Home, Sweet Home

We are back in Indiana – the state we’ve lived in since we were born — with the exception of the last 3 years when we lived in Florida. I don’t even know where to begin….

I cannot believe how much life has changed for us. We’ve been “home” for 5 weeks, however, last night it dawned on me how God has answered so many of my prayers. I’ve been so happy since we’ve been back — busy putting things away and getting adjusted to being a pastor’s wife again and getting to know new people, and somehow I missed it! Totally missed the fact that God was providing our needs.

Life in Florida was like living on a deserted island for me, but I’m thankful how it brought me closer to God. There were days when I would be so down and I wondered if I would ever feel normal again.

One morning I came to the conclusion that I needed to get into a routine of thanking God for specific things to help bring me out of the valley. I know we should do that anyway because He deserves the praise, but this was important for me to do as a reminder to be thankful instead of pitiful or resentful.

So, every morning, before my feet touched the floor, I would look out our bedroom window and thank Him for another day. Simple as that. I would remind myself that there were people who were praying to live another day, so I should stop taking life for granted.

I felt so empty. I tried, but couldn’t find my purpose. Did you know that when you don’t feel like you have one, you feel worthless? It’s true. And, it’s a horrible place to be. If you’re in a similar place, please — don’t give up. When God provides a way out of that valley, you won’t forget it — you never forget. Pray believing, because He hears your prayers. At the right time — His timing, life will change. Maybe in baby steps, but it will improve.

A part of me wishes I understood why God allowed us to move in the first place, but then I am reminded that true faith requires trusting His plan, surrendering our plan, and following Him.


Never Give Up

I just read a story that I HAVE to share. It’s about a man named Tony Bullimore. Maybe you’ve heard what happened to him. If not, his experience is worth your time. You may not be able to relate to the beginning of the story, but if you’re like me – you will truly relate and appreciate the ending.

Tony was one of Britain’s most experienced transatlantic yachtsmen. Unfortunately, his yacht capsized during a race. He compares his experience to being in the Niagara Falls – only upside down. He was trapped underneath for four days in near freezing temps. As you can imagine, his air supply was diminishing. On top of that, he knew he was more than a thousand miles from land. Although it seemed pretty hopeless, he still prayed that he would be rescued.

The Royal Australian Navy did find him because of a modern satellite and surveillance that tracked every yacht that was in the round-the-world competition. Can you imagine what went through his mind when they found him?

This is the part I love – SO much… A journalist said at the time of his rescue, ‘A rescue that succeeds against all odds and every expectation is the best of all stories. It is pure and spontaneous joy.’

Just think, WE can experience that joy today because of Jesus. It wasn’t until I turned 21 that I got it through this thick skull of mine that He was trying to save me. I’m so thankful for all those people who constantly reached out to me – invited me to church, Bible study, and offered to pray with me.

If you are living your life feeling trapped in darkness, there IS a way out! Please trust me, He will save you, too… Galations 1:4 ~ “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.”

Waiting

We are getting ready to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this summer.

T h i r t y – f i v e years.

It seems like yesterday when we first met. How has time slipped by so quickly?

Maybe it has something to do with life. You know – those things that fill our days. Ours were full because of three sons, ministry, friends, family, school, work, sports, illness, death, turmoil, anxiety, joy, rejection, and love.

36 years ago today, on Valentine’s Day, he broke up with me. This was before we had social media where you can spy (so to speak) to get answers to your questions like – are we even still friends, is he moving on, seeing someone else, sad about the break up, or is he even still alive?

We said our goodbyes on that February 14th —– and that was it. No phone calls. No letters. Nada. Everything I looked forward to was gone.

I was crushed. Shocked, actually. We had dated for a while, and I was sure he was the one. I tried to move on, but my life felt so empty.

So several months later, he called. We met for dinner, and a few months later he proposed. The rest is history.

The months between the breakup and his phone call were difficult. Maybe they were for him as well. I had so many questions and no answers. Should I date around or should I wait? Did I do something wrong? Am I a loser? Was I trying to make someone ‘the one’ when God had something better in mind?

So, I finally did it. I went out on a date and I was miserable. There was my answer. I was in love – so I waited.

If you’ve had to wait for something, then you know how fun it is. It’s not fun, but I’ve learned that it’s worth it.

A friend recently shared this analogy with me. She has such a way with words that describe the payoff of waiting for God’s will to be revealed:

“It’s hard to trust God in the unseen, the unknown, but when he reveals his will, his ways in our lives – it’s almost like the sun bursting forth through a cloud or over the horizon. It’s breathtaking and amazing!” ~ Luci

Don’t let the forecast ruin your day

It’s been a very rainy weekend.

The first question that popped into my head yesterday afternoon is why do we often lose interest in doing anything – even inside – when it’s raining? Our day instantly became a read- a- book or binge watch tv kind of day.

The second question that came out of nowhere was why are we bummed when something happens, even though it benefits our environment or someone else?

We haven’t had rain in Florida for quite some time. It rained off and on one day this week, and then this weekend it has rained almost nonstop. Yes, we needed it. But still – I wish it would stop!

Isn’t life like that? Something happens that doesn’t fit into our schedule or how we pictured the day, and just like that we become frustrated – even though what’s happening is temporary and often for the best.

Have you found yourself doing the same? Next time you find yourself complaining about something – like traffic, a crazy driver, the long line at the grocery, long wait at the doctor’s office, snow, cold temps, or rain – remind yourself this is temporary…. and maybe even necessary.

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:24

Enjoy your day.

Still Climbing…

I’ve read where people have climbed a mountain alone. I can’t begin to imagine how scary that would be. If you need help, where do you turn? Is it really that big of a deal to tackle a mountain alone?

Just like life – we need people. We need God.

The mountain I’ve been climbing has become a little bit easier – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the wisdom I recently received from a message at church.

God works that way, you know. Sometimes when you least expect it, you hear a message that makes you realize that God is listening. He knows the struggle, and He’s with us – every step we take. 

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

I’m so thankful for that reminder. Perhaps you needed it, too.

How to Climb a Mountain

I started 2019 with a bang! No, I didn’t go mountain climbing. I had to get a filling and a new crown. I mean, it just doesn’t get more exciting than that.

Last year wasn’t a fun year for me. I had to go to the ER TWO times. I had to go to TWO specialists – a Cardiologist and a Hematologist. Found out my platelet count was double and my cholesterol was too high. Had to have blood drawn TWO many times. Although I don’t have anything life-threatening, it all put me on the struggle bus. Have you taken a ride on it? It’s not exactly a fun ride.

I wasn’t going to write about this, but I have felt a nudge after seeing what Toby Mac had to say about sharing our struggles…

So, here I am – telling you about my journey. Here’s where things start to change.

I was stopped in the turn lane the other day when I heard loud music coming from the car that was stopped next to me.

A young gal was singing every word to the song with a smile on her face. I couldn’t help but watch her. I wondered if she was happy because she was on her way to see a friend or maybe because it was Friday. Who knows. All I know is that I want to feel that happy again – at least for five minutes.

The weight of the world can certainly keep you from enjoying life, can’t it? Sometimes you don’t even realize that a weight needs to be lifted until you see a young girl singing a song….

When Life Takes A Turn Into An Unknown Future

Our life has been up and down like a rollercoaster the last 3 years, and now it has my head spinning in circles.

What. A. Ride.

We’ve lived in Florida for three years. While most people our age choose to come down here to retire or stay during the winter months, we moved south because of a job. 

We’ve been blessed to meet many wonderful people since we’ve lived here. Some, we only met maybe once because we served together at a nursing home, helped supply water for a homeless shelter, helped clean hundreds of buckets for  a Thanksgiving dinner outreach, or briefly chatted while meeting for the first time when we were walking in the area. Others have become life-long friends.

Soooooo….My husband recently found out that his job (along with many others) is being eliminated in March. The corporate world is so ……. COLD. Even though they try to convey that everyone is valuable to the company – their actions speak louder than words. Let’s be real. It’s all about the money – that’s what’s valued.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been so unsettled since we’ve been down here. Even though there were many things that were good and many things we were thankful for – like the fact my husband had a good job, we had a roof over our head, we had food on our table, and we’ve been surrounded by some wonderful people – I still felt out of place.  We both did.

We live near the beach, almost always have beautiful weather, and we get to see Florida’s tropical beauty – every. single. day. Still, something important was missing.

At this point, we don’t know where we are going to live or what we’re going to do for an income,  don’t know anything about the future – yet I now experience such a peace like none other. We both do. I don’t even know how to explain it!

Not being able to see what’s ahead can be intimidating. It’s all about trust.

Maybe it’s because we’re heading back to a place where we lived more than 55 years. Maybe it’s because the pieces to our puzzle are falling into place with a possibility of being back in the ministry. Maybe it’s because this is SO much bigger than us, we know it will take our maker to work out all the details.

Looking from the outside, you probably think I’ve lost my mind. Maybe a little, but the truth is – I AM trusting God.  There’s no doubt he’s cutting the ties for us here and has allowed us to be in a position where we need to totally rely on Him for answers. When you know who’s in charge of your journey, it sure does bring comfort and a calm in the middle of a storm of uncertainty. 

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Thank you, Lord, for never leaving my side. Please forgive me when I doubt your faithfulness and goodness….for you are good. All the time.

Relationships

Once again, I heard a story about a family that doesn’t talk to one another any more. They don’t get together for birthdays, holidays, or any other day. Sisters, brothers, and parents live near one another, but apparently have chosen not to speak. 

Whether the door was closed on you, or you severed the ties with someone, you could add so much more insight to this story. Both sides would probably point their finger at the other person, but I’m pretty sure both sides would agree that it’s not supposed to be this way. 

When my husband and I were married, my mother didn’t come to the wedding. She shut me out of her life weeks before. I was still living at home before my wedding, and the morning that my dad and I were headed for the church – my mom stayed in her room with the door closed.

Silence speaks louder than words.

I wasn’t surprised, but it still hurt like crazy. I made the choice on my wedding day that I wasn’t going to let her absence ruin my day or my life. Thirty four years later, I can honestly say that it didn’t.

Ohhhhhh, there were times over the next few years when I felt the hurt. Like all those times I attended a wedding after mine and watched the mother of the bride hug her daughter and shed tears of happiness for her daughter, or when I went to someone’s baby shower and caught a glimpse of what a mother/daughter relationship should be like. Yes, I felt the sting.

Relationships are important. They’re never perfect, but the good and the bad helps us become a better person if we allow it.

There’s another type of relationship that I want to talk about and how you handle it is of eternal value. It’s with Jesus. 

You do know that He loves you, right? Have you talked to Him – ever? I don’t mean through some memorized prayer or that one time you yelled “Oh, God! Help!” I’m talking about sitting down wherever you are and spending time talking to Him like you would a best friend – spilling your guts. Reading His word and getting to know Him. And most importantly, listening.

He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  Micah 6:8

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. – Psalm 86:5

Or is He one of your loved ones that you’re shutting out? 

Why do we worship?

When you think about heaven, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? Maybe you think about angels, clouds, or streets of gold.

Hopefully, you think about seeing and worshiping God. I mean, He IS the one who created you, pursued you, and has been waiting on you to join Him for eternity.

I’m doing a study about heaven, and the book is called Revealing the Mysteries of Heaven, by David Jeremiah. He explains that how we live life now – how we worship God now,  is like a dress rehearsal for how we will worship Him when we see him face-to-face. Think about that for a minute. What is your attitude when you go to church? When you are asked to stand to sing? When you are asked to bow your head to pray? When you are asked to serve or help someone out. Are you thinking about Jesus? 

Maybe you don’t like the songs that your church sings, or perhaps you don’t know the words, so instead of worshiping, you find yourself counting down to the last song. Like, H O W long do we have to stand to worship? Surely there’s something written somewhere in the church bylaws that states we shouldn’t have to sing so many songs. (sarcasm)

I don’t know about you, but when I think about my life’s most memorable moments that took my breath away – it makes me realize just how amazing heaven will be.

Falling in love.

That first time I saw and held my newborn. (X 3)

Watching my adult son fall in love.

The moment I heard the words “You’re going to be a grandparent.”

Holding my grand baby the first time.

If you’re a sports fan, maybe you can relate to something  that’s filled with hours of anticipation and excitement….

Have you ever had the opportunity to watch your favorite team play and win a game – in person? My first NBA final game I attended is something I will never forget. The place was packed. People (including myself) were standing the minute our team ran out on the court. I think the only time I sat down was at halftime.  I could barely hear myself talk to my husband because people were cheering so loud – the whole time! And when they won with a last second shot, it became even louder because the fans didn’t want to leave. They stayed there  – chanting the winner’s name: PACERS! (clap, clap) PACERS! (clap, clap) PACERS!

Friends, I believe that’s a little taste of what it’s going to be like when we get to heaven! We won’t care what kind of music is playing or what songs we will be singing. We won’t care how long we are going to stand. We will be in such awe of His presence as we shout out His name –  and worship.

Revelation 4:1-11

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ”Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was la rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

”Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,

who was and is and is to come!”

9 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things,

and by your will they existed and were created.”