Friday, November 25, 2011

Praying in Public

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and it was a wonderful day. It started out a little tough as I didn't realize that the pain of my parents divorce and the fallout from that had been bubbling up to the surface for a few days and it was coming to a head. This year I wasn't going to bury it - I had done that for 15 years. Fortunately, I have a fantastic husband who gave me some space to take a little time to myself to process it. All he asked in return was that I bring him a latte.:-) And Starbucks was open to help me with that!

I think things came to a head because I wasn't seeing anyone from my own biological family this year. A true blessing! Really? Does she not like her family or what??? No, I love my family, but healing is always good - no matter how initially painful it is. Normally we try to juggle family visits and that can be a challenge, but I was ok doing that so we could see as many of our loved ones as possible. This year I was not seeing either of my parents or our oldest child even. It literally felt like my heart was breaking into pieces. I am extremely grateful for my husband's family and that they've loved me as one of their own. And grateful for the many, many ways we are blessed, so I knew this difficulty would be temporary. I just had to let it hurt a bit and take it to the One who heals it all and let Him comfort me.

I got to Starbucks and sat down at a table by the window. I love coffee shops and am completely at home by myself sipping my beverage of choice, having a chat with God (in my head of course!). I overheard a man near me having a conversation on his cell phone with his father, who was flying somewhere. At the end of his conversation he ended with "I love you dad". I took note that there was something different about the man because dad seemed to be complaining about things. He was very patient. And not many people end conversations in public these days the way he did. At least I haven't witnessed it. It took me a little deeper into my pain because in my family we end our conversations the same way. That was not a bad thing. The man walked toward the front counter and I didn't think much more about it. I was pondering, and I heard a man behind me praying with his little one, thanking God for their food. When I got up, I noticed it was the man from the phone conversation. Their praying was like music to my ears. I often wonder what people think when Dennis and Faith and I pray in public. I suppose there are mixed reactions. On this particular day, their prayers were a special gift to me. I was comforted because I knew I could turn around and talk with these people. If I wanted to, I probably could've asked them to pray with me and they would've gladly done it. And to hear him just felt like God wrapping Himself around me. It made me think about who is really listening when we pray in public. It may not just be the person who doesn't yet know God. It may be the brother or sister who desperately needs to feel His touch.

Monday, October 10, 2011

What does our dog have in common with God?

We have an old golden retriever named Reeses and a new puppy named Jewelz. Jewelz is very much like the little girl (our daughter Faith) who picked her out - feisty and full of energy! A couple of days ago, while I was trying to pray and have a little time with God (at about 5:30am!), Faith and Jewelz were both up and Jewelz wanted attention. Faith was sitting on my lap and Jewelz was barking and barking at us to pick her up and give her some love. Our golden retriever proceeded to position himself between us and Jewelz, following her every move, until she calmed down and gave up the chase. He was very gentle with her but held his position. He outweighs and outranks her by about 75 pounds and 10 years. He could've easily showed her who's boss and probably put an end to her persistent pursuit with a stern growl or a gentle nip. He didn't even do that. He just moved with her as she tried to find a way to get around him and reach us. I imagined God's protection of us to be similar. In fact Jesus has already done what Reeses was doing. He has put Himself between us and everything that would harm us, including sin and death. Thank you Lord for your son.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heaven on Earth

I was preparing a sermon and ended it with "Jesus gift is for now, not someday. Will you accept it?" And I don't know where that came from. I'm going to say God's spirit, living in me, because my brain did not think that up. On my own I would've preached Jesus' gift and I wouldn't have thought of the gift being for today. I would've thought of it for someday, when our physical bodies die. Isn't that the prize - eternal life (after this one) that we're all seeking? The good life, the best life, is for later, when our physical bodies return to the dust.

Mom and I have been talking alot about heaven on earth. She got to be in the presence of Jesus some years ago and He told her she'd see heaven on earth. Can you imagine? She said she has held onto that for many years. What a promise! And if it's from Jesus, you can take it to the bank. It's good as gold and that which He has promised will come to pass. Psalm 100:5

I did a google search of what heaven on earth is and the results were pretty scary. Lots of new age, some political musing, lots of everything except a Christian perspective which indicates to me that the enemy has successfully robbed us of this precious gift.

Unity? Us in Him, Him in the Father, All of us in one another. Heaven on earth. Amen

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Hope Chest Revelations

I am at mom's for the "official" opening of The Hope Chest and so much has become clear in the last couple days. This is definitely not a bookstore the way we understand bookstores because we're not selling anything. It's also not a library because we're not lending anything. It's a gift that we believe God wants to give this community to demonstrate His amazing love to them. He extended the invitation, He inspired the ideas, we just agreed to be the helpers and what a privilege! You know, He is the God of the Universe, who spoke all this into existence. He could've spoke this place and this place could've appeared instantaneously complete. Instead, He allowed us to be a part of it, allowed us to create in it, and gave us an awesome gift. The books are plentiful, the space and mom's yard is beautiful, and we are ministered to as well as we get to minister. I'm sure if you asked mom, she'd share the same sentiment. Partnering with God to create this has been as much gift to us as it has been for the community. And for two years she got to enjoy the little slice of heaven on the back of the house, almost entirely to herself.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm[b]— my great army that I sent among you." Joel 2:25

Crazy things have been happening in the midst of God's crazy love. I have been waiting, probably a year, to see God's hand move in regards to our mortgage situation. He revealed to me, in a particularly wonderful time of prayer and worship, that fraud had been committed and He showed me how He would remedy it. If you've read earlier posts, you know the amazing things He has already done here in regards to sparing us from foreclosure. That is all God my friends. There is no human who could do that on their own. Not with the cards so horribly stacked against us. Soli deo Gloria - all for His Glory, once again!

Yesterday God gave us a precious gift through my mother-in-law. It was a simple card rack and I don't know that she can begin to understand what it meant. It was beautiful. This card rack was white, pure, clean and new and I didn't catch the symbolism of that until just now. Weird to describe it that way and you probably wouldn't see what the big deal is about it. Seeing it brought back memories of all we had gone through in this house. All the pain, all the struggle, all the heartache. We had owned card racks just like it when we were attempting to turn the house into a scrapbook retreat to bring money in. Memories of losing my Tupperware business came flooding in. I've come to realize that in that situation, satan had stolen my joy and I had believed lies and that's what destroyed my ability to want to keep going. I loved that business and I was good at it. God had blessed my efforts and it was easy. I came to feel like I was trapped there because I "had to" keep working it to pay the mortgage. I believed my Tupperware income was saving our house. Ha! That was a big fat lie. God was and is and always has been our Provider. And now with the card rack, God was telling us that He was going to "give back all that the locusts had eaten". God is a complete circle. I cried tears of sadness for the losses and I cried tears because God's goodness is so overwhelming, all at the same time. It's crazy how beauty and pain can coexist in the same space. He doesn't have to do a thing for us and over and over again He does. He is the God of the impossible and a generous giver.

Friday, June 24, 2011

God's Gifts Are All Good

Our weekend away was to a prayer cabin in Wisconsin. While we were there, Dennis and I both sensed a move to Siren in our future. We also both got from God that Dennis would be quitting his job and we've been desiring to home school Faith for some time. She is extremely bright and extremely sensitive. We think she could benefit greatly from more experiential learning than traditional school can offer. With Dennis at home, she'd have an exceptional teacher. Dennis has wanted to live on a lake for as long as we've been together and Siren is literally surrounded by lakes. You'd have to try hard not to live on a lake :) I'm kidding of course but if you know Siren, you know what I'm talking about. We both felt like God was offering us the gift of our dream life. And thinking of Dennis and the move to Siren, homeschooling Faith, our lives together as missionaries, ministers, business partners. The Hope Chest, mom and me, and the other things whirling around in our lives, how can one not see the Glory of our God?

God is a complete circle

I don't fully comprehend what the title of this post means but I am trusting that I will someday. Maybe you will too :-)

Mom is here and as always it is a joyous occasion. It's not joy as one might have when they are expecting their first child. It's a much quieter joy that makes the days great. We are on the verge of opening The Hope Chest (the date set is next Saturday the 1st of July which is July 4th weekend) and I am happy we are together as God has been laying on our hearts to be praying daily. The enemy is strong but he is a defeated foe! Amen. Nothing good happens in this world without God and thankfully He made a way through Christ for us to have the direct connect with Him of prayer. Isn't He amazing? Anyway, it's interesting to see how God has brought mom here on this weekend before opening instead of us going there. She said she knows it's a time of relaxation and renewal and in our experience He seems to do that before a new project. "I will take my children into the wilderness and there I will speak tenderly to them. I will restore their fruitfulness and turn their valley of trouble into a door of hope." Hosea 2:14-15a He is so very good to us.

I was reading through the first two posts of this blog about The Hope Chest and so many things are coming to mind. It feels like it's been a long journey. Only two years really but so much has happened and changed. It feels like the growth in our lives has been at the speed of light, which could only happen by God's grace. It took mom and I about 6 months to a year to recover from the hurt around not opening. And then another year to grow into this amazing sisters-in-Christ relationship we have. It's been utterly painful and absolutely beautiful and everything in between in that stretch. God is bringing to completion a number of things in our lives. I actually rejoined Tupperware, maybe to begin again more intelligently, maybe to be able to end in victory? Maybe just because while I was in I had a sense that this is what God made me for? I have no clue, but it feels so odd to have so many things coinciding. I left Tupperware as God was making the invitation to open The Hope Chest. That decision came after months of praying that God would change my heart about not wanting to do it anymore, and I believe I had given Him full access to my heart to do that, and He didn't. Then The Hope Chest didn't open and we were without a church home, which still I perceive as one of the worst times since I've become a Christian. And then we decided to join the Maranatha family the weekend we didn't open The Hope Chest. And now a sense for both Dennis and I of a new mission field. And the question came "Will we be leaving Maranatha too?" Thank you Father that you are always with us.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Chains Are Gone

I've been set free... My God, my Savior has ransomed me.

Dennis and I went to counseling together this past Tuesday and Dennis lovingly shared that he felt I had a problem with authority. The pastor at our church that I am closest to also indicated that. I believed him when he said it, but I couldn't immediately see how it was working in my life so I prayed for God to show me and He answered. When I saw it, I was in shock - a GREAT shock, but a shock no less. And for the second time in a couple months I have been set free of something that has had me in bondage for years. Gone were the days of not being able to hold a job. Gone were the days of starting out loving and respecting the authority figures in my life and ultimately being so afraid of them that it would turn to dislike. Gone were the days of condemnation and fear being allowed to run wild in my mind. Gone was the victim mentality. And in this process, God reminded me of a prayer I had prayed and how dropping all these chains was an answer to that prayer. Recently I had asked Him to show me why some people are so joyous in their conversion experience that they want to go and tell the whole world. I wanted to see for myself because it wasn't like that for me. And even now it wasn't that all chains dropped at once, but it is happening so fast really. I am so grateful to God I don't feel like I have words to accurately describe the depth of it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Seeing the Big Picture

Dennis and I are looking forward to a weekend away after about a year and a half of full-time mommy and daddy duty. This is a very exciting prospect for us and our destination is a surprise to Dennis. I am extra excited because I not only know the destination for the weekend, I get to see the pieces falling into place before we get there and I am sensing that God is working toward a beautiful change in our lives. I don't think Dennis has a clue how much bigger this is than just a weekend away because he can't see the whole picture. Even I can't see the big picture, I just see a little more than he does. I believe this is how it is with God and our lives. He has such amazing, wonderful plans for us and we see a fraction of it. Like my husband in our weekend get-away, all we know is there's a destination that sounds great.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Hope Chest Update

Mom has been feeling nudges from God to open the bookstore. It's so exciting! God can open that bookstore, with or without mom, but I'm praying she does it. If you've been a Christian awhile and have a one on one relationship with God where you speak to Him and you know He communicates back, you know that you don't want to miss an opportunity to partner with Him in His work. It is such a tremendous blessing.

God's Money Management Strategy

A year and a half ago, Dennis and I both sensed that we should tithe, which means give 10% of our income, off the top, to our church. One of the lessons we had learned during our financial management classes was that of giving. We were told "you've got to give" and it wasn't like they were saying "you've got to give to the church". They were just saying "you've got to give". That didn't seem to make sense since we couldn't pay our mortgage but we listened and obeyed. When we felt we should start giving 10%, the numbers REALLY did not add up. All of 2010 our budget was by faith. We'd give the 10% and on paper we'd have a budget deficit of about $200-$300 every time. Only by the grace of God, we made it. He didn't always balance the budget by checks in the mail. Those are lovely testimonies and God does do that. That actually happened for us one time and the money was meant to pay for my school. But if you hear too many of those testimonies, you might get the impression that that is the only way God can work with people in their finances. Sometimes He brought work. Sometimes He brought insight into what we could cut or who we could talk to. Sometimes it was a tip from someone at church on how to save money, like when a friend referred us to Pocket Your Dollars, a website on how to spend less for groceries. Sometimes, like when our daughter needed dental surgery and we had to come up with a large sum up front, the answer was not to tithe. We prayed over ever single paycheck that God would help us be good stewards and guide us to the way to make it work and He did.

I was reminded of this because I'm revisiting the Experiencing God study and the first page of the workbook talks about operating a budget on prayer. The study says that when you do that, "you are attempting something only God can do." That's very true. And Dennis and I have been feeling like God is moving us to start giving 10% and saving 10%. So far we haven't taken the leap of faith that we know works. We've been trying to make the numbers work, in our own strength and with our own minds, and we don't pray over the budget like we used to. I think it's time we start again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


God has been so very good to me. He has taken me to and through many things. And he has given me just enough of a taste of some very interesting life experiences to understand how people live but I have not had to live entirely in those spaces. One example is homelessness. My husband and I both lost our jobs at one point about 8 years ago and we sold our home and moved in with my husband's parents. At one point my mother-in-law tried to talk with us about our situation and I ended up leaving and refusing to return. I lived in my car for a week. Because of that I understand some of the thought processes that can result in someone becoming homeless but I didn't live on the streets for years and years.

Yesterday I went to see a therapist about depression. I came home diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and feeling FREE. I had never really seriously considered PTSD as a possibility for me because in our culture it's associated with soldiers going to war and suffering as a result of the horrific things they witness or have to do. I figured what happened in my childhood was nowhere near that. I was wrong. Once I knew that I was "normal" and that what happens inside of me on a day to day basis is a result of something, I began to accept myself as I am. What would life be like now that I wasn't trapped in this little box that says "You are deficient, you are broken, you are operating below your potential and you'll never be "normal", you are....., why can't you just...." and so many other ways my thoughts abused me relentlessly. In an hour I had explanations for so many troubling things throughout my life and new tools to help me heal. Now I was ok, now I was "normal", now I WAS UNLEASHED to live the life God had always intended for me. And a light bulb went off. With a PTSD diagnosis and treatment, I can help the homeless. I am certain that many, many homeless people suffer from this.