Thursday, April 29, 2010

How To Hear God Speak - Part 3

Sooo where were we? Ty’s the best ever!!! {{Haha ----guess who's home and must have been on my computer while I was putting wash in. He, Graham and Daddy arrived with our "new" van late last night.}

Okay, back to hearing God speak….this time - with His audible voice.

Let me preface it this by saying: This post is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended, because it is not meant in any way to offend. It is me sharing my heart as to what I feel God is speaking to His sheep today….So if you are faint, or just don’t want to hear it, please feel free to hit the little “x” in the top right hand corner.

If you are still with me, here goes:

Of the many people I have talked to over the years, very few have said that they have heard God’s audible voice. Most of the time He seems to speak {1}through His word, {2} through words in the form of thoughts that seemingly come out of nowhere, {3} through impressions on our heart that seem to come from nowhere, {4} through dreams and {5}through others - confirming what He’s already been tellin' us.

Here are my thoughts on God's audible voice: I have felt for years that God will speak in one of the ways listed above if we spend time with Him. If He is the priority. If we are clean before Him. If we are waiting. But we must have been spending time with Him, prayer, listening and worshipping as a lifestyle…

At the heart of the matter…..I feel that the barometer for hearing God’s audible voice is this: the holiness of God. Friends, He is completely, completely, completely holy. He is righteous. He is not perverse in any sense. I am convinced that God’s holiness is not regarded today seriously. I feel like He and His holiness are cheapened. That very few people really take into account just what spending time with a Holy God is. Come to think about – how often do we even hear the word “holy”? In scripture it talks about how He loved Moses and He spoke face to face with Him. When “He spoke face to face” it was more than special – it was extraordinary!! And it was rare.

Of course today we have the Holy Spirit that was left with believers shortly after Jesus ascended into heaven. But, there are times where people still have heard His audible voice, but I liken it to the Holy of Holies….mentioned in the Old Testament. That today the “common” way to hear God speak is through His word, thoughts, impressions, dreams, through others…but like ‘entering’ the Holy of holies on rare occasion - God chooses to speak audibly.

If you were to stop, and I mean really, truly stop and think…the God of the Universe, the creator of Heaven and Earth, the Holy God who created man and woman wants, no really longs to spend time with you….well just really stop and think about that for a minute. I mean, seriously, stop and ponder it. I, personally, can hardly get my mind around it.

But there are so many things that seduce us away from spending time with God and worshipping Him. In fact Dw and I were talking about it the other day. When we were young God’s temple or house {the church} was at the center of the community life and the center of the family. It was where we met God weekly. We fellowshipped with other believers. We communed together. It was a time of worshipping His holiness. He spoke to me often while in church. He still does today, almost every Sunday.

But today, other things are the center of the family. In fact I am going to out on a limb here about the holiness of God. I may even lose some “friends” over it……but I have felt for a long time that the Lord would like me to say it….Church stopped being the center of community/family life….and the thing that has taken over? Sports and/or hobbies. Let’s face it, kids are in all kinds of sports, several teams even at one time in a family. We pastor and we hear it regularly: oh this kid has a tournament this week-end so we are driving x number of hours to spend the week-end at a tournament. And it’s not just one tournament a season….it’s almost every week-end….not even talking about the “traveling” teams. And all the while money is spent for teams, gas, uniforms, practices, hotels, tournament fees…..I’m like, “Are you serious? {And people wonder why they have no money?? Can you imagine the eternal consequences if that same time and energy was put into missions trips with your kids?}

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21 niv

These same folks can’t commit to anything at the church they attend, because they are committed to their sports teams. And all the while God is wondering what in the world they are doing. Hear God speak? He’d have to be screaming at the top of His lungs, or literally putting the handwriting on the sky for them to notice. Their world revolves around sports and only sports or their hobbies. Then one day their kid is grown and they wonder why church isn’t a priority for their kids. Friends!! It is out of whack!! Drastically - out of whack!!

Then there are those who just “don’t feel today like going to church..” absolutely ignoring the fact that a Holy God has invited them to His house…they can’t make it cause life has been busy, there’s not enough time, or “we have family visiting so we won’t be there” Just a thought: What would be wrong with bringing them? Or what would be wrong with showing them that God’s house is a priority and so you are going without them if they won’t go.

Now before anyone gets their boxers in a bunch, that does not mean that all sports is bad. BUT when the focus of our existence is sports or hobbies or our family and God's house is a "when we have time" kind of thing....then yes, something is wrong...

For instance: We have friends. We have close friends. We go out to dinner with them. We talk. We laugh. We get to know them better. But there is something extra special about being invited to a friend’s home. When we are invited to their home, we feel that we are special, having been invited into their “secret” place. We are honored. It is extra special – far more enjoyable to us then going to the fanciest restaurant ever built. I remember many years ago we pastored in a place where we had some very great friends. We loved them. They came to our home every single week for a Bible study. We became really close. They invited us out to dinner on a few occasions. But never, not even once, did they invite us to their home {and we had far fewer kids then too}. I have to say, that although we considered them great friends, something, somehow, was different. We never really knew them, because we did not share anything at their home.

The same, I feel, it is with God. His house is special. It is His temple. He speaks to me almost every Sunday I am there, often through my husband’s teachings. God speaks to me about all kinds of things. I love going to His house and being with my brothers and sisters in Christ. What if I never went? I shudder at the thought. Many have been hurt or offended by “the church”….and one day soon I will address that. =)
But understanding the Holiness of God compels us to come to His house. His holiness compels us to gather with the body to worship. His holiness compels us to keep our focus on Him...and hearing Him speak at His house.

And yes, true enough one doesn’t have to attend church to hear God speak, but it is a heart matter more than anything, and God’s word is clear: a true worshipper is committed to a body and plugged in working for the advancement of the kingdom. So where’s your heart? What’s your heart pondering? What is your mind thinking about? Hard to be spending time with Him, when life is revolving around hobbies and sports or anything else that takes up vast amounts of time.

And the holiness of God? Ummm yeah. Not much left over for God. And yet Almighty God – the creator of mankind, the builder of Heaven and Earth is waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Is there time for Him? Not much. Squeezin’ it in when life lets us…if we aren’t too tired or so stinkin’ busy.

Anyway, I’ll let the Holy Spirit and you ponder that thought…..

All that to say that I am convinced that Holy God does not allow His holiness to be cheapened and “wasted” on those whose hearts are not seeking Him with passion and purpose.

So on to the audible voice of God…….in my life, it has only happened a few times. I will share with you a couple of them.

The first time I remember hearing His audible voice was the summer of 1979. Dw had radically come to Christ on March 2, 1978. He was a different man. It was amazing. We were married on August 12, 1978. We spent our days passionately pursuing Jesus. It was awesome. We had Bible studies with people we didn’t even know…inviting anyone off the street. We studied our Bibles all the time, we went to church all the time. We went to Bible studies…. We opened our apartment to the youth and had some kickin’ parties where we would blast Jesus music and play random crazy games and we would see kids come to Christ. Dw was in law school and we had no money but we shared all that we had. It was so amazingly fun!! In fact the whole time, with no money, the food of choice was deep-fried onion rings – made by me and the girls present. It became the thing we would eat every time the kids came over. Onions were dirt cheap – it worked and the kids loved my recipe!

Anyway, the following summer {1979} we went to spend a week at his parent’s cottage by ourselves. You guys would laugh if you had seen the pile of study books we took with us. We laid in the sun and played in the water during the day, but by late afternoon we pulled out the concordances, the commentaries and our Bibles and we studied together. We wanted to please God with everything – it was such a blast. And study we did.

Well one particular day we had swam and played and our bathing suits needed to be hung on the line outside. So I grabbed the suits and pushed the screen door open. I took about 10 steps out the door and for the first time ever I heard God’s audible voice say loud and clear, “turn around”. And do you know what I did?

I would love to tell you that I turned around and fell on the ground in worship, but I didn’t. Here we were studying and praying and studying and reading and wanting only to please Jesus and for the first time I heard His audible voice….and do you know what I did? I literally said, out loud – “no”. Can you believe it? What a stubborn and rebellious heart I must have had!! I even said it out loud too. And I kept walking toward the clothes line and I hung those suits. I remember thinking, “wow, what was all that about?”

About an hour later we were in the cottage with our Bibles and books opened on the table and we were wondering about something and I remembered a concordance or something that was still upstairs {where we slept}. I said to Dw, “Oh, I’ll go get that.” So I dashed up the stairs. I still can remember bounding up the stairs, two at a time. I flipped on the light, cause it was now dusky, and as I went to the table on the far side of the room to retrieve the study book something dove at my head. I screamed like a naked lady…and kept screaming as a bat dove at my head over and over….I was screaming hysterically. {Did I mention that bats completely freak me out? Still do.}

Dw had no idea what was going on but thought, by the way that I was screaming, that a man must be upstairs attacking me. He grabbed a chair and started toward the stairs. I met him coming down, almost airborne! I said, “It’s a bat.” I still laugh as I see him in my mind, slump his shoulders in complete relief and groan a sigh.

As I got downstairs I realized that when God had told me, “turn around” and had I been obedient, I would have seen the bat fly in the door. It probably was hanging on the back of the cottage screen door, but I had said, “no”….and the warning from my loving Father was not just ignored but rebelliously told “no”. Of course I repented by begging God to forgive me. I thanked Him for trying to warn me and I told Him that I would obey next time.

Now I have to say, that I have been working on this post, the Lord has spoken something to me about that very first time He spoke audibly…and here’s what it is: The audible warning would have spared me from the bat….but my response spared me from more pain. It revealed rebellion in my heart. It revealed a stubbornness that would not be seen by most around me. It showed me what was inside my heart…even though I was studying and desperately wanting to please Him. I was still stubborn and rebellious….I needed to get rid of that – which I worked to do. That was the most important part of His audible voice that day. {Hope that makes sense!}

Anyway, the next time God spoke didn’t come for about 3 years. It was April 12, 1982. I was laying alone in my hospital bed trying to sleep. The next morning I would be having surgery. {In fact I wrote about it a few weeks ago, as God spared my life when I had been bleeding internally.} Anyway, the night before surgery in that hospital room I had been reading my Bible, looking for a special verse that He alone would give me. I asked Him to give me something to cling to. Nothing came. I finally turned out the light and lay trying to sleep before surgery. No doubt, I was nervous. I was praying – hard.

The audible voice of God came out of nowhere. It was not a thought. It was real. I do not know if you would have heard it if you had been in that dark room. But it was clear and loud. He said: Hebrews 6:12 I quickly turned on the light, grabbing my Bible and turning to Hebrews 6:12. This is what it says in Hebrews 6:11-15

"And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
{verse 12} so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,
And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise."

I knew then, that He was telling me to have faith and patience and one day I would birth a child. It was a promise I could take to the bank. Just like He had fulfilled the promise to Abraham and Sarah – He would be fulfilling His promise to me. I rejoiced at His audible voice speaking an unfamiliar scripture to me. The God of the Universe caring about me, laying alone in a hospital bed. He spoke - outloud. He came to comfort me. I went to sleep.
There have only been about 2 other times that He has spoken audibly. He has spoken through thoughts in my mind, impressions, dreams and through others literally thousands of times. I am convinced that He reserves His audible voice for very, very rare times.

I am certain that the key to hearing God speak is being willing, being obedient, having the crud cleared out of our lives, being free from sin, tender to His commands, being committed to a local body and serving Him with all our hearts. Then we are fertile ground, waiting for the master gardener to till the soil and we are ready, waiting to hear. But there is one other KEY to hearing Him speak - maybe the most important of all. It will be covered next time. Then after that we will talk about dreams.

Although I do not proclaim in any way to completely understand it all, I willingly share my journey. Please share yours in the comments below. Or if you have questions, please ask them. I am certain that others would love to read your experiences, if you would just comment below, I would love it.

PS I am posting this and heading out the door with Emma and Jubilee for Denver with her surgery scheduled for 9:45 am. Snow is expected most of the way today, as well as high winds.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Autumn's Blessing

I mentioned the other day that we finally {!} found a van...we are thrilled. That the Lord had it waiting near where Tyler and Sarah lived - wow! That was the the question came and when should Dw go to get the van? Tyler is on leave at the moment and was more than willing to help Dw drive it back. Besides Dw is leaving soon for Africa.

Sunday after church we got to thinking....the best thing to do would be for Dw and Graham to get that van back as quick as possible, since I have to head to Denver on Thursday to take Jubilee for surgery on Friday. So we hopped on the internet and found a really cheap one-way flight out of Albuquerque, which is a four hour drive away. But we still couldn't figure out how to do it.
If Dw and Graham flew out of ABQ, that would leave his truck there - four hours away!

I told Dw that I would happily load the kids up and we could all drive he and Graham to ABQ, spend the night in a hotel and I would drive the 6 kids home in the AM. Dw & Graham would hop on their flight at the same time.

Dw felt that it was too exhausting for me. {I love when husbands are paying attention - cause I was dreading the thought, but didn't tell him that cause I knew we had to figure it out.} I had just been to Denver a few days before, I'm going again in a few days and I had spoken at two services earlier that day and prayed with many people after - emotionally I was also spent.

Autumn was hanging out at the house and heard this conversation and volunteered to help. She works for the airlines and has free flight privileges. {Dw and I, as her parents, also have free flights, but sometimes the planes are full and they can't be used, or the cities that her airlines go to aren't where we need to go....and besides we have to fly 'standby'.}

Autumn was so sweet. She couldn't help Sunday night, because she had to work, but she has Tuesdays off {her only day}. Her and daddy figured it all out....Dw & Graham booked the flight and drove to ABQ where they caught an early morning flight to where Ty and Sarah live. Then this morning {on her only day off} Autumn was here at 5 am dropping off her babies...
you've met her babies...

and Polly {as in Polly Pocket}.......
Jubilee hamming it up....Isaiah had to get on it when I was taking the pics this AM of my "grandpets"...

Nelly wants some attention too...

After dropping off her babies....Autumny caught a 6 am flight to Denver, then from there caught a flight to ABQ and then caught a shuttle to the hotel where Dw and Graham had parked the car....and now is driving daddy's truck the four hours home. I am so grateful for her loving kindness in helping us out on her only day off....just cause she loves us so much.

In the meantime Dw and Graham have been enjoying visiting with Tyler and Sarah. Dw told me this AM that Ty and Sarah get along so well it reminds him of us when we were first married. How this mama and daddy's heart rejoices!! Anyway, later today the three men of mine will begin the journey toward home. It's about a 22 hour drive I guess.

You guys know what buddies Emmy and Tyler yesterday Emma told Ty that she was jealous that she wasn't invited. He said, "Well Em, if you could pee in a gatorade bottle we'd have let you come." On second thought, maybe being invited would be considered highly over-rated.

Lastly, an update on Autumn....she has just had tests rerun as her symptoms are driving her crazy. The symptoms are obnoxious!! She also feels yukky much of the time. They are now talking about surgery. I will keep you posted and special thanks to all who have recently asked how she is doing or have been praying for her. She is our blue-eyed treasure and we are tired of it for her.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Memorial Box Monday - The Ziploc Bags

I am diligently working on Part 3 of How to Hear God Speak, which should be posted in the next day or two. But since time is limited I got to thinking about this. I have been doing Memorial Box Monday posts about 18 months. Yes, I missed some weeks, but that still is alot of stories of God's faithfulness to our family. I have repeated one or two of the stories.

But the Lord spoke to my heart and said, "The point of the Memorial Box is to tell the stories over and over and over so as not to forget what I've done." Yes, that's exactly what scripture says. God told the Isrealites to build a stone memorial and when their children asked what those pile of stones were for, to go ahead and tell them the story of His faithfulness, His rescue, His provision. Each time they asked they were to tell their children and their children's children. Over and over.

So here is one of my favorite stories of God's provision. In these economic times, we need to be reminded of the stories of God's faithful provision....evidencing His deep care and love for each of us. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can take it to the bank. =) He never changes and He works the night shift on our behalf. He always, always, always has our back.

So even if you've read this story before, it's ok to read it again {it's short!}O. To remember. To give thanks. To apply it to your situation. Such a simple story, but with profound implications. So here goes, it first "aired" in March 2009:

I was talking recently to some new friends. The wife mentioned an illustration I had used that had greatly impacted her thoughts when I spoke a couple of years ago at our church. I said, "That's exactly the story I thought about telling this Memorial Box Monday."

Many, many years ago, when Dw and I were first married he was in law school. I worked as a secretary/bookkeeper to "put hubby through". I got paid a $150.00 per week, which even many years ago was not exactly rolling in the dough. We faithfully tithed. We gave away secretly. Amazingly God took that $150.00 a week and stretched it like spandex. We paid all his tuition without ONE student loan - Yippee Jesus!! We even were able to take a trip to visit family by air. It was something only God could do - BUT we were faithfully tithing and giving away.

On a sidenote...Dw and I continually want God's best for people. We are perplexed when people feel "they can't afford to tithe". We say, "You can't afford NOT to tithe." We have been without income (when we planted a church) and yet God always provided above and beyond all that we could think or ask. If you are struggling with finances and aren't tithing - then start tithing and watch what God does. Even when your income may be small and your 10% insignifcant from that small amount - do NOT rob God! He sees, He watches and He waits. He will provide - because His word promises to - WHEN you tithe. He is not obligated if you are not tithing.

Anyway, back to the story. On our limited income many things were not part of the budget. I got $15.00 a week for groceries. I was so careful as to what I bought. We s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it all. One thing I really felt I could use were some quart size Ziploc Freezer Bags. They would be so handy for leftovers, etc. I thought about it, then finally I splurged and bought some. As I was putting them in the cupboard I felt like the Lord said, "Do not look in the box, do not count them as you use them. I will make these stretch like you can't imagine." So I put them in a high cupboard above the stove. This was going to be fun!!

As a need arose, I would reach up in that cupboard (which was well up over my head) and reach into that box. Months passed and each time I reached into the box there was another one. I would laugh. I was getting a stinkin' kick out of this endless supply of Zipl*c Bags. Over a year passed.

Now, mind you, I was a good steward. I would recycle the used bags: washing them and using them again. But each time I needed a new one, I would reach in and there was always one more. *giggle* It was just too fun!!

One day as it neared the time that Dw would graduate I reached in and pulled out the last one. I could tell the box was empty and the supply was gone. My best guess is that for a box of 30 there had been 100 (or more) - at least! I still smile as I see a box of Ziplocs reminded each time of our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God!

There is a single Zipl*c in our Memorial Box to remind us of God's complete provision. And for the record, after losing our home to fire and now dealing with the insurance adjustor it is easy to grow concerned what will happen (which is another story for another time)...but I am reminded of even the little Zipl*c freezer bags that God multiplied to provide for us. He will not be leaving us high and dry (or in Colorado - snowy and cold)...He WILL provide a home - just because He loves us so and He, who was faithful with the Zipl*c bags will be faithful now!! Yippee Jesus!!

If I did not have our Memorial Box filled with symbols of His faithfulness during these difficult days I would have to wrack my brain to remember what God has done. The Memorial Box is the most important part of our home, next to our Bibles.

So I wrote all that March 2009. Here is it almost May 2010. The Lord did provide for a home, which we now have lived in for 3+ months. It is feeling a bit more homey each day, we are so thankful for His constant care of each of our needs. He is truly our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God. A Memorial Box is better explained here.

I would love for each of you to share your Memorial Box stories as well - and I am loving reading them. Please link below - others will visit and read as well - and please feel free to use the Memorial Box picture on the sidebar; it is especially fun to see our little log home on all your blogs........

Technical Difficulties

I have my Memorial Box Monday post ready to go, but MckLinky is having a problem. I have contacted Brent Riggs, Abby's daddy, {Brent is the genius behind MckLinky} and the site is definitely having a problem. So I will post my MBM post as soon as they get that fixed, so then you all can link to it. {hint hint}

Since I am mentioning MckLinky and Brent creating it, I would be remiss not to mention this: little Abby Riggs {Brent & Michelle's daughter adopted from Guatemala}. Abby has been fighting Leukemia for such a long time....the battle is wearying...for her and her mom, dad and family. Her counts are not good. Please, please, please lift them up. Even pop over and drop them a comment that you are praying for them and asking God to heal little Abby. Who can even begin to imagine what they are going thru? But for them to know that a bunch of others are sharing their burden, that would be ummmm.....Crazy Love!!! {Go ahead, pop over here and tell them!} xo

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whew!! What a Week!!

Whew! It has been quite a week! I can't believe tomorrow's Monday already. Thursday night we had the privilege of having the Uganda Go 2010 Team come {along with their families} for dinner at our home. We were even able to Skype or talk via cell to the other members of the team that are bloggy friends. So basically everyone met everyone. It was way cool.

Yesterday Girlfriends {the womens ministry from our church} went to neighboring city for a live simulcast of Beth Moore as she spoke on "So Long Insecurity" was awesome. Many, many women were forever changed - no doubt - and we had a blast!!!

Gratefulness and special thanks to each of you who prayed as I spoke at both of our morning services today. No doubt the Lord was working and lives were touched and many began the process of being set free from the chains of abuse! Amazing how God can take and make such beauty out of ashes. He is, indeed, the Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God.

On a very sad and heartbreaking note, Mark has been very unhappy here for weeks. He is angry. He does not want to live with us anymore and he "is never coming back again." ugh. Sometimes life is just not 'fun'. We understand he is grieving and that he has had to leave the only home he has ever known, but he has moved from sad to making life not nice for us. Dw and his brothers have made the decision to move him back. He will probably have to live in a nursing home of some sort. They are from a little teeny, tiny town. Even though he knows he is leaving Mark continues to be mad - especially at me and the kids. It has been a difficult time. We really were excited to care for him for the rest of his life. But it has been some really difficult days. Thank you to all who have prayed. He will be leaving in a few weeks.

Lastly - after hours of prayer and tons of looking - we finally found a 12 passenger van!! We are so absolutely stinkin' excited about that. I think it is a 2009 {that's such a guy thing, right? It runs and will seat us all - that's the details I care about.} Where we found it is the coolest part of all - right near Tyler and Sarah. Is that fun or what?? So in the next few days, Dw & Graham will be flying to stay a night with Ty and Sarah...and then Ty and Daddy and Graham will have a little 'guys' trip and drive it across country to bring it home. Tyler will spend a few days with us *giddy with delight* {Sarah is having finals at the moment, but how we wish she could come too!!} But we are tickled to pieces that big brother will be home for a few days {and he'll get to meet Jubilee!!} - Yippee Jesus!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Escape Average....

Do you have a teenager about to graduate from high school who doesn't know what to do next year? Do you have a young adult that is looking for a change or a challenge? The church we pastor, The River, has an internship program, and this fall we are opening it up to the world.

The name of the program is Escape Average. The title speaks for itself - your young person will be challenged to Escape Average in every area of their life: learning how to purify their hearts, hear God speak, passionately serve others, worship with reckless abandon, physically get into shape, delve into God's word and become disciplined in all areas of life.

Here is the website: Escape Average

Dw and I would love to welcome your graduate or young adult to our beautiful city and have them be part of the program. And if you've never been here....whoooaaa, you will be amazed at how beautiful it is....truly gorgeous - nestled with the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains....

If you have interested in the Escape Average on the website, snoop around....there is a video to watch {and yes, Emma's sweet beau is the Josh on there}. You will also find all the contact information, if you should be interested further....

On a separate note, Dw is doing a sermon series Celebrate Freedom. It is based on one of my favorite verses (Galatians 5:1) which I wrote about here. It is the verse that God used to set me free from so much worry and fear - especially the fear of being alone. Anyway, Dw has asked me to speak for both of our services this coming Sunday. I will be sharing about my past and the abuse. There are so many lives that have been affected by abuse, and the Lord wants to see people set free. I would appreciate your prayers and as always, after, you can hear it on your computer at this place. Click on "Audio" and then click on "Sermon Player".

Lastly, I'm sorry it's taking me longer to get to typing out Part 3 of How to Hear God Speak. I have it partially written in my head, now it's just a matter of sitting down and typing it out. I was also sensing from the Lord that some of you might like me to do a Part 4 about How God Speaks Through Dreams? If you think that might help as well, let me know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The other day the home schooling group from our church toured the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which began here in our city. All the chocolate that they sell in their 200+ franchises is made here....The smell was delectable.....and after the tour each of our three groups (approximately 15 in each group) were given a box like the one below to share Ya' know that old saying, "Once on the lips, forever on the H-I-P-S.....ya' that's what I'm talkin' about. The rest of the pics in no particular order....

Chocolate covered personal fav...lil salt, lil sweet...mmmmm.

Me and Mr. I'm-Not-Going-to-Smile-for-The-Camera-No-Matter-What

Uncle Mark

Emma and Graham

Peanut butter filling....

Emma and April


Mmmmm....Mmmmmm......Good......and still trying to figure out why these jeans aren't fitting as good....hmmmmmmm.....
PS Our internet was down the entire finally I can post this....and by the way....anyone around the country have a problem with their Verizon Cell phone today? Heard it was out in the West part of the 'bout the rest of you guys?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Memorial Box Wednesday - Please Make it Easy

I was going to post a different Memorial Box story, but something happened in the last few days that was so exciting to me, that I just had to share this "hot off the press" story instead.

When we went to Children's last month, the cleft lip and palate team said we were to return to our city and find two surgeons who would operate as soon as possible on Jubilee. They recommended a man in our city who had actually trained with the cleft team at Children's. We came back to our city and got an appointment and when he saw her he said that it was too big of a job for him. He just didn't feel comfortable doing the surgery on her mouth. He felt that he would need someone to back him up if there were any complications. He encouraged us to head back to Children's.

The clinic is not an easy place to get in to. When I phoned them they said they were scheduling surgeries for July. They said that even though Jubilee had been seen by the clinic docs during the clinic and they knew what needed to be done, they would not schedule a surgery until she had been seen again. But there were no appointments until July as well. They would not even hold a surgery slot in tandem with the appointment. Which meant that if I couldn't get an appointment till July then the surgery would probably be fall, at the earliest. {Are you kidding me?}

And that didn't even begin to figure in the ear doctor and his surgery needing to be done with the mouth surgery.

I called again to ask again. Nope. Nothing doin'. But this time the receptionist said that if I wanted to I could come and just show up for an emergency appointment. Get there super early in the morning and line up before it opens and then we would be seen on a first come, first served basis. It just sounded overwhelming on top of driving for 7 hours to get there and besides Jubilee had already been seen by the doc - his notes indicated that the surgery was urgent. ugh {Are you kidding me?}

Our pediatrician here called me. She was not very happy with all this. She said she would call cause what they needed was to hear it from a doctor. {You go girl!}

She called. It meant absolutely nothing. They have their rules and they were not budging or making any exceptions - not for a pleadin mom and not even for a fellow doc....{Are you kidding me?}

In the meantime the Lord was working behind the scenes and our Pediatrician, unbeknownst to us, was investigating other options.

Our pediatrician found the Children's Cleft Lip and Palate team's "competition". {They really do call it that!} I guess that many, many people were finding the clinic team frustrating, especially when there were emergencies {Jubilee's case is considered an emergency} so a group of doc's started a cleft lip and palate team of their own. {Go team!}

So while Dw and I were in Phoenix my cell rang. It was the competition's coordinator {and she had gotten my number from our pediatrician}. She was soooo nice. She was concerned for Jubilee. She talked to me for almost an hour. She explained all kinds of things to me. She understood the urgency of this situation. She gave me many phone numbers to help me figure this all out. {This has all been so new to me and a tad overwhelming - okay, okay, gargantuantly overwhelming!}

We returned from our getaway in Phoenix and I started on the 17,427 {haha} loads of wash that had accumulated the week I was gone. I was praying. Give us direction and what numbers to call. I was doing wash and I prayed outloud, "Lord would you make this easy? I am gargantuantly overwhelmed....please, please, please make it easy. Show me what to do."

I looked at the list of numbers she gave me and chose to call one. I explained to the first girl who answered the phone the situation and that we were from about 7-8 hours away. She listened and said, "Okay, I will make an appointment for you....just tell me what day you want to come." I questioned her....what days were open? She said, "No! You just tell me what day you want to come and I will work her in. What day do you want to come?" {Are you kidding me?}

I told her that I was going to come to Denver Monday to sit outside that clinic early in the morning, so would there be a chance of this coming Monday (5 days later). She gave me the number to their other office because it was closer for us. She said, "I am going to call them and fill them in on the situation, so give me 10 minutes...then you call them."
{Are you kidding me?}

I switched a load of wash, put another load in and called their other office. The woman who answered put a woman named Lynn on the phone. {Mind you not more than 15 minutes had passed.} She was so wonderfully sweet and she said, "I have you set to come in this coming Monday at 1:10 pm. Will that work for you? I understand that's okay for you? I also have the Operating Room at Children's reserved for April 30th." I started to cry. Seriously friends, could it have been any easier? Only God.

The appointment was set for FIVE days later and there is no doubt that only our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God could have done that!!!

Friday is Dw's day off. We went for a very early morning date because I was heading to my office to spend the entire day doing inventory from the fire. Yes, it has been 15 months but the insurance end is not finished. I have to go through every single item from the house and assign a date when we bought each item. Then I have to type in a replacement value. Almost every single item I have to google and find out the current replacement value. It is tedious. It is also emotional, remembering things that don't really have much monetary value, but great sentimental value.

I ended up working straight from 10am til 10pm. Early in the afternoon, as I was working on the inventory all of a sudden I remembered! The Children's Clinic had said that we needed an ear surgeon to surgically exam Jubilee's ears and also put in tubes. They had said it really should be done along with the mouth surgery. I did not want her to have to be anesthetized twice either.....But it was already TWO weeks from her scheduled surgery. How in the world would I find a doctor, get an appointment and have them agree to do surgery in tandem with her other surgery??

I started praying, "Lord what should I do?" I called home and asked Emma to find the phone number list from the woman. She searched for it and could not find it. Great! Now what?

All of a sudden the Lord gave me an idea - and yes it came out of nowhere! Call the ear surgeon {although I could not remember his name for anything} who had seen Jubilee at the Children's Clinic. He had been such a nice man and seemed to take a personal interest in her case. But how could I get ahold of him? I felt like the Lord said to call the clinic. Emma was able to find that number for me. I called.

Mind you, this was now Friday afternoon! The girl who answered was sooo nice. I told her my name and Jubilee's name and barely started to explain the situation and she said, "I'm looking at her file right now, and it looks like the ear surgeon was Dr. Allen. His notes say that her ears need to be done immediately. Let's see. OH, wait. The entire team of ENT's are going to be out-of-state at a medical convention on April 30th." {At this, my heart sunk.} And then she said, "Well, everyone except Dr. Allen!" It took a second for me to understand what she said.....everyone was going to be out of state on April 30th, except for Dr. Allen!! {Are you kidding me?}

She then said, "He's already examined her during clinic, there shouldn't be any problem with him agreeing to do the surgery on the 30th. I will make a note for his office to call you next week, but really, I can't see any reason why it would be a problem with him."

Remember when I asked the Lord to please make it easy? It couldn't have gotten any easier than two simple phone calls. God's loving fingerprints were all over those two phone calls. His complete favor.

So Monday we were at the office of Dr. Brad Smith in Denver. His staff was unbelievably kind. As it turns out Dr. Smith was so very nice. He answered questions, took his time. He is even an adoptive dad with a daughter from the Philippines. {How amazingly cool is that?} I told him what an answer to pray her was....and ya' know what he said? "Well I love to be used as a tool of the Lord!!" Oh my gracious!! God you are so good, a man who wants to be used as a tool of the Lord will be working on our precious Jubilee Promise for 3 hours.

Then - it is not very often that an entire staff at a doctor's office is kind. As we were checking out, Dr. Brad Smith's brother, Dr. Smith {who is one of his partners} came out to the reception area. He saw Jubilee and said, "This must be Jubilee? I saw in the books that you were coming in today. You have come a long way!" {Okay, what partner does that? Unbelievable!!}

Anyway, in our Memorial Box we will put the bracelet from Jubilee's surgery....reminding us that our God is always faithful. He works behind the scenes. He makes things easy when we are overwhelmed. He moves mountains. He always has our back.

How about you? What stories do you have in your Memorial Box? What stories do you remember of God's faithfulness? Has He ever made things easy because you, too, were overwhelmed? He longs to meet our needs.......all we need to do is ask!!
A Memorial Box is explained here.

Please feel free to use the badge on the right sidebar....and link your post below...I can't wait to read ALL your stories!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How About This?

Wow! I love that 35 of you left prayer requests - and I love, love, love that so many of you have been visiting the prayer requests and praying for them and better still - leaving comments!! How awesome to have people around the world praying for each other. You guys are unbelievable! Thanks for being so Crazy in Love with God that you are praying for people you don't know!!

I noticed that there were several surgeries listed....please go to these and pray for them! I know little Luke, because we met him in China, and he is in Israel facing surgery Wednesday {Israel time}. Please go to these and the other surgery posts and pray!!

So here's the scoop on Memorial Box Monday......with the Crazy Love Challenge #2 being put out there on Sunday, I am asking if you guys are okay, let's do Memorial Monday tomorrow....which would be Wednesday, Okay? And if you're reading this early Tuesday then you have all day to read some more prayer requests and also to get ready a Memorial Box post ready for tomorrow! =)

I left while it was still dark to head to Denver yesterday because Jubilee had a doctor's appointment. She is now scheduled for surgery at Children's on April 30th at 9:45am. Graham and Liberty rode with me and we have had a really fun time: talking, laughing and rockin' to music.

We spent the night at my friend JoJo's and now are heading home. I hate being gone and can't get home fast posting this, heading to Starbucks for an Americano with a dash of half and half {I can almost taste it!}, filling up with gas and heading for home.....xo

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crazy Love Challenge #2

It's Sunday - the day we worship and praise Almighty God - and what better day to have another Crazy Love challenge?

Almost every single day I get emails asking for how about this for our Crazy Love Challenge #2? What if bloggy friends who have prayer needs wrote posts and linked the post below - giving the bloggy community an opportunity to pray for one another specifically. There is something wonderfully amazing about praying for one another....and it is clearly what God wants!

Remember last summer? I asked you guys to pray for my precious bloggy friend Cindy. Cindy was a mom of many, adoptive mom, and transparent in her life.....she was tender hearted and kind and radically loved Jesus. She also had cancer. I asked if you guys would join me in a day of prayer and fasting for her. Many of you fasted for the first time {that was Crazy Love - fasting and praying for someone you didn't know!!}.

Remember how amazing it felt to go before the throne of grace together for a friend - even though you didn't know her? To love on Cindy and her family from afar? And it was unbelievably humbling to Cindy to know so many, who have never met her, cared so much!! Although we don't understand it, God's plan wasn't for Cindy to be healed this side of eternity and she went to be with Jesus just days later. But the point is, we did what we could do. We always trust the Lord and know that His plan is best.

When we pray for people we don't know we are coming together as one body, asking the God of the Universe to move. That's Crazy Love. In fact it's Crazy Love in it's truest form.

So please do a blog post asking for prayer. In case you are feeling shy about sharing your prayer need, you can start your post by telling your bloggy friends that your post is in response to this Crazy Love Challenge.

Many of you have serious stuff that needs adoption obstacles, wayward kids, job loss, upcoming surgery, cancer treatments, houses that need to sell, broken relationships, spouses who are closed to the idea of adoption, mission trips...etc...Please be gracious as you post your prayer need - you don't even have to go into great detail...just here is my prayer request.

In order to link a post you must put your prayer request as part of your title. For instance: Jubilee's having surgery next week {April 30th}. If I was linking a Prayer Request post I would put the title on the MckLinky something like: Daughter Having Surgery...that will make it much easier for people to check back in with you and see what's going on.

I would urge each of you to look at the requests on the links and pray for them. If you can, please leave a comment that you prayed for them. It will bring encouragement and be showing Crazy Love!!

So hop on it. Write your post. Link below and then start clicking on others to pray for them. This is going to be so exciting!! Prayers going up from all over the world for sweet bloggy friends.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


That hubby of mine thought we ought to celebrate all of you and the friendship you and I have - would have been so fun to have you all join us!!! Kind of a celebration of what God has done to heal those words from my we went to dinner Thursday night at my favorite place in town....Nini's.....a little Mexican place where you can eat on the back patio....and with all of us it's the perfect place! We had three orders of nachos {my fav} and some tacos and the weather was absolutely perfect {who'd have guessed it was snowing 2 days previous?}!!!!! Liberty Anna

Emma seems to smile a bit more each time you-know-who is at her side....Emmy and you-know-who {aka Josh - they've been dating almost a year}
Jubilee thinks Nini's is a pretty sweet place..

Something happened earlier in the day....{maybe someday I will blog about it} but Elizabeth really needed to hear how beautiful Daddy thinks she he was reminding her....
Earlier in the day we toured the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory {that originated here in town}....Isaiah loved the hair net we all had to wear...and so he wore it out to dinner...
Thank you sweet friends for making our celebration possible....
You guys are the best!! xo

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just a Little Note.....

It's Thankful Thursday and so I must thank all of you for your loving and kind words. We have giggled and laughed in amazement that so many of you have come out of the shadows too!! Thank you for blessing me so and making me feel so loved. Thank you, thank you, thank you....and I have to tell made me start to cry all over again when you posted this:

i wish i could have known you as a child...i would have played with you

Totally changing the subject: I have to tell you a little story. Someone gave us a mattress after the fire. Our kids slept on the floor for months. Eventually we ordered a mattress for us and gave the girls the mattress we had been using. The brand spankin' new mattress we bought literally fell apart within months of getting it. We talked to the store and we had to produce pictures. They were amazed at how it had fallen apart. They agreed to replace it.

So we wondered what type to buy. We had loved the one from before the house fire but had no idea what type that was. We searched reviews and ended up with the "most popular" brand. Understand, I am just telling you our story. Well within days of getting our new mattress I was waking up in such pain I could hardly stand it. I wake up in pain from the autoimmune stuff regularly, but this was like none other. I was in agony. I often get up and as a last resort I have to take Tylenol or I just get up and spend time with the Lord.

After several nights of this I took some Tylenol in the middle of the night. It didn't even touch the pain. I was like, "Are you serious?" I moved to the couch. The pain went away. The next night I went to bed, same thing. Pain like out of this world. I moved to the couch and went to sleep.

On the third night of this I asked the Lord, "Okay, what is going on?" So clearly He spoke, "Your mattress." OH! Hadn't even crossed my mind!! Yes, that's another way you know it's Him...the words come out of nowhere.

Anyway, I went to my computer and googled the "famous" type of mattress that everyone I talk to wants. I found many sites with auto-immune disorders linked with this type of mattress because it is primarily made of petroleum that is formed into a foam that shapes to your body. Well no wonder!!

We had a 90 day warranty and were able to get another mattress that was delivered today. Anyway, by no means am I trash talking that type of mattress, but thought there might be others out there who have had this experience and wondered why they are having a problem with pain while in bed. Others might have auto-immune disorders and are dreaming of this type of you might just want a heads up....

Anyway, I am excited to sleep on my new mattress tonight. I thought I would show you our beautiful log bed we have. We no longer have the privilege of living in a log home, so we decided we would have a log bed. We love it. It screams US.

So they came and took the previous mattress this morning and as I took a closer look under the bed, what to my wonderin' eyes should appear? Looky, looky - a chocolate snitch has been having a hey day under our bed. An entire bag of Hershey Kisses wrappers...what in the world??

I don't have a kit to dust for finger prints, but I have a strong suspicion that if I did, the chocolatey finger would be pointing at the guy in the striped shirt {right and center} with the widest grin....who wouldn't be grinning eating all that chocolate, ya' know?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Words Echoed For Years

I have debated sharing this part of my life for well over a year now. It was part of me for as long as I can remember. I am guessing that others of you have had it part of you too. I was talking to Dw earlier this morning and I said, "I was thinking of sharing this part of me." He listened, we talked and he agreed. Today is the day. But first I have to back up a speck in order to understand the significance of today. It is such a vulnerable place for me, but I know that the Lord will be honored and glorified as I share, *gulp* so here goes......

I've mentioned before that my growing up years were painful. Abuse was rampant. Life was tricky to say the least. I spent my days in my room. Always. Alone.

I think that part of the reason I played alone was because I was too afraid to go to someone's home {if anyone had ever invited me}. I mean, come on, if bad things happen in your own home, what in the world would happen in someone elses? I also figured that if I hung around other kids, they might want to come to my house and then they would find out what my real life was like. But the main reason I didn't hang around other kids was because there were two things my dad repeated to me almost daily. One of them was: You will never have any friends. No one will ever like you. Best I can remember, not many days would pass without hearing those words and even if he didn't say them, those words always echoed in my ears.

When my dad would say that I would go to my room and say to the Lord, "It's okay if I don't have any friends, cause you are my best friend and you will never leave me." As a little girl I clung to this verse:

"Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you."

Hebrews 13:5 niv

But no matter what, growing up, you long for friends - you know - the kind with skin on!! Especially if you really don't have any. Add to the mix that I was painfully shy too. Insecurities abounded.

Eventually I grew up and married and I did make friends, but still those words continued to echo. In a perfect world, I would have been able to say, "My dad was abusive, he was cruel and what he said doesn't matter." But there is something at the core of who you are and the words parents have spoken.....they don't just "go away". Now mind you, I didn't sit around dwelling on it, but really, it was always there, down deep and every now and then the words would echo.

For the record, I did eventually make lifelong friends. Friends that go the extra mile. The kind that fly to sit with you when your husband has heart surgery. The kind that you can meet up with, after not seeing for a year and pick right up where you left off the year before. The kind who drive to Iowa City to help when your husband lands in the hospital seriously ill. The kind who drive across the country to care for your kids and help with hubby when he comes home from Iowa City. The kind who seem to know all your quirks and still love ya' anyway.

I have wonderfully sweet friends here where we've been pastoring for the last six years: A precious prayer partner, a fellow pastor's wife in town {who is also an adoptive mom}, our staff wives at church, ladies in church, etc. And then there are my friends around the world - you guys! Most I haven't had the privilege of meeting, but you guys write me sweet letters and leave me precious comments. You all encourage me daily.

So with that as a backdrop.....Monday life was tough. Truthfully I was dreadfully discouraged. The honeymoon with Mark is over. I've had some rough days. It has kept me on my knees. I thought about blogging about it, but I'm not ready to yet. And I'm learning more about me then I really want to know.

And then Monday I noticed something. The little "Special Friends" section on the sidebar. It was quickly approaching 1,000. My eyes popped. {I really don't pay alot of attention to it most days.} But when I saw it approaching that - wow - Good gracious!!

And to many of you, you might not understand the significance, but trust me, when the words "you will never have any friends" have echoed for a lifetime in my ears....I was humbled beyond words to wake up this morning and get this precious, precious comment on yesterday's post from Mama in Uganda: {a precious young mom with 10 kids who ministers in Uganda}

CRAZY LOVE! We just read the book and we are in. Let me know about the Crazy Love Blog Party--I would love to be invited, hehe :-)

By the way, I saw that you have 999 followers and I have not added myself, so, I thought it would be fun to do so now-number 1000!

Love from the North,

And I started to cry the second I read it. And it was as though I could sense the Lord saying, "What was it that your dad always said? I have had these friends - from all over the world planned for you from the beginning of time. They love you Linny and so do I."

And sweet friends , I have cried and cried all day today...I can hardly see to type this.

From years of pain and torment, He rescued me. He has whispered secrets to me. He has never left me {even when I have been a wretch} and He has never forsaken me. He has always been faithful. He will always be my Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God.

So sweet bloggy friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my friends. Thank you for stickin' with me.....many of you I "met" about 20 months ago. Some more recently. I have shared my heart and our lives and you have still remained. I remember when I wrote this post and this post Dw said, "Wonder how many 'followers' you'll lose?" And to our surprise, a bunch joined in immediately!! I was so humbled.

You guys have prayed for us, interceded for us, encouraged us, fasted for us, sent gifts and ministered to our souls by your sweet comments and letters. If I had the ability I would throw a giant party and invite you all. Thank you for blessing my life with your friendship. I consider each of you a friend and I don't take it lightly...because I used to hear the echo of those words...

With overflowing love and the deepest appreciation to each of you,


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some Crazy Love in Our Home

A couple of weeks ago I threw down the challenge with this post called Crazy Love and many of you went for it. Forty-five of you shared needs. Many of you responded to the needs - thank you, thank you, thank you - and just for the record, it's not too late to partake on the "giving" end. All you have to do is click on the purple highlighted words above and then click on different links at the bottom of the post. Actually, at our home, we are just getting started to give to some of the 45 on the list!!

I was wondering about this: Some of you guys might be thinking, 'Well okay I saw the list of 45, but I don't know these bloggy people but I know of needs right here in my own hometown or my own church or my own family.' To which I would say, "Yup, true enough. BUT there is something amazingly exhilirating about responding to the needs of people we really don't know. It is just downright fun - because Crazy Love says, "I see a need, I'm on it." Crazy Love does not sit and rationalize......Hmmm, I don't know these people. Crazy Love just does the "crazy" generously gives and gives and gives. Just like that Crazy Love God has for each of us....He generously gives and gives and gives. And somehow I just have this sneakin' feeling that our reward is different and maybe, just maybe, greater for giving to those we don't know.

On a separate note: I have gotten several emails from people wishing they could have listed their link because of their financial for the record....we will be doing another Crazy Love party before too long, although it might not be quite like the last. In fact my sweet bloggy friend, Deb, suggested a different type of Crazy Love party and I think we are going to go for will be amazingly and fulfillingly crazy....stay tuned. =)

I was also pondering something that also would be really crazy....what if bloggy friends started tucking away a little bit of money here and a little bit of money there, for the next Crazy Love party? Can you imagine that? That would be called crazy - Crazy Love to be exact!!

On our homefront we have been talking about Crazy Love and what we can do to help with the needs on the list. The kids came up with some pretty amazing ideas on their own. We just have to run them by daddy, since he's the boss. We have been reading through the 45 listed {we are so slow!} and praying for the folks needs and asking God which ones to help with.
We prefer the snail mail way of giving, so we are going to be mailing some gifts to some people out there in bloggy land. In the meantime, the little guys {and Uncle Mark} have been coloring some pictures to put in with the gifts we send.

Thought you might want to see their love in action.

This picture Isaiah drew....he told me that that's an airplane

and a lady falling out of it and that a shark waiting for the lady.

Reall niiiiiice dude.

Crazy love?

Ummmm, still workin' on understandin' Crazy Love...

although to him it might be more like "Scary Love".......
A banana by Elizabeth....

Jubilee working hard to make her famous 'sunshines'....
Uncle Mark gettin' in the action....

And Elijah put a little extra special lovin' of his own on one....

so if you should be the one to get his

consider yourself extra loved by him...

So we're slowly workin' away at getting our envelopes ready {we are probably the pokiest bunch in the world, no doubt} and we pray that ever so slowly these little guys are starting to learn just exactly what Crazy Love is all about...

By the way.....if you have any ideas for a Crazy Love blog party.....drop a comment, k?