I am sleeping again!! Thank you God!!

I want you all to know, that I have been sleeping at night again.  I am falling to sleep a little later, and waking up a little later, but I am sleeping!!

Again, I am not sure why I wasn’t sleeping, and now I am not sure why I am, except for the fact, that some of you were praying for me, and for that I thank you!!

During these times of stress, sickness and the unknown, many of us are experiencing high levels of anxiety for a variety of reasons.  I think sharing those feelings with each other, can really help, as we pray for each other and communicate our concern for each other. 

This ability we have to show the love of God to each other was made clearer to me when I was in my twenties.   I was single and on staff with Cru and had taken a group of students down to Florida to go to a conference over Spring Break.

The speaker was talking about the love of God.  He said that he didn’t think very many people actually experienced God’s love, were filled up with God’s love, and loved others with God’s love.  He said, the world would be a different place, if people really experienced the love of God.

I felt as if the speaker was talking directly to me.  Here I was, on staff with Cru, a Christian organization, talking to others about God’s love, but feeling so empty on the inside.  I was not experiencing God’s love.

I went out onto the balcony of the hotel room, (one I was sharing with 3 women who were at the conference, but were strangers to me, as they were from another college campus).  The room was empty, and I felt the freedom to pour out all my thoughts and feelings to the Lord.

I told Him that I felt empty on the inside, that I felt as if there was this huge hole inside of me that only He could fill, and I desperately wanted to experience His love.  I was crying and crying and crying.   Then I went into the room, splashed cold water on my face, and prepared to go on with my day.

Not too long after this, my roommates came in the room.  One of them came to me and asked to give me a hug.  She said, “ when I was coming up here, Jesus asked me to give you a hug and to tell you, that He lives in me, and when I hug you to tell you, He is really hugging you and that He loves you.”

My tears started to flow again…  Jesus heard my prayer, and He had sent another person—someone who was part of His Body, to tell me that He loved me. That void within me started to be filled.

When my friend Becky Crain died, God showed me His love through the Body of Christ, as they came to help her and her family in their time of need.

When Sean, our son died, Rich and I were comforted by God’s love, which was expressed through the Body of Believers as they came to help us and our family in our time of need.

The speaker, all those years ago, was right—the world would be a different place if we – the Body of Christ—experienced His love and shared that love with others.

Perhaps this is the time we can do just that….  When I came to you all, and told you that I was having problems sleeping, you prayed, God answered those prayers.

Perhaps it is as simple as letting each other know what we need prayers for….  Perhaps it is as simple as giving a hug, (to those we are not social distancing from), or responding to a financial need, or being available to give comfort and sending expressions of love through cards and phone calls.  

God wants us to know He loves us, and many times, He wants us—His body—to be His arms, to give those hugs, and His mouth, to say, “I love you”, and His feet—to run to help. 

Being loved by the eternal God is an amazing thing, and it is cyclical—I honestly think that  as we experience God’s love, we love each other,  and as we love each other we experience God’s love, and on, and on, it goes, and where it stops—well– it never stops!

So Be Encouraged!!

Julia shows us how to knit!

My daughter Julia taught herself how to knit when she was 7 years old. (I tried to teach her, but did not know how to myself, and could not figure out the instructions in the books we checked out from the library. 🙂 ) She has made a video–per a classroom assignment–to help others learn how to knit. I love it!! She has even taught me how to knit–and I’ve been making dish clothes by the dozens!!

By the way, Julia knit the gloves she has on in this picture. 🙂

If you’ve always wanted to knit, this is the video for you!!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKEmJCTSCnlC7zhyWG5aoUA

Obedient Next

Just read this young woman’s blog and was so encouraged by it, that I wanted to share it with you all. May we be encouraged to “Do the next thing”!!

Abigail Rehmert

Elisabeth Elliot’s famous encouragement, “Pick up the broom, and do the next thing” graced my growing-up years. Mom shared this motto with me first, and often it literally involved grasping the broom and sweeping the floor. As time passes, this phrase becomes more and more inspiring and brings hope to more than just my chores.

Lately all the extra time at home has given me an excuse to procrastinate on the little things and to be nervous about the big things. Little things like pantry organization and big things like a loved one’s lost job.

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God loves your children more than you do….

God loves your children more than you do…..This is the main idea of this 4 minute video, and one that so encouraged me, I wanted to share it with you all. It brought me to tears, and it brought the mom relating the story to tears, long after her child had passed through his struggles. She shares her story to give other parents hope and this parent thinks she has done just that!

Spring!!

Spring!!

Spring—flowers are starting to stick up out of the ground. Bushes are getting buds on the ends of their limbs. Birds are in the yard, chirping away. All around us, the world is coming to life!! 

Winter was such a time of sleep— all these things covered up and hidden, gone from sight.  But they were not gone from hope.

My husband and I like to watch gardening shows together. Every spring, something calls to me, and I am outside, working in my garden. I do not really know what I am doing. I just like to grow things.

When I first started gardening, I was a young mom, with no budget at all for buying plants.  My mom and dad would give me plants from their garden, and so would others. The border of purple geraniums now surrounding my garden are from my parents.

I received Shasta daisies and black-eyed susans from my neighbor.

I have lilies from the library. They tore all their lilies out to make room for other plants and were giving away their lilies for free.

I have a lilac bush that is from my great-grandmother. Imagine that!!  My dad gave it to me when we moved into this house. He had one from his grandparent’s farm and started one for me from a cutting.

Another friend gave me a Rose of Sharon bush that has had many babies, which are now bushes in my landscape design.

I have some lovely purple irises from my mother-in-law.  (I brought them all the way back from the Beach house wrapped in wet paper towels and put in plastic bags.)  They did not bloom for a few years, but now I have separated them several times and they are all over my garden.

I have some purple salvia from one of my best friends, and some yellow whorled tickseed from her as well.

I love adding to my garden in this way.  Every plant has a memory and a person attached to it.

My Aunt Rosie, my Uncle Don’s sister– died this winter.  She lived a few blocks from the first house we lived in when we were first in town, and I would often visit her.  She gave me several of her plants from her garden, including a variegated ground cover plant, and some yellow lilies, and when I weed them or separate them—I think of her. 

Gardening for me, is a time to meditate and think of many things and people. When I was a young mom, I started gardening while the little ones played outside, so I could be with them. As they grew older, I would seek solace and alone time in my garden. I found my children left me alone there, as they did not want to weed. 🙂

I have many conversations with God in my garden. I find there are so many analogies for life found in a garden. The Bible has so many stories that involve seeds, plants, trees, planting, and harvesting. I am sure most people gardened back in Jesus’ day, and could relate to stories about gardening.

 We also know—God made the first Garden.  The Garden is our first habitat. So, even though, many, like myself, do not know what we are doing—we may find ourselves drawn to the garden and to the act of gardening.   We may find it is the perfect place to think, to be rejuvenated, to converse and walk with God, just as was done all those millennium ago.

The Gift of Sleep–has been taken away.

Recently, I’ve been having some sleepless nights.  This is a rare event for me—the gift of sleep is something I have enjoyed since I was a baby.  After Sean died, several of my friends, (who are doctors), offered to prescribe me something to sleep.  I told them no, I would be able to sleep— and I did.  I have been given the gift of sleep.

I am not sure why now, of all times, sleep alludes me.  Perhaps, my anxiety levels are so high, that sleep is not a gift I am enjoying these days.

I have been reminded of a story in Genesis, chapter 16.  (My daughter and I read this story recently, as we are reading through Genesis.)  These words struck me again, as they have many times in the past:

“You are the God who sees.”  These are the words of Hagar, Sarai’s slave, whom Sarai gave to Abram as a wife, so Sarai could get a child from Hagar. (This is the first recorded event of a surrogate mother.)  Hagar did get pregnant, and the Bible tells us that Hagar despised her mistress, because Sarai could not get pregnant.  Sarai treated Hagar harshly, so Hagar fled from her.   Hagar ended up alone in the desert, probably facing death for herself and her unborn child.  An Angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her to go back.

Hagar was astounded by the thought that the God of Heaven and Earth, would notice her and her plight—that He saw her.

The first time this story struck me, I was 23 years old, and I had moved to Columbus Ohio, starting my first job after graduating from college.

I was so lonely and felt so friendless; I read this story in Genesis and thought that even as God saw Hagar, God saw me.  That thought brought tears to my eyes.  God was seeing me!!  I was not alone; God was with me!

 (I love how the Bible does not sugar coat situations or people—people are presented with their flaws and foibles.  They are presented as people needing the Savior who is to come—in the Old Testament; and the Savior who came—in the New Testament.)

 Hagar’s words— “You are the God, who sees”, reminds me that nothing escapes God’s attention.  He knows when a sparrow falls from the sky, and how many hairs we each have on our heads.  He knows each star by name, and the number of grains of sand on earth.  He is the God who sees.

I have been hearing stories of people dying, (not just by the COVID-19 virus, but just dying).  Stories of women being pregnant, and fearful for their babies and themselves.  Stories of parents being fearful for their children.  Stories of children being fearful for their parents.  There is a lot of fear these days.  Maybe it has been there all along, but now it has made its way to the surface.

Hagar also said, “Truly here, I have seen Him who looks after me.”   Genesis 16:13

God does more than see us, He looks after us.  He takes care of us.  I need to remind myself of all the times God has taken care of me and my family.  God does not change.  He is the same today, as He was yesterday, and will remain the same tomorrow.  He will continue to take care of me and my family.  He will continue to take care of you and your family.

I hope to remind myself of these things.   (Maybe, I will relax enough to be able to sleep.)

I hope to remind any who read this—that the God of Heaven and Earth—is the God who sees and the God who takes care of us.

May we find peace in this thought.  May we find peace in Him!!

May we be encouraged!!

How Is This Story Going To End?

Drama, suspense, problems —these are elements of a good story.  Right now, it feels like we are living in the middle of a story line in a book or movie.   Everyday we are wondering, what is going to happen, how is this story going to end?

Perhaps, we don’t need to wonder, anymore.  Perhaps, we have already been given the answers.

The Bible is God’s letter to us.  It has the story of redemption in it; it has prophesies fulfilled in it, and prophesies yet to be fulfilled; it is filled with poetry and prose.   It is filled with the message of God’s longing for us, and His willingness to gain our souls by going to the cross and dying for us.

 This is the message of Easter.  Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Easter is the event in history that celebrates the worst and the best thing that ever happened.  The worst—Jesus was crucified on a cross.  Jesus, about whom it is written, that “the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1

Then, the best thing—Jesus rose from the dead.  He conquered death.  He showed us by conquering death, that we would also conquer death.   This is what we celebrate on Easter and we celebrate it every day.  Death no longer has victory over us.  We will live with God forever.  “The witness is this that God has given us eternal life, and that life is in His Son.”  1 John 5: 11

All of human history culminates in experiencing the victory over death that Jesus’ death has brought us.

But until, human history ends, and a new heaven and earth are given, we are in the midst of a war, a war for the souls of man.  We are in the midst of a huge spiritual battle.  “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the forces of darkness in the heavenly realms.”  Ephesians 6:12

Perhaps, you have been touched by this battle.  You may have been hurt by humans who listened to the forces of darkness, and now it is difficult to trust God, the lover of your soul, the one who died to demonstrate that love for you.

We are in the midst of a worldwide crisis, that, I believe has been orchestrated by the forces of darkness, to frighten and separate and extinguish us.   It is difficult to see God’s light and love and truth.  It is difficult to trust that light, that love, that truth.

God knew these times would be coming, so He gave us His Word.  These are the verses I am clinging to now, during this time:

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.

And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”   Romans 5:1-8

If you are longing to know God, but have really big questions, like “Is God Real?” “Is Jesus God?” “What about suffering?” I have included a link for you to go to, that may help you with those questions:  https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/lifes-questions.html

If you would like to watch a video on the life of Jesus, you can go to this link:   (there are options for other languages to watch film in at the bottom of the page.)  :https://www.jesusfilm.org/watch/jesus.html/english.html

Our household is praying for your household to have a wonderful Easter in spite of this crisis!

Happy Easter Everyone!!