother had only a few moments left of her life. Dave took be directly to the nursing home so that I could be with my mom and grandma. Within 15 minutes of arriving my grandma took her last breath and her spirit left her body. It was the most incredible moment I have ever witnessed other than the birth of each of my children. It was a blessing to be there in that moment. Life is a miracle coming in and a miracle going out.

My grandmother was 90 years old and had lived in a care facility over the last 5 years. Arthritis had consumed her beautiful body and dementia had crept into her mind. She was an incredible lady. At the funeral I was able to deliver the eulogy and I was honored to do it. My grandma was Irish/English. She was a woman that could be fun loving one moment and completely controlling the next. Everything she did was out of love for her husband and family. My grandfather passed away 10 years ago and my grandma had missed him everyday. When she breathed her last breath here on earth I knew that she was being embraced by my grandpa and they were dancing on heaven's floor.

The day before she died I had been visiting with her and when it was time for me to leave she held my hand and told me I was precious. Those were the last words my grandma spoke to me and I will treasure them forever. My grandma was precious to me. She loved to dress her best, have her nails and hair done, kept her house nice and neat and was a marvelous cook. She was a very classy lady and I miss her so much. She was a woman of faith who read her bible daily and knew how important it was to go to church and be a part of a community of faith. She reached out to her neighbors and friends and taught all of us how important that was. At her funeral there were many of her former neighbors, co-workers, church friends and family that gathered to say goodbye and to honor her with their loving words and memories.

It is hard to believe as the days pass that I am not able to talk to her, to hear her words of wisdom or see her beautiful smile. But when I look at my hands I see her hands and when I look in the mirror I see her smile. I thank God everyday for the time that I had with her and I pray that I can be as strong as she was in her faith and her life.

Goodbye grandma. I miss you and love you,

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Beautiful Bride

Hello friends,
For the past 10 months we have been planning a wedding. It has taken quite a bit of my time but so worth every minute of it. On Saturday, October 9th my daughter Kayla married the love of her life, Jerod. It was one of the most special days in my life and in the life of our family. The day was absolutely beautiful and Kayla was a vision of beauty. Jerod's mom is one of my dearest friends. When the kids were younger we would joke around about the two of them getting married. Little did we know at that time that it was in our future and we are so thrilled it became a reality. Jerod and Kayla are the cutest couple and complete each other perfectly.
When they started dating 3 1/2 years ago I had prayed that if God wanted them to be together that nothing would stand in there way. On Saturday when they stood in our church in front of God, family and friends I knew that God had played a mighty hand in all of it. Our families are so blessed by these two young people. Jerod is the nicest young man and you can see the love he has for Kayla in everything he does. We are so blessed that God brought them together.
Kayla's sister Ashley sang "Love Never Fails" by Brandon Heath at the wedding and she sounded like an angel. As my husband walked Kayla down the aisle all of these pictures started playing in my mind; Kayla as a baby, learning to walk, riding a bike, playing with her doll house, dance recitals, first day of school, cheerleading, and so many more. It was as if the past 22 years had flown by and the moment became surreal. How could my baby girl be standing in front of me having her father lift her veil over her face and setting her hand into Jerods? Where did the time go? Now don't get me wrong, I am so happy and excited for them. It's just that it seems like yesterday that she was wanting me to help her put a wedding dress on her barbie doll. But on Saturday I was helping her get into her wedding dress.
I can't wait to get back the pictures from the photographer but here are a few that family were able to capture.

I will post more about it later, but wanted to share with you a little part of the day.



Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's good to be back from a very busy Summer!!

Hello dear blog friends,

I've missed you!! To say I have been busy is an understatement. Summer is usually a time of relaxing and no busy schedules. This last spring I had no idea what I would be doing this Fall and no idea how busy I would be during this past summer. The best I can do to explain is to just tell you what I've been up to each month. Hopefully I won't bore you but it's the only way. So here it goes.

May - On Mother's Day I hosted a brunch for both sides of the family. It was so great to have everyone here and the weather turned out to be cool but no rain. My Aunt and Uncle from Missouri were able to be here and it was so nice to visit with them.

I had an opportunity to preach one Sunday at my childhood church 3rd Presbyterian. It is always so nice to go "back home" to be with those who helped set this girl on her faith journey.

We celebrated the graduations of our neices, Emily and Lindsey. I can not believe that they are old enough to be heading off to college this Fall. They are beautiful young women and I am so proud of them.

June - June started out with going to Des Moines Iowa for 4 days to attend the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. What a wonderful time spent with hundreds of people who love the Lord and want the church to continue to grow and do the work of the Lord. I also got to room with my dear friend Valerie who at the time was the Associate Pastor at our church but was appointed July 1 to another church in a community 3 hours away.

3rd Presbyterian invited me to preach 2 Sundays in June with one of them being on Father's Day . What a great day! I had family there that had not heard me preach and it was a very special day. Part of my message was spent talking about my Dad and what he has taught me in my life. It was emotional but I made it through and my Dad gave me a huge hug at the end of the service.

On June 22nd my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Our 3 kids had a dinner party the Saturday before at a local restaurant with family and friends. It was a lovely evening and meant so much to us. I still can't believe it has been 25 years. It has not always been easy and Dave and I have grown up so much. But as I said that night to everyone "I wouldn't have missed a minute of it". I love my husband more today then the day we got married. I love his sense of humor, intelligence, support, strength, kindness, faith and love for his family. I pray that we are able to celebrate many more anniversaries together. God truly blessed me with Dave.

At the end of June I had to say goodbye to my friend Valerie. It was bittersweet as we celebrated her wedding to a wonderful man and wished her the best in her new church.

July - July brought 2 more Sundays of preaching at 3rd Pres and also chauffeuring our son to Drivers Ed classes. We celebrated my baby brother's 40th birthday and spent some time with my nieces from Montana who spend their summers with their Dad (my brother) and my sister-in-law.

August - August started off by saying goodbye to my nephew Sgt. Benjamin Handke as he left for Camp Shelby Mississippi. He will be deployed to Afghanistan in October. He is such a wonderful young man who is very strong in his faith and a great big brother to his sister Emily. I am so proud of him and pray that he will come home safely a year from now.

Kayla graduated from college and we were able to finally go on vacation to my parents cabin in Minnesota. It was a week of pure relaxation and fun. I was able to bike, swim, kayak and walk each day. Dave and I got up before everyone else each day and took the dog along with a cup of coffee to the dock and watched the beauty of God's creation. I've said it before but it truly is my very own "sanctuary". It is the most beautiful place on earth. One week just isn't enough but I am so blessed and thankful to be able to have a place like it to go to.

We celebrated my brother-in-laws 40th birthday and I was able to preach 2 Sundays at 3rd Pres and my brother who had never heard me preach before was able to be there for one of the Sundays.

I had to say goodbye to my sister Terri ,as she and her husband and little girl Aimee moved to Spearfish South Dakota. I've never been this far away from her and it is hard. She is the mother of Ben and her other daughter Emily started her freshman year at Iowa State.

Kayla's soon to be mother-in-law and my dear friend Sandy, gave her a beautiful bridal shower and our computer room is now filled with shower gifts.

September is now here and I am busy preparing for my Thursday evening Woman's Bible study that starts this Thursday and the One Day Women's Retreat that is on September 18th.

I am still trying to find my dress for the wedding and it is less than 4 weeks away. There is so much that still needs to be done for the wedding and I just keep praying that God will give me the patience and calmness that I need. The one thing I don't want to do is to get all caught up in the details and miss the experience of my daughter getting married.

Thankfully I was not asked to preach this month. I believe God knew that it would probably put me over the edge.

As you can see I was not appointed to a church. I spent May and June waiting but nothing happened and that is okay. I have said from the very beginning that when God is ready to open the door, there will be no obstacles in the way and I will have a place at a church.

I am still busy with my ministry and feel very called to continue in Women's Ministry. I have even felt that it is the area God wants me to be in. I just wake up every day asking God to use me in the way he sees fit and to open the doors to make it happen.

So there you have it. My summer in a nutshell. So how was your summer? Anything happen that you would like to share? Where did you go on vacation? Do you have a special place where you feel God's presence? I would love to hear from you.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Doing the "limbo" thing!

My life has been in limbo and I don't like the feeling. I've been on a journey over the last 4 years to be in ministry. My first thought was to have a bigger role as a lay person within my church and then I started to feel God calling me to do something even larger. I kept feeling the nudge to look into becoming a Local Pastor in the United Methodist Church. Maybe I shouldn't say nudge but call. Over the last 2 years that is the direction that I have felt led to go. I have taken all the steps, answered questions, taken tests and in November was declared a certified candidate for ministry. So what does that mean? Well, in the United Methodist Church it means that I am now on the list to be appointed to a church. And that is what has me feeling like my life is in limbo. I have felt like my life is in the hands of the Bishop and Cabinet of District Superintendents and not my own. Starting in January and February each year the Bishop and Cabinet start preparing and working towards setting up the appointments. If you are one waiting to hear, it can be a very stressful time until you receive a call. I have not received a call yet. You see, when you receive the call you have a decision to make. Do I take it or do I decline. If you take it then you meet with the church leaders and if everything looks and feels right, you have a church. Your life then has direction. You know where you are going and when it is happening. During the time of waiting for a call, your life is in limbo. It's hard to make plans for vacation. You're not sure if you should make decisions on doing anything in your church for the next program year because you're not sure if you are going to be there. It's a hard place to be. During this time my moods have been like a roller coaster ride. One minute I'm fine with not getting called and the next I'm upset. I started to question what it was God wanted me to do. Maybe my place is not in the pulpit but creating a stronger women's ministry at my church or maybe I need to look for other options in another denomination. I have had the most restless nights of sleep that I have had to take a Tylenol PM just to get a full nights sleep once in a while. It has been driving me crazy!! I have questioned myself and God and have not received any answers. That is until today.

Today as I sat at work I had an "Ah Ha" moment. Who am I to question God? Who am I to doubt what it is God has been working within me? Who am I to question myself and my abilities? Who am I to try and figure it out on my own and make decisions that may not benefit me and may go against God's plans?

God has a plan for me and even though I can't see the end result I shouldn't try and second guess him or myself. If I don't get called to be in the pulpit then it just means God has something else planned. Maybe God wants me to work a little bit more and fine tune what I have been doing. Maybe God is waiting to open another door that will result in something bigger and better than I ever thought possible. Maybe, just maybe God is in control and I'm not. "Wham", that's the thought that set my head spinning.

God is in control. The funny thing is, is that on Sunday I preached at my church I grew up in, giving them God's message that he is in control. That we are not to worry or be anxious about anything but instead we should spend that time in prayer. It was a message from Philippians 4:1-9. It is a great passage and this "pastor to be" should have been listening to her own words. Sometimes the one who needs to hear it the most is the one speaking the words. God has quite the sense of humor!!!!

So I sit here waiting, but not in limbo. I'm going to go about my days doing what I normally do. I'll look at new Bible studies. I'll read the books I purchased on how to develop a strong Women's Ministry. I'll fill in at the pulpit for other churches. I'll research new material for next year's women's retreat. What I will not do is worry or question God. I will not spend anymore time trying to decipher what it is I am suppose to do. I won't spend time looking at the calendar and planning alternate vacation dates. I will set the date and plan our vacation to Little Blueberry Lake. I will live my life each day knowing that God is the Master Designer of my life and I will stand in the presence of his mighty hand as he directs the stars, paints the most beautiful colors across the universe and prepares for me a journey worth waiting for.


Friday, April 9, 2010

God's Pop Quiz!

For the past few days I have been studying the book of "Titus". Reading it's words, contemplating them in my head and praying that I can live out these words in my everyday life. On Thursday God decided to give me a little "Life" pop quiz. You see, the book of Titus (written by Paul and for his "true son in common faith", Titus) gives us instructions on how to live our lives, in the church and outside of the church. He instructs us to not be overbearing, not quick-tempered, but to be hospitable, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He goes on and instructs us to be mentors to the young, to show integrity and to be fully trusted.

On Thursday I failed God's pop quiz. Dreadfully failed it with a big fat "F" as a parent.

Thursday started out with the sun shining and the wind not blowing at 50 miles per hour. As I gazed out our front picture window I thanked God for what looked like a beautiful day ahead of me. I showered, did my hair, make-up and put on a freshly pressed blouse. I have to admit that when I looked in the mirror I was very happy with what I saw. I felt great! And to top it off, I had a hair appointment that I was looking forward to going to. I hadn't seen my "real" beautician in quite sometime and was in desperate need of a good cut. I had hurriedly gone to a less expensive establishment a couple of times and had even on one of those occasions got the bright or not so bright idea to get bangs. I now realize I was hormonal at the time and was not of sound mind. My "real" beautician would have realized that.

My husband had already left to attend an all day conference and my daughter had left for her morning class. Our son was lazily lying in bed as I said goodbye, grabbed my purse and bag and headed to my van. When I opened the door the sound of beeping started to go off and I noticed that the spare key had been left in the ignition. My son the previous night had pulled the van into the garage for me. He has his permit and is always looking for a chance to drive one of the vehicles. I took out the spare, put in my key and turned the ignition. Nothing. Only the click, click noise of a van that did not want to start. And then I saw it. The inside lights had been left on all night. At this point I have to admit I could feel the temperature rising within me. I tried again and nothing. I got out of the van, stomped up the stairs and stood in the doorway of my son's room. This is where I failed. Instead of having self-control, staying calm and turning this into a learning experience as a mentor to a young person, I yelled. "You left the key in the ignition and the lights on and now my van won't start". "What were you thinking?". How am I going to get to work?" And most importantly, "How am I going to get to my hair appointment?" I stomped down the stairs called my husband but he didn't pick up. I yelled the same questions again to no one in particular, grabbed my stuff and headed out the front door. I was walking to work. Thankfully we only live 6 blocks away. After 2 blocks I looked down to notice I had on my black dress shoes and my feet were already starting to hurt. I was not turning back. I kept going, thinking the walk would give me time to calm down. It didn't. By the time I got to work, I was sweating, my hair had fallen and my feet hurt! It was not one of my finer moments.

An hour later my daughter called and offered to let me borrow her car in the afternoon for my hair appointment. Relieved I wouldn't miss my appointment I accepted her offer. But as the day went on, I felt increasingly terrible for the way I handled the situation. Here I had been studying the Word and praying to live it out and I failed at the first opportunity to do it. I could have shown my son how to react in a godly way, but I chose to let my emotions take over and turned into the mom I work very hard not to be. The "freak out", "jump to conclusions", "hot tempered" awful mom.

When I arrived home later, I apologized to my son and he apologized for leaving the lights on and he and his dad left to go purchase a new battery. All was well and yet God's words kept coming back to me. God had given me a test and although I failed, I learned a lot too. I learned that although I am not perfect, God forgives me and I am a work in progress. I learned that just because I failed this time, I will hopefully not react in the same way the next time. I learned that my son loves me and a dead battery only stops your car from going, not your life.


Friday, April 2, 2010

How did we get here?

Today is Good Friday. How did we get here? Wasn't it just yesterday we were celebrating the birth of our King? The snow was blowing and the wind was howling and we were unwrapping Christmas gifts and eating cookies and drinking hot cocoa. How did we get here? The days dragged on through January with cold winter nights and icy roads. We huddled under quilts and blankets and watched the snow fly. How did we get here? February brought promise with Ash Wednesday and Lent began. In March we started to feel the warmth of the sun and we started to prepare for the arrival once again for the King, only this time he was riding on a donkey alone while people spread palm branches and coats in front of him. How did we get here? We gathered last evening for our Kings last supper. We listened, prayed and ate of the bread and drank of the wine. We sang of what was going to happen. And today came. We woke this morning to cloudy skies and drops of rain but by midday the sun came out and the wind began to blow. And today came. This evening we will gather to sing the song "Were You There?" and we will pray. Tears will appear in some of our eyes as we think of our King on the cross. Beaten and hung with nails in his wrists and nails in his feet. Nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns on his head. Blood soaked and pierced with a sword in his side. And today came. Today came with a promise. A promise of a new day. A day that will be filled with joy and the sounds of trumpets blowing. A day that will be filled with the promise of love and forgiveness to all of the broken. And today came so that we may have the gift of eternal life with our King.

"Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the scripture record might also be complete, then said, "I'm thirsty." A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done...complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit." (John 19:28-30 The Message).


Friday, March 26, 2010

A Very Proud Aunt!

My niece Emily is a senior in high school and will be off to college this next Fall. When she was a baby I babysat her for the first few months of her little life. She has been a loving, funny, intelligent beautiful child and I am very proud to be her Aunt Jill. She has always had a special place in my heart. A few weeks ago she invited me to come and listen to her give a special talk to a group of young people who are part of T.E.C (Teens Encountering Christ). This afternoon I was privileged enough to listen to her speak to this group of high school age kids. She spoke on how her parents divorce had affected her relationship with her Mom (my sister) and how for a few years she could not get over everything that had happened. She talked about how she had loved her family the way it was and how she didn't understand why her world was falling apart and why God was letting it happen. How could she? She was in 6th grade and most of us couldn't understand, and we were adults. She spoke from the heart with her Mom and her Dad sitting there, how it had completely devastated her and how angry she was at her Mom. She was brought up going to church and Sunday school and knowing who God was. But the divorce stirred something inside of her that she didn't understand. She was not only mad at her Mom but she was mad at God. She said she would put on this happy face when in reality she was angry. But God is good and never gives up on us. In January of this year something happened to her while participating in a T.E.C weekend. God stirred something inside of her and her eyes were opened and the anger went away. She felt God working within in her and she walked away from that weekend a changed person. She spoke so eloquently, with courage, strength and faith that most adults don't have. My eyes were filled with tears as I watched this beautiful young woman tell her faith story with poise and grace. As she was surrounded by her family, friends and peers she was also surrounded by God. She spoke of God's never ending love for us. How God gave his only Son for us, so that we could be free.
This young woman touched the hearts of those young people this afternoon and when it was over 3 of them spoke to her about their own struggles when their parents divorced and how her talk had spoken to them. They were changed too. There has been a fire ignited inside of her that glows from the inside out and she is not afraid to tell those around her how it happened and what God can do. I am so very proud of her! I pray that God will continue to work within her. That he will continue to give her the strength, grace and courage to face the challenges that will be put before her as she grows from a young woman into an adult. I pray that she will always know she is loved. I pray that she will feel God's warm embrace and the comfort of his healing touch. I pray that she will be able to tell her story so that it may help others who are struggling with the choices that they have made or the choices that others have made. May God continue to bless Emily today and always.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Birthday To Me!!

Happy Birthday to Me!! I think it's okay to say Happy Birthday to yourself? I don't say it to "toot my own horn" but it is a marvelous day when you reach another birthday. I'm 45 today and feel very blessed that I have not had any major health issues in my life. I've watched friends go through cancer treatments, surgeries and chronic health concerns over the past few years. I thank God everyday for my health but I am always aware that it could change in a flash. So I'm not taking this birthday for granted. I'm still walking this earth for a reason and I know that God knows what that is. It's this journey that I am on and every morning it starts with that first step when I leave my warm, comfy, cozy bed. It's the journey that helps me get through each day praising God and trying my hardest to love my neighbor (every neighbor). My wish for this next year is to walk on the path that God is leading me on. Making every day count. I want the people that I meet to see Jesus in me. His loving, non-judgmental, forgiving, patient presence.
May your next birthday bring you good health, God's presence and the reassurance of God's forgiving, non-judging, loving presence in your life as well.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm back with the robins!

I know, it has been almost 2 months since I have written on this blog. I'm not sure if it was the weather or just being very busy that I barely had time to sit and read the blogs that I like to follow. Anyway I am back. Partly because I have some wonderful news to share. Drumroll please......I saw my first Robin of spring this morning!!!!!!!!! I go crazy this time of year looking to find my first robin. As I drive I am scouting out the yards while trying hard not to hit the cars parked along the side of the street. I heard a rumor that a couple people had spotted one in the last two weeks so I knew they were around and today was the day. Right there in the middle of three squirrels running in our neighbors yard, stood a big fat orange breasted robin. Luckily I was at a stop sign so I was able to adjust my eyes, blink a few times and take a long look. A robin. A beautiful orange breasted robin standing and staring right back at me as if to say, "Hello. Have you missed me?"
We have had the longest winter on record. The snow started to fall before Christmas and didn't stop until mid February. And then the cold, colder, coldest winds blew in and everything just froze still. Over the last couple of weeks the snow has slowly been melting away and the green grass is finally apprearing. A friend of mine even has tulips popping up alongside her home. We have had huge flocks of geese overhead flying northward. But the sun has not shone it's lovely face for quite some time. That is until this afternoon. By 2pm it poked it's face around a cloud and spread it's rays over the sky. What a beautiful sight.
It is spring. Beautiful, beautiful spring. And yes I know we could get a few more flakes even by this weekend, but today it is spring and I am enjoying every wonderful minute of it. Praise be to God for this wonderful gift of rebirth and renewal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hope and Love

It has now been 10 days since the earthquake shook, destroyed and crippled the small country of Haiti. I have been trying to get my head wrapped around all of the images and stories that have been coming out of the devastation. Some days I just look up towards heaven and quietly say, "Why?" Other days the tears just begin to fall and my heart aches with a pain that is so intense I am unable to understand. I watch the news reports and cry with joy when a child or an adult is pulled from the rubble and is breathing, talking or stretching their arms towards the sky. The images are so clear, so raw and yet I feel so far away from the reality of life in Haiti. I'm just one person who lives in Iowa and wonders what can I do? How can I help? Where do I begin?

So I pray and pray and pray and place my offering for Haiti in the plate on Sunday. And again I ask myself, "What can I do?" I pray again and again and again and this Sunday I will put more money in the offering plate designated towards Haiti. I am just one person with a heart full of hope and love for all of those affected by the earthquake, here and there. I know that my prayers are heard and my money is used. I might not be able to go but God has sent those who can. I may not be able to purchase the supplies and place them on a plane but God has directed the people that can. I might not be able to take in an orphan but God has placed it on the hearts of those who will. My prayers may seem small and my money a drop in the bucket of what is needed. But my God will take all of those prayers and they will make a difference and my money will be put with all of the other money and it will buy the supplies, food, water and will rebuild a country that will one day flourish and I know this, because my God is LOVE!

If you would like to give but are unsure where to send your money. Go to And click on UMCOR Advance #418325 give now. The United Methodist Committee On Relief is a great organization that will use your money for the purpose of buying supplies, food,water and more for those in Haiti. They have teams of people in Haiti right now who are helping those in need. If you go to their website it has updates and information on what they are doing in Haiti.

May the God of love bless you and your loved ones today.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Lovely Day

Today was just a good day! Kayla and Andrew both had to work and because I cleaned the house yesterday, Dave and I got to just hang out. We don't get to do that very often, so today was so nice. After returning two Christmas presents to the store and making a trip to the Christian bookstore (I purchased another study Bible) we headed off to Barnes & Nobles to have a coffee and read magazines. Two hours of chatting, sipping a cinnamon dolce latte and looking at magazines is a real treat. Especially without any kids interrupting. Dave and I actually had an adult conversation. You know the kind; discussing current events or insights into what one of us had read and sharing opinions and questions. It was wonderful. Thank you God for such a lovely day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Better Late Then Never

This evening I finally got around to doing my Christmas cards. I know, Epiphany was yesterday and in the "real" world Christmas is over, but I knew that if I didn't get them done it would drive me mad. I had already written the Christmas letter and made copies so all I had to do was sign the card, slip the letter inside, stuff both into the envelope and address the envelope. While going through my address book I realized that so many of the people in my book have since gone to reside in heaven. After I got done with the cards I decided to get out my new day planner/address book and put the names of those who are still with us into it. It made me sad looking at all of those who have already gone ahead of me. So many of my relatives and a few friends.

Life is short here on earth. We aren't given much time and the time that we are given we seem to waste with petty problems that escalate into major drama in our lives. Why is that? Why do we gravitate toward the drama and slink away from the peace? Maybe because we see so much of it on television? The news, reality shows, movies, even commercials are filled with drama. But so much of it is not the big drama, it's the little drama. Big drama to me is a tragedy, a death, a car accident, war, a child disappears, a family breaks up. But it's the little dramas that have everyone so out of control. The "he said she said" statements, name calling, a misunderstood look, giving your opinion or advice and finding it wasn't wanted even though it was asked for, too much money, not sharing, not giving, being over weight or under weight, the clothes that you wear, the house you live in, or the car that you drive, someone hooking up with someone.... I could go on and on. What does this say about our world?

Have we become a world of me, me, me? Do you remember the old coca cola commercial where all of those people are standing together, holding hands, drinking a bottle of coke and singing, "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...."? I love that commercial and I wish they would play it again or even remake it. Isn't that who we are to be? Isn't that how God wants us to be? Standing together, all different races, colors, languages, ages, male, female, young and old? Sharing a smile, a laugh and a song?

But maybe that's what heaven is like? Wouldn't it be nice if we had a little heaven mentality here on earth? Just something to think about.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Fast That Didn't Last

Last evening I had to make the decision that my 21 day fast was not going to be completed. After 2 days of feeling sluggish, cold and having a major headache I decided that I would not be able to keep going. I believe it has a lot to do with the weather that we have been receiving since Christmas. The temperature has dipped down to between -20 and -30 degrees below zero and the snow continues to fall. We are in the depths of winter and I think that the physical body is unable to deal with a fast in sub-zero weather. I feel that God was speaking to me yesterday and telling me that it would be okay to experience it when the temperatures rise and that is what I am doing. I'm finding that I am still having that deep connection to God regardless of abstaining from food. The snow which caused our Christmas eve services to be cancelled has hit again tonight and the first Wednesday evening activities of the New Year were cancelled as well due to blizzard warnings throughout the evening. With not much else to do except to watch football or read, I am spending much of my time reading his Word and journaling. This is one of the hardest winters we have had in a very long time. We have almost 30 inches of snow on the ground and it makes for slippery and treacherous driving and with the bitter cold you find yourself not going out of your home at night. I find it refreshing and a saving grace. It has forced myself and others to slow down. Our driving, walking and activities have all gone down to a snails pace and it is good. The weeks leading up to Christmas found most of us running around and trying to complete task after task. Sure we usually slow down for a few days between Christmas and New Years but then it is back to the "rat race". The snow has changed everything and for that I am grateful. A few days before Christmas I told my husband that I would like to have just 5 days of nothing to do. Just nothing to do and no one making me feel guilty for not doing anything. God has answered my prayers plus so much more. He has blanketed the earth with snow and has given me a lot of down time to reflect on all of the blessings that I do have. Like heat, electricity, a home, a car that starts every morning, food that I can turn into comforting meals for my family, time spent with my family and time, lots of time. I pray that everyone will be able to experience a little God given down time too this winter.


Monday, January 4, 2010

21 Day Fast

Last year during Holy Week I experienced my first time with fasting. I had been wanting to try this spiritual discipline and so with a lot of thought and prayer, I decided that Holy Week would be a good time. It was an awesome experience. It took every bit of strength to go that week with only liquids to fill my stomach. But it was well worth it. I developed a deeper and greater relationship with my Heavenly Father. By the time Easter morning came I felt open and raw. My emotions were fresh and my mind was clear.

I decided that I would fast again. So over the past few months I have been thinking about when I should. While in the Christian book store after Christmas I came across a book by Jentezen Franklin titled "Fasting". Jentezen is the pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia. He explains in the book that for a few years he fasted for the first 21 days of each year. He found that it made the year start with an opportunity to develop a closer to relationship with God. The relationship became more intimate and powerful. He then felt called to share this with his congregation and so now some from his congregation have started to fast the first 21 days of the year too. They begin on the first Sunday after January 1st. I liked this concept. Starting off the year fasting and in prayer with God.

Due to a family commitment yesterday, I started my 21 day fast today. Just like during Holy Week my family is trying to grasp what I am doing. My husband worries that I will get sick and my son wonders if it means I won't fix supper. I reassure them that everything will be fine. I drink a lot of water, tea, juice, milk and broth based soups. There will be many times that I will be around food, but I know that God will be right there with me. Jesus says that there are 3 things we are to do, give, pray and fast. If Jesus can fast for 40 days with the devil constantly tempting him, I can fast for 21 days. It will be a challenge, but what I have learned in my 44 years is that no matter what you do or don't do, life is going to throw you challenges. But with God I can make it through anything.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Packing Up Memories

Today my husband and I took down and put away all the Christmas decorations. What a job! I don't remember it being so bad putting it all up? I guess the excitement of Christmas makes it a lot more fun. When we got to the tree, I wasn't prepared for how sad it would be to separate our daughter Kayla's ornaments from all the others. This was her last Christmas she will be spending at our home. Next year she and Jerod will be married and putting their first Christmas tree up in their first home and all of those beautiful ornaments will hang on their tree. Ballerinas, princesses, cheerleaders, etc... will be missing from our tree. Another box of ornaments packed up and ready to hang on a different tree. When I packed up our oldest daughters ornaments I cried too. All those years of watching them pick out that special ornament. So many memories and a virtual scrapbook of what they were interested in that particular year. Each has their name and year that it was purchased on it.

This new year will again bring changes and learning to adapt to another child beginning a new life away from this home. Change is good. Change helps us grow. But it is those growing pains that hurt so much.

I'm excited for the new life that she will be starting. Being able to watch her become a married woman is gift. This year I will find myself reflecting on all of those years that she was just our little girl. But I am so happy to know that this year there will be many new memories that will be made between mom and daughter as we share these last few months before she is married.



Friday, January 1, 2010

Exciting Anticipation!!

A new year brings an excitement of anticipation for me. What will this year bring? Where will I be a year from today? What new journeys will God direct me to? What challenges will I face? These are questions I ask myself every January 1st. This year is no exception. 2009 was filled with challenges, changes, tears and joy filled moments. In 2009 my husband started a new job, our oldest daughter left a bad relationship and moved back to our city, our son decided to be home schooled, our second daughter got engaged and I graduated from the School of Lay Ministry and became a certified candidate for ministry. Our family has worked through and overcome some very difficult challenges that have followed us for five years (we are still working through them but there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel that we can see). While working at our church I have had to say goodbye to a few members this past year who have gone to live with Jesus. As 2009 came to an end I am so excited for what 2010 will bring to us. We will watch our daughter graduate from college and then walk down the aisle to marry a wonderful young man. Our son will begin his last year of high school and decide what he will be doing after he graduates. I may have an opportunity to be appointed as a pastor to a church this year. My husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. These are blessings that God has given to us, but it will be the challenges that we will face that will make us stronger. These will be the moments that I will face with the knowledge that God will help us through. I know in my heart that God will carry us through and when I call out his name he will comfort me, guide me, sustain me and redeem me. These are the reasons that I am excited for the new year.
Resolutions are a big part of starting a new year, but not for me. Resolutions usually bring disappointment. How many of us ever completely fulfill the resolutions we make. For me I like to set little goals. My goals for 2010 are to continue to try and be a better person everyday I am on this earth. To not get dragged into all of the drama that everyone around me creates. To not let the little things get to me. To create more peace in my life, work and home. To judge less and love more. To relax more and enjoy the little moments that God creates for me.
I will not look back on 2009 and say "I wish I would have" or "If I could go back I would...". I will look forward to 2010 and thank God for everyday that I wake up and thank God for everyday that I can lay my head on my pillow and go to sleep.
My wish for 2010 to all of my family and friends is that God will give you much love, laughter, joy, peace and all of the strength that you will need to face the challenges in 2010.
Happy New Year and God bless,