A Change of Address

Posted On May 7, 2012

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Hi Friends! Just to let you know that I am now posting at www.missgracefilledlife.blogspot.com Please resubscribe at this new site if you’d like to continue to receive blogs. Thank you!!!!

Beautiful Monotony (or Ordinary Days)

Posted On January 7, 2012

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Sometimes life seems like it is in a repeat mode. Even things I’ve written on facebook recently seem vaguely familiar -probably because I wrote something very similar this time last year! There is a sameness to a lot of things in our lives. I wash the same towels, cook pretty much the same meals, and dust and vacuum the same rooms. But I’ve come to appreciate that sameness in everyday life.

It is quickly coming up on the time that our son went to be with the Lord. It is hard to believe that it will be sixteen years this month. I remember vividly one of the times that Alex was very ill and at the hospital before he died. I was standing at the window looking out at the parking lot. I felt so torn because I knew I needed to be there, but was also wanting to go home and be with the other kids. I suddenly missed the monotony of everyday life. I wanted to be at home and have it be a regular day doing regular things. I wanted Alex to be home and doing well. I wanted to be looking out the kitchen window and doing the dishes. I didn’t have to be doing anything exciting at all. I just wanted all of us to be home.

I remind myself of that feeling whenever I’m a little out of sorts, or when my life doesn’t seem very exciting. All the little events of life are what makes the entirety of our lives so special and so unique. I know as moms especially, our lives can quickly settle in the mundane everyday tasks. But don’t take those ordinary days for granted. They are the days that matter the most.

A Missionary Heart

Posted On September 11, 2011

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When I was nineteen years old, God spoke to me. I don’t mean in an audible voice, but if you think back, you can probably remember a time when God clearly spoke something to you, too. On that July afternoon, He spoke three things to me.

1. I would go to Bible school ( a real heart desire, but I was already at a regular university and didn’t see a way that could happen for me.)

2. I would meet my husband there. (Good news! I had been praying a lot about that.)

3. I was called to missions. ( This made me extremely happy because I had read stacks of missionary books and admired them greatly. A side note – my favorite was about Adoniram Judson. If you haven’t read about him, you must.)

Two years later, I graduated from college and headed off to Baton Rouge, LA to Bible school. It was the most surreal and happy time of my life, up to that point of my life. And yes, I did meet my husband, Dave, there…but that’s another story.

Fast forward to 1989 when Dave and I were married and moved to Teen Challenge in Colfax, Iowa. Dave had been a student of Teen Challenge himself and loved working with the students there. We started a family with normal, happy expectations. But we never quite reached that place as two of our children were born with cerebral palsy. It was quite a detour and that also, makes a whole other story. But there were many, many times over the next several years when I wondered about that last word the Lord had given me.

I had actually went on a missions trip while in school and quite frankly, bombed. The people of the country were wonderful and so hospitable. But I didn’t speak the language (big mistake to do that) and really didn’t know any of the other people I was on the trip with (mistake #2). I was homesick and had signed up for a 1 month trip (mistake #3). After I came home, I felt embarrassed that I had ever told anyone that I wanted to be a missionary.

I wondered if Teen Challenge could be considered missions. After all, it was home missions, wasn’t it? But I was home changing diapers, not really being useful in any way to the ministry of Teen Challenge, besides supporting Dave as he worked with the guys there.

Now as I’m older, I still wonder about that call. Maybe I missed what God meant altogether. I surely could have.

But now I look at my children and remind God of their futures. I would love to see them love another people and country as much as they love home here. I still think being a missionary is the highest calling.

I’ve asked God several times over the years if I made a mistake when I heard Him speak. The only thing I believe I’ve heard Him say about it is that I admired their (missionaries) commitment. Maybe I mixed up commitment with a call, I’m not sure. But whichever it is, I still love sending missionaries out from our church and will always tell stories to my kids about those who gave everything for another land. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.” I think someday in heaven we will meet many, many people who are not well known in this life, but their names will be well known there.

College educations are a blessing, degrees are great, nice homes are nice, but giving our children something to live towards is the greatest thing we can instill within them. Maybe in that way, I can fulfill that missions call.

Slumdog Millionaire and Redemption

Posted On August 2, 2011

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I always know when the Lord is prompting me to write a new blog.  A thought or idea begins taking shape and then I’ll begin feeling it come together in my mind, usually in the middle of the night.  I’ll also feel very emotional as I’m getting ready to put it down on paper.  All that said, the Lord has been clearly speaking to me for some time now about one of his most beautiful attributes – Redeemer. In fact, even as I’m typing this word, there is such a lump in my throat. I think it is the most beautiful word I’ve ever heard.

For many years now, I have struggled to really know the love of Jesus for me on a personal level. Of course, I know He does love me in an intellectual sort of way. If you were to ask me if He loves you and cares about you, I would assure  you that He does. I could believe that very strongly for you. But as for myself, it has always been a hard thing to know and be sure of. Sometimes I have felt that I’ve caught glimpses and even experienced His love at times, but it hasn’t stayed with me for long. I’ve watched other people and have seen that they walk in such sureness of His love for them. I’ve really envied that about them, but felt glad for them, too. I tend to be so analytical that I just came to accept that I probably wasn’t going to have a true experience or revelation for myself.

But about a year ago, I watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire for the first time. I really wasn’t too interested in watching it. But I sat down with the family and began the movie.  Soon I was totally caught up in the story of these three characters and all that they went through together. Towards the end of the movie, something totally and completely unexpected happened to me. I wasn’t thinking about Jesus at that moment; I was just watching a story unfold. But suddenly Jesus spoke to me so clearly. He told me that He loved me in the same way the main character loved Latika and would do anything to be with her again. I cried so hard that day and in the days following, I couldn’t even think about it without bursting into tears. I had never had anything so personal spoken over me like that before. I had never, ever thought that I could be loved like that. At the end of the movie, when he (the main character Jamal) is finally standing with Latika again, he notices the scar on her face. Different scenes from previous parts of the movie begin to play on the screen and you understand that the past is now being wiped away. That is the beautiful story of redemption and what Jesus longs to do in our lives. He wipes away all the bad things of our past, all the things we’ve suffered, and we begin again brand new.

A couple of days ago, I was putting away laundry after a trip to OK. As I passed the dvd player in our bedroom, I felt curious and wondered if I would still be so affected by that scene from the movie. I put the movie in, found the scene, and pushed play. I know that other people may have no reaction to this movie at all. But as for me, it is just a God thing. I was weeping in seconds and felt that same presence of the Lord, telling me the same thing. I don’t know how to explain it.

One of the meanings of the word redemption means “to rescue” or “to purchase back something that has been lost”. Whatever you have experienced in life, maybe even things you’ve never shared with anyone else, He is able to rescue you and to purchase back something that has been lost. If you have had problems relating to the love of Jesus for you in a personal way, ask Him to reveal it to you in a way uniquely personal to you. It may not be through a movie, and as grateful as I am for that experience, I long for that to be an everyday encounter. I believe it will be. And I believe He wants to do the same thing for you.

Does God Even Hear Me? (Yes, He does.)

Posted On April 2, 2011

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Have you ever felt like God has lost your address or that He is a little too busy to notice you right now? I’ve felt like that many times during hard times of life. But inevitably, He’s always managed to show me that He is there.  One day I happened to be looking out the window and noticed a tiny purple petunia blooming in a sea of rocks. I had to stop for a moment and just look.  How in the world could that little flower be growing so beautifully in all that rock? Every time I passed that window, I would look to see if it was still there. I was amazed to see it there everyday. It reminds me that no matter what hard situation I am in, He is there sustaining me, too.

Recently, we were in Oklahoma visiting my dad in the hospital. One morning on the way to see him, we swung by a house that we had lived in when I was in the 5th – 9th grade. We drove up the dirt road towards the driveway. I looked to my left and saw several large rocks on a hill. I remembered that this is where I used to go and pour my heart out to the Lord. When I looked at that place, it was as if the Lord reminded me of meeting me there. I can’t remember anything that I prayed there, but I had the sense that He remembered every word. It was amazing to be there with my husband and six children knowing that when I had prayed there at that place, I was just a young girl, not even dreaming what my future held.  But God knew.

Whatever you may be going through, it is good to be reminded that He has you engraved upon the palm of  His hand. He hasn’t forgotten you, your husband, your children, your sister, your brother, your parents. He loves you with an everlasting love. What is important to you, is of utmost importance to Him as well. You aren’t alone in the world. Every prayer you’ve ever prayed is remembered by Him as well as every tear you’ve ever cried. 

But what about the prayers that seem unanswered? I’ve prayed, cried, gotten angry, and cried some more over our daughter’s condition. Sometimes it feels there isn’t a tear left in me to cry or a prayer left to be prayed. What do you do with those situations? Is God off doing something else? No, He is still right there. Those are the times that you have to be sure, very sure, of the character of God. He never becomes less kind or less loving towards you. Dan Mohler, a pastor who often visits our church, said something the last time he was here that has stuck with me. In essence, he said that one day when he stands before the Lord, he wanted to be able to stand before him knowing he had not blamed God for all the hard things he had walked through. There is a time when we have to choose the high road and leave all the mysteries to God.  A missionary we knew from Bible school once told a story about losing his son while serving on the mission field. His conclusion: I don’t know why he died, it is a mystery…but I am not going to hell over a mystery.” I don’t understand all the “whys” either, but I know that God can be trusted. There has to be a time when we settle it with God. Will we be bitter or will we keep our hand in His?’

We serve a big God, but He isn’t so big that He would ever forget you. You are the dearest thing in His heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heart & Home

Posted On February 17, 2011

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately of home. I think since my dad passed away last month, it seems to be in my thoughts daily.

I’ve always loved houses and I’m so intrigued by how people decorate a place and make it their own. But I’m not really talking of home decorating. I’m talking about the place we call home. It should be the dearest place of all for our families. Just the other day, we came home from a doctor appointment with Nathaniel. As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I saw Evan sitting at the table typing on the laptop and the other kids coming in to greet us at the door. Suddenly, I felt this tremendous relief…I was home. Everything seemed right with the world.

When we lived at Teen Challenge, we didn’t have a lot, but it always makes me smile when the kids talk about their memories there. They seem not to remember leaky windows or a sagging living room floor, but of all the good times they had while living there.  I’ll have to say that when I look back, there is almost a glow about my memories there as well. I get a lump in my throat now when I think about how little they all were then. Those days can’t be lived again.

Sometimes when we drive past an old house that hasn’t been lived in for  many years, I will have the saddest thoughts. For a moment I can see children running through the yard and a mother looking out the window with a smile. But now the years have gone by and only an old shell of a house remains. It reminds me that our lives are important right now. Whatever age your children are right now is the time to enjoy those moments that seem to go so quickly.

When my dad passed away, I had this overwhelming desire to go back to my grandparents house (his mom and dad’s home). The house is no longer there, but I wanted to stand on the spot where the front door had been, close my eyes, and imagine that it was Christmas Eve again. If I opened the door, there would be my cousins, my aunts and uncles and my mom and dad and brother. Nothing would have changed.

I think heaven must be a lot like that feeling of coming home. Sometimes I’ve wondered why we can’t have a little glimpse of our loved ones there. But I wonder if part of it might be that once we have seen our real home, we would never want to leave. It must be a place beyond our imagination. I have such joy knowing I have a son there, grandparents, aunts, uncles and now my dad. Someday I’ll walk into that place and hear, “She’s home!” And that makes me know that someday it will be worth it all.

God Can Use Anyone

Posted On January 21, 2011

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I’m a pastor’s wife, but I’m not a speaker. I’m definitely what you would call a good support system. Church is great, but what I love most out of life is being a mom and a homemaker. I’m glad I never had to miss time with the kids at home while they were (and are) growing up. I know that not every mom has that option.

But sometimes I, being a background person, can feel a little lost in the crowd and wonder if anything I am doing is truly making a difference. Do you ever feel that way?

The other day Dave and I went for a drive before church on a Sat. night and he went into Hy-Vee to get a coffee from Starbucks for us to share. As I sat there waiting on him to come back, I “people watched” from my seat.. I began noticing their expressions as they got out of their car. Some looked as if the grocery store was the last place they wanted to be. Other people looked very burdened down with their own problems and worries. I watched one older lady as she put her cart away and walked slowly back to her car. Without even thinking much about it, I began to pray for her, that the Lord would surprise her with the desire of her heart, whatever that may be. As I did, I suddenly felt the Lord’s tremendous pleasure. I felt so much emotion. It was as if I would burst with His joy.  I have no idea who she was or any of the other people I watched that day, but He knows each one and their hopes and dreams and their disappointments.  Even people or situations that you’ve prayed about and forgotten, God remembers.

I realized that even if my ministry isn’t really seen, God notices and is very pleased. He sees me on days that I feel a little lost, or hidden away.  As long as we allow Him to lead us in every aspect of our lives, He will ultimately receive all the glory that we have tried to give him over the span of our lives.

Today is a Precious Gift

Posted On November 10, 2010

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Sometimes life seems to go very slowly, especially when your children are small. There is a lot of monotony in our daily lives at that time. Washing dishes, washing clothes, washing little bodies, setting the table, clearing the table…the list goes on and on, doesn’t it? I remember when we had four children and the oldest was only two and a half. I literally felt like crying knowing that at the end of an exhausting day, I was only going to get up in the morning and do it all again.

Sometimes older ladies at church would say to me, “Oh enjoy these years, because they will grow up so fast.” I understand that a little better now as our oldest is now nineteen years old. But I want to encourage moms and anyone else reading today, who may not realize how precious today really is.

Have you ever said, “When they are out of diapers…”, “When they start walking…”, “When they start school…” – or, “When this house is paid off…when I retire….when I get a better job…” I like the saying, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” There is uniqueness in whatever season we are in. Nothing can take the place of the time we are living right now.

When our twins, Alex and Elisa, were born, we were, of course, so excited. There weren’t any twins on either side of our family. I knew just how life was going to be, right down to how I would dress them. But life didn’t turn out the way I had expected. Both kids were diagnosed with cerebral palsy and my heart was broken in a million pieces. I had never known so much devastation. Life wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. But somehow, life did go on and with it so many challenges and heartaches ahead.

Most of you reading this know that Alex, Elisa’s twin brother, died suddenly when he was four years old. Even though he had CP, he was so articulate and had such a love for the Lord. He had nearly died before from respiratory problems, and I think out of that experience, he had a special closeness with Jesus.

But after he died, I came  home and stood and looked at his clothes hanging in the closet and wondered, “Is this all I have left?” Nothing seemed very fair or just. It would be a whole other story to relate how the Lord was with us during that time.

But my point is this – that today is beautiful and precious no matter what difficulties we are facing. None of us are promised a tomorrow. Don’t worry if things aren’t happening in the time frame that you were hoping for. It just isn’t that important. Live the beautiful life you were given today.  I’m speaking to myself more thas anyone.  I have to remind myself that I can’t live in the future with all its uncertainties. This sunset, Caitlin’s 13th year, Nathaniel’s laugh, Evan’s job at Starbucks, Tyler’s senior year, Elisa’s insight into people, Noah’s love for football, kitchen cabinets opening and closing, footsteps on the stairs, dishes in the sink, still wiping noses (thankfully!), and beautiful holidays ahead with dear sweet family. Thank you, God, for life.

 

God Can Use Anyone

Posted On October 17, 2010

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I’m a pastor’s wife, but I’m not a speaker. I’m definitely what you would call a good support system.  Church is great, but what I love most out of life is being a mom and a homemaker. I’m glad I never had to miss time with the kids at home while they were (and are) growing up. I know that not every mom has that option.

But sometimes I, being a background person, can feel a little lost in the crowd and wonder if anything I am doing is truly making a difference. Do you ever feel that way?

The other day Dave and I went for a drive before church on a Sat. night and he went into Hy-Vee to get a coffee from Starbucks for us to share. As I sat there waiting on him to come back, I “people watched” from my seat.. I began noticing their expressions as they got out of their car.  Some looked as if the grocery store was the last place they wanted to be. Other people looked very burdened down with their own problems and worries. I watched one older lady as she put her cart away and walked slowly back to her car. Without even thinking much about it, I began to pray for her, that the Lord would surprise her with the desire of her heart, whatever that may be. As I did, I suddenly felt the Lord’s tremendous pleasure. I have no idea who she was or any of the other people I watched that day, but He knows each one and their hopes and dreams and their disappointments.

I realized that even if my ministry isn’t really seen, God notices and is very pleased. As long as we allow Him to lead us in every aspect of our lives, He will ultimately receive all the glory that we have tried to give him over the span of our lives.

Dear Mothers,

Posted On September 25, 2010

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Your job is the most important job in the world. On the days that you feel you’ve failed and you find yourself apologizing to your children yet again, you are still the heroine of your home. You can fine tune your attitiude and remind yourself that the rewards of this sometimes very difficult job may not be entirely seen for years to come. The little things in life are what matter most. The memories they have of times spent with you are what they will treasure.

Last summer my kids and I went back to visit a town they remember so well from their childhood. We took this nostalgic trip before our oldest son left for school in far away California. We visited very ordinary places that they remembered going to like the library, the grocery store and an antique store on main street. I cried almost the entire time. When we went into library and walked back to the children’s section, I could suddenly see my 18 year old and 16 year old as they were at  age 8 and age 6. I could see Tyler kneeling down and looking for Curious George books. I remembered Evan looking through the Arthur books. Then it seemed I could see them again sitting in the front seat of the car with me  as they shared the  candy they had gotten at the grocery store. I recalled their heads bent down together as I stopped at an intersection and how the light streamed through the window of the car. It’s funny the snapshots your mind takes of ordinary days. How time has flown since that day, although it didn’t seem then that time was traveling so quickly.

When the day came for our son to leave so far from home, my heart was heavy even though I knew that this was the right decision. It would be the first time that I wouldn’t be there to help him if he were sick or felt alone. I remembered a line from one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird, where Scout said about her brother Jem, “Thus began our longest journey together.” His was a journey of being far away and mine was a journey of letting go.

At that time, it wasn’t the things he had received for Christmas over the years that meant the most, but the family memories that he treasured. Those are the things that will matter when we have to say our goodbyes and watch them make their own way into the world. And they will remember you Mom, and all that you gave of yourself.

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