Remember The Rainbow

The Rainbow—-it can inspire hope, it can calm nerves after a storm—it is a literal sign from God.

God gave mankind the sign of a rainbow, after He sent the floodwaters to destroy the earth.  He promised never to destroy the earth again, by floodwaters.

When our son died 9 years ago this September, something was destroyed in our family.  The age of innocence for us was gone.  The worst evil had found us—the evil of death.

We will never be innocent of this evil again.  It has been difficult to come through this time and find hope, and to trust God.

There is a song that perfectly expresses what I think God has been saying to me, and my family.  It’s called:  Just Be Held.

There is a line in it that goes, “Your world’s not falling apart, its falling into place.  I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held.” 

This year on my husband and my 33rd anniversary, we saw a beautiful rainbow.  It came after a truly violent storm.

As I looked at that rainbow, I thought that God had a message for us in that rainbow.  But I did not know what the message was.   Then two days later, we found out that our son’s family was in great danger during a hike, but they survived and came back safely to us.

Then our two year old granddaughter came close to peril, but she too was found and brought back safely to us.   In addition to all of this, one of our daughters almost drowned, but was saved by our other daughter.

During these times, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, “Remember the rainbow.”

I do not know if in the future, one of my children or grandchildren or husband or myself, may be in peril—but I think “Remember the rainbow”, means that God does know—and He is in charge.  He has not stopped being in charge—even when I’m frantic and anxious—He has not stopped being in charge, even when my loved ones are in danger—He has not stopped being in charge—even when I can’t see around the next corner–and I don’t know what is going to happen next.   

Remember the Rainbow means that everything that comes into our life, has to come through God’s Hand of love.  It may not seem to be a loving thing; it may be something that shakes the foundations of our world—but it can not separate us from His love.  We can never be separated from His love.  Not even, by death.  Especially not by death.

Remember the rainbow, means God’s on His throne—and I can stop trying to control everything, —I can stop holding on so tightly to everything and everyone, and just be held.

 So–Remember the Rainbow and Be Encouraged!!

Focus and Breathe

When I was pregnant with my first child, I went to a Lamaze class, and one of the things the nurse taught us, was to have something to focus on, during one’s contractions.   I chose a verse–Hebrews 12: 1,2.   Was that helpful?  Yes, it was really, really helpful.  The class also taught us not to give in to the fear of the unknown, but to breathe and focus throughout labor.  Was this helpful–yes, it was really, really helpful.  (In fact after our first child was born, my husband turned to me and said, “That wasn’t as bad, as I thought it was going to be.”)

What is the point of this story?   Right now, many people are feeling very, very anxious.  We just came through a pandemic, with shut downs and quarantines.  We have seen gas prices more than double in the past year.  We are seeing food prices rise, and are being told that we could see massive inflation by the fall.   There is good reason to be anxious.

So what can we do—we can focus our thoughts, and we can breathe.   Why?  Because it really, really helps.

We can focus our thoughts on the truth.

Lately, I’ve been focusing on one truth in particular:

2Co 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

What does this mean?  In Romans Chapter 6—It spells out what this means—I am going to paraphrase it for you—it says that when Jesus died on the cross–our sin natures were crucified with Him.  So our sin natures are dead, and we are new creatures in God’s eyes.  He sees us as His children, without sin before Him.

Now–we don’t ‘feel’ without sin, we in fact still give in the temptation to sin.  But God says–sin actually has no power over us–anymore–in fact–we are dead to sin, and alive to Christ.

We are to present ourselves to God, and He will give us the power to turn away from sin.  He sees us as a new creature—the old creature is dead in His eyes.  He wants me and He wants you to see ourselves in this way too.  

The new creature wants to obey Him.  The new creature wants to please Him.  The new creature wants to walk with Him.  The new creature loves God and loves others.  The new creature forgives.  The new creature gives grace and kindness to others.

So—when I am aware that I am acting like the old person that has passed away, I say to myself, “That is not me.  That is not who God has made me to be.  I am a new creature.  This old person is dead, and has no power over the new creature.  I surrender to you Lord, so that I can live out Your truth–that I am a new creature.”

The new creature is not afraid.  The new creature is not anxious.  The new creature knows her God, and trusts in His love and provision.  

The new creature focuses on the truth, and the new creature breathes in the truth.

Will this help during these trying times?   Yes, I promise you, this will really, really help!!

May We Be Encouraged!!

The Safest Place To Be

I started my “Encouragement from Katie” blogsite a little over 2 years ago.  I have written some stories detailing  the times when I have relied on God’s strength and guidance in my parenting, and that is the purpose of this blog—to encourage young moms to look to God for the answers and strength in their mothering role.   However, there were times when I did not do this.  There were times I was angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious and I acted out those emotions.  I remember a time when I expressed fear, and then anger, in the space of a heartbeat.

At the time, I was a mom with just 4 children (I would have a fifth- 7 years later); their ages were: 8 years, 4 years, 3 years and 11 months old.  It was time for our church’s VBS and I was helping with it.  I dropped off my 11-month-old with a friend, who also had an 11-month old baby.  She watched our babies while I took the 3 older children to VBS.  At the end of VBS, I loaded up the children in our mini van and ran back in the church to grab something I had forgotten.  Then— I came back out to the van, got in and drove off.  I parked at my friend’s home and went in to get my baby.  I came back out and noticed that my four-year-old was not in the van.  I thought he had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  I started calling for him, yelling his name one minute, and crying his name in the next.

My friend’s husband looked at me in amazement—I seemed like a woman gone berserk—yelling, then crying, then yelling, then crying.    I was demanding that we call the police and the fire department.  He said, “Why don’t we call the church first, maybe he’s at the church?”   “No”, I snapped back, “I put him in the van, he must have gotten out at your house, and he’s wandering around the neighborhood.”  

“Well”, he said, “let’s just call the church first.”  Eventually, I agreed, and we called the church.  Yes, my child was at the church.  He had gotten out to use the bathroom, and I had not noticed when I got into the van.  Even now, when I remember that story, my heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts rushing through my body at the terror I experienced when I thought my child was lost.

Why do I recount this story?  Because—this is what life is like isn’t it?  Life is going along, and then something that we don’t expect happens—and how do we react?  I don’t and haven’t always reacted well.  The first thing I thought of, in the situation I just recounted, wasn’t God; I did not call out to Him to save my child.  I tried to deal with the situation myself—and in relying on my own resources—I vacillated between terror and anger. 

Perhaps, you can relate.  Perhaps you too, try to deal with your life situations with your own resources, not turning to the Lord.

I have just recounted one story, yet, over the past 29 years of being a mother—my life is filled with many stories, many moments.  

I have seen that being a mother has taken everything I have and more.  It has brought out my worst self, and my best self.  Like most mothers—I would willingly lay down my life for my children—-yet get annoyed with them for the smallest of offenses. 

Fortunately, I have a Father who is the most patient of teachers, and He continues to give me lessons on how to love, until I learn.  He is the most consistent, faithful, love-motivated teacher there is.  His goal—to make me Holy, (whole), like Him.   I came to Him broken, and He—He is fixing me.  He is teaching me to love, like He loves.

It does not happen overnight, or in a month or in years—it takes a lifetime—it takes believing God and acting out what He shows me to do.   

Just recently, I had another incident where I reacted from emotion.  I thought I was beyond doing such things, but I am never beyond those things, because I will always need God.  Whenever I think, “I’ve got this.”  Life will throw me a curve-ball, and I will realize once again, “No I don’t have this, and God, please—HELP!! 

Being a mom, has taught me how amazing God’s grace truly is, as I am continually leaning into Him to just take the next step, when my strength has given out.  If that’s what you are learning as well—you are in a good place—you are in your Father’s hands—the safest place to be.

So Be Encouraged!!

The Storms of Life

One of the biggest lessons that God has been patiently teaching me, is how to live by faith, and not by my feelings.  What do I mean by this?   I mean that my feelings dominate everything in my life, and can many times lead me down the wrong path.  I have learned to doubt my feelings, and double check them, before I act.   I’m not always good at this, and many times God has to get my attention to listen to Him, when I come to a fork in a road.

Let me tell you a story that illustrates this point.  I homeschool.  I have homeschooled for over twenty years.  My husband and I made this decision together—to homeschool our children.  For the most part, it was a good decision.  Our oldest is an IT guy—he started building his own computers when he was 14.  Our second oldest is a Mechanical and Bio-Medical Engineer, working in his field of study.   Our third is studying Music Performance and was on the President’s list all last year.  I have one more child at home just starting high school.

My philosophy of homeschooling is that it is a relationship where God is in charge, and I just need to listen to Him, not my feelings, but God. 

When my second oldest child was going into his junior year in High School, God was leading us to join a homeschool co-op about 40 minutes away.  Most of the parents that taught in this co-op were engineers or spouses of engineers.

I was terrified.  I felt inadequate, and my plate was already so full—I was afraid of failure.  We went through the interviewing process, and we were accepted into the co-op.  This was in May, and the co-op started in September.  I was given my assignments of teaching two classes and helping with a committee.  Again, I felt completely overwhelmed. 

My feelings were telling me to withdraw, to not go into this co-op.  I then looked at what I knew with my mind—my son was clearly gifted in engineering.  He was on our communities’ Robotics’ team, and he wanted to study how things were made.  He needed more challenges and accountability—this was the direction God was leading us.

Yet my feelings of terror persisted, until…..

I was driving during a torrential rainstorm.  I had been praying in my mind, to the Lord, telling Him of all my fears and anxieties, and then, I was driving in this storm, that came out of nowhere.  I could feel the car start to swerve and I could not see a thing.   A weight descended upon our car, and it seemed as if the tires clung to the road.  The presence of the Lord settled upon me.  The Lord spoke to my heart, “I am with you.  I will never leave you.  I will walk with you through this.”

I thought the Lord was referring to this co-op, that He would be with me and help me through this time—and He was, but it was so much more—this happened a year before He took my son Sean home. In hindsight, I realize that this is what our Lord was also referring to—He would be with me through the storms of life.  He would get me through.   This is what it means to live by faith—knowing that we don’t have to go through this life alone—God will be there for us, helping us take one step at a time-in His power, and through His grace, to do His Will.

So Let Us Be Encouraged!!

** Picture is of my dad, his brothers and a friend. Men who have weathered the storms of life with God’s grace.

Escaping The Pain

Have you ever escaped from the pain of life?  I have.  My favorite way to escape is by reading books.   I think that if we are honest, we will admit that we can escape in a variety of different ways—working really hard can be an escape.   Watching movies and TV and playing video games can be an escape. 

  Drinking, eating, and sex—are all escapes that involve our body.  These are all gifts of God– but taken outside of the boundaries He has set up—they will damage us and possibly kill us.

I have a theory about why we escape—because we are afraid.  We have been beaten up by life, and we are trying to dull the pain, to comfort ourselves, and hide from any oncoming storms.

There is a song, that has ministered to my heart recently, and I hope it will minister to yours as well.

It is called Peace Be Still.  The first line to the song is:

I don’t want to be afraid, every time I face the waves, I don’t want to be afraid, I don’t want to be afraid:

Listen to the song yourself, and read the words to the song, following the blog.

This is a quote from one of the authors and singers of the song, Hope Darst:   I have fought fear and anxiety in different seasons of life and what I’ve learned is that I can’t think my way out of it, but I can worship my way through it,” shares Darst of her song. “This song is a prayer and a weapon; a prayer of peace over everything you are facing and a weapon of worship to defeat fear, depression, and doubt. God has promised you peace: ‘Fear not for I am with you,’ says the Lord. ‘Do not be anxious but with prayer and thanksgiving, tell God what you are concerned about and then the peace that goes beyond all understanding will guard your heart and your mind.’”

I don’t want to be afraid

Every time I face the waves

 I don’t want to be afraid

 I don’t want to be afraid

 I don’t want to fear the storm

 Just because I hear it roar

 I don’t want to fear the storm

 I don’t want to fear the storm

 Peace be still

 Say the word and I will

 Set my feet upon the sea

Till I’m dancing in the deep

 Peace be still

You are here so it is well

Even when my eyes can’t see

I will trust the voice that speaks

 I’m not gonna be afraid

 ‘Cause these waves are only waves

 I’m not gonna be afraid

No I’m not gonna be afraid

 And I’m not gonna fear the storm

 You are greater than it’s roar

Oh I’m not gonna fear the storm

 No I’m not gonna fear at all

 Peace be still

 Say the word and I will

 Set my feet upon the sea

 Till I’m dancing in the deep

 Peace be still

 You are here so it is well

 Even when my eyes can’t see

 I will trust the voice that speaks

Peace, peace over me

 You speak peace

 Let faith rise up

 O heart believe

 Let faith rise up in me

 Let faith rise up

 O heart believe

 Let faith rise up in me

 Let faith rise up

 O heart believe

 Let faith rise up in me

 Oh let faith rise up

 O heart believe

 Let faith rise up in me

 Peace be still

 Say the word and I will

 Set my feet upon the sea

 Till I’m dancing in the deep

 oh Peace be still

You are here so it is well

 Even when my eyes can’t see

 I will trust the voice that speaks

Peace, peace over me

I hear You speaking

 Peace, peace over me

Oh peace Over me

You speak peace

 You speak peace

Over me

You speak peace

 You speak peace

 You speak peace

May you be encouraged as you face the storms of life and find that you are not alone.  Peace Be Over You

Have you ever had one of those days????

Have you ever had one of those days when life seems so, so hard?  Circumstances seem as if they are about to engulf you and overpower you?  I’m sure you have—you are a human being—and contrary to popular opinion—everyone suffers at one point or another in this life.

When we are suffering, that is when we are most vulnerable to believing lies.  The lie I battle the most is that God doesn’t love me.  I find no proof of this in scripture.  Instead, God tells me:  “I am lovePerfect love casts out fear.  You can come to me with all your mistakes, and all your regrets and all your concerns, because I care for you.”

I think the reason, I can believe this lie, is because I will pray for something that I want very much, and that I know God wants as well, for instance Scripture tells us that God desires none to perish and all to come to repentance.   I may pray and pray for a particular person, and not “see” the answer to that prayer.  I can grow discouraged and downcast.

Then God, reminds me of prayers — that I saw answered after decades of praying.  God reminds me of His Word—which tells me that He loves me with an everlasting love.

God reminds me that my circumstances are temporaland He has eternity in store for me.  He has eternity in store for you as well. 

God also reminds me that all things work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.

If you want to be reminded of these same things, you can click on all the text written in blue ink, and you will be directed to the scriptures that remind us of these things.

I hope you are encouraged—I know I am!

Be Anxious For Nothing……

I am sitting in my living room right now, while my grandchildren play on the floor, and my son and daughter work in the kitchen preparing a birthday dinner for my husband.   I am writing, because anxious thoughts are pressing against me, due to the uncertain times we are all living in, and I find myself needing to focus my mind on the LORD.

Perhaps, you are finding yourself fighting anxious thoughts as well, if so, I hope these scriptures will help you focus your mind and calm your thoughts—I am hoping the same thing for myself.

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

4:7  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

4:8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix you thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

4:9  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing.  Then the God of peace will be with you.

I frequently battle anxious thoughts so I frequently think about these verses.  I love that scripture encourages me to pray about everything!!!!   That means—God wants me to bring everything and anything to Him that I am concerned about–  Nothing is too small or too big.    And what will be the result of my prayer—the result is peace.  Peace.  Peace. 

For those of us dealing with anxiety, and sleepless nights—Peace sounds amazing!!   The Peace that God has to give us, exceeds anything we can understand.   I have experienced that peace from God when there was no reason to experience that peace. 

I experienced it when my son died, (I wrote about this in The Gift of Grace), I experienced this Peace when I was told I had to have surgery on my eye for a detached retina, (I wrote about this in—Yes, Jesus loves you).   These were a few dramatic occasions when I have supernaturally experienced God’s Peace and Presence.  I recount those times again, to remind myself that if God was with me then—– He is with me today.

Scripture goes on to tell us to Fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable.  We are to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

There is a children’s song, and the words to it go, “Be careful little eyes, what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, for the Father up above is watching you with love, so be careful little eyes what you see.”

Just as we are careful with what our children see and hear—wanting to protect them and preserve their innocence—our Heavenly Father wants to protect our minds and preserve our holiness.   He knows that what we focus on will affect our emotions and our peace. 

Today, was a day of many sweet moments with our children and grandchildren.  It was so easy to think about things that were pure and lovely and right and admirable—all I had to do was look into one of my loved one’s faces and catch their smiles, and my mind and body were flooded with feel good endorphins. 

God knows what He is talking about, when He tells us how to have Peace!!

So, my friend, I pray that you and I will take His advice—and receive His Peace, Presence and Encouragement!!

The Emmaljunga

Today, I took my baby granddaughter for a walk in a stroller—the same stroller that I pushed her daddy in 28 years ago.   Yes, I have had a stroller for 28 years!!  My sweet baby sister told me about this stroller—built in Sweden, the Emmaljunga.  She told me that if I got this stroller, I would have it to push my grandchildren in—and she was right!!  (Actually, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law gave me this stroller at a shower! And then my mom, sisters and I gave this stroller to my sweet baby sister for her baby.  I think she is using it to push her grandbabies in too!!)

This stroller looks like the old-time strollers used by nannies across Europe.  It has a removable bassinette and stroller seat.

This is a picture of my parents with my oldest son—when he was a baby– in the Emmaljunga.

We took this stroller to Disney World.  Our youngest was 3 years old.  Every day, she took a nap in this stroller, as we pushed her around one of the Disney Parks.  They had stroller parking lots, so when it was time for her to go on a ride, we would push the stroller in the parking lot. 

Our baby sitting on Papa’s lap after getting her hair done at the Bippity Boppity Boo Boutique!!

The bottom part of the stroller, held our cooler with our water bottles, and all our paraphernalia that we did not want to carry.

This stroller is not the only thing I have hung onto over the years.  I have saved numerous things—outfits my children used to wear, that are now worn by my grandchildren, and most of my furniture which I have inherited from family—my parents, my husband’s parents, and extended family.

Things that have a connection with people—have great value to me.

I love looking around my house and seeing these heirlooms.

I told my grandson, that I am going to save the Emmaljunga, and someday, he will be pushing his baby in the stroller!!  What a thought!!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about canning—and it thrills me to use some canning jars, my grandmother passed onto me.

I have a piano that used to belong to my great Uncle, (it was made in 1917), and he gave it to my parents in the 1960’s and they gave it to me, because I played it more than any of my other siblings.

What is the point of this blog—well, in this day of so much change, so much turmoil, it is good to be able to cast our eyes on something that remains the same, that calms us, and connects us.

Furniture and things are just things—and honestly, as much as I enjoy them –they can’t hit the deepest parts of me that need calming in the storms or bring me  the sense of security I long for.  Only God can do that.  He never changes, always stays the same—yesterday, today and tomorrow.

What does that mean for us—it means that He will always forgive us—He will always love us—-He will always believe the best of us—-He will not leave us—He will not forsake us—He will not give up on us. Check out 1 Corinthians 13, if you don’t believe me. Scripture tells us that God is love, and 1 Corinthians 13 defines what love is.

These are the thoughts that calm me, these are the thoughts that connect me—to God—to you—to eternity.  These are the thoughts that encourage me—I pray they also encourage you!!