Monday, December 28, 2009

Deeply rooted peace

My surgery is scheduled for January 22nd at 11:30 am at OSF St. Anthony's in Rockford, IL. The surgeon recommended a lumpectomy in the biopsied area. I still have to meet with the radiologist next week (Jan 6th) and with the surgeon once more (Jan 7th) before the actual surgery. The lumpectomy option is probably the easiest physical surgery, but my hope is to have the surgery that would be most successful in reducing the probability of recurrence. If the lumpectomy is that option, I'm all for it. If more radical surgery is required, please pray that I will know that and that the doctors will know that, as well, and agree on the exact surgery that I am supposed to have. In it all, I pray for deeply rooted peace.

During last week's Christmas services, our pastor alluded to the strength of a tree being well and deeply "rooted". My take on what he said (and I paraphrase) was that being deeply rooted in the love and truth of God and His word better equips us for difficult things we may go through in life. If we're deeply rooted in Him, we are better equipped to handle the words, "You have cancer". This struck me as so true. I can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives me strength...Philippians 4:13. But the clincher was the other three examples he used; phrases like, "I don't love you anymore", "We're going to have to let you go" and "We're going to have to foreclose on your home". I realized that I have now heard all four of these statements at some point in my lifetime. I was reminded of where my strength came from in these last three statements. God got me through each incident and experience, as I surrendered them to Him, and drew me closer to Him in the process. And I know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose...Romans 8:28. Oh how I love Him and recognise His blessings in my life. So, yes, being deeply rooted in the love and truth of Jesus Christ is definitely my source of strength. So, while I may have heard the dreaded "You have cancer", I am better equipped to handle it because of my dependence upon God as my strength, as my Healer.

Bill often signs his books using Jeremiah 33:3, which says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know". As I call to Him, I am confident that He hears me and I eagerly await the wisdom for the great things He will tell me! I am also so grateful that you are joining me in calling to Him...THANK YOU!

My soul magnifies the Lord, for He has done great things for me!

Monday, December 21, 2009

He is with me and...I trust Him!

I heard good news from the MRI test today. It did not reveal any additional cancer than what has already been diagnosed from the biopsy. I meet with the surgeon on 12/24 to discuss surgery and next step options. Please continue to pray and thank you for doing so!!!!!!!

I get a devotional message delivered to my phone every day. Before I got the news this morning, I got the message and the content was about an angel of the Lord coming to Mary about news of her virgin birth of Savior Jesus. She was no doubt scared of what she may be facing, but she was trusting in the Lord. I had no doubt there was a message there for me. No matter what this day and the future would unfold, I was trusting the Lord. He is always with me through anything that I may face. Take heart, He is with YOU as well.

Yes, my soul magnifies the Lord, for He has done great things for me!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

God is God!

I wanted to keep family and friends updated on what's going on with me and our family, so I'll probably put postings on this blog periodically to give any new information for those of you that may want to be kept in the loop. So many have offered their prayers, love, support and more to me and Bill in the last few days and I am totally overwhelmed by your graciousness and kindness. Many do not know what's going on yet and some are lifting us up in prayer, whether I'm aware of it, or not. I feel it and I'm thankful.

I went in a couple of weeks ago for a routine mammogram and got called back for a second look because of some suspicious spots that looked like calcifications. I had a biopsy on the right breast this past Tuesday and was informed on Wednesday that it was cancer. I had an MRI Thursday night to pinpoint more specific details of just how large it is and if it is anywhere else on either side. I should hear more definitive information on Monday.

I am blessed to be in a community and church family that is spectacular and to have family and friends across the country that are lifting me up in prayer. I've had two of our elders pray for me has been through this experience and is celebrating God's goodness in her life...the other is my oncologist and he is the absolute best anyone could ever ask for. God has me in the right place. The love and kindness that has been shown to me from people has blown me away. And I know that's only the tip of the iceberg. So many of you have been praying. I value your prayers so very much. Please continue to pray for God's healing powers. I'm praying that Monday's news will be the best possible news I could hear. I'm hopeful that God has outright healed me...YES, it's possible with God...or that whatever is there is revealed in totality and has been caught early and is small and easy to remove and treat. I am praying that it hasn't gotten into my blood stream or lympth nodes in order to spread to any other area in my body. I'm also praying that God will direct me in treatment options and decisions. If you could pray for me and Bill (and Kristen, my angel) we would be so grateful. Bill has been a rock and is my greatest support. Kristen is in KY and I just wish I could hug her. I just want God to protect her and give her strength. I'm counting on your prayers, along with ours, because I know God hears our prayers and He answers. I am trusting in Him.

About a month ago, Bill picked up Chris Tomlin's Christmas CD, "Glory in the Highest" for me. I fell in love with all the songs, but I was immediately drawn to a song referred to as Mary's song because the words relay the account in Luke that unfolds the birth of Jesus and Mary's heart. Mary, and the song, exclaims, "My soul magnifies the Lord, for He has done great things for me!" That song, those words, has become my theme. I will magnify and glorify Him because He is my hope.

How appropriate, at this wonderful time of year, for me to be reminded that a baby was born so that I may have life; not just any baby, but a Savior, Jesus Christ. What a gift God gave us all! My soul has to rejoice in that. My soul also rejoices in the love of God's people. I am humbled by prayers, and words, and deeds that have been showered upon me. Gifts of love. I am blessed.

I may have heard the "c" word, but I have to put it in perspective. I heard the little "c" word - cancer. It is what it is, but God is God! Because, a more important "C" word for me is CHRIST! So, big "C" trumps little "c" every time....God is God and He's the great physician!!!

Thank you for your love and prayers. I will try to keep you updated as often as I can. I thank you all for your grace and mercy. You are such a blessing to me and my family.


Sunday, November 29, 2009


The Thanksgiving holiday has now passed and we are now in the throngs of the Christmas holiday season. Christmas brings overwhelming emotions for me, as I’m humbled by the manger child, the Savior of the World, who is God’s own son, who was sent to earth so that I may be in heaven one day – for eternity! That is a huge blessing to comprehend; one I don’t fully understand, but one which I am more than willing to accept as the greatest gift ever given.

I grasp that this is the season we celebrate Jesus’ birth, and I want to be an avid worshipper in that celebration. However, and more importantly, I think, I want to celebrate and worship Him every day of my life. The only gift I can offer to my Savior is my life, my gift of worship - not just at Christmas, but all throughout the year. As I thought about Christmas and Christ and how I can make this season a significant time of true offering from me to my Lord, I started researching the birth of the King Jesus. It led me to some interesting discoveries.

I discovered that, while December 25th may not be Jesus’ actual birthday, it is the day we, as believers in Christ have set aside to honor Him and His birth. We could never honor Him enough, so I’m all for there being a special time of year when we all celebrate His birth and all that it embodies in relation to the prophecies of the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14 speaks of the imminent birth of the Savior:
"All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means 'God is with us')."

Wow! God with us – the word “gift” cannot do justice to that. It made me wonder how the gift giving tradition began at Christmas-time. And how it has gotten to the point it has gotten to in today’s culture.

The tradition of giving gifts in this season can be traced to the Magi (aka the Wise Men) who came from the east of Jerusalem to greet the Babe in the manger with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gold offered to Christ was symbolic of what one did in ancient times to offer tribute at the reign of a new King. And frankincense, the aromatic incense used in sacred rituals, was offered to the Christ child according to tradition as a token of his being the Son of God. And finally the Magi's offering of myrrh, often used to prepare a body for burial, was a foretelling of the destiny of the Christ child as the suffering servant who would be crucified and die.

So how did we get from the original intent of honoring the Savior with our gifts to where our culture is today? I’m afraid, for many, the Christmas season has become one of commercialization and, often, greed. It’s possible that many of us have evolved into celebrating merely a season instead of its reason. We go into debt to buy gifts we can’t afford for children and people that don’t truly know how to appreciate or value them. It looks like we may have gotten things backwards. Not totally unusual for us humans, really. We tend to do that a lot.

So, am I the only one that would really like to make the main thing the main thing at Christmas time again? I don’t think so. I’m impressed that many of you would like a simple Christmas; a kinder, gentler Christmas where we focus on what God did for us through bringing us a baby in a manger to save the world. As we ponder the awesome scope of that, let us give the only gift that really matters. O COME LET US ADORE HIM!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's Harvest Time!

Bill and I enjoyed the beauty of Notre Dame's campus today. We're in South Bend, IN, to do a live tv show tomorrow morning on a Christian Network. We have never really had access to this network in towns we've lived in (or I wasn't aware of it at the time), so I wasn't very familiar with the programming when Bill was first presented with the opportunity to be a guest. I've learned more about the network now and I'm really excited at the far reach of God and His willingness to allow us to be a part of it. The show is called "The Harvest Show" via LeSEA (Lester Sumrall Evangelistic Association) Broadcasting. One of LeSEA's ministries is Feed The Hungry.

Bill and I are humbled that God would allow us to share our story of His love and faithfulness via this venue that reaches approximately 46 million North American homes via DirecTV ch. 367. There are also 12 stations, cable and syndication around the country that airs the broadcast. Their Middle East Television (METV) satellite reaches 73 million homes in Israel an 15 surrounding nations on channel 24 on cable to Israel. Their Far East Television (FETV) broadcasts to approximately 4.3 billion people in Asia, Australia, all of Europe and Africa. The European coverage is 78 million homes, and 8 million homes in Argentina. They also transmit 5 shortwave stations to 1 billion shortwave radios on the planet! I can't even get my head around these kinds of numbers, BUT, thankfully I don't have do. God knows the number of hairs on our heads. He's got the numbers all under control. He aims to reach the masses and I'm so amazed that He would even consider us worthy of being used to spread His good news to others. We are thankful and awestruck.

Who knows to whom this transmission will be communicated? I certainly don't know, but God has always known and He will reach those who have ears to hear and hearts to respond. We are praying that God prepares their hearts and minds to see only Him in us. His love, His grace, His mercy are irresistable! My prayer is, let them say "YES"!!! Somehow, I know God wants to honor that prayer. We can plant the seeds, but may God bring on the Harvest like only He can do:-)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Are we giving God indigestion?

On Webster's webpage The Word of the Day for September 21, 2009 is:

Laodicean • \lay-ah-duh-SEE-un\ • adjective

: lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics

Example Sentence:

Evan lamented the Laodicean attitude of his fellow citizens, as evidenced by the low voter turnout on Election Day.

Did you know?

English speakers owe the word "Laodicean" to Chapter 3, verses 15 and 16 of the Book of Revelation, in which the church of Laodicea is admonished for being "neither cold nor hot, . . . neither one nor the other, but just lukewarm" in its devotion. By 1633, the name of that tepid biblical church had become a general term for any half-hearted or irresolute follower of a religious faith. Since then, the word’s use has broadened to cover flimsy political devotion as well. For example, in comparing U.S. presidents, journalist Samuel Hopkins Adams compared "the fiery and aggressive [Theodore] Roosevelt" to "the timorous Laodicean [Warren] Harding."

I don't know about you, but I'm probably guilty of not being as passionate about my Lord, His church and our world, as I should be. But I don't want to be "laodicean"; I don't want to be lukewarm. The bible says God will spit you out of His mouth if you are lukewarm. In other words, laodiceans are distasteful to Him; half-hearted; have lack of devotion or are too politically correct to be of much benefit to anyone. Have you left a bad taste in God's mouth or caused Him to want to take a heavenly Tums? There have been times when I probably have.

Lord, please give me the courage to be all that you want me to be for your kingdom and your glory. Please convict me when I am becoming complacent or laodicean. Please help me to be a good and faithful servant for you and to others. Ignite my passion, Lord, so I can share the good news of a wonderful God to a world that needs to know You. I can't be lukewarm to do that effectively so help me to always be bold when led by you and to have the courage to be resolute in my devotion to You and to things and people that matter to You. AMEN!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

God's travel blessings

It’s a travel day. We’re headed out to sunny California to the Celebrate Recovery Summit at Saddleback Church. There are 17 of us from Heartland Community Church on this flight, a flight that had a slow start getting off the ground, but is now soaring freely in the air, thank God. It reminds me of so many of us and our struggles in life. Sometimes we get stalled and we can’t seem to get off the ground, but then God picks us up and allows us to soar.

It’s been a mixed bag of blessings today and I’m sitting in the middle of a 4 hour flight, so I’ll bore you with some of the details. First off, we left for the O’Hare airport in Chicago at 5:00 am for our scheduled 8:30 am flight. We get to the airport and attempted to circumvent waiting in line by checking our bags at the curb; it’s always been our preferred mode of check-in in past travels. Luckily, Bill notices that the attendant charges us for three bags, but we only have two. This is not something that can be corrected at the curb. He takes our credit card and goes inside, to the terminal, to correct the mistake. We’re still waiting for him to return 15 minutes later, so Bill goes in search of him, finds him, and all is well. Today’s check-in was not as quick as former ones had been, but maybe it was just an indication of what the day had in store. Still, no problem, we have plenty of time for our flight.

We get through security and I go the bathroom….I know…TMI…but there’s a point I want to make here about the bathrooms in O-Hare. You see, you can say whatever you want about O’Hare, good or bad, but there is one thing I absolutely LOVE about this airport…the plastic covered toilet seats that rotate to a clean “throne” when you wave your hand over the automated contraption on the wall – telling you how many rotations have been made. I have always thought this was one of the best inventions ever made and it blesses my socks off each time I go to O’Hare. It’s so cool not to worry about lining the seat with TP before you sit or having to “hover” over the seat without making contact. Oh the joy! Anyway, some people want to be a killjoy about this and insist that the plastic just keeps going around and being re-used by everyone. I choose not to believe this pessimistic view of a modern day blessing.

So, we get on the flight and end up being delayed for maintenance to look at a malfunction. They come over the speakers and tell us they can’t find the part they need to fix it, so we will have to de-board and get onto another flight. Two minutes later, they tell us, they are going to be able to fix the malfunction after all. I’m not at all comfortable with this scenario, and would much rather be on the ground than on a plane that was put together with what was probably duct tape. Regardless, they don’t ask for my opinion, so we eventually start to taxi on the runway. After coasting along for a little bit, the captain comes back over the speakers and tells us they have a completely new problem and we are going to have to go back to the gate to allow the maintenance crew to come aboard to see if they can fix it. Now its’ nearly two hours after we first boarded the plane, and we’re told that we won’t be able to fly this aircraft after all and we will need to get off the plane and wait for another plane. But I’m okay with this, you understand, because I see it as more of God’s blessings and protection.. I didn’t want to go up in a malfunctioning plane anyway and much prayer had gone into safe travel for our entire group. Praise the Lord!
Not only were we, SAFELY, still on the ground, but they ended up giving us lunch vouchers to help towards our lunch as we waited another two hours for our new plane to get in from LaGuardia. Additionally, one member of our group had an unexpected drop in his blood sugar and was near the point of fainting. We were able to get him some food and revive him for the rest of the journey….yes, God is always good!

Now we’re on the plane and I’m excited about how God has blessed us. It may be four hours later than we planned to be in route, but that’s an inconvenience I can overlook. I’m beginning to see that perspective and focus have a lot to do with the outcome of many situations. Focusing on God’s blessings in our delays, and not the tiresome inconveniences they imposed upon our trip, has helped me to CELEBRATE his goodness.

That doesn’t mean I have perfect perspective ALL the time. Right now I’m dealing with my impatience with the traveler in front of me. I have had a pet peeve, for a LONG time, with travelers who recline their seats on planes that are already much too compact. Those of us that have vertical fortitude and long legs are especially challenged with someone wanting to put their seatbacks into our knees and their heads in our laps. I’m just not ready to get that close to my fellow travelers! Yet I’m trying to understand that this man may feel he has an entitlement to use the reclining feature on his seat, even though he is in a roomy exit row and doesn’t have to worry about the person in front of him returning the favor. Oh well, there’s a blessing in there somewhere. I think I just have to look past my selfishness long enough to see it. Opening my eyes probably wouldn’t hurt either. Sometimes we shut our eyes to things because we don’t want to find the good in it. Guilty! I guess I’m headed to a good place this week. Hopefully, there’s help for me yet.

Friday, July 3, 2009

King of Pop; King of Rock and Roll; King of Glory

I am intrigued to watch the world react when a public figure dies. With the recent unfortunate and untimely death of Michael Jackson, once again, I'm intrigued. A sadness strikes me when I think of him; of what a tragic and lonely life he seemed to live and what an early unexpected death that ceased his earthly existence.

I am not awe-struck by Michael Jackson, the person, but I do think he was a genius, musically. I readily give him credit for being a pop music icon. My sorrow is that it all went wrong somewhere and people just began to think he was strange. He lost his way somehow. Being thrust into the spotlight at a very early age couldn't have been easy and, from the reports I've seen, he wasn't nominating his father for any "father of the year" awards. Suffice it to say, I think his hurts, habits and hang-ups have been festering for a very long time. I only wish someone could have reached him and would have been there to help him; to speak some truth to him; to love him for who he was - not what he could give them or do for them.

Yes, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop....he had fame and fortune....and failure. Some of the world hailed him when he was alive...many gossiped and speculated. Yes, he had some strange behaviors and probably some very painful memories and hurts, but none of us really know what was true of him. What's hypocritical is that people distained him in life and yet praise him in death.

I'm also struck by the similarities the King of Pop had with the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. Not to mention that MJ was once married to Elvis' daughter, but there are even more striking parallels to be drawn. Both were flat out entertaining; both had early and lengthy fame; both amassed large crowds of fans and finacial fortunes; both had a darkness to their lives that seemed to torture them beyond what anyone could understand; both were rumored to medicate themselves to help extinguish their pain; both had problems with their popularity, and their lifestyles and finances suffered greatly for it....Yes, two earthly legends could not support the mantle of "KING". That's because they were only human. Unfortunately, they could not hold up under the pressure, and they left this world earlier than anyone expected, or really wanted, them to. Sad.

That brings us to the King of GLORY; the one true KING, Jesus. His fame came, mostly, after his death. And many, still, cannot believe he is the KING. Maybe its because he had no earthly fortune. He taught that your fortune is in the treasures you lay up in heaven - in other words, what you really love and care about, and for, dictates how wealthy you are. Love is intangible; money is not. Yet love will last when money is long gone. And in the world's eyes, Jesus failed, was killed on a cross, and died. BUT...we know the true story...He rose again! MJ might be able to moon walk and Elvis might be able to rock and roll like no other, BUT Jesus gets the ultimate kudos for blowing my mind...He rose from the dead! That's right, shed his grave clothes, moon walked on over to the door and rolled the rock away....that's some serious "kingly" behavior! The best part is, if I believe He is the Christ, that he died for me, and I put my trust in Him, I can have front row seats to the best concert ever, as we sing everlasting praises to him in heaven. The tickets are free just have to ask!

This week we'll watch the world flock to memorials for Michael Jackson. No doubt, they'll continue to worship him for years, just like people still do Elvis. I do know that neither of them are ever walking, alive, out of the doors of Neverland or Graceland. Yet people will continue hailing them as kings for generations to come. It's okay to pay respects to a person's life and acknowledge that they were probably the best at their trade. As far as worshipping a king, I'll just stick with the King of Glory. 2000 years and running is a pretty long time to reign and He's only just begun!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Staying in the RIGHT lane

I saw in the news today where New Yorkers have the worst reputation for being impatient drivers...DUH..I think we all knew that one! I will say one thing for New Yorkers...they've learned how to get where they're going much faster than drivers I've seen in other cities. Actually, I think they get a bad rap, because I love the way they do a few things. Unlike my more southern friends, New Yorkers don't start lining up single file when they see a sign that says something like "5 miles - right lane closed". No, New Yorkers will take all available space in both lanes and allow one another to "take turns" at the merging point. But watch out if you are not quick enough to take your will get a horn or two, and maybe a few other "pleasantries" thrown your way. Please take it from someone who has lived both in NY and further south and west....sitting in traffic is no picnic but the New Yorkers are much more effective in getting through it.

Speaking of traffic and drivers, I find myself in "grace challenges" when presented with "LEFT" lane drivers. I'm sorry if you are one, but its time someone mentioned the obvious....It's annoying! See, I told you it was a grace challenge for me. I have to constantly ask God's forgiveness for my impatience in this area. I mean, what part of "stay in the right lane unless passing" did people not understand when reading their driver's learning manual? I think it's pretty much an across-the-board concept in all driver's manuals, yet many individuals just naturally gravitate to the left lane and stay there....Help me Lord! Living in NY for so many years really rubbed off on me -and I'm sure I'm a much better driver for it!

But if you think about it, staying in the RIGHT lane just makes sense. That goes for all areas of life - not just traffic. You can operate safely in the right lane and let those moving at a faster pace go around you if they need to. However, if you're poking along in the left lane, you are, no doubt, in the wrong lane and you're operating out of your sweet spot. In all humility, I say, "Get back in the right lane"!

God created us all with special gifts and purposes. We aren't operating at maximum capacity if we are not in the right lane doing the right thing. We could even be impeding others' progress. In the right lane we can operate in our giftedness until something slows us down. Then, when there is an opening, we can move into the left lane and sail smoothly past our roadblocks. That's the way it's supposed to work. We aren't always supposed to stay in the fast lane.

Case in point - I love music. I love to sing. I love to worship my Lord in song. Yet, I don't want to sit in the left lane with my singing ability and I'm certainly not passing anyone. You see, I'm not a great singer...just I know I need to stay in my lane. I certainly don't need to try to get in the left lane with the big dogs on that one. That's okay; I'll just stay on the right and toot my horn when I need to:-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stop whining and start worshipping!

It's the beginning of June. Most people in the country are enjoying baseball, hotdogs and apple pie about now. In Rockford, IL, its in the 50's! Not exactly Club Med, but a vast improvement over the frozen winters we experience out here. We don't really have much of a spring here and it can get to you after living in milder climates like Kentucky and Colorado. I can start to feel sorry for my luck sometimes, then I'm reminded that I asked for, no I prayed for, this assignment. God answered our prayers to be used by him in any way he chose, anywhere he chose. And here I am forgetting that he's just being faithful. Me? I'm being an Israelite!

When I read about the Israelites in the bible, what do I see? I see people who are forgetful of God's goodness; people who are ungrateful for how they've been blessed; people who complain about the little inconveniences despite the huge blessings. Wow, I'm no different it seems. Looks like I need more than just a little sunshine....I need a complete attitude adjustment! Yes, this human flesh needs a little reminder now and then that I need to re-examine my priorties. I got just that reminder this week, as I was reading an excerpt from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's Decision newsletter. It was a past article written by Corrie Ten Boom - one who knew true adversity, was blessed much and served much. If I could be just a little bit more like her in spirit and in deed, I know I wouldn't worry about little things like weather and sunshine as much. I might begin to see that every life that is touched or helped through something Bill and/or I have done, said or written for the glory of Christ is well worth riding out less than ideal climate. Besides, those summer months here are pretty nice when they do come and I'll appreciate them even more. Consider me well convicted. I don't want to act like an Israelite anymore. I ask for God's forgiveness and ask him to allow me to continue to serve with joy where he has led us. I'm ready to stop whining and start worhipping:o)

Here's the article by Corrie Ten Boom:

Serving With Joy Where God Leads Us
One morning I spoke in a church in Copenhagen, Denmark. The text was Romans 12:1: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (NIV).

I told my audience that they had to give their bodies as a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord. I said that although I was an elderly woman, I still wanted to give myself completely to Jesus and do what He desired me to do and go where he desired me to go—to be obedient even to the point of death.

After the service, two nurses approached me. They invited me for a cup of coffee in their apartment. I was very tired. A cup of coffee seemed very appealing, and I gratefully accepted their invitation. But I was not prepared for the steep climb to their room. Many of the houses in Copenhagen are very old and have no elevators, and the nurses lived on the 10th floor. …

“Oh Lord, I don’t think I can make it,” I said. But the nurses were so insistent that I didn’t dare refuse. When I at last reached the fifth floor, my old heart was beating heavily and my legs refused to go a step further. I saw a chair and sat down. I said to the nurses, “Go on to your room. When I’ve rested I’ll come too.”

I asked the Lord, “Why do I have to walk up so many flights of stairs after such a busy day, Lord?” The answer came immediately: “Because there will be such a great blessing up there. It will even give joy to the angels of God.” I looked at the winding stairs, which I could see going on right to the top. I thought, Maybe I am going to Heaven. That will give joy to the angels. I counted the steps. There were a hundred or more.

But if God said the work would make the angels rejoice, I had to go. I stood up and started to climb again. At last I reached the 10th floor, and when I arrived in the nurses’ room, I found a table brightly laid. The meal had been prepared by the parents of one of the nurses. I knew I only had a little time, and I knew that in one way or another, God was going to give a blessing. So I started a conversation.

“Tell me,” I asked the nurse’s mother, “was it long ago that you got to know the Lord Jesus?”

“I have never met Him,” she said, a little surprised at my question.

I said, “Don’t you want to come to Him? He loves you. I have talked about Him in more than 60 countries, and I have never met anyone who regretted giving his heart to Jesus, and neither will you if you do.”

I opened the Bible and read her texts that made salvation through the Lord Jesus very clear. She listened with great interest. Then I asked, “Shall we speak together with the Lord?” I prayed and both the nurses prayed with me. At last, the mother put her hands together and said, “Lord Jesus, I actually know a great deal about You. I just read the Bible, but I now pray for You to come into my heart. I need salvation and cleansing. I know that You died on the cross for the sins of the whole world and for my sin, too. Please Lord Jesus, come into my heart and make me a child of God. Amen.”

I looked up and saw tears of joy on the faces of the young nurses. They had prayed so much for this couple, and now their prayers were being answered. I turned to the father, who had quietly listened to everything. “What do you think of this?” I asked.

“I have never made a decision for the Lord Jesus,” he said seriously, “but I have listened to everything you said to my wife, and I now know the way. I will pray to Jesus, too, for Him to save me.” He bowed his head, and from his lips came a joyful, serious prayer as he gave his life to Jesus Christ. I know that there were angels around us who were praising God. It says in the Bible that the angels rejoice over every sinner who repents.
“Thank You, Lord,” I whispered, as I went down the many stairs, “that you let me walk up all these steps to the top. The next time, Lord, help Corrie ten Boom listen to her own sermons, so that I am ready to go where You lead, even if it is steps up to the 10th floor.”

The late Corrie Ten Boom wrote the international best-seller “The Hiding Place,” which was made into a World Wide Pictures movie. Both told her inspiring story of faith and forgiveness in the face of the Nazi Holocaust. Taken by permission from “Reflections of God’s Glory,” ©1999 Stichting Trans World Radio Voor Nederland en Belgie and published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich. This meditation was originally broadcast over Trans World Radio in Dutch and then translated into English.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mighty 3:16s

Many people are familiar with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life." That is our hope. Believing in Him (Jesus) is our salvation; our promise of everlasting life. Unless you've been living in a cave, you've heard this. It's good news. Yet there are many that have not made this important choice - one that has to be made BEFORE the fulfillment of everlasting life with Him in heaven. Max Lucado has even written a book entitled 3:16 and, for those of us who have put our faith in Christ, there are abundant resources available to support our efforts to bring as many people to heaven with us as possible.

But there is another important 3:16 in the bible that was brought to my attention recently. It's a passage that packs a tremendous punch of great power and promise. I'm talking about Ephesians 3:16 and it's subsequent verses: 16 "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being" 17 "SO THAT Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being ROOTED and established in love", 18 "may have power, together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" 19 "and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." WOW:O) Can you get your arms around that?

This passage in Ephesians was written by the apostle Paul as a prayer for the Ephesians; that they (the church) may have the fulfillment of Christ in their lives. It can also be a prayer for US, as the church; that we may be strengthened in our innermost being through his spirit. The (Holy Spirit) within us should permeate every fiber of our being; especially our heart, as He cultivates and strengthens our faith. The Master Gardener has planted his love within us. If we can grasp this, it should only yield a power of understanding; one that gives us a supernatural wisdom of the infiniteness of our God in, around and beyond us. Grasping that power and love, as individuals, and as the church, is our key to the abundant life here on earth.

Yes, John 3:16 if our hope for the future; for eternity. Ephesians 3:16, and its supporting verses, should be our hope and our prayer for the present. Let's pray for that kind of understanding and power in our lives; that we may truly live a life that represents that God, himself, lives within us. How can we live ordinary, uneventful lives when we grasp this amazing truth? I contend that we cannot. We have to live as if we are filled to the measure of the fullness of God. Let's radiate that power...tap the energy source that lives within us. God's wonderful gift of his Holy Spirit is within us if we have trusted in his son Jesus. Don't waste such a glorious gift by leaving it all wrapped up...Open it up and live life to the fullest!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Wal-Mart Face

We’ve all heard the saying, “She’d lose her head if it wasn’t attached!” Well, maybe I’ve heard it a little more than others:o)
Anyway, I felt like I’d lost my head, or at least misplaced it, this past weekend. We arrived in KY at midnight and I soon realized that I had forgotten my entire cosmetic bag at the top of the stairs at home. Aesthetically speaking, my whole “head” was in that bag! How could I “face” the world on this very important weekend without my mask? I mean, it was Kristen’s graduation and Mother’s Day. I wanted pictures – and I wanted to be in some of them! How could I do that when all my make-up and hair products, including “special” brushes, were still back in Illinois at the top of the stairs?! My heart sank…I ran smack dab into my vanity and it felt like I’d been hit by a Mack truck.

Bill graciously suggested that we go to Wal-Mart and try to salvage the situation. It wouldn’t be quite the same, but it would at least help me feel better about being “put together” the next day. There are some cosmetics that can be easily replaced, but the Wal-Mart variety just doesn’t cut it across the board. I picked up what I could and felt like I had the basics. They were completely out of round brushes, so I was completely out of luck on that one. Luckily, my friend had a half round brush I was able to borrow the next morning, so my hair wasn’t as bad as it could have been – just a little flatter than usual.

I meet Kristen for breakfast that next morning and as we’re walking back out into the sunshine from Panera, she looks at me strangely and says, “Why are your cheeks so pink?” I looked in the rear view mirror in the car and had to laugh. I looked like a raggedy Ann doll….just a brilliant shade of pink instead of red. When I put my Wal-Mart cream blush on that morning, it had not appeared to be making much of a splash, so I kept adding more. Apparently, it gets brighter as time goes by and sunshine only enhances it! The foundation I had bought was not looking too grand either…it was rather shiny, as well. I was glowing like a nuclear bomb! Now, I’ll have to admit it was rather funny, but at the time I was more than a little disappointed that I wasn’t looking as well as I’d hoped I would for the weekend.

This all got me to thinking about the “masks” we wear and the “image” we portray. I’m merely talking “physical” mask when I talk about the importance we put on our appearance. Take it from someone who attends a co-dependency group in Celebrate Recovery every Friday evening….I care so much about what others think about me and how I look, I forget that the real me is really comprised of what’s on the inside, not the outside. I felt a pang of guilt. I had been anxious for friends and family, who hadn’t seen me in a while, to see how much healthier I was – how much better I “looked” in a size 6 as opposed to a size 12 (okay, I was pushing a 14 more so than leveling out at a 12..LOL!). How vane is that? I was faced with my own imperfections and realized they came largely from my heart….OUCH!

Well, I posted many pictures from the weekend on Face Book, and I’m wearing my Wal-Mart face and hair in all of them. Do I look my best? No, but I’ve realized it’s not really about how I look, but WHO I am. I am a blessed and loved child of God and that qualifies me as beautiful, no matter what my outer appearance is.

I’m also reminded of the spiritual “masks” that we wear. People come to church on the weekends and many are hurting on the inside. You can’t really tell, because they put on a smile and act like everything is fine in their world. Like most of us, they’re only in denial. If not something more intense, most of us can at least search within us and find some level of co-dependency. We are people-pleasers, we put others’ needs in front of our own, we obsess about what others say and think about us….in short, we are bound by our own insecurities and we don’t even realize that we’re “masking” something more complex – discontent in our hearts. It’s a vicious cycle that never seems to end.

We’ve learned in Celebrate Recovery that many “conditions” are merely symptoms with more complex root causes. For instance, one’s hurt or addiction may be what they’re trying to deal with, when those are really just a by-product of something like co-dependency or unforgiveness. If we could all start taking off the masks and finding out what is really causing discontent in our heart, we may just begin to live an authentic life. It means people will see you for who you really are….that the darkness will be exposed…but at least it will lose its power over you.

I’ll admit that appearance is more important to me than it should be….I am a girl after all, and we are sort of conditioned to care about those things. I will continue to take care of the temple that God has given me and I will continue to try to look attractive; especially for my husband, but I hope I can become more and more focused on my inner beauty. The kind of “glow” that comes from inner beauty is one that is refined by God. When I’m refined on the inside, I can’t help but appear beautiful on the outside. You can’t buy that at Wal-Mart!

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, shall be praised.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Great Weekend in KY

We had an action-packed FUN weekend in KY, as we celebrated our daughter’s graduation and Mother’s Day. Kristen is now certified to teach children in K – 5th grade and will be pounding the elementary school pavements as early as this week. Any school or class that gets her as a teacher will be blessed. I read some of the letters from students she was assigned to as a student teacher and they are really funny! One that really made me laugh was the one where the student said she was the only teacher that had ever “rapped” for them. I love her creativity and bet the students remember what she taught them in that “rap” session. We’re just praying for the right job for her and trusting that God will make the necessary arrangements for that to happen. I do want to thank so many of you for celebrating Kristen and her graduation. We love each of you and are so grateful for the love and support we are blessed to have from family and friends.

I also got to see my mom for a little bit on Sunday for Mother’s Day and she was having a good day. She looked so pretty and had on jewelry she had won at bingo…so cute! Of course she loved seeing us, as we loved seeing her. There’s no better medicine than love and family….a good dose of joy does a heart good. My mom has always devoted her life to her family and I am grateful for her love and devotion. She was also a wonderful cook, so I’m especially grateful for the fried chicken and the dumplings that she always made sure I had enough of….yes, I know the meaning of “southern comfort”. Bill and Kristen and I ended up at P.F. Changs for dinner and that was awesome as well. They’re sort of fun to hang out with.

Some of our friends made me laugh with their discussions at the graduation reception. We have some pretty fun friends that never fail to provide amusement. Several of them had their blackberries out and one was showing the others how to change the font to what she termed the “glaucoma” font – a very large print for those of us that have some challenges with our eyesight as we “mature”. I tried to take lots of pictures to post on Facebook. Kristen was rolling her eyes and calling me the “crazy picture taking lady”. I’ll have to admit, she was right on target! I’m not that savvy with a camera, but I’ve developed a new addiction for photos and will soon be a “picture posting maniac”. They may not be that good, but I’m hoping it will get better. I was using Kristen’s camera this weekend and had no clue what I was doing. A new digital camera is on my wish list and I’ll be having some fun with that in the future, I hope.

One last thing for this post, as we’re driving back to Rockford today and I’m using the time to write once again….we saw the most amazing testimony/message at Southland Christian Church, in Lexington, this weekend. Nick Vujicic is a young man that many of us have seen on YouTube. He was born with no arms or legs…but he is definitely the hands and feet of Jesus. He travels the world speaking about Jesus and introducing the love of Jesus to thousands of people. His physical limitations would be enough to make most people think they had nothing to offer and would cause many to resort to being limited psychologically and spiritually, as well. But not Nick! He is so full of God’s love and joy and THAT is very evident as he speaks to people. He has allowed God to use his limitations to bring thousands to salvation and seems quiet happy to do so – what a miracle! I love the way he speaks boldly and cuts out the fluff - His “language” is God’s language. When you’ve got no arms and legs, I guess you sort of circumvent what others might think about what you say or how you say it. All I can say is that it’s very effective and profound. Much of what Nick shared made an impact on me, but there were a couple of things I took away and hope to remember daily. These may or may not be original to him, but they’re good reminders, so I want to share them:

FAITH – Full Assurance In The Heart!
(I LOVE being reminded that this is what my faith is!!!)

Another reference he made was to the three things he asks God daily to teach him:
Teach me to Pray, Teach me to Thank You, and Teach me to Trust You!
I want to incorporate those requests into my daily communion with God also. It can only help me to know Him more.

Praise God for Nick’s life and testimony. I’m sure many will come to know Christ through his circumstances and story and I greatly admire his courage and conviction. You can watch him yourself and be blessed by God’s work in and through his life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Random thoughts on the way to KY

I’m way past due for a blog update. I know we all have the same 24 hours in every day, I just haven’t mastered how to best use mine – a challenge I’m afraid may always be a thorn in my side. Facebook doesn’t help. Now, when I do have a free minute to unwind, it seems like I recline in front of the tv to watch a program we’ve tevoed (How in the world do you past-tense tevo??) and open up my computer to my Facebook account. It wouldn’t be so bad if I just didn’t have to know what’s going on in everyone else’s world. It’s so fun to have a pulse on all your friends (old and new!), but it can really be a mindless way to eat up time. I guess it all comes down to discipline, or lack thereof. I’m usually pretty disciplined, but I have a way of avoiding a disciplinary mindset on the little things. Unfortunately, a lot of little things can add up to a BIG thing….a problem. Once I know I have to take a disciplinary action toward my own shortcomings, I can’t justify my actions any longer and I have to purposefully make a plan to get out of my quagmire…move my mountain…slay my giants. Well, I guess I’m there. I’m gonna have to purpose to cut out “fluff” and respect the parameters of TIME. I can so daydream if I’m not careful! All that to say, sorry I haven’t posted a new blog recently – no excuses, other than lack of discipline and creativity. I’ll try to be better at it. We’ll see how that new mindset for discipline works out.

Bill’s and my lives have been rather busy and eventful. We continue to put lots of time, effort and love into the CR ministry at Heartland. The people there are loved by God and loved by us – they’re SO GREAT! When I see one of them get their breakthrough to freedom and healing its like God has blessed me personally, and he has! CR’s a big blessing in our lives. We’ve had some other milestones recently: our 25th wedding anniversary was on April 28th. All I can say is “Praise God”! He gets credit for that one because it’s his miraculous power that kept us together and keeps us going. He’s such a good glue for stick-to-itiveness!!! No, you won’t find that one in Webster, but you know exactly what I’m saying. We have also been on a complete “health” re-haul for nearly 6 months now. We go to the greatest physician – Dr. Mitchell of Kolbaba and Associates. He’s a chiropractic physician and has great insight into nutritional health. It’s helped us anyway. Bill was really not well and had some major issues with his health. We decided to tackle the “monster” together and make drastic lifestyle changes. For those of you that know how Bill loved to cook and how we both loved to eat, you will be amazed at the “bareness” of our cupboards and fridge. Bill’s signature dishes (so well known by so many of you!) have not graced our kitchen, much less our lips or hips, for over 6 months now. Now, THAT’s amazing! Chicken Marsala, Pasta Fagiole, and Pasta with Filetto sauce are sorely missed, but will not “rise again” in this household. Well, maybe on an occasional holiday or special occasion, but not as a weekly staple! One of these days we will post some pictures so you can see the changes for yourselves. That’s been a great adventure for us and we’re much better off for it.

Our one and only “SPECIAL” child, Kristen, is graduating from the University of KY this weekend with a degree in Elementary Education. We’re so proud of her. I’m actually writing this blog in route to KY – good way to use car time! (It’s a little hard to drive at the same time though…LOL!) Yes, Bill is driving as I “unload”. We so appreciate continued prayers for God to open the right doors for a job opportunity for Kristen. We’re praying for 1st grade in a school of His choice anywhere from Lexington to Louisville – or in between.

As most of you know, Bill’s book has officially hit the market. “They Called Me White Jesus” is a project that was birthed in answer to prayer and what we truly believe is God’s direction in our lives. It’s only a response to what God has done for us, a declaration of his faithfulness and our gratefulness. The wonderful thing is that God will do just as much or more for any one of you. He loves you just as much as He loves us. Take him at His word and believe Him…OBEY Him….He will prove to be faithful. I promise!

What’s been interesting in this entire book process is watching the nature of people. We know that God opened the door for this book and we are just being obedient in telling others how faithful He is. He even brought a publisher to us – amazing, really, when you think about it. So all we want to do is finish well on the assignment. That’s sometimes easier said than done. Just like following God, promoting a book takes some active participation. While it may be a blessing to just have a book “out there”, it’s paramount to get as much exposure as possible to “spread the good news”. Because it is good news! God’s work in our lives and the testimony of His character in our lives is evidenced in the book. It would be silly to give birth to a baby and then do nothing more to help it to grow and flourish. That’s the way I feel about the book, but it’s been a process to get there; a difficult one. It’s hard to “promote” something that is considered “yours”, but that’s where my breakthrough finally surfaced. I was reminded by God that this book is not ours, but “HIS”. We want to promote it for His glory, to tell of His goodness and to fulfill the purposes He has in allowing us to share it. I feel that it will encourage people, give them hope in their relationships, demonstrate the importance and wonder of prayer, and, most of all, glorify the Great God that had His hand on it all! I can’t keep quite about that! I must CELEBRATE it and not apologize for doing so. So, all the misgivings I’ve had in the past about the Facebook networking to get the word out, to “promote” it, if you will, is no longer a concern for me. When God calls us to do something, I believe He calls us to do it well. He wants us to let our lights shine, not HIDE them under a bushel! I’ve gotten the revelation on that point, but not everyone has. Sometimes I wonder why God didn’t send out the memo! (Oh yes….He did write an entire book once, didn’t He?…LOL!) Here’s what I mean by people not getting it though: I wonder if others might feel the same way I first did about the whole “promotion” thing because of the way they are re-acting (or not, in some cases) to the release of the book. I’m wondering if some may think we are not being humble enough by continually talking about the book, by trying to get the word out so others can experience His love as we have. In my “humble” opinion, I feel we could have gotten more help from some in the promotion of the book; those that have the influence and the vehicle to make a big “splash” in the ocean of potential readers, and for whatever reason have chosen not to do so…YET. I’m not sure why that is, but only God can and will open the right doors and we still trust that He is our best “promotion”. Yet, I will still pray that He gets that memo out to others so they can assist in the facilitation! It reminds me of the scriptures where God talks about hearing prayers when they were first prayed. He dispatched his angels immediately in response, but they were “delayed” by the enemy. They did battle for “21 days” before they could come to the aid of the one who prayed. I believe in that reality and I believe God can carry out His plans, even when the enemy throws up road blocks or delays.

Well, we’re driving through Louisville now….this is a great way to pass the time….but I feel like I’ve just emptied out a storage bin of ideas in all shapes and sizes that have been stored away in my mind and heart for some time. The good thing about finally posting is that I have lots to say….The bad thing about finally posting is that I have lots to say! The obvious conclusion of it all is that I could have a touch of ADHD, but let’s just call it creativity….the artist in me doesn’t really care to worry about proper grammar and sentence structure tonight, so if you’ve made it this far in the post…my apologies....I know its totally RANDOM, but it has been fun. Until next time….Carolynn

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Scar

Yesterday was Valentine's Day. It was a sweet day. Bill and I spent time together and he cooked me a wonderful steak dinner. I'm still amazed at God's grace and his miraculous healing of our miracle.

From the first time I heard Point of Grace's "Heal the Wound but Leave the Scar" I have loved the message therein. It's because I so strongly identify with the song, that I get totally immersed in it every time I hear it. The words ask God to heal the wound, but leave the scar, because it's a reminder of "How merciful you are". I love that.

I'm so grateful for God's mercy in my life and in my marriage. He has healed the wound that was much too great for me to overcome without Him; without his grace and mercy. I am still in awe of that kind of mercy and I am so grateful to be a recipient of it. For that reason, I am blessed that God healed the wound and I'm grateful that he left the scar.

The "scar" is the testimony I have to tell of his goodness, grace and mercy. Without the wound, I wouldn't have the scar. The scar is on display as a witness of his healing power; as a witness of the power of prayer; and as a witness of his goodness. I don't want to ever forget what my God has done for me and I want to share it with others so they may experience his mercy also. I want to be able to look at my life and know what my God has brought me from; what he has redeemed. The wound is healed and the scar is a beautiful reminder of how merciful YOU are!

Some people have tatoos. I'm proud to have a scar that tells the story of God's mercy.

Here are the words to the song. Nicole Nordeman was one of the writers.

"Heal the Wound but Leave the Scar"

I used to wish that I could rewrite history
I used to dream that each mistake could be erased
Then I could just pretend
I never knew me back then

I used to pray that You would take this shame away
Hide all the evidence of who I've been
But it's the memory of The place You brought me from That keeps me on my knees
And even though I'm free

Chorus :
Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

I have not lived a life that boasts of anything
I don't take pride in what I bring
But I'll build an altar with The rubble that You've found me in
And every stone will sing
Of what You can redeem

Don't let me forget
Everything You've done for me
Don't let me forget
The beauty in the suffering

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Party Master

It's the first day of 2009....Happy New Year! We ushered in the New Year at a Celebrate Recovery New Year's service here at Heartland. It was great to be thanking God for the grace and goodness of the past year and asking him to keep his hand upon us for the upcoming one.

One of the songs we sang last night was one of the Passion songs that says, "We're gonna PARTEEEE........I was dead, now I'm alive! It's the best New Year's party I've ever been to. Those of us that have a relationship with Jesus know that there is much to celebrate. I pray that I don't become complacent this year and forget that God's goodness is worth celebrating every day.

We had an added blessing last night because songwriter and singer Sarah Kelly and her "yummy" (her words) husband were our guests. She sang a couple of songs that were incredibly moving. One was a song that she wrote while in the midst of a very long and troubled time in her life. It is called, "Just about Midnight" and she sang about calling on God to help her out of her troubles. The other was her version of "Amazing Grace".

All I can say is WOW....God was at the party! Sarah gave Bill a new nickname that gave everyone a chuckle. I think it'll stick for a while. She called him the "Party Master"! If the Party Master is the one that loves Jesus with all his heart and invites everyone else to join the celebration, then I'll have to agree - that's who he is.

I hope you celebrate this year. Join the party. You always have an open invitation.

Blessing to you in 2009!