“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Monday, November 18, 2013

God Has It Covered

Recently I have been hoping for someone.  Carrying a burden for a loved one.  Believing, trusting, praying.  Grabbing onto those Words meant to give us hope.  

Cast all your cares on Him.

Take My yoke upon you, for My burden is light.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

It has been a year of walking in someone else's skin and believing God to come through for them.  Hoping, hoping, hoping.  And seemingly down that road of obedience, there was disappointment, mislaid trust, unrealized dreams.  My well of hope, their well of hope was running pretty dry.

At one point, I came upon a realization, "I don't know how to hope any more." Where do I go for hope when the Place and Person I was going to seemingly isn't listening?  Seriously, I don't remember a time in my life when I felt so incredibly hopeless in my walk of faith. This just wasn't me wanting to inspire hope within my spirit, but someone I cared about.  There are many years of faith under my belt and this was something quite foreign for me.  Hope always remained on the forefront of my heart.....something I knew would take me to the next level of my life.  Where do you go when the ache in your heart has found a home and will not leave?

On a walk a few weeks ago, one of these times of looking towards heaven and asking Him...where in the world...in my world....are You?  A quiet walk.  A lonely walk.  I came back not with many answers, but a deep sense of

I cannot GIVE UP........because.......

HE does not GIVE UP

I had no new answers....no new hope, per say.....but all I KNEW was despite circumstances, despite what I "felt", and no new words of encouragement to give someone, GOD was still in control and does not give up.

Last week, as I was sitting quietly with my Bible on my lap, once again just listening.....a sparrow flew up and sat on the edge of my birdhouse.  And yes, HE spoke....."never fear, as I take care of them, I take care of you and all you care about."

A few days later our pastor shared his story of the very early hours one morning that week, a sparrow landed on his window sill and God spoke to Him of taking care of him and being very aware of his burdens.  As tears welled up in my eyes, once again a seed of hope entered my heart. It was growing!  God kept a little bird busy that morning....just for me.....just for you.

As I drove home from church that same day, waiting at a stop light, I was talking to God again of my heart.  My eyes were drawn to the writing of the license plate on the car ahead of me... "No Worries" - I love it because that is the way the Aussies of my husband's family express that it's not really a big deal. Okay....nice; then....the bottom of the license plate revealed a bigger slam/bang......"GOD HAS IT COVERED".   

Despite theology of how and when God speaks....I KNEW He spoke that very moment to a wounded spirit in the process of being restored.  My heart was overwhelmed.  I do not give up....because HE does not give up.  He is aware and He cares. Yours and my burden is not too big and you know what....He really does see farther down that road than I do.  

I am seeing hope rebirthed in my heart....in the heart of loved ones, as He arranges circumstances and our lives according to His purposes and plan.  He never left me during my "questioning" period or in my despair, He was holding my hand and asking me to relax, trust and hang onto a simple thread of hope.

Lessons were and are being learned, faith is strengthened, hope is being restored and a deeper level of trust is emerging.  Not easy, painful, dark much of the time, but one thing I know in the "in-between" and "waiting" times, if we hang on, we WILL SEE in His timing





Monday, November 4, 2013

He Determines My Steps

Oh my, it has been awhile....life happened and besides not blogging, I have hardly touched my camera or computer to write.  The months sped by and here November is peeking his head into my life and reminding me the holidays and quite possibly "the busiest time of the year" is upon us.  No worries...we'll grab that turkey by the horns (or is it "grab the bull by the horns") and keep moving.  I was reminded this morning of a post I did quite awhile back and it needed reposting.  Possibly for me more than anyone.   Enjoy and I will be back.... :)


Driving down the road in the early morning yesterday, I was enveloped in fog.  I was amazed that I really couldn't see much except the grey concrete in front of me with the yellow stripe down the center.  I knew if I stayed in the lane to the right of the yellow line, all would be well.  It reminded me of a camping trip our family took two summers ago and I wanted to share it...as it also reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a good friend.

Our family went on this camping trip mainly because we missed doing them.  The kids are nearly all grown and a couple of them convinced us we needed to do it again before they were all busy with their lives and it wouldn't be as easy.  Plus our oldest daughter had returned from a year in London and she missed the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest (that was nice to hear :)

Our biggest draw was Crater Lake...having lived in Oregon for so many years and we had never visited.  So my husband, myself and the two still at home went down on a Thursday evening, the others joining us when they finished work on Friday.  We found the perfect spot right on the river, outside of Crater Lake National Park, and everything about the area made this camping experience one of our best as a family.  The four of us decided to take a day trip up to the crater and then bring the others the next day when they arrived.  

Friday dawned cloudy and we headed out.  By the time we got up on top of the mountain, we were able to get some good photos, but soon were enveloped in clouds and fog.  We figured this was alright as we were still going to be there for 3 more days and the weather was sure to improve (we hoped!).  We opted to drive at least half-way around the crater and then do a hike.  As we drove on this very narrow road, we were surrounded by thick fog and clouds.  You could see the lake a bit, but on the other side, only fog.  It was eerie to be driving slowly along and not knowing what was on our left side.  We turned around because we knew we would be driving again the next day and hopefully see more.  Now, I am in the passenger seat on the right side staring at white fog, wondering what the view would be like. We did take our hike that day, staying strictly on the path, passing others doing the same, and found sunshine further down the mountain.

Saturday dawned beautiful and sunny and we ventured up to the crater...all 6 of us.  What a difference!  It was gorgeous!!  Bright blue sky, and the most incredible blue lake, with that famous island in the center.  We went nuts with photos.  But what surprised us most was what was on the other side of that road...nearly a drop off!  A beautiful forested valley....way way way down below!  Even as we drove further, I gripped the handle on the door as it was a bit disconcerting being so close to the edge.

What struck me then (and yesterday) is there are times we find ourselves in a "fog" of sorts, not knowing or seeing what God is saying to us.  We started out on a path in obedience to His word to us, understanding our way.  When sometimes suddenly, sometimes not so suddenly, we only see the road in front of us, a few steps ahead perhaps. We don't see beyond that - too much fog. But this I know...and the two experiences gave me a visual...if I stay on the right path of His last word to me, I will get through the fog and find the sunshine again.  If I get scared or try to find my way by deviating off the road, who knows what is there...maybe a drop off - of which could really delay me!  I walk this road of faith knowing the One who is directing me, if I just stay on His path and try not to make my own road. Not always easy, but more often than not, I just need to relax and let Him do the driving.

Proverbs 16:9 says "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  I love that I can plan my way, and if my heart is really geared towards Him, he will determine those steps and direct them to His will for my life.

So, today my friends, if you find yourself in a fog...or your circumstances don't seem to let you get too far down the road, remember He can and will determine your steps and....the sun is out there waiting to break through! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stories Hiding in Inconvenient Places

I am still here!  Really!  I did not drop off the face of the earth, just took some time off to get some other pressing tasks done.  And to be honest, just not in much of a writing mood (could be the heat or those long warm days of summer taking over).  I have been reading a lot, which usually makes me want to write, but for some reason, this summer, my mind has not been in writing mode.  Prayerfully, this will change as summer winds down and the autumn kicks into full gear.  We have a busy few months ahead and would love to blog about some of the adventures.  Australia, central and eastern Europe will be on the radar :)

We will be visiting my husband's family "down under" soon as it has been five years since he was last home.  A far overdue visit!!  But considering it will still be winter there (southern hemisphere), I am enjoying the warm summer days here in our neck of the woods before having to give that up. I hoped we would get some warm sunny days before we leave and have not been disappointed.  I have been able to fit in picking raspberries, blueberries, grilling meats and veges on the barbeque and drinking lots of ice tea.  I also spent a full week helping with our Vacation Bible school the end of June where over 150 children were involved.  It was an unbelievable week and I enjoyed it immensely.....although I will confess, I don't have the energy I once had when it comes to the young ones :)

These weeks have given me time to process in my mind and heart as to the direction my writing should take.  A couple of ideas and projects are ruminating. For some months now I have been working and writing of the journey God took my husband and I on, as we served Him individually in other countries, and how amazingly He brought us together.  It is a story of waiting, listening, and when God began to speak (and very clearly), we moved in obedience and saw His stamp of approval on our relationship.  It is a story of God's sovereignty and interaction in the lives of two people who only wanted to please and serve Him.  I am currently pulling all the strings of the story together so it can be a blessing to others.

Also ahead, hundreds of stories of years of ministry are yet to be told.  God has written chapters through our lives....and yours....awesome stories that future generations need to hear! Years ago, I was part of a group of people in a missions community living in a small village in Austria.  We lived in a little castle on a hill.  We traveled back and forth sharing the Gospel and encouraging the church in eastern Europe and Russia.  If the walls of that castle could speak, books would be written! The adventures, the provisions of God, the miraculous ways God met us and led us, all need to be put on paper.  This was way before the doors opened and the "wall" fell.  Several of us were reminiscing the other day over some of those adventures and we are beginning to think, the stories must be told!  One of my favorite quotes is "If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten."  I don't want these stories forgotten because there is a "whole lotta praise and glory" to be given to God for all He has done!  If you are one of those who lived with us in Austria, contact me....we would love for your stories to be part of this idea.

Lastly, my husband has his own incredible story of forgiveness which flows out of his life.  As he travels and shares, many are responding to the tug of God on their heart to forgive those who have wounded them early in life.  They have lived in emotional and spiritual bondage because of unforgiveness and as they open up their hearts and confess, and then forgive others, God is setting them free!  We are compiling stories of such freedom.  The worldwide problem of the "fatherless", whether through actual abandonment or the wounding of the earthy father and mother holds many a tale of those who are finding healing.

Could I ask a favor?  Could you please pray the compiling and writing of these God stories becomes reality?  We so very much want to do this and need the prayers of friends to keep me and us, on course.  Between travel, family, and just plain ole' life, time doesn't stand still for me.  I also am challenged by this quote by an author and speaker whom from I have learned so much.

"I had to find time to practice (writing) in the margins of life...using the excuse 'I don't have enough time' isn't true....I do have enough time; it was just hiding in 'inconvenient' places." Jeff Goins

Pray I inhabit those inconvenient places and set my heart and mind to writing stories that need to be told.

In closing, I said I have been doing a lot of reading.  Summer is one of my favorite times for reading; of course, so is winter, spring and fall....I just plain love to read!  In another blog post in a day or so, I will post links to my favorite reads so far this summer.  I think you will really like them!

Friday, June 21, 2013

When Harry Met Gabby

There are some people you meet in life that you will never forget.  A word they said and where you met will always hold a treasured place in your memory.  I knew such a person.  This is his story.

Situated on the central coast of Italy, an hour west of Rome sits a small coastal town that in the latter l970's was a transiting center for Russian Jewish emigrants.  They were legally leaving the Soviet Union and either beginning a new life in the homeland of their heritage, Israel, or temporarily living outside of Rome, awaiting sponsorship from the multitudes of organizations helping Russian Jewish families at that time.  Australia, Canada, and America were destinations opening their doors to the "tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free".

Here on a warm spring day I met Harry.  I am Gabby.  Actually it is "Debby", but for some reason the Russians had a bit of a difficult time saying the "De", so hence, I became "Gabby".  Not a problem, as long as it sounded like it came from an exotic shortened version of Gabriela and not that I had a problem with a running mouth.  Of which I do, but that is beside the point.

Harry was a short, gentle, white-haired grandfatherly man from Odessa, whose name was actually Evgeny.  They all want to "Americanize" their names, so he chose Harry.  Okay for HRH Prince of England, but I would have gone with something different for Evgeny.  Nevertheless, that is what he chose.  He was the kind of old soul you immediately wanted to take home and keep. The grandfather you wanted to take care of and protect from harm.  His wife, on the other hand, looked like a commandant from Siberia.  No smile, untrusting and not at all happy I had come into their lives.  Never mind that I was a full head taller than he and at least 40 years younger.

We met by word-of-mouth advertising for English classes.  Our team was living and serving the local Russian population by teaching English as a second language, preparing them for life in their new land and introducing them to their heritage. We held Bible studies for those who were interested.  But these were a people who, though Jewish, had for the last 70 years been denied knowledge of their background.  We often were met with blank stares when asking them, "Do know who Abraham or Moses are?"  Turn around and ask them about God and the look was one of "you can't be serious?"   We loved these people and decided from day one, to serve them and help in any way we could to prepare them for life ahead.  As far as introducing them to a relationship with Christ, it was a process of acquainting them first with Genesis one and beyond....the very existence of a Creator was foreign to them.  

I met with Harry three times a week, teaching him conversational English, often in his room.  Three to four families would share one apartment, each family occupying one room, with a common kitchen and bath.  Crowded, but they were used to it from their life in Russia.  Trips to the supermarket, clothing and shoe stores, and many a dinner in our home were also the backdrops of our time together.  An older man on Italian streets, not knowing the language, being jostled in the hustle and bustle of Italian life, was a learning experience in itself, not to mention the stress.  But Harry flowed with the best of them and was exuberant and anticipating what lay ahead for his new life.  He was a sponge soaking in everything He could to make it easy for his wife when they arrived in America.  

The day came after about three months, when Harry got word they had a sponsor and were accepted to go to America.  The anxious packing, saying good-bye to their roommates and friends occupied the last days.  A good-bye dinner at our apartment on their final evening in Italy wrapped up these weeks of waiting in Italy for him and his wife.  Over spaghetti, salad and garlic bread, the atmosphere was bittersweet.  Thrilled and nervous as they were heading to their new life, sadness of our time together coming to an end. 

As we said our farewells at the door, his wife hugging me tightly with tears in her eyes, my heart again melted at God's goodness in loving others.  Loving and serving without any expectation.  She had accepted me.  Harry was another emotional scene altogether.  This is the moment I have remembered so vividly the last 34 years since I said good-bye.  Overcome with emotion, he lifted his head and said, "Thank you for being so kind to us.  No one has ever been so kind.  In Russia, we were treated with disrespect because we were Jewish.  We didn't know why.  But you, Americans, treated us like we had value...no one has ever done that.  Thank you."  

As we struggled with our own tears, we replied, "No, it is not because we are Americans."  There were actually Canadians and Australians on our team.  "It is because of God's love.  He sent us here to help you because He loves you.  He goes with you to America.  Remember He loves you."  

They said "Thank you", walked off into the night and flew to New York the next day.  Sadly, I lost track of them after a few years  But Harry is still in my heart.  I have never forgotten him and I know that God watched over Him, revealing His love to Him each day, in the hopes he would recognize that love and respond.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Love That Never Quits

Recently I read that Psalm 136 is a compilation of God's great works and his unending love.  It is a piece of David's poetry that you turn to, to remind you of a love that never ends.  I knew this writing, and read it zillions of times - times when I really NEEDED to be reminded that He was actually there and cared about me.  So as I returned to this psalm, it was good...until I hit on something I seemed to have missed in past readings.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.  His love endures forever."

The Message version says..."His love never quits."  

Forever....a very long time.  Never quits...pretty definite and to the point.

Get through verse 9 and all seems to fit pretty nicely.  Then you hit verse 10...

"to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, his love never quits."  Babies were being killed and his love was not quitting.

verse 15..."...he swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; his love never quits" A whole army of men with families destroyed; they were obeying orders and serving.

verse 17 & 18..."to him who struck down great kings...and killed mighty kings...his love never quits"    More death.

Why?  Where is this never ending love being shown?

Now, in the context of this history, the Pharaoh, his army and these kings being referred to were known to be against the purposes of God.  They were "struck down" and "swept away" to rescue the chosen people of God, the people of Israel.  So, historically and in the eyes of God's people, his love never quits.

But what do we do with this truth today?  Does God's love stay and never quit in the middle of our daily questions.  In the middle of our wars.  While we are waiting to be rescued in the middle of our suffering?

When babies are being killed.....His love never quits.

When there is needless suffering and people are being annihilated.....His love never quits.

And maybe closer to home...

a young baby or child dies ...... His love never quits.

a husband leaves because he just doesn't want to be married anymore, or worse, he leaves for another woman (or vice versa)..... His love never quits.

a husband or wife is diagnosed with a debilitating disease....His love never quits.

a loss of a loved one suddenly and unexpected...His love never quits.

a job loss and no end in sight to the financial devastation.... His love never quits.

a child turns his back on God ..... His love never quits.

we are betrayed or misunderstood by a friend ..... His love never quits.

we cannot seem to get past our addictions and live in victory ..... His love never quits.

abandoned by a father or mother, abused by a dad or mom, or family member.... His love never quits.

a tornado, hurricane, earthquake, or fire which takes everything you own on this earth....His love never quits.  (And I have experienced the fire which takes it all)

What do we do with "His love never quits" in our world and the messiness of lives today?

I don't have neatly wrapped up answers, but I do know I can look back over what He has done in my life and remember His goodness.  Whatever battle or suffering I (or we) may face, I can recount His goodness. Which is what they are doing in Psalm 136.  When I remember, recount and rehearse in my mind what God has already done, I am encouraged to move forward.  In my tears and anguish, I know He is loving me and will take care of me.  When I need courage, when I need to have Him wrap His arms around me and remind me He is there, as I praise Him for what He has already done, I know He is faithful to meet me in my need.

Just yesterday, I was praying to the Lord for our financial need.  We are back in the "missionary" phase of our life, not traditionally employed, and trusting God for His provision as we minister and go to the people He has called us to.  Full time given over to teaching and seeing healing come to the lives of those who have been wounded by fathers or the lack of them.  And we rely on God and those faithful to Him for our provision.  So I was praying.  I was recounting His goodness in the past. And there was a whole lot of goodness!!   I was praising Him and not forgetting all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).  But I was wondering how we would survive the summer.  And I was wanting to see "His love never quits".

Afterwards, I checked our emails and God showed up in the form of family and loved ones....letting us know some funds were on the way to bless the ministry.  We would make it through July!  God's love never quits!

Yes, life is messy and it hurts.  There is pain and there is loss.  But I KNOW that TODAY God is the same.  We need to remind ourselves of the past and His faithfulness.    Financial pain can hurt; loss of life or devastating illness to a loved one can mean unfathomable pain, but I know He will not let go of us.  Remind yourself.  I think that is partially why God kept telling the children of Israel to "write it all down" because we so easily forget.

In the facing forward, sometimes we have to look back...

"He remembers us in our low estate, His love never quits
and He frees us from our enemies.  His love never quits.
He gives food to every creature, His love never quits.
Give thanks to the God of heaven, His love never quits....it endures FOREVER.:  verse 23-26

For friends of mine whom I know are hurting....whatever road you or I are facing today, my heart to you is.....HIS LOVE NEVER QUITS.

photo:  National Geographic.com 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father and fathers

Father's Day brings a myriad of emotions to us.  For some, it is a joyous day to celebrate that man who has given so much of himself to us.  For others, it brings pain for the father we never knew.  The disappointment of not having our fathers live up to our deepest expectations of what a father should be. I wanted to post a poem that celebrates fathers, but as I prayed and looked, I am overcome once again at the "fatherlessness" of our world.  As we have traveled and ministered to those who have been deeply wounded by the lack of a father, or by what a father has done to them, I am reminded of the original Father and His deep love and care for us.  How His heart aches over our pain and lack of what should have been there for us.

We have a friend who has an incredible dad.  He was abandoned, orphaned, mistreated, and yet, through it all, his faith in God was his survival.  What happened in his life could have wounded him and turned him away from anything good.  But in his hardships, he always forgave. He didn't let what he didn't have, direct the outcome of his life. This man today in his eighties is one of the world's greatest husbands, fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers and has the most gentle spirit you will ever meet.  We asked our friend once, "If your dad could tell us one truth in all he has learned over his life, what do you think that would be?"   His answer resonated deep within our hearts.  "You have a Heavenly Father who will ALWAYS be there for you, no matter what."

This weekend we celebrate our dads;  those of us who have great reasons to celebrate those men in our lives who have been wonderful fathers and husbands.  Heap accolades on them, appreciate them and give them the honor they deserve.  It is so right to celebrate and honor them.

And for those who would rather this day just get skipped over...remember this truth; HE did not skip over YOU.  These are not just words...they are Truth.  Take them deep into your heart and spirit, even if you cannot identify what a "father" even means.  Maybe even for the first time, celebrate Father's Day with your Heavenly Father being the one you celebrate.

I found this poem and collection of Truths...I hope it resonates deeply within a heart that needs to hear it.

My Child,

You may not know me, 
but I know everything about you. 
Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. 
Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. 
Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. 
Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being.
Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. 
Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. 
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. 
Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, 
for all your days are written in my book. 
Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth 
and where you would live. 
Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb. 
Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented 
by those who don't know me.
John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, 
but am the complete expression of love. 
1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child 
and I am your Father. 
1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. 
Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. 
Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. 
James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. 
Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless 
as the sand on the seashore.
Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. 
Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. 
Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. 
Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you
with all my heart and all my soul. 
Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, 
you will find me. 
Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you 
the desires of your heart. 
Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. 
Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you 
than you could possibly imagine. 
Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager. 
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you 
in all your troubles. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, 
I am close to you. 
Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, 
I have carried you close to my heart. 
Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away 
every tear from your eyes. 
Revelation 21:3-4

And I'll take away all the pain 
you have suffered on this earth.
Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you 
even as I love my son, Jesus.
John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. 
Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, 
not against you. 
Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression 
of my love for you. 
1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved
that I might gain your love. 
Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, 
you receive me. 
1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you 
from my love again.
Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party 
heaven has ever seen.
Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, 
and will always be Father.
Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…
Will you be my child? 
John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. 
Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad
Almighty God

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is it really June?

I turned around and June was already on my doorstep...really!  When did this happen?  Somehow in the chaos of finishing off school, weeding the flower beds, planning graduation parties and sending my husband off on another trip, this month snuck up on me.  Taking a big deep breath, I am looking behind and in front with the anticipation of some "free" non-structured time to pursue some interests.  Isn't summertime supposed to be less stressful and busy?  Someone tell me it is so :)

These last nine months I followed the path of my youngest son finishing off his school years.  A bit of an emotional roller coaster, but what a fun ride!  As we watched him and a group of his closest friends, my heart was grateful for the adventure.  The sigh of "we did it!" echoed in my spirit. This was especially poignant for me as he is our youngest.  We have watched an incredibly cute young boy develop into an amazing man of character. His band of "brothers" walked that procession together and we moms and dads swelled with pride.   These boys had spent their high school years together in a small discipleship group at church.  They played, worked and grew together.  Standing to receive their diplomas, these young men turned their heads to us and lowered their heads.  Stamped across the top of their caps were the letters "I LOVE MOM".

And yes, there wasn't a dry eye among us.  

We moms are still breathing in life from that moment.  It will be the highlight of our summer and one of those treasures we hold dear to our hearts.  In three short months, our little boys will venture off to college and life will change.  I know this because I have sent off three before this one.  Life will never be the same.  And that is okay.  I think.  

I reached a milestone this week.  Four children, now adults, school years finished, empty nest...well not quite.  We are in a season of change, transition and finding our way.  Economics and life have placed us all in the same house for the time being.  And that is okay... for now :)  

As I mulled and climbed over this milestone, I am challenged once again to launch out and make use of the new season ahead of me. I am planning on taking a few weeks and writing more.  I began about a year ago to put our "stories" on paper.  My files are getting larger I am happy to say.  I am taking a few online courses and reading more on writing.  Someone said, "If you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write."  I like that.  I love to read.   My summer, or at least the next two months of it, will take on a writing mode.  Some of that will appear in this blog, some in my private domain as I practice, experiment and venture into a world of having my stories critiqued.  Up to this point, stories have been gathering dust...in my files and in my mind.  It is time to bring them out.   

This morning I read in Philippians 1:12 "...that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the Gospel."  Who doesn't want their life to advance the Gospel?  By telling my stories, what life has taught me, in my own simple way, God's love for us and His care over our lives can be told.  A story isn't a story until it is told.....

How many of you have a story to tell?  Are you at a season where you could be writing it all down?  This world needs to hear from you!  You have something to share and someone needs to hear it!   No one else has lived your life, known your joys, known your pain, known the growth and lessons God and life have taught you.  Perhaps it is time to tell....

June is before us.....July and August around the corner.  My prayer for you is these months will hold time for you to pursue your dreams and enjoy the love of family and friends.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Tribute to My Mom

My mom is amazing, but I didn’t realize just how strong, determined and dependable she was  until I had my own children. One day during a visit shortly after I gave birth, I was exhausted and my husband jumped up to change our firstborn son’s diaper. My mother, watching all this taking place, turned to me and said “You have no idea what you have.” With tears in her eyes, she went on to tell me (which I already knew but had a much bigger impact on my life now that I was a mom), how she raised 3 small children as a single mom. Changing every diaper, feeding every mouth, cleaning every mess, working and carrying the weight of those lives in her hands in our early years.

My mom remarried when I was ten.  She married a wonderful hard-working farmer from North Dakota.  As a young girl, it was a bit scary having a big man in the home. That masculine roughness was something very foreign to three young lives.  We'd never experienced that before.  My wonderful mom juggled the new act of wife, mom and go-between, as she helped us become accustomed to a "dad".  There were good times and there were harder times. Yes, she made mistakes...and every mom out there yells a resounding  "Amen"...what mother doesn't  fall short and wished she'd done it different.  But through it all, she was mom....and we all knew her love was unconditional and she would always be there for us.  I had someone recently say no human could have "unconditional" love for someone else.  I disagree....I have unconditional love for my four children.  Because no matter what they do...they can disappoint, they can anger, they can deeply move me, but I will NEVER STOP LOVING them!  (Another "Amen" ladies!)   My mom is now in her latter years...she still carries that unconditional love in her heart for me and my siblings as our lives have taken very different routes.

My husband and I have raised four wonderful children.  There have been adventures; rough times, good times - thick and thin times. Times when all you could do was laugh....times when only tears would bring comfort.   Most lessons in my life have been deeply imprinted on my soul through the years of mothering.  Aside from my constant need for God and His wisdom, there have been several women through the years who have inspired me in my mothering.  But one lady, who turns 85 this coming July, stands above the rest...

26 years ago, I stood watching my husband hold and sing to our first-born son and I was overwhelmed with love for the woman who “did it all alone” and the man “who was doing it with me”. That moment I believe, I loved my mom more than I ever had and more than words could ever express. She deserves more than I could ever give back to her!


Monday, May 6, 2013

MOM is WOW Upside Down :)

Today is a guest post from a friend of mine, Erin.  Her mom's story is one not so different from many moms today....single and doing it on her own.  A tough job, but one you cannot walk away from.  One that if you stick with it, will reap wonderful rewards as you watch your hard work, years of tears...and joy....be worth it all.

My mom raised my two younger sisters and I, all by herself. She taught me to be tough. To agree to disagree. To work hard for what we wanted. She made us pull a bucket of weeds, every day, in the summer, before we could go swimming. We had daily chore lists to be accomplished. She homeschooled us, off and on. She taught me how to replace a toilet. She taught me how to drive. Because of her, I love to garden and feed birds. We always had pets – dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, bunnies, ducks and chickens. If we didn’t clean our rooms well, the toys we left out got taken away. We got spankings! We got grounded! I remember having to write sentences, and apology letters . . . and thank you letters. As soon as I started earning money, she required a ‘room and board’ monthly payment. She taught me how to cook. She raised my sisters and I to be responsible, and respectful.

The biggest things that have always been a part of our lives, as mother - daughters, was humor, fun, and spontaneity! Somehow, as a single mom with three, whiney little girls, and very little money, my mom still managed to provide for our needs, ....and teach us to enjoy life.

We had fun. My mom would take us camping, for weeks in a row, every summer. In a tent. With a rat terrier dog, and a hatchet under her pillow at night. We bathed in the river. We went to the beach. We drove down dirt roads, up the sides of mountains, to go exploring or picnicking! We hiked at Silver Falls. We swam in creeks. We slid down huge rock query piles! She let us play in the rain in our swim suits! She spray painted poison oak, so we wouldn’t accidentally walk through it. We jumped in puddles in parking lots. We sang in the car. Twice during my childhood I remember seeing my mom run – once, to rescue my three year old sister who almost drowned at Siletz Bay. The other time, was to jump in the Brightenbush River to save a Frisbee.

Through the years my mom has been mommy, discipliner, friend, confidant, mom and dad, teacher, enemy, boss,  . . . yet always Mom. Always Wow. I don’t think I could ever do what she has done. She’s raised three girls. She’s experienced love, life, loss, sickness, health, pain, hurt, laughter . . . and she’s lived. And she taught her daughters how to live. She raised me. She taught me how to be responsible, respectful, and have fun and enjoy life!

WOW, Mom! You amaze me! Thank you for teaching me how to live AND love life! 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!
I love you!

Erin Fern

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Mother Worthy of Honor

Our third mother in the line of mothers we are honoring is another lady in Scripture.  Her name means "grace" or "favor..He has favored me".  


For those not familiar with her story, you can read it in the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 1 & 2.  I've always been inspired reading about Hannah.  A woman who lived in anguish every day, hoping, wanting and being taunted because she could not have what most other women around her had.  A child.  Two other women in Scripture also grieved over not having children.  Sarah and Rachel.  But unlike them, Hannah didn't take matters into her own hands....she took her anguish and sorrow directly to God.   Even in the place of prayer, she was misunderstood (1 Samuel 1:12-16).  Despite this, her place of comfort and consolation was on her knees and on her face before God.  When Eli speaks a blessing over her, she leaves her place of sacrifice "her face no longer being downcast".    Scripture doesn't say she want away confident she would have a child, but that she was comforted.   

Who else can give a woman (or a mother) the comfort she needs in times of deep pain and anguish.  In times of desperate wanting.  In times when we feel there is not a soul on earth who can identify with our pain, or our longing?  No human can give us what we need....no husband, no friend, no false comfort, only the Father who knows, sees and understands all.  Sometimes, I feel like us moms carry the burden of those we love and have cared for so deeply, far deeper and heavier than any burden we have ever experienced.  When those we love, hurt.....we hurt.  When those we brought into life cry deeply, we cry deeper still.  I think there is a large portion of our heart implanted in their hearts.  That will never change.  Hannah inspires me.....she knew where to go for her comfort.

And amidst the ongoing days of our lives, God shows up.  Maybe not always in the way we wished, but He does show up.  When Hannah finally bore that son she desperately hoped for, she had words of praise that echoed down through history, so far down that Mary the mother of Jesus poured them forth from her soul as well (1 Samuel 2 and Luke 1:46-55).  We join the multitudes of women and mothers through the centuries as we praise Him for showing up.  

And then, she gave her son to God.  She didn't hang onto her blessing selfishly, she did what she had promised.  Her son, Samuel, would belong to God all the days of his life.  Once she had weaned him, she took him to the priest, Eli, and he lived and served Eli and God as a boy.  He grew up in a place of serving, worship and sacrifice.  He was the last of the judges of Israel and he anointed the first two kings, Saul and David.  Samuel, the much wanted and prayed for son of Hannah, lived out God's purpose for his life because of a mother who loved him deeply, but loved God deeper still.  A woman of faith....a woman of prayer....a women of obedience.  And God gave her more children (1 Samuel 2:20-21).   

Hannah is not a woman of faith because she bore a son.  She is a woman of faith because she sought God.  She trusted God.  In her deepest distress.  Only HE could answer.  Only HE could bring the consolation and purpose in life she desperately prayed for day and night.  And HE had far bigger plans for her son than she could have even imagined.  

Hannah, a woman of faith, a mom of prayer, a woman of obedience, a mom who loved and cared for her son from afar.  And a mom we honor today, nearly 3,200 years later, her faith, her trust, her obedience, her prayer life....still speaks.  Thank you, Hannah. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Remembering Mom... and Knickers

Today I'm sharing a guest post from JOANIE, a dear friend of mine.  We have journeyed many years together, and during our friendship she shared her mom with me.  I am honored to share her memory in remembering a woman loved by many.....

A new longing has surfaced, developing into a little nagging regret.

I would very much like to thank my mom for the wool knickers she made me.  I so wish this seemingly novel desire would have gripped me before she died ten years ago.

I was 10 years old and the only one in our family learning how to ski.  Even though I was quite fond of my wool knickers, I just took it for granted that my mom made them for me.  Didn’t everyone’s mother know how to sew that well?  Making wool knickers for  me to wear skiing, wasn’t that just a normal duty for a mother?  I can still feel how much I adored my knickers.  The fabric, the style, the colors still so tangible, but mostly I remember that I just felt really good whenever I wore them.  Without realizing it at that time, I think I just felt so loved in those knickers - specially and uniquely cared for.  Amazingly, I can experience those same securing emotions now all over again, 47 years later, by just seeing those knickers in my memory’s vivid view.

Those two pair of wool knickers always kept me perfectly warm in our Montana winters as I bravely embraced cold snowy mountains.  However, I do think much of that warmth was that of my mother’s deep lovingkindness in which I was always so very comfortable.  One pair was soft medium gray with very thin lines of red, blue & green making a very subtle pattern.  Not garish at all, but rather nicely artistic.  I always wore them with long bright red socks underneath which was pretty much standard for skiers in those days with knickers.  My laced up ski boots also had bright red laces.  My especially tailored just for me knickers gave me a sense of confidence, a clear advantage in persevering during that early struggle of learning to ski.  My mother was a very adventurous person with great athletic ability.  Had she grown up in Montana instead of Ohio, I am sure she would have been an avid and talented skier.   Those knickers were part of her ongoing lifetime message to me, “I am with you all the way, I want you to have fun and enjoy your life.”

I wish I could thank my mom for my wonderful knickers and for all the love she sewed into their seams.  More than that I would very much like to express my gratitude for the deeper, bigger, lifelong gift those cherished knickers have been (and will continue to be) to this middle aged woman who still feels warmly loved by a deeply caring and giving mother. She gave me a strong advantage for life.  Now, I never ski down a mountain without thanking my mom for my knickers.

“My heart is full and I thank you.”

"Graphic by Broken Box Designs, LLC."

Happy Mother's Day, Liz; we love and miss you!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

She Was The First

Her name means "life-giving"  or  "mother of all who have life".   As we launch into the celebration of moms, it is only fitting to remember the first mom ever.  Yes, we think of sin and it's far reaching consequence, the apple, the serpent, the deception and fall of man - all that happened in the garden that day.  But just for a moment, remember Momma Eve.

So much could be written and has been.  Even though her choice brought pain and agony, she was also given the promise of "you will bear children".  Out of Eve, would come mankind.

She was the first MOM.

She was the first to carry a child in her womb.  Did she even grasp what was taking place inside her?

She was the first ever to feel a life growing within her body.  The first woman to outgrow her clothes..or animal skins.

She was the first to have cravings :)  Did Adam have to run out to the local bush and grab her some strawberries in the middle of the night ?

She was the first to have questions....and I wonder, was God right there to answer them?

She was the first to have labor pains.  The first to give birth....without Lamaze classes.   What was Adam like during this time?  Did he look into her eyes to calm her...did he sing softly to her?

She was the first to do the mommy thing without any books or another mom to bring encouragement and assure her she would live through this.

But Eve still knew that God was in control of her life.  "With the HELP of the LORD, I have brought forth a man."  Genesis 4:1

She was the first to nurse.  How did that first snuggle and feed happen?

She was the first to discover she needed diapers....so literally she invented the diaper :)

She was the first to deal with sibling rivalry.

She was the first mom to lose a son.  Both sons.  The first mom to experience the pain and sorrow of her son's wrong choices.

Yet, she was also the first to experience God's promises....out of her pain and sorrow came Seth...out of Seth came Noah.

So many firsts.......

As I think about mothering and the years I have enjoyed this marvelous and incredible privilege, there were older moms who mentored me.  There were women my age where we walked the journey together.  We laughed, shared stories, sometimes cried...and always prayed for our children.  We have had those who "have gone before us" to show us how to do this mommy thing.    For me, as I am sure for many of you, the Word of God, His presence and His encouragement has been our sustaining strength and well of wisdom to draw from.

Honoring Eve....and the mothers who came after.  Each day, hopefully, up to Mother's Day, I will post a story of a mom who has made a difference in our lives.  Some will be the examples in Scripture, some will be stories you send in.  Life can be noisy and very busy about now......especially if you are a "MOM"  :)      A story a day....a mom a day to honor....send me your story.  Let's laugh, maybe cry, but always remember together.

Our Mother's Day Blog-A-Thon

Email me your stories to: DebbyJD@hotmail.com and put in subject line "MY MOM" 

You can attach a photo if you would like :)   This will be fun!  And a unique way to celebrate your mom this year.   Hurry though, ladies, we are on the countdown and there are only 11 days left before the big day!  (If you need a refresher of why we are doing this, read the post before this one :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Mother's Day Blog-a-thon

One of my favorite holidays is just around the corner.  Of course, I am a MOM!  I love having my children pay attention to me :)  I enjoy not having to cook (unless my own mother visits and then I want to spoil her with a lovely meal :)   It is a time when a mom gets to enjoy being spoiled a bit!  By the time Mother's Day rolls around, spring has shown her lovely face and we begin to enjoy a bit of warm weather here in our neck of the woods.  And I am a big fan of "honoring" those who have not only given life, but have given so much of their lives and sacrificed to care for their families.

I especially am blessed by the many stories I hear of the way moms have touched a person's life.  Special moments and memories etched in our minds and hearts for eternity.  Some involve tremendous sacrifice, some as simple as a smile when needed.  Other times, a mom was there with a crucial bit of insight at just the perfect time.  And others, just the thought of a special meal or event....even a smell that invokes the feelings of never wanting to let go of that moment.

For the next three weeks, I would love to hear from YOU and your special MOM memories!  I want to dedicate the days leading up to Mother's Day (May 12th) to remembering and honoring our moms. Actually, you might not even have a memory of your mother, but there has been a mom figure in your life and you would love to share a memory.  If you would like to email me your stories (500 words or less), I will review them and then publish them here on the blog.  You can give me your first name only (or not), and I will give you credit for your piece.  I had a friend a few weeks ago send me the most amazing story of her mom who is no longer with us.  That will be one of the first ones I share, along with my own "mom story".   A new and creative way to honor your mom this Mother's Day.  All it takes is a few moments of your time to put your heart on paper (or computer page :) and send it to me.  I would love to hear, maybe shed a tear or two, and even laugh out loud as you remember your momma :)

Actually, when you email, you could attach a photo if you feel comfortable doing that also.

Email stories to   DebbyJD@hotmail.com and put in subject line "MY MOM" .  Ideally, I would like to post a story a day until Mom's Day, but it will take all of you sending me your memories to make this work.

So here we go...our very own Mother's Day Blog-a-Thon.... get those stories rolling in...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Passionate Patience

To be passionate:  showing strong feelings or intense believe or emotion

To be patient:  to be able to wait without becoming annoyed or anxious

One word shows action....the other leads us to believe "inaction".  Or rather action without stress or anxiousness.

Can we be passionately patient?  I found this paraphrase of Romans 5:3-5 in The Message:

"There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us,  and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"

Verse 6 follows this up with..."Christ arrives right on time to make this happen."

Christ shows up right in the midst of our troubles...our battles.  He calls us to ENDURANCE.  Other translations reveal "suffering....producing perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, HOPE."  The end result is HOPE.

Bo Stern shares in her book "Beautiful Battlefields"  that endurance is not a gift, it is a developed skill.  It is what we learn on the battlefields of our life.  One battlefield is the groundwork for what lies ahead.  The seeds are planted, the lessons learned (if we endure and do not give up...although even when we give up, lessons are hopefully learned in the long run)....and we are prepared for the next battle.  Every battle becomes practice for the next one.

Bo also says "Endurance will inevitably be required to achieve anything of value.  That's why we should be thankful for our battlefields."

Today, there will be those of us in church, worshipping and enjoying our friends and family.  We might have smiles on our faces.  But how many of us/you are fighting a battle that only you, or a few know about?  Or maybe your battle is well known.  Having someone "hold up your hands" in the battle is a treasure that we absolutely must have to survive.  

Today, ask yourself a question "What is on the other side of this battlefield if I endure?  Will I grow and be better for it?"  Another quote from Bo, which reaches into the very depths of my heart, "Love led Jesus to the cross; obedience and endurance held Him there.  I am so grateful that He chose to stay, to outlast the suffering, to ENDURE it all for you and me."  Oh, how that touches me so deeply!

Passionate patience.....a developed skill that I so ardently desire in my life.  Alert expectancy.  Can I feel strongly in the waiting, without becoming annoyed or anxious, to reach the hope He promises.  The hope that does not put us to shame.  The battle where Christ arrives right on time and makes it happen.  I pray in the midst of whatever battle you may be facing, now or the one that is ahead, you will have passionate patience and joy will show up in the middle of the war.

Image from "Walking with Jesus Online"

note:  I highly recommend Beautiful Battlefields - a testimony of finding joy, peace and endurance in the middle of our battles. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Knock Knock...Who's There? Elijah...

Love, betrayal, mystery, murder, war, famine, drought, miracles, adventure, intrigue, faith - only a few of the words we could use to describe the Old Testament of the Bible.  The stories hidden within the pages of this centuries old book are filled with lessons that reach across the millennia.  Men and women who lived, loved, believed and died leaving a trail of stories to be told.  There is no better "storybook" !

One such story which is finding a very prominent place in my faith walk right now is 1 Kings 17. Elijah a prophet, has just declared a drought.  God leads him away from his hometown, seemingly to "hide" (verse 3) and he is fed by ravens near a brook where he is also able to have a water supply.  He has his needs met by Almighty God for a season.  When the brook dries up, He is instructed by God to go to a widow in Sidon who will provide food for him.

When he arrives and asks the widow for food and water, he discovers she is nearing the end of her "supply".  She only has enough flour for one more meal.  He tells her to not be afraid.  He instructs her to continue her hospitality anyway.  Make him a loaf, bring it to him first.  Then, she may make something for herself and her son. He proclaims "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says to you...the jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land."  Our weary widow does as she is told and there is food every day for Elijah, for herself and her family.

Let me see...

No bread, a handful of flour in a jar, a little olive oil, a few sticks for fuel.....obedience + generosity = abundant provision...in fact, ALL WE NEED.

Are there times when God asks us to do something and we hesitate because of our limited resources?  I think more often than we realize.  What if there are miracles He wants to do on our behalf?  What if He has an "appointed time or season" He wants to provide daily in a way that is truly miraculous....where He shows up in the flour and the oil...and it doesn't run dry.  What if...there is someone He wants us to bless, reach out to, impact in a way that only our generosity will speak to....and He tells us to grab that last handful of flour, that last drop of oil, and take care of them first.  

If you read further in Chapter 17, you next see the widow's son becomes ill and dies.  Oh great, he is fed miraculously for weeks only to turn around and die from something else.  This widow panics and blames Elijah.  He takes the boy and cries out to God....God hears him and returns the boy's life.  The son is returned to his mother.  The last verse of the chapter says "THEN the woman says to Elijah, 'NOW, I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is truth.'"   Hmmm...I would think she had THAT thought during the weeks of the flour and oil not running out.  But we in our human nature, sometimes miss the miracles of the day.   But again, here comes our FAITHFUL GOD and He shows up in the middle of our humanity, our daily grind, our panic and worries; just when we think all is about to run out...GOD brings resurrection.  He brings Himself and His presence.

My faith walk right now is requiring a deeper level of TRUST.  Scraping that flour barrel, shaking that bottle of oil.....on the word of the Lord to trust Him in every step of my journey.

Obedience + Generosity = Abundant Provision of all I NEED

This goes beyond oil and flour and financial need....our energy, our time, our resources, our health, our faith.....what barrel or jar do you feel you are running low on...about to run out?  But you know you have to keep going.... Is there an area of generosity deep within us we can tap into?  Is God's whisper of trust and obedience requiring steps that will open the door to the provision of what you feel you are lacking right now.  I think there is a miracle....a never running out.....a resurrection awaiting us as we tap into His perspective on the intertwining of obedience and generosity.  

What will we do when an Elijah comes to visit...or some opportunity presents itself but we feel we are lacking in some area?  I want to open the door for a miracle.  From my heart to yours....I hope you see that miracle when you open that door.