27 February 2010

Catching my breath - quick update

Luggage - found and returned unharmed

Laundry - washed and almost all dry

Notes completed for tomorrow morning's message

Speaking on Hope in Christ

Prayer for His Spirit to rest upon my lips continues

and continues

and continues.....


26 February 2010

Unexpected gifts

The plan was to fly from Chicago to Winnipeg on Tuesday evening, stay overnight, do some shopping Wednesday in the city, and then drive home.

My brother and nephew drove us to the airport, avoiding the need for a taxi. We had checked in online and the luggage drop off line was short. The security check was surprisingly fast and smooth. Breathing sighs of relief and happy to be headed home, we walked to our departure gate.

While Rick was off finding us something cold to drink, I noticed on the info screen that they were looking for people who would voluntarily give up their seats and that interested parties should check with an agent for info about compensation. I mentioned this to Rick when he returned, Pepsi bottles in hand.

When a United employee appeared at the desk I went up and asked if they still needed volunteers. When he said they did, I asked what time the next flight would be. "9:54 tomorrow morning" he replied. He assured me we would have a seat on that flight. I asked what amount they were offering as compensation. $600.00 in travel vouchers. $600.00 ! I thought that was for the both of us, but he said it would be $600.00 for each of us.

"I'll go talk with my husband" I told the agent.

As I started to walk away from the desk he added "And we'll put you up in a hotel for the night too."

Rick agreed that it would be silly to pass on the offer, so back to the desk we went and spoke to another agent who took our names and said she would call us if they needed our seats. About fifteen minutes later, she printed out new boarding passes for the morning flight, handed us a voucher for the hotel, told us where to catch the shuttle and then placed a stack of eight $150.00 travel vouchers in my hand. $1200.00 good anywhere on United Airlines. We called the hotel in Winnipeg to cancel our reservation, saving that money as well, and set off to find the shuttle bus area.

At the hotel, I felt like Ree, the Pioneer Woman when she was on her book tour, taking pictures of her hotel rooms. I was glad Rick had his camera because it was a more luxurious hotel than we could have afforded to pay for.

Those of you who have been following my posts know it had been a difficult trip and I was so thankful that God would give us this indulgent gift.


Security and check in went smoothly in the morning, the plane departed only a bit later than scheduled. It seemed that God was teaching us to always be prepared for a course change, our plans are not in our own hands, but in His.

Now... if they would only find and return our luggage. I know that's in His hands as well, and I must trust that He will make sure they are here in time for me to wash and repack clothes for our next trip - leaving Tuesday.

25 February 2010

Sweetness of home

I am happy to report that I am home again. Sniffling, sneezing, and missing luggage, but filled with relief and the peace that only Jesus can provide. I was thrilled to fetch Faith from the boarding kennel and she seems quite happy to be home reclaiming her farmyard.

I need to listen to hear what the Lord would have me speak on this Sunday morning. I'm sensing a message on the hope of Christ, but not quite sure yet. Also, the call to Ninevah still rings in my spirit.

I have blogs to read and posts to write, but for now, I'm just trying to settle in for bit before we leave again next week for the Operation Mobilization - Get Ready Conference. This well could be a week of life changing dreams and plans for how God will direct the remainder of our days.


22 February 2010

Day of memorial

Today at 1 PM we will gather for the memorial service for my father. It feels like much longer than 4 days since he slipped away on Thursday, yet I know he had been slipping away for more than a decade.

I will speak this afternoon, on his behalf, asking to be remembered as he once was.

I know there will be tears. I pray there will be comfort.

I love you Dad.

20 February 2010

More than ready to worship

Tomorrow morning Rick and I will have the chance to gather with others at the church I used to attend when a brand new Christian, before I moved to Canada.

I am ready, so much more than ready to be among fellow believers. I ache to be with the body of Christ after much time of feeling like an alien within my family.

I thank the Lord that He has given me the hope of heaven. A hope that strengthens and sustains me. A hope that others in my family cannot comprehend.

In the morning I will lift my hands and sing His praises. I will meet with Him in worship. As I bless His name I will be refreshed and restored.

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 106:1 NIV

19 February 2010

Tears, memories and family time


My family will be gathering together this weekend to mourn and celebrate my father's passing from this life.

There will be a memorial service on Monday afternoon, and Rick and I will be making plans to return to our life back home Tuesday or Wednesday.

We cherish your prayers, your love and support. I can feel them in an almost tangible way.

16 February 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped - Support

As I walk through this time of trials with my family I struggle with stress, tension and moments of despair. As one that the Lord has chosen to pray on the behalf of others, my intercessory spirit tends to pick up the pain of others, and I can forget that it's not my own burden that I'm carrying.

Today I am unwrapping the blessing of having Rick with me on this visit. He not only loves me and prays for me, but he is often able to see more clearly than I can the spiritual dynamics taking place. He can then lead me back to the arms of my Father, for rest, restoration and refreshing.

Emily hosts us each week at Chatting at the Sky. Come join us and share what you're unwrapping today.


15 February 2010

Out of touch

We have arrived safely after our day of travel yesterday.

There will be little time for blogging while we are here dealing with all of the family health issues, but I will try to stop in and update whenever possible.

At all times and in all things, I must remember that God Is, Was and always will Be in control.

Your prayers are cherished.


13 February 2010

My Valentine


Today I sing praise to my God and King
He orchestrated a love beyond any I could imagine.
He knew what I needed and in His faithfullness brought Rick into my life.

I thought I'd want a valentine who would write for me
fancy poetry and prose
instead I have Rick who never fails to say he loves me
plain and simple and true
every day

I thought I'd want a valentine who would buy me flowers
instead I have Rick
who plants me a garden full

I thought I'd want a valentine for a season
instead I have Rick
for a lifetime

He is solid and loyal and strong in the Lord, the place my heart has found its home.

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [for love waved as a protecting and comforting banner over my head when I was near him].
Song of Solomon 2:4 Amplified


Ephesians 6:18 Saturdays - On Hold

Due to the need to travel down to the States, this series will be on hold for a couple of weeks.

Our prayers, of course, should always continue!

Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people). Ephesians 6:18 Amplified


12 February 2010

Flashback Friday - The love story continues

John DeereImage by chrissuderman via Flickr

It was a 3-1/2 hour ride from Winnipeg to Rick’s home town. We talked and laughed as if we had known each other all our lives and were continuing a conversation where we had left off. There was a comfort and familiarity between us that surprised us both.

Rick told me a story about his coworker trying to convince him that I was probably some weirdo who had undergone a sex change. While he was laughing, I turned to him, with quite suddenly a very serious look on my face.

“Oh rats! Now you know! I was hoping to keep it a secret.” I said sternly, but I couldn't maintain the serious expression and started to giggle, then chuckle, then laugh heartily.

“I'll have to check it out for myself then” Rick snickered.

“Not until we're married” I warned, wagging my finger at him “And by then it will be too late.”

The laughter felt wonderful, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. Joy filled the car. With the joy came the peace that only God could provide.

Every time Rick had to pause at a stop light he would lean over to kiss me. There was a new kind of thrill that moved through my blood, different than any man had caused before. If someone had asked me to describe it, I would not have had words. I simply knew that this was stronger, deeper, more right than any touch from my past.

Once we got away from the city, the highway narrowed to one lane each direction. There was very little traffic. It was unusually warm for so early in May as if God had shifted weather patterns to make for an enjoyable day of traveling. Rick named off the towns as we moved through them, and I watched the unfamiliar landscape passing outside the open window. There was mile upon mile upon endless mile of open fields. Farmers, using various kinds of large equipment that I did not yet know the names of, were busy preparing the ground for the coming season of planting. Barns, and old farm houses and grain storage bins reached out into the fields.

“There's nothing but land” I exclaimed. “Land extending out forever no matter where I look. It's unbelievable.”

“Yep” Rick nodded, smiling. “I'd expect that reaction from a city girl.”

There was space, blue sky, bright sun and fresh air. I inhaled deeply and let everything inside myself settle. “I'm here” I thought silently “here where you've sent me Lord.”

We were getting closer to his home town, approaching a lake that he wanted me to see. Rick asked if it would make me nervous if he pulled off onto a side road.

“Well, if you're going to kill me now, have at it” I laughed. “I've trusted you and come this far, why stop now.”

He slowed and pulled the car to a stop, parking near the driveway of a beautiful home.

“If we go to the beach from here we don't have to pay to get in and park” he said, taking hold of my hand, and we started walking.

It felt good to be out of the car and stretch. I noticed that we walked in the same rhythm, legs moving in unison. We were walking on a well trodden path through bushes and trees. Rick stopped frequently to pull me into his embrace and kiss me with all the passion that had been building up over the past weeks.

“Wow! I guess I hadn't needed to worry about chemistry” I said, my knees weakening at his touch.

When we emerged from the path onto the beach I erupted with delight.

“Did I ever tell you how much I've always loved the water?”

“I don't believe you did” Rick replied, shaking his head. “There's lots of things we have to learn about each other, and we'll have lots of time to learn them.”

Jo is our host and asked us to remember love this week. Come join us at Mylestones and share a flashback of your own.



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11 February 2010

A day adrift

I have spent the day adrift, living in an odd sense of being unattached while at the same time totally connected to my Lord. I have moved in and out of times of prayer. I am in new territory, and every time I plant my foot it feels as if the ground shifts. I imagine it would feel the same walking on a trampoline. But I know that I am indeed rooted and grounded in the truth of His promises.

He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:2b NLT

Life spins around me with a rhythm of its own and I reach out to grab hold of ... air. Time is both my enemy and my friend. I wonder if time has meaning at all for my father as he drifts in a world we cannot decipher. We, his family, in varying stages of letting him go, cannot know if he is holding on or releasing his grip. Does he know that death comes knocking? Has he yet considered that the sting of death can be neutralized, removed?

Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now? 1 Corinthians 15:55 The Message

I pray in this final span of time my father will indeed be rescued, not from death in this world, for that will surely come, but from eternal spiritual death.

Ron Hutchcraft has been quoted as saying: "Every single person who has Christ in their heart has been positioned by God to be a rescuer to people who are spiritually dying."

I must say yes to His positioning. I must say yes to His timing. I turn again to seek His face and ask Him to show me what it would look like to share with my father.

I see myself beside the care home bed, taking his hand, pale and cool into the wamth of my own. My voice soft, almost a whisper, the feathers of angel wings, as I say "It's okay Daddy. You don't have to be afraid. Jesus is waiting for you." And then, the holy hush of a moment lived in obedience.

I return again and again to the vision on this day adrift.

We will wait for days, or weeks, or months. Time set apart in time. Like a breath caught, our lives and plans continue yet hang suspended.

I have never been good at waiting. The great Teacher is in the middle of His lessons.

Picture found at http://www.alifeadrift.com/2009/02/auspicious/


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10 February 2010

Ninevah? Do I have to?

Animal husbandryImage via Wikipedia

Ninevah He said
is in the hearts of your own people

like sheep running wild
will you lead them
to the Shepherd?

They are a stubborn
and stiff-necked people Lord
and will not listen
and I chose to remain silent
my life will speak for me.

I am Yours
I said
here I am, send me
and followed His call
to Africa
far, far from Ninevah

To run and not acknowledge
the running
even when good work is done

My giant fish was waiting
a place to hide
to plan
or to rot

As I am spit out
on the shore
my people are soon dying
without the Shepherd still
and my life is not
speaking loudly enough
and He says
no more silence
use words.

As my husband and I prepare to visit with my family next week, I am trusting that the Lord by His Holy Spirit will lead me and when He gives me words to speak I will release those words in obedience. To read more about the urgency of these days in my family, you can catch-up here.

Victoria has led us into a study of Jonah at Let The Son Shine and offered us the opportunity to link-up our thoughts here. Please join us!


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09 February 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped - Love Letter

My well worn NIV Quest Study Bible opened today to Jeremiah as if God was waiting to show me just how much He loves me.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

As I was soaking in His words with joy and thanksgiving, my heart was filled with the revelation that each word, every page, is part of a bigger whole.

From

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 NIV

through

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. Revelation 22:21 NIV

our loving Father has written a love letter to each of us. It is a gift from His heart to ours, direct from His Spirit to fill our spirits. It is meant to be read and read again, cherished and pondered. I have a shelf filled with His letter in various translations so that I can hear Him speak in new ways.


It becomes easier to trust the words when we grow closer to the One Who wrote them, and we grow closer to Him by reading His words. Today I am unwrapping the marvelous truth of that eternal circle.



Join Emily at Chatting at the Sky to share what you're unwrapping today


08 February 2010

Needed my camera

We took a drive into town this afternoon after noticing we had put our last bottle of water on the cooler today. We drive west to come home, so the setting sun was in front of us.

If there was ever a moment to have a camera at hand, that was it. But we hadn't thought to bring it along on a water run.

The sky was littered with streaks of clouds that at first hid the enormity of the glowing orb. A pillar of light shot upwards that seemed almost tangible. The colours of fire were in the pillar, leaping and dancing. All of the glory of the sun was cast upon and reflected by the clouds. I had the sense that God was showing us His pillar of cloud and His pillar of fire combined in one breathtaking sight as day was transitioning into night.

By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Exodus 13:2 NIV

When the clouds parted the sun was too bright to gaze upon, and in moments was gone, dropped beyond the horizon. The display was a precious gift from the Lord.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. Psalm 113:3 NIV

Do you suppose if I asked Him God would give this graphically challenged wordsmith the ability to paint the scene He showed me? I know I have a box of pastels around here somewhere.....


06 February 2010

Ephesians 6:18 Saturdays - Thanksgiving

Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God's consecrated people). Ephesians 6:18 Amplified

As I promised last week, I am devoting the next few months of Saturdays to the study of different types of prayer.

This week I begin where we should begin all of our prayer times - with prayers of thanksgiving.

We can't pray effectively if we are far from the One we are praying to. Thanksgiving is the key that brings us into the presence of the Lord.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:2 Amplified

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! Psalm 100:4 Amplified

or as The Message Bible so clearly says: Enter with the password: "Thank you!"

When we begin to thank God for all that He Is and all He has done we begin to build a track record in our spirits, we see a history of His faithfullness. We are drawn closer to Him and need not worry about sharing our needs with Him.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Colossians 4:2 The Message

Share your thoughts on the key of thankfullness. If someone was coming to visit you and ask for favours, would you be more inclined to allow them in if they showed gratitude for the invitiation? Doesn't our awesome and mighty God deserve that and more?

If you feel comfortable, please share a prayer of thanksgiving in the comments. And come back next week to explore prayers of adoration.

Father God, my heart is filled to overflowing with gratitude for all that You Are. Thank You, Lord God for allowing me, even calling me to come into Your presence. There is nothing in my life more precious than time spent with You. Help me, Lord, to hunger and thirst after the things of You and Your Kingdom, that the world around me would grow pale and lose flavour. Thank You for giving me Your Holy Spirit, Who convicts me to pray. I love You and cherish my time in fellowship with You. May my words be acceptable in Your sight, in Jesus name.

Saturday Evening Blog Post - January 2010


It's time again for Elizabeth Esther's Saturday Evening Blog Post where bloggers gather on the first Saturday of the month to share their latest and greatest blog posts.

This month I'm linking back to the haiku I wrote after being challenged by Robin at Pensieve and (In)Courage

I received more comments than usual on this post, so I share it with you again here.

Now it's your turn. Come link up to your favorite post from January 2010.

05 February 2010

Fingerprint Friday - Blessed

Today I rejoice
celebrate
and shout songs of thanksgiving to my Lord
for those who walk beside me as friends
face to face or online.
The fingerprints of the Master
mark their prayers
their words of encouragement
and support.
As I step into difficult times
I know that I am not alone.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10 NIV

Join Beki at The Rusted Chain for today's Fingerprint Friday

Flashback Friday - Dad

Jo's suggested topic for today's Flashback Fridays is siblings and I was planning to write a story about my mother's 5 uncles who all told the same jokes... but I'll save that for another day.

Here's Dad about 25 years ago

Today my heart and my prayers are focused on my 84 year old father. For many years he has suffered with various degrees of dementia that have led to other physical issues, like lack of balance that left him unable to walk. For more than a year he has lived in a care home, steadily declining.

October 2008 at my nephew's wedding weekend

Last fall, when he was wasn't eating, he was given a feeding tube to ensure nutrition, but still allowed to have ice cream, pudding and any other soft foods he would accept. Eventually he began choking and aspirating even small spoonfuls, so all feeding by mouth was stopped.

My mother, while in the midst of her own health battles spends time at the care home each day, sitting with the man she's loved for more than 62 years. The pain of watching him slip through her hands over the years is beyond my imagination. The process of grieving for someone lost in dementia is ongoing.

Mom has discussed with doctors and nurses that his condition will not reverse. He will not become more aware, or grow stronger. He does not talk or interact with anyone. His face shows signs of nothing but despair. Throughout our lives, he always said that if he was ever in this type of condition, he would rather not live. So Mom has chosen, with great courage and sorrow, to release him. She is letting go.

As of mid day today, no nutrition will be provided, simply hydration through his feeding tube. He has strong vital signs and the dying process could take a week, or two, or longer. Only God knows, and now Dad is in His hands.

Rick and I had planned tavel south to visit in a little over a week, so I should be there to say goodbye. I pray for boldness, to whisper in his ear about the love of my Savior that he never met. I pray that Jesus breaks down the door to his heart and introduce Himself. I pray for peace to surround us all as the God of all comfort wraps His loving arms around us.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV


Stop by Mylestones and share your flashback today!



04 February 2010

$10 Challenge - Completed

On December 4th I posted here about my decision to join the $10.00 Challenge that Billy Coffey wrote about for Christmas 2009.

In that post I said I was waiting for the Holy Spirit to lead me. Christmas came and went and I still didn't sense His direction. I thought about slipping $10.00 into the Salvation Army bucket, or donating to our local food bank, but I wasn't getting the green light from the Lord.

In January our church youth group hosted a team from Beautiful Unique Girl for a pyjama party for girls in grade 5 - 8 that included pizza, a chocolate fondue, nail painting, worship and special guest speakers. With all the pressures from the world to conform and fit certain models of beauty, their message to young women is vital in it's simplicity:

We want you to know that God made you special. He made you for a reason, and He loves you very much. You have your own set of unique gifts and qualities and your own set of challenges, too! When we open ourselves to God and His Truth in our lives, we discover our true beauty and our uniqueness. He's placed special things inside of you that you will be sure to discover along the way as you get to know Him and His thoughts towards you!

A girl who discovers her inner beauty and lives it out will fully experience what it means to live a beautiful unique life.



We wanted to reach as many girls in our church and community as possible so a request for people to sponser attendees was put forth. The cost was $30/girl.

I figured that the $10 I was holding on to had earned interest since December, so I slipped $30 into an envelope with prayers that whatever young woman was able to attend would be blessed by the truth of God's great love for her.

I don't know who she was, and she doesn't know me. But. He. Does.

03 February 2010

Word Filled Wednesday - Mirror


Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. James 1:23-24 NIV

This is a picture taken at Millenium Park in Chicago as people gather around the giant mirrored Bean sculpture.

is being hosted this week by Penny Raine




02 February 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped - Connected Hearts

There are many people in my life who still can't quite comprehend the way I connect to others online. They might have gotten a handle on how email works, but instant messengers, Facebook, Twitter and the rest are something from a foreign land. When I talk about my latest blog post I see a familiar "I'm totally lost and haven't a clue what you're talking about" look in their eyes. Trying to explain "Blog. Web Log. You know, like a journal you keep on the internet." doesn't seem to help. Indeed there are people who can only live "face-to-face".

God created us to be in relationship, with Himself first and then with others. I am thankful and blessed by the in-person, I can reach out and touch you people God has placed in my life. They help shape the world around me. But I also live in another dimension, the land of the internet, and as difficult as it is for some to understand, we forge real relationships here as well. At times it seems that hearts can even connect in a more profound way without the trappings and distractions of "face-to face". The fact that many of these connections are seasonal does not detract from their importance or ability to touch us.

When Lisa Lehmann, known by many of you as thebeadgirl on Twitter was in the middle of creating a piece of jewelry for an art competition, I felt led by the Lord to provide words of encouragement. In obedience, I attempted to stay connected and check in during her journey. I was excited to see photos of the finished work and read Lisa's story of what it meant to her and how God was glorified through it all.

We have continued to send tweets and messages to each other, pats on the back, pick me ups, words of wisdom, humour and truth. I often make cyber visits to her jewelry shop Studio Jewel at Etsy to drool over her work. One day a few weeks ago, I mentioned I had seen something I would love to buy, if only our finances would allow. She then sent me a link to a necklace she had named "God Looks on the Heart" that she thought was more like me. She describes it as follows:

This is a design that comes straight from my heart. The story behind this piece is: although the world may judge us based on our outward appearance, what really matters is what is on the inside. That is why the crystal hangs in the middle of the heart. I have 3 beautiful daughters and as we approach the tween years I know this will become more and more important!

I Twittered a message saying it was perfect, I have always loved hearts.

Almost instantly, she tweeted back "Send me a mailing address and it's yours." I surely did not feel worthy of such an extravagant gift, but yesterday I joyfully unwrapped the striking pink and brown packaging and received a heart that connects with my heart.

What's more, I've unwrapped a gift far more priceless, the gift of friendship. Lisa, my words fall short of being able to express what I feel. May the blessing you poured upon me return to you with great multiplication as the Word promises us:

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38 NLT

Visit Studio Jewel and check out Lisa's work. Maybe you'll find a gift for yourself or someone special in your life, or leave a hint for your husband for Valentine's Day.

And while you're online, Join Emily at Chatting at the Sky and share what you're unwrapping today.


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